Rounds 11 & 12: Oulton Park, 4th October 2014
Isherwood turns the tables to claim a double win
Matt Isherwood wrapped up his season with two wins over team-mate and new champion Chris Needham.
The entry level for this meeting was a lot lower than the Grand Prix with some drivers competing in Europe and others missing due to a lack of funds. It had stopped raining by the time the qualifying session began but the track was still wet.
Matt Isherwood went quickest on his second flying lap but was having difficulty getting heat into his tyres. He decided to back off and then went for another flyer, improving his earlier time to set 1m 57.785s for pole position. Sam Moss joined him on the front row setting a time of 1m 58.352s and then went off at Lodge Corner on the following lap, fortunately without damage. He managed to rejoin, trailing gravel, and despite staying out until the end of the session failed to improve on his earlier time. Dan Edwards was into the pits at the end of lap 1 to get his radiator taped up in an attempt to get some heat into the engine. He went out again and steadily improved while trying to get a clear lap.
The track was starting to dry in places and with Isherwood in the pits could he snatch pole position? In the end his time of 1m 58.352s set on the last lap matched that of Moss. English champion Kirk Cattermole (1m 58.783s) completed the second row. Jake Coward (2m 00.401s) headed row 3 competing in only his third long circuit meeting. He was joined by Ian Larder (2m 01.656s). New champion Chris Needham (2m 02.248s) decided to sit out the earlier free practice session and was not over stressing everything in this one to qualify seventh.
It was sunny and dry when the dummy grid was being formed but the race was delayed due to repair work on a damaged barrier from the preceding car race. During this time Dan Edwards discovered that the steering column support was loose. When the karts were released from the dummy grid he was still fixing the problem and eventually joined the track a long way behind everyone else. As a result there was a gap on row 2.
On the approach to the lights, Cattermole was looking for a gap between Isherwood and Moss on the front row. When the lights changed he bogged down and Isherwood was away and into Old Hall first. Moss was ‘caught napping’ allowing Larder to go round the outside to claim second place while Needham slotted into third.
At the end of lap 1 Isherwood, Needham and Larder were nose to tail while Cattermole just held off Coward with Moss in pursuit. Needham moved into the lead on lap 2 from Cattermole and Isherwood and this trio pulled away from the rest. On lap 5 Cattermole passed Needham on the run down to Island Bend to take the lead but Isherwood also wanted the top spot. A dive up the inside at Shell Oils Corner was a bit hot and he found himself back in third place. Needham regained the lead.
Cattermole’s bid for a win ended on lap 6 when the plug tip broke. That left the team-mates to squabble over the lead and Isherwood set a new lap record as he closed onto the tail of Needham. On the last lap Isherwood made his move at Hizzy’s Chicane by going round the outside on the entry. Through Druids and Lodge Corner he held off his rival to win by 0.091s. Moss moved up to fourth place on lap 3 and when Cattermole dropped out he inherited a very lonely third place. Jake Coward had another good drive to claim fourth place while Ian Larder lost ground when the Vortex motor started to load up out of slower corners. After Dan Edwards gave the field a huge advantage at the start he put in lap times similar to Sam Moss and finished in ninth place.
With grid positions determined by lap times in race one, Isherwood was on pole position with Cattermole alongside, while Edwards joined Needham on row 2. Cattermole took the lead at the start with Isherwood tucked into his slipstream on the run down to Old Hall. It was three abreast at Hizzy’s for the first time but then Cattermole’s race ended when the fuel pump packed up and he crawled into the pits at the end of the opening lap to retire.
Needham held the advantage by 0.547s over Isherwood as they crossed the line with Moss holding off Edwards for third place. The Redspeed drivers Neil Robinson and Duncan Marshall headed Kyle Dixon and Ian Larder. Danny Butler’s bad day continued when his TM seized on the opening lap while Jake Coward had a clutch problem on the rolling lap and didn’t make the start.
By lap 3 Needham and Isherwood had moved clear with Moss unable to stay with the pace of the Vortexes. Edwards race ended when the battery went flat.
Isherwood showed his hand early by passing Needham around the outside into Hizzy’s Chicane on lap 4. But Needham hit back by regaining the lead into Old Hall starting lap 6. On the next lap Needham set a new lap record as he continued to keep his team-mate at bay.
Starting the last lap Needham’s lead was 0.228s. At Hizzy’s for the final time he managed to block Isherwood’s attempt to take the lead. But Matt wasn’t giving up. He dived down the inside into Lodge Corner and contact was made knocking Needham wide. Isherwood was through and crossed the line to complete the double 1.053s ahead of a slightly miffed new champion.
Moss drove a steady race to collect another third place, his TM pulling better after a change of gearing. The Redspeed drivers ran nose to tail for the first half of the race with Marshall moving up to fourth place on lap 5. Robinson gave him a bit more breathing space on lap 6 and settled for fifth place while Kevin Gary completed the Redspeed line-up with sixth spot.