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COVKARTSPORT Winter Series 2015 – Round 1, 25th Jan

After a thrilling end to the 2014 season at the Daytona circuit in Milton Keynes, it was a familiar journey to the circuit in Buckinghamshire that the drivers had to face early on Sunday 25th January. The drivers had clear conditions on the circuit but had to contend with a new format to the racing. Each driver would take part in a qualifying session and then a Pre-Final and a Final, scoring points towards the championship in each of the races. Sam Lovelace has dominated the Junior class over the past two years and there was no letting up at the start of the 2015 season. After qualifying on pole for the Final, Lovelace lead all the way to take the first win of the year but it was not as easy as it sounds. Lovelace had to fight off race-long pressure from Plus class runner-up Matthew Tetley. Tetley briefly took the lead a couple of times during the final but Lovelace seemed to have it all under control. As the front two pulled clear, the fight behind was on. Oliver Hart, who was impressive on his debut in the series, held off the attentions of Joe Perkins and Andre Careless to take the final podium position and will be one to watch as the season goes on. Perkins climbed from seventh to fourth whilst Careless was shuffled back in the opening stages of the race after starting an excellent third on the grid.

Oliver Beamont and Lennon Starkey fought each other throughout the day and showed that the competition is just as tight further down the field, finishing in a respectable sixth and seventh, ahead of Daniel Beardmore. James Saunders proved his competitiveness in the Lightweight class by topping the podium in his first event. Saunders, who pushed Lovelace all the way in the Junior class last year, stepped up into the class with confidence and after qualifying sixth, he carved his way through the field to be on the tail of Neil Vincent on the final lap. With a gap open on the last corner, Saunders took his chance and claimed a debut class victory. A disappointed Vincent finished in second whilst Mark Bramford returned to the podium for the first time since 2013 with a close third. Former champion (and winner of the final round in 2014) Paul Cox took fourth but he had to defend from the attacking Kayleigh Vincent, rounding out a good day for the Vincent family with second and fifth. Former Lightweight Champion Alex Harding took a strong sixth after an issue in his Pre-final left him down on grid eleven. In a strong Lightweight field, Tom Emsden’s seventh place means an eye will be kept on him this year after holding back the ever-impressive Connor Marsh and club regular Dermot Lehane. Tenth place for Tim Ellis was a very good return for the former Heavyweight racer after he had to qualify through the ‘B’ Final and therefore, starting on grid eighteen and last for the ‘A’ Final.

From lap one of the Heavyweight final, it was a battle of two at the front. Chris Daines had qualified on pole position with two-times Heavyweight champion Jeff Chapman joining him on the front row. The two drivers disappeared into the distance practically joined at the hip and it was only going to take one mistake to decide the race. That came on the final lap with two corners to go. Daines had struggled with turn ten all day and braking early for the corner allowed Chapman to slip up the inside to claim the victory and leave Daines to rue leaving the gap for
the double champion. Further back, the grid was much closer together. Michael Holdcroft bounced back from grid seven and produced a strong drive to take third off former champion David Whitehouse with a lap to go and also claimed the fastest lap of the ‘A’ final. Alex Vangeen had started on grid three but got shuffled back half way through the race. This lead to a dead-heat finish between Vangeen and Dean Davis as they crossed the line for fifth and, with Ben White half a tenth behind, it was one of the closest finishes for three karts in COVKARTSPORT history. Slawek Piskorz had qualified quickest for the Pre-finals earlier
in the day and an eighth placed finish was a good start to his second season with the club. Richard Middleton and Jonathan Carty rounded out the top ten, just ahead of ‘B’ final winner Vince Cogzell, who worked through to eleventh. With a third of the Winter Series already over, the next round at Whilton Mill will be important for anyone looking to challenge for the title come March.