A Crackingly Good Show, Jack O’Neill takes the Round Win, Fraser Brunton takes his First Race Win
We left Buckmore Park with Rob Newman and Owen Jenman tied on points, Rob tested at Whilton Mill so we must wonder how he is fairing in the grim up north on furlough maybe, hope he will back soon, they shared a win each, and Greg Barnard’s 2 3rd places leave him well placed to take the fight Jenman, while Fraser Brunton returned to build on his debut.
Sam Hampshire set the mark wth a 52.932 after Jenman and Barnard had shown no rustiness and still looked the class of the field in practice, sure enough when qualifying went green it was Jenman going quickest, from Christopher Powell and Barnard. The next lap Jenman pushed it further to 51.967 before Powell moved the mark to 51.899 while Barnard demoted Jenman to 3rd. And there it stayed for the last couple minutes, it looked like you have ‘two or three laps to nail it’ only for Greg Barnard to leave it late to take pole position with 51.795, from Powell. Owen Jenman would start on row 2 with Sam Hampshire, Stephen Westwood, Conner Brown on row 3, Daryl Snelling, Cameron Noble, Fraser Brunton and Toby Case making up the top ten, and the whole field of 36 was covered by a shade over 3secs, more impressively for the machinery, Hampshire 4th to Paul Mason 24th were covered by less than 1 second. Returning reigning champion Jack O’Neill only managing to qualify 12th behind Toby Case.
So where did Eddie Hall leave the story, oh yes Owen Jenman in imperious style made the best of the opening laps, cutting through from grid 3, and pulling out over a second in the opening laps as Greg Barnard, becoming part of a familiar part of the act with Jenman, nearly as much as the Titan Motorsport troop with the O’Neill Bros, remembered from Buckmore in February, Stephen Westwood slotted into 3rd, but was demoted by Fraser Brunton, and Westwood would fall through the chasing group of Sam Hampshire, Cameron Noble and Christopher Powell to be briefly under pressure from Conner Brown and Jack O’Neill before finding his groove again.
Jenman continued edge away at 0.2secs a lap, but the amount of the increase had slowed even while Barnard held off his competitors or towed them, depending on your point of view, in the combative Brunton and Hampshire, a further 2.5secs behind Powell led the main pack in 5th with Jack O’Neill, Cameron Noble, Conner Brown, Westwood, Ryan Sandall and through to 11th placed Tim Ellis all in a line. Some of the time, while pushing for a pass on each other. The conclusion on whether Greg Barnard was holding up Brunton and Hampshire was in, as they both went by, and Jack O’Neill who needs better qualifying, more like his Titan captain Jenman moved by Powell for 5th.
After the top runners played straight into Jenman’s hands off the start, Fraser Brunton started to chip into the 1.8secs lead, just a couple of tenths, but it meant Jenman was not going to be able to stroll it, jog it maybe but definitely not stroll. Martin Auger appeared in front of Jenman, ready to be lapped, so Owen could not dawdle, another .3 disappeared his lead down to 1.2secs over Hampshire was a plus at the way looking for a way by Brunton, Barnard couldn’t live with the pace, or was still figuring how to drive his kart to the max, he was dropped to 0.9secs. There was blood in the water for Brunton, and the race was on, the lead dropped to 0.5secs, the slipstream coming into play. Into the second half of the race the top 3 were racing covered by just 0.6secs. Barnard was being caught by O’Neill, who in turn was towing Christopher Powell, Conner Brown 7th with Westwood, Noble and Ellis 10th looking for a way by.
Up front Jenman was on the defensive in what was fast becoming a 2 way fight for the win with Brunton, drawing a contact warning, and Hampshire, picking a contact warning of his own the next lap.
O’Neill struck for P4, passing Barnard, but inside 10mins to go, 3.5secs off the lead things needed to kick off up front or he was out of the race for the win. Brunton moved by Jenman, and the run to the finish would be 2 groups of battling trios, Brunton, Jenman, Hampshire, 3secs ahead of O’Neill Barnard and Powell, with Conner Brown 4secs further back edging clear of Westwood, Noble, Ellis and Ryan Sandall.
Closing stages Hampshire moved for 2nd on Jenman, and to try and hang on to Fraser Brunton possibly in the hopes that next back marker would fall most kindly for him as they picked David Cunningham in 30th place. It was going to be close, it could get messy. Cunningham was cleared. But it was all change in the 2nd group, Barnard and Powell moved by O’Neill. Then Sam Hampshire got in front for the first time with just 2 laps to go and more traffic on the near horizon. Brunton moved back to the lead to start the last lap with Hampshire and Jenman tcovered by 0.3secs, and even Barnard was narrowing the gap to the lead but 1.4secs back would need some serious wheel banging to be pulled back. That didn’t happen Brunton got into the Wilkins complex first and on the drag race to the finish line, Fraser took his first win in Club100, as he, Sam and Owen were covered by just 0.239 of second. Barnard, Powell and O’Neill covered by a similar margin, this was sprint racing stuff! 7secs further back Conner Brown was chased home by Stephen Westwood, Cameron Noble and Ryan Sandall made up the top ten. Fastest lap to Brunton with a 51.721, 27 karts on the lead lap, the entire field covered by 1.5secs on their fastest laps. Impressive stuff.
More of the same please!? Starting where they finished race 1, Fraser Brunton brought them around the first lap with the lead, Greg Barnard and Jack O’Neill, with the benefit of a better start, moved ahead of Sam Hampshire, Chris Powell and Conner Brown, as Jenman had had a but of a ‘mare. Barnard possibly with half an eye on title aspirations moved to the lead only for O’Neill to up hold Titan honour to take it back. But between them and the dicing behind it was enough to pull the pair 1.4secs clear of the pack headed by Powell, a recovering Jenman, Brown, Hampshire, Noble, Brunton (so much work to do), Stephen Westwood and Kai Crawford rounding out the top 10. Powell broke the tow and went clear in 3rd as Conner Brown moved back passed Jenman, who must have resigned to a tough 10-20mins trying to break out the pack himself, he followed Brown for a few laps, holding off Noble.
Behind O’Neill-Barnard and Powell, it looked like everyone else was racing for 4th place, it was only lap 8. Maybe not, Barnard struck for lead on lap 9, as Powell set the first meaningful fastest lap with 51.826, perhaps this could be more than a 3 way dice for the lead again and if that could happen then it all could come back together. On lap time the top 5 were within 0.3 of each other straddling 52secs flat, it would come down to racing clever and dealing with lapping traffic.
Halfway and Powell in 3rd had edged his way into the faint edges of the draft as he moved fastest lap down to 51.599, at 0.6secs back you’re in the drafting ball park, you can’t necessarily feel it, but O’Neill and Barnard were breaking wind for Powell, game on, Chris had the scent of broken wind in his nose. Metaphorically speaking.
Either Jack O’Neill was biding his time, being very clever or very cool as the meat in Barnard-Powell sandwich. Or alternatively he was pedalling just as fast as he could, either way Powell had had the best of the draft by now it was time to overtake if he could, or was O’Neill going to make his move for the lead stick? Nigel Foot went a lap down on the leaders, and with 9mins remaining there was a further group of back markers likely to play their part up the road, Andrew Golby, Aaron Stillwell, Alexandre Alloro, Fergus Edwards and Harry Jones, this could get clumsy… O’Neill got by to the lead, but the lead trio were still running together through lapping the traffic. Cameron Noble passed Conner Brown for 4th place.
With the last likely back marker to play a part lapped in Zac Cuff, O’Neill had 0.8secs lead over Barnard and Powell with 4mins to go, so it was a straight run to the flag, Jack had edged away to 1secs, it was going his way, Brown took 4th place back from Noble and brought Jenman back into play in their 3 way battle for 4th. Then Brown picked up an ABC bump and pass in his joust with Noble and Jenman.
The last lap board went out Jack O’Neil had 1.2secs lead to seal the deal over Barnard under pressure from Powell but his 0.2secs was enough to see him home. Brown finished 4th on road, ahead of Jenman and Noble, a quiet race to 6th for Ryan Sandall, Brunton not showing like he had in race 1, penalised and demoted to 8th for Brown, Stephen Westwood and Kai Crawford made up the top ten, while holding off Ellis, Hampshire and McGregor.
Jack O’Neill took the round win, by 1 point from Greg Barnard and Fraser Brunton, the latter firmly ensconced in 3rd in championship ahead of Christopher Powell and 10points off championship leader Owen Jenman, as Barnard trimmed his lead down to 5points. Very tight, this championship will go all the way on this showing.
Library Photography: John Patterson