Another Round Win, Jack O’Neill Momentum… Fraser Brunton Takes a Race Win!

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Well after a blip in the morning endurance race, the reigning champion shrugged off the loss, and just kept on coming.

After qualifying P4 behind behind Ralph King, Anthony Amato and his nearest championship rival, and ‘near’ is a bit generous. After a false start, O’Neill picked off all but Amato in the opening laps of Race 1 before edging into Amato to go by for the lead on lap 6. From there he edged a way at a tenth or so per lap, until the tow was broken, while at the same his Titan Motorsport team mate Mike Philippou was closing from behind, Mike moved on half way, although the battle wasn’t over , but eventually the position was secured, the trio well clear of the Fraser Brunton, Hussain Rashid and Jason Kirk bringing through the main field 6-8secs further back.

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Race 2 was not quite more of the same, while O’Neill started from pole position, it was Fraser Brunton charging hard off the 2nd row moving into 2nd place, before Titan maestro could escape. And while O’Neill was able to pull away from the main field, Brunton was limpet like on his bumper, before sensing this was his moment and moving to the front. He could not break clear and this allowed Anthony Amato, showing his best pace of the day, to break out of the main group, and gradually bridge a couple of seconds gap to the leading duo. He’d pick up the draft from the pair ahead on half way and they would be locked together for a high speed ride around Buckmore Park for the next 8mins. Amato moved into 2nd place, allowing Brunton to very nearly break clear. But not quite. O’Neill would settle into 3rd place, safe in the knowledge that that was enough for round win, and extend his lead to a massive 41points. Amato pressed on for the win, but such is the rarity of a non-O’Neill SP60 win (it would be only the second win by anyone else in 8 starts) that Fraser was determined not to give it up, taking the win by a kart length, and 2nd place for the round. Anthony was then penalised for cones (and there were a lot of knocking over cone penalties) demoted him to 4th place. But it was okay, Anthony was still comfortably on the podium for the round.

Qualifying 

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First through the loop was Sam Kirby with 48.8, immediately replaced by Andrew Golby with 47.1, then a heavy hitter arrived in the shape of O’Neill with 46.585secs, Philippou moving into a very provisional P2, before Brunton moved to the top with 46.581secs and Amato split the Titan duo to go P3.

Ralph King moved up from P6 to pole on the next lap with 46.52, Jason Kirk moved into P5 ahead of Philippou, Ramunas Cerkauskas dropping back to the vacated P6 and then to P7, Jasper Chamberlain, Hussain Rashid and Gerard Moore rounding out the provisional top 10.

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O’Neill edged back on to the front row going a little quicker, Cerkauskas dropped to P8 as Chamberlain went a little quicker as well, Josh Sangster moved into P10. With session looking like it had peaked with a minute to go, thoughts were possibly turning to the race, then Amato moved to pole position with 46.504, but King just behind him on the road, clocked 46.391 and pole position was his. Time expired and that was… No wait Hussain Rashid, showing new pace, swept up from P9, up to… 3rd on the grid. Top effort. But in something of a first (in qualifying) he had a 6place ‘take out’ penalty, so the grid was set, King, Amato on the front row, Brunton and O’Neill on row 2, Jason Kirk, with his best qualifying in a while, on the 3rd row with Philippou, Chamberlain, Cerkauskas, Rashid and David Hamer replacing Sangster with his last lap, in the top 10, of a 36 kart grid. Top 12 covered by 0.5secs, 7th through 32nd covered by 1 secs.

Race 1

For a change it would be the pole position losing out off the start, King coming through in 3rd place as Amato made the best of grid 2 to lead and the field lined up behind Brunton in 2nd, King, O’Neill, Philippou, Rashid, Chamberlain, Kirk also sliding back, a fast starting David Joseph and Hamer.

O’Neill pushed through to 2nd and set off to close down on Amato moving through to the lead within a lap of getting to Anthony’s bumper, the pair putting in time and space in the chasing pair of Philippou and Brunton. Indeed everyone seemed to have a dance partner, except Ralph King who could not carry his qualifying speed into the race and he slid out out of contention, passed by Rashid with Chamberlain, gap, Kirk and Joseph, gap then Gerard Moore brought the main field through in P9 which swallowed King in time.

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By half distance, in a race reduced from 30 to 25mins due to the false start, Philippou bridged the gap to Amato, dropping Brunton, just as O’Neill had broken the tow to Anthony. Without that boost of the slipstream over start finish, Anthony struggled to hold off Mike, and he would go through, and the ever present, or so it seems, Titan racesuit liveries were out in front once again. But Anthony had aerodynamic help again, and made use of it to get back passed a few laps later, only for Mike to return the favour on the next lap. This time the Titan driver was able to stretch just far enough clear of Anthony to break the crucial tow, crucial when you just don’t quite have the kart you’d hoped for. 

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With 10mins to go, Jack O’Neill had a 1sec lead, Philippou was 1.5secs clear of Amato, 5.5secs behind Brunton was running for the finish, as he also 5.5secs clear of Jason Kirk and Rashid battling 5th with David Joseph, Josh Sangster, Jasper Chamberlain and Gerard Moore also in the fight. The race amongst the top 4 was settled, the race 5th would rage on to the finish, Rashid clocking his fastest lap of the race at the chequered flag, right on Jason’s bumper, but he never made a pass stick. Sangster was half a second behind with Joseph, then gap to Moore and Mac White coming into the top 10 as Chamberlain dropped back to finish 11th on the road. I say on the road a lot because the penalties need to be accounted. The Top 5 remain unchanged, for a change, but Rashid had a 4place penalty for advantage by contact and dropped to 10th, everyone behind moved up one, Sangster to 6th, Joseph, Moore, White…

Race 2

O’Neill converted pole position and this left Philippou vulnerable to his inside through the opening corners to Brunton and Amato and it would be Fraser coming through half a second down on the race leader with a line of karts stretching back behind him, Philippou, Amato, Sangster, Kirk, Moore and Rashid, a 1sec gap to Ramunas Cerkauskas, and a fast starting Ben Lambeth and everyone else.

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On lap 4 Jason Kirk towed Moore passed Sangster and the top 5 was the same top 5, only in a slightly different order, to how Race 1 finished, but only briefly as the order shuffled again. Brunton realised he had more for O’Neill than he could handle and moved through to the lead. 

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More pots for the young man – 3rd place Anthony Amato

Losing ground to the leading pair, Amato moved by Philippou and set off looking for the lead. Just behind Moore thought Kirk had served his purpose and moved by to 5th looking for 4th, and this battle engulfed Philippou with Kirk coming out, for then at least, on top and into 4th place, and although Rashid had struggled to keep up and had fallen back into Sangster, Cerkauskas and Lambeth, the dicing ahead had set up a 7 kart dice over 4th place, Mike falling through to P9. Moore tried to take 4th place again from Kirk, got it done, and made it stick.

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2nd place for round – Fraser Brunton

By halfway the top 3 were locked together and almost out of sight around Cafe Curve as Moore, Kirk and Sangster fighting over 4th place, came off Garda and through the Senna corner. Sure they could look over in the infield, but in truth they were looking at another race. Jack O’Neill was running a close 2nd place to Brunton, but it appeared that’s all he had, when Amato came a knocking, Anthony went through and Jack settled in on his bumper for a lap before letting him go and settling for 3rd place and round win.

Amato pushed on to challenge for the lead all the way to the chequered flag, but as reported earlier, it was Fraser Brunton taking the win by a kart length or so.

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Behind Jason Kirk thrown off Josh Sangster and Gerard Moore, Gerard under pressure from Ramunas Cerkauskas at the finish, a poor race for Mike Philippou 6secs further back in 8th place, Ben Lambeth passed Hussain Rashid. But that was before the penalties, of course, with 2 cone penalties for Anthony Amato moved O’Neill back into 2nd place and Jason Kirk to his best finish of the season so far in 3rd. Sangster had a 4 place gaining single place advantage penalty, and Ben Lambeth had multiple cones and a gaining single place advantage penalties dropping to 15th. Casey Baughan moved into the top 10.   

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Yer Man – Winner, reigning champion, championship leader – Jack O’Neill

Words: Chris Simpson

Photography: John Patterson