It’s hardly shock news. And not official, but it is rather obvious, Anthony Amato is our first champion of 2021.
Hot on the heels of the 2021 prize pool news kindly provided by the Daniel Ricciardo Series, Anthony Amato completed his season long domination in the sunshine of Lydd. We’ve not seen anything like this dominance since Joe Holmes (‘who’s this guy?!’) exploded over Heavyweight Sprints scene in 2016, and Club100 sprints has never been the same since. Who knows for Anthony Amato? But he has quietly and confidently been the star of the class this season, dovetailing this championship with Sprint 60 with the seniors to very good effect. Ten starts, ten wins and now a very likely run in a DRS race weekend in 2022. Not a bad weekend, and a fairly standard one for Anthony this year. He pipped Louis Falk to pole position in the qualifying session, led lights to chequered flag in the pre final, from Falk and surprise packet Lewis Davis. Anthony repeated the story in the Final. Davis getting in amongst Falk again, to begin with but after a sort early on Falk was a clear 2nd place, and while Ben Lambeth came through through to the podium on the road, he was with a contact penalty that put Jack James on his first podium of the season.
In terms of the championship hunt for runner up and the top 5, Louis Falk’s brace comes at a crucial time, with dropped scores coming into play properly, he has an 8 point lead over the absent Jamie Mead, 13 over George Hannay, 15 over Charlie Folland, to make Falk favourite to tie the runner up spot. Jack James, Josh Bates, Ben Lambeth, Ben Foden and even Edward Gordon could break Mead , Hannay and Folland’s hold on the top 5, as they are between 13-15points off 3rd to 5th in the table. There are 2 rounds at Buckmore Park to come, 4 points paying finals, and with DRS prizes still very much in play.
Who has home field advantage at Buckmore Park? Although who has not got experience around one of the most popular karting circuits in the country?
Perfect summer skies, not a cloud in the sky, most drivers in Club100 in their time have had Lydd weather like this, and although the new clubhouse is a magnificent addition that no one would have imagined in our days, perfect blue skies are karting days. Lewis Davis had topped the practice timesheet and when the session went green, Lewis Davis 44.206, Louis Falk and Edward Gordon set the pace. But the normal order of things was partially restored as Amato went fastest on his 2nd lap with 44.058, by another fraction of second from Davis and Gordon, Ben Lambeth joining Gordon on row 2.
Amato returned to move pole position down under 44secs with 43.996, a time the flying Lewis Davis would eclipse with 43.895, but only for a couple minutes as Anthony struck back in the closing laps of the session with 43.875 and then 43.891. Falk also moved Davis back with his final effort to go to the front row, Davis and Edward Gordon on row 2, Jake Riches and Josh Bates getting it together towards the end to take row 3, Jack James, Tommy Welsh, Ben Lambeth and Elliot Alt rounding out the top 10. Twenty-two drivers on the grid for the Pre Final, Falk and Davis about as close as anyone in qualifying this season to Amato, a top 10 covered by 0.6secs, and P4 to P16, Lewis Appiagyei, also covered by just 0.6secs.
I wish I could tell you Amato cannily backed the field up after the pace kart pulled off into pit lane, cunningly oiled up the field behind him, or even caught them asleep, but the truth was there was no time for that, the pace kart peeling off right in front of the field just before the lights went green. Amato with the prime inside position, on a short run, got into the right-left chicane first and out of the other side, when he exited the tighter 2nd chicane he was clear, and with the battling on behind between Davis, Falk and Riches, Anthony need not worry about towing anyone clear with him, or down the back straight on the return run. Edward Gordon had missed or had been ejected from the chasing boat, and was holding up (or off depending how you view it) Jack James, Ben Lambeth, Tommy Welsh, George Hannay, Josh Bates and Ben Foden. Having lost ground off the start, Bates was straight on the attack into chicane 2 on Hannay but could not get it done, but Foden going in deep behind was off the back of 5 kart group going into the hairpin while James and Lambeth moved in on Gordon, in the horseshoe, the latter later reporting that he was struggling for power and handling with his kart.
Ahead Amato had built a 1.5secs lead over Davis, Falk and Riches. Hannay continued his attempts to make progress much to Gordon’s irritation, and as George misfired on his pass, it was backing Foden into Bates running in 11th place. Hannay ran in a little hot into the Horseshoe couldn’t hold the line scrubbing off precious momentum to make the exit, and giving Foden an invitation to get halfway alongside to prevent him turning into the apex at the last corner, Ben went 9th. Closing down Gordon rapidly as Ed could not hold on to Lambeth, James and Welsh ahead, Foden dived through into the horseshoe for 8th place.
The 3 way dice for 5th place had gone decisively in Lambeth’s favour the trio opening up but with Jack James and Tommy Welsh at least getting some assistance from the driver ahead even if not challenging for position. Ahead there was similar story for the trio fighting over 2nd place, 2secs up the road Davis, Falk and Riches were busy getting small behind the nassau panel on the back straight and being as neat and tidy sliding across Lydd’s inviting chicane kerbs for the beginning of the lap.
The driver on the move was Ben Lambeth breaking Jack James and gaining on Jake Riches, indeed while Amato remained 2secs clear, Davis in 2nd place was possibly the slower of the top 8 and the battle for 2nd through 8th that had looked as if it were stretching apart for the first quarter was concertinaed back together with the addition of traffic into the second half of the race. Falk seized his opportunity and Riches and Lambeth jumped through before Davis was back into his rhythm.
With 5 laps remaining Anthony Amato was cruising up front 3.7secs clear and with the fastest lap of 43.728, his 44 flat pace carrying him to another win. Behind Lambeth had moved passed Riches to pressure Falk to the finish, while Riches, Davis and James sat ready and able to benefit from any contact ahead. A second behind Tommy Welsh and Ben Foden battled over 7th, Ben looking for a clean pass, 1.5secs behind Josh Bates was 9th and a further second behind him George Hannay rounded out the top 10. But we’d have to wait to the final lap for the fireworks.
Foden would become intimate with the back of Welsh’s kart in a touchy feely way without any heavy contact, and was just not able to get an overlap where he wanted, either into the horseshoe or at the end of the back straight. Welsh’s kart with a strong mid range and top end in comparison to Foden seemed quicker, maybe it was handling, around and through the corners, a door firmly closed at the hairpin was as close as Ben would come to 7th on the road. Falk held off Lambeth one last time into the last corner on the penultimate lap and nailed the exit and first chicane, 2nd place was his. A yellow flag for 2 karts buried in the tyres at the turn made Lambeth lift and the quartet of Lambeth, Riches, Davis and James arrived more or less as one into the last corner, 2 by 2, and emerging in a reordered 2 by 2 on to the finish straight, the new order was Lewis Davis 3rd, Ben Lambeth, Jack James and Jake Riches.
Amato’s win by nearly 5secs, from Louis Falk, a little flattered to be scored 3secs ahead of Davis, Lambeth, James and Riches. Tommy Welsh and Ben Foden, Josh Bates and George Hannay making up the top 10.
Once again the field were released together and only the short run into the chicane gave Amato the lead from his pole position, with a confident sweep to the racing line to take the left apex and to lead. Off the first chicane, Jake Riches made a strong start off grid 6, Tommy Welsh and Jack James ahead of him, Ben Foden could not make his move on Josh Bates stick, and Amato left the trio of Lewis Davis, Louis Falk, Ben Lambeth, the rapid Riches bridging the gap and edging clear of Welsh, James, Bates, Foden and Elliot Alt. Riches able to close the last few metres as the scrapped over the entry to the Horseshoe, passing Lambeth into the last corner.
If the fireworks were late in the Pre Final, they were in the main. With Falk looking for 2nd place Davis was being slowed down with the attention, and it was bringing the top ten back together. Yes releasing Amato into another test session, as this was not an organised pursuit, which maybe might have worked, but a battle for 2nd position. James dived inside Welsh for 6th place into the Horseshoe, also helping Foden into Bates’ slipstream to make the second group, also a group of 4. Then it was all change. We’ve all been there, the slipstream down to the last corner is intoxicating and the temptation to ‘SEND IT’ almost overwhelming. Falk went 2nd, James, Lambeth were committed and there was little space on offer on the exit. Riches and Davis were sent bouncing along next to the pitwall tyres coming off the corner, allowing Welsh, Bates, Foden and George Hannay to get through before the start line. Even Elliot Alt nipped through ahead of Davis, 11th from 2nd in about 30metres. Riches with a little more momentum hung on to 9th place ahead of Alt. Falk was also released, over 2secs up the road, into 2nd place that never looked in danger, just as Amato was out of sight another 4secs. Lambeth, now 4th, dived up the inside into the Horseshoe on Jack James, just moments after Foden had failed again to pass Bates into the preceding hairpin in what was an 8 way dice for 3rd place. Ben would try again on Bates into the Horseshoe but unable to hold the long left hand kerb, Josh was back through into 6th place.
And like that the race sort took a breath, Lambeth tugged James clear, Welsh paired up with Bates, suddenly Foden was struggling to keep up with Alt, Riches, Hannay and Davis using him for aero assistance, where he’d been using Bates. But the script flipped on the run down the back straight after a pretty ordinary lap from Welsh, and the perfect slipstream left Foden swinging in on the racing line for the last corner as Bates went ‘send’ on Welsh, both tracking out wide at mid corner, Ben was perfectly placed to sweep under the pair on the ideal line to gain 2 places and go 5th. I could feel the enormous satisfaction it must generate when a pass executes just as he must have seen a second before setting up for the corner. Some of us have been there and done that. Shame it didn’t last long. Welsh getting a better run out of the first chicane towing Bates back around the outside of Foden down to chicane 2. Oh well. It was still a mega pass! Also Lambeth and James were checking out in 3rd and 4th. Foden took another run at Bates at the hairpin, got it down inside into the Horseshoe, and in taking the racing line, there was contact with Bates, it pushed Foden into a half spin he would finish the lap 15th (no penalty/so racing incident).
Into the 2nd half of race, the race for the top 2 positions was settled Amato 4secs clear of Falk who in turn was 4secs clear of Lambeth and James, who were over 3secs clear Welsh, who’d dropped Bates in the Foden incident, Josh holding off Lewis Appiagyei, Elliot Alt, Jake Riches, George Hannay, Lewis Davis, Tamino Colavecchi and Joneld Muhaj in another 8 kart battle, this time over 6th place.
The strong running Appiagyei moved to through to lead the group, before breaking Bates, passing Welsh for 5th, on a great run from grid 17 for Lewis. Jake Riches finally found his pace and passed Bates and Welsh to slot in 6th behind Lewis, Tommy Welsh fading badly out of the picture to 10th by the finish.
And that save for the penalties that was that. No problem for Anthony Amato, class of the field, class of the championship. Louis Falk staking his claim to runner up in the championship and into the prize frame with the Daniel Ricciardo Series. Finishing 3rd Ben Lambeth had picked up a 4 place contact penalty, presumably in the early battles, possibly in the Riches/Davis bounce along the pit wall? So even though he held off Jack James for the last podium and trophy, that was in vain. Drive of the day from Lewis Appiagyei to start 17th to be classified 4th ahead of Riches, Bates, the demoted Lambeth, Alt, Hannay and Davis, the latter only 10th, he never got his game back on after the incident in the last corner.
Words: Chris Simpson
Pictures: John Patterson