‘B Final Blake’ Beats His Doubters To Go Back On Top

Elite Podium

A front row start essentially secured a win for Stephen Hicks for Heat 1, but not the win, he got the jump on pole man Alex Ring, literally and would be pinged for a jump start post race but he’d lead Anwar Beroual-Smith off row 2 out into the country only for Thomas Glyde to jump Anwar into the last corner at the end of lap 1. Hicks was released, Anwar would take 2nd back at the top of the circuit, but would be defending from Glyde, with Justin Buck, Alex Ring and Jack Harding fighting it out behind, before symptomatic of a slightly perplexing title defence (or lack thereof) Anwar had a mechanical and Glyde went through, shenanigans in the switch back had seen Buck turned around, meant Blake had had to take to the grass while James Small went the other side and he was free of Blake holding him back, to chase through first Ring then Ed Barrs and Glyde to finish 3rd on the road behind Stuart Martin, but he’d been excluded adjudged at fault for putting Thom King into Justin Buck, so Small inherited the points for the win Hicks post race.

C100R5-GYG-0020Pole man Paul Crawford had led Pete O’Connor off grid 3 around the opening half lap as Parmveer Nijjar had tried and failed to change lanes from grid 2 at the start of Heat 2, but Pete wouldn’t let Parmveer get across to get on Paul’s bumper, and Oliver Knights came around the outside off grid 4, to run 3rd. It was a decisive moment. Climbing out of the Carousel O’Connor got passed Crawford and would pull clear to the win. For a while Crawford ran 2nd as Nijjar pushed for a way back passed Knights but the weather was threatening and the slippery surface flag came out. Nijjar fell back into the clutches of Small, Glyde, Hicks and Hattersley. Knights could turn his attention to his friend Crawford while Small, seemingly more attuned to the conditions than anyone, set off in pursuit of the pair, he’d draft passed Crawford in Knights wake on the Dragon Straight, as you so often can, then dive up the inside of Knights into the Spoon corner. Into the second half of the race with the track starting to lose grip Nijjar would run down Glyde then Crawford for 4th, then have to hold off Jay Elliott to the finish.

C100R5-GYG-0591Steve Brown had pole position for his first heat of the day and the start of Heat 3 went his way, but tentative given the conditions, meant he was first in the light drizzle, he wobbled into the Carousel and both Tyler Mays and Darren Teal went for the gap after the apex, Teal emerged ahead, Brown settled into 2nd and Mays failed to find his way back passed David Longman when he had the chance. Tyler would hold off Ray Norris but would lose out to Beroual-Smith and Nijjar. Into the closing stages the leading trio diced, Teal now first in as the drizzle increased, Brown had played himself in and Longman was ready for a mistake but only contemplating a pass rather than forcing one. Three became six, became eight, with O’Connor and Jonathan Lisseter joining the tail as Teal’s half to a kart width narrow was backing the field up. It appeared to have worked but into the last corner he was narrow again to prevent a dive bomb, and Brown was able to out drag him, by dint of a wider turn in, to the finishing line.

Heat 4 was fairly straightforward even under darkening skies, Ian Blake converted pole position with his front row compardre Stephen Docker also getting a good start. It was settled upfront and messy behind, so Blake pulled clear into a comfortable win, Docker, Neale and Dan Healey kept it tidy to finish that way. Jack Harding finishing best of the rest in 6th.

Just more of the same in Heat 5, more drizzle, less grip, Jonathan Lisseter converted pole position, and the track finally broke with any pretension of offering grip for slick tyres. Lisseter galloped off, Daniel Truman looked set for 2nd clear of the soon to be demoted Stuart Osborn, by Ian Blake and Jay Elliott, but it would be James Small running up from grid 8 and through them all except for Lisseter who was different class, nearly 10secs clear.

C100R5-GYG-0233It was properly wet for the A Final, James Small on pole, Steve Brown, Ian Blake and Parmveer Nijjar on row 2, Pete O’Connor, Jonathan Lisseter on row 3, Thomas Glyde and Jack Harding started on row 4, although Thomas had missed the run up and was already off the leading group. Joining them (and it says grid 14 on the results sheet however the video shows) Jay Elliott starting around grid 10 (the wrong grid sheet? Or was Jay just being #soPro ?). Anyway Nijjar cut across from grid 4 to get on to Small’s bumper, helping him wide, but James held on to the track and out dragged him to the kink and then up to Spoon only for Parmveer to get his nose inside down into Carousel. James ran wide, flirting with the grass for traction Nijjar taking the lead, Brown, Blake sneaking up the inside at the top of the hill, Elliott, Lisseter, O’Connor lining up behind to end the first lap.

Small repaid Nijjar up at Spoon and Blake slid inside on the exit before Parmveer could close the door. Elliott demoted Brown in the Carousel and Steve, annoyed to be left so compromised, could do nothing to stop Lisseter and O’Connor’s momentum carry them by uphill.

C100R5-GYG-0766The race settled down, Small, gap to Blake, gap to Nijjar, bigger gap to Elliott who in turn was pulling clear of Lisseter. O’Connor would lose out to Brown, who’d tow them all back to Lisseter and into a 5 way fight with Brown, Beroual-Smith and Harding. Blake ran down Small as the conditions deteriorated, Nijjar closing on the pair, as Ian took the lead at Spoon. James going down the inside of Carousel, a line he’d steadfastly avoided, to get the lead back, ran in deep and Blake cut back on the exit to lead again. Nijjar seeing the danger forced a pass at the end of the Dragon Straight but the momentum was with James up to Spoon to retake 2nd, only to go in too deep, to have Parmveer back through and shaking his finger about the easy ride they were giving Blake out front and about Elliott closing behind. At halfway the battle behind had broken Brown’s way but he didn’t have any extra pace with which to reel the leading quartet in ahead, indeed the chasing group behind were no longer a group at all, Lisseter was 6th, gap to O’Connor, soon to be overtaken by Beroual-Smith, gap to Harding, well clear of Oliver Knights and Dan Healey fighting over 10th.

It looked like Jay Elliott could go quicker than James Small if he could get by, but he didn’t look quick enough in the right places to overtake, not that Blake or Nijjar were pulling clear in what was a close and very tight, slightly nervy, wet tiptoe across a, not very chessboard looking, Welsh hillside. But a chess match would be a fair description. Blake looked to be in some measure of control control, if very close to the edge.

C100R5-GYG-1247Into the final third of the race, it was Blake making the first mistake, missing his line through turn 1 badly to put Nijjar into striking range, but that was all. A lap later Ian had his 2-4 lengths cushion back, not a comfortable margin in the conditions, but a margin of control nonetheless and it was a race conducted at his pace. Nijjar had been joined by Small, which meant Elliott was along shortly. Pushing each other on they were now lapping the field, not just recovering spinners, but on pace. Brown had settled in to finish 6secs behind in 5th. The first time Jay was on James’ bumper going up to Spoon, he edged over the white line on to the grass, as you do, to perform the block pass inside, only to then run deep into Carousel but Small had driven back through under yellow and had to give the spot back.

The last few minutes would remain tense but the later it got the more secure Blake looked, Nijjar fell back into Elliott who bravely took on going around the outside at the end of the Dragon Straight up to Spoon for 2nd place but that left Blake clear on to the last lap for the win by 1.5secs. Parmveer took a last corner lunge up the inside but got out dragged to the line by both Elliott and Small. Two seconds behind Brown, Anwar Beroual-Smith, Lisseter and O’Connor had settled their three way battle in favour of Anwar at Spoon., Jack Harding and and Daniel Healey rounded out the top 10,13secs down on the victor.

Next round will be a blisteringly hot and sunny, not to be missed Clay Pigeon on 31 July.

Photography: Jack Mitchell, JAM Motorsport Photography