Barrs Closes In On Leader O’Neill. Peter Knight Closes In On Class 2 Title

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Croeso i Llandw. Welcome to Llandow for the second round in a week. Good to be back in Wales at this iconic circuit. A place steeped in history. The place where in 1950 what was then the world’s worst civil aviation disaster took place and home to the 2012 Eisteford. But enough of history.

Wales is famous for many thanks. Big voices, sheep and rain and as the drivers arrived black clouds were rolling in from the nearby ocean looking as they we were about to get extremely wet. As testing begun there were some damp patches but the rain held off and gradually the clouds moved away to the east to dump their load on England.

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Suddenly the Championship has past the halfway stage and arrived at the pointy end of the season. Three rounds to and both the HW Championship leader, Joe Holmes, and the LW Championship leader, Jack O’Neill were missing from the entry list. A chance for the trailing packs in both Championships to make up ground.

After the morning Heavyweights, P’nawn da Lightweights!

And what a fine afternoon it was too. The dark clouds had shifted away to bathe the circuit in warm sunshine. A perfect September afternoon for racing.

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The Road to the Finals

Dan Healey got the perfect start to his day taking the win in the first heat. But it only came after Jason Bradbury received a cone penalty and dropped to second in the results. It would be the only bit of good fortune that Dan would have for the rest of the afternoon. Ed Barrs took valuable points with third after working his way up from grid twelve. But by the time he got up to third he was too far adrift to catch the leaders. Steve Hicks took fourth after a typically feisty drive up from grid thirteen with Dan Seager fifth. A good drive too up from grid eleven.

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Rhianna Purcocks claimed the second heat after a race long battle with Alisdair Irvine. She tailed Irvine for most of the race but jumped him with two laps to run to take the win. Peter Knight took third after working his way up from grid eleven. Sam Slater was fourth with Josh Adams fifth after climbing up from the fifth row.

Tom Dix marked his return to the series with a win in heat three. Mike Coppin led for most of the race but Dix hunted him down and dived down the inside at the final turn on the final lap. Both got out of shape and a following Daz Teal closed dramatically. Dix got the better traction to lead whilst Coppin and Teal were in a drag race for the line with Teal just getting the nod by 0.002. Can’t remember a tighter finish. Fraser Brunton was fourth with Chris Woodger fifth.

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Peter Knight took a comfortable win the heat four with Hussain Rashid second. These two started on the front row. Rashid led round the first tour but Knight slipped by second time around and pulled clear to win by over two seconds. Rashid was a lonely second with Andrew Rabbage third across the line but penalised for a bump and pass which handed Dan Seager third from Sam Slater and Steve Hicks.

Ed Barrs took the win in the fifth heat in what proved to be the most boring race of the day. Teal led the opening lap before falling to fourth behind Barrs, Josh Adams and Garrett Berry. And that was how they stayed all the way to the flag. Jason Bradbury started fifth and ran fifth all the way to the end only to lose fifth for cone abuse. Again. Ramunas Cerkauskas was promoted to fifth.

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Heat six saw Fraser Brunton take an easy win over six seconds clear of Mike Coppin who worked his way steadily up the order from grid ten. He took Rob Langthorp for the spot on the penultimate lap. Langthorp remained third with Stef Theodorou next over the line but dropping a place for cone abuse  and promoting Greg Smith to fourth.

Ed Barrs took his second heat win of the day in the seventh heat. Starting from grid eight he took the lead at half distance. Polesitter Reece Pope kept him honest though and was just a tenth behind at the flag. The win was good enough to secure Barrs pole for the A Final. Chris Woodger put in one of his best drives for awhile, leading for several laps before falling to third and holding off a late race challenge from Peter Knight in fourth. Dan Seager completed the top five.

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The penultimate heat saw Tom  Dix take his second win of the day. Mathew Cockerham led for two thirds of the race before Dix hit the front. He pulled clear to take the win over two seconds clear of second placed Cockerham with Rhianna Purcocks third from Hussain Rashid and Alisdair Irvine.

Ramunas Cerkauskas led much of the final heat but the win, his second of the day, went to Fraser Brunton who had to work his way up the order from grid eight. Daz Teal claimed valuable points with third after working his way up from grid seven with Garret Berry fifth from David Longman.

The Finals

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B Final

(All drivers in C3 unless otherwise noted)

Jacob Lewis on pole from C1 Ashley White with C1 and CLUB100 returnee David Longman and C2 Greg Smith on the second row. C2 Matt Collier and Bayford winner Dan Healey were on row three the latter having something of a torrid day. Two C2’s followed, Roger Davis and Archie Hobson on four followed by Ami Breacher and C2 Ned Douglas on five. Two more C2’s on the sixth row, Chris Lewis Evans and Rogerio Mendes. C2 Dante Dhillon and Bryn Alban shared row seven with C2 Callum Brewell and Justin Draper on row eight. C2 Lloyd McGeoch-Williams and Andy Berry were on row nine with Robin Kassam and Jagjeet Singh on row ten. Luke Dunnett and Peter Sharpe shared row eleven with Russell Cooper and Niall Williams on row twelve. James Browning and James Dunnett occupied the thirteenth row with Simon Sharpe and Sam Morris bringing up the rear with Cameron Williams. Top two to qualify for the A Final and a trophy for the winner.

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Lewis led the field away from the line but White was quickly at the front and led the first lap. Smith got a decent start as did Healey and Hobson whilst Longman got shuffled down sixth ahead of Douglas. White’s lead was short lived as Lewis slipped inside White at the right handed McWhirters. Healey was getting quickly up to speed and moved into third at the expense of Smith second time around. As did Longman and Hobson. Lewis continued to lead but White was coming under pressure from Healey who slipped by at McWhirters for second. A lap later and Longman also slipped by White. Fourth time around and Lewis set the fastest lap of the race thus far with Healey a few tenths back. Longman was homing in on second and edging clear of White. Lewis continued to eke out a gap at the front whilst Healey was keeping a wary eye on the closing Longman. White was coming under pressure from Hobson and losing touch with the leading group. Hobson was intent on fourth but spun away his chances promoting Douglas to fifth but some distance back from the top four. 

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Half distance and Lewis remained at the front with Healey shadowing his every move. Longman remained third but was dropping back with White still fourth but almost two seconds adrift from the front trio. But he looked safe in fourth with Douglas not able to match his pace and running over two seconds back in fifth. Alban was next but coming under increasing pressure from Smith, the two of them almost side by side as they crossed the line to start the eighth tour. But Alban held on and Smith fell into line. Ninth time around and a change of lead as Healey nipped inside Lewis for the lead. Lewis got in a little too deep at McWhirters and Healey didn’t need a second invitation. But Lewis wasn’t about to give up. Healey led for a lap before Lewis grabbed the spot back. Healey didn’t fight him too hard knowing that to do so could risk qualifying for the A Final. A wise decision. Lewis pulled a few tenths clear setting his best lap twelfth time around. Longman was out of the hunt but well clear of Douglas who had caught and passed White. Lewis and Healey cruised round to the flag with Lewis seventh tenths clear at the flag. An impressive win for the C3 runner. Longman was a lonely third two seconds back from Healey but four clear of Douglas from White, Smith and Alban.  But then came the penalties. Douglas dropped a place for cone abuse a fate which also befell Smith. White lost two places after being penalised for a jump start and fell to seventh. 

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B Final Winner – Jacob Lewis

All of which promoted Alban to fourth. Breacher was next over the line but she dropped four places after a bump and pass. Draper jumped up to eighth as a result. Williams was next but he too dropped four places after contact with Berry early in the race. Sharpe was promoted to ninth with Browning tenth.      

A Final

(All drivers in C1 unless otherwise noted)

Ed Barrs on pole. Just where he needed to be in the absence of Jack O’Neill. Fraser Brunton was alongside followed by Tom Dix and C2 Championship leader Peter Knight on row two. Daz Teal and Mike Coppin shared row three with Rhianna Purcocks and C2 Dan Seager on row four. Alisdair Irvine and Reece Pope shared row five with Josh Adams and C2 Garrett Berry on row six. Steve Hicks and C2 Ramunas Cerkauskas were on row seven ahead of Chris Woodger and Jason Bradbury on row eight. C2 Hussain Rashid and James Martin were on row nine followed by Rob Langthorp and C2 Sam Slater. Mathew Cockerham and Stef Theodorou were on row eleven with Joshua Halloran and Andrew Rabbage on the penultimate row followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final, Lewis and Healey. Lewis was the only C3 in the A final and thus guaranteed the C3 winner’s trophy as well as the trophy for winning the B Final.

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Barrs brought the field up to the line but Brunton was a little slow to react and Barrs was clear as they entered the Hook for the first time. Dix held back not wanting to jump ahead of Brunton and risk a jumped start but it would cost him dear as her got swamped into and round the Hook. Purcocks too got badly held up. End of the lap and Barrs was already over half a second clear of Brunton with the latter over a second clear of third place now held by Teal from Knight,

Coppin and Dix. Cerkauskas was next but he would not be a factor having jumped the start. Still, I guess that depends on your point of view. He should have started fourteenth but crossed the line ninth so a two place deduction still left him with a net gain! A lap later and he was up to seventh and running second in C2 on the road. Four laps run and Barrs was over a second clear of Brunton with the latter a second up on Teal. Coppin had slipped by Knight for fourth but was over two seconds adrift of third place. A couple of laps later and Dix too had demoted Knight a place. Half distance and Barrs continued to stretch his lead whilst Brunton now had Teal closing in. Coppin remained fourth but couldn’t match the pace of the leading trio. Dix was a few lengths back and holding off Knight whilst Pope was up to seventh from Irvine and Cerkauskas who would shortly spin down the order. Tenth time around and Barrs was continuing to extend his lead at the front whilst Brunton was defending manfully from Teal. Dix put a move on Coppin for fourth but not without contact. He would be penalised four places post race and would lose a further place after attacking a cone. A lap later and Dix lost fourth on the road to Knight. 

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Twelfth time around and Barrs put in the fastest lap of the race to move over three seconds clear and put the seal on a dominant victory. A much needed confidence booster. Brunton took second having held off the challenge from Teal. A very good drive as was Teal’s who couldn’t just find that extra few tenths. 

The top three were the class of the race finishing well clear of fourth placed Knight who took the C2 honours with Reece Pope fifth and second in C2. It took a last corner pass on Coppin to grab fifth by just 0.032. The second time in the afternoon that Coppin had lost a place by just hundredths. Dix was next but his penalties promoted Hicks to seventh with Seager next and third in C2. Berry and Bradbury completed the top ten. 

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Class 1 Podium – Winner Ed Barrs, flanked by Fraser Brunton and Darren Teal

The C3 honours at Llandow went to Jacob Lewis with Bryn Alban second and Justin Draper third.

Round up

Jack O’Neill still leads the Championship but Ed Barrs has edged closer. It’s still all to play for and don’t rule out Dan Healey. He had an awful day at Llandow. Definitely one to put behind him. He’ll bounce back. Daz Teal had a decent day too as did Mike Coppin. Both are capable of finishing higher. 

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Class 2 Winner – Peter Knight

Peter Knight lays sixth and is leading C2 well clear  Reece Pope and Alisdair Irvine in eleventh and twelfth overall. Samuel Essery missed Llandow but leads C3 well clear of Ami Breacher who is improving round by round. Justin Draper is third. 

Reflections

At long lost the penny seems to have dropped with the HW/SHW drivers. Save for the driver who has already been mentioned the morning races were held in a good spirit with some hard but fair racing.

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Class 3 Podium – Winner Jacob Lewis, flanked by Bryn Alban and Justin Draper

Sadly the Lights needed a warning from JV midway through the heats. I’ve noted some of the comments on social media and it is clear that many of the drivers are getting frustrated by the standards too. Hopefully after these last two rounds we will see a return to hard but fair racing. All the lights should be helping each other. Respect each other, learn when to yield. Because if you don’t you can rest assured that the penalty regime will become a lot more strict. 

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And on the subject of penalties our observers have yet again been the subject of social media chatter for alleged inconsistency. What utter nonsense this is. What a thankless task. Perhaps if drivers spent a bit more time learning to race rather than whining about penalties they would have a more enjoyable experience. As for moaning about track limit and cone penalties. I’m almost lost for words.

See you at Whilton!

Words: Steve Gray

Photography: John Patterson