Beroual-Smith Maximises Holmes Absence.

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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.

First away, the Heavyweights (HW) and SuperHeavyweights (SHW) entrants.

The Road to the Finals

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Anwar Beroual-Smith got his day off to the perfect start by winning the opening heat. He didn’t have it all his own way though as he trailed Alexander Lammin over the opening laps before slipping into a lead he would never relinquish. Lammin hung onto second despite the attentions of Jonathan Elliott who ran third for much of the race. Tom Fuller was fourth from Benjamin Robinson whilst Championship contender Matt Wileman got the worst possible start too his day by spinning down the order out of the Hook and finishing last.

Chris Alcock crossed the line first at the end of Heat Two after a strong drove up from grid seven. But a cone penalty dropped him to second and promoted early heat leader Richard Masterson back into first. Richard Allen claimed third from Lee Henderson and Steve Downes, having his first outing of the year.

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Heat Three resulted in a win for Alex Pritchard. Starting from the second row he was quickly by the two front men, Steve Lindley and Vijay Patel to run at the front. Adam Wright joined him just before half distance but couldn’t find a way by and had to settle for second with Lindley third from Miguel Hall and CLUB100 returnee Stephen Netting.

Tom Fuller took a fine lights to flag win in the fourth heat. Anwar Beroual-Smith took second. He’d started on the second row but was held at bay by Simon Kavanagh who had started alongside Beroual-Smith but got the better start. By the time Beroual-Smith got in front of Kavanagh, Fuller was some two and a half seconds up the road and despite closing the gap Beroual-Smith couldn’t catch him. Chris Alcock took third with Steve Downes fourth. Benjamin Robinson crossed the line fifth but a bump and pass penalty on Kavanagh dropped him down the order and promoted Severn to fifth.

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Matt Wileman got his day back on track taking the fifth heat from pole. Adam Wright chased him home in second. He’d started from the fifth row but a super aggressive, but fair, opening lap saw him up to second. But Wileman kept him at bay winning by a few Kart lengths. Richard Allen claimed third from Jonathan Elliott and Stephen Netting.

Heat Six resulted in a comfortable win for Steve Bosley. Starting from pole he headed home second placed Tim Hill by over four seconds. Good to see Tim back racing after recovering from injury. A strong drive too after starting from the fourth row. Paul Williams claimed third with Bill Taylor and  Richard Masterson fourth and fifth. Ewan Howells put in a strong drive coming up from the back of the grid to sixth only to be excluded post race for being underweight. 

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After two second places Adam Wright finally took a win in Heat Seven leading all the way after starting from the front row. Jonathan Elliott was third with Alex Pritchard several seconds back in third after fighting his way up the order from grid eight. Stephen Netting took fourth after starting from pole. Nevertheless it was another strong result. Tom Fuller claimed fifth.

The penultimate heat resulted in a runaway win for Matt Wileman. He took the lead on the first lap and then drove away from the field. Steve Downes crossed the line second some four seconds adrift but well clear of third place which should have gone to Richard Allen. But on the final corner fifth placed Steve Bosley attacked Chris Alcock for fourth. Alcock defended but lost situational awareness and punted into second placed Allen spinning him to a halt. Bosley slipped by as Alcock came off the bend also being passed by Luke Philips. Downes then lost second after he was adjudged to have jumped the start thus promoting Bosley to an unlikely second place and a spot on the second row of the grid for the A Final. Philips moved up to third with Downes fourth and Alexander Lammin fifth after Alcock was penalised down to eleventh. The luckless and innocent Allen placed sixth.

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The final heat resulted in a second win for Anwar Beroual-Smith. He had to work for it though moving through the field from grid eight and taking early pacesetter Tim Hill with three laps to go. The win would be enough to secure pole for the A Final. Hill remained second with Jason Bear third. Fourth across the line was Ewan Howells but he suffered his second exclusion of the day after receiving multiple penalties and provoking some debate post race on the standard of his driving. Paul Williams inherited fourth with Steve Lindley fifth.  

The Finals

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B Final

(All drivers in C3 unless otherwise noted)

SHW Kieran Chidgzey on pole from Jaeden Cadogan with Elliott Taylor and Andrew Hicks on the second row. Row three saw C2 Simon Kavanagh alongside SHW Andrew Cherry followed by Joel Arguelles and Bradley Porter on row four. Row five had Mathew Batter alongside SHW Vinod Harani with Leon Du Preez and Elliott Garnett on row six.  Jason Mummery and Christopher Jones shared row seven with Mat Griffiths and Chris Solomon on row eight. Jason Small and C2 Vijay Patel were on the penultimate row with C3 Ewen Howells in the final grid slot. Two to qualify for the A Final and a trophy for the winner.

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Chidgzey brought the field up to the line and was swiftly away from pole with Cadogan alongside. Cadogan lost out through the Hook as Taylor muscled him out. Fairly I should add. Taylor was really on the move and quickly ahead of Chidgzey for the lead. Over the line at the end of the lap and Taylor was half a second up on Chidgzey with Cadogan third from Cherry and Batter, up four places, whilst Hicks had lost out badly dropping to ninth. Down the order Howells had made a lightening start and was up to fourteenth. Small was an early spinner. Unfortunately he forgot the rules and re-started from being stationary on the grass. He would suffer the inevitable exclusion from the results post race. Taylor continued to lead and was beginning to open up a gap from Chidgzey. Cherry was coming under pressure from Batter who made a move into and out of the last turn. Cherry hung on. Just. Batter went wide and Cadogan tried to get in on the act. The three of them were side by side as they crossed the line with Batter 0.091 down on Cherry and Cadogan 0.029 down on Batter.  Chidgzey made an error through the Hook and was immediately swamped by Cherry and Batter. Cadogan too lost out and would slip to sixth. Taylor continued to pull away at the front. Batter was trying everything to get by Cherry but he too had a small off and fell back to tenth. Kavanagh was up to third with Chidgzey fourth from Cadogan. Porter was sixth but over a second and a half back from Cadogan. Seventh was Howells, comfortably the fastest man on the track and homing in on Porter. 

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A lap later and he was up to sixth but still with a lot of work to do. Half distance and Taylor was still out front but Cherry was beginning to cut the gap and taking Kavanagh with him. Chidgzey was being dropped and now had the flying Howells homing in on his fourth place. Over the line to start the ninth tour and Chidgzey was still ahead but only by inches and had to bow to the inevitable as they dived into the Hook. How far could Howells go? Kavanagh was over a second and a half clear but within a lap the gap had been cut by a second. A lap later and he was up to third and almost alongside Cherry as they crossed the line. Cherry bowed to the inevitable and Howells immediately began to close in on Taylor for the lead crossing the line to start the twelfth tour just inches behind. He was ahead at the Hook and into a lead he never looked like losing as he pulled clear to take the win over two seconds clear of second placed Taylor. A stunning drive. An outstanding performance that had the crowd purring with delight after seeing one of the drives of the season. Or was it? 

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B Final Winner – Elliot Taylor

Sadly no. For the second time in the event Howells was found to be underweight. One of my ex colleagues had a favourite saying. Everyone makes mistakes but only an idiot makes the same mistake twice. Getting excluded twice for being underweight isn’t the brightest thing to do is it? Coming on the back of his final heat where he suffered his second exclusion, in the heats, after two ABC Bump & Passes (BAPs) and multiple contacts didn’t make for a great debut. Clearly Ewen has some talent but… Hopefully though we will see more of him and hopefully he will have learnt a lesson. With Howells excluded Taylor inherited the win with SHW Cherry the second qualifier. Kavanagh was next over the line but lost the place to Chidgzey after a penalty for cone abuse. Cadogan too suffered the same fate handing fifth, and third in C3, to Porter who sadly didn’t realise, left the meeting and missed out on the podium celebrations. He also set the fastest lap of the race. Hicks was seventh with Garnett next after Batter dropped a spot for cone abuse with Patel completing the top ten.   

A Final

(All drivers in C1 unless otherwise noted)

Anwar Beroual-Smith on pole with Adam Wright alongside followed by two C2’s, Alex Pritchard and Steve Bosley. Row three had two C2’s, Jonathan Elliott and Tom Fuller with C2 Richard Allen alongside  Steve Downes  on row four. On row five we had two more C2’s, the veterans Tim Hill and Paul Williams (probably the oldest combined grid row in CLUB100 history?). Row six was another all C2 row with Richard Masterson alongside Steve Lindley. Row seven had C2 Stephen Netting alongside Chris Alcock followed by Miguel Hall and Matt Wileman, the latter with a huge amount to do to capitalise on Joe Holmes absence. Two SHW’S occupied row nine, Lee Henderson and Bill Taylor.  Row ten had C2 Rory Severn alongside the first of two C3’s on the grid, Luke Philips. Row eleven had two C2’s Jason Bear and Alexander Lammin with the penultimate row shared by SHW Richard Newton and C2 Benjamin Robinson followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final, C3 Taylor and SHW Cherry.

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Beroual-Smith led the pack up to the line with Wright anxiously glancing across to anticipate Beroual-Smiths getaway. Away they went. Wright judged the start well and briefly got ahead as they entered the Hook. But Beroual-smith was wise to the move and held his line giving Wright room but not too much. Out of the Hook Beroual-Smith had the edge and Wright tucked in behind. Behind, Pritchard got the better of Bosley to run third. End of the lap and Beroual-Smith was a kart length up from Wright, Pritchard and Bosley. Allen had moved up a place at the expense of Bosley. Second time around and Beroual-Smith had opened the lead but only by inches. Pritchard was falling back whilst Bosley lost out to Elliott and Allen. Fuller was next and pulling clear of Downes. Down the order Henderson had fallen to back along with Severn whilst Hall was on a mini charge after dropping back at the start. 

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Championship contender Wileman was making little progress. He would ultimately make it into the top ten but would be classified eleventh after a cone penalty. A definite dropped score. Beroual-Smith and Wright were easing away at the front whilst Pritchard was coming under pressure from Elliott. Allen was being dropped but clear of Fuller who had Bosley on his rear bumper looking to move back up the order. Downes remained eighth whilst Hill was falling back. Fifth time around and Elliott slipped ahead of Pritchard round the final turn crossing the line half a Kart ahead. Once into third he immediately began to pull clear. Wright was falling back from the leader. Half distance and Beroual-Smith was almost second ahead and lapping consistently. The top four were beginning to spread out and with Allen over a second back in fifth the order looked settled. Eighth time around and Beroual-Smith set his fastest lap moving himself almost a second and half clear and breaking the spirit of the chasing pack. Now the race was about second. Elliott had dropped Pritchard and was now concentrating on homing in on Wright for second. Elliott had edged to within a couple of tenths after setting the fastest lap of the race eleventh time around. Wright dug deep and responded setting his fastest lap with just two to go and edging a little clear. Over the line to start the final tour and he looked to be home and dry but he made a small mistake down at the bottom of the circuit and Elliott pounced as they ran up to the bottom chicane. Wright defended but Elliott had the momentum and slipped by. 

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Beroual-Smith crossed the line over two seconds clear having done what he needed to do in the absence of Joe Holmes. Elliott was second and first in C2. He also set the fastest lap of the race. Wright was next and it was good to see the handshake between him and Elliott after the flag. Fine clean drives from them both. Wright was fulsome in his praise of the winner after the race too describing Beroual-Smith’s drive as awesome. Pritchard came home fourth. A good drive even though he was well adrift of the leaders. He took second in C2 with fifth overall Allen third in the class. Downes was sixth and third in C1. A good result in what is likely to be his only drive of the season. Good to see him back. Fuller was next and only just missed out on pipping Downes by 0.087. Bosley took eighth well clear of Hall with Hill tenth. Bill Taylor won the SHW class with Richard Newton third from Lee Henderson, who set the fastest lap in the class,  whilst Luke Philips claimed the C3 honours with Taylor second, the latter setting the fastest lap in the class and establishing a class lap record.     

Round up

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Class 1 Winner – Anwar Beroual-Smith with his biggest fan, through all weathers.

A top drawer drive from Anwar Beroual-Smith. He did everything he needed to do to maximise the absence of Championship leader Joe Holmes. Matt Wileman almost did everything but his off at the opening corner cost him dear. Despite winning his next two heats he was always going to struggle. He now drops behind Beroual-Smith in the classification with Holmes now ten points clear. Adam Wright is fourth. 

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Class 2 Podium – Winner Jonathan Elliott, flanked by Alex Pritchard and Richard Allen

In C2 Jonathan Elliott leads the way from Alex Pritchard with Richard Allen third whilst in the SHW class Bill Taylor is still in the lead from Lee Henderson and Richard Newton whilst Luke Philips continues to head C3 from Max Jameson and Jaeden Cadogan. 

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Class 3 Winner – Luke Phillips

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.

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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SuperHeavyweight Podium – Winner Bill Taylor, flanked by Richard Newton and Lee Henderson

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