You Thought Ian Had Lost It? Blakey Strikes Back. Teal (Again) Cuts Brown’s Lead

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P1030921 reportHeat 1 sets the tone, and is even an indicator of success and like Buckmore Park where championship leader Brown won heat 1 and ran out the A Final winner, Ian Blake started on the front row, got the better of poleman Darren Teal, who also finished second, in the A Final. But it was a distant 2nd 5.5secs down and holding off Jay Elliott, although his crunching tackle on Stephen Hicks in the last corner, resulted in my opinion being sort, see pic. Fair? I took the Fifth – I don’t clerk no more. Elliott got the benefit of the doubt and 3rd.

P1030954 reportParmveer Nijjar came through from grid 4 to pick off poleman Jay Elliott early on for what would become the win in Heat 2, Daniel Healey after losing out at the start on the front row, settled in and on to 3rd place. Lowe, Brierley, Brown and Jakins all had incidents on lap 1, some with each other, some with Jamie Jakins. He came away excluded from the result for contact.

Graeme Coombes rolled back the years to win from pole position in Heat 3 ahead of Harry Neale who slipped from grid 3 to 5th ending lap 1 before driving back passed Thomas Glyde, Justin Buck and then James Hattersley to 2nd place only 0.4secs off the race winner by the finish.

Heat 4 was another bad tempered affair, Stephen Hicks getting excluded for contact, while Stephen Jennings, Jack Harding and Stephen Docker all picked up cone penalties as the scramble for positions and points ratcheted up a notch as the heats ran down. Alex Ready passed David Longman and then Stephen Docker for the lead before mid race to finish a comfortable 0.6secs ahead of Longman. Scott Martin came through to 3rd, Ian Blake coming up from 10th on the 19 kart grid to finish in 4th after a productive lap 1 and solid late race pace.

xP1030955Andy Cowell could not hold on to pole position in a shortened Heat 5 he’d have to settle for 3rd and for a while it looked like Jennings would win but Jonathan Lisseter was always there, and took the win on the last lap (of only 4). Not a lot of time for progress but still enough (with one thing and another) for Ian Blake to get from 16th on the grid to 7th at the finish for a comfortable pole position in the A Final.

P1030971 reportRandom B Final observation. Don’t expect a positive PR spin social media interview with a driver having a bad day. At least certainly not from Sean Brierley. No you haven’t seen it, because it was never published. Even my “at least the sun’s shining” could not alter the mood. It was trite and vacuous and Sean was missing timed qualifying from last season’s Lights, although too much contact, to many bandit moves, was closer to the mark and indeed there had been quite a few in the heats. And I don’t even think the win in the B Final improved his mood much. Though I didn’t test that with a microphone again. Lesson learned.

Anyway, only 10 for the race, 4 to qualify to the back of the A, as the Elite field had been only a healthy 30 in total for the heats. So 10 into 4 are fairly good odds for… Hmmm maybe not, as Brierley was drawn with former champion Jamie Jakins, last year’s champion Anwar Beroual-Smith, Stephen Hicks, Jack Harding… Although the latter did not start, someone else was still going home disappointed.

xP1030972Justin Buck and to a greater extent Myles Sharman would be looking over their shoulders on the front row from the get go, Justin nailed the hole shot, while Myles would do well to hold off Stuart Osborn and Brierley from the 2nd row. Buck leapt out to a 3 kart length lead, while Myles would be clear in 2nd but not by much into the 2nd chicane. There rows 2 to 5 finally sorted themselves out. It gave Myles some room, Brierley, Osborn and Anwar Beroual-Smith made it a group of 3, fighting over 2 remaining spots, which almost guaranteed there would be someone left without a chair when music stopped and soon enough that 1.4secs deficit to Darrell Lowe, Andy Cowell, Jamie Jakins down the far end, at the expense of Thomas Glyde and Stephen Hicks would create an opportunity to work their way back. After a run through the infield Brierley had a few kart lengths clear behind and Sharman to himself dispatching him in short order at the far end of the circuit from 2nd place. Beroual-Smith had moved by Osborn for 4th, and the race came back together as Brierley made equally short work of Buck for the lead on the brakes into the back straight hairpin, slowing the pair just enough to set up a line of karts 1st through to Lowe in 7th place after he’d just lost out to Jakins, who was just waking up only 4 laps into the Final.

Brierley pulled away leaving Buck holding off Anwar and Jakins moving passed Osborn into the hairpin like Brierley had for the lead, then Jamie did Sharman in same fashion the next lap. Then with Anwar tucked under Buck’s bumper, Jamie got a better run out of the infield hairpin to squeeze through into and around the last corner on the next lap. The top 4 looked set even if Sharman hung on gamely to 5th and hinted, although not for long, at 4th. He couldn’t maintain the gap even as Beroual-Smith fell away from a Buck-Jakins dice that would see them exchange 2nd place a few times, which flattered Brierley’s advantage out to 1.5secs to the finish. Myles Sharman and Stuart Osborn would miss out by just a frustrating few kart lengths.

xP1030984Into the A Final and it appeared the run to the first corner is just a shoe-in for any pole man, worth his salt, and you have to have that to pole it in Elite. To get in first to the first right hand apex, which wins you a clear run to the 2nd on the left as everyone else is side by side, rubbing shoulders and elbowing each other in the ribs (metaphorically)(mostly metaphorically) and losing 1 or 2 kart lengths on to the next straight. At the first attempt grid 2 man Jonathan Lisseter got out of the chicane still in 2nd, although that would have been academic as he told me he soon realised early on after the restart that it was a kart he should have swapped. But thats them damn breaks sometimes. All he really succeeded in doing after missing Blake’s launch at the 2nd start, was to allow grid 3 Darren Teal a run inside, and around the outside and across for the left of the chicane to run out clear into 2nd place, while Jon would then do Blake, to a lesser extent, and Darren a favour in holding up Dan Healey and Alex Ready (the 2 front running Lightweights from 2015 settling in nicely into Elite) for a few corners, long enough to let Jay Elliott get by them and him. Then Jon would do his best before Parmveer Nijjar, Steve Brown, Tom Dix, Scott Martin, Pete O’Connor and even Ed Barrs, who had slid back through the final himself from his grid 5, until he picked off Jon for 11th in the closing stages.

By the end of lap 1, Blake had had a 0.7secs lead and Teal had 0.5secs on the Lissichella obstacle, then Ian edged to 0.9 on Teal, from which point Blake controlled, or Darren pegged, the gap until toward the finish Teal could settle comfortably for 2nd, after seeing off any lingering Jay Elliott challenge. Jay had used the bottle neck of Lisseter to pass Healey, then Lisseter himself at the bottom of the circuit on lap 2. Two or three kart lengths down on Darren Teal into the hairpin, I expected to Jay to run Darren down, but fair play, he could only get tantalisingly close on the brakes to the back straight hairpin and in the infield, after that Darren had the legs on him around the rest of the circuit and even in clear air Jay was unable to make further progress. It looked a distinct possibility that Dan Healey might yet take 3rd place from Jay and that distraction finally released Daz into the clear of another impeccable podium drive, this time to 2nd place, as Blake stretched his legs and relaxed in the knowledge he had good pace. Like a world class 1500m runner, he knew he had it and didn’t have to push too hard to win (at least looking in from the outside) and just went quicker to run out easy to the win. It reminded me of a few of his winning performances in his championship year.

The real battle instigated by the ailing Lisseter was the fight over 5th place. By half way in this 10lapper, Ready and Nijjar had got by Jon, then Brown, Tom Dix in short order with Scott Martin breezing passed Jon up to the hairpin. The heart to fight had gone out of Lisseter in the same way his kart had from the off. Into the closing stages we were left with Dan Healey trying to apply enough to push Elliott into a mistake over 3rd place, and 2secs behind Alex Ready was trying to do something similar to Parmveer Nijjar. Healey looked much more likely to pull it off, winding himself up for the last lap, he made his big effort into the horseshoe forcing Elliott to go narrow to hold him off, but even though there were the hairpins left, experience trumped youth. Jay covered up going into the back straight hairpin and was able to pin Dan where he wanted him on the outside going in for 2nd. It was tight but Jay still managed to get enough drive off the corner to beat Dan, coming out narrow, into the last corner to secure 3rd place. 2secs ahead Teal was crossing the finish line and Blake was already winding down into the first chicane a further 1.5secs up the road. Not a ripping roaring A Final, but we’d had enough ripping and roaring in the heats that it was good to finish on a classy note. Top quality driving. At last.

Next round, a filmed round is Whilton Mill on 1 May 16