Blip. “Now Move Along There, Nothing To See”. And then Joe Holmes Was Back To Winning

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C100R5-GYG-1488Seventeen drivers for the Pre B Final James Browning started up front with Martin Gurnett and the former looked relatively comfortable 1.5secs clear until lap 4, when I presume talent inversely squared with available grip saw him fall off. Gurnett took over, perhaps disappointed to not make the top 20 again, but steady as she goes and extended his lead over Ben Benneyworth, Rob Moore and Andy Clarke and later Martin ran out a winner and top of the 4 qualifiers, ahead of Shane O’Neill who must be used to these very green, very wet spaces… He’d run up from the back of the grid, pass Clarke before he stopped on lap 10, Moore who’d finish 4th, and Benneyworth in the closing stages, Shane finishing 2nd, an excellent drive. Behind Paul Williams starting 17th and running 6secs behind O’Neill through the 2nd half of the race, would run out of laps at the the finish and about the same margin short of Moore taking the last qualifying spot. Honourable, but failure.

C100R5-GYG-1651Unsurprisingly Joe Holmes qualified in the Pre A Final pole position 0.4secs quicker than Mike Bodnar (chapeau.) but over 1secs quicker than anyone else. Bodnar struggled to hold his position off the start and it was James Taylor off grid 3 taking up station behind Holmes, with a fast starting Chris Murray and Harrison Darvill moving up from the bottom of the top ten but already over 2secs behind the leading pair. As they pulled clear, Bodnar recovered lost positions, if not lost ground, passing Darvill then Murray, but by then it was clear, it was straight fight between Taylor and Holmes with James pushing on, and taking risks he could afford to take, given his near guest status. Not that Holmes couldn’t risk an off and he pegged James, at around 0.8-1.0secs for much of the final, and that was that.

By the time the chequered flag dropped (metaphorically and electronically) the pair were 13secs clear of Darvill, who dropped Murray into a fight with Kirk, who like Bodnar had been unable to go with the leaders in the early running from grid 4. Notable failures from Tim Hill off grid 5, pretty sure I saw him parked waiting for assistance early on, similarly for Daren Townsley and David Whitehouse. And another strong run from Shane O’Neill from the back of the 24 kart grid up to 9th.

C100R5-GYG-1877With only 13 for the B Final there was ample opportunity, given the conditions for anyone to make it into the top 2 in what was always going to be as much a war of attrition as anything else. Roger Davis converted pole position, Paul Williams not so much off grid 2, Alistair Mason moved through inside on the run down the Dragon Straight, Paul Goddard well placed as ever holding off Pete Gillett and James Browning. Browning went for a gap as they turned uphill for 4th, a faint whiff of desperation sent Goddard side by side with James, then sandwiched between Williams on the outside through Spoon. Goddard remained 4th, Williams lost out to Steve Townsend then Andy Clarke into Carousel. Williams kept his nose in, and perhaps that was a mistake, inside of Clarke going into the right hander at the top of the hill, contact maybe, but very light, Clarke spun off, Williams got excluded. By the time they had reached start finish Davis had a 2secs lead over Browning, who looked like an A finalist who had no intention of cocking up for 3rd time (Qually – poor, Pre B – off). Davis looked comfortable in the company of everyone save Browning, who ran him down and passed inside of 6 laps. 6.5secs behind Mason was dialled into the the leading duos pace, but of course 6.5secs behind. And that really is all there is to say, the field behind had either fallen off, been punted off, or was just surviving. Williams (with exclusion) and Mason, were left hoping for a gaffe ahead, were 3rd and 4th on the road, 8secs behind the leader at near half way, 14secs behind Browning at the finish, 6secs ahead of Townsend, 12secs ahead Goddard, Gillett and a rusty I guess John Muscroft.

C100R5-GYG-2302So the A Final, I was anticipating a serious dog fight between Holmes and Taylor but when James wobbled climbing up to Spoon on lap 1, Joe was through, and he also ran James wide, and it was enough to give him a better line through the end of the corner and better traction as a consequence. Taylor lost 2 or 3 kart lengths he could ill afford and never really recovered. Behind in a bit of scrum off Carousel, Lennie Wood got ejected from the pack, Michael Ballinger had been squeezed off the road on the exit kerb by Ben Daly also not entirely in control of his trajectory.

Tim Hill keen to make up for lost time from grid 12 threw one down the inside of turn 1 on Shane O’Neill and Mike Townley, probably not appreciated by Mike, and both O’Neill and Simon Lloyd put Tim back in 10th as he had no traction off the corner, he’d then lose control turning uphill… Chris Murray moved inside of Darvill for 5th inside of Spoon, both losing ground to Bodnar but setting up a battle for 5th that would later see both Lloyd and Ridout join for that last lap denouement. Shane O’Neill finally found his correct level and that was 9th place in the A Final ahead of Mike Townley 10th.

Upfront Holmes was getting into his stride and edging a few tenths at a time away from Taylor who had Stuart Kirk moving in and out of range and thats pretty much how it ran to the finish. James Browning drove through from grid 25 to get into the top 10. The Murray, Darvill battle for 5th began to trip each other up to pull in the Lloyd and Ridout dice for the closest thing to a big finish. Only Holmes was 18secs up the road.

Round 6 is at Clay Pigeon on 31 July 2016.

Photography: Jack Mitchell, JAM Motorsport Photography