Brilliant Barnard ends Titan dominance
For the first time in 2019, no one wearing Titan branded overalls can be found on the top step.
Introduction and Qualifying
Although rain had been forecast for this race, it turned out dry, albeit a little cloudy.
It was no surprise to see Jenman on pole. It was slightly more of a surprise to not see O’Neill joining him on the front row. This position went to the ever improving Greg Barnard who is quickly emerging as the clear third best driver behind in the lightweight class O’Neill was third, Eddie Hall fourth and Chris Brown in fifth. In total, twenty-three drivers took to the track.
Barnard took the lead from Jenman at the start and it immediately became apparent that the championship leader had a problem. A severe lack of top end meant he was a sitting duck and he spent the next few laps defending hard (and sometimes questionably) against Chris Brown, Ryan Sandall and Eddie Hall. After Sandall’s attempts failed and Chris Brown’s usual blunt force trauma approach also failed, it was left to Eddie Hall to pull off an impressive move around the outside going into the final corner – even if he does say so himself.
Back at the front and Greg Barnard continued to lead Jack O’Neill by the smallest of margins. Thanks largely to Jenman’s defensive driving, the leading pair had pulled out a huge gap in the first few laps. Hall was now coming under pressure from Geoff Saunderson and the flying Ben Leslie. Behind this battle, Mitchell Althasen had managed to get past Jenman but was over four seconds behind. He had Kyle Sager, “Basher” Brown, Ryan Sandall and Daryl Snelling right on him so had his work cut out.
Leslie took Hall for third on lap 19 and immediately pulled away. Hall then came under pressure from Geoff Saunderson and the two of them enjoyed a wheel to wheel battle that lasted until the last few laps when they were joined by Brown.
Further back and Tim Ellis was leading a train of karts comprising Claudio la Rosa, John Regan, Iain McGregor and David Hamer. Aside from a small handful of stragglers at the back, the majority of the field was very evenly matched in terms of lap times.
Back at the front and Barnard continued to lead from O’Neill. The latter hounded him lap after lap and was never more than a couple of tenths of a second behind. Barnard never once cracked under pressure and held onto the lead until the chequered flag. These two came home over eighteen seconds ahead of Ben Leslie who had pulled out a six second lead over the battle for fourth between Saunderson and Hall. Chris Brown came along and proceeded to violate both of them without even using lube. His efforts were in vain however and he ultimately had to settle for sixth behind Hall and Saunderson.
Greg Barnard’s win in race one put him on pole position for the second race. Jack O’Neill was alongside with Ben Leslie and Eddie Hall on row two. Geoff Saunderson and Chris Brown would be ones to watch on row three, as would Own Jenman whose poor result in the first race put him fifteenth on the grid.
Barnard led O’Neill round the opening lap. Hall dived inside Leslie into the first chicane to take third. Further back and Jenman had made three places on the opening lap. Lap three saw an end to Geoff Saundrerson’s day when he was spun around. Leslie took third place back but remained under huge pressure from Hall and Chris Brown.
Jenman had continued to make progress and by lap 6 was challenging Brown, making short work of getting past. He then went all “Chris Brown” and nerfed Hall off at the second chicane before wiping out some cones. Hall dropped to ninth behind Brown, Kyle Sager, Daryl Snelling, Ben Leslie and Mitchell Althasen.
It was pretty much a repeat of the first race at the front. Barnard maintained a gap of a few tenths of a second over Jack O’Neill and they had a huge gap to the rest of the field. Jenman was third on the road but had a penalty hanging over him courtesy of his earlier banditry (none for the cone molestation though). Chris Brown was alone in fourth place, a second and a half behind Jenman but comfortably ahead of the ever improving Kyle Sager.
By half distance, Barnard was still doing a stirling job by keeping O’Neill at bay. Chris Brown was still running comfortably in fourth. Kyle Sager was untroubled in fifth with Althasen sixth. Ben Leslie had managed to hold off Hall for several laps before the latter got past and then set after Althasen.
There were a few scraps going on in the mid field. Tim Ellis and Victor Neumann were fighting over tenth place, Kareem Arafa was fending off Iain McGregor and David Hamer for fourteenth. Geoff Saunderson was trying to claw his way back up the order after his early race catastrophe.
Over the last ten or so laps Greg Barnard started to open up a gap to O’Neill. The latter began to lose a bit of pace and this allowed Chris Brown and Owen Jenman to close up slightly, although the margin was too big for either of them to mount any serious challenge. In fact these two got embroiled in a scrap for third place over the last few laps. Behind them, Hall was closing the gap to Kyle Sager by a few tenths of a second but ran out of laps to make a move.
So after 41 laps, Greg Barnard had opened up a gap of nearly two seconds over O’Neill. He duly crossed the line to make it a double win in what was a spectacular display of driving. Chris Brown managed to hold off Jenman for third. Jenman’s earlier banditry earned him a four place penalty which dropped him to eighth, promoting Kyke Sager to fourth, Eddie Hall to fifth, Mitchell ALthasen to sixth and Ryan Sandall to seventh.
For the first time in 2019 there wasn’t a Titan Motorsport driver on the top step of the podium. By virtue of his two stunning race wins Greg Barnard claimed the overall victory over Jack O’Neill. It was very close for third place with Chris Brown and Eddie Hall tying on points. However, Brown’s third place in the second race was enough to give him the final podium position.
A bad day at the office for Jenman saw O’Neill take the lead in the points standings. Greg Moore is now firmly best of the rest in third with Geoff Saunderson fourth and Eddie Hall fifth. It’s very close behind the top five as well but the focus is on the top two. With four rounds remaining, it really could go either way.