Brilliant Barnard’s double dose of Lodge magic
With the morning’s endurance races out of the way, it was the turn of the arguably more prestigious afternoon sprint 60 event. Jenman, O’Neill and Barnard are the top three in the championship and all three raced in the morning so would surely be in the best shape for the afternoon’s battle.
Owen Jenman claimed pole from Greg Barnard by the narrowest of margins. Just one thousandth of a second separated the top two. Jack O’Neill was third, Kyle Sager fourth and Tim Ellis fifth. A few notable drivers were out of position. Eddie Hall could only manage seventh after admitting to not getting to grips with the circuit quick enough. Daryl Snelling and Ryan Sandall were only twelfth and thirteenth respectively. Notable absentees included Darri Simms, Chris Brown and Geoff Saunderson. Internet celebrity Jimmy Broadbent was in attendance at this race. The best sim racer and Youtuber next to Aiden Millward qualified 23rd out of 24.
As the lights went green, Jenman managed to convert his pole position into the early race lead. O’Neill snatched second from Barnard by virtue of having the inside line. Kyle Sager and Tim Ellis maintained their position and Hall made up one place to sixth.
The opening few laps saw the top three basically tow each other round and pull a huge advantage over the rest of the field. By lap eight they were over eight seconds ahead of fourth placed Kyle Sager. He was leading a train of karts made up of Ben Leslie, Tim Ellis, Thomas Barrett, Ryan Sandall, Eddie Hall and Lewis Roberts. Ben Leslie mysteriously lost power and dropped to the back of this group. He then mysteriously picked up the pace before a similar problem afflicted him later in the race.
A bit of argy bargy between Ben Leslie and Lewis Roberts resulted in contact being made with Hall and being nerfed off, losing him four places and Roberts being handed a four place penalty. Things were slightly cleaner and less bandit-like at the front and Greg Barnard managed to pull off a good move on O’Neill to take second on lap 12.
Outside the top ten there was a bit of a dice going on between Tony Philbin, Iain McGregor and Zac Cuff. They were fighting over twelfth place but it was hard for any of them to make a move on the tight circuit. Just over a second behind them, Pat Nicholls was fending off David Hamer, Jimmy Broadbent and Calvin Greatorex.
Things were hotting up at the front and Barnard was giving Jenman some real headaches. The two of them had managed to pull a nice gap to O’Neill who appeared to be struggling slightly with pace compared to the leading duo. Jenman held off Barnard valiantly for a number of laps but on lap 29, he had to yield. However, he wasn’t giving up without a fight and took back the lead two laps later. Barnard was on form and stuck on the rear bumper of Jenman and dived down the inside once more to retake the lead with five laps to go. As they entered the penultimate lap, Jenman dived back past and it looked like he might have made it stick this time. Barnard was having none of it and again snatched the lead, managing to hold off Jenman until the chequered flag. It was an epic race. O’Neill came home a distant third, Kyle Sager an impressive fourth. Ryan Sandall was miles back in fifth.
Barnard made the most of his pole position to lead going into turn one. Once again, the inside line was more advantageous and O’Neill took second from Jenman into turn one. A good start from Ryan Sandall saw him take fourth from Sager. Eddie Hall made an even better start and went from eighth to fifth before being re-passed by fifth placed Sager going into turn two.
Jenman retook O’Neill for second at the end of lap two and set about closing in on Barnard who had built up a half a second lead. By lap six Hall was up to fourth, having got back past Kyle Sager and Ryan Sandall. Thomas Barrett was also in the mix and looking strong.
By lap ten the top two were in a race of their own. Once again O’Neill didn’t seem to quite have the legs but was still easing away from the chasing Hall and Kyle Sager who were in a close battle for fourth. Sager obviously had the superior pace and Hall didn’t put up much of a fight and was passed on lap fourteen. These two were already pulling away cleanly from Lewis Roberts, Ryan Sandall and Tim Ellis, who were all battling closely together.
Behind this group, Chris Powell (not the former premier sprint and endurance champion but a different Chris Powell) had Thomas Barrett and Daryl Snelling breathing down his neck. Then there were a few drivers spaced apart by a couple of seconds and behind that was another close battle between Greatorex, McGregor and Hamer.
The battle at the front wasn’t quite as intense as that in the first race. Greg Barnard maintained a gap of around two-tenths of a second over Jenman and they continued to pull away from O’Neill by a few tenths of a second per lap. O’Neill had a pretty lonely race in third.
The excitement came ten laps from the end when the leaders came up against traffic. Jenman made a move for the lead on lap 28 and managed to hold Barnard at bay. However, not wanting to let victory slip through his fingers, Barnard came back at him with two laps to go. With the bit between his teeth, he held on for the last couple of laps to take a fantastic double win. Jenman took a more than credible second and O’Neill was third. In the end, Sager had an easy fourth place after Hall’s engine started to misfire in the closing stages.
His double win handed the overall victory to Greg Barnard. His second win of the year. A double second gave Jenman… err… second? And two thirds gave O’Neill… you get the picture. Kyle Sager took fourth overall and Eddie Hall fifth.
The points situation is confusing in this championship and my maths is shit anyway but I suspect Barnard would need some sort of miracle to clinch the championship. It’s really between Own Jenman and Jack O’Neill in what will be a Titan team mate showdown at Buckmore. It’s been so close between them all year so it looks set to be an exciting finale.