Can Anyone Stop Joe Holmes? It’s a Simple Question.
The final round of the season and the weather decided to be unkind with fog enveloping the circuit. And it was bitterly cold. Fortunately the fog did lift later in the morning as running in the afternoon when darkness descended might not have been possible. Apart from the various championships which would be settled the big talking point was the new kerb on the exit of the final corner. The kerb had been re-laid to comply with CIK regulations but unfortunately the concrete wasn’t setting. In places the kerb had been worn down badly over the previous week so bollards had been placed at right angles to the track to prevent drivers using the run off. Not the most elegant of solutions but necessary. Track limits would be rigidly enforced leading to plenty of penalties being handed down. But it was the same for everyone. Despite the lovely sunshine it was still bitterly cold for the afternoon races and the last few heats and all the finals were going to be run under the lights and with the temperature hovering just above freezing.
The Road to the Finals
Stuart Jones took the first heat and in fine style. Starting from the third row he took the lead just before half distance and drove away from the pack winning by over three seconds from C2 Championship leader Miguel Hall who had started from the front row. Chris Dixon was third after starting from the second row with Craig Johnson fourth. Steve Bosley crossed the line fifth after an epic comeback drive. Starting seventh he was down to thirteenth before a hard drive back through the field. But a four place deduction for forcing a driver wide saw him down to ninth and Super-Heavyweight Lee Henderson elevated to fifth from sixth.
Anwar Beroual-Smith got his day off to the best possible start to keep his Championship hopes very much alive. Starting Heat Two from the front row he was into the lead almost immediately and then drove away to take the win by over six seconds. Game on. Second went to the impressive Matt Kendall. Starting from grid eleven he was up to fifth by the end of the first lap. Thereafter he worked his way forward against more experienced drivers and then took second with a last lap pass on Vinod Hirani. Impressive stuff. Andrew Cherry took fourth with Steve Downes fifth.
Steve Lindley took a comfortable win in the third heat. Starting from the front row he was into the lead almost immediately and drove away to take the win by over four seconds from second placed Anthony Ridd who ran second for much of the race but off the leaders pace. He was a touch fortunate at the end as Stuart Brierley was rapidly closing in. He’d driven through the field from grid and was alongside Ridd over the finish line but just 0.057 adrift. Pole sitter Super-Heavyweight Bradley Parrett was next across the line. An eventful drive for him. Second at the end of lap one he was down to seventh after lap two before climbing back through the field. Not without incident though and he would be penalised four places. Super-Heavyweight Champion elect Richard Allen was next over the line but he too had a penalty for multiple contacts promoting Chris Gristwood to fourth and Lewis Ridd to fifth.
Heat Four resulted in a comfortable win for Oliver Moss but all eyes were on Championship leader Joe Holmes. Could he respond to the gauntlet thrown down by Beroual-Smith? Moss led almost from start to finish trailed by Jordan Salter who finished just over two seconds adrift of Moss. Holmes started from grid eleven and had to work really hard to fight his way through the field. He made it to third but was some distance behind behind Salter. Valuable points though. Paul Williams was fourth after starting from pole with Matt Wileman fifth.
Controversy at the start of Heat Five as pole man Matt Kendall brought the field up to the line with Lee Henderson alongside. Henderson was a little too early on the throttle and Kendall a touch hesitant. But it’s the pole man who controls the pace and Henderson was visibly ahead as they crossed the line. Had he hesitated a fraction and at least look as though he was trying not to gain an advantage he might have got away with it but he streaked off up the hill opening a pretty large gap by the time the field reached Christmas corner. And he stayed at the front all the way to the final lap before being caught by Beroual-Smith who came through from grid eight to take his second win of the day just a few lengths clear of the extremely disappointed Henderson who was penalised two places down to fourth. Kendall would later apologise for hesitating on the line but had Henderson not been quite so eager and hung back by half a Kart up to the line he would not have jumped the start and still been ahead. Bill Taylor was promoted to second with Harrison Wedgebury third from Henderson and Stuart Jones.
Steve Downes claimed the win in Heat Six which featured not one overtake amongst the top five from lap two onwards. Downes looked to have the race under control but his pace dropped a little over the final laps and Jonathan Elliott almost stole the win on the line missing out by just 0.055. Oliver Moss took third with Miguel Hall and Dan Giles fourth and fifth respectively.
Joe Holmes took his first win of the day leading all the way from lights to flag in Heat Seven. Fellow front row sitter Sean Brierley trailed him home in second over nine seconds clear of Richard Allen in third, Matt Wileman fourth and Paul Williams in fifth. One overtake in the top four all race. And that was at the start.
Heat Eight might have been soporific but heat eight was anything but. David Longman led the field off the line pursued by fellow front row sitter James Taylor from Garrett O’Connor, Adam Wright and Chris Dixon. Taylor took over at the front for a lap before Longman took the place back. Wright moved up to third and was pressing Taylor for second. But Taylor defends so well. Wright fell back and Lindley and Dixon both began to press Taylor whilst Longman began to pull clear. Dixon finally got a run on him out of the final turn and was ahead as they went up the hill for the sixth time. But Taylor didn’t give it up and almost got the place back as they crossed the line at the end of the lap. But Dixon hung on and a Taylor was now having to defend from Wright. Dixon made the most of the break and began to close up in on Longman. Penultimate lap and Longman was just under half a second clear from Dixon with Taylor still third and far from out of the fight with Wright a tenth back. Lindley, O’Connor and Jonathan McAdie were next, the latter having fought his way up from grid fifteen. Top seven covered by just over one and a half seconds. Final lap and Dixon found a way by Longman to take the win with Longman second from Taylor, Wright, O’Connor, Lindley and McAdie. Top seven covered by just over two seconds. It certainly woke everyone up!
Heat Nine resulted in a second win of the day for Stuart Jones. All eyes though were on Beroual-Smith at the start to see whether he could make it a hat trick of wins to keep his Championship challenge on track. Half way round the first lap and it looked to be all over. Coming down the hill he managed to hook his bumper on the back of Downes Kart. As he broke free he spun to the back of the field. What followed was probably the drive of the day as he worked his way steadily back up the order to claim fourth. A stunning performance which just kept alive his championship challenge. Downes took second with Lamb third and Bradley Shears fifth.
Joe Holmes kept his nose in front in the championship battle with another win in Heat Ten. This one he had to work for after starting from grid seven. He was up to third by the end of the first lap but then found himself stuck behind a resolute Richard Allen for a couple of laps before getting by. A lap later he was at the front after taking Steve Bosley. Allen would also take Bosley a couple of laps later. Holmes win secured him pole for the final. Allen came home second from Bosley, Miguel Hall and Jordan Salter.
Chris Gristwood claimed the win in the penultimate heat after leading from start to finish. He was chased hard over the final laps by Adam Wright but held on to take the win. These two were some distance clear of third placed Harrison Wedgebury with Mark Appleton fourth from James Taylor.
Chris Dixon won the final heat of the day and secured himself a spot on the front row for the A Final. Starting from grid nine he had to work his way up the order taking early leader Paul Goddard at half distance. Sean Brierley pressured him hard over the final laps but he hung on to win by a tenth. Bill Taylor was third but over five seconds back from the leaders. Steve Lindley was next over the line but penalised down to seventh. Matt Kendall was next but he too was penalised all of which promoted Dan Giles up to fourth and Paul Goddard to fifth.
James Workman on pole with Jaeden Cadogan alongside. Andy Berry and C3 Championship leader Wayne Dunham on row two with Luke Philips and Sunny Kundi on row three. Chris Warton and Elliott Mewse occupied row four with Mathew Batter and Simon Kavanagh on row five. James Dunnett and Dimitry Zeldin shared row six followed by Dan Smith and Darren De Mattia from Martyn Robinson and Blake Temperley. Jason Bear was on row nine with Chris Solomon whilst James Fremont was with Nick Pollicott on the back row the latter after losing all his points in one heat for being underweight. Every driver in the C Final was a C3 entrant runner save for two C2’s, Workman and Zeldin plus one Super-Heavyweight, Temperley. Top four to move up to the B Final and a trophy for the winner.
Workman led the pack away and by the end of the lap he was over a second clear from Dunham, Cadogan and Berry. Warton and Mewse were both out at the top of the hill courtesy of an over ambitious move from Batter which would see him penalised six places in the final classification. Further round the lap and Zeldin came to halt having hit the barriers out of the last corner. Whilst he quickly got going the barriers needed to be tidied up and double yellow flags were waived just before the corner. I didn’t see one single driver raise their arm and indeed some drivers actually went quicker past the scene. Fortunately the barriers were quickly put back in place without anyone getting hurt. Meanwhile Workman continued to pull away at the front with Dunham leading the pack but over five seconds adrift of the leader. Cadogan remained third from Berry, Philips and Kavanagh. One third distance and Workman was still pulling clear whilst Kavanagh had moved himself up to fourth. Half distance and Workman was ten seconds clear with Dunham holding second from Kavanagh who took Cadogan over the line at the start of lap nine. Phillips was next from Berry with the penalised Batter a couple of seconds adrift in seventh. With Workman having checked out Dunham was now having to concentrate on keeping his second place. Cadogan ran third whilst Philips had taken the final qualifying spot from Kavanagh.
Three from home and Philips was right with Cadogan clearly wanting to give himself a cushion from fifth placed Berry. Cadogan tried to hold on but lost time and was suddenly down to sixth behind Kavanagh and Berry. Phillips meanwhile closed in on Dunham for second and nipped by for second on the last lap. Workman slowed his pace over the final lap but was still fourteen seconds to good over second placed Phillips with Dunham and Kavanagh taking the final qualifying spots. Workman could perhaps count himself fortunate to have escaped sanction for ignoring the yellow flags at the final turn but as everyone else did and escaped sanction it would have made no difference to the result!
Steve Bosley on pole from Richard Newton with Garrett O’Connor and Andrew Cherry on row two. Paul Goddard and Bradley Shears shared row three followed by Mike Bodnar and Lewis Ridd. Lee Henderson was on row five alongside Jonathan McAdie. Matt Kendall and Craig Johnson occupied row six with Chris Kirk and Stephane Appleton on row seven. Mark Appleton and Dave Pethers were on row eight whilst row nine saw Bradley Parrett alongside George Hatto. Richard Masterton shared row ten with Harry Melvin with Shaun Carter and Richard Neale on row eleven followed by the four qualifiers from the C Final, Workman, Philips, Dunham and Kavanagh. Top two to qualify for the A Final and a trophy for the winner.
Bosley brought the field up to the line and once past the acceleration he floored it. Newton was caught napping and it cost him dear. Bosley was three tenths up as he crossed the line and comfortably clear as the pack went up the hill for the first time. Kendall, Clark and Mark Appleton were all early spinners whilst Parrett was penalised for a jump start after starting in the wrong position on the grid, six places further forward than he should have been. A two place penalty looked rather lenient. End of the lap and Bosley still led but O’Connor was up to second and right on the rear bumper of the leader. Goddard was up to third with Newton almost alongside him as they crossed the line. O’Connor made a move for the lead at the top of the hill but Bosley was hard in his defence and O’Connor ran wide losing momentum and being passed by Goddard. Ridd had deposed Newton for fourth. Bosley began to increase his lead at the front whilst Goddard still ran second; a place he was looking determined to keep. O’Connor was desperate to get by but couldn’t and another small misjudgement saw him down to fourth behind Ridd. A lap later he was back up to third. Goddard was lapping faster than the leader at this point and edging ever closer whilst O’Connor was going quicker still and cutting the gap.
Ridd was not out of the hunt by any means whilst Shears was up to fifth from Cherry, the penalised Parrett, Henderson, McAdie and Newton. Sixth time around and Bosley still led whilst O’Connor had finally broken Goddard’s defence and was up to second. Half distance and O’Connor was putting real pressure on Bosley for the lead crossing the line almost alongside just 0.096 adrift. But Bosley held on. Next time around and O’Connor was again alongside as they crossed the finish line separated by just 0.092. Ridd was up to third with Goddard fourth ahead of Shears and Henderson. O’Connor got better drive up the hill forcing Bosley to defend and slowing them both. O’Connor got by but both of them had lost momentum and Ridd rapidly closed the gap. Two thirds distance and O’Connor held the advantage by a couple of tenths whilst Ridd had fallen back and was being hard pressed by Shears. Goddard was down to fifth and falling away from the battles ahead. Once in clear air O’Connor immediately began to push setting his fastest lap thus far eleventh time around. Bosley was falling back but was still almost a second clear of Ridd who had repulsed the attack from Shears. With three to go O’Connor was well clear but Bosley’s second place was looking increasingly under threat as Ridd closed in. Shears was being dropped whilst Henderson was now up to fifth ahead of Goddard who was coming under attack from Cherry.
Two from home and Ridd was ahead of Bosley for the final qualifying spot. And that was how it remained. O’Connor took the win with Ridd a few lengths adrift in second whilst Bosley had to settle for third from Super-Heavyweight Henderson. Shears claimed fifth comfortably ahead of Cherry with Hatto seventh. Parrett crossed the line eighth but dropped two places for his jumped start, four places for a bungled pass on Goddard which saw the luckless Goddard fall to twelfth and a further place for knocking over a cone dropping him to fifteenth and promoting Stephane Appleton to eighth, Pethers to ninth. McAdie would have been next but he’d exceeded track limits and was penalised two places promoting Goddard back into the top ten. Scant reward for his efforts.
A Final – The Showdown
Joe Holmes on pole with Chris Dixon alongside followed by Anwar Beroual-Smith and Stuart Jones. Sean Brierley and Steve Downes shared row three with Oliver Moss and C2 Champion elect Miguel Hall on row four. Row five, Super-Heavyweight Champion elect Richard Allen with Bill Taylor alongside followed by Steve Lindley and James Taylor. Row eight saw Adam Wright alongside Jordan Salter with Paul Williams and Matt Wileman on row eight. Geoff Lamb and Vinod Harani shared row nine with Chris Gristwood and Anthony Ridd on ten. Jonathan Elliott and Dan Giles occupied row eleven with Harrison Wedgebury and David Longman on the penultimate row followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final, O’Connor and Lewis Ridd.
Holmes brought the field up to the line but Dixon edged ahead as they crossed the line. Holmes though was in front as they entered the first turn and Dixon escaped a false start penalty. Beroual-Smith was slower away and Jones jumped up to third. Down the order Lindley and Taylor clashed and both spun. In a clear breach of the rules Lindley restarted from the grass whilst not for the first time this season Taylor decided to call it a day early. Lindley too pulled into retire knowing that he would be excluded from the results. A red card for the football referee. Two laps down and Holmes was edging clear of Dixon whilst Beruoal-Smith had slipped by Jones for third. Brierley was fifth ahead of Moss and Allen. Third time around and Beroual-Smith pulled alongside Dixon over the finish line. Dixon held on but defence was futile and he was down to third by the end of the lap but well clear of fourth placed Brierley. Half distance and the gap from Holmes to Beroual-Smith remained at around one point five seconds whilst Brierley had managed to reel in Dixon and take third. But the two leaders were by now over three seconds clear. Moss was a few lengths behind Dixon but a couple of seconds clear of Downes as the race became something of a procession with no overtakes among the top ten over the second half of the race.
Holmes crossed the line to retain his crown some two and a half seconds clear of Beroual-Smith who had given it his best shot. Brierley took the final spot on the podium some five seconds back from Beroual-Smith but five seconds clear of fourth placed Dixon who had Moss close at hand. Downes was next over the line but penalised a spot for cone abuse promoting Jones to sixth. Richard Allen was next, retaining his Super-Heavyweight crown and taking the Super-Heavyweight win on the day. A class act.
Jordan Salter claimed ninth and the C2 win with Miguel Hall next. A cone penalty dropped him a place behind Chris Gristwood on the C2 podium but he was still the winner of the C2 Championship. Bill Taylor was second in the Super-Heavyweight class on the day with Jonathan Elliott third. Fastest laps went to Holmes in C1, Elliott in Super-Heavyweight and Gristwood in C2 and all established new class records.
Championship Round Up
Can anyone stop Joe Holmes? He took a calculated gamble this year by missing selected rounds but he still came out on top. Six A Final wins and a second place. But didn’t Anwar Beroual-Smith run him close. Two wins and seven second places. He gave it his best shot and lost out by a mere five points. At least he had the consolation of taking the HW Sprint 60 Championship run on the Saturday. Two brilliant drivers. Mutual respect too I think as the social media banter shows. I have to feel a touch sorry for Adam Wright. Another who gave it his all this year and was still in the hunt at the penultimate round before an unfortunate off to avoid hitting Joe Holmes after water had been dragged onto the circuit effectively ended his Championship chances. Up to that point he’d never finished lower than fourth and had four third places to his credit. He remains the only driver in CLUB100 history to win an overall Championship but not win an A Final. His day will come. He can very proud of his season. Sean Brierley took fourth and stepped on the podium three times with three third place finishes. An impressive season whilst Steve Downes claimed fifth in the Championship. He took a splendid win round at three but a nasty accident at round four which saw him end the day in the medical centre could well have de-railed his season. Whilst thankfully he bounced back he never recovered the early season pace.
Class 2 Honours went to Miguel Hall who finished eighth overall. There were times too when he looked seriously quick winning half a dozen of his heats throughout the season. Lewis Ridd took second and eleventh overall claiming a couple of heat wins and a splendid podium at round six. Third place went to one of the most improved drivers in CLUB100, Jordan Salter. Twelfth overall a couple of points behind Ridd and with a couple of heat wins to his credit. He continues to improve. Fifth went to Chris Gristwood, just five points behind Salter. He got involved in one or two incidents throughout the year but I’m sure he will learn from the experience. Alex Pritchard claimed fifth and fifteenth overall.
Wayne Dunham took the honours in Class 3. I did him a disservice in the last report wrongly crediting another driver with the lead in the Championship for which I once again apologise. He’s worked hard all season for this win and it is thoroughly deserved. He was thirty second in the overall standings. Chris Kirk took second in class and thirty third overall with Simon Kavanagh third and thirty fifth overall. Sunny Kundi and Richard Neale completed the top five.
Richard Allen retained his Super-Heavyweight crown in fine style and finished tenth overall. An outstanding performance from the ever popular ‘’Dickie’’. I wonder how much higher he could be in the standings if he had a lighter frame? Bill Taylor ranked third and seventeenth overall with Jonathan Elliott third. Well done to both of them!
It was a touch irritating at the Whilton to see some people having to be reminded about wearing a mask and just plain annoying to see someone, after being asked to wear a mask, putting it on and then a minute later taking it off. This can jeopardise the whole event so if you don’t want to comply with wearing a mask then don’t attend. Congratulations to all the Champions in the various classes and commiserations to all those who missed out but in the most difficult of years I think everyone connected with the Club has been a winner. Hats off to JV and the team for managing to stage a nine round season. A brilliant effort.
Thanks also to all the circuits for putting in place covid secure facilities, the marshals, medical team and all the observers out on track in all weathers who have a thankless task at times.
And finally my thanks to all those who have assisted me with writing these reports. It has been a bit difficult at times as I’ve not been able to stick my tape recorder under driver’s noses to get some good sound bites. The messages of support I have received have been quite touching.
Wear your masks, stay safe and a very Happy Christmas and New Year to all. It’s not long till next season!!
WORDS: Steve Gray
PHOTOGRAPHY: John Patterson