All Change! But Is It Really? Steve Brown Wins Ahead Of Fellow Ex-Prems’ Blake & Teal.

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Steve Brown had Heat 1 sown up from grid 3 exiting turn 1, Adam Nakar had got the drop on Tyler Mays off the start, Brown staying on his bumper into turn 1, off the corner Adam didn’t fight it and Steve was through into the hairpin. He then settled into a lead and pulling clear of Pete O’Connor who had worked himself to the front of the pack by the end of lap 1, but he was forced to concede 0.25secs per lap to Brown for much of the remaining 10laps. Coming on to the final lap Anwar, working up from the bottom of the top 10, had caught Pete’s slipstream on the penultimate lap and picked him off to finish 2nd, while 2secs further back Blake had worked himself in from grid 13.

C100R1-0761In typical Buckmore Park fashion Heat 2 poleman Harry Landy blasted off to leave grid 2 Ed Barrs in his wake and before Ed could respond Matt Isherwood grid 3 and Darren Teal from grid 5 had pushed through. Isherwood nosed inside into the hairpin for the lead on Landy but Harry made the lead his own off hairpin 2, at least for a little while. Teal moved into 2nd and the field got in line with Tom Dix, Jack Harding and Steve Brown. The latter had been jumped with a few others by a fast starting with Tyler Mays but he slid back to where he started. Steve edged Jack Harding out to go 5th, Dix shot and missed down at Garda on Isherwood, that did more for Steve than either Matt or Tom, setting Brown up to go through inside of Tom into hairpin 1 on lap 3. It also let Teal have a lap to work his way passed Harry, drafting inside into turn 1. Isherwood got along side into Garda on Landy, and it mattered not how narrow Harry squeezed the gap, Matt was coming through and the pair were both running wide. Open sesame for Brown and he was 3rd. The second half of the race was about whether Darren could hold Steve at 0.8secs. Steve chipped in at 0.2secs, inside 4 tenths the draft picked up and Steve slotted Darren inside of hairpin 2 on lap 9. Darren settled for 2nd, he was 3secs clear of Dix and Harding. Isherwood held off Blake for 6th.

C100R1-0920Lightweight champion Daniel Healey led the first 9 laps from pole position in Heat 3 ahead of Myles Sharman off the start before fading, to be replaced by star power in the form of celebrity Replay Ray Norris off grid 3 eventually paid off, “I gradually caught up with Dan, then he started defending. He went defensive into hairpin 1, locked his brakes and span all his own”, said Norris, “ then I just marched on to victory… Only to find I’d picked up a penalty for exceeding track limits, I guess”. Jay Elliott on a typical tear from 13th on the grid was promoted to the win despite being 3secs down after passing Alexander Ready in the closing stages for 2nd, for a maximum 25 points.

C100R1-0936By Heat 4 the new class was beginning to get a feel for the new regime and in truth it was very much like the old one, if you were familiar with Prems. The opening lap saw everyone who could try to go narrow into turn 1, except Steve Brown. Taking a punt on the outside which initially worked off grid 19, but hairpin 1 now reminds me of the Spa grand prix with a swathe of run off, making it so much easier to go 4 or 5 wide. It had to funnel down eventually and it does into hairpin 2. I do hope Buckmore Park are not going to pave the entire site and all the run off… For fear it turns into Spa, safe, but not the beast it was. I know it’s a tricky balance to strike. Brown found himself pushed off the apex, and back 4 places he’d come. He’d have to work for it. It had been former Heavyweight front runner James Hattersley’s turn on pole and he’d get the sternest of tests from reigning champion Beroual-Smith, he wilted (but it’s his debut, it’s alright). Former Clubman Stuart Osborn, Lightweight front runner Sean Brierley were replaced by Prems Scott Martin and Ian Blake, the latter like Anwar would jump over the new boys and Martin to set up the old order of things, mano a mano. Blake moved in front to lead a group of 5 made up by Pete O’Connor, and then Brierley brought a 2nd group through that included Osborn, Healey, Isherwood, Hicks and Docker. While Brown had stumbled into the knockabout Coombes and Jakins were enjoying over 12th, and anybody behind them was just trying to catch their breath.

As the heat went on the front took on an increasingly familiar look, Blake under pressure from Beroual-Smith, Martin, O’Connor, and thats how they’d finish. Hattersley fell away and into Healey and he’d be caught before the finish. Brown was into the top 10 with a move on Osborn on lap 7, and the gaps were such that drafting leap frog was on to set up moves on Docker, Hicks and Isherwood into Garda, hairpin 2, and Garda again respectively on the penultimate lap after Matt had shot and missed on Brierley for 7th at Paddock. Matt would try the repass but Steve had it covered to secure pole position for A Final.

C100R1-0377Hicks off pole in Heat 5 got the hole shot, Parmveer Nijjar stood no chance of getting over from grid 2 to his bumper as Cowell on grid timed his run (and it was a run up) from grid 3 to be in the way into turn 1, Darrell Lowe tried to cover all the bases in 4th place, but the bases were 3 or 4 lanes wide into hairpin 1 and on the cold track he spun himself out under braking, half collecting Thom King, opening up a door for Dan Truman up the inside and forcing David Longman the long way round. A group of 4 down the hill had become a line of 7 as a Lowe sized hole in the middle of it had been smoothed out, Hicks led Cowell, Nijjar, Truman, then Harding, Elliott, Ready, Martin and Teal had pounced on Longman to leave David 10th. It was trying to rain.

Hicks made the best of it edging clear of Cowell, the slippery surface signal went out at start finish, and “the track grip went from normal to wet lines in about a lap” remarked Norris, “turn 1 and hairpin was the first corner people noticed, after the top 5 made it through hairpin 1, Alex Ready made an ambitious run up the inside, locked up and took Jay Elliott and Stu Martin off”, Longman followed them in. Even without a clutch Ready had such room that he could perform a U turn and continue. It was just as well.

Hicks was enjoying the conditions pulling into a 2secs lead, as lap times recovered Jack Harding and Darren Teal moved through to take up the chase. Stephen had a wobble then steadied the ship, as the drivers got used to damp and YDS again, there was flurry of changes on the last lap. Hicks finished comfortably winner as Teal took Harding, then a gap to a flying Jonathan Lisseter, who had really found the sweet spot of tyres and track in the conditions coming up from 17th on the grid to pass Nijjar for 4th, before the finish.

Random B Final observation – Stuart Martin was the only regular former Premier Class not to qualify directly to the A Final. Just putting that out there. Anybody stepping up, or in, or even back into, Club100’s top class, – it will be a tough nut to crack.

C100R1-2-0933Harry Landy started on pole and although the track was not quite back to dry, it was fast going that way after the Heat 5 soggy cloud fart. Graeme Coombes was ready and was able to follow Harry down the hill from grid 2, in the shuffle through the top infield Tyler Mays had got the run on Cowell into turn 1, Andy drifted wide following Hattersley, allowing Tyler to play touchy feely with Ed Barrs through hairpin 1, before using him to ease out Sean Brierley, by using Ed in hairpin 2. Sean was already recovering from Thom King easing him out of 3rd place, and was left bemused by the experience as Team Brierley were perplexed post race. Where had his wallet been pick pocketed? As they ran down hill the qualifying top 4, and it is all about qualifying, it was Landy, Coombes and King, clear of (a presumably) smiling Tyler Mays, with Brierley and Barrs on his bumper, and then the rest. And the rest’s good intentions and opening day optimism had taken another knock, no A Final and now lets face it, probably no back door to it either. Hattersley, Cowell, James Small, Alex Ready and David Longman in 11th, but David’s run was lower again by Garda as Darrell Lowe, Simon Young, Stuart Martin jumped in at the bottom of the circuit. David’s qualifying chances were gone in under a lap. He was 14th.

Thom King made his move on Coombes at Garda on lap 2, Graeme sensibly didn’t fight it too hard, qualification was on. Mays busied himself in 4th holding off Brierley and Barrs, while Coombes tried to stay clear and just in King’s slipstream for the boost it gave up to turn 1. After he lost the tow completely, Graeme was relying on Barrs just replacing Sean, on Mays’ bumper, but that didn’t last long. And when Tyler could concentrate on Coombes, he drafted up alongside and held the inside line into turn 1, to go 3rd. A couple of corners later it was clear Landy and King had checked out and would work to hold the gap to the finish. Mays eventually dropped Coombes, to leave Graeme holding off Alex Ready for the few laps left to the finish.

C100R1-0433Lukewarm sun was poking through for A Final and shining on poleman Steve Brown, he’d convert the holeshot, there was no hope of running around the outside by Blake. Brown’s head was on the swivel, his ears attuned for a second motor, but he’d exit hairpin 2 with his lead intact and his shadow ahead of him unaccompanied by Blake on his bumper. Blake had lost his tow and bigger problems in the shape of Anwar Beroual Smith and Darren Teal. Stephen Hicks had been seen reversing out of turn 1 on lap 1, while Jack Harding was at degrees against  the tyre barrier on the outside a few yards further on, they had been the 3rd row, so it would Jamie Jakins coming through in 5th, up 5 from his grid 10, ahead of Lisseter and Jay Elliott the latter trying to repair the damage of Heat 5, from grid 12, Isherwood, Nijjar and Stephen Jennings making up the top 10. Blake managed to peg Brown at 1second, Teal passed Anwar, possibly beginning to feel his motor tighten before seizing a lap or so later to leave him stranded off turn 1. Teal couldn’t live with the leaders pace and dropped out at about 0.2secs, just as Blake started nibbling by the same, around halfway with the gap under 0.5secs but even though he’d get down to 0.4secs and into drafting range, Brown remained stubbornly inch perfect, clipping all the apexes. Ian was looking for a mistake now, and although Steve’s head increased on swivel, with his own realisation that he was in a winning position he continued hitting his marks, a study in economic inputs on the controls. 4sec behind Jakins had joined Lisseter in trying to wrest the last podium step from Teal, a further 5secs behind him Elliott was holding Isherwood, King climbing rapidly from B Final qualification to 8th at the finish, Coombes tracking him from the back of the field, Daniel Healey rounded out the top 10 ahead of Nijjar and O’Connor.

C100R1-1397Perhaps lacking for outright top end grunt on to the penultimate lap Blake launched a shot from distance into hairpin 2, Steve gave him and himself room and with the momentum of the wider line, as Blake was forced to square off corner secured his lead into the Esses. Tested, Blake had shot his only bolt, and Brown was not thrown off his game to the finish. Blake has another challenger to Beroual-Smith crown, if Ian wants it back in 2016. Teal hung for 3rd, Jakins and Lisseter still in tow. Isherwood was an impressive 6th if a little distant 13secs off the race winner, clear Elliott after King (top light) had been docked a position for track limits, Nijjar amd Scott Martin made up the top 10. Daniel Truman was top former Clubman in 12th, Stephen Docker top former heavy in 20th place.

Next round Sunday 27th March 2016, Rye House Raceway