Chris Alcock Stars, Jack O’Neill Wins, But Ed Barrs Retains Title

December 10, 2020
Steve Gray

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. First out, the Lightweights.

The Road to the Finals

Dan Healey got his day off to the best possible start taking the win in Heat One after starting from grid eleven. This was despite spinning off as he left the pits. Spotted it Dan!  He worked his way steadily through the pack taking the lead with just a couple of laps remaining and holding off a spirited challenge from Josh Adams who had taken over briefly at the front from James Martin who had led the early laps. He crossed the line third only to be penalised for exceeding track limits at the last corner, a fate which would befall many drivers throughout the day. Chris Powell was promoted to third with Jonah Barker fifth.

Heat Two fell to Daz Teal who did well to avoid a spinning Chris Alcock at turn one to jump into the lead after starting from the third row Thereafter he controlled the race from the front taking the win just a few lengths clear of second row starter Ned Douglas. Tom Sneddon took third. Whilst never in the hunt for the top spot this was a good solid drive after starting from grid nine. Cameron Moss took fourth after driving up from grid eleven with Dan Seager fifth. 

Polesitter Mike Coppin led Heat Three for three quarters of the way chased hard by Jack O’Neill, Andrew O’Neill and Fraser Brunton. Jack had several attempts at the lead but Coppin was resolute in his defence and held but with one to go Jack finally made a move stick to take over at the front. Coppin crossed the line second only to be demoted four places for exceeding track limits twice dropping him to sixth. Fraser Brunton was next over the line after a last lap pass on Andrew O’Neill but he too had exceeded track limits and dropped to fourth promoting Andrew into second and a back on form Rhianna Purcocks to third after a strong drive up from grid eleven. Championship leader Ed Barrs was classified fifth benefitting one place from Coppin’s penalties.

Dan Truman was classified first after crossing the line second behind Ashley White. White took over at the front on the penultimate lap after working his way through from grid five in Heat Four. But his race was not without incident. He forced front row sitter Martin Theodorou off on the first lap resulting in a six place deduction. He also made contact several times with others resulting in a further two place deduction. He followed that up by failing to slow down under yellows. Two more places lost and finally he lost two more places for exceeding track limits. Thirteenth was where he was classified. Not a great start to his day. Christopher Powell claimed second behind Truman with early leader Jason Bradbury third from Dan Cohen and Andrew Rabbage. 

Heat Five resulted in a comfortable win for Ed Barrs. Starting from pole he drove away into the distance taking the win by over nine seconds from Mike Coppin. This shouldn’t detract from Coppin’s performance however. He started from grid eight and was up to fourth behind Dan Brewer and Dan Seager after a couple of laps. There he stayed before taking Brewer with two to go and then getting by Seager final time around. Chris Powell took fourth with Brewer coming home fifth.

Dan Healey started Heat Six from the front row and took his second win of the day by over three seconds to keep his Championship chances alive. Martin Theodorou chased him all the way to the flag but had too much to do after starting from grid five. Charlie Monk was third whilst Rogerio Mendes crossed the line fourth only to be demoted two places for exceeding track limits handing fourth to James Wattis from Dylan Brierley. Brierley and Mendes had started from grids eleven and ten respectively, but taking advantage of others misfortunes, were up to third and fourth by the end of the first lap before dropping back.

Jack O’Neill crossed the line first after Heat Seven but he’d spun Dominic Cliffe to a halt mid race and was demoted back to seventh handing the win to Fraser Brunton with Callum Brewell second from Harry Nottage in fourth after a superb drive up from grid thirteen. Josh Adams was next but he too had exceeded track limits handing fourth to Garret Berry with Dominic Cliffe fifth after a good recovery drive.

Rhianna Purcocks showed that she was back on form taking the win in Heat Eight. Starting from the front row she was down to third by the end of the first lap behind Chris Alcock and Tom Sneddon. But she was soon back to second and on to the leaders tail before slipping by. Thereafter Alcock chased her hard but couldn’t make a pass. Great driving from them both which saw them over five seconds clear of third placed Ashley White who again found himself losing places for exceeding track limits. He would be classified fifth behind Daz Teal who had worked his way up from grid eleven. Tom Sneddon was fourth.

Callum Brewell took a superb lights to flag win in Heat Nine. Aymen Salih chased him hard for much of the race but faded over the final laps. Sadly for him he was another to exceed track limits and dropped to fourth promoting Mike Coppin up to second after a strong drive up from grid eleven. Andrew O’Neill was third with Dan Seager fifth.

Heat Ten resulted in another win for Rhianna Purcocks. Starting from the third row she worked her way to the front over the first three laps and then drove away from the pack taking the win by over four seconds with polesitter Chris Powell second from Chris Alcock who had put in a shift working his way up from grid eleven. Daz Teal was next across the line but he was another to take a two place penalty for exceeding track limits a fate which, for his third heat running, befell Ashley White. Jack O’Neill and Dan Brewer benefitted moving up to fourth and fifth respectively.

Ed Barrs made it two wins from three in the penultimate heat. Starting from grid seven he had to work his way forward over the opening laps but once at the front he pulled clear to take the win almost four seconds clear of Tom Fuller with Jonah Barker third from Martin Theodorou and Christopher Powell.

The final heat resulted in a fine win for Josh Adams. Starting from grid five he was into second by the end of the first lap behind Dan Cohen with Dan Healey running third from Dominic Cliffe. Half distance and Adams slipped by Cohen for the lead. Thereafter he kept his head down and stayed at the front aided a little by Cohen having to defend from Healey. Healey got by on the final lap only to be penalised two places for exceeding track limits.  Lee Hackett took third with Andrew Ward fifth

The Finals

C Final

(Unless noted all the drivers were in Class 3) 

Finally the sun broke through the fog and we were all able to see Christmas corner and wave to a lonely Sam Dimelow observing on the top of the circuit.

An all Brierley front row with dad Stuart on pole from Dylan. For the sake of ease it will be Stuart and Dylan named in the text rather than Stuart B and Dylan B or S Brierley and D Brierley etc. Both had been placed in C2 for Whilton. Dean Everest and Jonathan Purton occupied row two followed by Sean Smith and Matthew Cockerham from Rana Menon and Zak Leigh. Luke Dunnett and George Lawlor were on the fifth row with C2 entrant Bailey Morgan and Jake Wilkins on row six. A bad day at the office for Morgan after a long trip down from Scotland. Tommy Welsh and Sam Morris shared row seven with Finn Pharaoh and Gareth Pritchard on row eight. C2 runner Sam Mee occupied row nine with Jed Toole whilst Russell Cooper was on the tenth row with the final C2 driver, the veteran Keith Segal. Grant Gaertner and James Browning occupied the penultimate row whilst Ramunas Cerkauskas brought up the rear. Top four to qualify for the B Final.

Stuart brought the field up to the line with Dylan watching carefully alongside. It was good clean start that Dylan judged to perfection holding on as Stuart ran a little wide out of turn two and dropping to third behind Dylan and Purton with Everest fourth from Leigh, Lawlor and a fast starting Morgan.  It took a couple of laps but Morgan finally got by Lawlor and set about closing the gap to Leigh. Dylan continued to lead at the front closely pursued by Purton whilst Stuart was falling back and coming under pressure from Everest. Once free of Lawlor Morgan quickly homed in on Leigh and was soon up to fifth. But he lost time in the manoeuvre and Lawlor and Smith closed in. The front four were running away at the front with no one attempting to upset the order as they were all going to qualify. It was helping them to move clear as Morgan was having to defend from those behind and losing time. In the space of a lap Smith dropped from sixth to tenth behind Lawlor Wilkins Leigh and Menon. Morgan was still defending hard as Lawlor closed in. Lawlor made a move at the bottom of Zulu. Morgan defended and contact was made with Morgan spinning out. A cruel end to his day. Lawlor raced on but his day was also done as the expected penalty flashed up on the board.

Two thirds distance and the front four suddenly decided to put on a bit of entertainment. Dylan continued to lead but Stuart had cut the gap and was putting Purton under pressure for second. He made it by taking Everest with him. Risky moves but Stuart would later admit that he thought there was only one driver getting promoted and he wanted to preserve Dylan’s lead. It worked too with Dylan taking the win after a fine drive with Stuart second just over a second back. Purton took third with a last lap pass on Everest with Murton fifth. He came alive over the last few laps carving into the six second gap to fourth and finishing just under two seconds adrift. A good effort but too late and even had he made it into the top four he still wouldn’t have qualified after picking up a two place penalty for exceeding track limits and a further four place drop for an incident with Pharaoh earlier in the race. Wilkins was next over the line but he to was carrying a penalty dropping him to seventh behind Leigh and Smith. Dunnett, Mee and Pharaoh completed the top ten.

C Final Winner – Dylan Brierley

B Final

C2 runner Aymen Salih from C3 runner Garrett Berry on the front row followed by two C1 entrants James Wattis and James Martin on the second row. C1 driver Jason Bradbury shared the second row with C2 driver Ashley White, the latter counting the cost of his numerous penalties. Row four saw two C3 drivers Stef Christoforou and Greg Smith followed by the final C1 driver Max Haynes and Andrew Rabbage from C3. Two C2 drivers occupied row six, Tom Fuller and Matt Collier followed by two more C2 drivers Ned Douglas and Reece Pope. Row eight saw Lee Hackett alongside Jagjeet Singh followed by Joshua Sangster and Rogerio. All four from C2. Two C3 drivers were next. Adam Harding and Jamie Mead followed by two C2 drivers Stephen Westwood and Dominic Cliffe with the last four places on the grid taken by the qualifiers from the C Final, Dylan and an exhausted Stuart Brierley, Purton and Everest. Top two to qualify for the A Final with the winner getting a trophy.

Salih led the field away but Berry got jumped by Wattis and a fast starting White. Martin lost out badly and was down to twelfth by the end of the lap. Christoforou was up to fifth ahead of Bradbury whilst Hackett had driven a blistering first lap up from grid fifteen to seventh. A lap later he would be ahead of Bradbury but not without contact. He also clipped a cone. Wherever he finished on the road he was going to lose five places for penalties. Salih continued to set the pace at the front whilst White was now up to second ahead of Wattis and Berry and putting pressure on the leader. He almost took Salih over the line but the leader held on. But White’s number was up on the digi-board. Exceeding track limits again.  And the race was but three laps old. Quarter distance and White was at the front whilst Berry moved into third ahead of Wattis from Christoforou and Hackett. Once at the front White immediately began to pull away. Salih was coming under pressure from Berry whilst Wattis was having to defend from a very racy Christoforou. White continued to extend his lead whilst Berry was now up to second. Christoforou went by Wattis and set his sights on Salih for third. Wattis was still with him whilst Hackett remained sixth well clear of Fuller in seventh. Christoforou put a move on Salih for third. Salih tried to defend but lost out badly and dropped to sixth as he ran wide allowing both Wattis and Hackett to slip by.

Half distance and White was over three seconds clear at the front with Berry next almost two seconds clear of Christoforou. Hackett had slipped by Wattis for fourth whilst Salih was falling back. Haynes was up to seventh but about to come under pressure from Pope who had climbed up from grid fifteen. Fuller and Bradbury completed the top ten. Two thirds distance and White continued to lead but Berry was beginning to cut the gap and edge away from third placed Christoforou. Wattis was back up to fourth from Hackett whilst Salih had got back up to speed but was out of the hunt trailing Hackett by over three seconds. White had enough in hand to remain at the front crossing the line just under three seconds clear but there would be no trophy. Four place deduction for exceeding track limits four times. Quite why he didn’t learn throughout the day only he can answer. He would be classified fifth.

B Final Winner – Garrett Berry

Berry crossed the line second but took the win after White’s penalties were applied with Christoforou third on the road and promoted to second. He also set the fastest lap in C3. Wattis crossed the line fourth but moved up to third and set the fastest lap in C1. Hackett was next but penalties dropped him to tenth. Pope crossed the line sixth but the penalties for White and Hackett promoted him to fourth. He also set the fastest lap of the race. Salih was sixth with Fuller, Mead, Haynes and Hackett completing the top ten.

A Final – The Decider

Rhianna Purcocks on pole for the first time this season. Good to see her back on form. Dan Healey lined up alongside her with Ed Barrs and Josh Adams on row two. Former Elite Champion Chris Powell lined up alongside Daz Teal on row three. Mike Coppin sat alongside Jack O’Neill on row four followed by Callum Brewell and Andrew O’Neill on row five. Next up Christopher Powell and Jonah Barker followed by Dan Seager and Fraser Brunton. Row eight saw Martin Theodorou sat alongside Dan Cohen with Dan Brewer and Tom Seddon on nine followed by Charlie Monk and Dan Truman. Chris Alcock and Andrew Ward were on row eleven with the penultimate row occupied by Harry Nottage and Cameron Moss followed by the qualifiers from the B Final, Berry and Christoforou. 

Purcocks was smartly away from the line with Healey tucking in behind. Barrs was a touch steady off the line and fell to sixth behind Powell and a quick starting Jack O’Neill. Coppin remained seventh whilst Christopher Powell spun to the rear of the field in an incident which also involved Brewell and Andrew O’Neill. Three laps down and it was as you were amongst the top seven. A lap later and O’Neill was up to third and rapidly closing in on the leaders. Up the hill and he got a good run on Healey to move into second and few corners later he slipped by Purcocks for the lead. Powell remained fourth over a second clear of Coppin, Teal and Barrs who were having their own dispute over fifth with Teal and Barrs trading places a couple of times and losing time to Barker and Brunton behind.

Half distance and O’Neill was extending the gap at the front. Purcocks remained second dogged every inch of the way by Healey whilst Coppin had climbed up to fourth ahead of Powell. Teal was some two seconds adrift with Barker next from Brunton and a fading Barrs. Seager completed the top ten but the man on the move was Alcock, fastest of all thus far in twelfth after starting from grid twenty one. A lap later and he was into the top ten at the expense of Barrs. A lap later and he was up to eighth and flying. Three quarter distance and O’Neill had the lead out to almost two seconds whilst Purcocks remained second well clear of third place now occupied by Coppin from Powell and a fading Healey. Barker was up to sixth but about to come under pressure from Alcock. Teal was next from Brunton with Barrs tenth and getting ready to receive the Championship trophy. Penultimate lap and the front two had pulled well clear of third placed Coppin. Healey was back up to fourth with Alcock up to an incredible fifth ahead of Powell.

(Not needing a caption) It’s Jack O’Neill (again) Class 1 Winner

O’Neill took the win. How different might the Championship have looked had he done the whole season? Purcocks was a lonely second but a great result nevertheless with Coppin a very distant third. Healey crossed the line fourth but his two place penalty saw him classified sixth behind Alcock, the undoubted star of the race, with Teal fifth.

Class 2 Winner – Jonah Barker

Barker was next and the winner of C2. Powell was next but dropped a place for cone abuse handing eighth to Brunton and runner up in C2. Barrs came home tenth but it was enough to claim his second Lights Championship in a row. Christoforou took the C3 honours down in seventeenth with Berry second from Nottage. O’Neill set the fastest lap with Brunton the fastest in C2 and Berry fastest in C3.  

Class 3 Winner – Stef Christoforou

Championship Round Up

Ed Barrs retention of his Championship wasn’t as straightforward as some predicted. He only took two A final wins all year but was never off the podium over the first seven rounds consistency being absolutely key to his title defence. The last two rounds he was way down the order particularly after an uncharacteristic spin in the final at Rye. Sadly his main Championship rival Dan Healey couldn’t capitalise as he was having problems of his own. But Ed got the job done. Dan had a great season and his challenge gained real momentum after round five, six and seven with two wins and a second. But it wasn’t to be. He can still be very proud of second though and he and Ed were head and shoulders above the rest of the regular runners. 

After the first two rounds I think most people thought Mike Coppin was going to be a strong contender for the title. At round one he won all of his heats and took fourth in the final. At round two he won two of his heats and then won his first ever A Final in fine style beating Ed Barrs. But after that his challenge faded. He would win only three more heats all season and stand on the podium only once more. Clearly he has a talent. He just needs to unlock it. Chris Alcock’s fourth place was well deserved. He was consistent over the first half of the season but then hit a bad patch before ending the season with a fine fourth. Fifth place went to Rhianna Purcocks. A bit of an inconsistent season for her. She looked to be back up to speed after rounds two and three having had a lowly showing at the first round but then went on a run of poor form before finally coming back to her best at the final round. Of the rest Daz Teal took a win at round one but couldn’t repeat the feat over the rest of the season. Not his best year but he’s one of life’s top blokes and hopefully he will be back next year and challenging for wins. Jack O’Neill took two wins in the season but did very few events. How different might the Championship have looked had he done the full year? Owen Jenman did a couple of rounds winning the wet Rye round in some style.

Class 2 Honours went to Martin Theodorou. One of the most popular blokes in CLUB100 and its rare to see him without a smile on his face. Finishing eighth overall was pretty handy too. Fraser Brunton took the runner up spot and fished tenth overall. A fantastic result for the youngster who proved decisively that he was not in the least bit overawed racing in more experienced company. And he claimed a trio of heat wins. Ashley White claimed third and fourteenth overall. Another fine season and he also recorded a heat win. Bailey Morgan was another young driver to impress. Sixteenth overall and fourth in class was a great effort. Dan Seager rounded out the top five in class and claimed eighteenth overall. Another fine effort and he also recorded a heat win.   

Greg Smith took the Class 3 Championship and finished thirty third overall. Top effort and he even managed to take a third place in one of his heats. Ramunas Cerkauskas claimed second place finishing forty first overall and one place above third in the Championship Andrew Rabbage. Jed Toole was fourth and forty fourth overall with Tommy Welsh fifth and forty seventh overall. Well done to all.

Reflections

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    

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