Chris Powell Turns Back Time to 2016.
By midday Buckmore Park was ablaze (metaphorically speaking obviously) the track temperature was up to 29 degrees and out of the shade, oh boy it was warm.
Greg Barnard set the pace with 46.237, and then took it down to 46.134, before Jack O’Neill went close just 0.05 off, the usual suspects started to assemble behind Fraser Brunton, Stephen Westwood, Chris Powell and Sam Hampshire. Also showing strongly Ryan Sandall pushed into P4 behind Brunton. O’Neill was getting into his swing and nudged closer to 46 flat for pole position. Barnard would have the tricky Buckmore grid 2, Westwood and Brunton on row 2, an impressive Sandall and Powell on row 3, Hampshire with Nik Hoyle on 4th row, Andrew Golby and Toby Case rounded up the top 10.
Off the start O’Neill made an excellent start, Barnard not trying to fight it, tucking in behind O’Neill through turn 1 as Westwood on grid 3 missed O’Neill dropping the hammer on the run up to the green light, it allowed Barnard to get over to the inside from grid 2 to be on the kerb behind Titan man. Squeezed by Brunton around turn 1, who moved on to the outside of Barnard, Westwood came up the inside off the corner to make three it wide for 2nd and Stephen threw it up the inside of Barnard for 2nd at the first hairpin, while Powell slid by Sandall, but Westwood had left fair racing room, perhaps naively, and Barnard was back through into hairpin 2. The esses did it’s thing to force the field into single file for the flat out charge downhill and although Westwood and Powell contrived to hold each other up before the plunge to allow Sandall to get by to P4, by it was full course yellow lights flashing for an incident that had left Euan Clements lodged under the conveyor belt and Graziano Malivindi at least pointing with the flow of traffic, even though stationary. So lining up behind the safety kart after top 4 was Powell, Hampshire, Hoyle, Golby, Sangster, Cerkauskas and the rest of the field.
Released after 4 laps, Barnard floored the throttle, and his engine responded with more smoke than the expected go, Brunton diving through, and then again out of hairpin 2 Fraser was through to 2nd, and Sandall drafted by Greg into turn 1 on the next lap, Greg remarked, “[There was] an immediate drop of power from my kart, drivers streaming by on the straights”. Brunton edged up to O’Neill looking for a mistake, while the surprise packet was Sandall edged his way in. O’Neill ran wide off Garda, Fraser ducked out of the slipstream to lead into turn 1, it was text book Buckmore Park, and it also allowed Sandall to make it into the lead battle. 1.3secs behind Hoyle led Powell, the off colour Barnard, Sangster, Noble, Golby, and Toby Case coming back into the top 10 after a poor opening. Powell demoted Hoyle, towed him for a lap then dropped him and set off after leaders, who were tidy and working together, but Brunton having got in front was not stretching O’Neill and Sandall who seemed content to surf the draft up to turn 1 firmly in touch with the race lead. Powell arrived on the tail of the leading trio on 13mins and on the cut back off hairpin 2 to pass Sandall, who in turn figured out the best way back to the top 2 was on the back of Powell. Unlike O’Neill who appeared to be playing a waiting game on Brunton, Powell went straight on the attack for 2nd, this just slowed the group with each attempt. But Powell succeeded in waking up O’Neill from his slumber, sensing an imminent threat Jack must have realised Brunton was only tidy, but not quick enough, and started to looking for the lead, all of that in turn compounded the drop in pace up front. Jack would grab the lead out of Garda, but it did nothing but bring Powell on to him. All the while Hoyle edged back in to make it a top 4. Cameron Noble was 4secs behind towing, but untroubled by, Barnard, but was helping Greg’s gap to Sangster, who in turn was comfortably clear of Simon Sharpe moving through to 9th, ahead of Toby Case, Paul Mason, Andrew Golby, Ramunas Cerkauskas, Tim Eliis and Daryl Snelling, to head the 2nd group.
Around the 20min mark, after Powell had given O’Neill a chance to tow him away from Brunton, and although Sandall and Hoyle had been stretched, Fraser had not been shaken, Powell, appearing to be able to put his kart whereever he wanted while O’Neill’s kart might wobble off his line mid corner on the limit occasionally, went down the inside into hairpin 2 and had enough momentum to claim the track out and the line into the esses. Brunton wasted no time and dived in deep at a Garda on O’Neill, and Powell was away. Brunton was so narrow into Senna he had to squeeze Sandall’s run on him up to Cafe Curve, this in turn forced Ryan to have to cover up into turn 1 to hold 3rd. Hoyle got by Jack for 4th place as well.
Without a tow it was Brunton struggling for top end waft, and he knew it, Sandall could see it as well, close up on Fraser’s bumper into turn 1 and he was through into hairpin 1. Ryan only had to cover up to Garda, his mid range and top end was all there, Brunton would not getting back by to 2nd on the straight. Baulked by a backmarker Fraser dived inside of Sandall into Garda, but ran wide and it would be side by side before Ryan lifted at Cafe, Powell was long gone with 5mins to go. The backmarker had set a 4 way dice for 2nd place to the finish, but not if Fraser could help it. Brunton covered up tight into the hairpin pushing Sandall back into Hoyle. Seeing his chance Nik tried the outside of hairpin 2. Optimistic, it did compromise the pair, and Brunton got what he wanted a gap to keep 2nd. Of course he did not have Sandall’s motor, although it was Hoyle with momentum, going down the inside of Sandall on the next lap into hairpin 2 and in failing to let Hoyle take the line into the esses, which Nik was determined to take, Ryan would lose momentum on the tyre barrier, long discussed elsewhere, it let O’Neill through and what for Ryan had been 2nd place, and pegging the leader at 1secs, had swiftly turned to 5th.
Noble was 2.5secs behind in 6th but would be running out of laps to try and catch the battle for 2nd place. It appeared to Brunton and O’Neill had been out driving their karts, while Hoyle and Sandall, had really good, but were making odd mistakes to keep the 4 close over 2nd through 5th. Barnard was safe in 7th, Sangster was in similar situation, in 8th. While Snelling in 9th towed Sharpe, Ellis and the 2nd main group behind.
On to the last lap, Nik Hoyle had strung enough good corners and laps together to be closing in, perhaps for a lunge at Garda, on Brunton for 2nd place, but O’Neill had other designs firing one down the inside of Paddock, in the hopes that if he could get into Garda he could hold off any Hoyle or Sandall challenge. Indeed Nik had his hands full of Ryan and Garda was messy, but Nik kept 4th only to be excluded for being underweight post race. A lot hard work, presumably an awful lot of sweat for nothing. So the result Powell, gap to Brunton, O’Neill, Hoyle (excluded), Sandall. Gap to Noble, and then gaps between Barnard, Sangster, Tim Ellis and Daryl Snelling, Tim getting tby Daryl on the last lap. Simon Sharpe came into the top 10 with Hoyle’s exclusion.
Pole position for Chris Powell in race 2, and it would be O’Neill jumping in to grab 2nd off the start, Sandall was briefly on Brunton’s bumper coming off hairpin 2 but he watched the leading trio drive away. Ryan got down to trying forlornly to hold up, because he wasn’t going to hold off for long, Greg Barnard. It turned out to be as far as Cafe Curve. Ahead Brunton got inside of O’Neill into turn1 and eventually got it finished exiting hairpin 2. This assisted Powell edge clear in the lead, and Barnard on to O’Neill’s bumper. Probably to Greg’s relief, after race 1, he drafted through to 3rd at the top the hill into turn 1. Sandall was figuring out his kart’s strengths and adapting his driving to try and hold the gap to the top 4, while Westwood, Noble, Cerkauskas, Snelling and Case, were drafting into Ryan’s bumper.
It was also clear that the top 4 were not going to make the mistake of race 1. Powell was quick enough, and between them they appeared to suspend racing so that 4 karts could be faster through the air than the 1 kart of Sandall behind. But then Barnard realised he was quicker than all of them and started by picking off Brunton and when it all shook out in the space of the 2 hairpins, Barnard led, from Brunton, O’Neill and Powell. They’d slowed enough to give Sandall hope, and probably to Westwood as well if he could just by. Ryan edging to narrower lines, and saw the front 4 disappear again. A long time later Stephen fired it down the inside, after Ryan had missed a few too many apexes, and covered up more and more, under pressure. All the while the top 4 pulled clear and Stephen sensed Daryl Snelling closing in behind, after Sandall had initially towed him clear of Cameron Noble, Snelling, Cerkauskas, and Case. Westwood stuck his nose inside the Esses and challenged Sandall to turn in across his nose, he then straightlined to the next apex forcing Ryan to check up, clip the barrier, allowing Case through before Symes Sweep. It looked like Westwood had spent too long behind Sandall and had forgotten all his braking points as he worked hard to hold off Case.
At 15mins the leading group was down to a trio, Powell had finally lost the tow, but Barnard was still breaking the trail for Brunton and O’Neill although Jack looked to be doing all he could to hang on in the tow. Chris would be left looking for traffic and some more dicing amongst the top 3 to get back on the podium. Fully 9secs behind the race 5th was down to Westwood and Case, Toby eventually to go 5th, after several misses into hairpin 1, but superior waft would see him draft by into turn 1. Westwood tried to hold on to Case but Toby’s advantage was small but enough. Around the same time Sandall’s levee broke and Cerkauskas, Noble, Sam Hampshire rushed through in successive corners swiftly to be joined by Tim Ellis. Ryan Sandall could do nothing about the breach and would finish race 2 in 12th.
Up front Greg Barnard took up the story of the closing stages, “Fraser and Jack had been following me closely, not pulling any moves” for all of 20mins. The trio were however running into heavy traffic into the final laps. Greg again “On to the final lap Fraser finally went for a move, sending it up the inside of Hairpin 2. He momentarily had the lead but I managed to hang it out around the outside and with more momentum I kept the lead. When we got down to Garda Jack managed to put one down the inside for 2nd place.” That was enough to see Greg run out the winner by a nearly second. Like a flat cycling stage, a breakaway group had worked quietly together until to the 1km flam rouge, or in this case, the 1 lap to go, kite, before opening the sprint. Barnard had seen off Brunton and O’Neill had picked up 2nd from the pieces. Chris Powell ran in 5secs behind, but with the round victory. Toby Case was an excellent 5th. He’d comfortably dropped Westwood helped by Rotax, an anonymous Sam Hampshire rescued 7th from 27th on the grid after a poor race 1. Iain McGregor came on strong to work his way through Ramunas Cerkauskas, Cameron Noble and Tim Ellis in 11th.
Starting with the man of the hour, often considered a Buckmore Park specialist (or is that just me?), it’s certainly where he first came to prominence in Club100, race 1 winner Chris Powell, “It’s my first Club100 event win and first trophy since 2016. Solid racing today in rather warm conditions” when he took to social media to celebrate. A sense of relief, perhaps winning may become easier now than waiting 4years until the next one.
The timing in terms of the championship is helpful, it moves Chris back firmly into contention 6 points behind 2nd place, Fraser Brunton and within 17 points of leader Barnard. On his event and win in race 2, Greg , “Race 1 was tough with something peculiar about the kart after full course yellow which let folk drive by me on the straights, but I think I made up for it in race 2!” The chasing pack is now led by Ryan Sandall, although 59points off the leader, championship trophies usually go down to 5th place, Ryan again “This is my home track so always tend to be okay around Buckmore even if I am nearly 10kg overweight. Race 2 was a disaster, the kart was horrible, and I was defending so hard for ages.” Stephen Westwood looks to be his main competition 6points behind for that 5th place trophy at the moment. And it is that 5th place trophy that the pair are racing for at the moment, as lurking in behind, after missing round 1, is Jack O’Neill. Jack will leap frog the pair and into title battle with Barnard, Brunton and Powell as soon as drop scores kicks in. Drop scores will also pull in Cameron Noble and Sam Hampshire into the fight for 5th so Ryan and Stephen, well acquainted after race 2, better think about their tactics for when Noble and Hampshire join their one on one.
WORDS: Chris Simpson
PHOTOGRAPHY: John Patterson