Could It Be Darren Teal’s Year? He’s Started Strong Before…

February 26, 2020
Steve Gray

To no one’s great surprise the weather was wet and windy as the competitors rolled up for the traditional start Buckmore start of the Sprint season. In the Lights Ed Barrs was back to defend his title but he was facing some fresh competition in the shape of Steve Brown who had moved from the heavies. Full grids were the order of the day with some drivers missing out on an entry such is the popularity of CLUB100. It’s all set up to be a thrilling season. By the time the Lights came out for their first heat in the afternoon the rain had blown over and the sun was beginning to break through but there was still a risk of a shower or two.

The Road to the Finals

Sure enough the rain began to fall for the first heat. Dan Healey took the win but he had to work for it. Starting from grid eleven he took full advantage of those in front of him tripping over each other to move into second by the end of the first lap. Mikey Nichols led having started from the second row. Most thought Healey would quickly reel in Nichols but the latter wasn’t about to succumb easily and held Healey at bay until the final lap. Daz Teal came home third after coming up from grid twelve with Thanassi Barnicoat fifth from Bailey Morgan.

Heat two was a James Wattis benefit. Starting from pole he was never headed. Christopher Powell kept him honest and mounted a serious mid race challenge but once rebuffed he fell back secure in second some three seconds clear of third placed James Martin who was in turn well clear of Ashley White and James Rose in fourth and fifth.

Mike Coppin took the third heat. After starting alongside reigning Champion Ed Barrs he was into first by the end of the first lap with Barrs second ahead of Rhianna Purcocks and Chris Alcock. Coppin and Barrs immediately began to pull clear as Purcocks and Alcock disputed third place. Coppin looked to be well on the way to an easy win but Barrs began to peg him back. Alcock was third but now over four seconds back. Coppin responded to the threat and pumped in a couple of fastest laps to pull clear and take the win. Barrs was a comfortable second from Alcock with James Barnard fourth from Ben Atkinson.

Andrew Ward took a lights to flag win in heat four taking the win by almost three seconds from Steve Brown who had started on grid eight. He was into second after three laps but could do nothing about the flying Ward. Chris Dixon crossed the line third but dropped a place after a hitting a cone promoting Rory Hudson to third. Josh Adams came home fifth.

Ed Barrs took his first win of the season in heat five. But it was a hard fought victory. Nik Hoyle spun out from pole in the first turns and Wattis continued his good run of form moving into the lead from grid eight by the end of the first lap. Barrs was down in seventh but worked his way up to third with three laps to run. James Barnard was running second behind Wattis and moved ahead two from home. Barrs went with him demoting Wattis but the latter wasn’t done and fought back over the final lap. Barrs took the win by over three seconds. A somewhat flattering margin as Wattis and Barnard held each other up. Fraser Brunton was an excellent fourth with Bailey Morgan fifth.

Chris Alcock took heat six. Starting from the front row he led at the end of the first lap and was never headed. Steve Brown started on row two and trailed home Alcock to take his second second place of the day. He was four seconds behind the leader at the finish but a massive seventeen seconds ahead of third placed Chris Dixon. Rhianna Purcocks claimed fourth with James Rose fifth.

Heat seven fell to Josh Adams. Starting from the front row he led all the way taking victory by over four seconds from Pietro Pagano who had a race long battle with Ben Atkinson who for much of the race ran second. Fourth place went to pole sitter Stef Theodorou with Dan Truman fifth.

Mike Coppin took heat eight but it was a far from easy victory. Starting from grid ten he took three laps to fight his way up to second behind Daz Teal who had worked his way to the front from grid six. Once up with the leader Coppin tried a couple of times into the first turns but Teal defended the place. Coppin fell back by a couple of lengths before mounting another attack and getting by on the penultimate lap to take his second win of the day. Callum Brewell came home third just holding off a spirited challenge from Hussain Rashid with Sam Slater fifth.

Heat nine saw a second win of the day for Dan Healey with Chris Alcock taking second but only after a last lap pass on Rhianna Purcocks. Fourth went to Chris Woodger with Thanassi Barnicoat fifth.

From a spectator point of view heat ten turned out to be one of the tamest on record. Fraser Brunton led away from pole with James Rose getting ahead of fellow second row sitter Ashley White. Sam Slater leapt up from grid eight to run fifth with Dan Truman sixth. Teal took Brunton for the lead on the second lap and that was how the top six stayed all the way to the flag!

The penultimate heat saw a win for Steve Brown. But he had to hold off a very spirited challenge from Rob Dowsett over the final laps claiming the win by just a tenth. Edd Barrs claimed third with Pietro Pagano next across the line but penalised a place for cone abuse and dropping to fifth behind Jason Bradbury.

The final heat of the day fell to Mike Coppin. His third win of the day and he made it look easy. Starting from grid seven he was into the lead by the end of the first lap and thereafter pulled steadily away from the battle for second between James Martin and Tom Fuller which ultimately went to the latter. Ben Atkinson came home fourth ahead of William Stacey.

Lightweight C Final

Denis Danilov sat on pole for the C Final having just missed out on the B Final by a single point. Nik Hoyle was alongside. Andrew Rabbage was on row two with the only C1 driver in the field, Dan Seager, alongside. Sam Morris and Tommy Welsh shared row three with Mustafa Bulman arshehit on four with Jack Mcintyre. Stephen Westwood and Rana Menon claimed row five with Ned Douglas and Adrian Perez on row six. Row seven had Cameron Williams alongside Chris Phipps with Roger Davis and James Browning sharing row eight. Jack Goble and Peter Langford occupied row nine with Edoardo Petrarca and Luke Branch on row ten and Russell Cooper and Luke Dunnett on row eleven. The penultimate row saw Nicole Woods alongside Ray Tunney with Sergey Lesik bringing up the rear. Four to qualify for the B Final.

Danilov led the field away but Hoyle lost out round the outside of turn one and would be down to fourth by the end of the lap. Rabbage and Seager slotted into second and third with Morris fifth. Bulman Arshehit got away cleanly and would be up to fourth by quarter distance before dropping back. Down the order Davis was making steady progress. Second time around and it was as you were at the front but Morris spun out of fifth to end his chances. Danilov continued to lead but Seager was quickest of the frontrunners and within the space of a couple of laps he moved to the front. Thereafter he pulled clear to take a comfortable win. Danilov remained second with Rabbage third and Westwood fourth. These three were running well clear of fifth placed Hoyle and seemingly safe in the qualification spots. But Hoyle began to close up and also coming into the picture was Davis. Westwood gave himself a bit of a cushion by passing Rabbage for third. Penultimate lap and Rabbage’s fourth place was coming under serious pressure from both Hoyle and Davis who set the fastest lap of the race as he closed down Hoyle. But it was not to be. Seager took the win over three seconds clear of Danilov who was just a Kart length clear of Westwood at the flag. Rabbage hung on to fourth a tenth clear of Davis. Another lap and it might have been a different story.

C Final Winner Dan Seager

Lightweight B Final

Mikey Nichols on pole for with James Martin alongside. Sam Slater and Stef Theodorou shared row two with James Barnard and Callum Brewell on row three. Row four saw Jason Bradbury alongside Bailey Morgan with William Stacey and Peter Hargreaves on row five. Marco Blanco Gonzalez occupied row six with Matthew Collier and Scott Kelman on row seven and Alex Simmons with the veteran Keith Segal on row eight. Oscar Lancaster and Jed Toole shared row nine ahead of Greg Smith and Niall Tuohy on row ten with Ramunas Cerkauskas and Jason Smith on row eleven and the last four places taken up by the qualifiers from the C Final, Seager, Danilov, Westwood and Rabbage. Two to qualify for the A Final.

Nichols was a tad slow away from the line and with Martin having to hold station they were both vulnerable as they rounded the first turns and headed into hairpin one. Sure enough both got shuffled wide as they tried to defend. Slater was up to first followed by Barnard with Theodorou third from Bradbury and Morgan. Brewell was next from Blanco Gonzalez followed by Martin and Nichols. Bradbury was intent on moving forward but got out of shape at the top of the hill and spun into the barrier fortunately without injury although his helmet came off. It’s not difficult to make sure your helmet is done up properly. He would pull off and retire. Martin was beginning to get back up to speed and moved back up to third behind Slater and Bradbury with Morgan fourth. Quarter distance and Barnard took over at the front. Slater remained second but not for long as both Martin and Morgan swept by. Brewell was fifth but Blanco Gonzalez was alongside as they headed into turn one at the start of lap six. But he couldn’t make the move stick and it remained as you were.

Half distance and the top six remained the same but Barnard was coming under serious pressure from Martin whilst Morgan’s challenge looked to be over. Martin was clearly quicker up the hill and over the line but Barnard just had enough to hold him off through the first turns and hairpins. The gap? Less than a tenth. But Martin finally fumbled his way by through the hairpins. It was move that held both he and Barnard allowing Morgan to close back in. It was now a serious three way battle for both the lead and the two qualifying spots. Morgan showed great maturity to hold off making a premature move and shadowed the two leaders closely setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. Last lap and he made his move through the hairpins. Text book stuff and he was through into second. Sadly he left the door wide open at the bottom of the hill and Barnard needed no second invitation nipping by to take second back.

B Final Winner James Martin

Martin took the win and the trophy with Barnard second by just a tenth from Morgan. Brewell closed up as Barnard and Morgan fought over the final lap. He’d never been in contention but fourth was a strong result some four seconds clear of Blanco Gonzalez. Slater came home sixth ahead of Smith, winning C3, and Kelman. Seager drove hard from the back of the grid to claim ninth with Nichols completing the top ten.

C3 Podium, winner Greg Smith flanked by Jed Toole (left) 2nd and Andrew Rabbage (right) 3rd.

Lightweight A Final

Talk about saving the best till last. Mike Coppin’s three heat wins saw him firmly on pole from Steve Brown with reigning Champion Ed Barrs on row two alongside Daz Teal. Chris Alcock and Dan Healey shared row three with James Wattis alongside the first of the C2 runners Ben Atkinson on row four. Pietro Pagano sat on row five with Chris Dixon followed by two C2 runners, Fraser Brunton and James Rose on row six. Tom Fuller and the returning Rhianna Purcocks occupied row seven with Andrew Ward and Josh Adams on row eight. Row nine saw Thanassi Barnicoat alongside Rob Dowsett whilst Rory Hudson and Dan Truman occupied row ten. Chris Woodger and Hussain Rashid shared row eleven with Christopher Powell and Ashley white on the penultimate row followed by the qualifiers from the B Final, James Martin and James Barnard.

Coppin brought the field up to the line very, very slowly, which he is perfectly entitled to do, before flooring the loud pedal to give himself a clear lead round the first turn. Brown though got shuffled wide, always a problem for the outside driver on the front row with both the first two corners being right handers. Barrs couldn’t take advantage but Teal did, forcing his way into second as they rounded hairpin one. Over the line at the end of the lap and Coppin was almost a second clear with Teal next from Barrs and Brown. Alcock ran fifth but over half a second back and having to defend from Pagano. Atkinson was next across the line with Wattis and Brunton right behind. Dixon completed the top ten. Coppin continued to lead but Teal, Barrs and Brown were cutting the gap as they circulated line astern. Alcock was being dropped as he held off the attentions of Pagano. Quarter distance and it was as you were at the front but the lead at the front was down to a few Kart lengths whilst Brown was dropping back but still pulling clear of fifth placed Alcock who was defending mightily from Pagano. Teal continued to chip away at Coppin’s lead with Barrs right in his wheeltracks.

Across the line for the start of the seventh tour and Teal dived for the inside into turn one. Coppin hung on round the outside but Teal had the line for hairpin one and Coppin found himself unable to turn in and use the cutback as Barrs stuck tight to Teal’s rear bumper. Barrs had a look at Teal into hairpin two but backed out leaving Teal at the front with Coppin a frustrated third. Teal led across the line at the end of the lap but Barrs was intent on first and tried a move into hairpin one. Teal held on but Barrs had the better line out of the turn and forced the issue into hairpin two running both he and Teal wide and allowing a grateful Coppin to keep a tidier line and emerge back in the lead. All this fighting had allowed Brown to close up. Alcock had finally found a bit more pace and dropped Pagano. Brunton was still seventh with Dixon cut adrift now in eighth but over a second clear of Healey and Adams. Coppin continued to lead with Barrs in his wheeltracks. Teal was a couple of tenths back with Brown closing in. Alcock too had dragged himself closer to the fight. Pagano was holding off Brunton with Dixon next from Healey and Adams. Truman, Woodger and Atkinson were battling over eleventh and some nine seconds clear of the rest of the pack lead by Barnard. Fourteenth to twenty fifth was covered by around three seconds as they crossed the line. But they bunched up through the hairpins and were at times four abreast as they streamed through the esses at the top of the hill. It was frightening to watch but they all made it through. Mostly..

Coppin continued to lead but Teal was gathering himself together and got a run on Barrs into hairpin two to take over in second. Two thirds distance and Coppin was almost half a second to the good but Teal was closing back in. Four to go and Teal again found some pace up the hill and was almost alongside as they crossed the line. Into the first turn he again held his line. Coppin again lost out and Barrs nipped by. But Coppin hung on and tried to fight back into hairpin two. Both he and Barrs ran wide allowing Brown to slip by into second. Barrs had greater traction and Coppin slipped back to fourth. And that was how it remained. Teal crossed the line pumping his fist in elation with Brown a tenth behind and only just holding off Barrs by 0.084 as they crossed the line. A thrilling finale to the days racing encapsulating all that is great about Club100. Coppin set his best lap of the race final time around. He’s arrived and on this form will surely be a factor in the Championship. As will fifth placed Fraser Brunton. His first race will certainly be one to remember. Fifth overall, C2 class winner, fastest lap overall and the only driver to post a time under forty six seconds. A star is born. Alcock took sixth from Pagano with Healey, Dixon and Adams completing the top ten. Chris Woodger was the fastest C1 runner and twelfth overall with Atkinson taking the runner up spot in the C2 and thirteenth overall whilst James Barnard took third in the C2 class and fifteenth overall.

C2 podium, winner Fraser Brunton, with by Ben Atkinson (left) 2nd, and James Barnard (right) 3rd

Reflections on the day

What a magnificent start to the season. Some great racing culminating in a spellbinding Lightweight A Final. And the standard of driving across all the classes was particularly good in the main with the penalty count being particularly low especially in the lights. The new regulations appeared to work well although the cameras being mounted on the Karts do at times obscure the driver numbers. Buckmore is a great circuit for drivers but from a reporting standpoint it’s a nightmare in winter. Way too cold for me to spend all day on the pit entrance grandstand or the cafe balcony. My compromise is to stand in race control behind the clerk of the course and the timekeeper. I can see the top of the circuit and use the monitor to see the bottom of the circuit. I still don’t see everything but I strive really hard to make sure what I report is accurate. It also puts me in the privileged position of being able to see at first hand the hard work that takes place in race control. There is a humour but the job is taken seriously. Sometimes the radio calls are coming in thick and fast but it is very rare that someone is penalised unfairly. However, Niki is always prepared to listen provided a driver puts his case forward in a calm and rational manner. So it was sad to witness a driver coming into race control after getting penalty for punting a fellow competitor off. The incident happened right in front of race control and there could not possibly be any argument. Yet this individual stormed into race control and accused the officials of only penalising ‘’people like him’’ and ‘’brown nosing other drivers’’. There were other phrases but you get the gist. This was disgraceful behaviour. There is no favouritism. All the Club’s officials act at all times with honesty and their integrity should never be questioned. JV has already shown in the past that he will not tolerate this kind of behaviour. CLUB100 is a club. A friendly club. Don’t spoil it for yourself and others by complaining needlessly. Most times you just make yourself look silly. I would hope that this particular driver will have the good sense and manners to apologise at the next round.

On to Bayford Meadows then in a few weeks time for round two. Another iconic circuit with a great diner as well.

See you there!

Words: Steve Gray

Photography: John Patterson

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