Ctrl Alt Delete – Champion & Top 5 Moved On. A New Season, & Joe Holmes Is A New Winner

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James Browning was the first driver to miss the top 20 cut for the Pre A Final, he’d have the honour, always dubious but at least useful, of pole position for the Pre B Final and as Heavies was sold out, this made for the biggest grid of the day. A whopping 30 drivers from which only 4 would move forward to the main show. In truth possibly the top 10 to 15 were in with a serious chance to cut through to the top 4 and even that needed luck as there were several heavy (no pun) hitters in the field. Former Easykart, Heavyweight A top 5 regular Julian Clist started on grid 2, former Clubman Mike Bodnar around grid 6, former Easykarter and fast food waste disposal Andy Gould on grid 10-ish to name but a few, that I recognise.

C100R1-2-14Unfortunately the only video I can find is viewed from pole man Browning’s perspective so you’ll have to forgive a limited report here. As the pace kart swung off, Browning had mashed the throttle well before the green light, as he is allowed to do, Clist missed it on grid 2 and James plus Daren Townsley and Nick Butler all took advantage. Effective as it was and Browning was able to take a standard racing line through the infield he gave himself an “OMG!” moment in Symes Sweep running wide. He avoided the barrier on the left and edged back on to the track at Pullmans. This left James counting his chickens, looking over his shoulder at Townsley and the recovering Clist on his bumper across the bottom of the circuit and back to start finish. James felt obliged to go narrow into hairpin 1 but finally some tyre temperature was stirring and it would be Townsley holding off Clist, to release James into a lead that he would never relinquish. Ben Benneyworth moved into 4th place at the expense of Butler, and Nick would be paying up on 5th place on the next lap as Nicholas Reynolds moved passed. By halfway Nicholas had lost 3secs to Benneyworth and had the rest of the top 10 queuing up behind him, the levee broke (thats you Nicholas – no one wants to be called a levee – so sorry about that) and he was out of contention, Butler couldn’t hold Lennie Wood keen to join Stuart Kirk (as the only Super Heavy qualifying directly to the Pre A) for 5th. Andy Gould had started slowly but was chopping up the bottom of the top 10, demoting Bodnar from 7th before half way.

C100R1-2-8By the end of lap 10 of 15, Browning was cruising 2.5secs clear of Clist, who was 4secs clear of Townsley, this meant that all things being equal to the finish, they had qualified. Two spots remained contested, Townsley and Benneyworth who were the incumbents and they were together and sitting pretty 2 secs clear of Lennie Wood in 5th. Gould was a similar margin behind with Nick Butler and Mike Bodnar hanging on to his draft. You’d think that would be it but Wood was half a second quicker per lap in clear air, than the pair ahead and at that rate Lennie was in drafting range into the closing stages. Andy Gould reported “there was a gaggle of karts in front of me as we shot passed the finish line on to the last lap. I just knew there would be fireworks. Down at Paddock someone went for the overtake, they all went wide and Lennie and I swooped on by. Nice and easy haha!” Wood and Gould filled their boots to steal 3rd and 4th and qualification.

C100R1-2-1715(More Cameras now) When it came to the Pre A Final we finally got to see something of the starting order of things, I say “starting” as the season will throw up other drivers as it develops – witness James Hattersley’s progress last year, but some “faces” remain season to season, benchmarks if you like. Martin Gurnett from group 1 was outright fastest, but only just from Harrison Darvill and a tenth quicker than Luke Hornsby. Martin was also a couple of tenths quicker than Simon Lloyd topping the timing sheet from qually 2, he was a tenth clear of Holmes and another tenth clear of Mike Townley.

Gurnett didn’t mess about at the start dropping the  ammer and bringing the field through at a fast pace. It meant Darvill on grid 2 had immediately lost out, even before the braking for turn 1, to Hornsby off grid 3 and Harrison could not slot in 3rd as Lloyd was going to occupy the first apex before Harrison could get across. Darvill had no option to run out wide and around Hornsby, but there was even less grip out there, having barrelled in Simon made up the trio drifting wide so Joe Holmes and Tim Hill could arrive into the space at the 2nd apex and the pair would run into hairpin 1 with the momentum to push (only metaphorically speaking) Hornsby off the apex, and in the ensuing pod rubbing towards track out (and isn’t there a lot of track out now with the new run off?), Hornsby lost out, Lloyd half spun – one of those sickening half spins which might as well a full spin to a stop, and probably would have been had he not been collected by Paul Williams, but Simon kept running as the field blasted, his swearing (I’m sure) only interrupted by James Browning off grid 20 giving him a whack up the rear as he arrived looking for a way by into hairpin 2. Up front Gurnett had 2 kart lengths on Holmes, who in turn had a similar margin to Hill with Darvill and Steve Bosley behind. Mark Turner watched Stuart Kirk and Declan Stansfield run around his outside and then lose out on momentum into the Esses.

Turner’s take it easy plan on lap 1 lasted as far as Garda. Townley and Stansfield had been side by side into Paddock, and Mark was set on taking advantage and took Mike deep, too deep into Garda, so that Jack Bolton from a poor 12th on the grid could force his way by the pair to 9th place in Cafe Curve.

Holmes had been on Gurnett’s bumper over start finish and moved through to the lead in short order and the field up front settled down to making progress into the 16 lapper, Holmes edging away from Gurnett, Martin edging away from Hill with Darvill in his draft, who in turn was dropping Hornsby and Kirk.

After extricating himself from a fierce midfield battle between Liam Hitchen, Bosley, Stansfield, Townley, Adlam, Turner and Browning, punctuated by arm waving here, Jack Bolton had dropped in 1.7secs off Stuart Kirk in 6th. Darvill passed Hill before halfway to go 3rd, Hill slightly off the pace at the time would have Hornsby as a shadow for much of the rest of the race later joined by Kirk. Indeed Hill was doing Bolton and Hitchen a favour as both were quicker and could see 4th place might be a possibility before the finish.

Bolton passed Kirk on lap 11 and was in Hornsby’s slipstream with 3 laps to go, but perhaps working together Hill and Hornsby contrived to hang on to 4th and 5th a little longer. Holmes had by this point driven clear to 6.5secs, in truth he’d won the race in the first 2  corners, even if he’d had to drop Hill and wait to lap 2 pass Gurnett to make it a certainty.

Gurnett finished the race under pressure from Darvill. 2 secs back Hill relaxed into the finish as Hornsby had to hold off Bolton. Stuart Kirk was top super heavy, ahead of Liam Hitchen, gap to Steve Bosley and Declan Stansfield rounding out the top 10. James Browning had passed Mike Townley on the penultimate lap after a long fight with Stuart Gough, Michael Ballinger and Mark Turner. It was a surprise to see Julian Clist, Andrew Gould and Eric Mignon finish 18th through 20th even if they had made some progress it was a bit up and more down through out perhaps Julian and Andy were still tired from the Pre B Final.

C100R1-2-5After coming a cropper on the last lap of Pre B, Daren Townsley took a pointer from James Browning and brought the remaining 26 drivers, now going after his first position and Benneyworth on grid 2, at pace at the start of the B Final. The field spread enough for Paul Goddard on grid 4 to change lanes to the inside for turn 1 and he’d emerge into the infield in 2nd place, Benneyworth clear of Mike Bodnar fending off Ben Daly, Nicholas Reynolds and Thomas Caen. It already looked as though the 2 qualifiers were coming from those 7 drivers as behind Peter Harris, Theo Gereoudakis, Andrew Cherry, then Andrew Cherry, Rob Moore, Michael Jungling, Roger Davis et al were letting rip, and losing ground as entertaining as it was to watch. Goddard got run out of 2nd place into hairpin 1, he’d be 5th on the exit, Townsley was clear, then it kicked off again in hairpin 2, Bodnar was clear in 2nd, but behind Goddard, Benneyworth, Caen, Harris and Daly clashed, Benneyworth was left behind in the corner, and both he and Goddard were excluded post race. (17c Gaining an advantage by contact which results in and is responsible for a driver(s)coming to a halt) for these 2 corners I presume.

C100R1-1889The chasing group had been slow off hairpin 2 and that left Thomas Caen 2.6secs down on Mike Bodnar, but at least Thomas was clear himself by 2.5secs clear to Peter Harris. The race settled down into individuals real pace. Which give or take the odd moment when the track gave up on grip due to the cold was pretty similar. Bodnar finally began to press for the lead around lap 10, this slowed Townsley enough to allow Caen to begin to close on the pair, and in a sense of deja vu perhaps for Daren after the first final it might just make for an interesting finish between the trio, and it was a trio as Harris in 4th still had fallen away over 10secs off the lead, into a dice of his own with Davis, Daly and the soon to be excluded Goddard.

Caen accelerated into the fight on lap 12, and gave Townsley a much need breather, it would not be a repetition of Pre B Final after all as he was once again just clear as Mike and Thomas fought over the remaining qualifying spot. Daren ran out just over 1secs clear of Caen, and it was Bodnar missing out. Roger Davis came through to 4th ahead of Goddard, which become Harris.

The last race of the day with the temperature still dropping and with the light fading the A Final was decided at the start. Joe Holmes’ kart on pole position pulled cleanly through the green light, possibly Martin Gurnett’s only chance, was an oiled up plug. It wasn’t to be and Joe exited turn 1 with a couple of kart lengths advantage enough to not really need to worry into hairpin 1. Gurnett had held off Tim Hill to be just clear in 2nd, as Hill had pushed hard from grid 5 on Hornsby ahead of him. Luke had lost out Harrison Darvill and a flying Jack Bolton, off grid 12.

Holmes already had a 1.4secs  lead at the end of lap 1 which he doubled by the end of lap 2. Gurnett didn’t have the pace and Hill closed. Further back Steve Bosley had been slow down into Paddock and James Browning dived up the inside into Paddock for 9th place. James pulled clear on to lap 3, but Bosley was turned around in turn 1, or spun (it’s not clear) by Declan Stansfield, and Declan was caught up in the Steve’s spin, Ballinger and Townley running close in line behind were joined by Mark Turner, Stuart Gough, Julian Clist and Simon Lloyd in moving up 3 positions. Stansfield kept going but Bosley waited for a pusher kart.

C100R1-1800Lap 4, Gurnett’s defence of 2nd place was brief and Bolton moved passed both Martin and Tim but then Holmes was 4secs up the road, and Hill was still on Jack’s bumper the 2nd win of the season was in the bag for Joe. Jack and Tim exchanged 2nd place and by the time Jack had settled it before halfway they had lost a further 2secs, Holmes was out to 6secs, and by the time Hill had dropped out of Jack’s draft he was 7.5secs down on the leader. With 3 laps to go Hill was also cruising for a finish, Darvill was just out of drafting range but very much in Liam Hitchen’s sights and perhaps James Browning’s on an excellent run from 11th on the grid, if battle was joined ahead. James had picked off Super Heavy Kirk, with a bold move in Pullmans on lap 5, run down the Darvill-Gurnett-Hitchen-Hornsby over the next 4 laps picking off Luke with some more elbows out driving down at Paddock and Garda. As Luke had gone defensive he’d lost the tow from the group ahead, then James won the first apex at turn 1 to go 7th. That ought to have been James’ lot as the group ahead had a margin, now a 3, but soon to be a duo as Darvill escaped, but Hitchen and Gurnett came back to him. After a failed attempt to recover 5th from Hitchen, left Gurnett vulnerable to another, hard but fair, lunge up the inside into turn 1 from Browning James was 6th. Gurnett pressed for a way back by then his race expired (but he got points for 7th) at hairpin 2. The top 6 was settled. Julian Clist, Simon Lloyd, both of whom had only got going after 6 laps or so, it seemed, moved through a fading Luke Hornsby and Stuart Kirk to make up the top 10. Declan Stansfield, Stuart Gough and Michael Ballinger finished their days with 3 cornered battle over 11th place over the 2nd half of the race.

We’ll see you at Rye House on 27th of March 2016.