Curt Holmes Captures Key A Final Victory in Battle For P2

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The penultimate round then and with Joe Holmes having wrapped up the HW Championship at Ellough attention turned to the battle for the Lightweight Championship between Rob Newman and Dante Dhillon, the fight for the SHW crown between reigning Champion Bill Taylor and Lee Henderson plus C2 and C3 in both the Heavies and the Lights.

Without the necessary floodlights on the International circuit the Zulu configuration was pressed into service. A tricky off camber selection of corners turning sharp right at the otherwise flat Inkermans and then coming down the hill through Zulus’ one two and three to rejoin the International circuit at the exit of Osiers’s on the short back straight. Little known fact, Zulu configuration was named after the owner’s dog.

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With the Championship settled all eyes were now on the fight for second, the SHW, C2 and C3 crowns. 

Heats

Anwar Beroual-Smith got the afternoons proceedings off by claiming a comfortable win leading home polesitter Richard Newton by over five seconds after starting from the third row and taking over at the front second time around. Alex Pritchard looked to be heading for third but Kyle Walker went by on the penultimate lap after working his way up from grid twelve. He missed out on second by less than a tenth at the flag. Callan Sigafoos was fifth.

Curt Holmes got the perfect start to his day with a win in the second heat. Starting from the third row he took over at the front from Kai Crawford to lead the latter home by over a second with Bill Taylor third from Darrell Lowe and Jordan Hawkins.

The third heat went to Joe Holmes with polesitter Adam Natha second. Holmes had started alongside Natha and took over at the front second time around. Tim Williams was third just over a second back from Natha with Adam Wright getting valuable points in fourth after starting from grid ten. Lee Henderson took solid points with fifth.

Steve Lindley and Mike Bodnar started on the front row for the fourth heat but once they got underway Lindley drove away from the pack to take the win by over eight seconds whilst Bodnar doggedly defended second place from Alexander Lammin, Tom Angier, Tim Penny and Daren Townsley. Angier got the better of Lammin on the penultimate lap whilst Penny completed the top five.

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Heat five saw Callan Sigafoos just hold onto the win from Darrell Lowe with the latter almost alongside as they crossed the finish line. But a six place penalty for spinning Edward Gordon to a halt saw Lowe demoted down the order and Cottle promoted to second. Jordan Hawkins was third and Gordon fourth. Gordon was fortunate to only lose five places in the incident with Lowe and only momentarily came to halt much to Lowe’s chagrin when he lost six places rather than four. Mathew Batter was fifth.

Joe Holmes took another comfortable win in the sixth heat leading home Tim Penny by over three seconds whilst Penny was over four seconds clear of third placed Kai Walker. Anwar Beroual-Smith claimed fourth from Kieran Chidgzey.

Stephen Jennings was a comfortable winner of the seventh heat with Luke Elliott crossing the line second. But a four place penalty saw him drop to sixth and promoted third across the line Josh Pettitt to second with Mikey Nichols third. Jacob Harris crossed the line next but he too had a four place penalty dropping to ninth and promoting Bill Taylor to fourth from Lawrence Cheah.

Adam Wright started the eighth heat from the second row and needed a strong result to help his fight for second place in the Championship. Arch rival Curt Holmes was starting from grid eleven. Wright quickly stamped his authority on the race taking the lead second time around.

Holmes was working his way through the field however and by mid distance he was up to second. He quickly homed in on Wright for the lead but Wright held him off to take the win by a tenth. Adam Natha claimed third from Dan White with Kai Crawford fifth after Adrian Wray was demoted four places after a penalty.

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Alex Pritchard led the ninth heat pursued by Anwar Beroual-Smith almost all the way but it was the latter who triumphed by just 0.074 at the flag. A vital win in the race for pole. His fate was now in the hands of others. Callan Sigafoos put in another strong drive to finish third from Luke Elliott whilst Joe Holmes chances of pole took a hit as he could only finish sixth. But a penalty for Jordan Hawkins promoted him to fifth. Like Beroual-Smith, his fate was now in the hands of others.

Curt Holmes made the most of his front row start to lead from the off and take the win in heat ten over five seconds clear of Mikey Nichols and secure pole for the A Final. Kieran Chidgzey was third from Dan Grocott and Steve Lindley.

Adam Wright started the penultimate heat from the third row and knew he needed to win to put himself on the front row of the A Final. He already had a faster lap time in the bag to put himself ahead of Beroual-Smith but a win would cement his place at the front. Half way through the heat he was still fifth but three strong laps put him at the front and although Tim Williams kept him honest he took the flag two tenths up. Stuart Kirk was third from Tim Penny and Alexander Lammin.

The final  heat went to Adam Natha. A great drive this too after starting from grid twelve. He was strong on the first lap making up several places and then worked his way forward taking over at the front from early leader Steve Bosley with three to go. Kyle Walker was second with Bosley third from Jacob Harris and Daren Townsley.   

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C Final

All drivers in C3 unless otherwise noted.

Patrick Sekinger on pole from Kristian Huus followed by C2 Vijay Patel and Joneld Muhaj on the second row. C2 Paul Williams shared the third row with Thomas Smith whilst C2 Andrew Hicks occupied row four with Sam Pike. Simon Fuller and Marcus Gilbey were on row five followed by C2 Tim Hill and SHW Vinod Harani on row six. Hill would elect not to start.

Row seven had SHW Olavo Castro alongside Antonio Gizzonio followed by Marcus Adams and Jamie Buchan on row eight. David Harvey and Charles James shared row nine whilst C2 Damian Smith and Simon Dean shared row ten. Row eleven had Daryl Bennett alongside Riccardo Vitale followed by Paul Bennett and Christopher Pautz with Finlay Gunn bringing up the rear. Top four to qualify for the B Final and a trophy for the winner.

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Sekinger lead the pack away and was still at the front by the end of what was a very scruffy first tour. Harani spun at the top of the hill whilst Gilbey turned round at Inkermans badly delaying Williams who would pull out after a couple of laps. Pike made up ground rapidly to run second with Muhaj third.

A lap later and Pike was in the lead from Muhaj with Sekinger down to third from Smith and Hicks. After the fraught first lap the field settled down with the top five edging away from the rest of the pack. Pike continued to lead with just over a second covering the top five. 

Half distance and the leaders were up with backmarkers as they climbed up the hill. Muhaj went up the inside of Pike for the lead. As they got in amongst the backmarkers Pike was caught out and Sekinger nipped by for second. Hicks, who was setting consistently quicker lap times than the rest of the field, went by Smith for fourth.

Once at the front Muhaj eased away from Sekinger whilst Pike was doing well to hold off the more experienced Hicks. Smith remained fifth but barring incidents ahead of him he looked to be out of the hunt for a qualifying berth.

But whilst the front four looked to be settled they were having to thread their way very carefully through the back markers. Not carefully enough in the case of Sekinger and as he went by Vitale on the approach to the Boot he appeared to turn into Vitale putting the latter onto the grass and out of the race.  Sekinger escaped with a contact warning.

A very lucky driver in my humble opinion but then, angles can be deceiving. Penultimate lap and Pike went by Sekinger for second at the top of the hill. And that was it. Muhaj took the win and the trophy with Pike second from Sekinger and Hicks. Smith remained fifth but over two seconds back from the qualifiers.

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B Final

All drivers in C2 unless otherwise noted.

C1 Alex Pritchard on pole alongside SHW Mike Bodnar. Daren Townsley and C3 Jonathan Wilson shared the second row followed on the third row by Jacob Harris and SHW Richard Newton. SHW Dan White and Edward Gordon shared row four followed by Scott Parker and SHW Stuart Kirk on row five.

Row six had Adrian Wray alongside Dan Gordon followed on row seven by Mathew Batter and C3 Sam Iddles. Glen Orford and Joe Wright occupied row eight with Lawrence Cheah and C3 Tom Edwards on row nine. SHW Lennie Wood shared row ten with C3 Sam White with C3 Jason Kirkham and Niklas Stieper on row eleven followed by the qualifiers from the C Final, Muhaj, Pike, Sekinger and Hicks. Top two to qualify for the A Final and a trophy for the winner.

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Pritchard made a great start from pole to lead round the first turns by several Kart lengths with Bodnar in second. Top of the hill and Harris went for a move up the inside of Bodnar but failed to make it stick and spun the luckless Bodnar out of second. Harris would receive a six place penalty putting him out of contention whilst Bodnar resumed at the back of the pack.

Wilson was up to second ahead of Newton, the penalised Harris, Parker and Gordon. Unhindered at the front Pritchard was over two seconds clear of Wilson by the end of the first tour but with four laps run Wilson began to cut the gap. Harris was running third with Newton fourth and coming under pressure from Gordon who, fifth time around put a move on Newton into the Boot.

He looked to have made it stick too but Newton came back at him into the final turn and Gordon ran very wide in his effort to stay ahead. Up the hill and Gordon remained ahead but into Inkermans Newton punted Gordon into a spin. But he escaped sanction whilst Parker took advantage and slipped into fourth.

Parker’s fourth place lasted just a lap as Orford went by into Inkermans. At the front Pritchard continued to lead but the inspired Wilson was getting ever closer. Cheah made a move on White for sixth at the final turn. White defended but ran wide and clipped the wall spinning to a halt.

At the front Pritchard continued to lead but Wilson kept him under pressure all the way to the flag gaining very valuable points for his quest for the C3 crown. Harris crossed the line third but his penalty dropped him to ninth promoting Orford to third ahead of Parker. Wilson’s second place finish gave him the C3 honours on the day with sixth placed Kirkham taking second and White third.

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B Final Winner – Alex Pritchard

A Final

All drivers in C1 unless otherwise noted.

Curt Holmes on pole with his main rival for the Championship runner up spot Adam Wright alongside. Anwar Beroual-Smith and Joe Holmes shared the second row followed by two C2’s, Adam Natha and Callan Sigafoos on the third row. C2 Championship rivals Kyle Walker and Tim Penny shared the fourth row followed by Tim Williams and Steve Lindley on row five.

Row six had C2 Stephen Jennings alongside SHW Bill Taylor who needed a strong drive to give himself any chance of retaining his SHW crown. SHW Kieran Chidgzey shared row seven with C2 Luke Elliott followed by a brace of C2’s, Josh Pettitt and Jordan Hawkins on row eight. Steve Bosley occupied row nine with C2 Darrell Lowe with Mikey Nichols and SHW Championship leader Lee Henderson on row ten. C2’s Tom Angier, Ben Cottle, Kai Crawford and Alexander Lammin were on rows eleven and twelve followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final, Pritchard and Wilson.

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Tactics at play before the start with Curt Holmes electing to switch sides on the grid as the polesitter is entitled to do. This put brother Joe right behind him giving Joe a better chance of covering off an early challenge on Curt from Wright. And it worked to perfection. Curt was away smartly with Joe right on his bumper and sweeping across in front of  Wright as they rounded the first turns. By the top of the hill Curt and Joe were several lengths clear.

Mid pack and Williams got punted off the circuit by Natha who would receive the inevitable six point penalty. Over the line at the end of lap 1 and Curt was ahead with Joe glued to his rear bumper. Wright was half a second back but he’s a fighter and second time around he carved almost half a second out of the gap to Joe and was quickly onto his rear bumper.  

Beroual-Smith was fourth from Sigafoos. Joe began to defend from Wright but Wright had made no serious attempt to get by and all Joe was doing was compromising Wrights line and slowing him down whilst allowing Curt to break away at the front. Wright made a move round the Boot and Joe cut him off. Wright was briefly airborne as he made contact with Joe’s rear bumper. It slowed them both and allowed Beroual-Smith and Sigafoos to close in.

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Up the hill fourth time around and Beroual-Smith went by Wright for third. Once up to third Wright latched onto his rear bumper and allowed Beroual-Smith to pull him along. Meanwhile Walker pulled out losing valuable points in the C2 fight with Penny who was up to sixth and challenging Sigafoos for fifth.

Curt continued to lead whilst Joe was doing all he could to help defending from Beroual-Smith up the hill to try to help Curt break clear. But Beroual-Smith isn’t easily deterred these days and kept Joe awake by trying to go round the outside at the top of the hill. Joe held on but round the Boot for the eighth time Beroual-Smith tried again. Joe defended and Wright closed up. But Beroual-Smith had the inside line out of the final corner and went by.

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Wright tried to follow him but Joe held him off. Curt meanwhile was now over a second up the road. Could Beroual-Smith catch him? Could Wright find a way by Joe? For lap after lap they raced on. Curt though was running clear at the front whilst Joe continued to thwart Wright. Penny, Natha and Sigafoos were running with the top four and almost ten seconds up on seventh placed Pettitt.

Over the final laps Beroual-Smith was determined to take second spot on the podium and defended hard to keep Joe at bay. Wright could only look on in frustration as his Championship rival pulled further away at the front. Curt took the flag over four seconds clear of Beroual-Smith with Joe third from Wright, Penny, Natha and Sigafoos.

Less than a second covering second to seventh. Natha though had a penalty dropping him out of the top ten and promoting Sigafoos back to sixth. Pettitt was next but a penalty dropped him out of the top ten. Nichols was next but a penalty dropped him out of the top ten. All of which promoted Lowe up to seventh, vital points which should see him claim third in C2 for the season.  Lindley to eighth and Crawford to ninth. Jennings, Bosley and Chidgzey were next up but they too had penalties all of which promoted Pritchard to tenth.

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A Final Winner – Curt Holmes

Championship round up.

Joe Holmes is already confirmed as overall Champion but can brother Curt hang onto second place? Adam Wright is now nine points back and as he rightly said after Whilton all he can do is go for it and see how it all pans out. Alex Pritchard is fourth some distance ahead of fifth placed Tim Williams who is seventh overall.

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C2 Podium – l to r – Callan Sigafoos, Tim Penny and Darrell Lowe

Kyle Walker’s disappointing day sees Tim Penny back in the lead of C2 by just two points. It will be a battle to watch at Buckmore as will the fight for SHW honours. Bill Taylor’s chances suffered a blow as he slipped back at Whilton after a strong qualifying whilst Championship leader Lee Henderson started twentieth and finished there.

But it was good points. He knows what he needs to do at Buckmore but will the pressure get to him and snatch the crown away right at the death? Mike Bodnar will finish third no matter what others do.

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SHW Podium – l to r – Kieran Chidgzey, Bill Taylor, Lee Henderson

By my reckoning Jonathan Wilson has clinched C3 so it’s the fight for second place which should keep us entertained between Joneld Muhaj and Jason Kirkham. Just five points separate them.

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C3 Podium – l to r – Jason Kirkham, Jonathan Wilson, Tom Edwards

Reflections

I’ve been banging the drum for months about drivers not slowing under yellows and not raising their arms when a yellow is waved. Once upon a time drivers raised their arms high like a football referee indicating offside not just a cursory wave of the hand. So for me it was good to see the Clerk of the Course clamping down on drivers who fail to heed the flags.

One round to go and the customary end of season where it all started in February at Buckmore.

See you there !