With dropped scores now dropped from the points table, Titan A (Jack O’Neill and Mike Philippou on this occasion) finished 2nd to the returning Owen Jenman and Martin O’Neill (giving Owen a 15minute breather) in Mitan Totersport (Titan B), to wholly unofficially and not mathematical true, to claim the 2021 title. Not quite a cunning plan, to take points off their rivals, if there ever was a plan but the other Titan team came away with the win without the pair actually engaging in a contest. A no show from Andy O’Neill, pressed Martin into action “despite being 103kg… Both teams had a faultless races, the difference being unusually long pit stops from the Titan team when there where some fuelling issues. It was disappointing as the ‘on track’ race between the two teams then never really happened. The final gap was 16seconds and I enjoyed my little stint and time on the podium, and it was a great result for the Titan team for the championship as it edges ever closer”, reported Martin O’Neill. I think the consensus is the championship is over as far champions go. And when you’re 50points clear perhaps the writing is on the wall for the championship and can be afforded. Would it have been different if Titan Motorsport lead was 5 or 10points? Their chief rivals Team Applewood could only manage 6th place, Alex Pritchard reporting,”we missed the first pit window thinking it was 25, not 20 minutes which didn’t help, and neither did a penalty which we didn’t feel wasn’t right on Mike [Coppin] overtaking some back markers”. They even seem to accept their race is now with Scuderia Bandito for runner up spot, even if the man maths might show the championship is not beyond them, it looks all over as in truth is Titan 6-1 Others on wins.
So what of the runner up chase, Matt Wileman for Scuderia Bandito, “Overall a good race for us, we found out we were 7 tenths off the pace, in qualifying so we decided to play the joker, started 34th or something, Anwar [Beroual-Smith] absolutely smashed it, Applewood missing their first pit window and getting a 40secs stop go helped”. Clearly seeing the new battle as well is over runner up in the Premier Class championship as their race as well. G3 Pro might get up there to challenge, if they call in more Yorkshire reserves, although thats not the friendly collectives policy, but this time it was in the shape of Rob Newman, G3 Pro probably have the makings of a great northern franchise G3 Pro Yorkshire, while Palatinate Racing will make up the top 5 at the end of the season. Andrew Dawson commenting, “Chuffed with another 4th in class – the 4th of the last 5 (and we were 5th in the other one!). Unfortunately the championship table suggests our consistency might not be enough to beat those with a touch more pace who get podiums or wins when it all goes right – which still feels a bit out of reach for us.” No, the championship table doesn’t lie at the moment, and the sense of realism seems fairly uniform we might already be looking at the final top 5.
It’s a slightly less convincing story in Clubman Class but suggests that so long as JK Rolling can field James Dixon, and the rest of the team can hold up their end and not make mistakes, they might run out as champions but they could only finish 5th in class here, but were still ahead of chief rivals Speedscreen, to be 45points clear in the championship. Auditing Armageddon returned to winning form, and with their Rye House absence scrubbed from the points table they are 3rd, a further 10points back. It might go to the wire. Conman Racing, All Torque, Runtime Exception Racing might be fighting over the last 2 spots in the top 5, although if you include Runtime Exception Racing, you can’t quite discount Slowcoach Racing a further 10 points back, finishing Bayford Meadows with their best result of the season so far with 2nd place in class.
And in Intermediates, it’s talk of a just perfect day for The Three Swans, James Johnstone, “A perfect, perfect day, an amazing lap from Tom Hollamby [in qualifying] in a kart that had some issues, and sensational team performance”, taking the class win. With the first round exclusion expunged from Brillio’s total, and only finishing 3rd in class here, you can see why Johnstone is feeling pleased and optimistic. Swans lead is 30points and now the guessing is over it’s a straight fight for the Intermediate title. Four rounds to go.
Team Agev were in the Intermediate Class entry but were not playing on a level playing field, Shaun Carter and Craig Johnson formerly of Martin Joyce’s CD30, putting miles on a potential 2022 spec kart, and as we are all about parity in the machinery in Club100, they will be bit part players in the report, although it would be too hard to ignore them in the race, given they would qualify on pole position and run up front most of the event.
Which brings me back to the usual cast, Titan Motorsport’s Jack O’Neill set the pace with 54.42 when the session went green, initially from Will Van Es in Palatinate, Agev, Matt Wileman for Scuderia Bandito, Owen Jenman for Mitan, with Wait This Isn’t A Simrig? in Inters and Ryan Sandall in Slickspeed in Clubmans leading the classes. Agev moved pole position down to 54.113, then O’Neill moved it down to 53.988. And it would stay there for the next 5mins with people coming close. Jenman came closest with 54.015, and then Chris Alcock for Applewood with 54.064. Into the closing stages Agev took it down to 53.733 to take pole position, and the top 4 was set, Agev, Titan, Mitan and Applewood.
Tom Hollamby’s perfect lap would place The Three Swans on P5, three rows clear of the nearest Inters Class runner Wait This Isn’t A Simrig? in P11, and ahead of Prems’ Palatinate on P6. G3 Pro, I’m guessing Rob Newman, perhaps a little rusty, was only 7th. James Dixon placed JK Rolling as leading Clubman on grid 8, with fellow Clubmans All Torque Racing and Slickspeed rounding out the top 10. Finishing puzzled on P12 Wileman and Beroual-Smith swapped karts and starting positions for P35, joining, I believe, Lucid Initiatives, SMJK and G3 Pro Farecla also swapping karts.
A full 37 kart field, and ignoring Agev again, the top 21 were covered by less than 1 second.
The opening stint of the race, after a pretty wild and robust lap 1 would see Jack O’Neill dicing with the Agev kart, in a strange situation where the pole kart had a clear mechanical advantage, which bodes well for next year, if thats the spec, as every driver craves to go faster, but the driver wasn’t as fast as the kart.
O’Neill and Jenman elected to follow it, breaking clear of G3 Pro, with a gap to Wait This Isn’t A Simrig? and Van Es in Palatinate, then another gap to All Torque, Applewood, Slowcoach, Slickspeed and The Three Swans. Van Es moved through 5th place, Dawson looking on, “We originally had a pretty good kart in practice but unfortunately the seat stay broke. Our new kart just would not turn right very well – and there’s a few key right handers at Bayford! Will didn’t get a great start, but once things calmed down he gradually moved back up and was setting good times. We’re pretty sure we’ll be back next year, so I think it’s finally time to invest in radios!” Van Es moved to 4th place as G3 Pro performed their customary early pitstop, on 12mins, rejoining P25. A couple of laps later the pit cycle got underway in earnest with All Torque pitting from 7th, then Scuderio Bandito, after starting 35th pitted from P9 with Beroual-Smith charging through the field and returning 26th and ahead of G3 Pro. O’Neill pitted Titan on 15mins, returned 11th 10secs ahead of Beroual-Smith then back up to 15th. Agev made a slow stop that would see them return behind G3 Pro, and kick the cuckoo out of the nest for at least next stint and a half. Three Swans pitted from the lead on 20mins, Formula None joining them in pit lane as the first fuel closed to leave Pritchard 7secs clear of Jenman, after a rapid stop for Mitan, but clearly not as quick as Applewood. One can only wonder if Captain Pritchard wished he had a talk back facility to question Coppin and Alcock on the pit wall. Oh to be a fly on the wall, or scanning the radio bands to listen to the conversation. Everyone else knew they’d missed it and we’re probably watching on in silent delight, such are the perverse pleasures of team endurance racing.
Applewood slotted back in 8th place, to leave Jenman 4.5secs clear of O’Neill in Titan, Beroual-Smith running 3rd 10secs behind, a 4secs gap to Andrew Dawson taking over Palatinate being closed on by Agev, Dawson again, “We were rather confused by the pace and lunges of Agev and thought they must have a serious rocket but now understanding the team name – we were sort of right! Dawson slipped back to 5th, “My stint was only ok. A kart ahead of me spun braking into hairpin one, and in the split second I committed to the wrong side and lost about 5-10seconds.” He would lose out to JK Rolling, moving by for 5th place. Jenman opened the 2nd fuel window around 30min, pitting from the lead and returning in 4th place. Beroual-Smith pitted the next lap, 5secs slower, and slotted back 13th place, such was the crowded chasing group with JK Rolling, then 4th, Palatinate, Applewood, Slowcoach, Simrig?, G3 Pro Farecla, Auditing Armageddon, The Three Swans, CKS Throatpunchers then 12th, ahead of the Bandito man, covered by 18secs, with G3 Pro behind Anwar.
When the fuel window closed on 45mins, Jenman’s furious pedalling had extended his lead to 13.5secs, over O’Neill, a further 10secs over Beroual-Smith, the trio into triple stints. A few seconds further back to Agev, another 6secs back to Mike Coppin in Applewood, then an uneven but similar gaps between JK Rolling as leading Clubman, Palatinate, Simrig?, as the real leading Intermediate in P8, Slowcoach and Auditing Armageddon making up the top 10.
Window 3 opened on 50mins and closed 20mins later. Jenman kept going for another for a quadruple, Agev had taken over in the lead for a while, but had returned from the fuel bay in 3rd place behind Philippou replacing O’Neill, by now 25secs down on Jenman, 6.5secs clear of Agev, with Matt Wileman a further 3secs behind in Scuderia Bandito, as the last kart on the lead lap. Simon Asakura-Cornish had been replaced by Will Van Es again in Palatinate was a further 24secs behind, looking like the best they could hope for would be 5th overall, if they could hold off G3 Pro Farecla 2secs behind. Missing from the picture, and recovering from 10th place was Coppin in Team Applewood after his backmarker penalty, Pritchard again, “It was a penalty which we didn’t feel was right on Mike overtaking some back markers, Jack O’Neil said as much watching the move.” And there was probably some anti climax to the season’s optimism of winning the championship being finally extinguished, ‘there’s always next year’ hitting home as well and the team aim shifted to securing runners spot. It’s probably also fair to say the Titan collective probably had the same thought.
When fuel window 4 closed on 95mins/25mins to go, Martin O’Neill had finally had to go into Mitan, 25secs clear, to give Jenman a comfort break, I mean he hadn’t race for 6mths, not that you’d realise if you watched the Sunday sprints action on AlphaLive’s Youtube channel. O’Neill was a second off the pace, and 20 kilos overweight, which I know is unkind, but only a second off the pace us worthy of praise, but more importantly meant the lead could be retained. Even if the A team in Philippou’s hands was chopping lumps off the lead. Agev used their advantage to pass Wileman for 3rd place, a further 7secs behind.
The final fuel window had opened with 20mins to go, perhaps the question was about how quickly Jenman could get back from the gents unfortunately placed at the other end of the circuit from pitlane. Wileman pitted and went again to finish for Bandito. With the lead gap down to 13secs, Titan pitted and Philippou went again, the next lap a refreshed, and bladder empty, Jenman jumped back into Mitan to return 10secs clear of Philippou in 3rd, a further 7secs ahead of Wileman in Bandito. Team Agev led, but owed the race one more pit stop and would be excluded anyway, they pitted with 12mins to go and slipped back in ahead of Wileman in 4th place, and Matt would set about running them down and passing with 6mins to go for 3rd place. Half a minute behind Asakura-Cornish was pedalling Palatinate Racing to a comfortable and somewhat lonely 5th overall on the road.
Auditing Armageddon was leading Clubman and took over 6th place with The Three Swans final pit stop with 10mins to go, returning comfortably as the leading Intermediate team 6th on the road, when the auditors had to stop. The only close racing was over 8th place where G3 Pro Farecla, Team Applewood, G3 Pro were racing to decide the bottom of the top 10, soon to be come a battle for 7th as Auditing Armageddon peeled off for their last stop and slipped back to 10th place. Almost in sight of the flag G3 Pro moved passed for 9th on the road. Meanwhile Chris Alcock in Team Applewood was chasing hard on Farecla, picking them off with 3 laps to go for P7.
At the flag, and with Team Agev excluded, Mitan Motorsport were over 16secs clear, of Titan Motorsport, closing to just 4secs further back was Scuderia Bandito, a lap down but Palatinate Racing scored their fourth 4th place of the season, 25secs clear of leading Intermediates Hollamby and Johnstone in the The Three Swans, Team Applewood, the G3 teams Pro and Farecla, Auditing Armageddon winning Clubman Class from Slowcoach Racing, on the lap behind 10th.
It feels like everyone agree the Premier Class Champions got settled at Round 7. Titan Motorsport (will) retain their crown from 2019.
Words: Chris Simpson
Photography: John Patterson