Ed Barrs. The Champion Strikes Back.

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Off to Dorset the for the third round. With all the Covid rules it makes for an odd atmosphere but everyone is playing their part and at least we are racing again even though the social side of racing is suffering a tad. I find it particularly frustrating not being able to stick a tape recorder under a driver’s nose to get a proper insight into how they are performing. But we cope. Clay is a funny place in terms of its weather. Some days it can be sunny one minute and chucking it down the next but fortunately save for a few light spots it remained dry on Sunday although windy. Here’s how the afternoon unfolded.

The Road to the Finals.

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Chris Alcock launched his day in some style taking the win in the first heat by over five seconds. Alisdair Irvine trailed him home in second place holding off a very determined Daz Teal who was anxious to put his disappointing Shenington result behind him. Jack O’Neil took fourth with Hussain Rashid fifth but only after Jason Bradbury had been hit with a four place penalty.

Dan Healey led Heat 2 for almost the entire race chased hard by a very on form Roger Davis, from Rob Langthorp and Oscar Lancaster. Three from home Langthorp found a way by Davis and then took Healey for the lead on the final tour crossing the line just 0.086 ahead. Davis held off Lancaster for third with Tom Fuller taking fifth after an eventful run. Starting from grid five he was eleventh after the first lap before working his way back up the order.

Heat 3 fell to a returning Steve Brown. Starting from grid ten he was still tenth after the first lap. Thereafter he found his rhythm and with four laps to go he was into a lead he would never lose taking the win a second and a half up on second placed Eric Mignon. A strong result this after starting from grid seven. Third went to Dan Brewer after a fine drive up from grid nine. Dan Truman came home fourth after leading for almost half the race with Joel Davis fifth. He’d started from pole and ran second to Truman for several laps before dropping to fifth.

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Rhianna Purcocks took a well judged win in Heat 4 working her way steadily up the order from grid seven and taking the lead on the penultimate lap from race long leader Josh Adams. Reigning Champion Ed Barrs came home second. Starting from grid twelve he was up to fourth by the end of the first lap behind Adams, Christopher Powell, Mike Coppin, up from grid nine, with Purcocks fifth. It took him a couple of laps to find a way by Coppin and set about Powell but Purcocks was shadowing him closely after nipping by Coppin. In one lap she vaulted above both Barrs and Powell for second. Barrs remained third whilst Powell slipped behind Coppin. Penultimate lap and Purcocks hit the front as Coppin demoted Barrs. Purcocks pulled clear over the final lap whilst Barrs recovered his poise and took both Coppin and Adams for second. Adams dropped to fourth whilst Barrs held off Coppin by just 0.008. Powell took fifth. Great racing with second to fifth covered by a mere 0.119!

Heat 5 resulted in a clear win for James Wattis. He had a good start from the third row alongside Daz Teal to run second behind Teal for a couple of laps before getting by. Teal became embroiled in a hard battle for second with Rob Langthorp and Hussain Rashid the latter starting from the second row, dropping to eighth, before fighting back to second at the midpoint of the heat. But only for a lap as Langthorp powered by. Penultimate lap and Wattis was running clear with Langthorp second from Teal, Rashid and Alisdair Irvine. Rashid took Teal for third who then found himself swamped by Irvine, James Martin and Tom Fuller. Rashid however had taken a penalty after a bump and pass on Irvine early in the race and dropped to seventh.

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Heat 6 was another cracker. Reece Pope led away from pole chased by Jason Bradbury whilst Dan Brewer dropped to sixth from row two. Two laps down and Bradbury was at the front but being hunted down by Steve Brown who had started on row two. Brewer was getting back into his stride and fought back up to third ahead of Pope and Roger Davis. Brown quickly dispensed with Bradbury but the latter wasn’t giving up the place without a fight and stayed right with the leader whilst having to keep an eye on Brewer. Then in the course of a lap Brewer moved to the front crossing the line ahead of Brown just 0.002 up with Bradbury now half a second back but clear of Pope. Davis continued in an impressive fifth. With two to go Brown was back in front just 0.055 up on Brewer. Next time around though and it was Brewer at the front and there he stayed setting his fastest lap on the final tour. Brown remained second whilst Pope demoted Bradbury on the last lap to take third with Davis a strong fifth.

Ed Barrs took Heat 7. Starting from the front row he was in front after a couple of laps and there he stayed pursued all the way by Dan Healey who was just a couple of tenths back. Healey almost caught him on the line but Barrs held on to take the win by just 0.081. Josh Adams took third after starting from grid eight. He was up to third just before half distance lapping just behind the two leaders but never quite close enough to mount a challenge. The same was true of Bailey Morgan who took a fine fourth after driving up from grid ten. Rhianna Purcocks came home fifth after starting on grid twelve. Valuable points.

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Jack O’Neil took a comfortable win in Heat 8 heading home Dan Truman who took an equally comfortable second. Third went to Martin Theodorou with Mike Coppin fourth from Fraser Brunton and Chris Alcock the latter three covered by 0.017 as they crossed the line.

Heat 9 went to Steve Brown. After starting on grid five he was at the front after two laps and never headed. Andrew Ward started on the front row and ran second right through the heat with Bailey Morgan putting in another fine drive to take third with Christopher Powell fourth from Reece Pope.

Joshua Craft was a runaway winner in Heat 10. Starting on the second row he led by the end of the first lap and gradually pulled clear taking the win almost six seconds clear of pole sitter Rhianna Purcocks. Dan Healey took third after a hard drive up grid twelve which saw him take Dan Truman on the final lap after Truman had run third for much of the race. Dan Brewer took fifth.

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The penultimate heat fell to an on form Jack O’Neill taking his second win of the day. Alisdair Irvine led almost half the race with Tom Fuller second from O’Neill and Mike Coppin fourth. Mid race and Fuller took over at the front but only for a lap as both O’Neill and Coppin went by. Chris Alcock was up to third by this time after starting from grid thirteen. Irvine dropped to seventh whilst Fuller too fell down the order over the final laps. O’Neill crossed the line well clear of Coppin who then took a two place penalty dropping him to fourth and promoting Alcock to second from Fraser Brunton with Daz Teal fifth after a mature drive up from grid twelve.

The final heat was another win for Ed Barrs. A comfortable victory this finishing over three seconds clear of James Grant. Roger Davis looked to be heading for second but Grant took the place from him two from home. Davis then lost out to Martin Theodorou, up from grid thirteen, Josh Adams and Dan Seager. Adams took a one place penalty for cone abuse so he and Seager swapped round in the results.

The Finals

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C Final

Cameron Williams on pole for the first Final of the afternoon session with Rogeirio Mendes alongside. Russell Cooper and Luke Dunnett on row two with Stephen Westwood and Ross Dunston on row three. Aymen Salih and Chris Phipps on row four followed by Keith Segal, resplendent in his new white overalls and gloves, and Cameron Moss on row five. Next up Luke Branch with C1 driver Chris Woodger alongside. Is his new hairstyle a factor as he was having a nightmare day? Sam Morris and James Cook shared the seventh row with Jed Toole and Jack Mcintyre behind. The penultimate row saw Jack Globe alongside Pete Crompton with Thomas Partridge bringing up the rear. Top four to qualify for the B Final.

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Williams led the pack away whilst Mendes did well to hang on to third as Cooper burst through from the second row. Dunnett was a big loser round the outside of the first turns and dropped to seventh whilst Westwood moved up to fourth. Two laps later he began to put the pressure on the leaders and in successive laps moved up to the front. Mendes found himself shuffled down to fourth behind Westwood, Cooper and Williams. Down the order Woodger was making rapid progress. He made up four places on the first lap before steadily moving up the order to run fifth by quarter distance. Westwood continued to lead whilst Mendes was content to tail him in second. Cooper remained third whilst Woodger moved ahead of Williams to occupy the fourth qualification place. Westwood began to edge clear of Mendes who was in turn moving clear from Cooper. Woodger still ran fourth but mindful of the threat from the following pack still headed by Williams from Salih he began to pressure Cooper for third. Half distance and he was up to third but over three seconds adrift of second placed Mendes. Cooper was still with him but Williams was closing in with Salih not out of the running in sixth.

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Two thirds distance and the front runners were becoming stretched. Westwood was over two seconds clear at the front with Mendes equally secure in second. Woodger was chipping away at the gap between himself and Mendes but not by enough to be a threat. Cooper looked safe in fourth whilst Williams remained fifth ahead of Salih. And that was how they remained all the way to the end. Westwood crossed the line over three seconds clear of Mendes who had Woodger closing in over the final laps but he held on by just over half a second whilst Cooper just held off a late charge from Williams to take the final qualifying spot. Salih crossed the line sixth but was docked two places for excessive kerbing dropping him to eighth and promoting Dunnett and Toole to six and seventh respectively. Cook and Moss completed the top ten. Fastest lap was shared between C2 runner Westwood and C1 runner Woodger both recording a 40.893 lap whilst the quickest C3 runner was Jack Mcintyre.

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B Final

Pole for James Grant with Jason Bradbury alongside followed by Fraser Brunton and Joel Davis on row two. Hussain Rashid occupied row three with Callum Brewell whilst Ashley White and Lloyd Mcgeoch-williams shared row four. Dan Seager and Stef Theodorou were on row five with Connor Brown alongside Tom Eastwood on row six. Row seven, Neill Tuohy and Mark Appleton whilst Ramunas Cerkauskas shared row eight with James Martin. Matt Collier and Simon Bryant were on row nine followed by Greg Smith and Ned Douglas on ten. Andrew Rabbage and James Browning shared row eleven followed by the four qualifiers from the C Final, Westwood Mendes, Woodger and Cooper. Top two to qualify for the back of the A Final.

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Grant got away cleanly but Bradbury lost out badly round the outside and was forced to take to the grass at the chicane. He would cross the line down in twenty first at the end of the lap his chances of a further race gone. White made the most of the scruffy start to move up to second ahead of Rashid and Davis. Seager was up to fifth with Brown on his tail. Two laps run and White was up to first whilst Grant still ran second ahead of Davis. Rashid had dropped eighth whilst Seager and Brown continued to move up the order. Once at the front White began to edge clear of the squabbling pack. Brown took Grant and Rashid in the space of a lap to move into second. Grant dropped behind Davis before moving back ahead a lap later. Davis meanwhile was coming under pressure from Seager. Seager took the spot but Davis fought back unfortunately tipping Seager into a spin. Seager would resume nineteenth whilst Davis would be hit with a six place penalty. He ran fourth for a few laps before dropping down the order. White continued to lead with Brown second. Indeed White stretched the lead before Brown began to steadily close the gap. Half distance and these two were well clear of third placed Grant. Over the next three laps Brown got his head down and visibly began to reduce the arrears to the leader setting his fastest lap thus far twelfth time around. White was not hanging about either lapping faster than third placed Grant. A lap later and Brown seized his chance slipping by White for the lead. Brown continued to lead as White stayed in touch with both of them now over six seconds clear of Grant who now had Rashid with him. Brunton too was closing in.

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With two to go Brown relaxed his pace a touch and White closed in almost surprising Brown across the line and giving him a wake up call. He heeded the warning and immediately upped his pace to take the win a few Kart lengths clear. Rashid took third with Brunton fourth from Grant. Theodorou was next with C1 driver Martin seventh after a strong drive up from his lowly grid spot. Westwood was an excellent eighth ahead of McGeoch-Williams whilst tenth went to Cerkauskas who also took the Class three honours for the day with Greg Smith second in the class and Niall Tuohy third.

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A Final

Ed Barrs on pole from Steve Brown with Jack O’Neill and Dan Healey on row two followed by Rhianna Purcocks and Chris Alcock. Row four saw Dan Brewer alongside Dan Truman. Row five, Mike Coppin and the first of the C2 runners Alisdair Irvine. Row six, Josh Adams and Rob Langthorp whilst row seven saw Bailey Morgan alongside Daz Teal. Roger Davis shared row eight with Christopher Powell with James Wattis and Eric Mignon on row nine. Andrew Ward and Martin Theodorou occupied row ten with Tom Fuller and Joshua Craft on row eleven. Reece Pope and Oscar Lancaster were on the penultimate row followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final, Brown and White.

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Barrs led away from the start with Brown tucking in behind but behind the leading group it all get very untidy with karts on the grass and tyres flying about the Clerk of the course rightly called a false start. Second time away and everyone behaved. In fact they were so well behaved that we witnessed the most boring race of the day. At least from a spectating point of view. It’s always a different perspective from the driver’s point of view of course. From lap four onwards there was just one overtake among the top six whilst from lap six there to the end of the race there was just one among the top nine! Barrs led from start with Brown tucking into second ahead of O’Neill, Healey and Purcocks. For three laps that was the order until O’Neill fell down to eighth behind the two leaders followed by Healey, Purcocks, Coppin, Alcock and Adams. And apart from one more overtake that was the order right to the end of the race amongst the leaders. Barrs led to the finish tailed by Brown who was never more than two tenths adrift.

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With two to go he finally went on the attack crossing the line at the start of the final lap just 0.094 behind, both drivers setting their best laps on the penultimate tour. Healey was almost a second back but over a second clear of Purcocks who was herself over a second up on Alcock the latter ‘’guilty’’ of the only overtake amongst the top nine when he took Coppin mid-race. Barrs immediately defended from Brown’s attack forcing him the long way round the first corner and allowing Healey to edge closer. Down the back straight for the final time and Brown again went on the attack. But again Barrs ran him wide forcing Brown to back out. Into the Horseshoe for the final time and Brown looked again but Healey was now right with them both. Barrs emerged from the corner still leading whilst Brown defended on the inside and Healey had to give best and settle for third losing out by a mere 0.085 as they crossed the line. Purcocks came home fourth followed by Alcock, Coppin, Brewer, Adams, Teal and O’Neill completing the top ten. Alcock set the fastest lap and established a new record breaking his own record set earlier in the day. The Class two honours went to Alisdair Irvine with Bailey Morgan second and Roger Davis third after finishing thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth respectively.

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Championship Round Up.

Ed Barrs win sees him take over at the top of the order from Mike Coppin with Dan Healey third from Chris Alcock and Daz Teal. Fraser Brunton heads Class two from Ashley White and Bailey Morgan whilst Class three is led by Niall Tuohy from Greg White and Andrew Rabbage.

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There were an awful lot of penalties at Clay which provoked much after race debate regarding what does and does constitute fair racing. Whilst most of the comments I felt were sensible and some of it light hearted banter there were a few which appeared critical of how penalties are given. This isn’t the first time I’ve commented about this. Our observers together with the clerk of the course work extremely hard. It is a tough job requiring one hundred percent concentration all the time. It’s mentally tiring and physically tiring having to be on their feet for hours on end with only a short fifteen minute break between morning and afternoon sessions.

Sometimes they will get calls wrong but not often. Sometimes two observers will see the same incident differently from different angles. It is not easy and they don’t have the benefit of video re-runs or being able to blow a whistle like a football referee and give themselves thinking time. But I get particularly angry when drivers suggest that they do not act impartially and turn a blind eye to a driver’s transgressions whilst being unduly harsh on others. This is palpable nonsense and insulting to their honesty and integrity. Drivers who make this type of comment need to have a serious look at themselves.

If you are picking up lots of penalties it’s because of the way you drive not because you are being picked on. Without our observers and marshals there would be no racing. Worth remembering.

Just two weeks and it’s back to Buckmore Park for Round 4.

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112 Like Dr Who, or Gandalf, Keith Segal has regenerated!

See you there!

WORDS: Steve Gray

PHOTOGRAPHY: John Patterson