Ed Barrs Winning Delight, as Jack O’Neill’s Run Comes to an End

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It was great to be back at Ellough after a four year absence. It might be a long trek for some but it’s well worth it. A great layout and a great smooth service. The weather was kind too. Despite being overcast and cool in the morning the rain held off. Pity about the toilets though..

The Road to the Finals

Reece Pope led the field away to start the day’s proceedings but it was Dan Healey who caught the eye over the first lap vaulting up the order from grid ten to fourth. Championship leader Jack O’Neill started just behind Healey but he could only make up one place over the course of the lap. Pope continued to lead whilst the field sorted itself out and was two seconds clear of Healey who had moved up to second by the end of lap two trailed by Ramunas Cerkauskas and Mike Coppin. Pope continued to lead but Healey gradually cut the gap and went to the front on the penultimate lap. Pope remained second from Coppin with O’Neill fourth from Josh Adams.

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Heat Two resulted in a comfortable lights to flag win for Pietro Pagano. Bailey Morgan claimed second after a race long battle with Martin Theodorou. Peter Knight was next over the line but he lost fourth after a cone infringement handing fourth to Callum Brewell.

Reigning champion Ed Barrs was in a confident mood before the start of the round knowing that he desperately needed a win to halt O’Neill’s Championship charge. Starting from pole in the third heat gave him the perfect start to the day leading from lights to flag and winning by a massive eight seconds with Ned Douglas second from Sam Slater, James Martin and Stefan Child, the latter being promoted to the spot after Mathew Cockerham was demoted four placers for a bump and pass on the veteran Keith Segal. The drama however was not yet done as Slater was found to be underweight and therefore excluded from the results promoting everyone’s favourite Belgian Eric Mignon into fifth.

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Daz Teal got his day off to the perfect start with a win in the fourth heat. Starting from grid five he took a couple of laps to move up to second behind pole sitter Rhianna Purcocks. She held off his challenge for several laps before Teal got by to claim the win. Alisdair Irvine was a comfortable third from Fraser Brunton and Dante Dhillon. Brunton’s fourth place came courtesy of Hussain Rashid suffering two penalties, one for cone abuse and one for forcing a driver wide.

Josh Adams took a superb win in Heat Five after starting from the front row alongside Jack O’Neill. Second row starter Dan Healey was first to show taking the lead over the first tour with Adams second from O’Neill and Greg Smith. Half distance and Adams took over the front. O’Neill was being dropped whilst Peter Knight had moved up to fourth ahead of Smith. And that was how the order remained at the flag. Adams fastest lap also established the lap record. A fine drive.

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Pietro Pagano made it two from two in Heat Six. But he had to work for it. Starting from grid seven he worked his way through the field to second just beyond half distance behind early leader Garrett Berry. He took a couple of laps to get by but once ahead he controlled the pace all the way to flag with Berry second from Dan Seager, Steve Hicks and Reece Pope.

Ed Barrs kept up his challenge for the A Final pole with a second win of the day in Heat Seven. Starting from grid six he had to work his way up the order before hitting the front three from home and then pulling clear of the pack. Daz Teal took second after a hard fought race up from grid ten. He and pole sitter and early leader Stef Theodorou had a great battle over the closing laps which only went the way of Teal over the final lap. Andrew Rabbage and Alisdair Irvine completed the top five.

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Heat Eight was a somewhat processional affair with only two overtakes among the top five in the whole race. And they were both on the same lap with Fraser Brunton and Dante Dhillon both taking early leader and all round good guy Roger Davis. But we did get a close finish with Brunton holding off Dhillon at the flag by just 0.080 with Davis third from Jason Bradbury and Stefan Child.

Mike Coppin took a comfortable win in Heat Nine leading from lights to flag and crossing the line over a second and a half clear of second placed Ed Barrs who had had to fight his way through the field from grid ten. An eventful run it was too. After the opening lap he was up to fifth and then fell back to sixth before working his way through the field to second on the penultimate lap. But he was too far back from the flying Coppin to make it three from three. But would it be enough to secure pole? Only Pietro Pagano could deny him. James Martin, Callum Brewell and Stef Theodorou completed the top five.

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Pietro Pagano started Heat Ten from grid eleven knowing that he needed a win to secure pole for the A Final. But it was not to be despite a valiant effort which would see him cross the line fifth. But he had also picked up a penalty after a bump and pass on Ramunas Cerkauskas early in the heat dropping him to ninth. Daz Teal took the heat win which was enough to secure him a spot on the front row for the A Final alongside Ed Barrs. He was made to work for it though as Dante Dhillon pushed him all the way home. Garrett Berry claimed third with Ned Douglas fourth and Reece Pope fifth.

The penultimate heat went to Steve Hicks. A welcome win. He started from the front row alongside Eric Mignon and took a couple of laps to get by the C2 driver who only lost the lead when he outbraked himself at the penultimate corner. But he didn’t get away. The irrepressable Mignon pushed him all the way to the line and set the fastest lap of the race too. Over the line at the end he was just 0.084 adrift. So near yet so far. Fine drives from them both. Jack O’Neill came home third. He’d always been in touch but could just not find the extra spark to get on terms. Dan Healey was fourth, enough to secure him a spot on the second row for the A Final, with Alisdair Irvine fifth.

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The final heat went to Peter Knight after an almost race long battle with Josh Adams. Knight started from grid five with Adams on seven but by the end of the second tour they were running first and second with Knight at the front. Thereafter they drove away from the pack crossing the line over five seconds clear of third placed Rob Langthorp with Steph Theodorou fourth. Fraser Brunton was next across the line but he lost six places for spinning Roger Davis to a halt early in the heat. Martin Theodorou was the beneficiary moving from sixth to fifth.  

The Finals

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C Final

(All drivers in C3 unless otherwise noted)

Pole for James Browning with Matt Hugo alongside. Russell Cooper and Sean Glennon occupied row two. Justin Draper and Jake Wilkins shared row three with Gareth Pritchard and David Hamer on row four. Tim Clark and Finn Pharaoh were on row five followed by Robin Kassam and Liam Rogers on row six. Row seven saw C2 Ramunas Cerkauskas alongside James Dunnett followed by two C2’s, Keith Segal and Sam Slater. Luke Dunnett and Kim Eley shared the penultimate row with Jo Ratcliffe the final qualifier. Top four to qualify for the B Final and a trophy for the winner.

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Browning and Hugo led the field away from the line but it was Glennon who led the field across the line at the end of the lap with Hugo second from Wilkins and Browning. Second time around and Glennon was pulling clear, almost a second up on second placed Hugo and setting the fastest lap of the race. But out of the first turn he suddenly slowed, the victim of a very rare mechanical failure. But his day would not be over. Hugo inherited the lead but not for long. Wilkins took over at the front with Browning fourth from Cooper and Hamer. Down the order Cerkauskas was on the move, working his way steadily up the order from his lowly grid spot. 

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With Glennon gone the race began to settle down. Wilkins began to ease clear and by half distance he was over two seconds clear with Hugo still second from Browning and Hamer. And none of them were fighting each other. Cooper was running fifth and desperately trying to keep in touch with fourth. But he now had Cerkauskas for company. He’d driven hard through the field but not without incident after a bump and pass on Dunnett. Cooper too had come to the attention of the observers after a bump and pass early in the race on Hamer. Although he didn’t know it seventh placed Pritchard was now in contention for a place in the B Final. As were Draper and Kassam. The fight for seventh was, barring appeals, the battle for fourth. Once up to the battle for the top four C2 Cerkauskas wasted no time in dispensing with Cooper and Hamer to run in the top four. Tenth time around and forced his way by third placed Browning.  Again though it was not a clean move and he suffered another penalty. He would be excluded from the results post race but he removed himself from the fray retiring from the race with a lap to go whilst running second. Browning suffered badly dropping to ninth and out of the running. Hamer too had fallen down the order to seventh. But he was far from done. 

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With two to go Wilkins was over three seconds clear of the soon to retire Cerkauskas with Hugo next and over a second clear of the penalised Cooper. Pritchard was running fifth but a net third taking into account penalties with Hamer a tenth behind but back in the qualifying spots. Kassam was next and still in with a chance. But it was not to be. Wilkins crossed the line over four seconds clear after a fine drive with Hugo next from Cooper, Hamer, Pritchard and Kassam. Hugo lost second place after a cone penalty. Cooper lost third after his four place deduction leaving Hamer second from Hugo and Pritchard with Kassam fifth from Draper and Cooper. Dunnett was eighth with the unfortunate Browning ninth from James Dunnett. Kym Eley set the fastest lap of the race. Clearly there is pace there but a rack of penalties in the heats saw Kym with a lowly grid spot. Something to work on. Keith Segal was the fastest of the C2 runners.

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C Final Winner – Jake Wilkins 

B Final 

(All drivers in C2 unless otherwise noted)

Stef Theodorou on pole with Matthew Cockerham alongside followed by Stefan Child and Andrew Rabbage. C1 Christopher Powell on row three with Stephen Westwood alongside. Eric Mignon shared row four with C3 Championship leader Samuel Essery.  Charlie Monk and Roger Davis occupied row five followed by two C3’s, Ami Breacher and Aidan Rudge. Hussain Rashid and James Wattis shared row seven with Alexandre Alloro and Rogeirio Mendes on row eight. Chris Lewis Evans was on row nine alongside C3 Dean Everest followed by Cameron Williams and C3 Sam Morris followed by two C3’s Jagjeet Singh and Bryn Alban with the four qualifiers from the C Final, Wilkins, Hamer, Hugo and Pritchard plus Sean Glennon. Two to qualify and a trophy for the winner.

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A good clean start from the front of the grid with Theodorou straight into the lead from Cockerham and Child. Westwood and Essery both got away well to run fourth and fifth whilst Rabbage and Powell fell to sixth and seventh. Both Mignon and Davis spun to the back of the field after Mignon was heavily loaded into turn one and locked up his brakes causing him to collide with the innocent Davis. Sportingly Mignon waited for his friend allowing him past. But for him the drama was not over as he would be spun out by Hugo after a very optimistic move in turn three. Davis too was not out of wars suffering a penalty after a collision with Hamer. 

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With three laps run Theodorou was over two seconds clear whilst Childs had deposed Cockerham for second, the latter coming under fierce pressure from Essery who was just 0.080 adrift as they crossed the line at the end of lap three. He would be ahead out of the first turn. Westwood was next from Rabbage and Monk. Theodorou continued to run clear whilst the battle for second began to heat up. Essery was really flying and putting Child under pressure all round the circuit. Over the line at the end of the fifth lap he was almost alongside. Momentum told and he was ahead out of the first turn. Westwood was fourth with Cockerham next and beginning to come under pressure from Rabbage with Monk next from Breacher.  Theodorou continued to lead but his pace had dropped. He’d made an error and dropped a few tenths allowing the rest of the field to close the gap. He quickly recovered only to lose time a lap later. Essery was flying, setting the fastest lap of the race eighth time around. Over the next few laps he continued to chip away at the gap to the leader. With two to go he had the gap down under a second but Theodorou looked to have enough in hand to take the win. Essery now had a resurgent Child to hold off whilst Westwood was a comfortable fourth from Powell who had worked his way through the field after falling back at the start. He and Rabbage were having a great battle over fifth. 

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Final lap and Theodorou was comfortably clear. Essery gave it everything over the final lap cutting the gap visibly but finishing three tenths adrift. But second was not to be his. Early in the heat he’d clipped Westwood on the way through and would fall to sixth in the results. Still a great result and good enough to give him the C3 honours on the day. Child was promoted into a deserved second. But it was oh so close at end. A few more yards and Westwood might well have stolen the spot being just 0.090 adrift at the flag. Rabbage held on to fourth from Powell with Essery next from Monk and Wattis. Breacher was ninth and second in C3. Rudge was next over the line but penalised for a move on Sam Morris dropping him to fourteenth and denying himself a C3 podium spot. Singh in thirteenth would have taken the podium spot but he clipped a cone right at the end promoting Glennon on to the C3 podium. A good result after his C Final drama and a fine drive through the field.           

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B Final Winner – Stef Theodorou

A Final

Ed Barrs on pole after a near perfect display in the heats with Daz Teal alongside and Dan Healey and Josh Adams on row two followed by two C2 drivers, Dante Dhillon and Peter Knight. Row four saw Championship leader Jack O’Neill alongside Pietro Pagano. Some hard work to be done for O’Neill to keep his 100% A final winning record. Mike Coppin shared row five with Steve Hicks. Two C2’s on row six, Reece Pope and Ned Douglas. James Martin and C2 Alisdair Irvine shared row seven with Martin Theodorou and Fraser Brunton on row eight. Next up, C2 Garret Berry alongside Rhianna Purcocks followed by two more C2’s, Bailey Morgan and Dan Seager. Row eleven saw Callum Brewell alongside fellow C2 Greg Smith with Jason Bradbury and Rob Langthorp on the penultimate row followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final. Stef Theodourou and Child.

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Barrs led the field away with Teal slotting into second ahead of Healey. Adams though was the victim of an over ambitious move from Dhillon and was forced off. Fortunately for Dhillon Adams didn’t come to a halt resuming down in twenty first. Dhillon would suffer the inevitable post race penalty. Barrs immediately began to set a strong pace at the front whilst Teal was having to defend from Healey. Dhillon continued to run fourth whilst O’Neill was up to fifth and closing in. Pagano was next up from Coppin and Knight followed by Hicks and Douglas. Three run and Barrs continued to pull clear. Healey was all over Teal and got better momentum out of the final turn crossing the line almost alongside. Despite a stern but fair defence from Teal he was through and in pursuit of the leader. Dhillon remained fourth and was driving well to keep O’Neill at bay. Half distance and Barrs was over a second clear of Healey. O’Neill had found a way by Dhillon and quickly homed in on Teal who was powerless to resist. But could O’Neill get in touch with the leaders? The answer was no as the gap to Healey stabilised at around 1.6 seconds with Barrs in turn 1.6 ahead of Healey. Behind this trio a great battle for fourth was developing. Teal held the spot from Dhillon and Pagano with Knight leading the rest of the pack but some two seconds back. Dhillon made a move on Teal which slowed them both and allowed Pagano to slip by into fourth. And that was how they remained all the way to the flag. Barrs took the win clenching his fist in delight after a superb drive. His first A Final win of the season and re-igniting his Championship hopes. Healey was comfortable in second. 

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Another solid performance keeping him in the Championship hunt. O’Neill just could not match the pace of Barrs and Healey at Ellough. But third was still a fine effort. The run of wins had to end sometime. Pagano took fourth and was close up to O’Neill over the final laps. A good day for him. Dhillon was next over the line but his penalty dropped him down to ninth. After his first lap error he drove very well. Teal was next and placed fifth after Dhillon’s penalty followed by Knight who took the C2 honours. Hicks and Brunton were next ahead of Dhillon who, despite his penalty still took second in C2. It could have been worse had Adams stopped on the first lap. It would have resulted in a further two place penalty for Dhillon knocking him off the C2 podium. Irvine was tenth and third in C2. Healey set the fastest lap and also established a new lap record.

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Class 1 Podium – Winner Ed Barrs, flanked by Dan Healey and Jack O’Neill

Championship Round Up

Jack O’Neill remains at the head of the Championship. His winning streak had to come to an end sometime and he was emphatically beaten at Ellough. But he will be back and no doubt all the stronger. Ed Barrs could not have gone much better. He knows though that he has to keep up this form to overhaul O’Neill. Dan Healey too is well in the hunt. Another win surely can’t be far away. Daz Teal and Mike Coppin are tied on points. Daz had a good day whilst Mike had a day to forget. But they are still in touch. One needs a bit more luck and the other needs to keep his hand on the wheel. I’ll leave you to work out which is which.

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Class 2 podium – Winner Peter Knight, flanked by Dante Dhillon and Alisdair Irvine

In C2 Peter Knight remains at the head of the pack. Don’t be surprised to see him challenging for overall wins in the second half of the season. He knows how to win. Alisdair Irvine lies second with Stef Theodorou third. 

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Class 3 podium – Winner Samuel Essery, flanked by Ami Breacher and… Sean Glennon’s glamourous assistant?

Samuel Essery leads C3 by some margin. A class driver who is improving with every race. As is Ami Breacher who now lies second ahead of Aidan Rudge.  

Reflections

Too many penalties again in Heavies. The B Final was particularly bad. Let’s hope the summer break gives drivers time to reflect and clean up their act because if they don’t you can rest assured that there will be a major clampdown.

There has been enough written already on social media regarding the incident in the pits and I’m not going to add any fuel to the fire save to say that the right action has been taken with the offending driver no longer welcome. Let’s all remember this is a sport. We are a welcoming club, friendly rivalry and banter is good, aggression is not tolerated. We move on. 

Next up, Bayford Meadows. Enjoy the break!!

Words: Steve Gray

Photography: John Patterson