What Next For Elite? Holmes, Brown & Blake Start To Their Runs At The Title
A smaller entry but still a field packed with quality for this round. August is always a tough time for Championships as the holiday season takes its toll. Pole for Ian Blake with Dan Healey alongside followed by Edward Barrs and Dan Truman. Blake led the field into the first turn, which all the field negotiated without incident, but by the end of the lap there had been a real shake up of the order. Except at the front as Blake really got his head down. Next up was Barrs with Championship leader Joe Holmes into third from grid five and Jack Harding up to fourth from grid seven whilst Healey dropped to fifth ahead of Pete O’Connor in sixth. Down the order reigning Champion Steve Brown was making rapid progress from last on the grid, just behind the returning Parmveer Nijjar.
With three laps run Blake continued to lead but Holmes was now into third having slipped by Barrs at the end of the back straight. Harding remained fourth but O’Connor was into fifth ahead of Healey and the flying Brown. Holmes quickly cut the gap to the leader Blake and by half distance he was at the front with Barrs third from Harding, O’Connor and Brown whilst Healey’s race was about to take a major turn for the worse as Nijjar made contact with him and spun him to a halt. Healey resumed a lap adrift whilst Nijjar would be excluded at the end of the race. At the front Holmes kept his head down and took the win from Blake by just over half a second. Brown took third and set the fastest lap of the race. Certainly the drive of the race and a much needed return to form. Barrs took fourth ahead of Harding and O’Connor. Nijjar was next across the line but excluded with Jay Elliott next but penalised four places after gaining a place through contact thus handing the place to Dan Truman. Brandon Williams was next from Daz Teal, Tyler Mays, the penalised Elliott and James Hattersley a lonely twelfth from Healey.
Pole for Mays from Nijjar with Hattersley and Teal on the second row. Mays got away cleanly to lead with Hattersley up to second by the end of the lap but Nijjar had been shuffled down the pack crossing the line sixth. Two laps later he was down to twelfth. Teal was third from Williams who was looking particularly racy. Three laps in and he was up to second and chasing after Mays for the lead. Hattersley meanwhile was hanging onto third but was clearly struggling for pace and relying on a solid defence to keep the position. As Mays and Williams began to pull clear Hattersley was acting as the cork in the bottle. Blake was the first to fight his way by having come up from grid eight. A lap later and Brown made it through down at the far end of the circuit. Hattersley got forced wide and in the course of a lap he was demoted from sixth to thirteenth.
At the front Williams was closing in on Mays and with three to go he finally made it by into the lead and quickly began to open up a gap. By the flag he was almost two seconds up having also set the fastest lap of the race. Mays hung on to second but another lap might well have seen him lose the spot as Holmes was closing in rapidly. A storming drive this. Having started on grid twelve he’d picked his moments well to make steady progress. Fourth went to Brown after an eventful run. He’d started seventh. Ran fifth before dropping behind Blake and then fighting back into contention. Blake ran as high as third with Brown behind from Hattersley. But they were ahead of a packed bunch and as Holmes broke through Blake fell to fifth behind Brown as Hattersley fell away. Nijjar came home sixth after his early race drama. Good to see the former Champion back and showing some of his old fire. Elliott took seventh ahead of Barrs from O’Connor and Truman. Teal was next having fallen badly away in the latter stages. Harding was next from the luckless Hattersley with the equally luckless Healey last for the second heat in a row.
Pole for Harding and Brown alongside with O’Connor and Elliott on the second row. Once again the Elite field showed why they are so named as the field swept into and round the first corner without incident. Harding led but O’Connor got the better of Brown for second with Elliott, Holmes and Williams fourth close behind. With two down Harding still led but Brown was back into second and chasing him down as O’Connor settled into third. A lap later and Brown was at the head of the field and pulling away as Harding defended from O’Connor. Holmes, Williams and Teal all made it past a somewhat subdued Elliott whilst down the order Blake was beginning to make progress up from grid thirteen setting fastest lap as early as lap four. Brown continued to pull away at the front whilst Harding continued to hold off O’Connor who was carrying a one place penalty having fired a cone into orbit. Williams, in fifth, dispatched Holmes for fourth with three to go and began to home in on Harding and O’Connor.
On the penultimate lap and with Brown well up the road O’Connor grabbed second from Harding. Williams followed him through for third whilst Holmes in fifth was having to hold off Teal and Blake who had both driven strong races. No one could catch Brown though and he took the win over two seconds to the good with O’Connor next across the line but penalised down to third handing Williams second. Harding took fourth from Holmes, Teal and Blake. These three were clear of Truman and Elliott with Barrs completing the top ten.
After the points had been totted up from the heats reigning Champion Steve Brown had the pole from Championship leader Joe Holmes. Behind these two sat Brandon Williams and Ian Blake who is still well in the championship hunt. Pete O’Connor on three with Jack Harding alongside. Row four, Edward Barrs and Dan Truman with Tyler Mays and Daz Teal on row five.
The penultimate row saw Jay Elliott alongside James Hattersley with Dan Healey and Parmveer Nijjar completing the grid.
Once again the field negotiated the first turn without mishap and at the end of the first lap Brown still led from Holmes with Williams third ahead of Blake, O’Connor, Harding and Barrs. Truman fell back whilst Nijjar was making up ground from the back of the grid. Down the back straight for the second time and Holmes got a good tow pulling alongside Brown as they braked for the corner and moved into the lead. From then on he inched away. Brown kept him honest but Holmes eked out the gap hundredths by hundredths. Behind, Williams and Blake were fighting over third but not so hard that they fell well away from the leaders. Blake though needed the points and with six gone he moved into third. Just a second further back Harding had slipped by O’Connor for fifth who now had Barrs pressuring him for sixth. Nijjar meanwhile was up to eighth setting the fastest lap of the race and establishing a new class record. Holmes and Brown continued at the front but Blake was beginning to close in whilst Williams was managing the gap back to Harding. Barrs took O’Connor for sixth and a lap later O’Connor slipped further down the order as the flying Nijjar moved up another place.
Last lap and Holmes was over a second clear from Brown who looked to be secure in second. But Blake wasn’t done. Down the back straight for the final time he looked too far back to be able to make a move but he was very late on the brakes.Brown might have been caught out but he left Blake enough room to make the pass. Third though for Brown was a good return to form. Williams took a fine fourth from Harding whilst Nijjar took sixth getting the better of Barrs on the last lap. After missing a couple of rounds he might have been a little race rusty but form is cyclic. Class is permanent. O’Connor came home eighth ahead of Elliott who had a rare off day. Teal was next up ahead of Healey who had an awful day. Mays and Truman were next with Hattersley the final finisher.
With seven rounds completed it’s now beginning to look like a three way fight for the title. Joe Holmes leads the way and he certainly seems to be carrying the momentum at the moment. Steve Brown lies second. At the start of the year he looked unassailable carrying on from where he left off in 2016 by winning the opening two rounds. But thereafter his form dipped but at Lydd he was back up at the sharp end once again. Ian Blake lies in third and is only just adrift of second. He’s consistent and opportunistic. Jay Elliott is currently fourth with Jack Harding fifth.
A thoroughly entertaining day at Lydd for the Sprints with some very good drives across all the grids. My only disappointment was hearing the criticism of James Hattersley from a few drivers over his decision to run in the Heavyweights in the afternoon. James has cut a pretty disconsolate figure over the last few rounds in the Elites. His height and weight have penalised him to a great extent and he was on the point of giving up which would have been a great shame. I know the sacrifices made to keep him racing and I won’t embarrass his dad by repeating them here. Enough to say that they arrived home at 1-30am on Monday morning and Wayne was back out at five to go to work. The Hattersley’s epitomise all that is right about grass roots Karting and being a part of Club 100 so suggestions that he was pot hunting are well wide of the mark, unfair and uncalled for. In fact when he stepped down off the podium the first thing he did was to give me his trophy. I did return it. James had earned it. All the family love being a part of Club 100. They derive a huge amount of pleasure off track, as do many others including myself. It’s the camaraderie, the ‘’craic’’ if you like. That sense of belonging and enjoying the company of like minded individuals. Having found that the M20 was blocked and that it would be a long drive back to Yorkshire the decision was made to make a day of it and enter the Heavyweights. As he had a perfect right to do. This was about finding a level where he would be able to enjoy the racing and not just running on his own at the rear of the Elites. In many ways it was a brave decision for a young man to admit that he was struggling in the top class. That he won was an unexpected bonus but it will have certainly given his flagging confidence a much needed boost. Everyone races to win but above all it’s about enjoyment. Both on and off the track. As our Elite drivers constantly show. I have no doubt that there are a number of them who don’t do themselves justice on the track but that misses the point. They thoroughly enjoy their weekends racing, win or lose.
Last but certainly not least our sincere condolences from all at Club 100 to Darri and Steph Simms on the sad loss of your daughter Senna. We are all thinking of you at this most difficult time.
See you all at Clay.