So the question posed in the last report after Anthony Amato was pushed by Josh Bates and Ben Foden was ‘Can anyone stop Anthony Amato winning all 14 finals of 2021?’ Well we have an answer. The Anthony Amato stranglehold on the top step of the podium is finally broken after 13wins in 13 starts. George Hannay took his maiden win in Lights, in race 14, in the Round 7 finale, under the floodlights at Buckmore Park. Hannay took to social media Monday to break the news, “What a fantastic day under the floodlights at Buckmore Park” after qualifying on pole for the Pre Final but a same old Amato win story, George netted 3rd place. But well placed starting from 3rd in the Final, it all came together, “What a fantastic way to win my first final with Club100, [I] managed to stay clear of the battle and secure a win I am very proud of, becoming one of only 2 winners this year.” A bit of a stretch but technically and true, and George is the first to acknowledge it, “Well done to Anthony Amato on such a dominant year.” Still the Amato spell is broken, and Junior Lights in 2022 will be much better for it, and better for Amato’s own driver development, pushed to his limit, he may learn something about himself, if as I suspect he and everyone else returns. The class has got more competitive at the end of the season than the championship table suggest.
Returning for 2022 was a popular sentiment, along with thanks to Club100 house photographer John Patterson, the juniors really appreciate his photography, if Instagram is anything to go by.
In terms of the championship we already knew Amato was champion, and Louis Falk was runner up, Louis commenting, “That’s a wrap, it was a fun day at Buckmore Park, I felt quick and could’ve had another podium potentially if not for a contact penalty (which in fairness was my fault). [I] can’t wait for next season!” Hannay 3rd place and championship trophy was still mathematically under threat from Ben Foden, Charlie Folland, Ben Lambeth, Josh Bates and even Jack James, but Hannay’s 3rd place in the Pre Final spiked their guns and his win the Final gave him a 13point advantage over Charlie Folland, 2nd in the Pre Final, a 19point advantage Ben Lambeth finishing behind Hannay in the Final and ahead of Lewis Davis to make up the last podium of the season. Davis commenting, “It’s been a long time coming. After my troubles at Lydd I finally pieced the bits together and took my first podium in Club100. My aim this season was to get a podium for my first year racing with Club100 and I couldn’t have done it without the support and help from Max Papworth – he’s been the best team mate and has helped me grow an insane amount this past year. I’ll see you in 2022.” Jack James pipped Foden and Bates to 6th in the championship.
Amato had led out of practice and into qualifying from Folland and Hannay although on a very chilly track the tyre temperatures were still coming in as the session went green. It was Amato setting the mark with 46.958, ahead of Folland, Bates, Jake Riches, Foden and Lambeth. Riches moved on to provisional pole with his next lap of 46.967, then George Hannay nailed pole position with 46.455, came back around to show it was no fluke with 46.546 and it would take Folland the rest of the session to come close again with 46.607 and to get back on the front row. He would ship Riches down to grid 3 for the Pre Final in the process. Jake was joined on row 2 by Louis Falk, Amato for once was not on pole position but grid 5 with Foden to his outside, Jack James, Ben Lambeth, Josh Lambeth and Mckenzie Jones made up the top 10, covered by 0.6secs, on a 27 kart grid.
It has to be said the Pre Final for all intents and purposes was decided on lap 1, the Lights were as robust as their Super Light brethen, seemingly saving some of their longer lists of penalties for the final round of the year. To be fair the track was cold, as were the tyres for the start, Buckmore Park might have looked the same as the previous round in September save for the brown leaves scattered around the track, gloomy as the weak autumnal sunshine had already disappeared, and although the racing line was still the same but the grip was not the same. Anyway when the loading ceased, the leaning on was over and the elbows were back in, wouldn’t you know it, Anthony Amato flashed over start finish to end lap 1, 1 second in the lead, from Folland and Hannay, Jack James trying hang on to their slipstream with Lambeth, Bates, Foden, Falk, Riches and Lewis Davis making up the top ten.
We’ve all seen this race before. 12 times more or less, and once he has his nose out in front, especially beyond his slipstream (about 0.7secs as we all know now) Anthony Amato makes few if any unforced errors and is pretty quick. And so it was again. Folland fell away from the leader at 2/10ths of a second per lap, doubtless slightly distracted and wary of Hannay sitting in behind looking for an opportunity to move by. JacK James could not hold the bumper of Hannay and slipped away but dropped Lambeth. Ben was passed by Louis Falk on 5mins and closed quickly on to James, Hannay made his move on Folland for 2nd and for a few minutes the dicing brought 2nd through 7th back together. Of course this allowed Amato a 2.5secs breathing space and so long as he kept his concentration he would not be caught from halfway.
Hannay tried to stretch Folland and James, while Falk’s progress had slowed and he was looking for a battle ahead to bring him into play with Lambeth on his bumper and with Bates in behind. Then James came through behind Falk, Bates and Lambeth, down to 7th place. This left Falk 1.5secs off Hannay and Folland with 6 laps left of the 12min + 1 lap Pre Final. It would be a gap difficult to bridge without assistance from ahead and/or behind from his group.
Outside of the top 7 Riches had fallen away into what looked like a comfortable 8th place finish, as had Lewis Davis 9th and Ben Foden making up the top 10, the latter commenting, “After strong pace in practice earlier in the day my pace just disappeared as it got darker and colder. Then getting taken out twice in the Pre Final cost me any chance in the championship.”
Was Josh Bates helping or hindering Falk’s pursuit of 2nd and 3rd? It was hard to tell, Josh moved through to 4th place still over a second down on the pair ahead, he was quicker, using the slip stream from Falk to set the fastest lap at the time with 46.539 but once at the head of the group Bates progress stalled, as Hannay and Folland pushed on, Charlie pushing Hannay over start finish.
On to the penultimate lap and Folland doubtless knowing defending on a last lap at Buckmore Park can lend itself easily to that end, read Crowley’s race long defence in the Super Light report for instance, he was not going to leave it to the infield hairpins or inside at Paddock or a last chance at Garda. Penultimate lap and the battle was on. Bates with Falk not far behind came rushing up for the last lap dust up. Amato won by 5secs, Folland emerged out of the gloom and around Cafe curve ahead of Hannay, Falk, Bates, Lambeth and James. Riches, a distant Lewis Davis and Ben Foden made up the top 10, on the road at least. Ben Lambeth had an early +4 Positions, Rule 17a – Gaining a single place through contact, as did Jake Riches and Jack James +1 Position, Rule 17d – Knocking over a cone. Lewis Davis was promoted to P6, James demoted to P7, Ben Foden up to P8 with Thomas Spragg, then the demoted Ben Lambeth, Joneld Muhaj and Riches re-emerging in the classification in 12th place.
Into the evening for the last race of the season, deep dark blue skies, the temperature had dropped a few degrees that it could ill afford and the circuit would have pools of full floodlights from corner to corner. This was the classic end of the season setting for Club100 as any driver from the passed 25yrs of the club will attest. This is Club100.
As pole position drivers do Amato managed to upset the grid 2 driver, but George Hannay on grid 3 was ready, and Folland wouldn’t get across to go 2nd into turn 1, he had his hands full with Josh Bates off grid 5, as Louis Falk lost out following Folland. That outside line is so difficult pull off as the inside into turn 1, on the kerb, was the place to be.
Hannay was going big or going home, the quarrelling pack disappeared downhill behind the trees, he flashed back into view, around Cafe Curve with a few kart lengths on Amato. You’ve got to take it to him early, and George had. Another good lap and George had broken the tow and it was his turn, somebody else’s turn finally, to drive away from the field. Amato held half a second on Folland, Falk, Bates, Lambeth and Davis in a loose line, then a gap to Foden, still wondering where his practice pace had been left with Jack James on his bumper with Mckenzie Jones. Five fastest laps back to back from Hannay and he was gone, 2.5secs up the road. Falk moved by Folland to take the fight to Amato and by half distance Louis was pushing Anthony for a way by and he’d find that way by within a lap or so. The Amato spell appeared to be broken.
The second half the race was a 5 cornered affair over the lower podium steps between Falk, Amato, Folland, Lambeth now ahead of Bates, then 1.5secs behind, Lewis Davis holding off Foden and James. Charlie Folland followed Falk’s lead and overtook Amato for 4th, perhaps Anthony was done for the year, or maybe he didn’t like the cold, or even the dark! Bates and Lambeth went by, he must be human and beatable after all, Amato was 6th with the Davis group joining the tail of the new group then fighting over 5th place led by Lambeth. Ahead Falk had 2nd place by nearly a secondfrom Folland. Charlie would have to up his game or hope Louis made a mistake to be able to get into the slipstream to even catch, never mind pass, Falk before the finish.
Coming on to the final lap George Hannay was 4secs clear, Louis Falk held a 0.8secs advantage over Charlie Folland, could Louis get down to Paddock with a few kart lengths in hand? He could not. Falk coasted in 1 second down on Folland’s 2nd place, on the road… Behind Bates was 4th with Lambeth and Amato side by side over the finish line. Lewis Davis, Jack James, Mckenzie Jones and Jake Riches made up the top 10. Penalties? Ah, well yes. The high/lowlights – Charlie Folland +2 Positions, Rule 17p – Jump start, Louis Falk +4 Positions, Rule 17a – Gaining a single place through contact, that was early on, Anthony Amato +1 Position, Rule 17d – Knocking over a cone, as the wheels, or perhaps the cones, came off his season (not really), and Josh Bates Excluded, Rule 17w – Underweight. Oh dear. Well it was the last race of the season.
This gave the podium a heavy shake, Hannay was joined instead by Ben Lambeth and Lewis Davis, Folland was demoted to 4th, Amato promoted (sort of) to 5th, Jack James, Louis Falk, Mckenzie Jones, Jake Riches and Ben Foden made up the new last top 10 of the season.
And the Young Drivers Championship 2021 was done, and finished forever, as the experiment has proved to be the success that we hoped it would be but we were all robbed of in 2020, by you know what.
Anyway it all came good in 2021, and as the Club100 Junior Championship in association with Rotax Karting in 2022, it gets bigger and better and Lights now looks to be more competitive. I really don’t know who will be the first Club100 Junior Lightweight Champion. But I do know who the first and last Young Driver Lightweight Champion is. Anthony Amato.
Words: Chris Simpson
Photography: John Patterson