|

Fraser Brunton Closes in on LW Title

DSC 6876 2 scaled

I just love the all day format. It’s great for promoting a more social atmosphere and stops drivers having to rush about between heats. It makes for a much more relaxed day. I arrived early on Sunday and was fortunate enough to be first into the cafe and watch the sunrise over the circuit, glistening with the morning dew. A wonderful sight. It was also interesting to watch the body language of drivers as they arrived. Some were smiling and relaxed. Others nervously looking around for a seat or scrolling through their phones and trying to look as though they hadn’t a care in the world when their stomachs were screwed up with tension. And then the camera crew arrived in the cafe. Never seen so many people trying to hide!

DSC 5168

Road to the Finals

Championship leader Fraser Brunton got his day off to the perfect start with a win in the first heat. He took a few laps to get by early leader Steve Hicks but he then controlled the race from the front keeping himself just out of reach of Hicks. Chris Woodger was a comfortable third after starting from the front row with Justin Draper and Stef Theodorou completing the top five.

Thanassi Barnicoat crossed the line first at the end of the second heat but a first lap penalty after nudging pole sitter Keith Segal out of the way saw him slip to fifth and promoted Russell Cooper into first from Mathew Cockerham, Joshua Sangster and Dom Cliffe. Ashley White failed to take the grid having misunderstood the format leaving himself with a mountain to climb if he was to fulfil mum Debbie’s prediction of a win.

DSC 6580

Garrett Berry led all the way from pole to win the third heat. Championship contender Mike Coppin closed in over the final laps after working his way up the order from grid seven but ran out of laps. Ned Douglas crossed the line third but penalties dropped him down to eighth and promoted Adam Wright to third, Dan Seager to fourth and Callum Martin to fifth. Former Heavyweight Champion Wright was having his first run in the lightweights after dropping a few kilos. Rumour has it that he is intending to get down to the weight he was in his teens. If he does he will undoubtedly be a contender for race wins.

DSC 6783

Heat Four resulted in a win for Championship contender Daz Teal. It was a far from straightforward win though as he was put under pressure all the way from firstly, Rob Langthorp, then Martin Theodorou and finally Andrew Ward. But he held them all off for a vital win, putting himself just ahead of Brunton in the race for pole. Ward claimed second from Langthorp with Liam Nolan fourth from Dante Dhillon.

Fraser Brunton claimed a comfortable win in Heat Five leading Samuel Essery over the line over six seconds clear. Garrett Berry crossed the line third but a six place penalty after an incident with Dean Everest saw him drop to ninth. Adam Wright was next over the line but he too had a penalty and dropped to seventh all of which promoted Jake Wilkins to third. Adam Brittain would have been next but a penalty demoted him down the order and promoted Everest back up to fourth from Andrew Rabbage.

Mike Coppin badly needed to win Heat Six to keep the pressure on Fraser Brunton in the fight for pole. And he delivered. Starting from grid nine he was in the lead by the end of the first tour aided a little by an incident at Ashby which saw several drivers delayed after an incident between Ramunas Cerkauskas and Yousuf Bin-Suhayl which saw the former penalised six places post race. Coppin drove away to win by over nine seconds from Martin Theodourou, George Line, Charlie Simmers and Ned Douglas. Despite crossing the line well behind Coppin Theodoruo’s drive should not be overlooked after working his way steadily through the field from grid eleven to take over from Line in second on the penultimate lap.

DSC 6658

Daz Teal needed a win in the seventh heat to keep the pressure on Brunton and Coppin but it was not to be as an inspired Dante Dhillon led the heat from lights to flag crossing the line almost seven seconds clear of Teal who had started from grid seven. He was up to second by the end of the second lap but could do nothing to catch the flying Dhillon. His cause wasn’t helped by having to defend from Andrew Ward who chased him home in third. Dom Clffe and Joshua Sangster completed the top five.

Luke Philips took a lights to flag victory in Heat Eight chased all the way home by Dan Seager who had started from the second row. Reece Pope ran third for much of the way before losing out to Thanassi Barnicoat who had to work his way up from grid twelve. Chris Woodger completed the top five.

DSC 6914

Fraser Brunton started his final heat from grid ten. Could he make it three from three? Martin Theodorou jumped into an early lead first time around after starting from the second row. And there he stayed edging himself steadily clear of second placed Callum Martin. Half distance and he was over two seconds clear. Brunton was down in sixth. Two to go and Theodorou was still over two seconds clear of Martin whilst Brunton was third but over three seconds back from the leader. Final lap and Brunton challenged Martin as they crossed the line and he moved up to second. But despite cutting the gap Theodorou took the win with Martin third. Garrett Berry was a distant fourth ahead of Adam Brittain who again lost places to a penalty. Ami Breacher was promoted to fifth.

Mathew Cockerham led Heat Ten from the end of lap one all the way to the flag chased home by Luke Philips. But Philips received a four place deduction for an incident at Christmas on the opening lap and dropped to sixth in the results promoting Yousuf Bin-Suhayl to second, Steve Hicks to third after Aaron Stillwell received a cone penalty.

DSC 7958

Mike Coppin took his second win of the day in fine style in the penultimate heat. Starting from the front row he hit the front on the first lap and was never headed leading home Reece Pope by over three seconds. The win put him level on points with Fraser Brunton but he had a faster lap. Only Daz Teal could take pole from him now and he needed a win and a faster lap. Pope had a lonely run to second once he had got by Andrew Rabbage leading home third placed Thanassi Barnicoat by over three seconds with Rabbage fourth from Justin Draper.

Daz Teal started his final heat from grid thirteen knowing that only a win and fastest lap would net him pole. He was sixth by the end of the first tour but thereafter could only make up one place. Pole was Coppins’ and Teal would start from the second row alongside Dante Dhillon who claimed second in the heat to go level on points with Teal but with a slower fastest lap. Adam Wright took the win and would start the Final on the third row. Samuel Essery and Christopher Powell were third and fourth in the heat.

The Finals

DSC 9456

C Final

(All drivers in C3 unless otherwise noted)

Two C2’S on the front row with Ross O’Brien on pole from Ramunas Cerkauskas. James Browning and George Lawlor shared the second row with Joel Nichols and C2 John Ratcliff on row three. Row four saw Aaron Clarke alongside C2 Corey Smith followed by Louis Stagg and Matt Ellis on row five. Jagjeet Singh and Dan Grocott were on row six followed by James Scanlon and Michael Reeder on row seven. Mathew Cliffe and Douglas Smith occupied row eight followed by C2 Keith Segal and Boyle Kir on row nine. Christopher Pautz and Evan Craig shared row ten with C2 Sam Morris alongside Prash Alphonsus on the penultimate row and Zak Stout alongside Thomas Smith at the rear.

Top four to qualify for the B Final and a trophy for the winner.

DSC 8487

O’Brien and Cerkauskas both got away well but as the field streamed up the hill for the first time Browning was already slipping back. But everyone stayed on track as they went through the first turns. By the end of the lap O’Brien still led from Cerkauskas with Lawlor third from Clark and Ratcliff. Second time around and Cerkauskas went down the inside of O’Brien at Ashby to take over at the front. Clark was up to third from Ratcliff and Lawlor with Ellis already over a second back in sixth. Down into Ashby for the third time and Clark demoted O’Brien for second. Ratcliff ran wide and found himself shuffled down the order to sixth with Lawlor up to third from O’Brien and Ellis.

DSC 8609

Half distance and Cerkauskas remained at the front half a Kart ahead of Clark. Lawlor was a couple of tenths back with O’Brien leading the battle for the fourth qualifying spot some two seconds back. Ellis was next from Ratcliff, Scanlon, Grocott and Stagg who were all well placed to mount a challenge for fourth. Singh completed the top ten but was over five seconds adrift. Eighth time around and Clark got alongside Cerkauskas at the entrance to The Boot. Cerkauskas could have run him wide but didn’t and Clarke went through. Lawlor almost took advantage to snatch second but Cerkauskas held him off to remain second. O’Brien in fourth was now having to defend from Ellis and losing ground to the leaders. Ellis moved to the inside going up the hill and briefly got ahead of O’Brien. But he ran a little wide and O’Brien came back at him. Down into Ashby Ellis was briefly on the grass but he held on. Ratcliff, Scanlon and Stagg all closed in on the battle for fourth.

DSC 6703 2
C Final – Winner Aaron Clark

Final lap and Clark, Cerkauskas and Lawlor were all safely through as the battle raged over fourth. O’Brien was still hanging on and as they entered Christmas for the last time he defended the line. But Ellis suckered him and stayed well to the outside before cutting under O’Brien on the exit. It was brilliantly executed and gave him the better line through the next few corners and down into Ashby. O’Brien hung on but was badly out of shape and found himself shuffled down the order. Clark took the win with Cerkauskas second from Lawlor and Ellis taking the final qualifying spot. Scanlon was fifth from Ratcliff, Grocott, O’Brien and Stagg with Singh completing the top ten some seven seconds shy of ninth placed Stagg.

B Final

(All drivers in C2 unless otherwise noted)

Bryn Alban on pole with Dean Everest alongside followed by C1 Rob Langthorp and Liam Nolan on row two. Row three saw Ben Lambeth alongside Michael Preston with Russell Cooper and Yousuf Bin-Suhayl behind on row four. C3 Harrison Kirkham shared row five with Charlie Summers followed by Aidan Kitchener and Ned Douglas on row six. C3’s Adam Brittain and Yusuf Soeharjono were on row seven followed by C3 Kym Eley and C1 Christopher Powell on roe eight. Row nine had C2 Andy Berry alongside C2 Ami Breacher with C3 Nikolas Lakasas sharing row ted with C2 Ashley White. Jeremy Deeks and Aaron Stillwell occupied row eleven followed by the four qualifiers from the C Final, Clark, Cerkauskas, Lawlor and Ellis. Top two finishers to qualify for the A final and a trophy for the winner.

DSC 8931

Alban got away cleanly from the line but Everest was caught out and found himself with two wheels on the grass as Langthorp moved into second. But Everest lost control as he came back onto the circuit and tagged Langthorp spinning him round and putting himself into the barrier. With one of the back markers going off in avoidance a re-start was called with two minutes knocked off the race length. Second attempt and everyone got away cleanly. Over the line at the end of the lap and Alban led from Everest. Langthorp was third followed by Lambeth, Nolan and Bin-Suhayl. Second time around and Alban and Everest were pulling clear. Lambeth went by Langthorp at Oziers but not without contact. The resulting penalty would end his hope of qualification for the A Final but he raced on.

DSC 8976

Half distance and Alban had opened up a gap to Everest who was now almost two seconds clear of the penalised Lambeth running third. Bin-Suhayl was on his own in fourth pulling clear of fifth placed Langthorp. Douglas and Nolan were next whilst Kirkham was down in eighth and leading the C3 runners. White was having a strong drive after his lowly grid position and running ninth ahead of Clark, second in C3 after starting at the back of the grid. With three to go Alban was over a second clear of Everest who now had Lambeth closing in. Bin-Suhayl was fourth but Langthorp had got his second wind and was closing him down as he pulled Douglas along with him. Nolan was over two seconds back with White eighth but not making any great impression after his impressive early pace.

DSC 6720 2
B Final – Winner Bryne Alban

Final lap and Alban was half a second clear but Everest was coming under pressure from Lambeth whilst Bin-Suhayl had pulled clear of Langthorp and Douglas as they battled over fifth. Down in ninth Kirkham was still leading C3 but Clark was now right on his rear bumper. Kirkham defended but ran wide and Clark slipped by taking Cooper, Soeharjano and Summers with him. Lambeth moved into second at Ashby but it mattered not to Everest who moved back into second behind Alban after Lambeth’s penalty was applied. Bin-Suhayl moved up to third from Langthorp with Douglas fifth from the penalised Lambeth. Nolan was seventh with White eighth. Ninth was Clark in what was arguably the drive of the race to move from the penultimate row at the start and take the C3 honours. Cooper rounded out the top ten with Soeharjano eleventh and second in C3. Kirkham was third in C3 and thirteenth on the road.

DSC 6785 2
Class 3 Podium – Winner Yusuf Soeharjono, flanked by Harrison Kirkham and Aaron Clark

A Final

(All drivers in C1 unless otherwise noted)

Mike Coppin on pole from Championship leader Fraser Brunton with Daz Teal and Dante Dhillon on the second row. Both Coppin and Teal needed to win to stop Brunton’s Championship charge whilst Dhillon was looking to further strengthen his C2 Championship aspirations. Martin Theodorou and Adam Wright were on row three followed by Thanassi Barnicoat and Andrew ward on five. Row six saw Steve Hicks alongside C2 Dan Seager followed by two C2’S Garrett Berry and Mathew Cockerham. C2 Joshua Sangster shared row seven with Chris Woodger whilst C2’s Justin Draper and Luke Philips occupied row nine. Reece Pope was on row nine with Callum Martin followed by a group of C2’s, Samuel Essery, Dom Cliffe, Stef Theodorou, Jake Wilkins, and Andrew Rabbage with the two qualifiers from the B Final, Nichols and Riley on the back. The stage was all set for a thriller.

DSC 9475 copy

Coppin led the pack away and immediately moved to the right to cut off Brunton. Up the hill they went with Coppin leading from Brunton, Teal and Dhillon. It was looking a bit untidy to the rear of the field as drivers fought for position. Coppin led the field towards the Boot for the first time followed by Brunton. Teal was third but heading up towards the Boot Dhillon moved to the left. Teal was ahead from my vantage point as Dhillon tried to get alongside. From where I was standing it never looked as though a move was on. Teal turned in and Dhillon clipped him sending the luckless Teal round and to a halt. It looked a clear penalty for Dhillon and it was quickly called. Teal resumed at the back with any Championship hopes gone. He would soon pull in to retire. Coppin continued to lead with Brunton almost attached to his rear bumper. Dhillon was third and still looking to move up the order despite his penalty. Down Into Ashby for the fourth time and Brunton dived down the inside of Coppin. Coppin went wide but held on to the lead as Dhillon muscled his way by Brunton for second. Theodorou was only a few tenths back and well in the hunt with Barnicoat just behind in fifth. The following lap and Dhillon went down the inside of Coppin into Ashby. I thought they touched and Coppin did run very wide but no penalty was called. Brunton took advantage and slipped ahead of Coppin for second. I must confess it doesn’t seem quite right to me that a penalised driver and one from a different class can have so much bearing on the outcome of a race. But I guess there is no easy solution.

DSC 9642

Dhillons’ lead lasted but a lap as Brunton went up the inside into Christmas. Dhillon kept well to the left and Coppin took advantage to slip underneath. Dhillon fought back but Coppin had the momentum and held on whilst Theodorou following closely behind lost out on the run to Wilkins to Barnicoat for fourth. Wright and Pope were also closing in rapidly. Brunton and Coppin began to ease away at the front whilst Dhillon became the cork in the bottle behind. Pope eased past Wright at the final corner with six laps to run in what turned out to be the final overtake amongst the top twelve for the remainder of the race.

DSC 9802

The fireworks of the first few laps had turned into a damp squib. Brunton crossed the line over a second clear of Coppin and to emphasise his superiority he set the fastest lap on the final tour. Dhillon was next but his penalty dropped him to ninth in the results. Still good enough for third on the C2 podium and did nothing to halt his charge to the C2 title. Barnicoat was fourth from Martin Theodorou with Pope next from Wright. Berry was next but a first lap penalty saw him drop out of the top ten and promoted Cockerham to seventh. He also claimed the C2 honours. Sangster was eighth and second in C2 with Hicks completing the top ten.

DSC 9843

Championship Round Up.

Mathematically Fraser Brunton can still be caught but it’s going to take a major disaster for him to lose this year’s Championship. Five A final wins to his credit and the chance of two more. Mike Coppin isn’t quite out of it but it’s hard now to see him overhaul the Championship leader but he’ll fight to the finish I’m sure. Dante Dhillon lies third and is easily going to win C2. Dan Seager and Garrett Berry lie sixth and eighth in the standings behind Reece Pope who moved to fifth behind Ed Barrs. Seager and Berry are second and third in C2 whilst C3 is headed by Harrison Kirkham from George Lawlor and Adam Brittain.

DSC 6825 2
Class 2 Podium – Winner Matthew Cockerham flanked by Joshua Sangster and Dante Dhillon

Reflections

A great days racing again at Whilton and we can watch it all again on You Tube! That’s my Friday sorted.

There is an unwritten code of conduct surrounding our sport. If you take somebody out of a race and get penalised hold your hand up and accept the punishment. For sure there will be times when an appeal is justified but for the most part our spotters get the calls right. But they are only human and they only have a split second to make a decision. We could not race without them and the marshals. It’s good etiquette then to hold your hand up and apologise to the driver you’ve taken out and sorry goes an awful long way to calming situations down. This is a sporting Club. Winning or losing isn’t going to change your life dramatically.

On to the lovely Ellough Park for the penultimate round.

See you there!

Words: Steve Gray
Photography: John Patterson