Well it had to come an end sometime and Titan Motorsport’s luck, and an incredible run of form, in 2021 Endurance season ran out 11minutes before the end of the season while Andy O’Neill was cruising to another win by half a minute. Team spokesman Martin O’Neill reporting, “The normally very reliable club 100 kart had other ideas”, crackling over radio, “‘I’ve got no power’, the throttle cable had broken, and with no drive, we waited for a push kart to take us back to the pits, where the equipment was changed to a new machine under the rules. Remarkably, the Titan team remained and finished on the lead lap, 6th overall after a penalty.” On hand at the time G3 Pro had pulled out all the stops, made the most of their star man, Joe Holmes, to leave captain Matt Hale to finish off their first won of the season, and move ahead of Scuderia Bandito for 3rd in the final championship table, Hale reporting, “I knew the best chance we had to do that was to give Joe my 40 minutes’ drive time… The team were adamant that I was going to do the last 10 minutes of the race as everything was in order”, as Bandito were down in 8th the job was done, “I wasn’t so keen given we were one track limits warning and one contact warning away from a black flag. As we were doing the driver changeover I got word that Titan had broken down so we were in the lead! So then comes the shortest and most stressful stint of my life, I came out in the middle of a train of kart. I could see Max [Kenney] coming at a rate of knots lap by lap, by the last lap the guys were going mad on pit wall telling me to get a move on, Max was on my rear bumper and gave me a little tap to say hi, so I just defended for a lap which was enough for us to take the Win and more importantly 3rd in the Championship.” The last lap was not quite the last lap at least for cLunge’s Kenney, or so he thought, “I thought we had won it, as we’d crossed the line behind them to start what I thought was the final lap, it was what the board said, also what I was being told on the radio, I was still racing on the cool down lap and I thought we’d have done it. They came out 9secs ahead of us, and I loved chasing them down, especially as I saw Matt caught up in traffic. I had a run on him in the penultimate lap (on what turned out to be the final lap) but chose to play it safe and clean rather than live up to our name and Lunge him, thinking I had 1 more lap to get the move done safely.” Team Applewood made up the podium.
With Premier Class decided, Bayford Meadows had major unfinished business on both Clubman and Intermediate Classes. In Clubman Class it was more or less all Speedscreen, and in particular, star turn Richard Allen, as team principal Tim Hill and his dodgy ribs relegated him to holding Dickie’s coat for most of the race, “Speedscreen and JK Rolling were level on points, we just had to beat them and we weren’t massively bothered by anyone else & indeed often waved others by during the race, but our mantra was to avoid penalties. The Championship was won by Dickie, I was a bit player most races due to injuries but who cares, It was great to play his wing man and win another championship at 64!”.
Indeed the title contest never really got going, JK’s Kyle Young, “We threw the season away with all them black flags. We should of closed it out months ago. I’m quite gutted to not get a fair stab at it, we had a dodgy kart for qualifying and changed that [so started at the back] and had another one in the race, but that’s arrive and drive so you have to take it on the chin.” Off the start they were 30secs down on Allen as the field spread and they appeared to only hold that gap for what seemed like most of the event, “I can’t take anything away from Dickie he raced well all year we will come back next year and give it another crack.” Runtime Exception Racing having one of their best runs of the season finished 2nd place in the Clubman race ahead of Red Hot Racing. Conman Racing finishing 4th, once again pipped Auditing Armageddon to 3rd place in the championship, Conman’s Ben Chapman, “It was a straight fight for P3 between us and Auditing and whoever finished ahead would take it. We qualified 3rd in class, 15th overall, but Auditing struggled and ended up 26th overall. They elected to play a joker and start at the back for the race. Joe Conroy and I eked out a16secs advantage over Auditing after an hour and 20mins. Matt brought it home.” JJ Aiston for Auditing Armageddon, “Yes, we did have a shot at overhauling Conman, I qualified 26th we decided to swap the kart for a spare and started from the back. Jon Buck did a cracking job through the traffic, and we swapped over at the half-way mark. I could see Conman on the other side of the track, about half a lap ahead and I was really happy with how I drove and we made up 80% of that gap, but sadly the starter motor on our kart was dying. It kept taking ages to restart in the pits, and that cost us a bucket of time. Who knows how it would have turned out without that? 4th overall is okay, it’s one of our stronger championship finishes. We are looking forward to having another go next season!”
The Intermediates race was won by a beaming Yousuf Bin-Suhayl with his Wait This Isn’t A Simrig? (WTIAS?) team mates Matt Horgan and Steve Lindley and secured 3rd in the championship as well, “Yeh I had a very big smile. It was the first time I was at a track I had already driven this year so I was really confident. Also I got the intercom working on my helmet so had my dad giving me feedback while on track and I hooked it up in qualifying and managed a 54.2, for P3 and only 2 tenths off Titan.” Off the start Horgan then Lindley held the class lead, running towards the front, “I managed to finish P10 on track, bumped up to P9 with Palatinate Racing disqualified for being underweight. Overall it’s been a great season for us and a good warmup for next year for me after 2years out and I’m looking forward to either doing Clubman’s/Prems endurance next year or maybe SP60 and battling for consistent top 5/10 finishes.”
Admittedly this was not Intermediate main event and report would not be complete without a message from our champagne/boot swilling Three Swans correspondent, James Johnstone, and his team’s battle with title rivals Brillio in what was the closest of all the on track deciders, “We knew we had a good chance, as long as Brillio didn’t win we were sorted, unfortunately we got off to a bad start, by having a kart that was questionable with no rear grip and so oversteery. Tom put it 22nd was a decent achievement. I went out for the start and soon had Brillio in my sights. A daring move saw me in front, but I knew I couldn’t hold them as our kart just did not have the pace, so I just made it my mission to ruin Brillio’s race as much as I could and that worked like a charm. They got passed eventually. Then Tom did a great job, Jasper went out for the final 40 mins and the gap just kept coming down and it didn’t take long until he got by Brillio. After that we never looked back. It was a tad disappointing to end the year with our worst scored round, but in the end it didn’t matter, three firsts, four seconds and a fourth isn’t too shabby I don’t think. Congratulations to Brillio for a well earned second place, and also to Simrig for a great second half of the season. We’ll be back next year in the Clubman class, watch out for us next year. Put simply, COME ON YOU SWANS!!!”
And after my longest intro of season. The report.
Titan’s Andy O’Neill had lead the practice times before making for brother Jack for qualifying, and it would be Jack setting pole with 54.358 only for Joe Holmes for G3 Pro to come through each time behind him to lower pole position for first half of qualifying to 53.142 ahead of O’Neill, cLunge’s Tom Szwed, Palatinate ’s Will Van Es, Bandito, Team Applewood, Red Hot Racing as leading Clubman and Bin-Suhayl for WTIAS? leading the Intermediates.
It would take until after halfway through the session before O’Neill for Titan moved on to their almost customary pole position with 54.055. No one else came close thereafter. When the session was over the front row Titan, G3 Pro, a surprised Bin-Suhayl on grid 3, as leading intermediate, with cLunge on row 2. Palatinate Racing, Red Hot Racing on row 3, Ragazzi Racing, Scuderia Bandito, a quiet Team Applewood and SMJK Racing making up the top 10 in a field of 32 for the finale.
Off the start Holmes wasted little time moving into the lead ahead of Mike Philippou starting for Titan, the pair breaking clear immediately, G3 Pro had a game plan and a target to beat Scuderia Bandito for 3rd in the championship and their race was geared to using their star man to the maximum. Will Van Es moved Palatinate into 3rd ahead of Matt Horgan for WTIAS?, Szwed for cLunge, Josh Adams for Red Hot Racing, and a very rapid starting Dickie Allen in Speedscreen, Tim Hill “[Dickie] didn’t get many clear laps and we ended up 13th”, and he started off like he wasn’t going to miss the bus. Alex Pritchard for Applewood, CKS Throatpunchers and Anwar Beroual-Smith rounded out the top 10. Speedscreen’s Clubman rival’s had changed karts and had made an excellent start but were 26th place and the natural spread into single file meant they were 7secs down ending lap 1, and losing a second a lap just trying to make progress. They pitted after lap 3, looking for clear track to be 40secs behind Speedscreen a margin that would prove difficult to close. In the Intermediate Class James Johnstone had struck early for The Three Swans to move ahead but as he said, he could not hold Brillio and they’d moved back ahead to 15th overall on 5mins.
Upfront Holmes was doing his thing and Philippou was happy to accomodate him sitting in behind, Van Es unable to close and falling away into with Szwed and Adams to a couple of seconds, and the pair would move by, also pitting early Horgan had pitted WTIAS to be the leading early stopper in 16th place. Then Holmes pitted G3 Pro on 15mins and returned 9th 8secs ahead of Horgan moving up to 13th. Szwed pitted and slid into the line behind Holmes and Zesty Drink Racing. Adams pitted Red Hot, a little slowly, losing 6-8secs on their rivals, and returned 12th and behind Horgan. Palatinate managed to beat WTIAS? off pit lane.
In typical rapid fashion, you guessed it, closing the first fuel window Titan returned from pit lane with a 3.5secs lead over Szwed for cLunge, G3 Pro, 5secs clear of Palatinate, WTIAS?, Speedscreen and Red Hot Racing. The latter two teams leading Clubmans, joined 1.5secs behind by Runtime Exception Racing, there was then another 5secs gap to Applewood and Joe Conroy in Conman Racing. Conman’s battle for 3rd in the championship saw them 13secs ahead Auditing Armageddon, who with JK Rolling 4secs behind were trying to make progress after their pre race kart changes.
Brillio opened the 2nd round of fuel stops slipping off the lead lap in the process, at least for a little while and down to 20th, a win looking increasingly unlikely in Intermediates for either championship protagonists as Horgan continued to run amongst leaders for WTIAS?, Ragazzi Racing ran 10th, just ahead Wisper, indeed the good form from other in Inters would ultimately render the duel between ‘Swans and Brillio almost superfluous to their final championship tallies.
Philippou departed on 35mins with 5.5secs lead for Titan and Jack O’Neill came in to try and put the Premier Class, and rest of the field, to the sword. cLunge had a turn on the front, then G3 Pro, then Horgan put WTIAS? into the overall race lead for a couple laps before departing for Steve Lindley on 45mins to close the window. Field reset Titan led by 15secs from cLunge, 6secs ahead of Runtime Exception, G3 Pro, Speedscreen, and Red Hot circulating together. Lindley had got off to a slow start and brought through a 2nd group 8secs behind with Palatinate, Applewood, and Matt Conroy for Conman in 10th. 15secs behind Slowcoach Racing brought through a loose line of main field, this included Brillio in 12th, G3 Pro’s rival Scuderia Bandito 14th, Conman’s rival Auditing Armageddon, Speedscreen’s rival JK Rolling 17th, and the Three Swans 20th, 17secs down on Brillio.
After the 3rd fuel window closed on 70mins, O’Neill had driven a race winning stint to be 30secs clear of Max Kenney going into cLunge, 2secs clear G3 Pro, a further 14secs clear of Runtime Exception, Applewood, Speedscreen, who were 7secs ahead of Red Hot and Palatinate, a further 13secs behind Conman and Bandito rounded out the top 10. Tom Hollamby had put in a sterling effort to cover off any residual hope of Brillio of scoring enough points to take the Inter title and was poised to overtake them on the road.
By the time the 4th fuel window had closed, Andy O’Neill had taken over from his brother in Titan Motorsport and only had to avoid penalties and bring home a half a minute lead over G3 Pro, who had sent Holmes back in to finish, 5secs behind Kenney would have his work cut out to run them down for cLunge. Mike Coppin had departed for Applewood after a double stint, and left Chris Alcock in 4th place 20secs down and only tasked to hold Allen back in charge of Speedscreen who were 10secs down after a brief toilet break provided by Hill. In behind Dickie was Palatinate and not far behind were Red Hot, Runtime Exception, Bandito and Bin-Suhayl in for WTIAS?
It all looked fairly settled along with all the remaining championship placings. Then a strange thing happened. Titan broke down.
With 8mins to go, Matt Hale had been promoted from mascot for the day to victory turn status, his lead was 5.7secs, Kenney got a faint whiff of top step and set off in pursuit. Alcock had inherited 3rd place but at 24secs off the lead a win was beyond Applewood. Speedscreen were 4secs behind but content to take the class win and the Clubman championship, with their rivals JK Rolling still stubbornly 40secs behind in 13th place overall. Trapped in traffic Hale wobbled in G3 Pro and Kenney took 0.3-0.8secs out of him each lap, then G3 Pro’s pit wall started wobbling the fence, climbing and over it, giving Hale the hurry up. And it all got far too close for comfort, Kenney giving Hale a love tap over the line on what he thought was the beginning of the last lap. And fortunately for Matt it was actually the finish line.
Words: Chris Simpson
Photography: John Patterson