Heavyweight Clubman Sprint Championship 2013, Rd.3

Club 100 returns to its spiritual home, Rye House, where it rocks. Despite heavy criticism, Rye House is a nice little technical challenge, and one of the less kart dependable tracks on the calendar. Downsides are the tight hairpins and the general lack of space that often creates messy racing.

Rye House saw an impressive 166 entries for the third round of Club 100 sprint season. 24 of the toughest ones were battling it out in Heavyweight Clubman. Whereas you see a lot of young guns and fresh blood in the Lightweight category, this is where the experience rules and the elbows come out. Indeed – after the Premiers have somewhat cleaned up their act – Clubman Heavies have been billed the new bad boys of Club100.

Aidan Ball sheds some light: “It has been extremely rough racing, but the Club 100 team have been very good at keeping it as fair as possible, dishing out penalties when required. After racing endurance for four seasons I couldn’t believe how aggressive people were being, but it didn’t take me long to get the gist of it! Despite this, there is good camaraderie between the drivers.”

Mark Burrell is happy to be back in the Heavyweight Clubman after a season in Heavyweight. Mark thinks other promoted Heavyweights have been surprised about the level of driving: “You have to be “on it” every corner of every lap. It is way more physical than Heavyweight. The racing is excellent across all heats and finals.”

Bad boys are well spread, so far, no single Mutley like villain has emerged.

The driver who seems to be dominating overall is Dan Hoy. Hoy has been fast and consistent. There are a handful of others who could challenge Hoy.

Stephen Jennings showed excellent pace at Buckmore. Jose Soler has improved a lot over the past few years. He has to be on top of his game to challenge and stay at the front. Phil Rose won a crazy rain infected race at Bayford. Stuart Martin has been fast but unlucky. Sir Tim Hill has been showing flashes of promise, but has not been able to capitalize on them consistently. Gerard Moore has shown that he has the speed and the brutality to run near the front. Barney “The Sheriff” Langley has shown very good pace. Jaimie Bird can be fast on his day. Alex Ring joins the Heavyweight Clubman from Rye onwards and could run at the front. Aidan Ball has the potential to up his game and live at the front. So far the challengers have fallen short. Could they up their game and give Hoy a run?
There were other questions too. Like who would take the Jennings brothers’ trophy? The brothers are rapid and they are always closely matched. Last year it was Phil Jennings collecting the honour and £500 bet.
In any case, this is a great series with some great characters.

THE RACE

Rich Higham has joined the commentator team on the legendary Rye terrace. We are anticipating an entertaining afternoon.

We’re only in Heat 1 and things are already heating up. Alex Ring leads his first heavyweight heat from pole. Barney Langley goes deep into Hairpin 1. Five drivers are ignoring the yellow flags, all overtaking each other going into Hairpin 2.

Gloves are coming off throughout the field.

Jose Soler is making rapid progress. He gets a big kiss from Stephen Jennings.

Alex Ring wins his first ever heavy weight heat from Christopher Brown. As the engines die and drivers take off their helmets – JV comes to the PA system, “that was rubbish”.

The second heat goes showing how closely fought this series is. The guys who stormed the first heat can’t make any progress from the back of the reversed grid of Heat 2. The front four are now the back four.

Jaimie Bird takes the win from pole. Jonathan Elliot makes a small mistake and drops to fourth behind Paul Jennings and Dan Hoy. Further down the road Mike Bodnar takes out Angus Boath for a waltz at Hairpin 2. There is a big scrap between Hill and Langley.

HWC FINAL 1

Dan Hoy starts from pole in Final 1 from Jamie Bird. Stuart Martin has had solid heats and lines up third. Alex Withington, Jose Soler and Tim Hill are next.

Martin holds his second from the tricky outside. Jose pushes through from inside line on Stadium and makes a clever move on Bird into the second apex to move onto third.

Alex Ring gets a good start and moves to fifth and gets a run on Jaimie Bird going into Hairpin 1. There is a big bang as Bird goes head first into the tyres barrier, probably expecting to get favours at the exit. Bird is out.

Hoy is away in the lead. The main battle is for second, third and fourth. Stuart Martin, Jose Soler and the debutant Alex Ring.

Alex Ring has a bit of a lightweight lunge on Soler. That is not going work in the heavies.

Langley is chasing Paul “the yellow” Jennings. Jennings is taking a very tight line and gets it covered.

Langley attacks into Hairpin One and takes them both off. Barney gets disqualified from the results.

Stuart Martin is starting to catch Dan Hoy for the lead. Looks like Martin wants it. Jose Soler is right behind Martin. Dan Hoy is now struggling for pace and is defending hard. They are all lining up calmly behind Hoy. Like a snake.

Soler attacks Martin, this gives Hoy a little breather.

Gerard Moore and Oliver Knight come together at Hairpin 1. It’s a lonely race for Alex Whittington in fifth. He is way ahead of Tim Hill, but not quite on the lead pack.

Martin is now re-catching Hoy. “Who is the cat and who is the mouse?” – asks our expert commentator Richard Higham.

Ring and Soler are having their own battle. Ring has another clumsy Lightweight move into Hairpin 2.

Hoy is all defensive from Martin and Soler. Martin is too much of a gentleman to give Hoy a nudge. Suddenly Alex Whittington is catching the top four.

Tim Hill has dropped back into the pack and is heading a long snake that goes all the way to 14th.

Hoy takes the win. Martin is second with his first podium of the season. On the last lap, Alex Ring passes Soler at Hairpin 1 – pushing Soler wide. Ring finishes third on the road but picks up a two place penalty from some of his antics and drops to fifth. Soler is third, Whithington fourth, Ring fifth, Tim Hill is sixth. Myles Sharman, James Childe, Martin Gurnett and Nigel Proctor round up the top ten. Good race that was!

FINAL 2

Stuart Martin has been dynamite the whole day and takes pole for Final 2. Mark Burrell lines up second with Jonathan Elliot and Mike Bodnar next. Final 1 winner Dan Hoy is down in 15th.

At the start Martin simply breaks away from the pack and drives away. He is looking determined. Mark Burrell is second. Jonathan Elliot is eager to go forward and gives the good old “lets go” sign but is unable to do anything about it.

Burrell and Elliot put their heads down but Martin seems unstoppable from the early laps extending his lead.

Dan Hoy can’t make any ground from the back of the field. He has Sir Tim Hill all over him.

Stuart is away now. He has pulled it off. Mark Burrell comes under pressure from Elliot. Second becomes a four way fight with Burrell, Elliot and Ring moving in one rapid train.

Two laps to go and Jaimie Bird attacks Jonathan Elliot going into Stadium. Elliot covers it well, Bird runs wide at the exit becoming vulnerable to Ring. Ring takes his opportunity and takes fourth into Hairpin 1.

On the last lap Burrell defends needlessly and bunches up the back. But the top three finish in the order they started in: Martin, Burrell, Elliot. Good drive from Ring from seventh to fourth. Bird is fifth. Mike Bodnar is sixth with Barney Langley seventh. Stephen Jennings fights from 12th on the grid to eighth with some Hairpin 2 moments on the way. Phil Rose and Jose Soler round up the top ten.

Rich Higham: Stuart Martin’s first win. What a man! What a man!

We go for fresh quotes from the pitlane as the helmets come off.

Stuart Martin. Feelings: “Awesome. Really awesome. First win. I felt really good all day. This one is for the old man.”

Stephen “the red helmet” Jenning’s gives the quote of the day: “I tried to warm my tyres, off I went straight into barrier.”

We saw James Childe cooking it on the warm up laps too.

Alex Ring “got a penalty for something I didn’t do and got away with the one I did.”

Mutley wasn’t impressed. Animals. Absolute animals.

We head to the summer, sun and the wider tracks with Dan Hoy in commanding lead of the championship. With dropped scores Stephen Jennings, Barney Langley, Phil Rose, Jaimie Bird and Stuart Martin follow in a tight bunch. But they will definitely need to up their game to challenge Hoy. Maybe Martin has just sparked up his campaign with a superb weekend.