Heavyweight Sprint Championship, 2014, Rd. 9

A damp and dismal morning greeted the competitors for Round 9 staged this time on the Zulu circuit. Certainly divides opinion this format but it does provide variation and a different challenge. One championship could also be decided here as Heavyweight points leader Sam Fisher needed only one third place finish to clinch the title. And that was if Steven Bartlett took maximum points. A tall order.

Heavyweight Qualifying Group 1

Roger Davis was first to lay down a market setting his fastest lap on his opening tour and arguably when the track was at its worst with some damp patches still remaining. Darrell Lowe then top the charts on his third lap with Daniel French just behind. And so it remained. Lowe took a deserved pole, a model of consistency. French remained in second but was conscious of the fact that whilst his once lap pace has been very good this year his race performance has been somewhat inconsistent. Fran Volpe was next up and looking very determined followed by Ollie Knights and Josh O’Hagan. Rumours that Josh had been suspended for the last were totally false. A lack of budget had forced him onto the sidelines. Peter Mills was next up followed by Keith Mizen. Roger Davis dropped to ninth setting the same time as a disappointed Sam Fisher. Perhaps the champagne would have to wait? Lennie Wood was the fastest of the Super Heavyweights.

Group 2

First to set the pace was James English as the rest of the field felt their way in but then he gradually slipped down the order. Steven Bartlett finally topped the group setting the fastest lap on his penultimate tour. He knew what he had to do to prevent Fisher taking the championship here and was determined to make a fight of it on a circuit which he likes. It wasn’t quick enough to take pole for the first A final however. Daniel Taylor was next up followed by Shane O’Neill. Both these drivers set their fastest laps midway through qualifying. Paul Crawford was next up just beating Tim Hill on the final lap. These two were followed by second in the points table Adam Nakar and Eric Mignon, once again showing decent qualifying pace. Michael Ballinger was next up followed by Robert Adlam with Nick Pollicott rounding out the top ten. Jonathan McLeod was the fastest of the super heavyweights but was almost a full second adrift of Lennie Woods from the first Group.

Heavyweight B Final 1

Four places then up for grabs for the first A final. Stuart Osborn had pole from Peter Kay, Tim Williams and Nigel Proctor. Osborn was quickest away but Kay got swamped on the run up the hill and fell behind Williams, Roger Mullen and Ray Wright. Michail Samaraopoulos threw away his chances dropping down the order to eighteenth. Down the order Super Heavyweight Paul Goddard made a great start moving up three spots before spinning to a halt and dropping to the rear of the field. At the front Williams took over the top spot and begun to pull away from Osborn who had Mullen in close attendance with Kay running fourth. Proctor was sixth followed by Christopher Dean. The leading quartet settled down with Williams steadily increasing the gap to Mullen. Osborn held third but Kay was looking for a way by, eventually making a move stick on the run up the hill. At the flag Williams took the win from Mullen with Kay and Osborn third and fourth respectively ahead of Dean. Dean however was yet another driver to take a penalty. He was feeling hard done by after the race feeling that his demotion was the result of a conspiracy and that he had done nothing wrong. Lennie Wood headed the super heavyweights with Luke Austin setting the fastest lap of the race.

Heavyweights A Final 1

Darrell Lowe on the pole from Steven Bartlett followed by French and Taylor. Volpe next alongside O’Neill with Knights and Crawford on the fourth row followed by O’Hagan and the veteran Tim Hill.
Championship leader Sam Fisher was a lowly seventeenth. Lowe led the field away closely followed by Bartlett. French was out of luck once again falling from third to eleventh feeling that he was a victim of being pushed wide by Volpe. If he can translate his qualifying pace into race results he would surely be a contender for the championship next season. Volpe moved into third with fast starting Oliver Knights in fourth. Josh O’Hagan drove a very aggressive, and fair, first lap to move into firth. Down the order Roger Davis found himself stationary and dropping to the rear of the field. Fisher moved into thirteenth. Lowe continued to lead from Bartlett, Volpe, Knights and O’Hagan. These five were in a class of their own pulling steadily away from the pack. Sadly on lap sixth came the controversial moment of the race. With Lowe and Bartlett still ahead Knights made a move on Volpe for third at the hairpin. Knights just about made it but Volpe had the inside line for the next corner. As they went through Zulu one and two Volpe was just ahead but two into one don’t go and Knights tagged Volpe who spun to an arm waving halt. Fisher moved into ninth. Lowe still led but Bartlett was fighting all the way and as they went up the hill at the start of lap ten He moved into the lead. On the same lap Fisher moved into eighth. At the front though Bartlett was not pulling away from Lowe or Knights. O’Hagan was still in the mix and looking for a way by Knights which he eventually achieved at the top of the hill. Meanwhile Fisher moved into seventh at the expense of Crawford. With two to go Bartlett still led but Lowe was in determined move and dived down the inside at the hairpin. Bartlett ran wide. Too wide, and was on the grass losing two vital places but rejoining ahead of Knights. Fisher moved into sixth. Lowe took the win, his first ever in Club 100, after a great drive. O’Hagan followed him across the line with Bartlett third from Knights. Six seconds back Daniel Taylor took fifth ahead of Fisher in sixth but the drama was not over. Knights was excluded for his move on Volpe promoting Fisher to fifth and giving him an unassailable lead in the championship. O’Hagan set the fastest lap of the race.

Heavyweight Sprint B Final 2

With just two places up for grabs for the back of the second A final this had all the potential to be a scrappy encounter. It wasn’t, unless you were called Glen Beard! Luke Austin occupied pole with Beard alongside followed by Martin Gurnett and James English. Dave price and a disappointing Christopher Dean were next followed by Ray Wright and Lennie Wood. Austin powered away at the start and into a lead he would never relinquish. At least, not on the track. Beard was jumped by Gurnett with Price also getting ahead. Lennie Wood made a blinding start and by lap two was up into third. Beard was pushed onto the grass at Zulu one. He would resume a lap down. Austin continued to lead and had built quite a gap to Gurnett who was in turn well ahead of Wood in third. Sam Brice had moved from Grid 10 to fourth but his race efforts came to nought as he spun near the end and was eventually classified nineteenth. Austin it was then who took the flag only to be excluded from the results for being underweight thus promoting Gurnett to second and Wood to third. Dave Price set the fastest lap of the race.

Heavyweight A final 2

Josh O’Hagan on pole with Champion elect Sam Fisher alongside followed by Oliver Knights, anxious to score some decent points after his face race exclusion, and first final winner Darrel Lowe. Roger Davis was fifth alongside Fran Volpe, anxious to prove a point. Steven Bartlett and Tim Williams shared row 4 with Daniel French and Robert Adlam on row 5. O’Hagan got the better start to lead away from Fisher but Knights was soon into second. Lowe was fourth but Volpe, Bartlett and Williams were all quickly on the pace and demoting him to seventh. O’Hagan continued to lead but Fisher was back up to second ahead of a flying Volpe who had swept by Knights for third. Bartlett remained fifth but it was all mightily close. Then Volpe got a run on Fisher up the hill to take second and was soon closing down O’Hagan for the lead. Fisher was looking comfortable in third but Knights was falling away being passed by both Bartlett and Williams. Volpe was ever closer to O’Hagan finally taking him on lap twelve for a lead he would never relinquish. Fisher continued to circulate in third but Bartlett was intent on proving a point and forced his way by at the hairpin on the last lap. Fisher ran wide onto the grass allowing both Williams and Lowe to gain a place each. At the flag though it was a great confidence boosting win for Volpe with O’Hagan following him across the line. Bartlett crossed the line third but would be demoted to seventh. He was also quick to apologise to Fisher. Williams took third then from Lowe with Fisher fifth followed by Knights. French took eighth after, for once, a largely uneventful race with Davis and Tim Hill rounding out the top ten.

With Sam Fisher wrapping up the championship it might seem a little churlish not to name Sam as the driver of the day. He finished just off the podium in fourth but was of course delighted to have wrapped up the championship with two rounds still to run. He has been the outstanding driver in the heavyweights this season and it’s very rare to see him without a smile on his face. A very worthy champion. It is a shame he is moving into EasyKarts next year. We wish him luck. Steven Bartlett took third on the day. The points he lost for his penalty in the second final would not have made any difference. The returning Josh O’Hagan took the overall win. Sadly he may not make the next two rounds. Another great win though and well deserved. Darrell Lowe won his first race ever in Club 100 and took his first ever podium with second place. He improves with every race and is another who you rarely see without a smile on his face. My performer of the day.
Lennie Wood once again took the Super Heavyweight honours. Lennie has a very healthy lead in the championship standings and although he could mathematically be overtaken I think it unlikely.