Inspired Alex Pritchard Takes First Win. Championship Heading for Thrilling Finale.

DSC 0670 scaled

Welcome to Rye House for Round Seven. What a change. A newly resurfaced track, neatly mowed grass, new kerbs and run offs. But karters can be a fickle lot. From moaning about the bumpy track to complaining that the new surface was too grippy! But at least no one complained about the weather which was dry and comfortably warm all day.

DSC 9744

The Road to the Finals and the Fight for Pole

Joe Holmes got his day off to the best possible start with a comfortable win in the first heat chased home by Richard Allen. They started alongside each other on the third row and quickly moved to the front but Allen couldn’t match the leaders pace. Alex Pritchard claimed third after fighting his way up the order from grid eleven and taking Tim Williams for third on the penultimate lap. Simon Lloyd was a satisfied fifth after his first start of the year.

Heat Two saw Darrell Lowe take a pole to flag win from Chris Alcock. Alcock had to fight his way up from grid eight and moved into second at the midpoint of the heat. Lowe’s lead at that time was over two seconds. Alcock cut the gap over successive laps but ran out of time just 0.304 adrift at the flag. Tom Angier was third. Matt Wileman crossed the line fourth but multiple contacts put him down to sixth behind Nickolas Walker and Lawrence Cheah.

DSC 8261

Curt Holmes took the third heat. Starting from the front row he was at the front after the first lap chased by Matt Isherwood and Paul Williams. Williams became something of a cork in the bottle as the leaders pulled clear leaving a frustrated gaggle of Karts behind Williams. Half distance and Championship leader Anwar Beroual-Smith finally went by Williams but was over three seconds back from the fight for first. Isherwood briefly took the lead with two to go but Holmes fought back to take the win with Isherwood fading over the final lap. Beroual-Smith closed in but had to settle for third from Miguel Hall and Elliott Alt.

Steve Bosley was the victor in the fourth heat. He led for the majority of the heat chased by Callan Sigafoos who finally went by on the final lap only to lose the win after a cone penalty. Dan Hollinshead was third after starting from pole followed by Joe Bailey and Kieran Chidgzey.

DSC 8786

Polesitter Alex Pritchard was comfortable winner of the fifth heat leading home Alexander Lammin by over two seconds. Lammin started from the second row but was up to second by the end of the first lap ahead of Simon Lloyd who chased him for much of the race followed by Jacob Harris and Mikey Nichols who both went by Lloyd on the final lap.

Heat Six featured the two leading Championship contenders with Anwar Beroual-Smith starting from the front row and Joe Holmes starting from grid ten. Beroual-Smith wasted no time in taking the lead whilst Holmes had some work to do. Steve Lindley followed Beroual-Smith very closely for much of the heat before being joined with three to go by Holmes. Holmes went by on the penultimate lap but couldn’t find a way by the leader missing out by just over a tenth. Lindley was third from Matt Wileman and Darrell Lowe. Advantage Holmes in the race for pole.

DSC 8733

Heat Seven saw Chris Alcock take the win pursued all the way by pole man Andrew Cherry. The win put Alcock well in contention in the fight for pole. Miguel Hall kept alive his hopes of a high grid place with third from Callan Sigafoos and Richard Allen.

Heat Eight was a scrappy affair over the opening laps. Samuel Bensley led away from the line pursued by Bill Taylor. Two in and Taylor was down to fourth with Lennie Wood second but a lap later he was down to eighth. Taylor fought back and briefly led before Matt Isherwood took over at the front with Taylor second. Isherwood then proceeded to pull clear with Taylor still second from Curt Holmes and Dan Hollinshead. Paul Williams pulled himself up to fifth but was well back from fourth. Isherwood crossed the line two seconds clear of Taylor with Hollinshead next after taking Holmes on the final lap. But Hollinshead dropped to fourth after a cone penalty whilst Holmes lost five places after penalties. All of which promoted Williams to third and James Radovic to fifth.

DSC 8240

Joe Holmes claimed his second win of the day in the ninth heat which would prove good enough to secure the A Final pole. He led all the way from pole taking an emphatic win by over seven seconds from Miguel Hall. Steve Bosley was next over the line but lost four places after a penalty promoting Simon Kavanagh to third from Lee Henderson and Vijay Patel.

DSC 9300

Heat Ten saw a win for Matt Wileman chased home by Anwar Beroual-Smith. Wileman would line up mid grid for the A Final with Beroual-Smith alongside Holmes on the front row. Mikey Nichols, Callan Sigafoos and Josh Pettit completed the top five.

Richard Allen took the win in the penultimate heat leading home pole sitter Paul Williams by over eight seconds. Good enough to put himself fourth on the A Final grid. Williams defended ruthlessly but fairly all the way for a very well deserved second. Chris Alcock grabbed valuable points on the final lap taking fourth from Alexander Lammin. Alex Pritchard too went by Lammin. Alcock and Pritchard would line up third and fifth respectively for the A Final.

DSC 8022 1

The final heat resulted in a win for Joe Bailey. Starting from the second row he moved ahead of Jacques Bridges third time around and was never headed despite the close attentions of Curt Holmes who worked his way up from grid nine. Bridges finished third ahead of Kevin Coombes and Jacob Harris.

The Finals

DSC 9457 2 1

C Final

(All drivers in Class 3 unless otherwise noted).

DSC 9768

Andrew Hicks on pole from Cody Richards with Super Heavweight (SHW) Stuart Kirk and Doug Cooke on the second row. Luke Elliott and Riccardo Vitale were on row three with James Antwis and SHW James Fremont on row four. Antonio Gizzonio shared row five with Lee Bennett followed by Tom Jobson and Richard Pain on row six. Row seven had Craig Mathews-Clark alongside Owen Smith with Graham McDermott, Rudy Murphy and Toby Sutton taking the final grid slots.

DSC 9829

Hicks led the field away but Richards lost out badly round the outside and fell to fifth. Kirk tucked into third but it was a quick starting Elliott who took the eyes slotting into second behind Hicks. Antwis was up to fourth which four laps in became third. By this time the front four had pulled clear of the pack with the gap back from fourth placed Kirk to Gizzonio heading towards two seconds. By half distance the gap had grown to over four seconds. All four were going to qualify comfortably for another race. Now, what is more important? A trophy for winning or a ‘’free’’ race and the chance to gain extra Championship points and more track time?

DSC 9927 1

Twelfth time around and Elliott decided to go for first. Coming down into the first hairpin Elliott moved to the left inside of Hicks. Hicks gave him room but was forced to run wide as they rounded the turn. Elliott ran him out wide on the exit and Hicks was forced to back off or hit the tyres. A clear penalty for Elliott and rightly called. A four place deduction and no trophy or extra track time. Kirk too decided that third was better than fourth and slipped by Antwis. At least his move was clean. Antwis returned the compliment on the final lap. Why? The gap back to Gizzonio was over six seconds. Why take the risk? Hicks was rightly promoted to first and took the trophy with Antwis second from Kirk and Gizzonio a deserved, if distant, fourth having driven well and kept out of trouble.

DSC 0693
C Final Winner – Andrew Hicks

B Final

(All drivers in C2 unless otherwise noted)

Tim Williams on pole with SHW Kieran Chidgzey alongside. SHW Nickolas Walker shared the second row with C3 Scott Parker followed by Jacob Harris and Elliott Alt on row three. Row four saw Alexander Lammin alongside Kevin Coombes followed by Lawrence Cheah and C3 Tom Angier on row five. Steve Lindley and Simon Kavanagh were on row six followed by Josh Pettitt and C3 James Radovic. C3 Richard Neale shared row eight with SHW Adrian Wray with SHW’s Vinod Harani and Lennie Wood on the ninth row. Two C3’s on row ten, Steven Salway and Heinrich Watson-Miller followed by Richard Newton and SHW Damian Smith from C3’s Marcus Naris and Tom Stalker with the four qualifiers from the C Final, Hicks, Antwis, Kirk and Gizzonio occupying the final two rows. Top two to qualify for the A Final and a trophy for the winner.

DSC 0115

Williams led the field into the first turn but Chidgzey fell foul of the first turn curse and lost out round the outside dropping to fourth. Walker and Parker moved up to second and third whilst behind them the pack was being shuffled. Massively. Alt fell to twelth, Angier fell to nineteenth, Salway fell to the back but there was nearly too much happening to get a handle on who was were until the end of the lap. The big winner was Watson-Miller who climbed from twentieth to sixth. The second lap was rather more subdued as drivers settled down. Quarter distance and Williams was a couple of tenths clear of Walker with Parker next from Chidgzey, Coombes and Watson-Miller from Lammin and Harris. Coombes however was carrying a penalty after an early race incident with Alt. Then Coombes became the sinned against as Watson-Miller pushed him wide at the second hairpin to earn himself a penalty.

DSC 0131

Half distance and Williams still held a two tenths advantage from Walker with Watson-Miller running third from Parker and Coombes. A lap later and Watson-Miller was up to second but again he had transgressed pushing Walker out of second at the second hairpin. A lap later and he was at the front. But for penalties it would have been an incredible drive. He would ultimately cross the line in first place some two and a half seconds clear of Williams but his second offence would see him excluded from the results and promoted Williams back into first. Coombes pulled out with three laps to go after an incident with Chidgzey which saw the latter penalised four places at the flag.

DSC 0779

Class 3 podium – Winner Scott Parker, flanked by Richard Neale and Tom Angier

A chaotic race with Williams the winner from Walker. Lammin crossed the line fifth but was promoted to third from Harris and Parker. Then came the penalised Chidgzey from Lindley, Neale, Newton and Cheah.

DSC 0706

B Final Winner – Tim Williams

A Final

(All drivers in C1 unless otherwise noted)

Joe Holmes on pole with Anwar Beroual-Smith alongside followed by Chris Alcock and Richard Allen. Alex Pritchard and Miguel Hall shared row three with C2 Callan Sigafoos and Matt Isherwood on row four. Row five saw Matt Wileman alongside C2 Paul Williams with C2’s Curt Holmes and Darrell Lowe on row six. All the remaining drivers were in C2 unless otherwise noted. Row seven saw Dan Hollinshead alongside Joe Bailey followed by Steve Bosley and Mikey Nichols from Andrew Cherry and SHW Championship leader Bill Taylor. Vijay Patel and Samuel Bensley were on row ten followed but SHW’s Jaques Bridges and Lee Henderson. Simon Lloyd was alongside C2 Mike Bodnar on the penultimate row followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final, C2 Williams and SHW Walker.

DSC 0362

Beroual-Smith indicated prior to the start that with the first corner being the long looping right hander at Stadium then starting third might be preferable to starting second. And so it proved as Holmes led the field away and Beroual-Smith had to run on the outside allowing Alcock and a fast starting Pritchard to tuck in behind Holmes as the field ran down to the first hairpin. Lowe was an early spinner but it was good to see him back racing after a lengthy absence. Two laps run and Holmes remained at the front but significantly he wasn’t getting away from Alcock who had Pritchard right on his bumper. Beroual-Smith remained a few tenths back in fourth with Allen fifth. Already the top five were beginning to pull clear of the chasing pack now headed by Curt Holmes from Miguel Hall.

DSC 0541

Quarter distance and Holmes still led but the gap was down to a tenth as Alcock began to pile on the pressure. Pritchard was just half a second back and coming under pressure from Beroual-Smith and Allen. Hall was up to sixth but almost two seconds back. But it was good to see him having his most competitive drive for some time. Holmes continued to lead but Alcock was keeping him under pressure along with Pritchard. Beroual-Smith remained fourth but had dropped back the result of having to defend repeated attacks from Allen which had slowed them both and allowed Hall and the chasing pack to close in.

DSC 0446

Eighth time around and Alcock went on the attack. At the start of the lap he was just 0.092 adrift of the leader. Holmes held him at bay but into Pylon Alcock saw a gap and went for it. Holmes had to give him room and was seriously compromised on the exit and almost lost out to Pritchard, Beroual-Smith and Allen but he sat firm and held on. Half distance then and Alcock at the front half a second up on Holmes from Pritchard, Beroual-Smith, Allen, Hall, Curt Holmes, leading C2, Wileman and Ishwerwood. The top nine covered by just one point seven seconds. Bosley ran tenth from Williams and Sigafoos in what was turning into a great battle for the C2 podium spots. Ninth time around and Alcock set his quickest lap thus far pulling a few tenths clear of Holmes. Pritchard was just a tenth back whilst Allen nipped by Beroual-smith for fourth. Tenth time around and Pritchard closed in on Holmes as they raced into Stadium. Holmes left some space up the inside and as he ran a touch wide on the exit Pritchard pounced. Holmes had to give way and was then forced to defend from Allen, Beroual-Smith and Hall. He lost momentum badly through the hairpins and both Allen and Hall went by. Beroual-Smith almost made it but Holmes went well to the left on the short straight into Pylon leaving Beroual-Smith with no alternative to back off. All of which allowed Alcock to make a break at the front. But not for long. Once into second Pritchard set about reeling in the leader.

DSC 0577 1

Two thirds distance and Alcock was seven tenths clear but within a lap Pritchard cleaved half a second out of his lead. Allen was over a second back in third but comfortably ahead of Hall from Holmes who had Beroual-Smith in his wheel tracks. Curt Holmes, back in ninth, still led the battle for C2 honours. Lowe was now running second in class having battled his way back after his first lap spin. Three to go and Alcock’s advantage at the front was down to a tenth. Allen remained a lonely third from Hall. Penultimate lap and Pritchard attacked Alcock into Stadium. Alcock didn’t defend too hard and Pritchard slipped by. Alcock fought back into the first hairpin but Pritchard held him at bay. Alcock tried again through Pylon but again Pritchard covered him offf crossing the line at the end of the lap just 0.098 ahead. Game over. Pritchard crossed the line to take the win by just over a tenth. His maiden HW win with Alcock second, his first HW podium, with Allen third. Hall was fourth. Great to see him displaying good form. Joe Holmes was next, well adrift at the flag in what was a disappointing finish. This was a race he badly needed to win to close the gap to Championship leader Beroual-Smith who finished just behind him. But with dropped scores Joe now loses a little ground. He badly needs to win at Llandow at the next round.

Wileman came home seventh from Isherwood with Curt Holmes ninth and winning the C2 class. Lowe was tenth across the line but lost four places after a mid race bump and pass. Bosley was promoted to eleventh and second in class with Williams twelfth and third in class, his first podium for a number of years. Bill Taylor again took the SHW honours with Lee Henderson second from Nickolas Walker. A thrilling race to end the day.

DSC 0941

Class 1 podium – Winner Alex Pritchard flanked by Chris Alcock and Richard Allen

Championship Round Up

Despite finishing behind his Championship rival, Joe Holmes, Anwar Beroual-Smith actually increased his lead over Joe when dropped scores are take into account. This was the first time this year that either of them has failed to stand on the podium. Joe badly needs a win now. Whilst Anwar just needs to keep his head down and continue what he’s doing. It’s heading for thrilling finale. Richard Allen lies third and keeps putting in a string of solid performances. Adam Wright missed Rye but is still fourth whilst Chris Alcock lies fifth after his best HW finish at Rye. For a long time he looked every inch the winner after beating Joe in a straight fight. It was only an inspired drive from Alex Pritchard that kept him off the top step.

DSC 0878
Class 2 podium – Winner Curt Holmes, flanked by Steve Bosley and Paul Williams

Curt Holmes is sixth in the Championship and leads C2 from Mikey Nichols and Steve Lindley whilst C3 is led by Richard Neale from Andrew Hicks and Tom Stalker.

Bill Taylor is twelfth overall and easily out front in the SHW’s. I can’t see anyone preventing him from retaining his crown. Nickolas Walker is second with Lee Henderson third.

DSC 0829

Super Heavyweight Class Podium – Winner Bill Taylor, with Lee Henderson and Nickolas Walker

Reflections

A great days racing at Rye with a number of firsts in both the lightweights and the Heavyweights. We have some great young drivers coming to the fore. Does anyone else think like me that we are seeing the beginnings of a change in the established order?

DSC 0614

See you at Llandow.

Words: Steve Gray
Photography: John Patterson