It’s a Titan top three
Owen Jenman and Jack O’Neill have pretty much ruled the roost this year. Despite missing a race apiece, the two are still way ahead of the competition at the top of the championship table. Greg Barnard has emerged as the driver most likely to beat them on track in the second half of the season and would surely be looking to take the fight to the Titan team mates. However, with Andrew O’Neill making one of his rare appearances, he would certainly prove to be a great threat.
Qualifying saw another pole for Jack O’Neill. Greg Barnard (who also raced in the morning’s endurance) once again lined up on the front row. Bradley Sheppard – making his first appearance of the year – took third place. Andrew O’Neill was fourth and Owen Jenman completed the top five. A healthy grid of 30 karts took the start at the popular Dorset track.
There was a brief shower just before the race started. Although it had stopped by the time the race started, it left the track wet and slippery. The front row got away cleanly. Eddie Hall made a good start to get from tenth to fifth on the opening lap. He soon got past Greg Barnard for fourth and then proceeded to have a dice with Owen Jenman for third. These two exchanged places for a number of laps before Jenman settled in behind.
Up ahead and the O’Neill brothers were making a break for it. Andrew got past brother jack for the lead on lap 15. They remained nose to tail and were rarely separated by more than a few hundredths of a second.
Further back and Hall was coming under increasing pressure from jenman who was in turn fending off Darri Simms and Chris Brown. Crasher Chris went all out today and picked up a black flag during practice which was impressive even by his standards. He took both Jenman and Hall on lap 25. Simms also got past Hall on the following lap, demoting him to sixth.
Greg Barnard was a couple of seconds further back and looked unusually off colour. Bradley Sheppard was in eighth but picking up a number of contact warnings and penalties. The field slowly spread out over the latter half of the race, although there were a few close battles. Due to the heavyweight class being fully booked, Peter Jankowski entered the lights and did a great job of keeping Lewis Roberts, Tim Ellis, Pat Nicholls, and Ryan Sandall at bay.
The O’Neill’s were continuing to pull away. The quartet of Jenman, Brown, Simms and Hall were losing ground by a few tenths of a second as they squabbled over third. By lap 27 they were nearly ten seconds behind. Jenman and Hall both managed to get back in front of Simms and Brown and pull out a bit of a gap as those two banged wheels. Their intense battle allowed Geoff Saunderson to catch up. He got past them with three laps to go.
At the front, it was a close win for Andrew O’Neill. Jack came home second a mere two hundredths later. Owen Jenman was a distant third with Hall fourth. Darri Simms managed to get Saunderson on the last lap for fifth. Chris Brown’s seventh became 16th after a raft of penalties.
With the Titan team mates locking out the top three positions on the grid, there was an ominous feel. The result was almost a foregone conclusion. Hall was best of the rest in fourth but he was passed (before the start line actually) by Darri Simms. However, Simms lost out later on in the lap after some argy bargy with Greg Barnard and dropped to seventh.
Jenman dispatched Jack O’Neill and it soon became apparent that the latter was struggling for pace compared to his Titan team mates. Greg Barnard and Eddie Hall were also struggling compared to other drivers and both did well to hold on to fourth and fifth for the first quarter of the race.
Simms was on a charge after his first lap skirmish and made a few moves on Hall for fifth. Chris Brown had made up several places and, in a repeat of the first race, a four way battle emerged between Hall, Brown, Simms and Saunderson. Geoff was also having to fend off the rather ungentlemanly attacks from Bradley Sheppard who, despite the black flag being shown for several laps, stayed on the track and attempted to dry hump the poor Saunderson.
By half distance, Andrew O’Neill and Owen Jenman were six seconds ahead of Jack. He was helped by the battle raging on behind which resulted in the drivers slowing each other down. Barnard had fallen into the clutches of Chris Maldonado and Darri Grosjean. There was little he could do and dropped to sixth. Meanwhile, Jack New had got past the struggling Hall for seventh and made short work of the ailing Barnard. His next target was Brown and Simms, which was always going to end in disaster really.
There was a change of leader on lap 39. Jenman took Andrew O’Neill after a well timed move (I mean I’m guessing it was. I was 22 seconds further down the road, wondering where Simms, Brown and New were going to crash into each other).
The inevitable banditry happened on the last lap. Jack New made the mistake of overtaking Brown and was paid back by being torpedoed off the road. Simms managed to avoid being rammed and maintained his position.
Jenman didn’t relinquish the lead and won the race by nine hundredths of a second. Andrew O’Neill still came home a strong second with brother Jack ten seconds down the road in third. Simms won the best of the rest battle and clinched fourth with Barnard fifth and Brown sixth. However, his move on Jack New saw him docked a lap. He was classified 19th as a result. Hall was awarded a two place penalty for apparently exceeding track limits. This would drop him to eighth behind Saunderson and Theodorou.
A win and a second place handed the overall victory to Andrew O’Neill. Owen Jenman finished runner up and Jack O’Neill took third to make it another Titan podium lockout. The question is who will wrap up the title? O’Neill or Jenman?