It’s Jack O’Neill. Finishing the Job.

December 6, 2020
Chris Simpson

‘With no alarms and no surprises’, I don’t know if Radiohead is popular in the O’Neill household but as we reported earlier ‘other than ‘an act of God’ (it’s been one of those years) would be required to prevent Jack O’Neill from wrapping up the championship’ was indeed correct, and by my man maths, with 8 wins and 5 other podiums his lead of 28 or 31 point advantage coming in depending how you sliced off the dropped scores was actually more than enough.

Lightweight Sprint 60 Champion – Jack O’Neill

His lead over Greg Barnard was unassailable, although to be on the safe side, not a due to risk of a natural disaster, but more likely just to share these precious moments, he brought Andy, his rapid brother along to take points off his opposition. And he would. As it was Barnard could, conceivably, though unlikely, be caught for 2nd in the championship by Fraser Brunton, with a double win, but no one else could challenge these 3 for the top 3 trophies in the 2020 championship.

Qualifying

Out of the gate, Kai Crawford set the pace, joined by Jack O’Neill off the back of his morning practice. in E60. On to lap 2, Andy O’Neill, also fresh from their E60 dominance moved to the top with 50.767, the track inching very slowly into what passes for dry at this time of year. Andrew Golby pushed Ryan Sandall off the 2nd row, Greg Barnard moved up and onto the 3rd row. Then Sandall came back with a 51 flat to move on to the front row, Barnard moved into P3 demoting Crawford to P4, Jack O’Neill was joined by Anthony Amato on the 3rd row. Another lap Barnard and Amato moved Sandall off the front row, Golby shifted Jack O’Neill out to row 4, with Euan Clements, with Josh Adams and Mitchell Althasen making up the top of the 36 kart grid. With a minute to go Andy O’Neill finally improved his time to move pole position to 50.245, half a second clear of Barnard, his brother Jack moved back into P3, a very useful starting position for Race 1. When Andy returned to the chequered flag the field was already set, joining Jack O’Neill on row 2 was Anthony Amato, Clements, Golby, Sandall and Adams, Fraser Brunton and Kai Crawford made up the top 10.

Race 1

Andy O’Neill made the most of the start, which favoured pole position, grabbing the best part of a second on Greg Barnard, Amato getting ahead Jack O’Neill and Andrew Golby, Josh Adams and Ryan Sandall moved up at Euan Clements expense. Andy O’Neill was pulling clear at over 0.5secs a lap, while Greg was holding off, possibly holding up Amato. Anthony moved by. Adams had moved straight through Jack O’Neill, in a busy chasing group. Adams was closing on Barnard, while Jack O’Neill was settling into P5.

With the race settling down, and clear track Amato set a new fastest lap of 49.3, half a second quicker than leader O’Neill, 3secs ahead, although Andy returned the favour the next lap to take it down to 48.991, as the track continued to speed up. Two seconds behind Adams cleared Barnard, in a group with Jack O’Neill and Sandall, then another 2secs gap to Brunton, Crawford, Clements and Lewis Roberts.

At the 10min mark, Andy O’Neill had set a new fastest lap of 48.3, he was consistently 3-4 tenths quicker than Amato whose own times had edged down at similar rate, but still now out to 6.5secs, Sandall picked up the tow from Josh Adams to take 3rd, a further 3secs behind, Barnard and O’Neill were hanging on in behind to stay with them, O’Neill passing Greg for 5th, 3secs behind Kai Crawford might be 7th but he’d picked up a overtaking under yellow penalty, in his battle with Brunton.

The progress upfront remained more or less the same through half distance, Andy O’Neill stretching away at 0.4-0.5secs per lap until Andy worked his way into traffic, bringing the lead back to 7secs or so. Adams had not let Sandall get away in 3rd place, and had dropped Barnard away to 6th. But Josh made a mistake possibly in traffic and Jack O’Neill picked up the tow and passed for 4th. Barnard slid back towards Crawford, Clements and Lewis Roberts circulating together, and Brunton in 10th had Althasen, Joe Wright, Matt Collier, Andrew Golby, Tim Ellis and Graziano Malivindi in the line behind Fraser.

With 7mins to go, Andy O’Neill after breaking out of traffic had enjoyed 5-6mins of clear track, and it showed, restoring his lead to 10secs, while Amato was hacking his way through the same traffic, this allowed Sandall to close every time he was bottled up through the Zulu section or around the Boot. With Jack O’Neill not far of, and Josh Adams within a 1.5secs or so, it was tricky and frustrating, O’Neill passed Sandall for 3rd and was straight on to Amato.

Sure enough with 5mins to go O’Neill was through to 2nd place, to set up the O’Neill 1-2. To make matters worse Sandall picked up a bump and pass penalty as he passed Amato in the traffic. And thats how it finished. Andy O’Neill running out victorious by 12.5secs. Sandall finished 3rd on the road but was demoted to 8th, after adding a cone penalty as well, Anthony Amato promoted to 3rd, Adams, then 15secs behind Tim Ellis was 5th, after Barnard’s cone penalty dropped him 6th, Matt Collier, Sandall, Lewis Roberts and Kai Crawford who had passed Barnard for 6th on the road but after his penalties were added he was 10th. Oh what a long penalty list.

Race 2

A busy lap 1, the O’Neill tag team failed to work, Andy O’Neill got clear, fair enough, but Amato got on his bumper, Adams joining the trio to pull out a couple of seconds advantage, Jack O’Neill 4th bringing Barnard and Sandall through, after Ryan’s fast start off P8, passing Tim Ellis. Lap 2 was just as busy, Amato went for the lead, with lunge into Xmas, running Andy wide, and coming away with a bump and pass penalty. Before he could see his penalty at start finish, Amato ran wide in the last corner and Adams led, putting Amato back to 4th with Barnard, Sandall, Tim Ellis, Mitchell Althasen and Kai Crawford.

Amato had plenty of pace though, so soon dropped that group, he moved through Jack O’Neill for 3rd place, to be 2secs behind Andy O’Neill, who in turn was chipping back into Adams, taking Josh’s lead back down to 1secs on 5mins. Within a couple of laps Andy O’Neill moved into the slipstream of the leader, Amato had also broken free of Jack O’Neill who had lost 4th to Sandall, the main pack fighting for 5th then in the hands of Greg Barnard and all the way back to Matt Collier in 11th.

By 10mins the top 3 were back together, Amato setting the fastest lap with 46.877 along the way, picking off Andy O’Neill, then Adams after 5 laps of trying. In the group behind both Jack O’Neill and Greg Barnard had picked up penalties, not that the championship mattered they were both locked in as 1 and 2, and Brunton even having a fairly ordinary run in race 1, and in race 2, up to 7th was 1-2-3 in the championship done.

Passed halfway Sandall closed down the 1sec or so to Andy O’Neill to pick up 3rd place, and to be within 1 second of Amato (remember his penalty) and (the real leader) Adams, traffic was picking up there was every chance of a win for Ryan if he could just pick up the tow and he did, 46.572 to get on Josh’s bumper, but Andy O’Neill would be back through before Ryan could pass. Sandall also picking up a bump and pass penalty of his own. Behind Barnard had fallen away another 12secs to bring through Jack O’Neill, Brunton, Ellis, Crawford and Euan Clements in 10th.

Into the final 10mins, Amato put the hammer down with a 45.913 to break Adams and O’Neill and he was gone, but his penalty was positions (+4) not time. Adams kept O’Neill out of range, more or less depending on traffic, Sandall taking advantage of it move into 3rd place again (but only on the road).

With 3 laps to go, Amato led by 6.5secs, Adams running into more traffic had just a second on Sandall, Andy O’Neill on Ryan’s bumper. Barnard was still holding off Brunton (on the road at least) with the rest of the top 10 spread out to the finish with Crawford, Clements, Roberts and Jack O’Neill cruising into the championship with possibly his worst finish of the season. Under pressure going for the win Adams chanced the limits of the track once too often, picking up a cone penalty in the toe of the boot while passing a back marker. With a penalty for Amato up the road already, Andy O’Neill could lift off and let Adams go, a one place penalty for the cone, and Sandall behind with one of his own. There is a huge list of penalties, so when it was shaken up, Andy O’Neill had won a 2nd race to win the round, Adams securing 2nd for the round, Brunton was promoted from 6th on the road to 3rd, Kai Crawford, the demoted Amato 5th but still 3rd on the round, on his debut, Euan Clements, Sandall, Tim Ellis, Lewis Roberts and Greg Barnard 10th.

Round Winner / Race Winner – Andy O’Neill.

WORDS: Chris Simpson
PHOTOGRAPHY: John Patterson

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