James Small 8th Win Of The Season. 2015 Clubman Champion.

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Pole man Harry Landy made a welcome return to Club100 action and led Heat 1 comfortably out of Stadium however by the time he reached Pylon he had a rapid Andy Cowell, starting rapidly off grid 4, looking for a way by. The pair were 2secs clear of super heavy front row starter Mike Bodnar holding up field off any slow corner. Harsh but true. Neither Landy nor Bodnar looked long for their respective positions, both Cowell and Chris Brown, off grid 10 no less, stepping over from enduro (doubtless for the superb media coverage Sprints provide) struck in Stadium. Bodnar slid backwards through the pack first to Truman, then Rhianna Purcocks and Ed White. Ahead Cowell sloppily missed his braking point for the hairpin to give Landy the lead back temporarily into the 2nd hairpin. There was no doubt if Cowell could tidy up his driving he had the pace to see off Landy but this messing about risked giving Brown a sniff of the lead. Andy passed inside into the hairpin the next lap but that was enough to give Chris a loose tow from Harry into Stadium. It was then a question of when, not if, Brown could take 2nd and would it be soon enough to give him a chance to run down Cowell for the lead. Brown blocked passed Landy into the hairpin on lap 7, but with Cowell 1.2secs up the road, Chris was never going to catch by the end of lap 9 and the finish and made little impression. Behind a second group of 3 had sorted themselves out with Purcocks moving through to 4th ahead of White and Truman, Rhianna probably only needing another run down to Stadium to move through to 3rd, but the chequered flag saved Landy. James Small had moved through 18th on the 21 driver grid, to run out best of the rest with 7th.
C100Rye-7479Tyler Mays converted pole position to the lead in Heat 2, I can imagine Endean perhaps starting to feel a sinking feeling as he suffered a bout of the troublesome grid 2s emerging behind his nemesis Small off grid 4 out of Stadium at the start, but also behind David Longman and Stuart Osborne, 2nd and 3rd. There may have been some consolation when he’d see Small’s advantage by contact penalty flash up on RoboMick later but this was still not in his Rye script. Longman pressed Mays for the lead, as Small pressed Osborne for 3rd, running Stuart out wide off the hairpin on lap 2 to allow Russell to sneak through to 4th and stay in touch with James. Or maybe not as Small dived up the inside into 2nd apex of Pylon to clear Longman for 2nd but again clever race craft from Russell meant he knew how to capitalise on that to squeeze by Longman for 3rd into Stadium. With Mays aware of Small and was becoming progressively more defensive.Tyler had held off one move into the hairpin, had covered up into Stadium, to go very narrow into the first hairpin, Small in behind Tyler, Russell dived for the apex to run down to the next hairpin side by side with James. Into Pylon James had 2nd place back, Mays got a breather, unfortunately all the dicing had invited Danny Hurlock to take a run into Pylon with Endean and to have 3rd coming back towards the pits, and the attention of Chris Brown, coming up from 12th on the grid this time, to make it hard for Russell again. Two steps forward, two steps back. On to lap 7, Mays attempted his defence into the hairpin again but with Endean not close enough to help this time, Small was able to exit faster to tip in over the top into the next hairpin. He was clear to the finish to find he was demoted 5th with his penalty. The Mays, Brown, Endean, Hurlock, Ed White dice rattled on to the last lap, Brown forced a pass in Pylon, exiting side by side with Tyler, they entered the last corner with Tyler on the outside. I say on the outside but he squeezed Chris so much to the inside into the corner that both were forced to run wide to make the turn at all, Russell slipped through underneath on the exit for a distant 2nd, soon to be win with James’ penalty. Tyler shook a disapproving hand at Brown ahead and Ed White out dragged him to the line.

C100Rye2-7334Points from the heats decided the grid for the Pre Final and not surprisingly, given his surprising pace, Chris Brown had comfortably made most progress in the heats and made the most of pole position to lead off ahead of Clubman debutant Ed White and out of Stadium. Not so White, he suffered from being on the outside of the front row, as ever, and Rhianna Purcocks off grid 3 was 2nd into the hairpin, Small off grid 5 beat Endean off grid 3 to hairpin 1 apex for 3rd. Behind Harry Landy, Tyler Mays, White was overtaken by Justin Buck to the inside and collected by Andy Cowell and Danny Hurlock, the latter just back from a bounce down the grass, Ed White’s Pre Final was over at hairpin 1. Hurlock dropped to the back of the field but kept running only to pass Cowell, who had run side by side with David Longman into Pylon, only for David to appear to lose control and collect Andy and leave Stephen Townsend nowhere to go. Frantic stuff and a lot of finals ruined within half a lap, in a 14 lap final. Just saying. Brown and Purcocks were clear, Endean brought the field through ahead of Small, Landy, Mays and Buck making up the top 7, as Barrs struggled to go with them. Brown edged out into a fragile lead, as Endean towing Small, initially edged closer to Purcocks but as Small began to press and Russell defended the gap opened up to Rhianna again and Landy and Mays joined to make a more defined 4 way battle for 3rd, Buck dropping off the pace and the back of the group. On halfway a run through Stadium helped Russell pull clear and pushed James back into a dice with Landy and Mays. It gave Russell a chance to concentrate on running Rhianna down, and he was soon closing on 2nd place emerging ahead from Stadium. Purcocks would dive back in at the hairpin and was side by side with Russell all the way into Pylon, Russell had the high ground on the insde for the right hander and got the position, but the time they had lost had allowed Small to pull back to Rhianna’s bumper to be looking for a way by to get back to Endean for the remainder of the race. With no hindrances Chris Brown had built a 1.5secs lead, which he would use cruise into the finish, Endean would have enough to keep his championship going with 2nd place, Purcocks never looked back and never gave Small a mistake, although perhaps James had calculated 4th was good enough for him in terms of points, Landy and Mays made up the top 6.

C100Rye-7664Fastest Lap times decided the Final grid as normal, a tow up to and from Rhianna Purcocks mid Pre Final gave Endean pole position ahead of Ed White, who’d used his lonely pre final productively for grid 2 (again, different story, same result however), Small and Purcocks on row 2 and thats how they ran into hairpin 1. Endean covered to the inside to hold off White but forced him to run out wide and slow to give Ed the lead, Small, Purcocks running Ed Barrs wide off the corner. Brown made heavy contact with Landy, Cowell already crossed up running into the corner ran on and possibly straightened Landy up. Barrs had taken to the escape road off the hairpin but kept his foot hard in and arrived at Pylon ahead of Purcocks (surely a penalty for gaining an advantage outside of track limits?) Rhianna side by side with Brown clumsily rubbing side pods to allow Cowell through to 5th. The front of the race was broken open with half second gaps between the top 5, then a top 6 or 7, to make picking a winner (based on pace) much easier. It wouldn’t be Brown in 6th by lap 4 Hurlock was pressing for a way by, he moved through and pulled clear. It wouldn’t be White, slowing out of the Stadium, he’d pull out of Endean and Small’s way off the hairpin and was heading for retirement. This left Endean and Small going man o a mano over the lead and perhaps to some extent the championship. Barrs was running 2secs off the leaders but comfortably clear of Andy Cowell. Russell fended off James into Pylon, if they carried on then Barrs would be soon back in play and so it was. They were a trio the next lap, and perhaps this added complication was just enough to let James grab the lead off hairpin 2, Russell chased hard into Pylon, perhaps knowing that if he let him get away he’d be gone. There was nowhere a pass and no contact, but Russell was in deep and lost momentum giving James a couple of kart lengths that Russell struggled to close anywhere he could pass, only into Pylon did he get near, then James edged clear and Russell became preoccupied with holding off Ed Barrs into the closing laps. Behind them Cowell had pegged the pair at a second, Hurlock was edging closer, Brown heading for 6th, Daniel Truman had broken clear of a dice with Paul Crawford, Purcocks and Osborne and that trio, still together, made up the bottom of the top ten on to the last lap. Russell went narrow into the hairpin, Barrs got him on the exit and this invited in an attack from Cowell into Pylon, the rest you know from the introduction. I’m sure Russell doesn’t want me to rake over it again. It’s been a great season nonetheless in Clubmans, with some great racing thats been good watch and a privilege to report on.

The final stop is Buckmore Park on 21 November.