Jenman sets ominous precedent
Owen Jenman wins the season opener. Will Newman be back? Will O’Neill?
The second year of the Lightweight SP60 championship saw a bumper grid of 35 karts. It looks as though the top runners will remain largely the same with Owen Jenman, Greg Barnard and probably Jack O’Neill (when he’s not jet setting around the globe) again being the drivers to beat. Eddie Hall will probably continue to be there when the top three have a bad day – assuming he can shed a few kilos and does actually compete in more races this year. The jury is out.
Qualifying went as expected. Owen Jenman claimed pole position and a late entry in the form of top enduro racer Rob Newman lined up alongside him. A great effort saw Chris Powell post the third fastest time ahead of the impressive newcomer, young Fraser Brunton. It makes one feel quite old seeing these young lads who weren’t even born when I started racing in Club100. I can’t imagine what Tim Hill feels like…
Anyway, Daryl Snelling and Greg Barnard made up row three. Notable names not having such a good run included Mike Philippou in ninth, Eddie Hall in twelfth and Ryan Sandall in fourteenth.
Jenman made a good start from pole and built up a second lead on the opening lap. Newman held station in second but Fraser Brinton passed Powell to slot into third. Eddie Hall made a good start from twelfth and was up to ninth before the end of the first lap.
Powell lost another two places on the second lap to Greg Barnard and Daryl Snelling. Hall made up another place to move up to eighth and this became seventh the following lap at the expense of Tim Ellis. The following lap he took fourth by passing both Powell and Snelling.
The next few laps saw little change in the running order. Newman was reeling Jenman in and had the gap down to a few hundredths of a second. He made his move on lap eleven and took the lead. Over the next few laps he extended his lead slightly to just under a second. These two had pulled out a huge gap to third placed Brunton who had Barnard all over the back of him. An impressively mature drive saw the young charger hold off the advances of Barnard for lap after lap. Their duelling allowed Hall to close the gap and, when traffic came into play, Bruntoin managed to pull a gap to Barnard who now had Hall to contend with.
There was a bit of action going on further behind. Although Chris Powell was having a lonely race in sixth, behind him Nicholas Evans was under attack from Ben Leslie, Tim Ellis, Daryl Snelling and Ryan Sandall. There was quite a lot of jockeying for position here while further up the road Hall was now all over the back of Barnard.
Back with the leaders and Jenman took the lead back on lap 36 but Newman gained back the advantage two laps later. This dice was exciting, as was the battle a few seconds back; Hall getting past Barnard on the penultimate lap but Barnard pulling off a good move to take third place back on the last lap.
The leaders came into the last lap nose to tail. Newman just managed to hold the advantage to take the ein from Jenman by eight hundredths of a second. A great drive from Fraser Brunton saw him claim third ahead of Barnard and Hall. Unfortunately for Brunton, he picked up a two place penalty for exceeding track limits and was demoted to fifth. This moved Barnard to third and Hall to fourth.
Newman made good use of his pole position to lead Jenman round the opening lap. Barnard maintained third whilst behind this trio, hall and Brunton were embroiled in a close battle for fourth. This allowed the top three to pull away slightly.
Barnard was on form in the opening laps and took second on lap two. He made a great move for the lead the following lap and made it stick. Meanwhile, lap five saw Brunton take Hall and set about catching the leaders. Hall, clearly struggling with bottom end, couldn’t quite keep pace and fell into the clutches of the flying Ryan Sandall.
The top three were enjoying an extremely close battle. Newman retook the lead on lap nine but couldn’t relax as Jenman and Barnard were right on his case. They were soon joined by the flying Brunton and the equally rapid looking Ryan Sandall.
Jenman dived down the inside of Newman to take the lead on lap 16 and Ryan Sandall took fourth from Brunton a few laps later. By this stage the leading train of karts had spread out to around a second per kart. Jenman led from Newman, from Barnard, Sandall, Brunton, hall and Powell. The latter briefly got past Hall on lap 27 but then faded away.
Further down the order and there was a good dice going on between Lewis Roberts and David Hamer. There were a few other close battles but all eyes were on the front.
Jenman had extended his lead to over six seconds from Newman. He had, in turn, pulled out nearly two seconds of Greg barnard who now had Ryan Sandall to contend with. Young Fraser Brunton had fallen away somewhat and had again picked up a penalty for multiple contact.
Jenman won by quite a large margin in the end ahead of Newman. Traffic allowed Barnard to extend the gap to Sandall and claim third position. Brunton finished fifth on the road but would drop a couple of places and promote Hall.
With a win and a second place each, Jenman and Newman tied for points. It therefore came down to the fastest lap. It was Jenman who took that honour by barely a hundredth of a second. Painful! Two third places gave Barnard an easy third place overall, ahead of Hall and Brunton.
I feel it’s worth giving a special mention to Fraser Brunton here. Not only was fifth place in his first Club100 race an impressive feat, it would have been higher had it not been for his penalties. That small rookie mistake aside, he was quick, consistent and proved to be a very fair and courteous driver. When I lined up alongside him on the grid for race two, I was a bit wary because a lot of these young lads tend to be overly aggressive and unpredictable. He was extremely clean and fair and showed a huge amount of maturity in both races – even taking his penalties on the chin. I expect him to be regularly challenging for regular podiums and maybe even a few wins by the end of the season.
Photo courtesy of John Patterson