Joe Holmes 6 for 6, It’s Not 2015 All Over Again? Simon Lloyd hangs on ahead of Jack Bolton

HW Sprint Podium e1461448238454

zP1040094Holmes was fastest, of the fastest (1st) group in Timed Qualifying, the only driver under 53secs, 0.3secs quicker than Luke Hornsby heading group 2 with 53.177secs ahead of Michael Ballinger. James Taylor from a 4year sabbatical (in America) and back home his first priority (I take credit for this) after seeing our social media popping up on his Twitter and Facebook was to get back in a Club100 kart. And as impressive as 10th fastest in Group 1 was it would have only been been 15th fastest in Group 2. James would be handily placed on grid 3 but in the Pre B Final behind Martin Gurnett a regular top 5 A Final driver on his day, on pole and Daren Townsley, no slouch, Ben Benneyworth on the outside of row 2, Liam Hitchen and Paul Williams might make securing a top 4 finish to join the Pre A Final hard work. As it should be. But at least it wasn’t grid 27, and last Dave Price, well someone has to be in impressive entry of 47 for Heavyweights. After practice (in the enduro on the Saturday) and TQ, the muscle memory, if not the karting muscle mass (he was a bit saw from that) but it was coming back Taylor was 2nd end of lap 1 after passing Townsley and he’d move through to lead a lap later, pulling clear, 0.3secs,1.5 the next lap and gone to finish 6.5secs clear. It left a race on for 3 remaining spots and Martin did a solid job of being precise enough to hold Daren at half a second for the duration with assistance of Benneyworth keeping Daren honest, as Ben doubtless did not want to left sitting in 4th place to be shot at. Although Paul Williams had fallen to over 1secs behind in 5th, and the contest looked over for qualification, it was jockeying for grid position for the B Final. Williams was replaced by Liam Hitchen who’d been on the tail of the 3 man group with Paul and Mike Townley. By the time Paul and Mike were involved with each other, Liam was still over a a second down and there were only two laps left and the top 4 was set. And Dave Price? 27th to 12th at halfway to set up a run to a good grid slot for the B Final and the last repechage to the back A Final. But that was hig water for Price as his luck ran out on halfway.

yP1040072So Joe Holmes on pole for the Pre A Final, with Luke Hornsby on the front row, perhaps the Karting Magazine pre season ‘one to watch’ billing from his mate Lee Henderson, wasn’t such a heavy burden after all. Trouble is Joe Holmes… Declan Stansfield moved to 2nd place off his grid 3 but 0.8 off Holmes at the end of lap 1, Hornsby under pressure from Bolton, Michael Ballinger demoted from his P4 start, and a fast starting Lloyd off grid 8. Hornsby failed to get on with it, or was unable, and was replaced by what would have been my pre season ‘one to watch’ Jack Bolton and then Simon Lloyd. Lloyd drove by Bolton, then Stansfield on the next lap. Would it be unfair to suggest ‘Rocket’? Simon was 2.5secs down on the leader ending lap 5 of 14 with Stansield on his bumper, Hornsby proving this writer a bit harsh moving back passed Bolton. At halfway  Daniel French passed Ballinger for 6th but was over 1.3secs down the 4 kart group ahead, a group which Lloyd had begun to gap and leave as a 3. Into the final third of the race Holmes was running in comfortably to win, hard to tell if he was pushing, Lloyd narrowed the margin to 0.7secs by the finish. Behind Stansfield was holding on to 3rd as Hornsby and Bolton were exchanging positions back and forth as they looked for a way by Declan by the time French caught up with them and demoted Hornsby, Jack had only a lap or so to find a way by that would stick for 3rd. It proved not long enough. Hornsby recovered 5th from French on the last lap.

yP1040088After his 5th place in the Pre B, Liam Hitchen had B Final pole, Paul Williams on the outside, Mike Townley and Nick Butler were looking keen and able to replace either of them as one of the two final qualifiers for the main final on row 2. Hitchen got the hole shot, Williams keener to be on his bumper for a run into the 2nd chicane, Liam was having none of that, covered up going in, and Mike Townley made it 3 for the lead into the far hairpin. But feeling frisky, Paul dived in for the lead into the right hander into horseshoe, catching Liam by surprise and unsettling him into Townley who tried to run around the outside around the long left. On the exit Liam struck for the racing short cut over the exit kerb on the right, Mike with just a slight overlap with Liam’s right rear wheel held his ground, Hitchen half spun across his bows and the pair collected an unlucky Kieran Chidgzey on the way to the outside tyre wall. Townley was excluded from the result. But qualifying was gone for all 3. It left Williams a second clear of Nick Butler who had gapped Theodoros Gereoudakis, Adam Brown holding off Andrew Cherry, Peter Harris and a line of karts back to Mark Turner in 12th. Down at the far end again, Williams took a look over his shoulder, to see a 12 kart length lead and must have wondered where the challenge was. It was being pushed off on the exit of the horseshoe.

HW B WinnerBarring a gaffe qualification was there for Paul, Butler edged in a bit and finally on to his bumper on halfway but Gereoudakis had been unable to pick his pace up and was 1.5secs behind in 3rd. And as much as Mark Turner had worked his way to 6th from 23rd he was over 5secs down on 2nd place on to the final lap, Theo finished 3rd, Cherry 0.6 off his bumper, another welcome returnee Peter Harris would be disappointed to be 2secs off his bumper in 5th.

yP1040084As you’ve read victory looked inevitable (it never is) after the start of the A Final and Simon Lloyd did his best to take the fight to Joe Holmes, it’s just there appeared to be no driver quicker over a single lap (at least not in this kart Simon) or as it happened the first 7 laps of the race, by which time Joe was cruising. “Rocket”? I doubt it. Look at the wins! He’d be half a dozen kart lengths clear off the horseshoe, gap to Lloyd, gap to Jack Bolton, who had muscled his way passed Declan Stansfield into the first corner to get 3rd and with Luke Hornsby the made up the same group of 3 that Lloyd had had to clear in the Pre A. Gap again to Daniel French he’d started 7th and had had to pass Michael Ballinger to get 6th and that had left him detached from the group he’d have to work hard to catch. Ballinger would be left holding off Jason Bradbury and that would play into the hands of Pre B Final winner James Taylor moving through from grid 11. After 2 laps the race was in the bag for Holmes, 1.4secs clear. Taylor and Ballinger diced over 7th place and that kept Bradbury in the fight and pulled Ben Cottle, Tom Mackenzie, Ben Benneyworth and Stuart Kirk in, the latter heading unopposed to the SuperHeavyweight trophy.

HW SHWBy the time Taylor had cracked the tough nut that was Ballinger for 7th on lap 6, into the back straight hairpin, James look up the road to find that was as far as he could reasonably expect to go, French, within 0.5secs of Hornsby, was over 4.5secs up it. Lloyd had pegged Bolton at 0.5secs, and the only dice appeared to be Stansfield holding off Hornsby, who was looking, but not pulling (the trigger) into the back straight hairpin, and French was edging in at 0.1secs per lap. Luke needed to **** or get off the pot soon, but Declan was going deep into the braking zones. Lloyd made a mistake somewhere and Bolton picked up the tow. Hornsby ran one down the inside of the back straight hairpin only to find that Declan was going just as far as you could on the brakes, Luke so far in he had to square of the corner well passed and off the apex to get back for the next corner, running out of the infield to the last corner French was side by side with Luke and had the momentum and Stansfield, who’d probably been holding up Hornsby was the carrot for French to chase and pass for 4th on the last lap..

zP1040068Into the closing stages it looked as Bolton might be holding back for a lunge somewhere on the last lap, as Lloyd had not made another mistake. On to the final lap Jack looked inside at the horseshoe as Simon drove a wide kart missing the first apex, that was fine but put Jack hard on his bumper around the left only for Simon to get a great mid range pull, it appeared, to be 2.5 kart lengths clear on to the back straight, too far back for a lunge inside at the hairpin, and possibly too far back for a block pass in the infield and Simon went half a kart width narrow to be sure to cover it off. It left a drag race through the kink in to the last corner, that Simon won, just, rubbing side pods with Jack. Holmes was already over the line.

Round 4 is at Whilton Mill, on 1 May 2016.