Tim Hill Keeps It Up For 12mins But Young Joe Holmes Makes It 4 wins In 4 Starts.

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Qualifying Group 2 had marginally better weather Joe Holmes topping the time sheets with 42.965secs, 0.5secs ahead of James Browning and Mike Townley, Group 1 had headed over qualifying with Steve Bosley 0.9secs slower than Holmes (ultimately_ with 43.971. Some controversy post event on Club100’s forum about whether the wet weather rules ought to have been invoked. They were not.

C100R2-0960That left a few surprises in the Pre B Final and some ‘faces’ that would need to be climbed over in once again wet conditions if qualification was to be made. Ben Cottle was on pole position ahead of normally a top 5 runner (but serial poor qualifier) Daniel French, Roger Davis and Mike Bodnar, and Welsh Karting Legend (ironic use) Andy Gould. Another heavy front runner, more miss than hit lately Julian Clist on row 3. Returning after a (Club100) career break Peter Harris made a great start off grid 7 to be 2nd just off French’s bumper at the end of lap 1. Cottle gamely trying to hold off Bodnar and Clist to stay in the qualifying top 4 for the Pre A. He would. Gould was rusty and out by the end of lap 3, Cottle lost out to Bodnar but would hold Clist then edge clear. Bodnar was in fine form, and thrown by the uneven qualifying to the Pre B, eventually dropping Harris before running down French in the closing stages. By which time everyone behind was as busy trying to stay upright on the greasy wet track as they were in any position to make moves on qualifying. Bodnar edged French out at the finish, not much bragging rights there, for a pair who ought to have qualified directly. Harris, in Super Heavy, had remembered what hadn’t lost in his sojourn finishing 2.5secs off in 3rd place, a further 2secs clear of Cottle. Jason Bradbury had made a late move on Clist for 5th, but his hopes of getting in via a penalty ahead were not going to come to pass he’d just have to do it himself in the B Final. Some notable misses, 2015 Super Heavy champion Stuart Kirk 10th, and very nearly an A Final winner last season Eric Mignon, only 18th! In the Pre B?!

C100R2-1262Victory was settled pretty quick in the Pre A Final with Holmes converting the hole shot and going out hard, well as hard as you dare, as the competition fought just as hard partly with the conditions and as much with themselves. Joe was 2.5secs clear ending lap 1, Browning on grid 2 had lost out, as you almost expect, to grid 3, Mike Townley. Bolton held his own, as did Stuart Gough, but on to grid 6 Michael Ballinger and beyond it was hard going and driving, Ballinger, Martin Gurnett, Chris Murray and Mark Turner off the road or recovering from one thing or another. While coming the other way was Liam Hitchen demoting Bolton from 4th place on lap 2, followed a lap or so later by Tim Hill, he’d eventually catch up with Hitchen after half way and after they taken turns to swallow Browning, James would be left to finish 5th at the end of 13 laps as the track started to dry, and just in time. Mike Bodnar had had a storming run from grid 21 to be within 0.8secs of James at the finish. This sounds impressive, and it is, but this was over 20secs behind race winner Holmes. After Hill passed Hitchen for 3rd on lap 11, he found himself only 0.3secs behind 2nd place Mike Townley, who was himself had 15secs grow to Holmes. It had been close everywhere but upfront, and there was only time for Hill to take 2nd place on the penultimate lap. 17secs behind Holmes, Tim probably needed to someone to tell him he wasn’t the winner, that Joe already parked up and left to dry off, when he pulled into pit lane. The good news was Hill and Holmes were half a second quicker than the entire field. Now if only the weather and track would stay that way.

C100R2-0248Jason Bradbury had missed out earlier to have the privilege of B Final pole ahead of Clist in the chase for the last 2 qualifying berths for the A Final, Paul Goddard off grid 3 had got enough of his kart inside into Stadium to stop Julian for pinching the door closed on turn in, then Paul had the short inside route, and perhaps more grip on the very near dry track, that Julian would have to settle into 3rd and hold off Stuart Kirk, Nick Butler, Andrew Cherry into the hairpin, that left Goddard making a run for it after Bradbury while Clist made 3rd his own. Then it became a foot race, or just about race pace, and not tripping over a puddle pulled on from the gutter or the run off on to the racing line. Goddard’s advantage was short lived, and Clist dragged Kirk and Butler into the fight, Kirk running around the outside of Stadium to pass Julian before throwing down inside of Paul into the hairpin. It didn’t work and Paul was back out to a few kart lengths again allowing Michael Jungling, Andrew Cherry, Thomas Caen, Rob Moore to feel they may yet have a chance of qualifying. They would be disappointed. There was only one spot left as Bradbury was 4secs up the road by lap 6. Butler was closing in on Goddard with Kirk and Clist the other players, leaving Jungling fighting off Thomas Caen, and the rest of the field strung out behind Cherry. Ordinarily I’d have put my money on Clist for the 2nd spot at the finish but he was hanging on, and perhaps out of sorts, on the tail of the group, Butler nearly took out Goddard and that let Kirk through inside of the exit of Stadium. Into the final third of the race I hadn’t been (sorry) convinced by Goddard from the get go, and I also find Stuart Kirk very determined, as I guess you must be as a SuperHeavy with the disadvantage of the ballast. So it was Kirk went through pretty unopposed and pulled into a comfortable 2nd place, 6.7secs behind Bradbury at the finish.

C100R2-1875Holmes and Hill had the front row for A Final, and after a surprisingly clean start the pair pulled clear off hairpin 1, Holmes had been on tip toes, middle of the road around Stadium, while Hill took the karting line wide outside of Stadium, honours even coming off the corner, Stansfield, Townley, Darvill and Hitchen had fanned inside of Hill, but Tim was the first to find traction. A lap later, Darvill bravely out braked Stansfield into Stadium, and it was a proper brake in the conditions, down at the hairpin Hill grabbed the lead inside and set about throwing his weight (about his kart, it’s a karting thing) to pull a few kart lengths clear of Holmes, Darvill and Stansfield. Peter Harris made a great start apparently off grid 17, looks more like 11th on the timing system, I could be wrong. We lost Mike Townley off grid 3 on lap 1, he’d been clipped in the rear corner as paths crossed, perhaps courses crossed, such was the standing water, and like super tankers, courses were not easy to change. Paul Williams fell into Mike’s mess and Christopher Murray went missing somewhere as well, all whom might have been able to push for top 3, under different circumstances, but survival in the rain, is part of the game, and the field stretched accordingly and the grandstand waited for more people to fall off. Stansfield and Harris fell away into their own fight over 4th place, Simon Lloyd had briefly had 5th, but he would have to be content with Hitchen’s bumper with Mike Bodnar and Dan French. James Browning brought the rest of the field through but 13secs off the leader they would be also rans to the main show. Hill edged out to 2.5secs over Holmes and Darvill by half distance, Tim drawing on his vast knowledge of wet races over the years, more than anyone in the club, while Holmes adjusted to the unique slicks on puddles style of Club100. It is just how we roll. Joe’s a fast learner. It was all going swimmingly for Hill until lap 7, his lead was out to 3.6secs but then Holmes shook off Darvill, and the gap started to close, aided by errant backmarkers to be fair, 0.8secs, 1secs, 0.4secs were chipped out, the rain eased off, even the sun tried to poke through. Still with 2 laps to go, it was still 1.5secs. Perhaps Hill was in safety first mode almost in sight of the chequered flag. It was 0.6secs coming on to the final lap and Hill had been held up by another back marker so Holmes was on to his bumper into Stadium, Hill after compromising on his line into Stadium to pass the backmarker inside was powerless to stop Joe taking a slightly different course underneath him on the exit to lead. Tim fired straight back, as you’d expect, down the inside into hairpin 1, only for Joe to do the same into hairpin 2, if they kept this up, Darvill might profit from the pair taking each other out or jump one of them in the final complex of Pylon and the Paddock corner, Hill went in hard, and possibly deep (into a puddle), Holmes emerged victorious. A cracking race under the circumstances, its good to see Tim thwarted, he carries it well. With good grace and humour. Practice I guess. Peter Harris took 2secs out of the leading duo on the last lap to still finish a distant 4th, as leading Super Heavy, Stuart Kirk might have some tough competition for his title if Peter is back for the year. I hope so. Mike Bodnar held off Daniel French, Declan Stansfield faded like Lloyd and Hitchen behind him, and Stuart Gough rounded out the top ten.

And you can watch it here https://www.facebook.com/Club100Racing/videos

Round 3 is a Lydd, on 17 April 2016.