Joe Holmes Picks Up Where He Left Off. Volpe Returns to C2 Win

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Bright sunshine and a stiff breeze greeted the competitors for the first Sprint Round of the season. It was cold too but the day promised to get warmer. A late start to the season and a different venue for the opening round. Normally it’s Buckmore in the cold and damp of February. Enough has been said about the Buckmore situation. Personally I hope it gets sorted and the track returns to the calendar. But in the meantime it’s time to go racing! CLUB100 is Go! Go! GO! Thank you Murray. You were a diamond.

The Road to the Finals.

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Adam Wright got his season off to a fine start taking the win in the first heat. After starting from grid seven he was at the front after two laps and never threatened. C2 driver Harry Melvin came home second driving extremely well to hold off third placed, and one of the pre season title favourites,  Anwar Beroual-Smith for almost half the heat. Anwar almost got Harry on the line missing out by just 0.003 or just a few inches! Sean Brierley and Steve Bosley, looking resplendent in his new bright blue overalls, completed the top five.

C2 driver Bob Parfoot crossed the line first after Heat Two but he’d clipped pole sitter Kieran Chidzgey as he went by and was demoted to fifth promoting Jonathan Elliott to the win after a last lap pass on Miguel Hall. Mikey Nicholls took third after a strong drive up from grid twelve whilst Steve Downes placed fourth after an eventful run. Starting tenth he was up to second three laps in only to drop back to eighth before moving back up. Never a dull moment with Mr.Downes around.

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Matt Wileman laid the foundation for a great day with a strong drive in Heat Three to take the win from the veteran CLUB100 mainstay, former HW Champion and C2(?) driver Tim Hill. A returning Mark Ridout came home third after starting from the front row whilst reigning Champion Joe Holmes could only manage fourth after starting from grid fifteen.  Only? Well, it is Joe…

The new slimline Alex Pritchard took a fine win in the fourth heat but Jordan Salter made him work for it. Rory Severn led the opening laps before spinning away his chances. He would also lose two places after a jumped start. Pritchard took over at the front and kept Salter at bay taking the win by just over a tenth. Reigning SHW Champion Richard Allen, now racing in C2, claimed third after fighting his way up from grid twelve with Tom Fuller and Stuart Jones fourth and fifth respectively.

The fifth heat of the day produced a cracker. Anthony Ridd led the opening laps from pole ahead of SHW Bradley Parrett with Dan Giles third. With three laps run Parrett took over at the front from Ridd with Bill Taylor up to third after starting from grid seven. Penultimate lap and Ridd was just 0.081 adrift as they started the last tour. Ridd made his move and Parrett defended hard but lost momentum and Taylor nipped by into second and immediately put Ridd under pressure through the final turns. But Ridd hung on by just 0.074 with Parrett a tenth back in third from Wayne Dunham and Simon Kavanagh.

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Heat Six saw Joe Holmes claim his first win of the day after a hard fought battle with Richard Allen. Holmes led by the end of the first lap after starting from the second row with Allen second after starting from row three. Three laps in though and Allen was at the front before Holmes fought back into the lead. And there he stayed but Allen kept with him. Start of the seventh lap and he was alongside as they went down the start and finish straight but Holmes hung on and Allen dropped back. Thereafter Holmes began to eke out a gap eventually crossing the line a second up. Allen crossed the line second only to be demoted four places after hitting  Oliver Moss on the first lap.  Despite Moss coming to his aid there are no appeals in the heats and the penalty stood. With Allen demoted Darren Townsley took second with Moss third, Wileman fourth after storming up from grid fifteen. More valuable points for the inform Wileman. Stuart Jones took fifth.

Anwar Beroual-Smith took a comfortable win in Heat Seven finishing over nine seconds clear of second placed Sean Brierley. Gary Miller ran second for most of the race but spun Steve Bosley out two from home costing them both valuable points and handing third to Francesco Volpe. Great to see Francesco back in CLUB100 after several seasons away. Miguel Hall and Tim Williams took fourth and fifth.

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Chris Dixon took Heat Eight after a race long duel with Dave Pethers. Steve Lindley kept in touch in third but was just a second back. These three ran well clear of fourth placed Lewis Ridd but whilst Dixon took the win both Pethers and Lindley had clipped cones dropping them to third and fourth behind Ridd with Elliott fifth.

Adam Wright took his second win of the day in Heat Nine after a hard fought three way battle with Steve Downes and Oliver Moss. Downes led the opening laps before Wright slipped by. Wrights lead lasted just a lap before Downes fought back after almost being taken by Moss. Last lap and both Downes and Moss closed in on Wright but he held on to take the win by 0.077 with Moss just 0.024 back from Downes. Wright would line up fourth on the A Final grid.

Matt Wileman led the opening lap in Heat Ten but Joe Holmes was working his way up from grid six and took over at the front just after half distance. These two pulled themselves clear of third placed Mike Bodnar who was himself well clear of fourth placed Lewis Ridd with Matt Horgan fifth. But would his second win of the day be good enough to Holmes on pole for the A Final.   

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The penultimate Heat resulted in a superb win for Fran Volpe. Starting from pole alongside Stuart Jones he was never headed taking the win by over three seconds from Jones who finished a comfortable second ahead of Richard Allen with Tom Fuller fourth from Paul Williams.

The final heat resulted in another win for Anwar Beroual-Smith. He had to work hard over the opening laps to haul himself up from grid eight but once at the front he pulled clear and took the win ahead of early leader Alex Pritchard. Anwar’s win was enough to give him pole. Miguel Hall took third after driving through the order from grid eleven. Poleman Lennie Wood claimed fourth with Simon Kavanagh fifth.

The Finals

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C Final

C3 driver Elliott Garnett on pole from C2 driver Rob Adlam with C3 driver Thys Paine on row two from experienced campaigner and C2 driver Mark Appleton. Two C3’S next, Mathew Batter and Luke Philips followed by C2 Vijay Patel and C3 Jason Mummery. Row five saw the first of the SHW’s Kieran Chidgzey alongside C3 Samuel Bensley. Row six saw two C3’s side by side, Max Jameson and Andy Berry. Row seven was occupied by two C2’s, Elliot Mewse and Steve Lindley followed by two SHW’S, Peter Clarke and Vinod Harani.  C3 driver Martyn Robinson shared row nine with another C3 competitor Chris Solomon. C3 David Wilson occupied row ten alongside C2 Wayne Dunham followed by C3 Jason Small and SHW Paul Jameson whilst the penultimate row saw C3 Bradley Porter alongside C2 Alexander Lammin who had had a torrid time in the heats suffering an exclusion for an unsafe release. Jason bear was the final runner after Chris Kirk, Gary Miller and James Taylor all pulled out of the event. Four to qualify for the B Final and a trophy for the winner.

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Garnett led the field away with Adlam slotting into second. Paine spun to the back of the pack whilst Philips vaulted up to third ahead of Appleton and Batter. Down the order Lammin was on the move making up ten places on the first lap. For the first couple of laps it was as you were at the front but it was getting a touch fraught and in the space of a lap Batter went from fifth to first only to fall back to fourth a lap later allowing Philips to take over at the front from a recovering Garnett.  Jameson was briefly up to third before falling back to ninth over the course of a lap. And coming rapidly up the order was Lammin. With five laps run he was keeping out of trouble and moved up to fourth. Six run and Philips still led with Garnett second from the flying Lammin. Mewse was up to fourth but he’d hit Appleton on his way by and was hit with a four place penalty leaving him with no chance of a further race in the B Final. Lindley was making his way up the order too. After starting fourteenth he was up to seventh after a lap only to drop back to thirteenth a lap later. But he quickly regained his composure and was soon working his way back up the order. With seven run he was back up to fifth.  

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In the space of a lap it all changed at the front as Lammin slipped by both Philips and Garnett. Mewse went with him to run a penalised second whilst Garnett moved back into third ahead of Philips with Lindley next from Adlam. Once at the front Lammin immediately began to pull clear of the chasing pack still headed by Mewse from Garnet, Philips and a rapidly closing Lindley. Lindley seized his opportunity and swept by Philips and Garnett. Adlam went with him to occupy the final qualifying spot. And running just outside the top six was Bear who had started dead last. His progress hadn’t been as startling as Lammin’s but he was clearly going to be a threat. With three to go Lammin was over two seconds clear at the front with Mewse running second but unless he could get his penalty overturned he was out of the running. Lindley was a second back with Adlam fourth and holding off the challenge from Philips and Garnett who now had Bear right on their tails, Penultimate lap and the top seven remained the same but Bear was almost alongside Garnett as they started the final lap. He went by but sixth was as good as it was going to get.

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C Final Winner – Alexander Lammin

Lammin took the win with Mewse crossing the line next but penalised down to sixth promoting Lindley to second. Adlam was next over the line but the drama wasn’t over. He too had been penalised for his move on Batter and dropped to eighth handing the final two qualifying spots to Philips and Bear. With respect to others both Lammin’s and Bears drives were quite remarkable.

B Final     

C2 runner Mike Bodnar on pole sharing the front row with SHW Richard Newton. Row two saw SHW Bradley Parrett alongside C1 Jon Watkins. Another driver returning to the series after a few seasons out.  Row three saw two C2’s, Matt Horgan and George Hatto with C2 Simon Kavanagh alongside SHW Andrew Cherry on row four. Four C2’S on the next two rows, Jordan Salter, Lennie Wood, Steve Bosley and Martin O’Neill. Row seven saw SHW Lee Henderson alongside C1 Chris Dixon. The next six were all C2’s, Rory Severn, Kevin Coombes, Dan Giles, Tim Williams, Richard Masterson and Mikey Nichols. C2 Darren Townsley lined up alongside the first of two C3’s in the race Daniel Hollinshead followed by the four qualifiers from the C Final, Lammin, Lindley, Philips and Bear. Top two to qualify for the A Final and a trophy for the winner.

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Bodnar led the pack away but both Newton and Hatto spun out. Parrett took full advantage to head the pack chased by Horgan and Bodnar. Kavanagh was next up with Watkins right on his rear bumper. Two laps down and Horgan took over at the front from Parrett whilst Kavanagh slipped into third ahead of Bodnar, Watkins, Salter, Wood and Dixon. A lap later both Wood and Dixon were out of the running after they both spun after contact. Dixon was judged the aggressor and suffering the inevitable six place penalty. Not much consolation for luckless Wood. A lap later and Bosley’s chances of a good result also ended as he spun out defending seventh. Horgan continued to stretch his advantage at the front whilst Parrett was defending hard from Kavanagh. Watkins slipped by Bodnar for fourth but had some work to do to catch the front three. 

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Half distance and Horgan was running almost two and a half seconds clear as Parrett continued to defend from Kavanagh and Watkins. Bodnar remained fifth but was being dropped. Over the line for the start of the tenth tour and Kavanagh was alongside Parrett over the start and finish line. Kavanagh made it through but Parrett hit back. Literally. Kavanagh spun out. Parrett lost momentum and Watkins nipped by into second but was over three seconds adrift of the leader. Parrett hung on to third but would receive the inevitable penalty. Salter nipped by Bodnar who Had Nichols right with him whilst Lindley was up to seventh after starting on the penultimate row. Horgan continued to lead but Watkins was flying, moving clear of Parrett and homing in on the leader. Salter and Bodnar remained fourth and fifth. Two thirds distance and Watkins had the gap to the leader down to just under two seconds whilst Salter went by Parrett for third. Horgan spotted Watkins closing and upped his pace setting his best lap time thirteenth time around. But Watkins went quicker by a couple of tenths. But it needed more. 

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With four to go Horgan was a second clear. Salter remained third but out of contention almost five seconds back from Watkins whilst Nichols had got by both Parrett and Bodnar.  Fifteenth time around and Watkins dug deep setting his best time and getting ever closer to the leader. Last lap and Watkins was almost on the leader’s bumper. But Horgan wasn’t done. His last lap turned out to be his quickest. But still Watkins bettered his time. But it wasn’t enough.

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Class 3 Winner – Luke Phillips

Horgan hung on by just 0.078 as they crossed the line. Epic drives from them both. Salter came home third ahead of Nichols followed by Parrett who fell to eleventh after his penalty promoting Bodnar to fifth. Lindley was next across the line but he had a four place penalty which dropped him to tenth and promote Williams to sixth. O’Neill and Severn completed the top ten.

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B Final Winner – Matt Horgan

A Final

(Unless so noted all the drivers in the A Final were C1’s)

Pole for Anwar Beroual-Smith with Joe Holmes alongside followed Matt Wileman and Adam Wright on row two. Row three saw the on form C2 Alex Pritchard alongside Miguel Hall followed by C2 Fran Volpe, great performance from him, and Stuart Jones. Oliver Moss lined up on row five alongside the reigning SHW Champion but now C2 runner Richard Allen. Sean Brierley and Lewis Ridd occupied row six followed by two C2’s Jonathan Elliott and Anthony Ridd. Mark Ridout shared row eight with C2 Tim Hill. With the one and only SHW in the race Bill Taylor alongside Steve Downes on row nine. The next six were all C2’s. Harry Melvin, Dave Pethers, Tom Fuller, Stephen Netting, Bob Parfoot and Paul Williams followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final, C2 Horgan and Watkins.

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Beroual-Smith led away from the line whilst Wileman got the jump on Holmes to move up to second with Wright fourth from a sharp starting Volpe. Allen too was quickly away moving into sixth. Two run and Beroual-Smith still led but Holmes was up to second and closing. By the end of the lap he was at the front crossing the line just 0.067 ahead. He was a length up by the first turn and almost half a second up by the end of the lap. Beroual-Smith continued in second with Wileman right with him. With six run he crossed the line just 0.076 ahead. Next time around they both recorded the exact same time. Next time around and Beroual-smith increased the gap by just 0.002! But a lap later Wileman was in front. Beroual-Smith lost a little time defending and Wright closed in. Volpe was running fifth but some four seconds back with Brierley next a couple of seconds back from Volpe. Allen was gone from the fray courtesy of an over ambitious move from Jones who was running seventh but carrying the inevitable penalty. Hill was eighth from Hall and Pritchard. Holmes continued to pull away at the front whilst Wileman was looking comfortable in second ahead of Beroual-Smith. Wright was still in the hunt, only a couple of tenths back but never quite close enough to attack Beroual-Smith. 

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With four to go Brierley found a way by the tiring Volpe for fifth. And that was how it remained to the flag. Holmes crossed the line over five seconds clear to notch up another win. Can anyone stop the flying Yorkshireman? Wileman claimed second, his first podium after a brilliant performance whilst Beroual-Smith kept Wright at bay by just a tenth to take the final podium spot. Brierley was fifth some six seconds back from the front four who were in a class of their own. Volpe was next and took the honours in C2. A great result after so long away. The star of the day.

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Class 2 Winner – Francesco Volpe

Hill was seventh and second in class. Jones was next over the line but penalised out of the top ten promoting Hall to eighth, Downes to ninth and Moss to tenth. Jonathan Elliott came home twelfth and took third in the C2 class. 

Bill Taylor was the only SHW in the A Final resulting in a class win with B Final runners Richard Newton second and Bradley Parrett third. The C3 honours went to Luke Philips, Daniel Hollinshead and Elliott Garnett.   

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Super Heavyweight Class Winner – Bill Taylor

Reflections

Another great days racing to kick off the season and it was great to see some new faces and some old faces returning. Personally I can’t wait until this virus is gone and I can get back to roaming the paddock with a tape recorder. 

I probably shouldn’t be but it was surprising to hear some of the complaints on Sunday. Clearly some drivers don’t read the rules. There are no appeals during the heats. End of. Don’t waste your breath or time. Jumped starts. Trying to argue that the poleman was asleep when the lights went green is no defence. The polesitter controls the pace and the timing computer doesn’t lie. You might just get away with it if you give the place back immediately but otherwise forget it. It’s a slam dunk. 

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See you all at Whilton!

Words: Steve Gray

Pictures: John Patterson