The final round of the season then. With several Championships already settled it was all eyes on who would take the runner up spots in all the LW classes whilst in the Heavyweight (HW)/SuperHeavyweight (SHW) the C2 and the SHW classes had still to be settled. Alex Pritchard was leading Richard Allen by just a single point in C2 whilst Lee Henderson led Bill Taylor by just five points in the SHW’s.
There were also a few interesting entries for the final round with Steve Brown making a welcome return in the Lights and leading HW driver Anwar Beroual-Smith having a one off outing in the Lights for a bit of fun before the serious stuff in the afternoon. Or was he weighing up the opposition with a view to crash diet over the winter and a crack at the Lightweight Championship?
The Route to the Finals.
Fran Volpe took a fine win in the opening heat of the afternoon holding off a spirited challenge from Lewis Ridd. Volpe started on grid six and hit the front after three laps. Ridd made it to second a lap later after starting from grid nine. Adam Wright was chasing them down after a bad start saw him drop from fourth to fifth before fighting his way back. Unfortunately for him he’d tried a bit too hard and exceeded track limits. A two place penalty saw him drop to fifth behind Chris Alcock and, crucially, Championship rival Matt Wileman.
Heat Two resulted in a comfortable win for Dave Pethers. Starting from the second row he was quickly into the lead and pulled clear of the pack. Pole sitter Richard Masterson chased him home with the two of them almost five seconds clear of third place. Third should have gone to Jonathan Elliot but he had a penalty after a first lap bump and pass and dropped to seventh in the results promoting Alex Pritchard to third, Bill Taylor to fourth and Miguel Hall to fifth. Valuable points for Pritchard and Taylor in the quest for honours in their respective classes.
Tim Williams took the third heat with Mike Bodnar second. These two started from the front row with Bodnar leading initially before Williams took over to lead to the flag. Mikey Nichols came home third from Harry Melvin and Tim Hill.
Heat Four had all the ingredients to be a cracker featuring three of the series big hitters in Richard Allen, Joe Holmes and Anwar Beroual-Smith. Allen started from the second row and went to the front two laps in with Holmes behind, a second back after starting from grid seven. And for half the race that how it stayed with Anthony Ridd third a few tenths back from Holmes. Beroual-Smith had worked his way up from grid eight and was now in touch with the leaders. Holmes began to close in on Allen whilst Beroual-Smith found a way by Ridd for third. He then rapidly cut the gap to the leaders as Allen went defensive from Holmes slowing them both. Holmes made a last ditch effort on the final lap but Allen held him off to take the win whilst Holmes almost got caught on the line by Beroual-Smith. The gap, 0.098. Ridd came home fourth just a tenth adrift at the flag with Darrell Lowe fifth.
Chris Alcock took the fifth heat leading all the way from pole with second row starter Matt Wileman chasing him all the way in second. These two were over six seconds clear of third placed Bill Taylor with Dave Pethers and Tim Hill fourth and fifth.
Jonathan Elliott led most of Heat Six from pole with Adam Wright running second. But Joe Holmes was working his way up from grid eight and moved ahead of Wright three from home. Then he closed down Elliot taking him on the penultimate lap. His margin at the flag was a flattering 2.2 second but he’d been aided by a final lap battle for second which saw Elliot drop to fourth, Mikey Nichols go from fourth to second with Wright between them in third. And Lewis Ridd almost caught Elliot on the line but had to settle for fifth having run there for the majority of the heat.
Richard Allen romped home over seven seconds clear in the seventh heat. And he started on grid seven. He took pole sitter Lee Henderson on the second lap and then drove clear. Championship rival Alex Pritchard ran second ahead of Anthony Ridd for the latter half of the race before losing out to Ridd on the penultimate lap. But then Ridd spun out handing Pritchard valuable second place points. Darrell Lowe was third from Harry Melvin and Steve Lindley.
Heat Eight resulted in an easy win for Anwar Beroual-Smith. Starting on the second row he went to the front on the second lap and then pulled clear to win by over eight seconds. Front row starter Steve Bosley was second after holding off a challenge from Tim Williams with Tom Fuller fourth from Kieran Chidgzey.
Adam Wright took a fine win in Heat Nine. Starting from grid nine he worked his way up the order taking early leader and pole sitter Fran Volpe at half distance. Thereafter he edged away from Volpe who remained second. Lewis Ridd took third ahead of Tim Hill and Harry Melvin.
Joe Holmes claimed his second win of the day in Heat Ten. Starting from the second row he was into the lead on the first lap and never headed as he led the pack home winning by almost four seconds. Miguel Hall was a lonely second ahead of Steve Bosley, Jonathan Elliot and Anthony Ridd who crossed the line third but lost two places after a jumped start.
Richard Allen made it three wins from three heats in the penultimate race which also gave him pole for the A Final and a big advantage over C2 Championship rival Alex Pritchard. Pritchard ran second for much of the race but Allen was driving clear and taking a comfortable win. Pritchard’s day got even worse as he dropped two places on the final tour to Anwar Beroual-Smith and Chris Alcock. Bill Taylor crossed the fine fifth but dropped a place after cone penalty. Daniel Hollinshead was the beneficiary.
The final heat resulted in a runaway victory for Matt Wileman. He went into the lead with two laps run and then drove clear to take the win by over six seconds. Mikey Nichols chased him home in second heading Jordan Salter, Bradley Shears and Ben Benneyworth.
(All drivers in C3 unless otherwise noted)
SHW Andrew Cherry on pole from Jaeden Cadogan with SHW Vinod Hirani and Kristian Huus on the second row. Row three saw Marcus Naris alongside David Wilson with Leon Du Preez and Tom Stalker on row four. Benjamin Wooten and Blake Temperley were on row five ahead of Stephen Hullock and SHW Paul Jameson on the penultimate row. SHW Brad Jones and C2 Bradley Shears were on the back row the latter having an interesting day. After sailing very close to the wind on weight in two of his heats he finally slipped under the weight limit and was disqualified from his final heat. Top four to qualify for the B Final and a trophy for the winner.
As the field came round to the line a very fine drizzle had begun to fall and as the pack came round the first few corners they were all struggling for grip. Cadogan and Wilson both went off. Cherry managed to pull away whilst behind Shears was driving an awesome lap, keeping out of trouble and vaulting up to second. End of the lap and Cherry was over two seconds clear with Shears second over a second up on Naris and Hirani. Two laps run and Shears put a move on Cherry for the lead at the first turn. Cherry didn’t defend too hard and Shears went through. Thereafter these two put all their experience to good use and simply drove away from the rest of the struggling pack. Shears took the win almost two seconds clear of Cherry who was in turn a massive twenty four seconds up on the third placed finisher. Two places settled and two places up for grabs.
With three laps run the field had become well spread but then the drizzle stopped, the track began to dry and the times gradually began to fall. Five laps in and the leader posted a 1; 12.543. Sixth time around and he was seven seconds quicker. Cherry was still comfortable in second but Hirani was being rapidly overhauled by Wooten. Stalker was a couple of seconds back but running clear of Temperley. Once up to Hirani Wooten wasted no time in getting by but lost a load of time to the leaders. But that mattered not. He was comfortably qualifying for the B Final. But Harani wasn’t giving up the place without a fight and needed a cushion back to Stalker. But catching and passing were two different matters. The times had tumbled as the track dried and Stalker was closing the gap.
Final lap and Wooten had a cushion back to Hirani who had Stalker right on his bumper. Wooten then made a mistake in the hairpins and Hirani looked set to pounce and moved to the inside at the end of the short straight. But he had to back out of the move and Stalker was almost alongside. Hirani held him off but Stalker was all over him trying to get by. Wooten edged clear. Out of the final corner though he made a mistake. Hirani went left avoid him and lost time allowing Stalker one last chance. Wooten crossed the line a tenth up whilst Hirani just hung on by 0.092. Shears the trophy winner followed by Cherry, Wooten and Hirani all qualifying for the B Final.
All drivers in C2 unless otherwise noted.
SHW title contender Lee Henderson on pole. He’d missed out on the A Final by just one point and with main title rival Bill Taylor qualifying for the A Final this was Henderson’s most important race of the season. He had to qualify for the A Final to keep the pressure on Taylor. Kevin Coombes sat alongside. Jason Bear and Anthony Ridd shared the second row with Paul Williams and Jordan Salter behind on row three. SHW Kieran Chidgzey was on row four with Richard Lavender. C3 Champion elect Luke Philips shared row five with C3 Lawrence Cheah followed by C3 Daniel Hollinshead alongside Luke Pullen on row six. C3 Bradley Porter occupied row seven with Simon Kavanagh followed by C3 Andrew Hicks and SHW Richard Newton who still had an outside chance of the SHW crown but was in need of a miracle drive to get to the A Final. C3 Samuel Bensley shared row nine with SHW Ben Benneyworth followed by twp C3’s Max Jameson and Mathew Batter. C3 Matt Griffiths and SHW Joel Arguelles were on row ten with the final two rows taken up by the four qualifiers from the C Final, Sharpe, Cherry, Wooten and Hirani. Top two to qualify and a trophy for the winner.
Henderson led the field up to the start line and went early catching out the anti-pole side but not Bear who was right behind. Into the first turn and with the pack jostling hard for position Henderson pulled clear at the front. Over the line at the end of the lap and Henderson was over a second and a half clear of second placed Ridd with Coombes third from Bear. Bear was already in trouble as his number came up on the digi-board. A bump and pass penalty on Salter. Four place deduction and no chance of qualifying for the A Final. Chidgzey ran fifth from Salter and Williams. Two run and Henderson still led but Ridd had closed the gap. Coombes remained third but Chidgzey had moved ahead of Bear for fourth. A lap later he went by Coombes for third in the first turn. Henderson remained in the lead but Ridd began to close rapidly and swept by into the first hairpin. But all Henderson needed to do was sit behind and get towed along. But behind Chidgzey was really into the groove and catching. Over the line at the end of the sixth tour he was right on Henderson’s bumper and as they went into the first turn he pulled to the right and went through into second. Chidgzey was really flying at this point and wasted no time in hauling himself up to the leader.
Further down the order Newton was making progress but it was not enough. His slim chance of the Championship was fading fast. At the front Ridd was now defending from the Chidgzey which was allowing Henderson to close back in. Chidgzey went for a move on the leader at the end of the short straight but it didn’t come off and Henderson nipped by round the mound. And both Coombes and Salter had closed the gap and becoming a threat. Line astern over the line at the end of lap nine and Henderson left the door open. Chidgzey didn’t need a second invitation and went back up to second. And now Henderson was coming under pressure from Coombes, Salter and Bear. Salter went by Coombes and immediately latched onto Henderson’s bumper. Ridd and Chidgzey had pulled clear and now the battle was all about third. Henderson wasn’t going to the A Final unless the leaders fell over each other but every point was still vital. Into the final lap and the pressure on Henderson was huge. But the following pack helped him out as they battled over fourth. Round the mound they were packed tight but everyone got round safely although Salter lost several places.
Over the line and Ridd took the win three tenths clear of Chidgzey which proved for the latter to be vital points in his battle for third place in the SHW title chase. Henderson was a frustrated third. He could now only watch from the sidelines and hope that Taylor finished badly in the A Final. Bear was next over the line but penalised down to eighth handing fourth to Coombes from Hollinshead the latter taking the C3 honours for the round ahead of the C3 Champion Luke Philips who finished sixth. Williams and Newton completed the top ten. Third in C3 went to Cheah after finishing thirteenth.
All drivers in C1 unless otherwise noted.
Two Championships still to be settled in the final race of the year. Joe Holmes had already wrapped up the HW Championship at the previous round and would start the final race from the front alongside the pole sitter Richard Allen who had taken three wins from three heat starts. He’d started the day one point behind Alex Pritchard in the C2 Championship but now the crown was his to lose. Anwar Beroual-Smith and Chris Alcock were on the second row with Matt Wileman and C2 Mikey Nichols on row three. Adam Wright and C2 Francesco Volpe occupied the fourth row with C2 Alex Pritchard on row five with Lewis Ridd. Pritchard had it all to do to take the C2 crown. A hard but not impossible task. C2’s Dave Pethers and Tim Williams shared row six followed by C2’s Steve Bosley and Harry Melvin on row seven. Row eight had SHW Bill Taylor alongside C2 Tim Hill. Taylor now only needed to finish in the top twenty to take the SHW crown. C2 Jonathan Elliot and Miguel Hall were on row nine followed by to further C2’s on row ten, Steve Lindley and Richard Masterson. C2 Mike Bodnar and SHW David Jarvis were on row eleven followed by C2 Darrell Lowe and the two qualifiers from the B Final, Ridd and Chidgzey.
Allen led the pack away with Holmes settling into second and Beroual-Smith third. Wright rapidly made up ground to run fourth by the end of the first lap. Second time around and Holmes went by Allen in the hairpins. Beroual-Smith almost followed him through but Allen hung on. Down the order C2 title protagonist Pritchard had kept out of trouble and was running eighth whilst SHW title front runner Taylor was up to thirteenth and on course to take the crown. Wright and Wileman were now both together on the circuit in their fight for third in the Championship. And then the light drizzle returned and the lap times went up. But only by a few seconds a lap and they would come down again by the end of the race. Wright was having to defend hard from Wileman and both were losing ground to the leaders. Wileman almost went by in the hairpins but Wright held on. Wileman though had momentum and went by at the end of the short straight. Holmes led, but whilst second was good enough for Allen he was intent on the win and caught Holmes napping round the mound to go by into the lead. His joy however was short lived as Holmes went by in the hairpins the following lap.
Once back in front Holmes immediately began to stretch his lead on the greasy surface. Allen remained second and over the closing stages there would be no more changes amongst the top ten. Holmes celebrated another win by setting the fastest lap on the final tour crossing the line over three seconds to the good. Allen was a comfortable second and took the C2 Championship honours along with the class win for the day. Beroual-Smith was third with Wileman fourth from Wright a result that saw them finish second, third and fourth in the Championship standings. Alcock was sixth.
One can only wonder how his Championship might have looked had he completed a full HW season. Elliot and Nichols were seventh and eighth overall and second and third in C2 behind Allen. Pritchard was next over the line but took a four place penalty after a bump and pass on Nichols mid race. Bosley was promoted to ninth with Bodnar tenth. Down the order SHW Taylor came home twelfth to seal the SHW crown. A brilliant effort considering he only raced in eight of the eleven rounds. He also claimed the SHW honours on the day with Chidgzey and Jarvis second and third in class respectively.
Championship Round Up
A casual glance at the record books will show that only fifteen points separated Joe Holmes from the rest of the field as he claimed another Championship. But his level of dominance is far greater than the numbers suggest. He won seven of the eleven A Finals. He missed one round and lost one A Final after a penalty for exceeding track limits at the second round. When he raced he was never off the podium. The Holmes loft must be groaning under the weight of silverware. He’s simply one of the best karters CLUB100 has ever witnessed.
Anwar Beroual Smith had a great season to take second for the second year running. Best of the rest though isn’t where he wants to be and he’ll be back hopefully next year stronger still. He took one win all season but was rarely out of the running for the podium.
Matt Wileman had a purple patch in the middle of the year taking two wins on the run but thereafter his form became a little patchy. Third in the standings was still a formidable effort.
Adam Wright finally broke his duck this season and laid to rest the mantle of being the only driver in CLUB100 history to win a title and not stand on the top step of the podium. Whilst it’s true that Holmes penalty at Whilton handed Adam the win it should not detract from his fine drive that day. He has deserved a win for some time. He’s always in the hunt. Despite dropping a place this year he’s still one of the best.
The irrepressible Richard Allen was fifth overall and clinched the C2 honours at the final round. A great effort. Likewise Alex Pritchard who was sixth overall and second in C2. Another great effort. Jonathan Elliott was third in C2. Never out of the hunt it should not be forgotten that he travels from Edinburgh to compete. A very high level of commitment. Mikey Nichols and Steve Bosley were fourth and fifth.
The Super Heavyweight crown went to Bill Taylor in a battle with runner up Lee Henderson which went right down to the final race of the year. True, Henderson had to watch from the sidelines but Taylor still had to deliver and he did in what was only his eighth event of the season. He could not afford to slip up and he didn’t. A good season too for second placed Henderson. Kieran Chidgzey claimed third after a great final round saw him eclipse Richard Newton. A better year in prospect next year if he can replicate the final round form
Class 3 went to Luke Philips. He too missed three rounds but had enough in hand to take the title from Samuel Bensley with Andrew Hicks third. C3 is very much a learning curve. They’ll be further up the grid next year and hopefully will enjoy their racing just as much as this year.
Finally a round where the penalties were few. Hats off to all the drivers who coped so well in the changing conditions. A great end to what has been an entertaining season.
I’d like to thank all the staff at all the circuits, the marshals, the medical staff, the mechanics and observers who do such a brilliant job and a special mention to our two timekeepers Molly Vigor and her assistant Kathryn Goodwin who put up with me wittering in the background!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. Stay safe and see you all next season!!
Words: Steve Gray
Photography: John Patterson