Jonny Elliott like a boss

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Club100’s blue riband Sprint Series began its 2015 UK tour with it’s traditional Buckmore Park opener, with two dominant wins by Jonathan Elliott in the main scoring finals, completed undercover, in familiar fashion to the November “Waterworld” finale, of torrential rain, standing water, and windy, cold darkness. Club100 is a test from the 1st round to the last. There is nothing worth doing that doesn’t require commitment and hard work. And oh how it rained in a very “Dad can we please go home now” style. We kept going.

Timed qualifying was wet, not as wet as it would become, Liam Hitchen claimed pole position for Pre A Final with a 65.3sec lap for Group 1, nearly 20secs off dry pace, well it’s Vega slicks no matter what the weather. We teach wet weather driving! While Julian Clist grabbed the fastest lap in Group 2 outside of the front row, with a time that was only 14th quickest overall and gives some indication how conditions were only deteriorating through the afternoon.

Lennie Wood had pole position from the Pre B Final, from Josh Pettitt, James English and Martin Gurnett, indeed I had to go down to Andy Katsantonis and Rob Adlam, on row 4, to see some names I’m unfamiliar with, and as this was “only” the pre B. Heavyweight competition will be tough this season. Lennie Wood converted pole under strong pressure from Pettitt and Gurnett, all the drivers demonstrating exceptional control, and fair play to file back passed start finish. As they acclimatised to 70secs pace the leading trio kicked off in the hairpins, Pettit went for the lead, only for Gurnett to punch through at Cafe Curve, forcing Josh to lift to finish the turn. This let English, Josh Walsh and Daren Townsley back on their tails waiting for a mistake. But it would be Daren’s misjudgement on the exit of the Esses that let Adlam into the fight for 6th. Josh was soon back in front, Martin dropping to 3rd behind Wood in close company. We lost Katsatonis from 8th, ground to a halt in Paddock, Richard Francis, who knew the score and had made steady process up from grid 17, able to also nip by Roger Mullen in the fall out, to take that 8th spot. Of course it’s 4 to qualify to the Pre A and he was 5secs away, although there was plenty of time, but the odds of falling off or being taken out shortened with every lap, as did the frequency of lapped drivers, as well as increasing ambition/desperation over talent/conditions. By the end of lap 5 Pettitt had pulled out a 2secs advantage and would only stop edging out towards the end of the 11 lapper. Gurnett sat off Wood’s bumper, as did English after Martin had got back to 4th. Townsley, Adlam and Walsh had a good thing going on in a fight for pole for B final. Until Daren committed the cardinal sin, for a last lap, of falling off at Pullmans, ostensibly I think trying to avoid (unintentionally) taking out James English, as they fought down the hill and out of Symes Sweep. This promoted Francis to the top 7, who had to be satisfied from grid 17, of course lap times set the grid for main B final, so would have grid 5, Katsantonis having done enough for pole, to have every chance of grabbing one of the 2 remaining qualifying spots from the B final and into the main A.

I could say Julian Clist was asleep, missing the Pre A Final green light as Liam Hitchen had 2 or 3 kart lengths over the start line, truth is Liam timed it right as was going when it suited him, with traction, Julian sat in a puddle. Dave Price was level with him over the start line and drove him deep toward the barrier in Conway’s, it was fair, Julian cut back on the exit, getting drive, but it had allowed Jonathan Elliott, off grid 5, to hook on the inside kerb to go 2nd. Liam ran wide in hairpin 1 failed to get traction this time and Jonathan had the lead, Julian couldn’t close the inside lane into hairpin 2, so they ran down the hill, Elliott, Hitchen, Price pushing through into the Esses, on Clist, Mike Townley running around the outside on the exit, Mark Turner on his bumper with SuperHeavyweight James Attfield, who has loads of miles in Club100, and was rapid in the past, well up off grid 4. Price, Townley, Turner and Stephen Docker were “assertive” at Garda, Clist rounded out the lap down in P6 very pre-occupied with them. Attfield went inside of turn1 for the spot. Elliott pulled clear of Hitchen up front. He was gone 10secs clear by the finish. The fight for 4th was just too much, and the front 3 were allowed to clear off, the next 5 behind were lucky to get through Cafe Curve together. I started swearing about the gale blowing through, and the rain started coming in at 45 degrees, and the field began to split. Elliott was clear for sure, with Townley edging back to Hitchen, while Price, Clist, Attfield battled hard, in came Darrell Lowe, into, and through them, looking smooth and controlled. The field stretching out in a long line as the river across Symes Sweep appeared to add to the water jump inside of the Senna Chicane. A lapped James English held up Hitchen, who was being caught by Townley anyway, then ran wide at turn1, Mike was 2nd, until turning in for hairpin 1, Lowe was clear Hitchen and Townley fight for 3rd. Hitchen struggled toward the end, Clist caught up with him in Garda, before picking up 4th after a prolonged dice that started at Garda on lap 7 and was wheel to wheel for the next 2 laps, before Attfield joined in, he got by only to go deep and wide into Symes Sweep. Doh. It was the last lap. A distant Elliott won from Lowe, Townley, Clist, Hitchen, Attfield.

Darkness had fallen for the B Final Katsantonis got the lead from Pole, and out of the darkness, on the wiley, windy (Buck)moor to misquote Kate Bush (I don’t know where this stuff comes from), he had the lead ahead of Rob Adlam and Richard Francis both off the 3rd row, who had survived the first couple of turns, including someone launching it up the inside of hairpin 1, it might have been Adlam (it was dark), Francis turned in into 2nd, then was passed again by Rob, for sure from behind my tree, in Symes Sweep. Next lap he lost out there to Daren Townsley and Josh Walsh. Katsantonis with Adlam moving on to his bumper knew the score had a gap and were pulling clear. It’s 2 to qualify. And lapped karts were the real danger. All electrical power died on my person. I saw Walsh pass Townsley for 3rd place, on lap 4, only not to see him lose it again the next lap. Francis moved up and through to 3rd. Katsantonis won by 3secs, from Adlam and a further 3secs back, Francis.

With a battery change for myself and a helmet change for Jonny Elliott he was in the A Final box seat, he hadn’t wasted time out front in the Pre A and had picked up the fastest lap, I’d already tweeted he looked favourite, and he wouldn’t disappoint. Clist got another go at grid 2, from Darrell Lowe and Mark Turner. Elliott timed a bold hammer drop on the green light that on another day sailed close to a jump start but “they” including grid 2 man Julian Clist missed it. To be honest I was so wet and cold and desperate to finish he could have had the trophy for crossing the startline first. Elliott didn’t get pinged for the start, so it was a brilliant play. It gave him 5 to 6 kart lengths into turn 1 and clear of any lockups behind braking into the first hairpin, he had the clearest vision of the road ahead. Clist picked up a couple of kart lengths exiting turn 1, Mark Turner coming through to 3rd, as everyone save the leading duo appeared to light up the rears with 6ft rooster tails. The geo block exiting Symes took on integral role as part of the race track, making it twice as wide, as amazingly everyone got through. End of lap 2 Elliott was 1sec clear, and Clist was hanging in there, Jonny was going, but he was not gone, Julian taking risks to stay on terms. Every corner was awash, Lowe and Stephen Docker exchanged 4th place, a couple of times behind Mark Turner, who was staying in touch with Clist, as Jonny moved 2-3secs clear. Docker looking rapid, got by at Paddock, would it last, better traction than Turner and set off after Julian, it was a 4 way fight for the lower podium steps. The rest of the field 5secs down the road was led by Hitchen, and the rising Paul Williams off grid 12, Spa flooded track experience from Club100 10hrs events put to good use here. Closing stages Clist was holding 2nd, a wide turn in to hairpin 2 to cut and straightline the exit, put him across Stephen’s bows (literally in the boating sense), Julian went around. Down at Paddock, possibly wrestling with his conscience, Stephen rotated, Mark Turner was 2rd. This left Elliott 6secs and rising coming on to the last lap. Holding on to 2nd, Mark Turner admitted Lowe was quicker, and was relieved Darrell hadn’t pressed too hard on the last lap. 10secs further back Hitchen came in ahead of Williams and James Attfield returned to Club100 happy taking home the SuperHeavyweight prize in 7th, ahead of Dave Price. Rob Adlam came in through the backdoor in finishing 2nd in the B final, then made up 17 positions to finish 9th in the A – thats cold, wet satisfaction for the drive home. I beat a hasty retreat to my car and drove all the way to Cambridge in just my underwear, leaving my trousers and coat to steam up the windows. I found an old pair of track bottoms in the boot for the run north through Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire – well you can’t be too careful.

That’s the Buckmore Park, I remember.