Just A Perfect Day… For Joe Holmes.

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To no one’s great surprise the weather was wet and windy as the competitors rolled up for the traditional start Buckmore start of the Sprint season. The heavyweights and Superheavyweights were first up for the morning session with the big question on everyone’s lips being could anyone stop Joe Holmes from retaining his title? Likewise in the Superheavyweights. Could anyone stop reigning Champion Richard Allen? In the Lights Ed Barrs was back to defend his title but he was facing some fresh competition in the shape of Steve Brown who had moved from the heavies. Full grids were the order of the day with some drivers missing out on an entry such is the popularity of CLUB100. It’s all set up to be a thrilling season.

The Road to the Finals

Anwar Beroual got his 2020 challenge off to the perfect start with an emphatic win in the first heat. Starting from grid three it took him a couple of laps before he hit the front but thereafter he drove away to take the win by just over eight seconds from second placed Paul Goddard, back after a season sabbatical. A great drive this too after starting on grid four and sweeping past reigning SHW Champion Richard Allen on the first lap. Tarik Almou came home third after a barnstorming drive up from grid thirteen. Steven Downes took fourth. After starting on the third row he was at the front by the end of the first lap but couldn’t hold on. He dropped as low as fifth with a lap to go but recovered to third only to be hit with a one place deduction for cone abuse. Allen came home fifth with the only other SHW in the heat Paul Williams being punted out on the first lap by Benjamin Robinson for which the latter was rightly penalised.

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Photo Bomb…

Heat two fell to Geoff Lamb. A dominant win too after starting from grid nine and working his way to the front before half distance. Ben Benneyworth ran second for most of the heat but was taken on the last lap by former HW Champion Adam Wright who had worked his way through from grid twelve. Tim Hill crossed the line fourth but lost two places for cone abuse handing the place to David Longman with Teddy Clarke fifth.

Joe Holmes made the perfect start to his day taking the third heat by almost ten seconds. Starting from grid five he was like Moses parting the Red Sea over the first lap as he cruised past the frontrunners. SHW Nick Trafford started from pole and ran an impressive second for much of the race before losing out on the final lap to Sean Brierley and Alex Pritchard. Dan Brewer took fifth.

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Craig Brown took heat four with a lights to flag win. Shame it’s likely to be his last event for awhile. One of the most improved drivers last year he will be missed. Starting from pole he was never headed taking the win from Bill Taylor with Stuart third after an eventful race. Starting third he was in second at the end of the first lap before being punted off by Taylor as they battled over second. He resumed in ninth whilst Taylor ran second just out of reach of the leader. Jones fought his way back and came home third some four seconds adrift of Taylor but third became second as Taylor was demoted six places for taking him off. Poetic justice. Kieran Chidgzey and Lewis Ridd also benefitted from Taylor’s demise placing fourth and fifth.

Heat five proved to be a reversal of the top two in heat two with Adam Wright the victor this time ahead of Geoff Lamb. Starting from second row Wright was ahead by the end of the first tour with pole sitter Lamb second from fellow front row man Jack Noller third. Wright and Lamb were in a class of their own pulling away from the rest of the field. Noller remained third six seconds adrift as he started the final lap only to be punted off by Alex Pritchard who had fought his way through from grid nine. Until the final lap it had been an impressive drive which saw him set the fastest C2 time. His subsequent penalty dropped him back to ninth. Jonathan Elliott was promoted to third with Jordan Salter fourth. Noller still claimed fifth despite his spin such was the pace advantage of the front runners.

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Joe Holmes kept up his hundred per cent record for the day with his heat six win. Starting from the front row he was into an immediate lead and never headed. Richard Allen took second after starting from grid eight. He was up to third by the end of the first lap behind Mark Ridout and then up to second by the end of lap three but couldn’t shake off Ridout who hung on for third well clear of fourth which went to Anwar Beroual-Smith. He’d come up from grid ten but became embroiled in a battle for the place with Sean Brierley, Chris Gristwood and David Longman. Beroual-Smith finally took the spot last time around leaving Brierley fifth.

Tarik Almou took a splendid win in heat seven. Starting from grid five he was up to first after two laps and drove away to take the win over two seconds clear of second placed Daniel Brewer. Brewer started second but dropped to fifth by the end of the first lap. He fought back, aided by Lennie Wood spinning out of third, and was soon up with second placed Matt Kendall. He finally managed to get by with a couple of laps to go but could make no impression on the gap to the leader. Stuart Jones came home fourth with Bill Taylor fifth.

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Oliver Moss won heat eight, his first CLUB100 win in his first event. Starting from grid five he took full advantage of Mark Appleton and Benjamin Robinson spinning away their chances on the first lap. Alex Joyner led the opening lap but he’d jumped the start and would soon fall back down the order. Moss was chased hard by Jack Bolton who had started from grid seven but he held on to win by half a second. Jeff Chapman came home a lonely third some six seconds clear of fourth placed Craig Brown who came through from grid ten whilst poleman Darren Townsley claimed fifth.

Joe Holmes started heat nine from grid eight and by the end of the first tour he was running in ninth. But he was soon scything his way through the field. Up to fourth by the end of the third lap and two laps later second behind Sean Brierley. Brierley though proved to be a stout defender and kept Holmes at bay. But Holmes was not to be denied and found a way through with two and a half laps to run. Once in front he pulled clear to take his third win and secure pole for the A Final. Brierley took second with Stuart Jones third with Geoff Lamb next across the line but penalised two places for multiple contacts thus handing fourth to Adam Wright. Fifth went to Chris Gristwood.

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Heat ten turned out to the quietest heat of the day. From the third lap onwards there was not a single overtake among the top eight! Steven Downes took the win from pole with fellow front row sitter Tim Hill. Jeff Chapman came home third after starting fourth. Alex Pritchard followed him home after starting fifth with Nick Trafford fifth. He’d started seventh but moved into fifth as third placed starter Paul Goddard fell back and sixth placed starter Benjamin Robinson spun away his chances on the first lap. Again.

After a quiet heat ten heat eleven turned out to be the heat with the most penalties. David Longman crossed the line first but was demoted a spot for cone abuse. Stewart Madden was next across the line but he too took a penalty for the same offence which promoted Jordan Salter into first Mark Ridout crossed the line fourth and remained fourth but fifth across the line Craig Brown lost five places to penalties promoting Jack Noller to fifth.

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The final HW/SHW fell to Jack Bolton. But not without a fight. Steve Lindley led most of the way from pole before succumbing to Ronnie Foster on the penultimate lap. Bolton and Tarik Almou also went by but Lindley fought back sadly making contact with Almou and incurring a four place penalty. Bolton took Foster on the final lap to take the win with Lindley third over the line but demoted to seventh. Almou himself though was in trouble having made contact with Oliver Moss as he went by and hit a cone. Down he went to ninth promoting Richard Allen from fifth to third. Oliver moss came across the line sixth but he punted Lennie Wood off on the final lap and dropped to twelfth. Dan Brewer was next across the line but he too had made contact with Wood and was demoted to tenth. Next across the line was Harrison Darvill but he had punted Anwar Beroual-Smith out at hairpin two second time around. Beroual-Smith resumed in seventeenth and fought his way back to ninth at the flag. But with all the penalties for drivers ahead of him ninth became fourth. You need a bit of luck sometimes. Justin Shaw also benefitted moving from tenth to fifth.

Heavyweight/SuperHeavyweight C Final

Jaeden Cadogan sat on pole for the first final of the day with Chris Kirk alongside. Sunny Kundi shared row two with SHW Luke Charman. C2 driver Lennie Wood occupied row three with SHW Peter Clark alongside. Andrew Perry and Niall Hammond were on row four with Jhon Quiceno and Dmitry Tagkoulis on row five and Thomas Speller alongside Chris Solomon on row six. Row seven had C2 Benjamin Robinson alongside SHW Blake Temperley with the last of the C2 drivers Dmitry Zeldin alongside Christopher Aram on row eight. Sam Bentham and Karolis Jaudzemis shared row nine with the penultimate row taken up by James Dunnett and SHW Ian Zumbuhl followed by James Fremont. Four to qualify for the B Final.

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Cadogan led the field up to the line but fellow front row sitter Kirk was just a shade too anxious to be away and jumped the start by just 0.006. But as they rounded the first turn and braked into hairpin one that 0.006 had become a significant advantage. By the end of the lap he was over half a second to the good but carrying a two place penalty. You can’t argue with the clock. He now had to finish first or second to progress to the B Final. Charman had moved up to second with Cadogan down to third from Clark and Wood. Kirk continued to extend his advantage at the front from Charman who now had Wood closing in. Cadogan remained fourth with Clark fifth and well clear of Tagkoulis in sixth. Kirk continued to extend his lead at the front whilst Charman defended from Wood. Cadogan was in a solid fourth with dropping away in fifth from Tagkoulis who had Quicenco in close attendance. One third distance and Wood slipped by Charman for second. Cadogan also moved by. Barring incident the front four were looking safe to qualify but seventh time around Kirk lost control under braking for the first hairpin. Game over for him. Wood took over at the front and immediately put all his experience to good use on the still damp surface. He took the win almost fifteen seconds clear of second placed Cadogan in what became a processional run to the flag despite the next three being covered by half a second.

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Lennie Wood

Cadogan took second followed by Charman and Tagkoulis. All three displayed the maturity to hold station having pulled well clear of the chasing pack. Robinson came home a fifth after a sterling drive up from grid thirteen. He had the pace but there weren’t enough laps. Clark came home sixth from Perry with Quiceno next across the line but penalised down to ninth for cone abuse. Hammond therefore inherited eighth with Dunnett rounding out the top ten. Wood set the fastest lap of the race with Kundi the fastest of the C3 drivers and Charman the quickest SHW.

Heavyweight/SuperHeavyweight B Final

Just two C1 drivers in the B Final with the first of them Oliver Moss on pole from C2 driver Lewis Ridd. Darren Townley and SHW Bill Taylor shared row two followed by Daniel Cohen and SHW Jonathan Elliot. Matt Kendall and Steve Lindley occupied row four followed by SHW Teddy Clark and Justin Shaw from the first of the C3 drivers Vinod Harani and SHW Paul Williams. Next up Richard Newton and Paul Goddard the latter showing well on his return to Sunday Sprints. Mark Appleton and Wayne Dunham shared row eight from Joshua Sergeant and SHW Ben Benneyworth. Nick Pollicott occupied row ten with the last of the C1 runners Harrison Darvill followed by Alex Joyner and Lee Henderson and then the four qualifiers from the C Final, Wood, Cadogan, Charman and Tagkoulis. Two to qualify for the A Final.

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Moss and Ridd lead the field away but were a bit too cautious into hairpin one on the still damp track and were shuffled back. Over the line at the end of the first tour and Townsley led from Taylor with Moss third from Cohen with Lindley fifth ahead of Ridd. Williams had made a great start moving up to seventh from grid twelve. Second time around though he tangled with Lindley at hairpin two spinning the Lindley around as the latter moved across him. Lindley had run wide but was coming back onto the circuit across Williams bow. Contact was inevitable and Lindley came to a halt as Williams continued only to be hit with a penalty putting him out of contention. The recovering Lindley would suffer the same fate later in the race. Townsley continued to lead but Cohen was up to second and closing in. He duly slipped by in the hairpins and then began to pull away as Townsley, Taylor and Williams fought over second. For Williams it was already a lost cause but he carried holding fifth before fading over the final laps. With Cohen pulling away Taylor moved into second ahead of Ridd with Townsley down to fourth ahead of Williams who had Darvill closing in after a strong drive from the rear of the grid. And Benneyworth was shadowing Darvill. They then got stuck behind Williams for a couple of laps only getting by with two to run. It was too late to mount a challenge for second. Darvill did set the fastest lap of the two C1 runners but it was not enough. Ridd and Taylor fought hard over second but it was SHW Taylor who ultimately took second behind Cohen.

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Ridd made a last ditch attempt to take Taylor in the hairpins on the final lap but couldn’t make the move stick and dropped to seventh at the flag. Townsley took third with Darvill fourth from Benneyworth with Elliot sixth. Moss came home eighth with Kendal ninth and Clark tenth. In the C3 class Pollicott took the honours and finished eleventh overall with Sergeant second, twelfth overall and Dunham third, fourteenth overall.

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Daniel Cohen

Heavyweight/SuperHeavyweight A Final

Three heat wins earned reigning Champion Joe Holmes pole with 2017 Champion Adam Wright alongside. Anwar and Jack Bolton shared row two with Geoff Lamb and Sean Brierley on row three. Stuart Jones and Mark Ridout were next up followed by reigning SHW Champion Richard Allen alongside Tarik Almou. David Longman and Steven Downes were on row six from Jordan Salter and Craig Brown whilst Jeff Chapman and Alex Pritchard shared row eight. The evergreen, and 2018 Champion, Tim hill was on row nine alongside Nick Trafford with Dan Brewer and Jack Noller on row ten. Ronnie Foster and Kieran Chidgzey shared row eleven with Chris Gristwood and Stewart Madden on the penultimate row from the two B Final qualifiers, Cohen and Taylor.
Holmes brought the field up to the line and then in trademark fashion floored the throttle early catching out the rest of the pack catching Wright napping. As he crossed the line he was almost half a second up. It would be the closest anyone would get to him. Beroual-Smith knew what would happen but had to hold back. He took Wright into the first corner. Wright hung on round the outside but Beroual-Smith was keeping him at bay. Behind these the pack bunched up as they streamed through hairpin one and round hairpin two. Out of the corner and Holmes was well clear with Beroual-Smith second as the rest of the pack fell over each other fortunately without major mishap.

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Over the line at the end of the lap and Holmes was a tenth clear of Beroual-Smith. Third was Allen after a lightening start up from grid nine. Wright hung on in fourth with Lamb fifth from Jones. Almou was next up with Bolton down to eighth. Pritchard was up to ninth ahead of Brierley whilst Gristwood had made astonishing progress up to eleventh from grid twenty three. Gristwood though was carrying a penalty after a first lap bump and pass. Always a bit unlucky I feel to be penalised on the first lap when so much is happening through the first turns. Holmes immediately began setting fastest sector times and edged away from Beroual-Smith who had his hands full fending off the attentions of Allen who in turn had Wright ready to capitalise on any error. And still in with a shot at the podium were Lamb and Almou. Bolton was some four seconds adrift in eighth. Holmes continued to extend his advantage with Beroual-Smith still second. Wright got Allen for third but a lap later Allen was back in front but over a second adrift of second place. Half distance and Holmes was almost four seconds clear whilst Beroual-Smith was holding a comfortable second. Allen remained third and was pulling clear of Wright who was coming under pressure from Lamb. Almou was beginning to fade dropping behind Jones and Brierley and coming under pressure from Bolton with Gristwood completing the top ten. Holmes took the win and set the fastest lap to complete a perfect day with Beroual-Smith second and holding off a late race challenge from Allen who took the SHW honours.

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Class 2 Winner Richard Allen flanked by 2nd place Chris Gristwood (left) & Alex Pritchard 3rd (right)

Wright finished a comfortable fourth and third in the C1 class. Very sportingly he handed his trophy to Allen feeling that the SHW reigning Champion deserved it more than he. Lamb came home an excellent fifth some seven seconds clear of sixth placed Almou who gathered himself together and really pushed hard over the final laps. Brierley claimed seventh with Bolton eighth. Gristwood was next over the line but his four place penalty dropped him to thirteenth which was still good enough to land him the C2 class win. Despite the penalty this was a great drive after starting from grid twenty three. Jones completed the top ten. Alex Pritchard was second in the C2 class with Tim Hill third. Tim Hill in C2? Hmm. Nick Trafford took second in the SHW class and twelfth overall with Bill Taylor third.

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Super Heavies, Richie Allen winning, with Nick Trafford, 2nd (left), and Bill Taylor, 3rd, (right)

Reflections on the day

What a magnificent start to the season. Some great racing culminating in a spellbinding Lightweight A Final. And the standard of driving across all the classes was particularly good in the main with the penalty count being particularly low especially in the lights. The new regulations appeared to work well although the cameras being mounted on the Karts do at times obscure the driver numbers. Buckmore is a great circuit for drivers but from a reporting standpoint it’s a nightmare in winter. Way too cold for me to spend all day on the pit entrance grandstand or the cafe balcony. My compromise is to stand in race control behind the clerk of the course and the timekeeper. I can see the top of the circuit and use the monitor to see the bottom of the circuit. I still don’t see everything but I strive really hard to make sure what I report is accurate. It also puts me in the privileged position of being able to see at first hand the hard work that takes place in race control. There is a humour but the job is taken seriously. Sometimes the radio calls are coming in thick and fast but it is very rare that someone is penalised unfairly. However, Niki is always prepared to listen provided a driver puts his case forward in a calm and rational manner. So it was sad to witness a driver coming into race control after getting penalty for punting a fellow competitor off. The incident happened right in front of race control and there could not possibly be any argument. Yet this individual stormed into race control and accused the officials of only penalising ‘’people like him’’ and ‘’brown nosing other drivers’’. There were other phrases but you get the gist. This was disgraceful behaviour. There is no favouritism. All the Club’s officials act at all times with honesty and their integrity should never be questioned. JV has already shown in the past that he will not tolerate this kind of behaviour. CLUB100 is a club. A friendly club. Don’t spoil it for yourself and others by complaining needlessly. Most times you just make yourself look silly. I would hope that this particular driver will have the good sense and manners to apologise at the next round.

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In case there’s anyone harbouring any doubts…

On to Bayford Meadows then in a few weeks time for round two. Another iconic circuit with a great diner as well.

See you there!

Words: Steve Gray

Photography: John Patterson