Last Lap, Last Corner – Beroual-Smith & Blake Split The Points, Anwar Takes Home The Trophy

C100 Clay 6338 scaled

Premier Class rotated back to the morning session and what a lovely day it turned out to be weather wise. With Clay you usually get one extreme or another, morning fog or torrential rain but this Sunday the karting gods were shining brightly on this particular church of motorsport. And at one which the parishioners are hard at work with a substantial makeover, the new clubhouse and other works will provide excellent viewing and facilities going forward although I do hope the internet gets a boost for the future and if they want some input to improve the look of the circuit on television I have some simple ideas to improve sight lines for cameras. Anyway…

Heat 1 Freddie Gallagher, on grid 2 got the drop on poleman Jack Harding, tipping over the top of him from the outside to lead out of Top Bend and grabbed a kart length or two out through Billy’s, Harding with Steve Brown on his bumper then Darren Teal and Alex Ring as the top 5 on the grid settled in for 10 laps. Brown moved on Harding and Gallagher was released a little leaving Jack holding off Teal, Ring and sucking in Jay Elliott, Scott Martin and Ray Norris, Jay inside of Alex into Turn 2 but as so often the case a move inside of Turn 2 is not finished until the exit of the chicane such is the camber of road in the long 180 degree right hander, known only as Turn 2, and the lines that are available within. Ergo Martin got inside Jay as Harding ran wide and it was three wide coming into the chicane for 4th place with Norris and Ring side by side on the bumpers ahead. It’s the classic Clay Pigeon witches brew.

Steve Brown moved inside of Turn 2 for the lead, but classically had to go so deep on the brakes that Freddie was able to criss cross behind him mid corner to have the momentum and line back into the chicane and that just pulled in Darren Teal. Gallagher went narrow into the hairpin, Darren sensing an opportunity for a fast exit and shot in the Horseshoe took a racing line and was into the horseshoe before Steve could close the door, even if he had attempted to, so Teal into 2nd.

The dicing behind was playing into Gallagher’s hands and keeping him just out of reach, Norris rejoined the fray with Elliott and Martin, Brown may have been hoping for a clear run to the finish to set up a pass for the lead but Ray and Darren were a thorn in his side, before Jay got inside of Turn 2 on Ray to put him back in 5th and on the nose Blake, who sliced down the inside into the hairpin, when Ray moved back to the middle of the road to take some sort of line into the corner. We moved on to the last lap and the gaps were just enough to call it over. Gallagher, Brown, Teal and Elliott.

After a fairly anonymous first heat Matt Brooks needed a strong result for the Pre Final on the reversed for Heat 2 and it would take a re-grid to get going after certainly some leaning on, going on, between Anwar and Alex Ring through Billy’s (haven’t seen all of the video yet) Alex was left with half of his kart on the grass approaching turn 2. Application of the brakes at that point is pot luck as to how the kart will react, it swapped ends and Ring was a reversing passenger through the inside of the corner collecting Teal and Harding, while Elliott and Brown dodged the bullet.

Second attempt Matt had Blake on his bumper into turn 2 and he went narrow to keep the lead, Ray Norris got to the head of the queue behind and escaped it on the exit of the chicane. Scott Martin jumped into the hairpin, leaving it a bit messy coming off the corner with Lee Clackett and Martin heading the pack with Tom Dix, Jay Elliott, Jonathan Lisseter on the outside, three wide. Brooks was struggling for outright pace, his stout defence of the inside of Turn 2 held off Blake but brought everyone back in. Ian took a shot inside of the hairpin that required an apology and he barely held on to 2nd going around the outside Norris and the Horseshoe to hold him off. It also backed up the line, so Lee Clackett could go inside of Dix for 7th into the chicane which left Tom with the grass, the cone or a piece of Lee into the second apex, he chose the latter which put Chris Hanson on the grass behind on the exit. Next lap, Brooks narrow again allowed Norris to swing in from wide to take Blake mid turn 2 inside into the chicane, Scott Martin doing something similar to Jay Elliott for 4th place behind. Blake came from a long way back to get his spot back the next lap running them both deep allowing Martin to nip inside the pair for 2nd. So Clay Pigeon! Brooks went narrow once too often and Scott repeated the trick to lead, Blake wouldn’t let Matt have his bumper into the chicane.

Inside into the Horseshoe was proving a happy hunting ground for Lee Clackett passing Brooks there for 3rd and briefly into a 3 way fight for the lead, but side by with Blake through Billy’s with 1 to go served to release Martin to the win and Blake had the inside for turn 1 so was keeping 2nd, whatever Lee’s designs on it were. Teal repeated Clackett’s move on Brooks into the Horseshoe and it was done.

C100_Clay-1593After making most progress in the heats Ian Blake started from pole for the Pre Final. Darren Teal on the front row with Gallagher and Scott Martin on row 2, Steve Brown 6th behind Jay Elliott, Brooks 9th and Anwar Beroual Smith only 13th after racking up no less than 3 penalties in heat 2 for a total 9 positions (2x4place penalties for advantage by contact and a cone penalty – yikes). Perhaps the Pre-Final was won right there it just took 15 laps to work it out.

As it was Blake led up to Billy’s with Freddie Gallagher on his bumper after he wouldn’t let Darren Teal on to it off the first corner, Blake driving the narrowest line, with everyone following him in line into Turn 2. Teal squeezed inside off the corner to go 2nd. Lap 2 it was the chicane again for Gallagher to press home for 2nd forcing Teal side by side with Elliott in the middle of the Esses. Blake was clear into a 1.2secs lead with Gallagher running interference for him, holding off Teal, Elliott and Brown. Brooks and Martin exchanged 6th place. Ray Norris got greedy inside of Turn 2 with his wheels over the inside kerb and spun out half collecting Dix putting him to the back of the line. 1.2, 1.3, 1.5 Blake edged clear of Gallagher, who in turn had the same margin on Jay Elliott. Behind Jay, Anwar had moved into 4th place ahead of Steve Brown 3.7secs off the leader, but was accelerating first into the 41secs bracket and consistently 0.3secs quicker than Blake or Gallagher while Elliott was nearer his pace. Lap 10 this trio were to meet up to fight out 2nd place. But before Anwar joined in Jay got a run on Freddie out of the chicane which Freddie could not cover off down to the hairpin instead electing to give Jay the corner to get it back again with fast exit and he did, except Jay was up the inside into the Horseshoe and they ran deep into the corner and Anwar swept under them on the exit and into 2nd place. Ian Blake’s lead was 2 secs lead with 5 laps to go. On to the last lap it was still 1secs, Blake made no mistakes to take a 3rd maximum points haul to reduce, Anwar’s lead to 7 points.

C100_Clay-1789Ian Blake’s first heat fastest lap 40.695sec was deployed to give him pole position by 3/100ths ahead Anwar Beroual-Smith for the trophy Final, same faces behind Jay Elliott, Darren Teal on row 2, Matt Brooks and Freddie Gallagher, the latter having his best day’s in Prems so far. Off the start you could tell Anwar wanted above all else to be on Blake’s bumper heading up to Billy’s, he took the outside line into Top Bend with no intention of striking for the lead, but only to see Blake swing on to his nose off the corner on more conventional line, Elliott slotted into 3rd, Teal pinned Brooks to the inside on the run up to turn 2, leaving him room for his kart which made for a messy very narrow entry to the corner, turning in half over an early apex kerb put him on collision course with Elliott who, half spun, in turn swiped the back end of Anwar. Jay was straightened up by Teal but still came to a halt and Darren, flailing arm in the air, was looking for a referee while heading down to the back of the line. Blake if he’d seen this may have thought “fill yer boots” into a 1secs lead he’d been gifted. Anwar crucially stayed ahead of Brooks, Clackett and Dix. Clackett went up the inside of Turn 2 towing Tom through, Matt running wide to allow Gallagher through to 5th. Somehow Lee missed turning into the chicane or Tom was far enough inside that Lee chose the grass. The problem with that is the sunken nature of the area after so much abuse, it has ramp back up to the circuit and control is only regained on the 2nd bounce or the outside rumble strip, if taken at pace. Tom saw him coming back and the kart control of both is as remarkable as it was instinctual. One day that area will be filled in, perhaps with concrete and an awful corrugated rumble strip. That will be a sad day.  8 karts flashed passed by Lee and Tom as they gathered themselves up. Hanson was 3rd but 2secs behind Anwar, the final victory was now a two horse race with two groups behind the first Hanson, Brooks, Martin, Gallagher, Teal then Harding heading the rest of the field. Brooks pushed through into Turn 2 to go 3rd, only for Scott Martin to squeeze inside into the chicane Brooks refusing the grass while Hanson trying to go around the other side of Martin between the apexes, Hanson may have “brushed the wall” on the exit to use oval racing parlance. Gallagher was back in 3rd. Crammed together out of the Horseshoe Brooks left room to make it two wide over 6th place through the fast right to the start line only for Harding decide to stick his nose inside of Darren to make it three wide. ALERT! Biff-Baff-Boff! Man on the outside tends to come off worst, Brooks was backwards into tyres.

The race had had too much already and the pack was now broken open just 5 laps in, Anwar was chipping in again on Blake at a 0.1-0.2secs per lap and it didn’t look like it would take long for battle to be joined. Over 4secs behind Gallagher and Martin were fighting out the last podium step, back another second Jack Harding by now on course for an exclusion for “Gaining an advantage by contact which results in and is responsible for a driver(s) coming to a halt” was 5th on track ahead of Hanson.

Martin drafted up through Billy’s forcing Gallagher narrow to hold him off it worked once but it was going to end in the criss-cross behind him into the chicane manoeuvre eventually and so it was. Martin’s turn to be shot at into Turn 2, but he held him off. Brown moved ahead of Hanson in the same way, indeed in some respects Clay Pigeon is the nearest thing to oval racing Club100 experience, drafting, turning predominantly one way (okay it’s right not left) even the hairpin is banked making it quicker than most of that radii and there’s not a great deal of braking on a very quick and simple to look at of course, but it’s full of character and idiosyncrasies that make it challenge and the top of many people’s list. Certainly on it would be on any request list if it were not already such a firm fixture in the Club100 calendar.

Closing stages Anwar had got to within 0.5secs and then was able to draft into a kart length or so. Game on with 3 laps to go. Then Anwar sort of ran out of steam, or appeared to, or Ian picked up the pace a little down to 40.8secs, perhaps Anwar was gathering himself or figuring out how he was going to strike for the lead. He waited, and waited. Coming on to the last lap it looked as if he had waited too long, not close enough to even try the hairpin, he didn’t try inside of the Horseshoe, Ian ran a bit wide off the corner but was back on line coming up to the start line. Anwar looked like he’d missed his chance only to pull out drive down the inside with wheels perilously close to over the kerb, he must have missed the cone there by a fraction and ran Ian out to the rumble strip on the exit. No complaint from Ian he was busy driving for the line and getting a run on. Anwar had looked over the wrong shoulder but when did look over the left one he was able to dissuade Ian from pressing on as they passed the pit exit to win by 0.099secs. Scott Martin held off Freddie Gallagher and the excluded Harding for 3rd place.

Next stop is Buckmore Park on 9 August 2015.