Liam Cochrane At The Double, & With Chris Bell, Darri Simms’ Title’s Not So Certain…

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Qualifying

Championship leader Darri Simms was first to show in Group 1 immediately setting the fastest time with his first flying lap. Jon Watkins briefly challenged holding second before Bobby Dawes leap frogged him. Championship protagonist Liam Cochrane was fourth. Simms meanwhile lowered his best time and then did it again on his final flying lap. Cochrane moved up to second but just didn’t appear to quite have the pace to challenge Simms. But he managed one more lap than Simms. And what a lap it was too but not quite good enough failing to match Simms by just 0.002

C10017R9 2453James Venning led the way in the second group setting his best time on his first flying lap. But it was significantly slower than the first Group. It looked very much as though he would stay at the top of the times too but Sammy Venables dug deep to just beat Venning by 0.052. Chris Bell was next but his time would only be good enough for ninth on the grid for the pre-A Final.

Pre A Final

Simms on pole from Cochrane with Venables and Dawes on the second row. Watkins and Woodger on row three from Venning and Andrea Fioravanti on four with Bell and Club 100 newcomer Toby Baldry on five.
Simms led the field away but Venables got a great start from row two and managed to get inside Cochrane over the first two turns. Wisely Cochrane didn’t force the issue into the first right hander and settled into third ahead of Dawes and Watkins. Woodger too was a victim of starting on the outside and lost out to Venning whilst Fincham had an awesome start moving up five places on the first lap to lead Bell and Fioravanti in ninth and tenth.

C10017R9 0681Simms had a few Kart lengths lead by the end of the first lap and Cochrane knew he had to dispense with Venables early or risk getting cut too far adrift. Out of the left hander leading onto the top straight he ducked out of Venables slipstream and moved into second. Very quickly he closed in on Simms. Two laps later and he made a move on the straight but Simms kept him to the outside. He didn’t run him out too wide though and as they exited the esses to come back down the circuit towards the start and finish line Cochrane had the better traction and moved ahead. Behind these two Venables and Dawes were having real dogfight over third. Several times in a lap Dawes would poke his nose in front only for Venables to hold him off. Mid distance though and Dawes took the place by virtue of a strong move at the second hairpin. He immediately began to pull a gap but then found himself impeded by a pusher Kart loitering on the apex of the first hairpin. Dawes had to slow and Venables closed up. At the front Cochrane continued to pull clear of Simms setting the fastest lap of the race and securing pole for the final on the penultimate lap. Simms was well clear of the Dawes and Venables fight but only managed fourth quickest lap behind Fioravanti and Andrew Ward who finished tenth and eleventh after a race long battle.

C10017R9 0691Dawes crossed the line an elated third only to find that he had been docked a place for cone abuse thus promoting Venables into the spot. Watkins came home a lonely fifth ahead of Venning with Bell seventh. Fincham took eighth having run in seventh for much of the race after starting on grid thirteen. He’d profited hugely on the opening lap as did Wheldon who finished ninth ahead of Fioravanti.

Lightweights A Final

Cochrane on pole with Ward alongside. Fioravanti and Simms on row two from Dawes and Wheeldon on three. Wood and Hall on four with Venables and Baldry completing the top ten. Cochrane made no mistake at the start to lead the field round the first turns.

C10017R9 0922Behind though it all got a bit messy as the field bunched up. There were multiple contacts in the first hairpin and two drivers in the tyres having had nowhere to go. Fourth place on the grid isn’t a great place at Red Lodge as you’re on the outside for the first two turns. The same holds true for sixth. Simms and Wheeldon from fourth and sixth were out. A big blow for Simms the Championship leader. Cochrane was in a race of his own at the front pulling clear of Ward and Fioravanti with Dawes in fourth who had a very feisty Venables almost attached to his rear bumper. Indeed on several occasions the two of them touched but neither gained an advantage. With six laps run Cochrane and Ward continued at the front but Dawes was into third as Fioravanti lost out badly at the far end of the circuit dropping to ninth. Venables was fourth after briefly running ahead of Dawes with Wood sixth from Bell who had made steady progress up from grid fourteen by virtue of others errors and some opportunistic overtaking moves. A lap later and he was into fifth and closing in rapidly on the fight for third. Half distance and Cochrane still led; clear of Ward who was only just in front of the fierce battle for third. On the run into and out of the second hairpin Dawes got really roughed up by Venables and slipped back to fifth behind Bell. It was hard racing. I watched the board expecting a penalty but none came.

C10017R9 0782Venables quickly closed in on Ward and with four to go he moved ahead. This time though he was adjudged to have done so unfairly and would suffer a three place deduction at the flag. Dawes wasn’t giving up despite having had his feathers ruffled and chased down Bell grabbing fourth back with just three to run. But Bell was in no mood to surrender and a lap later he was back up to fourth and closing in on third placed Ward. On the final lap he made it through. Cochrane took the win and maximum points for the day with a rapidly closing Venables second on the road but penalised down to fifth. I thought he was a touch unlucky to get a penalty for his pass on Ward but by the same token I think he was massively lucky not to have had a penalty mid race when fighting with Dawes. I guess what goes around comes around.

C10017R9 1011Venables penalty promoted Bell into second. A fine drive this and much needed. He also set the fastest lap on the penultimate tour and established a new class record. Ward took third and his first podium of the season with Dawes fourth. It surely can’t be long before he gets a top three finish. Baldry took sixth. A good drive this from Toby having his first run in Club 100. Hopefully we will see more of him. Wood came home seventh recording his best result of the season with Fincham eighth from Venning and Fioravanti.

Podium & Standings

A great day for Liam Cochrane taking maximum points with his two wins and moving into second in the order. Chris Bell can’t be unhappy with second either. His drive through the field was a tremendous effort and although he’s dropped to third in the standings it’s only by a couple of points. Congratulations to Andrew Ward too for his third place. Yes, it was gained at the expense of a penalised Sammy Venables but it was still merited. Darri Simms still has a healthy lead in the Championship but he does seem to find himself in the wars a little too often. It’s usually by virtue of others mistakes which is clearly unlucky. But it’s a truism in sport that Champions make their own luck.

C10017R9 1001Reflections

There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind as to who gets my Driver of the Day award. There’s no trophy but it still has to be earned. Take a bow Dan Healey. How gut wrenching it must have been to have such a huge lead in the Elite final only to lose out because of a very rare mechanical failure. Yet in defeat I think he gained so much. There were no histrionics, No toys out the pram just a quiet acceptance that fate had intervened. For a young man, indeed for anyone, to remain calm under those circumstances takes some serious self control when you are as dedicated to the sport as he is. His attitude humbled many and whilst he lost the race he has gained huge respect amongst his peers. I’m sure mum Jo is very proud of you anyway no matter what so I’m not going to say you made your mum proud. But you did! It was no surprise to see a few tears from her on Sunday. We all want our kids to do well and I’m pleased she was able to smile a little later. Dan’s day will surely come. Hats off too to Mark Ridout. He too remained calm after the incident in the pre-Final took him out of contention. Again, no drama, just get back out there and get on with it.

C10017R9 0728Red Lodge certainly divided opinion. Yes it’s narrow. Yes it’s twisty and not the easiest place to overtake. But isn’t that part of the challenge? Does everything have to be fast, flowing and relatively easy?

A reminder too about the correct procedure after spinning off. Get your Kart back on the track and facing in the direction of travel. Then the pusher Kart can get square on to the rear bumper and there is no danger of being pushed across the track and causing a dangerous obstruction. Safety is paramount. Like putting your foot on the brake no one should really have to be reminded of this simple action.

I travel to most Kart events in my faithful old work car Monty the Mondeo. He’s travelled the neck end of 300,000 miles. When I get in it’s like putting on a comfy pair of old slippers. He is my mate. Like me he’s beginning to show his age but he never lets me down. Imagine the horror then when a tree jumped out in the car park at Red Lodge and whacked his rear bumper. Of course I remonstrated with the tree but it just stood there and refused to answer. Well, I thought it was a reasonable excuse to give my wife inspired by some of the excuses we hear at meetings. Didn’t cut any ice though. Dan Healey, Mark Ridout, Tim Hill and Darri Simms, I share a little of your pain..

Just three rounds left of this absorbing season. It’s getting exciting. See you all at Whilton!