Lightweight Clubman Sprint Championship 2013, Rd.3

Club 100 returns to its spiritual home, Rye House, where it rocks.

Despite heavy criticism, Rye House is a nice little technical challenge, and one of the less kart dependable tracks on the calendar. Downsides are the tight hairpins and the general lack of space that often creates messy racing.

Lightweight Clubman is a great category. Lightweight is traditionally the series where the quality dribbles into the club. The front is always tightly packed and there are always fast new comers coming in to mix the game.

There are tough competitors out there. Simon Rudd has won three out of four finals so far. With Rudd missing the Rye epic, this was a great chance for the others to make it count.

Jack Harding is undoubtedly quick. Harding hasn’t won a race yet despite being labeled a bit of a Buckmore specialist. Dan Milner missed the opening race of the year, but can be a title challenger over the season. David Waters is quick and has been on the podium on each of the finals so far. Stefan Child has been consistent himself, racking up four fourths from the first four finals. Carl Watt is good. Stephanie Walters brings the female touch to the game. It’s tough there at the front.

But be aware Clubman drivers. As always there are fast drivers coming through the Lightweight category.

The economic climate might have its hands in the game. For example, some people who moved towards Easykart have now come back into Club100. This is noticeable in all the classes. Club100 is indeed taken seriously as an alternative to owner driver racing.

Heats were spent in much the same formation as the grids were drawn. The Clubman series is so tight there is not much movement within the pack. The hairpins tend to stretch the pack as well and after some early lap carnage Rye can create processional racing.

Dan Milner and David Walters took a win each from pole. Stephen Townsend, Jack Harding, and Clubman novice Justin Buck were first lap victims of the Heat 2 carnage.

FINAL 1

Dan Milner took pole in Final 1 with Stefan Child and Ben Finch hot on the heels. Carl Watt and Stephanie Walters were next with Robert Larque, Simon Taylor, and Chris Lewis Evans next.

Dan Milner got away from pole perfectly. Ben Finch dropped from third to sixth.

Stephanie Walters had shown great pace already on Saturday. Walters got a cracking start and moved up to fourth. With Carl Watt and Robert Larque, she chased down Ben Finch. This is where the main battle of the final would be.

Walters took third on lap three. From that point on Stephanie was defending her third place hard. Maybe too hard. She clearly had the pace to drive away from Watt and Larque, but each time she took a defending line into the hairpins, Watt and Larque would close in igniting their own battle. Walters was really enjoying herself: “It was a good fight between me and Carl Watt. Very good battle. Really enjoyed it.”
At the front, Dan Milner drove to win keeping a few kart length cushion to Stefan Child throughout the race. Walters kept her third till the finish. Walters and Child were happy.

Watt was close fourth with Larque just keeping fifth from Ben Finch. Jack Harding stormed from 16th on the grid to seventh. Simon Taylor, David Waters and Chris Lewis Evans rounded up the top ten.

FINAL 2

After setting a blistering pace in Final 1 – Clubman new boy Justin Buck had pole for the second one. Recovering from the dismal heats Jack Harding had made great progress in the first final. Harding was second, with Ray Norris and Dan Milner on third and fourth. Alex Mitchison and Carl Watt shared row three.

Justin Buck led the race away with Harding hot on the heels. Justin Buck dropped back and then got a black flag for turning Stefan Child around. Buck claimed to be a passenger at the time after getting hit from behind.

Ray Norris, now effectively leading the race from Milner and Harding. A great battle ensued within this bunch.

On the pit wall Jay Elliot was confident Harding would chase the lead down.

By lap four Harding had cleared Milner and was chasing down Ray Norris at the front. He took the lead on lap 10 and never looked back.

A lap from the end Final 1 heroine Stephanie Walters managed to push David Waters into the tyres on the main straight. How Stephanie Walters escaped a penalty is anyone’s guess. Animated David Waters looked very unhappy after flying into the tyre wall with his back first. Stephanie:“Its too much of a long comment to get involved in. but I can tell that me and the person involved will not be coming near each other for a while.”

Harding took his first win of the season. Carl Watt shot into the lead battle and jumped from fourth to second on the last lap. Ray Norris was third with Dan Milner a slightly disappointed fourth. Simon Taylor was fifth with Alex Mitchison running home a strong sixth. Stephanie Walters was seventh with James Haslehurst, Robert Larque, Chris Lewis Evans in close pursuit rounding up the top ten. Oliver Goodacre had a good race coming through 11th from 18th on the grid with Stephen Townsend, Ross Whellaghan, Patrick Whellaghan next.

In the end Clubman drivers leave Rye House battlefield in one piece with Jack Harding in the championship lead. With dropped scores and three different winners from six finals this one is too close to call. What is clear is that all Harding, Rudd, Waters and Milner all have a chance to fight it out till the end. And who knows who will up their game as the season progresses.