Lightweight Sprint Championship 2014, Rd.10

LW Sprints Podium

Introduction & Qualifying

As the end of 2014 draws closer, so too does the entertaining battle that has played out for the Lightweight Sprints crown. Once again, all the main competitors were present as the familiar sight of Rye House Kart Track greeted them for Round 10. The Hertfordshire circuit, once home and HQ of Club100, looked in good shape and with perfect track conditions thanks to the lack of rain and generous helping of sunshine. With DeHavillande still in the driving seat, could his nearest rivals Chris Brown and James Small put the pressure on with some big scores? Rhianna Purcocks would also be one to watch after her outstanding performance last time out to take her maiden sprint wins at Whilton Mill.

Qualifying proved a very close run affair. It was group 2 that prevailed, with James Small less than a tenth faster than group 1’s top performer, Frankie Hedges. The pair would therefore take the front row for A Final 1. Stephen Townsend gave us a pleasant surprise with a lap time fast enough to put him 3rd on the grid. Alongside him would be one of the Championship front runners, Miguel Hall. Daniel Truman and Andrew Green’s times were enough to put them into the top 6 and on row 3 for A Final 1. James DeHavillande produced yet another average qualifying performance, which saw him only good enough for 8th on the grid. His rivals David Longman and Chris Brown would keep him company in the mid-pack after they qualified 9th and 10th respectively. Purcocks was down in 12th. Another man disappointed with his performance was Rich Ward, with his fastest time only just keeping him in A Final 1. He would have to start from 20th. Taking Pole for B Final 1 was Charles Holroyd, with the inconsistent Tyler Mays alongside in 2nd. Greg Aaron again found himself down there, with 3rd on the grid being his.

B Final 1

Pole for this race went to Charles Holroyd, with Tyler Mays joining him on the front row. Greg Aaron and Ahmed Bin Khaled took row 2. As the race got underway, Mays took the early lead, albeit with the aid of a jump start, with Khaled going straight through into 2nd at the expense of Holroyd. Keith Segal made a great start from 8th to find himself up to 5th and in contention for an A Final spot. The start was predictably messy, however the only driver going off was James Munro. The early stages of the race saw not a great deal of action at the front of the pack. Mays immediately set about pulling away from the group to assert his authority on the proceedings. Khaled was unable to live with the leader’s pace, however he was just about keeping Holroyd and Aaron at bay. As the race wore on, things remained exactly the same with only changes further down the order taking place. Harry Neale was coming through well and found himself up to 7th after having started in 12th. It looked unlikely that he might make the top 4, however. That was until Greg Aaron made a brutal lunge on Khaled through the hairpins and took the latter out. Aaron subsequently received the black flag for his antics. That incident had allowed Keith Segal to suddenly find himself up into 3rd and with a real chance of making the A Final. It was to be short-lived, however, as again Greg Aaron caused mayhem with a poor attempt at a move on Segal, costing them both several positions as a result. Williams and Pagano were now 3rd and 4th, with Harry Neale all of a sudden a mere second away from the top 4. One lap later and he was 4th, with Pietro Pagano making a hash of things and falling out of contention. The remainder of the race was fairly settled, with Tyler Mays romping away into the distance. By the time the chequered flag came out, he was an incredible 7.8secs clear of 2nd. He took the win on track, however that jump start saw him demoted 2 positions to 3rd. Holroyd therefore came through ahead of Chris Williams to take 1st and 2nd. Harry Neale finished well clear of 5th to secure his place at the back of A Final 1. The man behind him was Jack Richards, who amazingly had come through from 25th on the grid to take 5th ahead of Hornsby and Segal. Several penalties were dished out during this tempestuous race. Three separate 4-place penalties were handed to Alex Becker for his overly-forceful driving. Tyler Mays took the aforementioned 2-place deduction for the jump start, whilst John Edmiston also took a 4-place demotion. Greg Aaron was the only driver to be excluded, having already received a 6-place penalty prior to that.

A Final 1

The first of the big races was upon us and taking Pole for A Final 1 was James Small. Frankie Hedges lined up in 2nd, with Townsend and Hall on row 2. Truman and Green were 5th and 6th, with Championship leader James DeHavillande with some work to do from 8th. As the race got underway, James Small made no mistake as he held the lead around the first few corners. Hedges got a rough start and found himself losing out to Miguel Hall, who darted across from the outside to sneak through into 2nd at Stadium. Townsend dropped to 4th, with Purcocks making a blinding start from 12th after a coming together between karts into Hairpin 1 saw Lex Wakeman spinning out and James DeHavillande losing several positions. By the end of the Hairpins, Purcocks had hauled herself up to 5th. In the middle of that incident, Andrew Green took damage to his exhaust which ultimately saw him retire after 4 laps. The next lap was a lot calmer, with the order settled. DeHavillande found himself losing another position to Josh Pettitt, before the pair battled past Jack Bolton into Stadium, who fell to 14th. Lap 4 saw David Longman muscle his way past Stansfield for 9th, whilst DeHavillande was able to get back ahead of Pettitt for 12th. Out in front, James Small was looking too quick for the competition, having established a 2sec lead by the end of lap 5. Miguel Hall was now starting to creep away from Hedges, who was facing pressure from Townsend and Purcocks in the battle for 3rd. Another move from DeHavillande saw him take Truman at Stadium for 9th a few laps later. Chris Brown and David Longman were having a good battle over 6th and it was Longman who took it through Stadium on lap 9. DeHavillande also forced his way through, but Brown fought back and dived to the inside at Hairpin 1 to deny his Championship rival. The rest of the order remained as it was with Hall having now pulled clear of Hedges and co. He was a long way off the race leader, however, with Small having stretched his advantage out to over 3.5secs. Further down the order, Rich Ward put a good move in on Zaporozhets at Pylon to take 16th. However it was the battle for 3rd that was beginning to shape up nicely. Unable to find a way past Hedges, Townsend was caught napping by Purcocks, who came flying through up his inside into Stadium to take 4th. Behind them, DeHavillande was determined to get ahead of Brown and went for 7th at Hairpin 2. A better exit saw him tip it in ahead at Pylon, with Brown having to back out of it and losing out a further position to Pettitt as a result.

With the race now two thirds complete, James Small must have been scratching his head at just how easy this was turning out to be for him. He maintained his rapid pace, however, continuing to pull away from the lonely Miguel Hall in 2nd. Purcocks was now turning up the heat on Hedges in her quest for a podium. A better drive out of Hairpin 2 saw her presented with an opportunity. She didn’t hesitate, hanging it around the outside on the entry to Pylon to take it. Hedges fought hard to deny her and the pair eventually came back out onto the start/finish straight side by side. Townsend fancied doing the pair of them and came steaming up the inside of them. However he was almost pushed onto the grass as Purcocks pulled to the inside, unaware of his presence. She held on to take 3rd, with Townsend having backed out to remain 5th. Further back, Mays was continuing his steady rise through the order from the back of the grid and sneaked ahead of Stansfield for 12th. The following lap saw yet another change in the battle for 3rd. This time it was hedges getting back through, with a somewhat forceful move that saw Purcocks pushed wide at Stadium. No penalty was called though. A bizarre piece of driving from Josh Pettitt saw him smack into the tire wall on the exit of Hairpin 2 all on his own. He did a complete 360o spin and somehow was able to keep it going, albeit at a crawling place. That gifted Brown with 8th, whilst Pettitt dropped all the way back to 19th by the time he got back up to speed. The following laps came and went without any other real talking points. Tyler Mays was another making a careless mistake as he spun himself out at Hairpin 1. Out in front, James Small was continuing to disappear into the distance with Miguel Hall unchallenged in 2nd. As the end of the race approached, all eyes remained on the battle for 3rd as Purcocks looked for a way through on Hedges. With the final lap board out, she seized the opportunity at Hairpin 1 to dive up the inside and take it. Hedges was pushed wide and had to drive the wrong side of the tire barrier on the exit before rejoining the track behind Purcocks. He was unable to fight back and that’s how it remained. As the chequered flag came out, James Small crossed the line to take the win, an incredible 6secs clear of Miguel Hall who eventually took 2nd. Purcocks held firm to seal an impressive 3rd, ahead of Hedges and Townsend. A late move from DeHavillande so him snatch 6th from Longman, however a 4-place penalty saw him subsequently demoted to 10th.

B Final 2

The last opportunity for qualification into the A Final saw Daniel Healey take Pole ahead of Pietro Pagano. Hornsby and Aaron took row 2. With Pagano a bit too eager to get off to a good start, a jump start was called as he charged through and into the lead through Stadium. Healey slotted into 2nd, with Aaron sneaking ahead of Hornsby and into 3rd. It proved a fairly calmer start to this race in contrast to the previous B Final. However there were the usual casualties. This time it was Ameya Vaidyanathan, Pedro Ferreira and Mike Bruford getting thrown off track. The latter was forced to retire and never completed a lap. John Hughes was the culprit after a ridiculous lunge into Hairpin 1 saw him take the aforementioned drivers out. Lap 3 saw Jack Richards get the better of James Munro as they fought over 5th. Out in front, Pietro Pagano was doing a great job and slowly opening a gap up to Healey. It ultimately wouldn’t matter though, as the 2-place deduction meant there was no way of him qualifying into the top 2 unless one of the two drivers behind him also took a penalty. The first half of the race was largely unmemorable as the front-runners produced little in the way of excitement. Healey had pulled clear of Greg Aaron and was unchallenged as he maintained his pace to try and close in on the leader. Hornsby was 2secs adrift of Aaron in 4th, with Richards a long way back in 5th. Keith Segal was trying his best to move forwards and made a move on Atkinson to move into 6th. One lap later, Atkinson lost a further position to Watkins to slip back to 8th. Another two positions were then lost by Atkinson when both Edmiston and Munro came charging through on lap 12. Edmiston was beginning to build some momentum on his rise through from 12th on the grid. He soon deposed Watkins to move into 7th. More fighting amongst that group a couple of laps later saw Segal and Edmiston collect each other and lose a few positions. Atkinson was the big winner in that scrap, sneaking through to 6th ahead of Watkins and Munro. Atkinson couldn’t hold it, however, with Watkins finding a way back through into 6th late on. With the race coming to a low key conclusion, it was Pietro Pagano crossing the line in 1st by 1.5secs from Healey. The jump start meant that Healey was promoted to 1st, with Greg Aaron bumped up to 2nd and onto the back of Final 2 as a result. Pagano was therefore 3rd on paper, with Hornsby eventually coming home in 4th ahead of Richards. Other penalties in this race went to Keith Segal, taking a 4-placer for ABC, and Hughes who was excluded for that early incident.

A Final 2

With the grid now decided for A Final 2, it was time to get the show on the road. Leading them out from Pole was James Small, who would be odds-on favourite to win if his performance in A Final 1 was anything to go by. 2nd on the grid was James DeHavillande, with Josh Pettitt and Tyler Mays locking out row 2. Miguel Hall and David Longman took row 3, with Purcocks this time having her work cut out from 9th. Chris Brown had even more to do with his fastest lap time only good enough to put him 12th on the grid. The race got off to a predictably frenetic start, with James Small holding the lead ahead of DeHavillande whilst all hell broke loose behind them. Eager to get a good start, Miguel Hall came barrelling through and out-braked himself into Hairpin 1, clobbering the back of Pettitt’s kart and causing them both to run wide on the exit. They were both forced the other side of the tire barrier, leaving Mays and Longman to take 3rd and 4th. Truman had made a great start and was able to get himself between Pettitt and Hall to sneak into 6th. Further back, Purcocks and Hedges were resuming their duel from A Final 1, with Hedges tapping the back of her kart through the hairpins. The only casualty from the start was Andrew Green, who was fired off whilst battling at the back of the pack. Lap 2 saw only one change to the order, with Zaporozhets taking Stansfield through Hairpin 1 for 16th. Out in front, James Small was looking less comfortable and like he might really have to work hard for this win, with DeHavillande all over the back of him. The pair had already pulled clear of Mays in 3rd, who was coming under fire from Longman. The move came on lap 3 as a better exit from the final corner enabled Longman to launch himself through and into 3rd at Stadium. Josh Pettitt was right behind them and looking for a way past Mays, but couldn’t quite create an opening. He eventually got his man at Stadium on lap 5 to move into 4th. Behind them, an ambitious move into Hairpin 1 by Chris Brown saw him clatter into the side of Harry Neale. It served only to allow Hammann through and into 9th. Down the order, Wakeman pulled off a good move at the same corner to get himself ahead of Stansfield. Bolton was also there to take advantage and slip ahead of Stansfield on the exit. Back in the battle for 3rd, Josh Pettitt was looking good and soon made his move on Longman to take 3rd, with the latter unable to counter and having to get back in line to prevent Mays from also coming through.

With the race now at the midway point, things were really getting close between the front two. James Small was under heavy and sustained pressure from DeHavillande with the move looking imminent. It eventually came on lap 9, with DeHavillande going for it and taking the lead into Stadium. But a rush of the blood to the head saw him throw it away. As they came round towards Hairpin 1, DeHavillande misjudged his braking zone and locked his tires up, running wide and gifting the position back to Small. It cost him time and Small now had just over half a second of breathing space to his rival. Over the next couple of laps, DeHavillande attempted to close the gap down but struggled to get back onto the leader’s rear bumper. The pair were now almost 5secs clear of Pettitt in 3rd, who had left Longman behind and was looking good to hold on to the spot. Behind them, Miguel Hall was subjected to a move at Hairpin 1 by Harry Neale. The latter couldn’t hold it, with Hall getting the better exit and beating him to the apex of Hairpin 2. Chris Brown was able to complete his move on Hammann, however, taking 9th with the rapidly approaching Purcocks looking threatening. A couple of laps later Purcocks had also got ahead of Hammann, with Stadium again proving the favoured overtaking point on the track. With just a few laps left, things were really beginning to get exciting as Truman cranked up the pressure on Longman for 4th. He went for it at Stadium, but failed to hold it as Longman slipped back through on the exit. Truman got his man through the hairpins, however, whilst Miguel Hall went lunging through on Mays into Hairpin 1 for 6th. The latter was compromised on his exit, causing him to also lose out to Neale and Brown through Hairpin 2. It got worse on the next lap for Mays, finding himself muscled out by Purcocks at Pylon and losing yet more positions to drop back to 12th by the end of it. Behind them, Greg Aaron put a move on Rich Ward at Stadium for 17th. Out in front, DeHavillande had once again managed to close the gap to Small and was looking for a way into the lead. It didn’t look likely, however, and as the last lap board came out James Small was looking like he might just hold on. DeHavillande was now closer than ever and tried everything to force a mistake. It very nearly came, when Small went defensive into Pylon and compromised himself. DeHavillande almost sneaked through, but Small slammed the door shut, forcing his rival to back out of it as they came through the final corner. They crossed the finish line just 0.1secs apart, with Small clinching the win. It was a thrilling end to the race, which is just as well as nothing really happened elsewhere. Pettitt came through to secure 3rd, some 6.6secs adrift of the leaders. Truman held off Longman as the pair took 4th and 5th respectively, with Miguel Hall following them through in 6th. The only penalty of the race went to Greg Aaron, taking a 4-place demotion to add to his collection of penalties for the day.

So another round is out of the way and with just one more left to go, things are getting a bit closer in the battle for the Championship. James Small was the start of the show with two excellent wins that do him the world of good and keep him in the title hunt. James DeHavillande recovered well after an average A Final 1 to secure a very useful 2nd in A Final 2. He took 3rd overall for the round, with Miguel Hall driving particularly well to end the day 2nd best behind Small. With only Buckmore Park left, this Championship looks like it’ll go right to the wire. DeHavillande is in the driving seat, however, with a 16 point advantage over Small in the standings. Chris Brown is 3rd and pretty much out of the running, although he’ll still need to perform well in order to prevent Miguel Hall stealing it from him. He is currently 4th, ahead of Truman in 5th. With a trip to Kent a month away, it promises to be an exciting end to the year as we wait to see who will be crowned 2014 Lightweight Sprints Champion!

Driver of the Day

There can only be one contender for driver of the day. That driver is of course James Small. He was simply unstoppable today, doing the business in qualifying before dominating the competition in A Final 1. A Final 2 was a much tougher test, but he came through it and proved his resolve in fine fashion. If he can drive like this in the final round, James DeHavillande may well find himself with a real task on his hands. Miguel Hall also did very well today and will be hoping to carry his form through in order to steal 3rd in the Championship.