Lightweight Sprint Championship, 2014, Rd.2

It proved another glorious weekend for racing, with clear skies and searing temperatures meaning that there would be a few drivers having to nervously keep an eye on their minimum race weight over the course of the afternoon after several surprise disqualifications during the morning Endurance racing. The Kent track is one of the more technical offerings on the calendar and is a true driver’s track. Opinion is always split with Bayford Meadows, but one thing is for sure; it never fails to deliver intense and exciting racing and always offers plenty of talking points and controversies. Today would not be expected to be any different!

With another inflated entry list of 51 drivers, the main talking point was the absence of Shaun Hollingsworth. The Championship leader put in a commanding performance at Round 1 and was expected to return to another one of his preferred tracks here in Sittingbourne. He wasn’t on the entry list though, and with Andrew Cowell also unable to get an entry for Round 2, the opportunity presented itself for one of the other drivers to press home their claims for a Championship challenge. After a very impressive showing at Buckmore Park, Miguel Hall would be one of the favourites here, with James DeHavillande also looking to push on and claim a big points haul. Daniel Truman, Greg Aaron and David Longman were also present and, after a good showing last time out, they’d be looking to get amongst the podium positions today. A few new faces were also welcomed to the class for Round 2. James Small and Ben Dimelow were amongst the newbies, however both have plenty of Karting experience and it would be interesting to see how they adapt to life on the Club100 machines. Gavin Parkes, Derek Beckley, John Corrigan and Andrea Fioravanti also joined the group, whilst Andrew Green, Michael Chaplin and Alexander Ready opted to sit this one out.

Qualifying

Pole was snatched up in impressive fashion by Chris Brown after he dominated group 1 with a fastest time of 54.655secs. Winning group 2 and finally getting his act together after a disappointing Round 1 was Rich Ward. His best was marginally slower than Brown’s, thus meaning a front row start from 2nd. James Small and Miguel Hall locked out row 2 after their respective performances, whilst Andrea Fioravanti took 5th ahead of Daniel Truman. John Corrigan was quick enough for 7th, with Alexander Lammin placing 8th. James DeHavillande would have some early ground to make up from 9th on the grid, whilst David Longman was only good enough for 19th. It proved a disappointing qualifying experience for both Greg Aaron and Rhianna Purcocks. After promising displays at Buckmore Park, they now faced an uphill struggle with their respective lap times only good enough for 8th and 13th in B Final 1. Taking Pole for the B Final was Simon Lloyd, accompanied on the front row by Edward Barrs. Harrison Darvill and Gavin Parkes would be behind them on row 2.

B Final 1

The first final of the day saw Simon Lloyd get the 31-kart grid underway in the battle for a place on the back of the A Final. Lloyd ensured a clean start and controlled things well thereafter. A good start from Harrison Darvill saw him battle past Barrs for 2nd on lap 1, before slotting in behind the race leader. Gavin Parkes also muscled his way past Barrs on the following lap and before long the front three began to pull away. The three of them were evenly-matched and with little to separate them, it had potential to erupt into an epic scrap for the win. It ultimately wouldn’t really matter though as the most important thing would be to secure one of those repercharge spots for A Final 1, something which the three drivers were all too aware of. Sensibly, the trio stayed as they were, electing to follow each other as they worked together to open up an unassailable lead over the following drivers. As the chequered flag came out, Simon Lloyd led Darvill and Parkes through to seal their spots in the top 4, with a gap of almost 5secs to the next driver. The lucky driver to secure the final Repercharge spot was Dmitri Zaporozhets. He made a good start from 7th on the grid and quickly picked off the drivers immediately in front of him to snatch 4th from Mike Bruford. The pair then battled it out over the remainder of the race, but despite Bruford’s best efforts, he was unable to usurp Zaporozhets from that elusive 4th spot and so had to settle with crossing the finish line in 5th, barely 0.1secs behind the former. Greg Aaron struggled to make any real progress in this race and came home an eventual 6th, meaning he’d need one more shot at making the A Final. The same would also apply to Rhianna Purcocks, although her performance was a little more promising after she battled through from 13th to take an eventual 7th. No major incidents or penalties materialised in what turned out to be a relatively sedate and trouble-free race.

A Final 1

With B Final 1 out of the way, it was time for the first of the big point-scoring finals as the leading Lightweight drivers geared up to do battle. Leading from Pole would be Chris Brown, with Rich Ward looking to take the fight to him from 2nd. Row 2 was occupied by Miguel Hall, with James Small alongside in 4th. 5th and 6th were Daniel Truman and Andrea Fioravanti. As the race commenced, Brown held firm to lead through the first few corners. Rich Ward found himself immediately under attack from Hall but was able to cut across to the inside in order to ward off any moves (no pun intended). As they came through Turn 2, Hall looked to be getting loaded from behind as the rest of the pack piled through. He was able to hold it together though to keep on track and hold on to 3rd. It was a sloppy start for James Small, who found himself losing out to both Truman and Fioravanti early on and dropping to 6th. Further back, Derek Beckley was making a good go of it and made up a couple of positions through the Hairpins as he climbed up into 9th. Amazingly, everybody managed to keep it on track with no one falling victim of the usual first lap mayhem. The same can’t be said for lap 2 though. Chris Brown was still leading the way, albeit with Ward and Hall in close proximity. It was behind them where things were getting a bit heated as Small looked for a way past Fioravanti. As they came down into Turn 2, Small lunged to the inside and held the line well. Fioravanti refused to yield and quickly found the tarmac disappearing in front of him as they came through the subsequent left kink. He found a tire wall to greet him and with nowhere to go, he clattered head first into them and almost came to a stop. He somehow kept it going, but the damage was done as several karts came flying past. By the time he’d got back up to speed, Fioravanti had slumped to 12th and was reeling. Small was now up to 5th, with Lammin and Beckley also promoted into the top 7. The latter had managed to find a way past Kieran McAleer to make yet further ground. The following couple of laps were fairly calm with only a few position changes through the order as the drivers began to settle and spread out. At the front, Brown was still pushing hard to shake off Ward and Hall, with Truman a little further back. It was Ward who was coming under the most pressure, however. As they came over start/finish line, Hall had the edge and launched himself up the inside into Turn 1. He held the line and made it stick, moving into 2nd whilst Ward found himself also losing out to Truman on the exit of the corner. Ward was unable to fight back and so was forced to slot into 4th. In the mid-pack, James DeHavillande was beginning to find his rhythm and pulled off a good move on McAleer at Hairpin 1 to steal 9th.

As the race entered the mid-phase, things were beginning to get rather spicy and attentions returned to the front. Brown was now under heavy pressure from Hall and was clearly holding him up. Whilst searching for a way through, Hall had forgotten about Truman behind him and the latter made the most of it by springing a surprise move to steal 2nd. Hall tried to fight back through Turn 1 on the following lap but was unable to hold it. The move eventually came though and Hall was back in 2nd fairly quickly. Things threatened to boil over behind him when James Small became involved in the scrap. As they came through the Hairpins, Small tried to lunge through on both Ward and Truman. Contact between Small and Truman didn’t cause too much damage, however the move failed and Truman held on to 3rd. Hand gestures and head shaking were evidence that he was less than pleased with Small for that attempt though. Down the order, a coming together between Patrick Nicholls and Stephen Townsend saw both men fall off track at Hairpin 1 and Nicholls forced into retirement with a broken exhaust. The following lap saw a new leader take control of the race. Brown finally succumbed to the heavy pressure as Hall made a daring move at Turn 2 to steal 1st. Brown had no response and dropped to 2nd, with the fight behind them meaning that they had now opened up some breathing space to 3rd. The gap between 3rd and 9th had now diminished as the group tightened and closed in. Truman’s advantage over Ward in 4th was just over 0.5secs, but there was little to separate the drivers behind as the pressure was maintained. DeHavillande was now up to 8th after ousting Josh Pettit at the back of that group. Towards the back of the field, pressure from both Mays and Parkes paid off as they managed to leapfrog Damian, albeit with contact, for 16th and 17th. Another incident involving Fioravanti had seen him again pushed off track and he was now well out of contention in 22nd. As attentions returned to the leaders, the onlookers were left stunned as Miguel Hall inexplicably lost it all on his own through the long right-hander. Having gone in too deep, Hall failed to correct it and with a wheel dropping on the grass, he was unable to prevent the kart from sliding out and coming to a screeching halt. It was heartbreak for Hall as he sat there watching pretty much the entire grid tear past as all hopes of the win were shattered. Brown therefore moved back into the lead, with Truman and Small promoted into the top 3. Behind them Ward was still running 4th ahead of Lammin and DeHavillande. The latter had got ahead of Beckley to maintain his forward charge and climb into 6th. The following lap was less dramatic, with only a couple of position changes through the order. John Corrigan pulled a good move on Kieran McAleer to steal 9th, whilst B Final 1 winner Simon Lloyd edged past Tom Powell in the battle for 17th.

As the end of the race approached, it seemed like Brown might just be able to hold on to the lead. Despite his lack of pace, he was driving a very good defensive race and was somehow preventing Truman from finding a way through. Truman’s persistence eventually paid off though and good drive out of Turn 5 saw him get a good run down towards Turn 6. He dived up the inside of the leader at the long left-hander and made it stick, taking the lead for the first time. James Small was close behind but unable to take advantage of the move in any way. A little further back, James DeHavillande was maintaining his impressive progress and had wasted little time in forcing his way through on Lammin for 5th. The penultimate lap of the race saw things explode into life again. Again it was Brown at the centre of it. This time it was James Small making his move. Having gone defensive into Turn 1, Brown had sacrificed his exit speed, something which Small capitalised on as he launched himself through to the inside of Turn 2 to take 2nd. Brown foolishly tried to hang on to the inside line on the exit into the left kink and succeeded only in catching the back of Small’s kart. The front bounced up onto the back of Small’s rear bumper and very nearly cost him dearly. He was able to keep it going although he had fallen into the clutches of Ward and DeHavillande. As they came through the Hairpins, things were getting very physical and Rich Ward found himself losing out to DeHavillane through Turn 6. As they came through to begin the final lap, things were looking very good for Daniel Truman out in front as all the scrapping behind had enabled him to open up a nice gap. As they came across start/finish line, Brown tried lunging to the inside of DeHavillande at Turn 1. He failed and ran wide, allowing Rich Ward to come through also. Brown fell into the path of the drivers directly behind him and lost further positions as a result, with Pettit battling past and allowing others to pick him off. By the end of the lap, Brown had slumped to 9th. As the chequered flag came out, a delighted Daniel Truman came through to take the win, followed by James Small in 2nd. Rich Ward crossed the line in 3rd, but a 2-place penalty saw him demoted to 5th. It therefore meant that DeHavillande was promoted to 3rd after completing an excellent drive, with Pettit taking 4th. Beckley led Lammin and Corrigan home to complete the top 8. A late move from Harrison Darvill on Kieran McAleer saw him steal 12th moments before the end. That turned into 11th after the application of a 4-place penalty to Chris Brown saw him demoted to 13th. 2-place penalties to Beckley and Powell saw those drivers also demoted to an eventual 8th and 20th respectively.

B Final 2

With the grid decided based on fastest laps from the previous final, it was William Hemsley who took Pole and found himself with the perfect opportunity to gain a place on the back of A Final 2. Starting in 2nd would be Ben Atkinson, whilst experienced Lightweight drivers Rhianna Purcocks and Greg Aaron would surely mount a serious threat from row 2. Dimelow and Barrs would be behind on row 3 of this 27-kart grid. It proved to be a disastrous start for Pole-man Hemsley, making a mess of things and falling off track to drop out of contention. Rhianna Purcocks made a great start and immediately took control after leapfrogging Atkinson and the stricken race leader. Another man making a lightning start was Alan Beckley, gaining no fewer than six positions on the first lap to climb into 4th. He eventually dropped back though when Dimelow and Bolton forced their way through a few laps into the race. Out in front, Purcocks was looking good value for her lead, albeit struggling to pull out any kind of decent gap to Atkinson. As the race wore on, the latter really started getting into his stride and was soon closing the small gap down to apply the pressure. Behind them, Aaron was not quite able to match them and was slowly falling into the clutches of Dimelow. It all turned sour though when Dimelow made an ill-judged move and clattered into Aaron, sending him off track. By the time he re-joined the action, Aaron was all the way down in 24th. Dimelow would receive the black flag for his troubles. With the front two now well out on their own, they knew that the final two repercharge spots were theirs to lose. Atkinson was now beginning to turn the screw on Purcocks in the hunt for victory and eventually got his opportunity, pulling off a smart move for the lead on lap 10. Purcocks had no answer and so that’s how it remained. As they saw out the final few laps, Atkinson held his rival off to take the chequered flag, earning them both a place in A Final 2. Dimelow crossed the line in 2nd, but the exclusion meant that Jack Bolton was promoted into 3rd, with Iain McGregor and Beckley completing the top 5. The only other driver to receive a penalty in this race was Lee Norris, who was also excluded.

A Final 2

With the grid finally decided, it was time for the 26-driver grid to take to the track for the last time. After triumphing in A Final 1 and getting the fastest lap in the process, Daniel Truman found himself on Pole and with a real chance to bag himself a double. James Small would start from 2nd, whilst B Final 1 qualifier Gavin Parkes found himself starting 3rd and with a real chance to race for some glory. Alongside him would be Miguel Hall, looking to bounce back from his catastrophic mistake in the first final which cost him a potential race win. Tyler Mays and James DeHavillande occupied row 3. The start was the usual frenetic affair as Truman got them underway. He held the inside line as James Small came mighty close to jumping the start in a bid to launch an assault for the lead. Behind them, Miguel took 3rd as Parkes lost out. DeHavillande got off to a great start, making up early ground and found himself quickly up into 4th. James Small was then muscled out of 2nd by Miguel Hall and DeHavillande also took advantage through the long left-hander, Turn 6, as Small slipped to 4th. Further back it was an absolute melee with Purcocks and Atkinson coming off best as the pair navigated their way through all the trouble to move into 18th and 19th respectively. At the back, Kieran McAleer was the first man to fall victim as he failed to make it beyond Turn 1 before sliding out. Lap 2 was a bit more settled at the front of the order at least, with no moves forthcoming despite DeHavillande’s concerns that saw him needlessly going narrow to defend from Small. Further back, Derek Beckley made a good move on Corrigan at Turn 6 to take possession of 11th, whilst Chris Brown climbed up into 13th at the expense of Townsend who went backwards and also lost out to Ward, Nash and Darvill through Turns 6,7 and 8. Lap 3 saw things settle down a bit with the front-runners still lapping in the same order. The only move amongst the top 10 came from Josh Pettit, who ousted Simon Lloyd at Hairpin 1 to take over 9th. Corrigan and Brown were having a good scrap over 12th and Brown made a move stick at Hairpin 2 to take the position. However Corrigan fought back and got ahead once more through Turn 6 to keep Brown behind him. Clist, Atkinson and Lammin were locked in a battle over 18th and found themselves three-abreast coming through Hairpin 2. Clist and Lammin lost momentum and Purcocks was there to leapfrog the pair of them as she jumped to 19th. Attentions returned to the race leaders as Truman started coming under intense pressure from Hall, with DeHavillande lurking in behind them. Truman’s defences soon crumbled, with Hall making a firm but fair move into Turn 2 to snatch the lead. DeHavillande then wasted little time in pouncing on the wounded Truman, stalking him on the run up to Turn 6 and attacking to the inside to claim 2nd.

As the race progressed, things were developing nicely as Hall found himself being kept honest by the pace of DeHavillande. The latter looked in good shape and appeared to be biding his time whilst slowly dropping Truman who didn’t quite seem to have the pace of the men in front. Behind them, Andrea Fioravanti was making good progress after dropping back at the start. Both he and Longman had forced Parkes into a mistake at Turn 1 and slotted in ahead of him to climb up into 6th and 5th respectively. John Corrigan found himself sliding down the order as he was bullied out of 14th by the drivers behind hassling him. With Rob Nash, Purcocks and Darvill getting past, Corrigan was shoved down to 17th. The following lap saw Rich Ward make a good move on Chris Brown to snatch 11th through Hairpin 2. With his exit compromised, Brown didn’t have the pace to defend from Lloyd and he lost out on 12th at Turn 6 as a consequence. Longman and Fioravanti were now having a very physical scrap over 5th and there was contact between the pair through Hairpin 1. Longman went bouncing over the grass on the exit but kept his foot in and somehow beat Fioravanti to the apex of Hairpin 2. He was fighting a losing battle though and the loss of momentum meant that Fioravanti was able to out-drag him and dive to the inside at Turn 6 to claim the spot. Longman then came under fire from Parkes and succumbed at Turn 1 as Parkes held the move to take 6th. In the mid-pack, Derek Beckley was being hassled by Simon Lloyd and a good move into Hairpin 2 saw him claim 12th. With Rob Nash getting held up behind them, Purcocks was able to get the run on him and out-brake Nash into Hairpin 1 to snatch 14th. Out in front, race leader Miguel Hall was pressing hard to keep DeHavillande behind him and the gap was just under 0.5secs. This time Hall was driving smoothly and wasn’t looking like replicating his mistake from Final 1 which cost him victory. DeHavillande looked comfortable in following him though and seemed likely to stage a late challenge for the win. He was being kept on his toes by Truman, however, who was still managing to stick with them as the leading trio continued to slowly pull away from James Small in 4th. Further back, Longman was looking for a way back ahead of Parkes for 6th and found it at Turn 6 with a smart bit of driving. However he pair holding each other up had meant that Fioravanti in 5th had pulled open a large gap and was now well clear of them. Lap 10 saw Ben Atkinson pull into the pits and out of the race with a mechanical problem, bringing his afternoon to a premature conclusion. The following lap was uneventful with the order remaining the same.

As the race neared the final stages, the front pair of Hall and DeHavillande remained line-astern with very little to separate them. Truman had now fallen away from them as he seemed unable to match the pace. DeHavillande had now latched onto the back of Hall’s kart and was preparing himself to launch an assault for the lead, promising a grandstand finish to this race. A little further back, Fioravanti had managed to catch up to James Small and made light work of getting past him to climb into 4th. There was some shuffling of positions down the order too as Alexandru Damian leapfrogged Nash and Corrigan to take over 16th position. All eyes were back on the front though and as the penultimate lap began, DeHavillande was setting up his move. With a great run out of the Bus Stop, he got into the slipstream of Hall and threw his kart up the inside into Turn 1, snatching the lead. Hall wasn’t handing it over lightly and countered into Turn 2, lunging to the inside to get ahead once more. He ran deep though which enabled DeHavillande to cut back underneath him and hold the position. Hall refused to lift as they went into the left kink and he clattered into the tire wall. That resulted in a loss of speed and gifted Truman with the perfect opportunity to steal 2nd. It all got very physical between the pair as they wrestled each other through the Hairpins and out onto the back straight. The fighting had allowed Fioravanti and Small to join in with the battle for 2nd now effectively a four-way dice. DeHavillande had been set free and was now odds-on for the win. As they came round to begin the final lap, Miguel Hall came under all sorts of pressure from Fioravanti. However he concentrated on attack and it paid off, barging past Truman to clinch 2nd into Hairpin 2. Truman was unable to fight back and that’s how it remained. DeHavillande saw out the final few corners and led the pack over the finish line to take the win, with Hall crossing the line ahead of Truman, Fioravanti and Small. However a 1-place penalty for Hall meant he was demoted to 3rd, with Truman promoted to 2nd. There was a huge gap back to the next man over the line, which was David Longman in 6th. He finished narrowly ahead of Gavin Parkes and Taylor Mays who rounded out the top 8. There were no other real dramas on the final lap, although a good move from Rich Ward on Chris Brown at the death saw him steal 10th. The latter was running on a 4-place penalty and as such by the time he crossed the line he’d been demoted to 15th. John Corrigan tried an ambitious move around the outside of Turns 7 and 8 to get past Beckley and Damian, however it unsurprisingly failed and he was resigned to settle for 17th. Behind them, Lammin made a good move on Nash to clinch 18th, whilst Nicholls got the better of Powell and Clist to seal 20th.

Another exciting day’s racing saw Daniel Truman shine as he took the overall round win thanks to a win in Final 1, followed by 2nd in Final 2. It was an excellent display from the young driver and means he now takes over the Championship lead owing to the absence of Shaun Hollingsworth and the misfortunes of Miguel Hall in Final 1. He himself remains 2nd in the standings after his 3rd from Final 2 salvaged his weekend. He’s now 6 points behind Truman. James DeHavillande had an excellent afternoon and really enhanced his Championship credentials with a win and a 3rd that put him 3rd in the overall standings. David Longman is now 4th, with Alexandru Damian 5th. With a break until Round 3, there will be a little while to wait before we see how the next chapter of this exciting season will unravel. Next up is Whilton Mill, with the popular Northamptonshire circuit guaranteed to throw up plenty of action. It’ll be interesting to see whether Hollingsworth returns to the fold after missing this round, else it looks like the Championship fight may well be played out between the front-runners from this weekend. Plenty more to look forward to!

Driver of the Day

It was an excellent showing from Daniel Truman today. He raced superbly and his results were proof enough, as he came away with a win and a 2nd. He’s shown that he has the pace and ability to race at the front and if he can maintain this level of performance, he’ll be a strong competitor for the Championship. However the choice for Driver of the Day for Round 2 is James DeHavillande. His results may not have been quite as good as Truman’s, but a win and a 3rd is no mean feat and a truly outstanding achievement given his grid positions for both Finals. He had to work hard for both results and the manner in which he calmly went about his business to great effect shows that he has the mental strength and skill to be a real contender. If he hadn’t been seriously considered a Championship challenger before, he certainly will be now!