Lightweight Sprint Championship, 2014, Rd.3

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Introduction

The agonising wait was finally over as the month and a half-long mini-break passed, meaning a trip to the heart of England as Whilton Mill International prepared to host the first of it’s two Club100 rounds for 2014. The forecasts predicted that this would be the hottest weekend of the year so far and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Searing heat and cloudless blue skies greeted the drivers as they primed and readied themselves to resume battle for the 2014 Lightweight Sprints Championship. Whilton Mill is one of the most revered and popular tracks on the calendar, however with numerous alterations having been made to various run-offs and kerbs, would it still prove to be such a hit with the drivers? The modifications would certainly help to tighten up an already competitive grid and probably make the racing harder and closer than ever before.

Once again it proved an excellent turnout in the Lightweight Class as a full complement prepared to take to the track. Following on from a superb outing at Bayford Meadows, Championship leader Daniel Truman was in attendance and looking for a repeat performance to consolidate his position at the top of the standings. Ready to go toe to toe with him is Miguel Hall, who has had a good start to the season and looks a serious contender based on early form. The pair would not be short of competition with all the current front runners present and on the entry list for Round 3. David Longman, James DeHavillande, Chris Brown and James Small would all be amongst those vying for the podium positions as they look to establish themselves at the top of the pecking order. There was a welcome return to the grid for Alexander Ready after he missed Round 2, whilst the father/son combination of Andrew and Dominic Green would be fighting each other for family bragging rights. Rhianna Purcocks and Kieran McAleer were amongst a few names that had opted to sit this one out, whilst Shaun Hollingsworth was again missing from the 51-driver lineup.

 

Qualifying

Qualifying proved to be a very closely contested affair. James DeHavillande prevailed in group 2 to clinch Pole for A Final 1 after his lap time of 53.480secs was 0.001secs quicker than group 1 winner James Small. With the pair locking out the front row, it was Truman and Becker on row 2, both a good 2 tenths off the pace of the best times. Rob Nash qualified well to give himself a great chance from 5th on the grid, whilst newcomer Luke Hornsby was quick enough for 6th. Chris Brown and Alexander Ready managed 7th and 8th respectively. Miguel Hall was only able to achieve 10th and thus would have his work cut out to make up the ground from there. Longman and Rich Ward were on the row immediately behind him as they could only manage 11th and 12th. Taking Pole for B Final 1 was Andy Chilton, with Pat Nicholls lining up alongside him on the front row. Pietro Pagano and Lex Wakeman took row 2, whilst disappointing sessions for Alexandru Damian and Greg Aaron saw them both on this grid, only good enough for 5th and 13th respectively.

 

B Final 1

The first race of the day saw Pat Nicholls starting from Pole alongside Andy Chilton, as the B Finalists prepared for a scrap to see who would earn a spot on the back of A Final 1. It was a fairly subdued start as the front five all held their respective positions through lap 1. Steve Grey dropped like a stone, however, as a sloppy start saw him go from 6th to 12th. It turned out to be a straight forward race for Nicholls, who never lost the lead and seemed comfortable without ever really dominating. Whilst the drivers behind him battled over those precious top 4 spots, Nicholls was left to his own devices, ensuring no mistakes and eventually taking the chequered flag to secure the win. Pagano, Wakeman and Damian seemed the most likely men to take the remaining top 4 spots and, after getting Andy Chilton out of the way, they seemed pretty settled in their respective positions. Pagano began to open a small gap in 2nd as Damian and Wakeman went wheel to wheel for 3rd. However the fighting only helped to bring Harry Neale and Tyler Mays closer to them, making the fight for 3rd and 4th even more intense. Midway through the race, Neale was able to find a way through, putting in a clean move on Wakeman to snatch 4th. Mays also got through, dropping Wakeman back to 6th. That remained the order for the top 4 and as the race wore on, the karts began spreading out and moves seemed less forthcoming. Despite slowly reeling Nicholls in towards the end, Pagano was unable to challenge for the win. Damian had followed him closely after pulling the gap back in and seemed odds-on for 2nd after making a good move on Pagano in the closing stages. However Pagano was having none of it and countered on the penultimate lap to reclaim the position. That’s how they remained and they crossed the line an eventual 1.7secs behind the winner. Further down the road and on his own with no competition was Harry Neale. He saw off the final few laps to secure 4th and the final repecharge spot, ahead of Wakeman who missed out. Harrison Darvill completed a solid drive from 15th on the grid to finish 6th, ahead of Andy Chilton and Iain McGregor. The only penalty in the race went to Gen Gorden, who was demoted 4 positions for ABC infringements after finishing 12th on the road.

 

A Final 1

With the grid for the first of the main Finals sorted, it was time to get the action underway. Controlling the start from Pole was James DeHavillande, with James Small keeping him company on the front row. Championship leader Daniel Truman and Daniel Becker took row 2, whilst Rob Nash and Luke Hornsby started 5th and 6th. As the flag dropped, DeHavillande floored it and ensured he kept the lead going into Crook. The karts swarmed through the first couple of corners with Daniel Becker getting pushed wide and losing out to Rob Nash. As they came through Christmas Corner there were numerous karts switching and swapping places as the drivers fought hard for early track position. Again Becker was shoved out wide at Inkermans costing him a few more places. As the karts filtered through the infield section Becker continued going backwards, before coming out all battered and bruised on the other side. By the end of the lap, he’d crumbled and fallen all the way down to 16th. There was also drama elsewhere at the back of the order, when Harry Neale and Pietro Pagano came together. Neale dived in and barged through at Chapmans, with Pagano getting squeezed out in the melee to send him onto the grass and spinning out as a result. As the frenetic first lap came to an end, DeHavillande found himself with half a second lead over Small. Truman was just behind, whilst Rob Nash had lost some ground in his efforts to keep hold of 4th. Alexander Ready had made a good start and was now up to 5th and applying the pressure, with Chris Brown keeping in tow. Thanks to the aforementioned dramas, the front 6 had already pulled clear, with a comfortable 1.5sec gap separating Brown and Dominic Green. Lap 2 was a far calmer affair, with the order beginning to settle down. Alexander Ready was looking very quick and wasted little time in getting up into 4th. A good move into Christmas Corner saw Rob Nash disposed of with relative ease. Further down the order, Frankie Hedges found himself losing out on a fistful of places and dropping to 16th as Townsend, Powell and Becker fought their way past. As the front-runners came through to begin lap 3, race leader DeHavillande was finding himself under real pressure as James Small looked for a way through. The leader was forced to go defensive at Christmas Corner to keep Small at bay, however it would only serve to slow them down and allow the chasing drivers to reel them in. Behind them, Ready was rapidly homing in on the back of Truman’s kart as he hunted down 3rd. He soon had it as a good move saw Truman unable to counter and forced to give up the position. Behind them, Nash was in all kinds of problems trying to keep Brown behind him. His defence faltered as Brown muscled through at Christmas Corner. The pair came out side by side but, despite Nash’s best efforts, Brown made it stick to take 5th. In the mid-pack, both Rich Ward and Miguel Hall were struggling to make any kind of progress and found themselves in no man’s land as they looked to close the gap to 9th-placed David Longman. However, a sloppy lap from the latter allowed Ward to get in behind and a better exit from the Boot saw Ward lunge to the inside at the final corner and take the position. The following lap saw only a couple of changes to the order as Hedges yielded 16th to Simon Lloyd at Christmas Corner and Damian ousted Atkinson from 19th.

As the race progressed, things remained tense at the front as DeHavillande continued to defend in a bid to preserve his lead. Small was turning the screw but seemed unable to carve open any clear cut chances. Ready was quickly closing in on them and before long it had become a genuine three-way dice for the lead. 4th-placed Daniel Truman was unable to live with the pace of the front-runners and a gap had now opened up. The lack of pace in Truman’s kart was evident and he seemed powerless to prevent Brown coming through on him to steal 4th. Further back, Ward and Longman got the better of Hornsby, moving up to 8th and 9th respectively. Lap 7 finally saw DeHavillande’s resistance break as a better run out of Crook finally gave Small his chance. Diving to the inside, Small held the line and snatched the lead with ease. Alex Ready was now right behind them but unable to capitalise on any loss of momentum. As they came round to complete the lap, Ready was latched on to the rear bumper of DeHavillande’s kart and looking ready to pounce. The move again came at Christmas Corner as better drive saw Ready with a clear run up the inside and into 2nd, with DeHavillande unable to prevent it. Brown had now slowly started to reel in the front three and was now less than a second behind as he tried to join the fight. Behind them, Truman and Nash had fallen away whilst another good move by Ward saw him snap up 7th from Dominic Green. At the tail end, a coming together between Damian and Neale through Chapmans saw the latter lose control and spin off track, with Damian going unpunished. Attentions quickly returned to the front-runners, however, when Alexander Ready made his move for the lead. Again Christmas Corner was the scene as Ready launched himself up the inside of Small and snatched the lead. Small was unable to counter and slotted in just in front of DeHavillande. In the mid-pack, a heated contest had erupted between Dominic Green and Luke Hornsby and the pair both lost out to Longman and Hall as a result. Green’s driving had been deemed too forceful by the clerks and the penalty board was shown to him as he crossed the line to begin lap 10. The following lap saw no changes to the order as the race approached the closing stages. New race leader Alexander Ready was unchallenged but seemed unable to stretch open any kind of gap over James Small, who was giving it his all to stay in contention. DeHavillande was following closely and Chris Brown had now closed that gap down further to move in behind the front three and give himself a chance of a podium finish. Championship contender Miguel Hall was still struggling to make any kind of impression on the drivers ahead and found himself under pressure from Dominic Green. Hall did well to keep him at bay and remain in 9th.

As the race neared it’s conclusion, things were beginning to shape up nicely at the front as the leading quartet followed each other bumper to bumper. Alexander Ready was now the man under pressure as Small looked for a way back into the lead. Behind him, DeHavillande was doing the same but seemed unable to create an opening. The hesitation cost him as Chris Brown put in a good move to oust the Pole-man from 3rd. Further back, Dominic Green was now coming under pressure from Townsend for 10th and the move came on lap 11. However Green fought back at Christmas corner and was able to reclaim the position. Dominic’s dad, Andrew, was having a less promising race and found himself well down the order in 22nd whilst also running with a 1-place penalty. He was then overtaken by Pagano to add further misery. With the penultimate lap now being started, the race leader had managed to open up a small amount of breathing space to James Small. It looked like being a stalemate as no one seemed to be able to get in a position to strike and a slightly bigger gap had now opened up between the front two and Chris Brown after his move on DeHavillande for 3rd. As the final lap board came out, James Small didn’t seem to have anything left to give and as such it proved a relatively comfortable finish for Alexander Ready. He held his nerve and kept his cool to take the chequered flag, sealing a very impressive victory from 8th on the grid. James Small was also unchallenged as he followed his opponent through to take a well-deserved 2nd. Next was Chris Brown as he kept DeHavillande out of harm’s reach to secure a very useful 3rd. The latter finished 4th on track, however he was subsequently disqualified from the race after being deemed to have illegally adjusted the carburettor on his kart. That meant 0 points for him, which could prove damaging to his Championship. It was therefore Daniel Truman who took 4th, ahead of Nash and Ward. Longman and Miguel Hall completed the top 8. Late moves further down the order saw Josh Pettitt lose out to both Tom Powell and Luke Hornsby as they fought over 12th, 13th and 14th. Ben Dimelow was also able to steal 19th from Atkinson after the latter had lost momentum coming out of the final corner side by side with Hedges. DeHavillande proved to be the only exclusion of the race, although there were penalties dished out to both Andrew and Dominic Green for contact . . . Like father like son eh? Hornsby was also demoted four positions for unfair contact, whilst Hedges received three separate 1-place cone penalties, indicating that perhaps he has some kind of fetish or fascination for playing with the little plastic obstacles.

 

B Final 2

The grid for B Final 2 saw Lex Wakeman take Pole, with Tyler Mays looking to take the fight on from 2nd. Behind the pair and aiming to usurp them from the final 2 repecharge spots were Harrison Darvill and Matthew Cooley. As the race got underway, Mays wasted little time in going for the lead and took Harrison Darvill with him as Wakeman slipped to 3rd. Daniel Healey made a great start from 5th and also got ahead of Wakeman to move into 3rd. After the initial scramble for positions, the action quickly settled down and the following laps almost became processional as no moves of note seemed to materialise. Mays was doing a good job of preserving his lead by keeping Darvill just out of striking range. Healey, Wakeman and Aaron were all nicely spread out as the top 5 began opening a gap to Lee Norris in 6th. Ferreira, Chilton and Holroyd were the only drivers offering any kind of amusement as they played musical chairs for the first few laps over 13th, 14th and 15th. Finally the front end saw some action when a mistake from Healey allowed Wakeman and Aaron to latch onto him. They duly barged their way through, ditching Healey back down in 5th. Again the next few laps saw the leaders remain line-astern as Mays continued to drive on rails and make no mistakes. His 1sec advantage over Darvill looked to be enough to see him through and the 2nd-placed man had opened up a gap of over 1sec to the karts behind whilst they were busy squabbling for position. With only a couple of laps remaining, Greg Aaron pulled a good move out of the bag to snatch 3rd from Wakeman. The final lap saw Wakeman also lose out to Healey as a late surge of action failed to yield too many talking points. By the time the chequered flag came out, it proved all too easy as Mays and Darvill crossed the line unchallenged in 1st and 2nd, thus securing their places on the back of A Final 2. Aaron was the first of the losers in 3rd, with Healey, Wakeman and Norris completing the top 6. Penalties were dished out to Chris Williams and Pedro Ferreira for cone and ABC offences respectively, whilst Holroyd and Longshaw were non-finishers.

 

A Final 2

So now it was time for the final race of the day and with fastest laps from A Final 1 deciding the grid, it was Final 1 winner Alexander Ready taking Pole and giving himself the perfect opportunity to make it maximum points. Chris Brown lined up 2nd, whilst James Small and Rob Nash took row 2. Tom Powell and Rich Ward gave themselves the opportunity to compete for a podium from row 3, with Truman and Longman both giving themselves plenty of work to do from 8th and 10th respectively. DeHavillande’s exclusion meant that he would be starting all the way down in 24th, with only the B Final 2 qualifiers behind him. As the race got underway, Ready got a clean getaway to preserve his lead and keep the pack behind him. Small had got off to a good start and wasted no time in moving into 2nd as he beat Brown into Crook and emerged out ahead on the other side. Rob Nash and Tom Powell held their respective positions of 4th and 5th, albeit losing immediate ground and falling behind by 1.5secs by the end of the first lap after fighting each other through Ashby. As always there were plenty of opening lap shenanigans with karts taking to the grass as they foolishly attempted to go into corners three and four-abreast. At the back, DeHavillande knew he needed to get off to a great start if he was to salvage anything from his day and produced some smart driving to overtake both Andrew Green and Daniel Becker through the final corner. The victims of the start were Harrison Darvill, Ben Dimelow and Frankie Hedges as they found themselves dumped off the track after tangling at Ashby and requiring the assistance of a pusher kart to get them going again. Lap 2 saw Simon Lloyd make a good move on Tom Powell at Christmas Corner to move into 5th, whilst further back James DeHavillande was continuing to make good early progress as both he and Josh Pettitt removed Ben Atkinson from 17th. Things were pretty close between the front-runners as James Small once again found himself applying the pressure to the race leader in the hope of forcing a mistake or creating an opportunity. Alexander Ready was driving well though and kept his head to maintain his slim advantage. Brown was also in close proximity, with the front three having opened a gap of almost 2secs to Rob Nash and the remaining drivers. It all went spectacularly wrong at the front though when Small made a move for the lead at the end of lap 3. Desperate to force the issue, Small lunged in at the entry to the Boot. An unsuspecting Ready turned in and the pair collided. The leader was sent spinning out of the lead and contention whilst Small managed to keep going albeit having lost out to both Brown and Nash by the time he was back up to speed. It mattered little as unsurprisingly he received the black flag for that grotesque piece of driving and eventually came in to end his race on lap 5 with a mechanical problem. By the time Alexander Ready had been re-started, he was well down the order in 23rd.

So with the front two having removed themselves from contention, Chris Brown had been handed a golden ticket and was now out in front on his own, with a sizeable gap of 2secs to Rob Nash, now running 2nd. Behind them, Daniel Truman showed how it’s done when he executed a clean Boot move on Simon Lloyd to move into 3rd. Longman then looked to take full advantage through the final corner as he dived to the inside of Lloyd. The pair came out side by side over start/finish but Lloyd was forced to give the position up through Crook which succeeded only in compromising his exit. Rich Ward and Miguel Hall took full advantage to come through at Christmas Corner, before Hall put in a good move at Ashby to overtake Ward and climb into 5th. In front of them, a mistake by Rob Nash saw him lose time and concede 2nd to Truman. By this point, Chris Brown was over 3secs clear of them and looking like he’d be winning this race with ease, barring any mistakes or problems. In the mid-pack, James DeHavillande was maintaining an impressive charge and was quickly working his way through the order to find himself up to 14th by the end of lap 6. Behind him, Damian made a good move on Atkinson into the final corner to snatch 17th. Contact then with Tyler Mays saw Atkinson shove the latter out wide through the Boot and recover a position. The following lap saw only one move stick as Josh Pettitt was able to find a way past Tom Powell to sneak into 12th. As the pack came through to begin lap 8, things were beginning to intensify in the battle just behind the podium positions. Miguel Hall did well to find a way past Longman for 4th, whilst Rich Ward lost two positions at Christmas Corner to drop back to 8th as Dominic Green and Lloyd barged through. One lap later, Miguel Hall was through and into 3rd after a mistake from Nash out of Christmas Corner allowed Hall to dive through at Ashby and take the position. Nash tried in vain to resist but succeeded only in costing himself another position as a compromised line through Chapmans enabled Longman to drive clean past him on the back straight. Nash almost got the position back through the Boot but couldn’t get a good enough exit and a bit of contact through the final corner meant that Dominic Green was able to sneak through as well. Behind them, Rich Ward put in a good move at the Boot to get himself back ahead of Simon Lloyd in the fight over 7th. Further back, DeHavillande was still at it and had now battled past Powell and Pettitt to move up into 12th, before getting ahead of both Townsend and Neale for 10th after they binned each other off track at Ashby. Another move at the Boot then saw Nash fight back as he was able to get back ahead of Green and into 5th.

As the end of the race approached, Chris Brown was still comfortably leading and keeping it steady out on his own. Despite Truman’s best efforts, the gap was still out at just over 2secs and although he was quicker, Truman would need something dramatic to happen if he was to have any hope of winning. He could at least breathe easy knowing he had a 2.5sec advantage over Hall in 3rd and the podium positions looked to already be settled as Longman had dropped off from the back of Hall. A bizarre bit of driving from Pietro Pagano saw him take too much kerb at Turn 1 and somehow lose control and spin out from 9th, gifting another position to DeHavillande. The latter then executed a good move on Simon Lloyd to snatch 8th before trying and failing into Ashby on Rich Ward. As the last lap board came out, it was game, set and match for the podium positions. Brown was cruising to the flag and was untroubled as he crossed the line to win the race, much to his delight. Truman had managed to halve the deficit but it was not enough as he came home in 2nd, comfortably ahead of Miguel Hall. David Longman was on his own in crossing the line for 4th, well ahead of Dominic Green who was running on a double ABC penalty meaning a demotion of 8 places to his final result. Behind him, things were kicking off as Rich Ward fought hard to defend his 6th position. Andrew Green was in behind him and was under pressure from both DeHavillande and Lloyd going through Christmas Corner. 6th to 12th were separated by less than a second as the group fought tooth and nail for every inch of tarmac. Rob Nash had dropped back several places, but somehow managed to make the most of the chaos by leapfrogging both Lloyd and Powell to move in behind DeHavillande. As the latter looked for a way through on Andrew Green, the pair came through the final corner side by side. Green was able to get the better exit and somehow held the position behind Ward, whilst DeHavillande’s sluggish exit meant that Nash could try to out-drag him to the finish. It proved a photo finish, with DeHavillande somehow clinging on by the tiniest of margins. So with the penalty applied to Dominic Green, Rich Ward found himself promoted to 5th, with Andrew Green 6th and DeHavillande completing a fantastic recovery drive to take 7th. Rob Nash rounded out the top 8, whilst a late loss of positions for Simon Lloyd saw him beaten to a top 10 finish by Powell and Hornsby. The bottom half of the order remained as it was. Josh Pettitt was the only other man to be excluded from the race along with James Small after both drivers caused collisions, whilst the 8-place demotion for Dominic Green was the only other penalty dished out in this Final.

 

So another action-packed Round was complete and with plenty of dramas and talking points, it was time to reflect on the results and the repercussions on the current Lightweight Championship standings. The overall winner of Round 3 was Chris Brown after a 3rd was backed up with an excellent, albeit fortuitous, win in Final 2. With some of the front-runners having an off-day, it means that Brown now moves to 4th in the standings and cements his credentials as a genuine challenger for 2014. Preserving his lead at the top of the standings is Daniel Truman after a 4th and a 2nd helps extend his early gap over his nearest rivals. Miguel Hall took 3rd overall for Round 3 and remains 2nd in the standings after producing a solid display in Final 2 to earn 3rd. He needs to get back to winning ways if he is to prevent Truman from running away with it, though as the current leader’s form looks an ominous sign for the rest of the contenders. David Longman is now 3rd overall thanks to another good outing, whilst Rich Ward sits in 5th after a good weekend for him. James DeHavillande is the biggest loser as he drops all the way down to 18th after the exclusion in Final 1, having been up in 3rd after Round 2. He’ll need to brush this disappointment off quickly and get himself back amongst the big scores with Round 4 lurking just around the corner. Clay Pigeon is the venue for the next Club100 adventure as the popular Dorset track provides the setting for another weekend of high intensity, close and exciting racing. What twist will the 2014 season take next? We’ll find out in 2 weeks’ time . . .

 

Driver of the Day

The accolade of Driver of the Day for Round 3 goes to Daniel Truman. Although he didn’t win the round, he showed plenty of determination and skill in fighting to the end for two great results. He proves yet again that he is a genuine front-runner for the Championship and he has already asserted his authority at the top of the standings. If he keeps this level of performance up, he’ll be a tough man to beat. Chris Brown also deserves a special mention for his excellent showing. He may have been effectively gifted the lead in A Final 2 thanks to the collision between Alexander Ready and James Small, but he still had a lot of work to do and did it very well to ensure a fantastic result and a huge points haul for the weekend.