Lightweight Sprint Championship, 2014, Rd.4

LW Podium scaled

Introduction

The peaceful and tranquil surroundings of the Dorset countryside was the setting for Round 4 of the Club100 Sprint Championships. Clay Pigeon basked in the glory of sunshine as another dry weekend promised to offer up yet more slice of excitement in the way that only Club100 can. Clay Pigeon is one of the shorter tracks on the calendar but one that always throws up some entertaining races and often changeable and tricky conditions. Well the weather certainly didn’t appear like it would play a prominent role in the proceedings, so it would be squarely down to the drivers to deliver the goods.

With only 2 weeks having passed since Round 3, the racing was still at the forefront of everyone’s minds and there would be plenty of drivers looking to make their mark before we head into the mid-Summer schedule. It proved to be another large Lightweight grid in attendance, with almost all the main players back for more. Championship leader Daniel Truman was the most notable absentee as he elected to skip this round despite really finding his form last time out at Whilton Mill. Miguel Hall was also absent from the entry list and as such it would therefore be left for someone else to take over the Championship lead come the end of the day. Best placed to do that is David Longman, currently 3rd in the standings. Although he’ll be facing stiff competition from the likes of Rich Ward, Chris Brown and of course James DeHavillande, who’d be looking to make amends for his disappointing weekend last time out. Also present and another man to watch is Alexander Ready. Having taken a maiden Sprints win last time out, he will likely pose a challenge to the aforementioned drivers. Returning to action after missing Round 3 are Julian Clist, Mike Bruford, Keith Segal and Rhianna Purcocks amongst others. There was one surprise name included on the entry list. One time Premier driver Graeme Coombes decided to join the fray for a guest appearance having not done much competitive karting over recent seasons. Does he still have the pace to run at the front? With his pedigree you’d certainly expect him to be there or there abouts come the end of the day. He showed up sporting the sort of bushy beard that Zach Galifianakis would be proud of! Rob Nash and Ben Atkinson were two other notable names missing from the entry list.

 

Qualifying

Qualifying went the way of James DeHavillande after he set the fastest lap of the day with a 40.969. Pole therefore went to him, with Graeme Coombes emerging best of Group 2 with a time of 41.227secs to take 2nd on the grid for A Final 2. Alexander Ready and Chris Brown secured their places on row 2, whilst Daniel Healey and Edward Barrs took 5th and 6th respectively. James Small, who found himself at the sharp end of the grid at Whilton Mill, was only quick enough for 9th on the grid this time, whilst Rich Ward was one row back in 12th. Alexandru Damian could only manage 13th, whilst David Longman would have been disappointed to be all the way back in 19th. Best of the rest and taking Pole for B Final 1 was Tom Powell, with Dominic Green alongside in 2nd. Rhianna Purcocks again gave herself work to do, managing only 3rd for B Final 1.

 

B Final 1

The first Final of the day was pretty much decided straight away as Pole-man Tom Powell got off to a great start, leaving the chasing pack for dead and immediately pulling out a lead as they fought amongst themselves. By the end of lap 1 he was already 2secs clear and proceeded to drive off into the horizon whilst the remainder did battle over the other three repecharge spots. Purcocks did well to get herself up into 2nd straight away from 3rd on the grid with Ben Dimelow following her into 3rd. It proved a poor start for Dominic Green who found himself mugged at the start and getting swallowed up as a result. He dropped back to 6th by the end of lap 1, before fighting back to 3rd over the course of the subsequent laps. The order at the front remained unchanged for the first part of the race as the drivers struggled to create any opportunities for themselves. On lap 8, Green again fell back to 6th as Dimelow, Neale and Darvill muscled past. The order remained fairly settled with the exception of Harrison Darvill who fell back a few positions before making them up again. As the end of the race approached, Dimelow had latched onto the back of Purcocks and made a good move to snatch 2nd. However Purcocks tried to fight back and a last lap move went wrong as she collided with Ben Dimelow and caused the latter to spin out of the race. Purcocks was excluded as a result. That meant Tom Powell took the chequered flag at the end of 18 laps, with a mammoth gap of 8.405secs between him and eventual 2nd-placed Harry Neale. Simon Lloyd made the most of the fighting and incidents to climb through from 12th to seal 3rd, whilst Harrison Darvill was gifted 4th and a place in A Final 1 thanks to Purcocks’ exclusion and a 4-place penalty for Dominic Green. Mike Bruford took 5th, with Green demoted to 6th. Tyler Mays and David Williams were other recipients of 4-place ABC penalties.

 

A Final 1

With the grids decided, it was time for the first of the main events to get underway as the drivers took their respective positions on the rolling up laps. Pole-man James DeHavillande would be looking for a clean getaway with the experienced Graeme Coombes keeping him company on the front row. Alexander Ready and Chris Brown took row 2, with Healey and Barrs behind them in 5th and 6th respectively. As the race got underway, DeHavillande found himself under immediate pressure and lost out to the wily Graeme Coombes who got a great start and held it around the outside of the long right-hander to get the edge and inside line on the run down to Billy’s Blind. DeHavillande was forced to yield and concede the lead, before also losing out to Alexander Ready into the Hairpin after finding his speed out of the Esses compromised. Chris Brown held 4th and was looking to apply the pressure to DeHavillande, along with Healey. The pair were side by side as they emerged out of the Horseshoe, with Healey finding himself on the outside for the long right-hander. It all went wrong for him as contact between the trio saw Healey knocked off and spinning into the tire wall by the pit entrance to end his challenge. Andrew Green had made a good start and had now moved up into 5th as a result of Healey’s misfortune. Barrs was another who’d fallen back at the start and had dropped to the back of the grid after starting in 6th. As the leaders came back down through Billy’s Blind, Brown looked ready to pounce and dived up the inside of DeHavillande as they braked for Turn 2. He couldn’t hold it though and drifted wide, allowing DeHavillande to cut back through underneath him. With the pair fighting, the leading duo were allowed to open up a small gap whilst Green had now latched onto the back of them. He wasted little time in making a move, snatching 4th as Brown slipped back. The following lap then saw Brown lose another position as Rich Ward made a smart move into the Hairpin to climb into 5th. With DeHavillande no longer under immediate pressure, he set his sights on catching the leading duo and before long had halved the 1sec deficit to Ready. Coombes remained in control of the race but was being kept honest by Ready, who remained attached to his rear bumper. Things were looking delicately poised as DeHavillande continued homing in on them, with Andrew Green also creeping closer in 4th. Lap 4 saw Chris Brown lose yet another position as a better exit out of Turn 2 saw Greg Aaron muscle through at the Esses to take 6th, whilst Josh Pettitt also made a move on James Small behind them for 8th. The rest of the order remained fairly settled.

As the race began to take shape, all interest remained on the fight for the lead as Coombes began to feel the pressure of Ready and DeHavillande behind him. Ready knew he needed to get the job done quickly in order to stave off DeHavillande and he went for it at the Horseshoe. Coombes defended and the pair touched, though not enough to cause any real dramas as Coombes held on. The drivers emerged back out onto the start/finish straight almost three-abreast and, as they came through Billy’s Blind, Ready lunged to the inside for Turn 2. He couldn’t hold the inside line and drifted wide, taking Coombes with him. It left the door wide open for DeHavillande, who did the pair of them to steal the lead before the Esses. Ready was able to keep ahead of Coombes, who’d now gone back to 3rd. Coombes was clearly struggling for pace in his kart and before long started to slip back as the front two began to creep away from him. Behind them, Green was now 2secs adrift of the leader but on his own as Rich Ward came under pressure from Greg Aaron over 5th. However it was the latter losing out as Chris Brown made a move into the Horseshoe. The pair ran wide, allowing Pettitt to sneak through into 6th, whilst Aaron also conceded another position to James Small, dropping back to 9th in the process. The following laps saw little change in the order, with Dmitri Zaporozhets getting the better of Oliver Knighton at Turn 2 for 10th whilst towards the back Harrison Darvill lost out to Simon Lloyd in the fight over 17th, before the latter found a way past David Longman to gain another position. Lap 11 saw Julian Clist make a move on Knighton at Turn 2 in search of 11th. He made a mess of it though and ran wide, allowing Townsend to get ahead of him. That caused a chain reaction to the karts behind who were all following each other closely. Alexandru Damian was almost forced onto the grass at the Esses after taking evasive action which ultimately cost him a handful of places. Back in the secondary group behind the leaders, Greg Aaron had managed to force a move on Chris Brown at the long right-hander to take 7th. Brown tried to fight back into Turn 2 next time around, but almost lost it after taking too much of the inside kerb and remained in 8th. A couple of laps later, Aaron did the same to Josh Pettitt, promoting himself into 6th. That group, headed by Rich Ward, had now reeled Andrew Green back in. The latter simply couldn’t live with the pace of those around him and had dropped off the back of the leaders by around 6secs by the end of lap 12. Race leader DeHavillande was looking comfortable as he controlled the action, opening a gap of just under a second to Alexander Ready, who in turn had developed some breathing space to Coombes in 3rd.

With the end of the race rapidly approaching, the action looked like coming in the second group with the ailing kart of Andrew Green now coming under increasing pressure from Rich Ward in the fight over 4th. A failed move from Ward into Turn 2 saw him run wide, allowing Green to cut back underneath and keep his nose in front. It looked like only being a matter of time before the move was made though and Green seemed unable to produce anything in order to stave off the advances of the chasing pack. Eventually the move came and it was Turn 2 seeing all the action yet again. With a better run through Billy’s Blind, Ward launched himself through up the inside and barged his way into 4th, with Greg Aaron taking the opportunity to follow him as Green fell to 6th. Josh Pettitt then tried his luck through the Horseshoe but failed, leaving him compromised into the final right-hander which enabled Chris Brown to come through and into 7th. Brown sensed a wounded animal with Green now desperately trying to prevent any further drivers from coming past. Again he was powerless to resist as Brown and Pettitt came through at Turn 2. However Green had a little bit of fight left in him and dived back to the inside of Pettitt at the Hairpin to re-take 7th. An incident at the back of the grid saw Daniel Healey and Daniel Good both go spinning off near the pit entrance after contact with Lee Norris. As the last lap board came out, all eyes were on James DeHavillande who was still in control of the race. He maintained a safe gap from Ready and looked comfortable as he saw out the end of the race to take the chequered flag and seal an impressive victory. Ready followed him home, with Coombes a little further down the road as he crossed the line an eventual 3rd. However the drama was unfolding behind them yet again and again it was Green at the centre of attention. Brown was looking for a way through on Greg Aaron and found himself to the outside as the pack came out of the Horseshoe. Green was to his inside, with Pettitt steaming through up the inside of the pair of them as they entered the final right-hander three abreast. Green turned in, unaware of Pettitt’s presence and the pair touched. Green’s kart was pushed out and straight into the side of the desperately unlucky Chris Brown, who was sent barrelling off track and into the tire wall. Rich Ward was left to lead Greg Aaron over the line as they took 4th and 5th respectively, with Pettitt up to 6th. Zaporozhets and Small were next after they managed to sneak past Green following that incident, claiming 7th and 8th on the road. However 4-place penalties to both drivers meant they were demoted, leaving Green, Lloyd, Clist and Longman to complete the top 10.

 

B Final 2

With only two more places at stake for A Final 2, it was Ben Dimelow taking Pole and having the perfect opportunity to make amends for being taken out in B Final 1. Freddie Fincham was 2nd, with Williams and Becker on row 2. It was Dimelow that made the perfect getaway, replicating Powell’s efforts from B Final 1 and immediately pulling away from the squabbling pack. Freddie Fincham held 2nd whilst Dominic Green made up immediate ground by going from 5th to 3rd at the expense of Williams and Becker. Purcocks was making up good early ground from the back of the grid but it all went wrong when she went spinning off on lap 3 to end her challenge. Lap 5 saw Williams get back ahead of Green to re-take 3rd, with Becker having dropped off them and now finding himself 2.5secs adrift. Alexander Lammin was failing to make progress from 7th and it all ended badly for him when he went off and came to a stop on lap 10. From there on, the order never changed amongst the front runners and the last few laps were seen off with not much in the way of talking points. Ben Dimelow kept things ticking over nicely as he continued to pull away and eventually crossed the line over 8secs clear of the next man, securing his place in A Final 2. David Williams had managed to put some daylight between himself and Green in 3rd to ensure he had a straight forward end to the race. He took 2nd and the final repecharge spot, with Green having to settle for 3rd. Fincham was a little further back in 4th, with Hornsby and Becker completing the top 6 for this race. The only penalty dished out in this race was for cone abuse. The offending driver was Charles Holroyd, who subsequently finished the race in 15th. Frankie Hedges had a good drive from 22nd on the grid. He navigated his way through the traffic well to finish an eventual 12th, although getting into the top 10 proved to be too much of a tall order.

 

A Final 2

With everything ready, it was now time for the last race of the day as the main protagonists took to the track for A Final 2. Barely 0.003secs separated the fastest laps of DeHavillande and Coombes in A Final 1. It was the latter who shaded it though, with Coombes earning Pole for this race. Row 2 saw Alexander Ready in 3rd once again, with Greg Aaron in 4th. Pettitt and Brown took row 3. As the action got underway, it was Coombes’ turn to control things and he was able to keep his lead in tact as they came barrelling down the Start/Finish straight towards Billy’s Blind. Aaron did well to get across and beat Ready to Turn 2, moving up to 3rd in the process. Behind them, Rich Ward had made a very good start from 9th and was soon up to 6th and behind Chris Brown, with Pettitt having lost out on several places in the midst of the squabbling. Daniel Healey found himself spinning out for the third time in two races as he got caught up whilst fighting to hold on to 16th at Turn 2. Ben Dimelow was another early spinner as he fell off at the Hairpin, whilst James Small made a mess of things going into Turn 2, locking himself up and spinning out whilst trying to overtake Pettitt. He collected Zaporophets and the pair came to a shuddering halt in what proved to be an eventful opening couple of laps. Pettitt then found himself tumbling down the order after contact with Darvill through the long right-hander saw the latter go off. As the order eventually sorted itself out, attentions returned to the front where Coombes was still leading, but once again finding himself under immense pressure from the rapid James DeHavillande. Greg Aaron was now 1sec adrift in 3rd, whilst Chris Brown made a good move on Alexander Ready into Turn 2 to snatch 4th, however Ready countered at the same corner just one lap later to take it back. Lap 5 saw DeHavillande make his move for the lead and after getting the tow along the main straight, he ducked out and swept through on the inside of Turn 2 to snatch 1st from Coombes. The former Premier Class driver was unable to respond and so was forced to slot back in to 2nd. Behind them, Chris Brown and Alexander Ready were having a great personal duel, with the former getting the upper hand to sneak back into 4th on lap 6. Pat Nicholls was adrift of the pair in 6th, whilst Rich Ward was being given a hard time by Simon Lloyd as he looked for a way into 7th. The move almost came at the Esses, however Rich Ward held firm and, despite contact, kept the position. Further down the order, David Williams executed a lovely move on Townsend to move into 17th.

As the race entered the mid-phase, things were once again looking good for race leader James DeHavillande. He was beginning to open up a gap to Graeme Coombes and was looking a sure bet for a second win of the day. The pair were well clear of Aaron in 3rd, who was now coming under intense pressure from Chris Brown after the latter had managed to shake off Alexander Ready. The move predictably came at Turn 2 as Brown angled his kart to the inside of Aaron and forced it in, claiming 3rd. Ready was unable to follow him through, leaving Aaron sandwiched between the pair in 4th. However Ready was able to get his man just one lap later, pushing Aaron down to 5th. With Lloyd still unable to find a way past Ward, Longman took advantage and made a nice move into the long right-hander to oust Lloyd from 8th. Meanwhile down the order, Pettitt lost out to Edward Barrs in the fight over 20th. Things remained fairly settled over the following few laps, with the race leader maintaining his pace and stretching his advantage over Coombes to 1.3secs by the end of lap 12. Rich Ward and Pat Nicholls were locked in a fierce battle and the former got the upper hand after diving through at Turn 2. The pair both went wide as a result and Longman was able to capitalise to get ahead of Nicholls. Longman then wasted little time in making a move on Ward into the Hairpin to take 6th from the number 1 kart. In the mid-pack, Andrew Green and Harry Neale were having a good scrap over 10th, swapping positions almost on a lap-by-lap basis. It helped only the chasing pack, as Julian Clist swiftly closed in. He was followed by Knighton, who put a smart move on Powell at Turn 2 to move into 13th. Lap 13 saw Pat Nicholls lose another position as Simon Lloyd came through to take 8th, whilst further down the order another good move from Williams saw him oust Barrs from 17th at Turn 2. Harry Neale then got himself tangled up and went spinning out at the Horseshoe to draw out the yellow flags. The following 2 laps saw the order remain unchanged as the race began to fizzle out, with the conclusion rapidly approaching. Lap 16 saw Tom Powell put a good move in on Oliver Knighton for 12th, which in turn resulted in Alexandru Damian getting the better of Daniel Good just behind them for 14th. Williams was the only other driver moving forward on that lap, finding a way past Pettitt to claw himself up into 19th.

With only a couple of laps left to the end of the race, it was looking like being a rather tame finish in comparison to the previous A Final. DeHavillande was now over 2secs clear of Coombes and odds-on to take maximum points from the weekend, barring any late drama. Coombes in turn was on his own in 2nd, with Chris Brown the nearest man to him but still a further 3secs adrift. Brown looked assured of his 3rd place, with a safe gap between him and Ready in 4th. He’d certainly have been relieved to see clear air behind him, meaning a safe and trouble-free end to the race, unlike the disastrous final lap of A Final 1. Greg Aaron remained 5th and was almost 3secs clear of Longman in 6th. In fact you’d have to go back to Rich Ward in 7th to see anything remotely entertaining, as he looked to hold off the advances of Lloyd and Nicholls who were both tucked in behind him. The penultimate lap saw no change to the order and the Final lap was looking like being much the same. With no one to challenge him, race leader James DeHavillande cruised through and navigated his way around the corners of Clay Pigeon for one last time, taking the chequered flag to complete a perfect day for the young driver. Graeme Coombes followed over the line a further 2.7secs down the road, demonstrating the dominance of the undisputed winner. Chris Brown was next man home in 3rd, ahead of Alexander Ready and Greg Aaron. However a 1-place penalty for cone abuse saw Aaron demoted to 6th, with Longman promoted into 5th as a result. Rich Ward was really made to work for it as he went hammer and tongs with Simon Lloyd for 7th. Despite Lloyd’s best efforts, Ward held on to take it, with Lloyd narrowly behind in 9th. Andrew Green was a further 5secs down the road as he completed the top 10. The only move of the final lap saw Edward Barrs get himself back ahead of Daniel Good late on to seal 15th. The only other penalty in this race went to Josh Pettitt. He found himself excluded as a result of that collision early on which saw Harrison Darvill taken out. The latter ended a lowly 23rd, just behind James Small who brought to an end a disappointing day which has done nothing to help his Championship tally thus far.

So with another round over, it’s time to take stock of the results. DeHavillande’s dominance sees him leave Dorset with maximum points, the perfect response after a disappointing Whilton Mill. He obviously takes the overall Round 4 winner’s trophy and moves up to 8th in the standings, although that’s not a true reflection of where he should be due to that exclusion in A Final 1 of Round 3. A happy return for Coombes sees him take the trophy for 2nd, although he’s not in the Championship frame. It was Alexander Ready taking 3rd spot on the podium with a weekend that enhances his prospects for 2014. He moves up to 21st in the standings, having missed out Round 2. He’s certainly one to watch and will more than likely spring up into the top 5 towards the end of the season. Leading the Championship is David Longman, thanks to the absence of Daniel Truman. The latter will need to come back with his good early season form still in place if he is to maintain his title charge, with DeHavillande now looking like posing a very serious threat. Miguel Hall’s absence also means that he drops out, with a new look top 5 showing Rich Ward and Chris Brown in the top 3. Simon Lloyd and Alexandru Damian are currently 4th and 5th overall. Next up is Llandow, with the South Welsh circuit preparing to host Round 5 in just under a month’s time. With the way things are shaping up, it’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out if Truman and Hall return to the grid. This 2014 Championship may well go down to the wire!

 

Driver of the Day

Today was all about James DeHavillande. He absolutely dominated the competition and, after securing a convincing Pole in qualifying, he recovered well to take an impressive win in A Final 1. He backed that up with an even more impressive win in A Final 2 to ensure he leaves Clay Pigeon with maximum points and the Driver of the Day accolade. He’s well in the running for the Championship and looks set to push Truman all the way for the 2014 Crown. A big well done also to Graeme Coombes after he made a very good return to action, shaking off any rustiness to take a 3rd and a 2nd in the two finals. Alexander Ready also drove very well, whilst Rich Ward appears to have finally found that level of consistency that has often been his downfall. He looks likely to have a big part in dictating how the top 5 shapes up come the end of the season.