Lightweight Sprint Championship 2014, Rd.8

Introduction & Qualifying

With only 4 rounds remaining of the 2014 Sprint Championships, it was crunch time as the party returned to Forest Edge for only the second time in Club100 history. The Barton Stacey track proved a real popular choice with drivers back in 2012 when it was visited for the first time. Conditions looked perfect, with great weather helping to create a perfect atmosphere as the drivers took to the track to do battle once more for the Lightweight Sprints crown.

Chris Brown was the man on top after blitzing his way through Qualifying group 1 to secure the fastest lap and Pole for A Final 1. A time of 49.363secs was almost three tenths better than the next fastest time, with James Ludlam securing a place on the front row after proving fastest in group 2. Ross Gunn did well to earn 3rd, with Harry Neale alongside in 4th. A good showing from Oliver Knighton saw him take 5th, with Rich Ward setting himself up to do well with 6th on the grid for A Final 1. Championship rivals Daniel Truman and James DeHavillande found themselves down on row 4, missing out on the front row by less than a tenth, such was the closeness of the times between 2nd and 7th! Another regular front-runner, Miguel Hall, would line up in 9th alongside Harrison Darvill. Leading the pack for B Final 1 would be Jack Bolton, with David Williams going from 2nd. Stephen Townsend and Edward Barrs formed row 2, whilst a disappointing start to the day saw David Longman down in 5th and with plenty of work to do in order to score big points.

B Final 1

The first race of the day saw Jack Bolton lead the B Finalists off as the pack battled it out for a place on the back of the A Final grid. Bolton held the lead well early on, despite pressure from behind. Williams got off to a bad start and found himself muscled out of 2nd, before dropping back further. Townsend was the man replacing him in 2nd, closely followed by Longman who appeared determined to get to the front. Several drivers went off track in the usual frantic B Final start. As the drivers quickly settled, there proved little to talk about as overtaking was few and far between. The only driver making strides was Longman, who quickly disposed of Townsend before setting his sights on the lead. By lap 3 he was there, pulling a smart move on Bolton to take control of the race. Before long, he pulled open a gap and looked a cert for the win. Bolton and Townsend were unable to keep pace, slowly falling into the clutches of the chasing pack. On lap 5, Townsend found himself relinquishing 3rd to Edward Barrs, whilst David Williams again lost positions, this time to Ben Atkinson and Tyler Mays, on his way down to 7th. One lap later, Tyler Mays got the better of Atkinson to snatch 5th, with Dominic Green making the most of the fighting to sneak through ahead of both Williams and Atkinson and into 6th. By this point, the front four drivers had pulled well clear and it was looking a tall order for Mays and co to reel them back in. Longman was cruising and counting down the laps, barely getting out of 2nd gear as he strode purposefully towards securing his place in A Final 1. By lap 9 he was 2secs clear, with Bolton and Barrs now busy squabbling over 2nd. Barrs took it, with Bolton unable to fight back. He could breathe a sigh of relief, however, in the knowledge that Townsend was over a second further back in 4th. Little else happened on the following few laps, Dmitri Zaporozhets providing the only real talking point as he negotiated a clean move on Luke Hornsby for 10th. With Tyler Mays seemingly unable to make up any ground on 4th-placed Townsend, Dominic Green took over the reins after executing a good move on lap 10 to take 5th. However it didn’t last long, with Mays getting him back on the following lap. Green went wide, losing time and a handful of positions before slotting back into 8th. That enabled Townsend to pull a 3sec advantage which would ultimately prove unassailable. Green fought back to 7th, putting a move on Alexander Lammin before getting back ahead of Mays following the latter losing out to Atkinson. Mays then lost out late on to Julian Clist, dropping to 9th as a result. It all proved irrelevant as the top four remained unchanged. Longman saw off the last laps to secure an easy win, with Barrs a distant 2nd. Bolton was a further 2.7secs down the road in 3rd, with Townsend holding on for that last A Final 1 spot in 4th. Atkinson was best of the rest, almost 9secs adrift of the winner in a race that saw no fewer than nine separate penalties dished out to drivers!

A Final 1

With the four additions to the back of the grid decided, the 24-strong A Final 1 lineup took to the track with Chris Brown leading the way from Pole. Alongside in 2nd was James Ludlam, with new driver Ross Gunn and Harry Neale on row 2. As the race got underway, things started in dramatic fashion as Gunn immediately went on the offensive, pushing through at Haynes Loop to get ahead of Ludlam. The latter was forced wide and the floodgates opened, with the front-runners tearing past up his inside. Attempting to slot back in, Ludlam found himself clipping DeHavillande and getting pushed further wide. By the time the pack made it to Ansons, Ludlam had slumped to 7th. Race leader Chris Brown was unaware of the shenanigans behind him as he pressed on in an attempt to establish his early lead. Gunn looked to assert himself, however, and quickly made his move for the lead after a better line through Midgets. Oliver Knighton had also made a solid start and found a way past Neale to climb into 3rd by the end of the lap. In the mid-pack, John Edmiston fell off the track after spinning out at Midgets to put him at the back of the pack. The following lap was a little less dramatic, however this time it was DeHavillande on the move, getting ahead of Rich Ward to climb into 5th. One lap later, he found himself in the top three after leapfrogging both Neale and Knighton. Miguel Hall was another moving forward and he moved up into the top 6 after deposing Ludlam and Ward from their positions. Behind them, Lex Wakeman pulled a great move into Wingers Dip on Daniel Truman for 9th. With the squabbling pack slowing each other down, the front two had quickly pulled clear and found themselves 3 secs clear of 3rd-placed DeHavillande by the end of lap 4. They were lapping very closely as Brown looked for a way back into the lead. In amongst that second group, Miguel Hall was again on the move as he got past both Neale and Knighton for 4th, with the latter slipping to 6th. The following few laps were relatively uneventful, with only minor changes to the lower order being seen. Rhianna Purcocks gained a place after ousting Harrison Darvill from 12th. Greg Aaron then promoted himself into 10th after getting the better of Truman through Haynes Loop. The following lap saw more action ahead of them, with Miguel Hall coming under fire from Neale. After a couple of failed attempts, Neale finally made it count after a better run out of Ansons gave him the chance to out-drag his opponent on the back straight before the Bus Stop. Knighton subsequently came through to dump Hall back to 6th.

With the race now moving into the second half, eyes were back on the front as Chris Brown had managed to regain the lead following a gutsy move into Wingers Dip. With the front two now over 3.5secs clear of the rest, it would be a two-horse race for the win. DeHavillande was still 3rd and clear of the pack behind, however he didn’t have enough to be able to reel the leaders in. The following lap was again fairly settled, with Hall now doing his level best to find a way back past Knighton for 5th. He eventually got his man with a lunge to the inside at Wingers Dip, making it stick with relative ease. Directly behind them, an almost replica move from Greg Aaron saw him pass Wakeman and climb into 8th. Further down the order, Ben Dimelow and Josh Pettitt got the better of Harrison Darvill to demote the latter to 16th. Lap 11 saw a great scrap develop over 7th as Rich Ward found himself under attack from Greg Aaron and Lex Wakeman. Aaron tried his luck into Haynes Loop after a better run out of the final corner, but Ward refused to yield and kept his foot it. Aaron had the inside line for the left kink, however, and took it, with Ward compromised and off-line on the run down to Wingers Dip. Wakeman took advantage and a better exit through Ansons at the bottom of the track saw him easily breeze past and snatch 8th from ward before the Bus Stop. Purcocks then found a way past Ludlam on the next lap as he continued his slide down the order. Thickpenny was also there and a brave lunge at Midgets saw him do the pair of them to move into 11th. Lap 12 was far more sedate, with the order remaining unchanged. Chris brown was still in control of the race, although being kept very honest by Ross Gunn. DeHavillande was now a mammoth 6secs adrift in 3rd, emphasising the unrelenting pace from the leading pair. The former Easykart protégé was having a lonely race, with Neale a further 3secs down the road having now pulled away from Hall and Knighton. The penultimate lap saw Jack Bolton steal 20th from Edward Barrs as the B Finalist qualifiers went toe to toe for minor bragging rights. In all honesty, what was an action-packed and exciting race died off with a whimper. The final lap came and went with Brown easily able to see off the fading challenge of Gunn. The Team DGB endurance driver crossed the finish line to secure a well-earned victory, ahead of the impressive debutant. DeHavillande secured a solid 3rd with ease, eventually followed by Neale, Hall and Knighton to complete the top 6. Greg Aaron finished 7th on track, but a 2-place penalty saw him demoted to 9th, with Wakeman and Truman leapfrogging him in the standings. Penalties were also awarded to Andrew Green, Jon Watkins and Tom Thickpenny.

B Final 2

The fight was now on for the last two repecharge spots as the B Finalists prepared to slug it out for the elusive top two spots. Heading the pack from pole was Alexander Lammin, with Dominic Green starting from 2nd. Daniel Healey and Dmitri Zaporozhets lined up on row 2 ahead of Tyler Mays and Ben Atkinson. It proved a sluggish start for the pole-man, as Lammin immediately slipped to 3rd after losing out to Healey and Green. It was the former who made the best start, leapfrogging the pair to take the lead in the race. Another eleven drivers found themselves falling off the track in one way or another as the frenetic start took it’s victims. Chris Williams ousted Ben Atkinson for 6th in an otherwise unchanged order after 3 laps. Daniel Healey was still in front but not having it all his own way as the pressure from Green began to mount. Soon enough, Green was in front and taking charge of the proceedings. With less than a second separating the top 4, this was shaping up to be a more exciting race than B Final 1. However, things remained fairly settled as the quartet followed each other in close proximity. Further back, a coming together between Nathan Bellows and Andrew Farmer saw the pair dump each other out of 9th and 10th, gifting Mays and Holroyd a couple of positions. As the race progressed, the leading drivers remained line astern, with Green holding on to his narrow lead and no one else seemingly able to make any kind of impression. Ben Atkinson provided some entertainment as he battled well to carve out a move for 6th on Chris Williams. At last a talking point presented itself on lap 9 when Healey was caught napping by Lammin. The move was firm but fair, with Healey conceding 2nd before also losing out to Zaporozhets. Could he find a way back into the top 2? With the end of the race approaching, time was now running out. Green was still in front however his small gap had now been eaten away by Lammin. Healey managed to claw a position back with a good move on Zaporozhets as the pair lost slight ground to the front two. The latter also lost out to David Williams a couple of laps later, but he fought back to reclaim 4th with just a couple of laps remaining. As the final lap neared, Green had managed to open up some breathing space once more and looked good value for the win. Despite the opposition’s best efforts, he wasn’t to be denied. A last lap rally from Lammin wasn’t enough and so Dominic Green crossed the finish line to secure the win. Lammin was able to hold on to 2nd and that final A Final spot despite Healey being in hot pursuit. He took 3rd ahead of Zaporozhets, David Williams and Chris Williams who completed the top 5. It proved a fairly sedate final lap, with the only move coming from Tyler Mays as he snatched 8th from William Hemsley late on. Amazingly, there were no penalties dished out in this Final, which proved to be a far cleaner affair than their previous effort in B Final 1.

A Final 2

With the last two additions made to the grid, the A Final 2 lineup was finally sorted and ready to go for the last race of the day. Leading the troops out from Pole and looking to do the double was Chris Brown. Ross Gunn would look to take the fight on once again from 2nd, with James DeHavillande this time in 3rd. Alongside him on row two was Miguel Hall, with Neale and Pettitt lining up 5th and 6th respectively. As the race commenced, Brown dropped the hammer and ensured he got into Haynes Loop with his lead intact. Gunn wasn’t so lucky, finding himself losing out to DeHavillande and Miguel Hall, immediately slipping to 4th. Neale was another getting off to a sluggish start and dropped to 7th after Pettitt and Thickpenny got the better of him. With the usual middle order fracas, it was a miracle that nobody fell off as they stumbled through the Bus Stop. The first lap came and went rather cleanly, with everyone surviving. DeHavillande looked in the mood to win and was soon setting his sights on leader Chris Brown. The pressure was being turned up and the move soon came at Midgets. Brown was barged out of the way, with DeHavillande commandeering the lead and Brown helpless to prevent Hall and Gunn from also slipping through. Brown fought back, however, to re-take 3rd from Gunn. Behind them, a coming together between Thickpenny and Pettitt saw the pair ruin their chances as they both fell off on the exit of Midgets. The following lap saw more action at Midgets, with Ross Gunn determined to get the better of Brown and launching himself up the inside and back into 3rd. In the mid-pack, James Small put a good move in on Ben Dimelow for 14th, whilst at the back Daniel Truman stole 22nd from Barrs at Midgets. Lap 4 saw more change to the order with Longman getting the better of Watkins for 6th. Behind them, Purcocks lost out to Edmiston for 11th, whilst further back James Ludlam had sneaked ahead of Darvill at Haynes Loop, with the pair battling over 18th. Rich Ward was also suffering at the hands of Dominic Green, getting shoved wide through Haynes Loop and losing 16th. Attentions soon switched back to the front when Ross Gunn made a forceful move on Hall for 2nd. The pair lost time with Hall bouncing off over the dirt, allowing Brown to come steaming past them and back into 2nd. Hall was the real loser, rejoining back down in 6th as a result. Despite the melee, leader DeHavillande seemed unable to detach himself from the group and still had his work cut out to ensure victory. Longman was now running 4th, with Neale in 5th. Further back, more scraps were developing as contact between Aaron and Edmiston saw the latter subsequently lose out to Purcocks, Dominic Green and Ben Dimelow. But it was the front of the grid retaining the interest in this race as Chris Brown looked up for the fight. The move came at Midgets, with Brown diving to the inside and snatching the lead back from DeHavillande. Gunn and Longman were breathing down their necks and it was beginning to shape up for an exciting finale. Could Brown pull clear?

DeHavillande soon found himself back under fire. As they came through start/finish for lap 8, Gunn got the run and dived to the inside and took 2nd. DeHavillande tried to hold on but failed, allowing Longman to get up alongside. As they entered the left kink, Longman found himself to the outside and was pushed wide, causing him to fall back to 6th behind Hall and Watkins. The fighting had allowed Brown to pull open a healthy 1.7sec gap which he made the most of. As the race wore on, things remained tight at the front in the battle for 2nd. Brown remained clear but Gunn was unable to pull away from DeHavillande and co. Lap 10 saw the order change once more, following a bad exit from Ansons for Gunn. DeHavillande and Hall mopped him up without fuss, squeezing through before the Bus Stop to demote Gunn to 4th. Further back, Purcocks was making steady progress and had fought her way past Jack Bolton to take 9th. However a couple of laps later she lost out to Dominic Green at Haynes Loop despite her best efforts. Lap 11 saw yet more drama at the front. This time it was Miguel Hall dropping back after again being forced wide at Midgets. Ross Gunn had barged through but the pair allowed Longman through into 3rd, with Hall dropping back to 6th behind Watkins. Gunn was not to be denied, however, and repeated the move on Longman on the next lap. He did it cleanly this time and moved into 3rd behind DeHavillande. With the end of the race rapidly approaching, leader Chris Brown was now over 2secs clear of the pack and looking odds-on for the double. The fighting continued behind him as Gunn and Longman slowed each other down, losing touch with DeHavillande and leaving themselves to battle over 3rd. Longman eventually got back through, with Gunn unable to counter. In the mid-pack, Greg Aaron and Ben Dimelow were scrapping over 11th. However contact between them saw their exit out of Tollys compromised, with Edmiston and Ludlam taking full advantage to leapfrog the pair. As the last lap board came out, what promised to be an explosive finale never truly materialised. Brown was still clear out in front and ensured no mistakes to cross the finish line over 2secs clear and seal maximum points. DeHavillande was next up, leading Longman and Gunn over the line. However a 1-place penalty saw DeHavillande demoted to 3rd, thus gifting Longman with 2nd. Watkins eventually followed to seal a solid 5th, with the frustrated Miguel Hall forced to settle for 6th. Further back, Late dramas had seen Greg Aaron and Ben Dimelow lose yet more positions due to their on-track feud. James Small did the pair of them at the death to snatch 13th. Dimelow eventually triumphed over Aaron, finishing a lowly 14th with the latter on his tail. A total of seven penalties were dished out in the final race of the day. Thickpenny was black-flagged, whilst Ludlam, Andre and Dominic Green, Edmiston and Lammin joined DeHavillande in taking deductions to their on-track finishing positions.

So another scrappy and penalty-laden weekend for the Lightweights saw Chris Brown take all the plaudits with a fantastic performance to earn himself maximum points over both A Finals. He enhances his prospects for the Championship and opens a small gap at the top of the standings. Dropped scores will soon come into play, however, and another great showing from James DeHavillande helps his cause for the title. He takes 3rd overall for the round, with the impressive cameo from a combative Ross Gunn earning him 2nd for the round. So after 8 rounds, Chris Brown leads the way in the standings ahead of Rich Ward. Longman sits in 3rd, with Townsend and Aaron completing the current top 5. With round 9 at Whilton Mill on the horizon, it’s sure to be all change at the top as those dropped scores begin to take effect.

Driver of the Day

Today was dominated by Chris Brown. Fastest in qualifying, and unbeatable in the Finals. He was made to work for it, particularly in Final 2, but Brown looked every bit the title contender with this display and if he can maintain his form, he might just give DeHavillande something to think about over the final three rounds. Deserved driver of the day. DeHavillande himself had yet another great weekend, securing two 3rd’s with a very determined couple of drives. He’s definitely the man in the driving seat for the 2014 title. Credit to Ross Gunn too for a very good showing in his first Club100 Sprints appearance.