Lightweight Sprint Championship 2014, Rd.9
Introduction & Qualifying With only 3 rounds left, there was everything to play for as the Lightweights returned to Whilton Mill for the second visit of the year. The Zulu layout would provide the challenge this time, something that received a somewhat mixed reception from the drivers. Weather was good once again and looked to remain dry for the most part, although dark clouds on the horizon threatened to make things a little moister later in the day. With all the main protagonists of the 2014 Championship present, it would be interesting to see who could gain the upper hand going into the final two rounds. The man to come out on top during qualifying was Harry Neale. He set the fastest time overall whilst out on track in group 1 to secure Pole for A Final 1. Less than 0.02secs slower and fastest in group 2 was Simon Lloyd. Rich Ward had a good start to his day, doing enough to secure 3rd, with Daniel Healey impressing on his way to taking 4th. Row 3 would see Dominic Green and David Longman doing battle. Championship contenders James DeHavillande and Chris Brown didn’t have the best of times in qualifying. They were only quick enough for 10th and 14th respectively, with Miguel Hall and Daniel Truman doing even worse. They found themselves way down in 18th and 20th for A Final 1 respectively. Taking the front row for B Final 1 and narrowly missing out on a place in the ‘A’ were Taylor Mays and Alexander Lammin. Jack Bolton and David Williams would be looking for a repecharge spot each from row 2. It proved a torrid qualifying session for Greg Aaron. He was well off the pace and could only muster a lap time good enough for 8th in B Final 1. B Final 1 The first proper race of the day got underway, with a bloated grid of 30 karts looking to make it into the top 4 spots for a place in A Final 1. Mays and Lammin were on the front row, with Bolton in 3rd and Williams in 4th. Steve Gray felt ill during the practice lap, so much so that he was unable to start the race and was forced to sit it out. Fortunately he improved enough to take part in the following race. The action got off to a feisty start, with Mays narrowly holding on to the lead before opening a nice early advantage thanks to fighting directly behind him. It was Pat Nicholls making the most of things, muscling his way up and into 2nd, with Bolton remaining 3rd. Dimelow also climbed up, taking 4th as Lammin and Williams were beaten up and pushed down into 5th and 6th. Simon Gould and Ethan Hurford were the first to fall off track amongst the first lap mayhem. Lap 2 saw Jack Bolton promote himself into 2nd with a good move on Nicholls, whilst Williams got the better of Lammin to snatch 5th. Williams followed that up with another move on Dimelow just one lap later, moving into the top 4. Race leader Taylor Mays was still leading with a healthy advantage, however Bolton was looking up for it and soon started eat away at the gap, leaving Nicholls behind in the process. The latter didn’t appear to have enough pace, despite the early promise, and he soon found himself slipping to 4th as Williams came charging through. The following laps saw very little movement to the order, with the odd move taking place towards the back of the pack. Charles Holroyd got himself ahead of Iain McGregor for 13th, whilst directly behind them Ashley Bablee got pushed wide and lost a few positions on his way down to 18th. By the midway point of the race, the gap between the front two was now barely 1sec, however Bolton’s progress began to stutter as Mays picked up his pace. Bolton had now left the rest for dead, with Williams and co. now over 2secs adrift of him. Nicholls was fighting a losing battle with Lammin to cling on to that precious 3rd place. Lammin wasn’t to be denied though, taking it with relative ease. Josh Pettitt had made steady progress from the midpack and battled past Townsend to move into 7th, although that was undone one lap later as Townsend countered. The battle intensified between them and Pettitt eventually came out on top, forcing his way through and taking Barrs with him as Townsend slipped to 9th. Eyes soon returned to the front on lap 11, when a mistake from Mays allowed Bolton to latch onto the back of him. One lap later, Bolton was through as Mays failed to hold him off. Williams had now reeled them in too and was all over the back of Mays. He made his move on lap 13, stealing 2nd and leaving Mays vulnerable to an attack from Lammin. Mays wasn’t giving in lightly however, fighting back and reclaiming 2nd with 2 laps remaining. That proved the last of the major talking points as the last couple of laps were seen off with minimal fuss. Barrs put a late move in on Pettitt for 6th, but that made little difference as Bolton came through to take the win, 1.4secs clear of Mays and Williams. Alexander Lammin secured the last A Final 1 spot, with Nicholls missing out in 5th. The only penalty dished out in this race was a 4-placer for Charles Holroyd for ABC. A Final 1 Harry Neale lined up for his first ever A Final Pole, hoping that he could successfully convert it to a first ever sprints win. Alongside him and another front row debutant was Simon Lloyd, with Rich Ward and Daniel Healey on row 2. David Longman would be hoping to maintain his Championship push with a big points haul. He started from 6th alongside Dominic Green. Championship rival James DeHavillande would be one to watch from 10th. As the race got off to a flyer, Neale held the lead with Lloyd suffering on the outside. He quickly found himself getting overrun by the opposition up the hill towards Christmas Corner, losing out to Ward and Healey. It got worse for Lloyd, who was pushed wide through the hairpin and subsequently lost out another few places before slotting back in down in 7th. Rhianna Purcocks had made a great start and promoted herself by 3 positions after getting the better of Atkinson and Pagano. Amazingly no one fell off track as the field negotiated their way around the first lap without too much carnage. The following lap was the opposite, however, as things turned sour amongst the leaders. Neale was now under pressure from Rich Ward and the move came at the Hairpin. Healey took full advantage of the pair running wide to do the both of them for the lead. Meanwhile, Neale had fallen into the clutches of Dominic Green. As they went through Zulu side by side, Neale got clattered and fired off, whilst Green lost momentum and got done by Longman on the run down to the Boot. The following lap was calmer, with the only change to the order seeing both Chris Brown and Miguel Hall get ahead of Luke Hornsby as the Championship protagonists attempted to come through the mid-pack. The following lap saw Purcocks scrap with Green for 4th. Neither driver let off as they came through Zulu, costing them both time and enabling Simon Lloyd to get ahead of them both into the Boot. Further back, DeHavillande was struggling to make any inroads and found himself shoved wide by Andrew Green through the final corner to dump the youngster back to 13th. The following lap was all change again as Longman put a good move in on Rich Ward at Christmas Corner for 2nd. It was directly behind them where it was still kicking off, however. Purcocks and co. were still tussling over 4th, and Simon Lloyd was the big loser as again they refused to yield through Zulu. Lloyd was sent off onto the grass, somehow holding it together before rejoining the track in 8th, with Purcocks, Green, Atkinson and Wakeman having got ahead. Because of the constant scrapping, this group had dropped off from the front three and were now over 2secs adrift. Race leader Daniel Healey had been unable to extend his lead, however, with Longman and Ward really pushing him hard. Lap 6 saw Simon Lloyd lose yet more positions as he stumbled down to 19th , with Chris Brown and Miguel Hall now moving up into the top 10. One lap later, Brown had navigated a way past James Small to gain yet another position. As the race wore on, Daniel Healey earned himself a small amount of breathing space thanks to failed attempts by Rich Ward to depose Longman from 2nd. Purcocks had now pulled herself clear of that squabbling group and was turning her attentions to chasing down the front three. Chris Brown had gained yet another position and rose to 7th after taking Lex Wakeman through Christmas Corner, with James Small following him through. One lap later, Brown was amazingly up to 5th after more fighting between Atkinson and Dominic Green gifted him another couple of positions. Before long, Purcocks had managed to reel in the front 3 and latched herself onto the back of them, looking very quick indeed. Another making progress after a tough start was DeHavillande, who’d slowly clawed himself up into 8th by the end of lap 12. All eyes were on the battle for the lead, however, with things really beginning to intensify. Healey was still leading and doing a good job of keeping Longman at bay. However it wasn’t so good for Rich Ward, who found himself getting outsmarted by Purcocks at Christmas Corner for 3rd. It was now beginning to look like Purcocks might just be able to go on and win this race and she quickly switched her sights to Longman. The move came on the very next lap, after Longman failed with a Boot move on Healey for the lead. It cost him momentum which gave Purcocks the chance to dive through up the inside at the exit of the Boot. She made it count and took 2nd, with just one more kart standing between her and victory. Purcocks was absolutely flying and immediately launched herself through at Christmas Corner, pulling off the move perfectly and covering the exit to hold the lead. Healey was unable to fight back and instead lost out to both Longman and Ward as the pair came barrelling through at Inkermans. With just a couple of laps now remaining, Purcocks looked to establish her lead and pull away from Longman. Once out in front, she never looked like losing it and slowly crept away despite Longman’s best efforts. The last couple of laps came and went with little drama, James DeHavillande one of the only movers as he took Dominic Green through the Boot for 7th. As the last lap board came out, Purcocks could taste the victory and kept her cool to take the chequered flag, clinching her maiden Club100 Sprints victory in style! David Longman was just under 1sec behind as he came through to seal 2nd. Rich Ward and Daniel Healey were further adrift as they crossed the line nose-to-tail in 3rd and 4th respectively. Chris Brown was almost 4secs behind as he came through to cap an excellent drive with 5th at the chequered flag. James Small completed the top 6. Despite all the drama and mayhem early on in the race, only one penalty was issued in A Final 1. A 4-place demotion was given to Ben Atkinson for ABC. B Final 2 The penultimate race of the round saw Iain McGregor take Pole, with Edward Barrs starting from 2nd. The rest of the pack would be hot on their heels for those precious top 2 spots, with Darvill and Richards leading the charge from row 2. Greg Aaron had it all to do to salvage his bad day from 6th. As the B Final got underway, that man Greg Aaron made just the kind of start he would have been hoping for, leapfrogging both Clist and Richards to take 4th, behind the front 3 who held their respective positions. The following lap saw a dramatic twist, however, with McGregor shoved out of the lead by Barrs. With the pack having been tightly bunched, McGregor found himself pushed wide and a coming together with Richards saw both drivers fall to the back of the pack and out of contention. Barrs took over the lead, with Aaron now up into 2nd and ahead of Darvill. In the midst of the mayhem, Josh pettitt was another driver to profit from the misfortune of others as he climbed to 4th from 8th on the grid. He conceded one of those positions to Clist on the following lap, however. Meanwhile, out in front Greg Aaron was looking a determined man as he crafted an opening and took the lead from Barrs. Once he hit the lead, he never looked in danger of relinquishing it despite Barrs’ best efforts to get him back. The following laps were relatively subdued, with no real talking points as Aaron tried his best to detach himself from the persistent Barrs. Darvill was close behind too as he searched for a way into the repecharge spots. Further back, Dimelow made two positions, taking advantage of the squabbling Ashley Bablee and Stephen Townsend to sneak into 6th. Dimelow then climbed up one place further on the next lap as he dispatched Josh Pettitt for 5th. Again the next few laps saw very little change in the order as a quiet race drifted nearer to it’s conclusion. Greg Aaron had by now managed to open up a small gap to Barrs, who was being kept preoccupied by Darvill. The latter was clearly determined to make the A Final and went for it on lap 11. He made the move stick and looked like having enough to hold on. Barrs wasn’t to be denied, however, leaving it until the final lap to make the decisive move. By now Greg Aaron was over 3secs clear and coasted home to take the victory and a place on the back of A Final 2. Darvill had no way of countering Barrs’ late move, meaning the latter secured that last A Final spot. Darvill narrowly missed out in 3rd, with the pair well clear of Julian Clist in 4th. Penalties in this race were handed to Josh Pettitt for cone abuse, and Limont-Brown and Hemsley who both took 4-place demotions to their finishing positions. A Final 2 In his rise through the pack in A Final 1, James DeHavillande succeeded in setting the fastest lap of the race and earning himself Pole for A Final 2. David Williams took 2nd, with Final 1 winner Rhianna Purcocks aiming to do the double from row 2. Alongside her in 4th was Chris Brown. Pietro Pagano and Tyler Mays took row 3. A false start at the first time of asking was called due to madness amongst the mid-pack, who, despite being warned beforehand, seemed hell-bent on racing each other through Zulu rather than giving each other room. JV rounded the troops up and gave them an almighty bollocking before letting them resume, albeit with a shortened race time. The message seemed to get through loud and clear, however on the next attempt at a start, DeHavillande proved too keen to get away and dropped the hammer far too early, thus leaving the rest of the field almost half the straight behind him by the time they crossed the start line. Unsurprisingly, another false start was called! It was third time lucky and as the last event of the day finally got going, it was a marginally better opening which still saw three karts going off. DeHavillande got a clean start and held his lead. Williams got caught napping and was mugged by Purcocks through the Hook. The same happened to Brown, finding himself down to 5th with Pagano coming through. Rich Ward was another to make the most of the slow getaway by the outside row, stealing ahead of Mays to take 6th. In the mid-pack, a clash between Atkinson and Wakeman saw the latter sent into a spin. Unfortunately, Simon Lloyd and Frankie Hedges both collected him and fell off track as a result, with Wakeman fortunate to get knocked back in the right direction and keeping it going. The next lap saw the order begin to settle, with Chris Brown back on the offensive and getting the better of Pagano out of Inkermans and into Zulu to reclaim 5th. Out in front, things were very close between the leaders as DeHavillande pushed hard to distance himself from Purcocks. She stuck to him like glue, however, as the pair pulled open a big gap on Williams over the following few laps. Further down the order, Miguel Hall was looking to continue his decent start and gained another position when he took Dominic Green with ease through Christmas Corner for 9th. At the tail end, Atkinson was looking for a way past Zaporozhets for 17th. It ended in tears, however, when Atkinson forced his kart through at the last corner. He barged Zaporozhets out of the way, sending him straight into the tire wall and out of the race. Atkinson was to receive the black flag as a result. Eyes were back on the leaders, with Purcocks now really turning up the heat in her pursuit for the lead. DeHavillande just didn’t have enough to ward her off and the move eventually came on lap 6. A better exit out of Christmas Corner saw her launch the kart up the inside into Inkermans, giving DeHavillande no chance and forcing him to hand over the lead. DeHavillande was unable to immediately counter and would have to follow for the time being. Further down the road, a good move from Rich Ward saw him oust Pagano from 5th. Longman was another moving forward as he took Dominic Green for 10th. Before long, Purcocks had established a healthy advantage over DeHavillande and was looking odds-on for the win. Not too much was going on throughout the order, with only a couple of changes of positions here and there. Williams was a long way back in 3rd, having to soak up plenty of pressure from Chris Brown who was working hard to try and create an opportunity. However they weren’t forthcoming, thus enabling Rich Ward and Pagano to latch onto the back of them. Lap 10 saw a good move from the young James Small into the final corner to snatch 8th from Miguel Hall. Another position was then lost for Hall when Longman came diving through. The following lap finally saw Brown get himself into 3rd at the expense of Williams. As they came through into Inkermans, Brown went for it and Williams ran out of road. He somehow held it together despite an off-track excursion but lost several positions by the time he got back on the tarmac. With his momentum lost, it caused chaos in the mid-pack as they all came charging at him. He lost further positions to Hall, who had also profited by taking Longman through the Boot, as well as Green and Healey. By the end of the lap, Williams had slumped to 11th. Trying to halt his slide, Williams tried to fight back at Healey. He succeeded only in losing another couple of positions as Longman and Neale dived through at Christmas Corner. With only a couple of laps now left to the end of the race, things were looking slightly less comfortable for Purcocks. DeHavillande had now closed that gap down and was almost close enough to strike. Purcocks looked unfazed, however, and concentrated on her own race rather than looking over her shoulder. By the penultimate lap they were a massive 6secs clear of 3rd-placed Chris Brown, who had slowly opened a small gap to Rich Ward and Pietro Pagano. The final lap board soon came out and Purcocks kept her cool, ensuring no mistakes and keeping DeHavillande just about far enough so that he couldn’t attack. With no chance to go for it, DeHavillande was forced to settle for 2nd, leaving Purcocks to take the chequered flag and complete the double, ending an absolutely amazing day for the young lady. No changes amongst the next pack meant that Chris Brown eventually crossed the line to secure a useful 3rd, with Rich Brown holding off Pagano for a well deserved 4th. The only notable change in the order on the final lap saw poor David Williams lose another couple of positions to Truman and Andrew Green at Christmas Corner before finishing a frustrating 15th. The only penalties in this race went to Ben Atkinson for the aforementioned black flag, and Miguel Hall who was the recipient of a 2-place demotion for excessive kerbing. So a tempestuous and volatile day of racing amongst the Lightweights saw Rhianna Purcocks shine brightest as she came through brilliantly to win her first ever sprint finals, securing maximum points for the round. James DeHavillande’s 2nd place in A Final 2 will prove very handy for his Championship hopes as he took 2nd overall for the round. An excellent day for Rich Ward saw him finish a deserved 3rd overall for the round following a 4th and 3rd in the two finals. After 10 rounds then, DeHavillande still holds the Championship lead over Chris Brown based on dropped scores. It’ll be a close run thing by the look of it, with only a couple of rounds left before the end of the Championship. James Small isn’t completely out of the equation either; he lies 3rd in the Championship, with Miguel Hall a real outsider in 4th. Completing the top on dropped scores is Daniel Truman, who’s season has oddly gone downhill after a fantastic start in the opening rounds. With Rye House only two weeks away, let’s hope the Lightweights can clean up their act and produce an exciting, but clean, end to the year as the Championship battle comes to a head. Driver of the Day There were plenty of good drives on display today and Rich Ward was one who particularly impressed. He fought hard for his 3rd and 4th in the two A Finals and showed that he has the ability to race at the sharp end if he can get it all hooked up nicely. Driver of the day has to go to Rhianna Purcocks, however. She was outstanding today and showed her class with two awesome drives to take maximum points and her first ever sprint victories. On this form, she will definitely be one to watch for the last couple of rounds and into next year.