Matt Brooks – It’s Trophy Time. A Championship Contender?

Prems Podium scaled

A stern talking to from Club100 MD John Vigor did nothing for the first start to Heat 1 severe loading shoved Stephen Hicks heading the outside line so far outside from the turn 1 apex he may have been heading for the exit. Re-grid. Start 2 was better, indeed Paul Jennings off pole left the infield with a bigger advantage than start 1, Steve Brown up to 2nd from grid 4, Darren Teal, Hicks only down to 4th this time, ahead of Scott Martin and Brooks and they were clear as it got messy from there Jack Harding coming through in 7th with the rest of field nose to tail behind him. Beroual-Smith got inside of Jay Elliott for 8th into turn 8 releasing Harding to chase down the top 6.

Paul Jennings appeared to have everything under a degree of control but Brown closed in, they all started to close back up again. Harding moved first on Brooks for 6th, turn 4 Matt set up for turn 5 but Jack went straight across the road for an early apex and block passed Brooks for 6th. Jennings messed up turn 6 and Brown drove inside up to turn 7, before Paul could close the inside lane heading out the long left hander Teal was through, and Hicks at the hairpin. GGGRRGGHHH! One mistake! Brooks bullied his way back passed Harding into turn 1 and Beroual-Smith went bouncing out of the group into the grass. He kept trundling around the outside of turn 2 then back on to kill Nijjar’s momentum. He also managed to stay in front of Blake in 12th. Scott Martin must have been relieved to have escaped this group to finish 5th as the battle behind between Harding, Brooks, Elliott and Jonathan Lisseter was full on to the finish. It finished Brown, Teal, Hicks and Jennings.

C100_RedLodge-5983 trimmmA re-grid for Heat 2, two in fact, although the first start was good, they were two by two through turn 1 and still two by two trying to get through turn 2 and 3, breath in, squelch. Lisseter left parked in the tyres. Too narrow through there… Start 2 repeat. Start 3 pole man Callum McGregor got the drop Parmveer Nijjar and was a kart length clear into turn 1, Chris Hanson on his bumper from grid 3, Nijjar got a shot from behind from Blake thats not apportioning blame, he could easily have been pushed by one of many into it. No room in there. They all got through the first complex although O’Connor and Elliott would’ve told you their races were already ruined falling off the back of the field. When they emerged back towards the last corner Hanson led just clear of McGregor, Nijjar under pressure from Blake, gap to Stuart Martin, Freddie Gallagher and Beroual-Smith. In a race reduced to 6 laps, time was short. Blake threatened Nijjar’s 3rd in what was a 4 way dice but Parmveer’s defence was resolute. Ian pressed and pressed and they lost touch with Hanson and McGregor. Beroual-Smith passed Martin and set off in pursuit in 5th but we were on the last lap and the run into turn 1 before Anwar could take a shot and Ian was not having any of it, turning into 1 and taking the apex if Anwar tried it or not. And that was that and how it finished. Hanson, McGregor, the latter happy off his bumper, gap to Nijjar, Blake, Beroual-Smith faster than you can say it, even if you were trying to say it really quickly.

C100_RedLodge-9203Finally a clean start and 20 drivers charged into turn 1 for a 13 lap Pre-Final, all trying to be as narrow as possible. That’s herd mentality or learned behaviour. They were learning Red Lodge. You be the judge. Steve Brown converted pole, Ian Blake on grid 3 schooled Daz Teal off the apex of turn 1 and Brown’s bumper. Sivved (my own word apparently) themselves through the infield and on the return Brown had grabbed a few kart lengths on Blake, Teal, Hanson and Nijjar, but Hanson appeared to slow up in turn 7 and although he picked up pace he was slapped about to the end of lap 2 and out of any meaningful finish. Brown was clear, Blake too, as Teal and Nijjar went stag night over start finish. Then they remembered they were Premier Class. Just an aberration. Maybe not. McGregor and Brooks made up the top 6, a gap to Harding pulling the field through. But it all went a bit turbo behind Harding so he got released as Elliott, Beroual-Smith, Martin, Hicks, Lisseter, Paul Jennings, Freddie Gallagher and O’Connor got pushy-pushy. End of lap 4, Teal and Nijjar went “end of the pier” (tick it off your bingo card) into the right-left in front of the pits. Then quickly dropped Brooks and McGregor who would be joined by Brooks presently. By half distance Blake had been sat on Brown’s bumper waiting for a mistake from the leader for a couple of laps. He was content while they, the leading duo pegged Teal and Nijjar, at it again in the last corner, I presume Darren was struggling through and out of turn 9, but Parmveer wouldn’t try it a 3rd time? Instead he tried inside of turn 1, so hard even he didn’t bother with the apex, Brooks got inside to turn 2 first but ran deep and the 3 emerged Teal, Brooks, Nijjar. “Hello!” With McGregor and Harding.

As they started the penultimate lap Blake, who had waited without attempting a pass had missed his window, still waiting but now needing a mistake that thus far Brown had not made and he had edged to a couple of kart lengths. Strike while your iron is hot? Or is Ian playing such a canny game he is going to retain his title with the most unspectacular style possible. Perversely I will be mightily impressed if he does. Brown was heading to a classy lights to flag win. More power to the Baby Prem. Nijjar tried his last corner manoeuvre out on Brooks. It still didn’t work! Teal was clear in 3rd and Brooks was ready for Parmveer on the last lap and covered up straight out of turn 9. Parmveer didn’t bother, Callum McGregor and Jack Harding followed him in.

C100_RedLodge-9263Lap times from the pre final set the grid for the trophy Final, Lee Hackett and Pete O’Connor led the field through to a clean start (2nd attempt…) grid 3 Brooks got his nose level with O’Connor to be level going into turn 1 so it was hard work for Pete and Jay Elliott in the outside line to get in. Anwar Beroual-Smith was hard on Matt’s bumper. After flirting with disaster through turn 2 and 3, Hackett led from Brooks, Beroual-Smith, O’Connor, Ian Blake off grid 7, Elliott, Darren Teal off grid 11, Jack Harding, Stephen Hicks off grid 15 and Scott Martin was 10th. Basically the outside line were almost guaranteed a loss of 1-3 places off the start, at least at this level. As the field settled into line, Blake wobbled on the brakes with the attentions of Elliott into the last corner and the leading quartet were released but Beroual-Smith had O’Connor looking for a way by and this preoccupation lasted until the end of lap 3. It had brought Blake & Co back into the battle for 3rd but Elliott got down the inside of Blake into turn 2 for 5th and Blake had to hold off Darren Teal on his left out of turn 3. So Jack Harding went right and did the pair of them, it also backed the field up so Scott Martin could try three wide with Stephen Hicks and Frederick Gallagher into turn 4-5. Someone had to lift but no one really ever does and both Parmveer Nijjar and Chris Hanson slid inside of the trio on the exit. The ripple of “backing up” then saw Martin, Stephen Jennings and Callum McGregor running out wide of turn 6 and 3 karts tried to occupy 1.5 kart widths of track (McGregor on the grass), they track is a good six kart widths wide there so Stuart Martin and Steve Brown, a victim of a bounce down the grass himself at the start, could breeze passed that trio up to turn 7. As the reordered field returned to start lap 5, Hackett led with Brooks on his bumper, Matt lining him up for a pass into turn 1. Anwar was 2secs back, a few kart lengths clear of O’Connor, then a similar margin to Elliott, same to Harding, again to Blake. Blake had steadied his ship and had a gap on Teal, Nijjar and Hanson in 10th. Brooks had been alongside Hackett well before turn into 1 so Lee saw no point fighting it and he moved to sit on his bumper, in the hope of being towed clear of Beroual-Smith and maybe have a crack at Brooks later on. But that wasn’t the case and the race essentially broke into three parts for the 2nd half of the 13 lapper, Brooks-Hackett-BeroualSmith, a second’s gap to Elliott, O’Connor, Hicks, a 2secs gap to Blake bringing through or holding off, Teal, Nijjar, and Hanson. There was another gap to the rest of the field starting with Gallagher in 11th. Nijjar forced a great pass inside of Darren Teal between the end of turn 7 and into turn 8 hairpin. That had Darren shaking his head but when he sees the video he’d be proud to slide his kart into a one-ish width kart gap like that for 8th place. Into the closing stages Hackett had seen off the best of Beroual-Smith and was back to within a kart length of leader Brooks, only to lose a little ground, and the shot at the win was gone. Anwar got to Lee’s bumper on the last lap but Lee had just enough up to turn 7 and solid driving from there should and did see him safe in 2nd to the finish especially with Elliott late into the mix trying to stir things up with Anwar into the last corner.

Arms akimbo from Brooks over the line makes a great photograph, Hackett was leading Baby Prem ahead Beroual-Smith and Elliott. O’Connor held off Harding solidly to the end. Ian Blake’s resolute defence, nee racecraft, was a 3.5secs further back and he had just enough to hold off Parmveer Nijjar and he did try. Darren Teal and Chris Hanson rounded out the top ten.

Whilton Mill is sold out, all sprint classes. Premier Class is going to be off the hook. Can’t wait.