Matt Brooks You’re A Contender Now Buddy!

Prem podium 1Brooks 2B Smith 3Blake scaled

‘This is genuine racing, pure and simple.’ Says the testimonial from The Daily Telegraph on the club’s website. And it’s true. Usually. Sunday? Hmmm… Not as much. I start this copy on Monday morning and the club’s social media is humming with debate on driving standards after the clerks were given the headache (physically) from the volume of radio chatter on contact warnings and penalties – the club prides itself on close, hard, fair racing, and there’s (the metaphorical brain-ache) calling and enforcing penalties. Ultimately it comes down to how you think the game should be played and the drivers themselves but every class drove Whilton Mill hard and gave little or no quarter at all. It’s concerning. It called for a riot act to be read in the afternoon session. That made a modest improvement but Clay Pigeon is another track not lacking in quick corners and little run off in places so needs respect. Although respect for each other and each other’s safety is the real issue in the fun we should all be having. Rant off.

Prems actionPremier Class rotated back to that afternoon session. Heat 1 Pole man Callum McGregor valiantly held off Steve Brown until contact into Xmas slid him down the line. Freddie Gallagher, Stephen Jennings, Lee Clackett and Jonathan Lisseter had gone at it hard from the start in the chasing group and that eventually spread to the remainder of the crocodile. Pete O’Connor, as almost always, was one of the first to be collateral damage in someone else’s incident. Jonathan Lisseter inherited the win with Brown’s penalty after he worked his way passed Gallagher and Jennings, Jonathan needed another lap to pass Brown on track.

Chris Hanson got the drop on Paul Jennings for both starts of Heat 2 the first started to go wrong up at Xmas with a lot of loading behind Dan Milner and Anwar, the wave went through the pack and it shambled off at the kink. The restart saw Hanson sweeping all the way over from pole to take the racing line again into the fast left hander, very continental CIK style. Steve Bartlett on grid 3 came all the way over with him and put grid 2 Jennings into the grass, he’d been surprised by Hanson’s move over on the first start, I can’t imagine he was expecting more from Bartlett, although he was too busy sorting it out all the through the exit of the complex on the grass to gesture his views, doing well not to return bowling ball style into the pack. Penalty. Hicks visited the grass inside before Inkermans again. When the race settled down it was Hanson, Bartlett and Ray Norris, clear of Anwar, Parmveer and Jack Harding leading the pursuit. Ray slipped passed Bartlett at Xmas and sat off Hanson’s bumper to the finish. The percentage game is a sensible game. Chris made no mistakes and Ray was happy with that. Parmveer passed Steve, then Jack Harding repeated Ray’s move at Xmas and we were for the finish.

Prems BLAKE wins pre-finalThe Pre-Final was probably the race of the day, when it got going. The default seems to be 3-5 karts get through Crook fine everyone else is side by side up to Xmas this second group start loading up the two karts at the head, Norris and Hanson in this case, then the mess usually puts someone off high out of Xmas, and a few are grasstracking from the kink cutting out Inkermans. Teal and Brooks were in the latter group collecting and taking out McGregor on their return to the track, Stephen Jennings in avoidance. Ian Blake was ready for the restart getting on pole man Parmveer Nijjar’s bumper into turn 1 but a superb move around the outside at Xmas on lap 2 by Steve Brown, while Ian was bottled up on the leader’s bumper, put him temporarily back to 3rd only for Ian to force it back through into the toe of the Boot, not nearly as pretty. But it was effective. This was just after Jack Harding had moved passed Lisseter down inside Chapmans to go 4th. Then Blake pulled a clean move off the toe on Parmveer a lap later for the lead towing Brown through. Then Jack Harding got Parmveer clearly struggling for pace into Ashby. Brown waited on Blake’s bumper showing him the nose, trying to fake him into a mistake for the rest of the race. It never really happened, there was a wobbly Ashby moment but Brown was left making a token effort two corners from the finish which only allowed Jack Harding and Matt Brooks to close into a tight top 4. Championship leader Beroual Smith finished 3secs off the winner in 5th after missing the bus and fighting hard to clear Jonathan Lisseter. It’s fair to say in the closing stages I was struck how this season’s championship contenders look like reigning champion Ian Blake winning in fairly unspectacular, pragmatic (read as only hard on occasion) style save for his celebrations, Beroual-Smith with 2 wins in the first 2 rounds is always up front or getting to the front, and joining them is the emerging force of fellow Baby Prem Steve Brown and then there’s the 2015 model Matt Brooks. His fastest lap from the Pre Final gave Matt pole position for the Final, restarted after a heavy landing into the tyres off Crook for Stephen Hicks, we’ve all been there at some point and it’s always unwelcome but some kind of right of passage in karting.

Prems BROOKS, B-SMITH and BLAKE battleAfter the paramedic left and Hicks had joined the back of the grid, that seems harsh somehow, Brooks, Beroual-Smith off grid 3 and Blake off the front row got in line and got a gap while the rest eventually agreed with Lee Clackett that he should lead the chase, Norris once again, played along with that game in a line of 9 karts. Blake dive-bombed (?) Anwar at Xmas, a rare misjudgement from the calculating machine, and Matt was away for the next 4 laps of the now shortened 9 lap final, while Clackett, Norris, Lisseter and Brown joined in with Ian and Anwar. When sense was reinstated Beroual-Smith organised the pursuit and caught Matt with 3 laps to go, he shot and missed at Xmas, Matt getting wide through Inkermans to put Anwar on the grass and he was back into Brown, Blake, Clackett, Lisseter and Norris. It was the last lap before Anwar was set to try again and Matt covered up into Xmas and Ashby and then he was clear for the last half lap to take his 2nd win of the season as Beroual-Smith busied himself with Lisseter before Blake applied brawn into the last corner to get on the podium. It will not be a surprise if the aforementioned quartet are fighting out the championship at the end of the year, based on current form. Blake has reduced Beroual-Smith’s lead to 10 points and Brown is a further 19 behind. Brooks will have to wait for dropped scores to discount his absence from round 1 but he’s a contender make no mistake.

Next stop is Clay Pigeon on 7 June 2015.