Matt Wileman Wins Again, an Unlikely Champion?

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It was great to be back at Ellough after a four year absence. It might be a long trek for some but it’s well worth it. A great layout and a great smooth service. The weather was kind too. After a cool morning the cloud cover began to break and we were rewarded with sunshine and rising temperatures for the afternoon’s entertainment.

The Road to the Finals

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Steve Bosley opened his account for the afternoon taking a fine win in the opening heat. After starting from the second row he took Andrew Cherry for the lead on the second lap and was never headed. Tom fuller gave chase over the closing laps but couldn’t get on terms and had to settle for second with Chris Dixon third. Anwar Beroual-Smith was fourth after working his way up the order from grid eleven with SHW Andrew Cherry fifth.  

The in form Matt Wileman got his day off to the perfect start with a comfortable win in the second heat. Starting from the front row he went into an immediate lead and was never threatened taking the win by over six seconds with Tim Williams second from Anthony Ridd, Mikey Nichols and Lee Henderson.

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Heat Three went to Chris Alcock further justifying his decision to move from the Lights to the Heavies. Starting from grid seven he was second by the end of the first lap and then took pole sitter Miguel Hall for the lead on lap two. Thereafter he was never headed taking the win over four seconds clear of Jordan Salter. Jason Bear took third after a strong drive up from grid eight saw him lose out to Salter on the line by just 0.078. Matt Horgan was fourth with Hall fifth.

Lewis Ridd claimed the fourth heat. Starting from grid four he was at the front by the end of the first lap and never headed as he steadily increased his lead over the race. Jonathan Elliott ran second for most of the heat but couldn’t match the leaders pace and had to settle for second. He had Championship leader Joe Holmes closing in towards the end but had enough of a lead to keep the spot. Holmes started fifth but lost out at the start and dropped to sixth before working his way back up to third by half distance. But he was almost two seconds back and didn’t have enough laps to make a difference. Richard Allen was fourth with Craig Brown fifth.  

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Mikey Nichols took the win in the fifth heat. Starting from the second row he moved into the lead after three laps and steadily extended the gap to pole sitter and early leader Rory Severn. Miguel Hall was next across the line but he’d collected a penalty after a bump and pass on Chris Dixon and was demoted to seventh with Dixon promoted to third from Alexander Lammin and Steve Bosley.

Craig Brown took a well judged and emotional win in the sixth heat. He had to work his way through from the third row before taking over at the front from long time leader Steve Lindley. Lindley then lost two further places on the final lap to Richard Allen and Jonathan Elliott the latter working his way steadily up the order from grid ten. Darrell Lowe was fifth.

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Heat Seven resulted in a comfortable win for Anwar Beroual-Smith. Starting from the second row he took the lead on the second lap and then pulled clear of the pack to take the win over two seconds clear of second placed Tom Fuller. Jason Bear was third followed by Chris Alcock who tailed Bear for much of the race. Mike Bodnar was fifth.

The eighth heat saw Matt Wileman take his second win of the day. Starting from row two he took the lead on the second tour and then motored clear of the field taking the win over six seconds clear of Alex Pritchard in second. Oliver Moss was third ahead of Joe Holmes who made heavy weather of his drive from grid eight. Anthony Ridd took fifth.

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Chris Alcock looked all set for the win in Heat Nine after starting from pole and leading till two laps from home. A win would have given him pole for the A Final. But Lewis Ridd denied him that honour. Just. He’d run second for much of the race before getting by at the end of lap six, crossing the line 0.086 ahead. He pulled out a couple of tenths before Alcock came back at him on the last tour. But Ridd held on by just 0.063. Has pole ever been lost by a narrower margin? Fran Volpe was third from Paul Williams and Miguel Hall. 

Joe Holmes finally got a heat win in the tenth race. And he did it in some style too leading home Anwar Beroual-Smith by over three seconds, recording the  fastest lap and setting a new lap record. The win would see him start on the second row for the A Final whilst Beroual-Smith’s second place would see him take pole. Richard Allen was third from Jonathan Elliott and Jordan Salter.

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The penultimate heat saw a four way battle for the win between the returning Mark Ridout, Tim Williams, Matt Horgan and Darrell Lowe. Ridout led with Williams second for much of the race with Horgan third. Lowe was fourth in the queue but a few lengths back. Horgan nipped by Williams on the penultimate lap and then set about Ridout. They were side by side as they crossed the finish line with Ridout just holding on by 0.089. Jason Bear crossed the line fifth but was demoted four places after a bump and pass on Anthony Ridd. Steve Bosley was promoted to fifth.

Alex Pritchard took the final heat. Starting from grid seven he took over at the front at half distance from pole sitter Adam Wright. Wright stayed in touch but never looked like getting back on terms and was then passed by Chris Dixon at the start of the final tour. Tom Fuller and Mikey Nichols completed the top five.

The Finals

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C Final

(All drivers in C3 unless otherwise noted)

SHW Vinod Harani on pole from Thys Paine. Bradley Porter and Jaeden Cadogan occupied row two with David Wilson and Andrew Hicks on row three. Blake Temperley and Chris Solomon shared the penultimate row with Martyn Robinson and SHW Paul Jameson the final qualifiers. Top four to qualify for the B Final and a trophy for the winner. 

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Harani led the pack up to the line but it was Paine who got the better start to take the lead. Hicks was even smarter away jumping from row three to third with Porter next from Wilson. Paine immediately began to pull clear at the front with Harani still second but coming under pressure from Hicks. Porter was a few lengths back but pulling clear of fifth placed Wilson. Four down and Paine continued to extend his lead whilst Hicks took over in second. A lap later and Harani was down to fourth whilst Wilson had closed the gap to the front four. Solomon was sixth but some way back and barring incidents looked to be out of the running for a qualifying spot. 

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Half distance and Paine was over four seconds clear with Hicks still second from Porter. Harani was being dropped and coming under increasing pressure from Wilson for fourth. With three to go Porter took over from Hicks in second but Paine was way up the road setting the fastest lap of the race twelfth time around and establishing a new C3 record. Harani and Wilson were still fighting hard over fourth but Wilson just could not get by the more experienced Harani. Paine was over six seconds clear at the flag with Porter second from Hicks and Harani. Wilson had a half spin on the final lap as he made one final attempt at getting by Harani. He lost time but was still well clear of sixth placed Robinson with Cadogan seventh from Solomon, Jameson and Temperley.

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B Final

(All drivers in C2 unless otherwise noted)

Steve Lindley on pole from Jordan Salter with Mike Bodnar and SHW Lee Henderson on the second row. C1 Adam Wright was alongside SHW Andrew Cherry on row three with Lennie Wood and Rory Severn on row four. Row five saw SHW Richard Newton alongside Dave Pethers with Richard Masterson and SHW Bradley Parrett on row six. Richard Lavender and SHW Kieran Chidgzey shared row seven followed by four C3’s, Glen Orford and Nickolas Walker, on eight, and Max Jameson and Samuel Bensley on nine. Row ten had Richard Burrows alongside Vijay Patel with C3’s Andy Berry and Joel Arguelles on eleven followed by the four qualifiers from the C Final, Paine, Porter, Hicks and SHW Harani. Burrows was a non starter so everyone moved up one place on the grid. Top to qualify for the A Final and a trophy for the winner.

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Lindley led the pack away with Salter slotting into second and holding off a spirited challenge from Henderson. Bodnar dropped to fourth whilst Cherry was an early spinner. He would resume last. Wright remained fifth whilst Severn fell back several places after being forced wide by Wood. A manoeuvre which would see Wood demoted four places post race. Lindley continued to set the pace from Salter with Henderson still third but falling back. Wright was up to fourth and was setting fastest laps as he sought to get up to Henderson. Pethers had climbed up to fifth ahead of Newton and Masterson with Bodnar down to eighth. 

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Five laps run and Lindley and Salter continued to circulate a couple of tenths apart. Wright made it by Henderson for third but was over a second back from the leaders.   Half distance and it was as you were at the front. Wright was still over a second back from Salter and not making any impression on the gap with Henderson still fourth from Pethers. But only just as Pethers put him under serious pressure. He defended hard but Pethers nipped by taking Newton with him. Masterson remained seventh whilst Walker was up to eighth at the expense of Bodnar. But it was not without contact. His second of the race after an earlier incident with Chidgzey. He would pull into the pits at the end of the lap and retire suffering the inevitable exclusion from the results. 

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With ten down Salter began to put the leader under pressure whilst third placed Wright suddenly found an extra gear and began to close the gap to Salter. Penultimate lap and Salter was having to defend from Wright allowing Lindley to break clear at the front. Over the line to start the final lap and Wright was on Salter’s bumper. Down the back straight he nipped inside at turn two. Salter couldn’t respond. But he didn’t need too. Wrights late charge was in vain as he had received a penalty for cone abuse dropping him behind the exultant winner Lindley and Salter. Pethers was fourth with Newton next over the line but demoted a place for cone abuse and promoting Masterson to fifth. Newton was still however the winner of the SHW class. He also set the fastest lap in the class and established a new lap record. Henderson was seventh and second in SHW with Parrett next over the line but demoted four places after contact with Wood. Despite losing four places he did retain third place in the SHW’s. Wood was next over the line but his first lap incident with Severn saw him drop out of the top ten. Bensley crossed the line tenth but a late race contact with Berry saw him penalised four places and cost him the C3 win. He did however set the fastest C3 time and establish a class record. He also made it onto the C3 podium. Berry was next but he was another to be penalised after contact with Bensley mid race. A penalty which cost him a C3 podium. 

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Orford found himself promoted from twelth to ninth and the C3 win. It would have been eighth but he had a cone penalty dropping him to ninth behind Bodnar who had finished thirteenth on the track. Patel was tenth. Second in C3 and eleventh overall went to Porter. This after finishing nineteenth on the road.  Almost forty places were lost by drivers to penalties in the B Final. Way too many. Time to clean up your acts.  

A Final

(All drivers in C1 unless otherwise noted)

Anwar Beroual-Smith on pole from Chris Alcock with Matt Wileman and Joe Holmes on row two. Row three had C2 Tom Fuller alongside Chris Dixon with C2’s Alex Pritchard and Richard Allen on the fourth row. Row five had Jonathan Elliott and Mikey Nichols; both C2 drivers followed by two more C2’s, Steve Bosley and Tim Williams. Lewis Ridd and C2 Matt Horgan shared row seven followed by Craig Brown and C2 Anthony Ridd. C2’s Darrell Lowe and Jason Bear were on row nine followed by C2 Alexander Lammin and Miguel Hall. Mark Ridout and C2 Fran Volpe were on row eleven with Oliver Moss and C2 Paul Williams on the penultimate row followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final, Lindley and Salter.

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Beroual-Smith led the pack up to the line and got away well with Alcock in his tracks ahead of Wileman and Holmes. Fuller’s hopes evaporated with an early spin dropping him down the order. Dixon was up to fifth followed by Allen and Nichols. Tim Williams and Lewis Ridd both tripped up and fell to the back of the order. Elliott was up eighth but he’d made contact Pritchard on his way through and would suffer the inevitable penalty.  Second time around and Beroual-Smith had increased his lead but Wileman was up to second with Alcock third and coming under pressure from Holmes. The front four were really flying with fourth placed Holmes already over four seconds clear of fifth placed Dixon. 

Four laps in and Beroual-Smith was coming under pressure from Wileman with Holmes now up to third from Alcock. Nichols was up to fifth. Once up to the leader Wileman wasted no time in getting by. And Holmes was closing the gap to Beroual-Smith. 

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Half distance and Wileman was four tenths up and easing clear of Beroual-Smith as Holmes closed in. Alcock was being dropped but was over five seconds clear of fifth placed Nichols. Allen was next but some distance adrift of Nichols. Dixon was down to seventh but keeping the pressure on Allen whilst the penalised Elliott ran eighth ahead of Pritchard. With two to go Wileman had the lead out to over a second and a half as Beroual-Smith and Holmes squabbled over second. Alcock was a second back. Close enough to capitalise should the battle for second result in an incident. Nichols was a lonely fifth, almost seven seconds back from Alcock but four seconds clear of Dixon. 

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Start of the penultimate lap and Holmes made his move. Down the back straight and into turn two he drew alongside Beroual-Smith. It was a robust move but he made it through albeit with a ‘friendly’ wave from Beroual-Smith which resulted in a ‘friendly’ wave back from Holmes as they exited turn three. All of which allowed Alcock to close in and Wileman to increase his lead. 

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Over the line to start the final lap and Alcock was just 0.091 adrift of Beroual-Smith but he couldn’t make the move into the first corner stick. Wileman crossed the line almost three seconds clear to take his second A Final win in a row with Holmes second. Beroual-Smith had to defend hard from Alcock but he held him off crossing the line under a tenth ahead. Nichols was fifth but over seven seconds back from fourth placed Alcock. Dixon took sixth well clear of seventh placed Allen who was in turn well clear of Elliott. Elliott’s penalty dropped him to twelfth promoting Pritchard, Moss and Volpe to eighth, ninth and tenth. Wileman set the fastest lap establishing a new lap record with Nichols taking the C2 win, setting the fastest lap in the class and establishing a new record. Allen was second in C2 with Pritchard third.

Championship Round Up.

Joe Holmes looked to be running away with the Championship after the early rounds but Matt Wileman has closed the gap after his wins in the last two rounds. And I understand Joe will be missing from the next two rounds. Anwar Beroual-Smith is still in the hunt despite not having a win this season. But he’s always a factor. Adam Wright had an awful day at Ellough. Enough said. But he’ll be back I’m sure. 

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Class 1 podium – Winner Matt Wileman, flanked by Joe Holmes and Anwar Beroual-Smith

Jonathan Elliott lies fifth and despite his woes at Ellough he leads the C2 class from Alex Pritchard and Richard Allen. Bill Taylor remains at the head of the SHW standings with Lee Henderson second from Bradley Parrett whilst Max Jameson heads C3 from Luke Philips and Samuel Bensley.

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Class 2 podium – Winner Mickey Nichols, flanked by Richard Allen and Alex Pritchard

Reflections

Too many penalties again in Heavies. The B Final was particularly bad. Let’s hope the summer break gives drivers time to reflect and clean up their act because if they don’t you can rest assured that there will be a major clampdown.

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Super Heavyweight podium – Winner Richard Newton, flanked by Lee Henderson and Bradley Parrett

There has been enough written already on social media regarding the incident in the pits and I’m not going to add any fuel to the fire save to say that the right action has been taken with the offending driver no longer welcome. Let’s all remember this is a sport. We are a welcoming club, friendly rivalry and banter is good, aggression is not tolerated. We move on. 

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Class 3 podium – Winner Glen Orford, flanked by Bradley Porter and Samuel Bensley

Next up Bayford Meadows. Enjoy the break!! 

Words: Steve Gray

Photography: John Patterson