Nobody Does It Better? Joe Holmes.

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Heat wave warmth, bright sunshine and just the hint of a breeze greeted the competitors for round three at Lydd, the Montreal of the Karting world. Well the circuit and surroundings bear a resemblance but not sure the nightlife in Lydd itself stands the test. But it is a great track and it was nice not to have the threat of rain to spoil the action. Into the afternoon for the Heavyweights and still the sun beat down out of a near cloudless sky.

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The Road to the Finals

Stephen Jennings won the first heat with ease after starting from pole. Although Chris Dixon closed in over the final laps he was never seriously threatened. Dixon took second after coming through from grid eight with Adam Wright third after starting from grid nine. Valuable early points for them both. Dave Pethers claimed fourth with Anwar Beroual-Smith unable to do better than fifth. He started fifth but fell back early on before getting back to fifth. Not a great start to the day for the Championship contender.

Craig Brown took the lead away from the line in Heat Two but he’d been just a shade too quick on the throttle and despite leading all the way from Miguel Hall and Oliver Moss he was penalised two places down to third behind Hall and Moss. Anthony Ridd and Tim Williams completed the top five.

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Heat Three saw Tom Fuller take a comfortable win. Starting from the front row he was quickly at the front and then drove away from the pack taking the win almost five seconds clear of Richard Allen. Allen had had to make his way up from grid six to second mid race but he could do nothing to catch the leader. Mikey Nichols took third after a hard fought race with Sean Brierley who lost out to Nichols on the final lap. Steve Lindley claimed fifth courtesy of a last lap pass on Kevin Coombes.

The fourth heat was a cracker. Fran Volpe led the pack away but by the end of the lap he was down to third behind Matt Wileman and Championship leader Joe Holmes. Holmes took a lap or so to get by Wileman with Steve Bosley third from Alex Pritchard who had driven smartly up from grid nine.  Bosley and Pritchard both slipped by Wileman on the following lap and what followed will live long in the memory. At that point Holmes was three tenths to the good and most thought he would just drive clear. But he didn’t. Bosley began to close in. Pritchard too began to cut the gap. Bosley began to pressure the leader and as they crossed the line at the end of the seventh lap the gap was just 0.099 with Pritchard just a tenth back. Next time around and Bosley again attacked down the back straight and round the final turn. As they crossed the line Bosley was ahead! By just 0.004. But Holmes held his nerve and Bosley was on the outside as they ran round the apex of the first chicane and ran wide over the grass. Holmes was back in the lead with Pritchard up to second. And that was how they finished with a smiling Joe later admitting that it had been a touch uncomfortable but very enjoyable. Jack Bolton and Simon Lloyd completed the top five.

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Heat Five also had its moments. Darrell Lowe (great to see him back) took the lead away from the line but he’d been a bit eager and would lose two spots at the end for jumping the start. He led for a couple of laps before Anthony Ridd, Lee Henderson and Bill Taylor all swept by. Ridd led for a couple of tours before Taylor, Henderson and Darren Townsley usurped him. Taylor held off Henderson for a couple of laps but lost out on the final tour. Henderson the winner then from Taylor, Townsley, Chris Dixon and Ridd.

Lewis Ridd took an easy win in Heat Six leading all the way from pole to the flag and finishing over six seconds clear of second placed Tim Hill. Kevin Coombes was third from Mikey Nichols and Alex Pritchard.

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Heat Seven went to Jack Bolton. Starting from the second row he took a couple of laps to get by early leader Alexander Lammin who chased him all the way to the flag but was never quite close enough to retake the lead. Jason Bear spent much of the race running third but lost out on the penultimate lap to Stephen Jennings and Miguel Hall.

Jonathan Elliott claimed a fine win in the eighth heat. He took the lead from the front with Anwar Beroual-Smith second, up from grid five. Beroual-Smith kept the leader under pressure all the way and was briefly ahead at the start of the penultimate lap but Elliott re-took the lead through the first turn and held on to take the win just over a tenth clear. Sean Brierley was third a couple of seconds back after running third for most of the heat. He had Joe Holmes closing in rapidly over the final laps but he held on. Holmes fourth place was hard won after working his way up from grid twelve. Steve Lindley was fifth.

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Alex Pritchard’s good run of form continued in Heat Nine with a win. He took the lead on the opening tour from pole sitter Jordan Salter with SHW Kieran Chidgzey third. Pritchard and Salter rapidly increased the gap back to Chidgzey who was defending his third place mightily.  Harry Melvin finally broke Chidgzeys’ defence but the leaders were way up the road. Chidgzey then had to defend from Stephen Jennings who finally found a way by with a couple of laps to go to run fourth to the flag with Chidgzey fifth.

Joe Holmes took his second win of the day in Heat Ten. Starting from grid five he was into the lead by the end of the first lap with poleman Chris Dixon second. Holmes gradually increased his lead as Dixon came under pressure from Jonathan Elliott who moved up to second on the penultimate lap. Bill Taylor and Mikey Nichols completed the top five.

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Heat Eleven resulted in a shock win for Paul Williams. He led all the way from pole to the flag holding off repeated attacks from Tim Williams who had to settle for second and only just holding off Oliver Moss at the flag by 0.069. Anthony Ridd and Simon Lloyd completed the top five.

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The final heat of the day resulted in a much needed win for Adam Wright. Starting from the second row he took the lead from front row sitter Richard Allen and was never headed as he pulled away to win by over three seconds with Allen second from Craig Brown who put in a shift working his way through from grid ten. Tim Hill was next across the line but he suffered a six place penalty for spinning out the luckless Lennie Wood on the second lap. Miguel Hall was promoted to fourth with Sean Brierley fifth.

The Finals

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C Final

(All drivers are C3 unless otherwise noted)

Two C2 drivers on the front row with Vijay Patel on pole from Simon Kavanagh and two SHW’s on the second row, Andrew Cherry and Ben Benneyworth. Max Jameson and Mathew Batter shared row three followed by Frankie Bennett and Luke Philips on row four. Row Five saw C2 Dan Giles alongside Bradley Porter with Lawrence Cheah and David Wilson on row six. Row seven was occupied by Andrew Hicks and Martyn Robinson with Paul Jameson and Luke Haynes on row eight. Matt Griffiths and SHW Vinod Harani shared row nine followed by Jaeden Cadogan and Adam Heit on row ten. Sam Bensley and C2 Lennie Wood were on row eleven. Lennie is having a seriously unlucky run this season. His ill luck must surely turn soon. Chris Solomon and George Hanson shared the penultimate row with Thys Paine and Chris Warton on the final row. Top four to Qualify for the B Final and a trophy for the winner. 

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Patel led the pack away but Kavanagh lost out through the first turns to Cherry. Benneyworth too fell back behind Jameson and Bennett. Two laps run and Patel led but Cherry was closing the gap with Kavanagh still third from Jameson, Bennett and Benneyworth. Philips was falling back but Benneyworth made a move on Bennett which slowed them both. Philips took full advantage and moved up to fifth. And he was beginning to find some pace. He quickly overhauled Jameson to run in the final qualifying spot. Half distance and Patel still led but by only a couple of Kart lengths from Cherry.

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Kavanagh too was only a couple of Kart lengths back from Cherry with Philips still fourth, half a second back from Kavanagh. Jameson was still in the hunt but Benneyworth was falling away but well clear of Cheah in seventh. Ninth time around and Philips moved up to third to give himself a cushion from fifth. For a couple of laps the order at the top remained static but then Kavanagh went for third. He hit Philips on the way by. A costly error which would see him penalised four places. He also went by Cherry for second on the road taking Jameson and Philips with him and demoting Cherry to fifth. Benneyworth was too far back to be a threat.

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C Final – Vijay Patel

Over the final laps Patel increased his lead over the pack taking the win almost two seconds clear of Kavanagh who was demoted to sixth for his misdemeanour. Jameson was promoted to second with Philips up to third and Cherry fourth and the final qualifier. Benneyworth was fifth with Bennett seventh from Cheah, Haynes and Hicks.

B Final

(All drivers C2 unless otherwise noted)

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Dave Pethers on pole from C1 Simon Lloyd the latter having a rare outing. Good to see him back for a round or two. Richard Allen and Fran Volpe occupied the second row with Jordan Salter and Kevin Coombes on row three. Harry Melvin and Jason Bear were on row four followed by George Hatto and Alexander Lammin. Row six saw C3 Jonathan McAdie alongside Mike Bodnar who was ruing the good weather! SHW Kieran Chidgzey was on row seven alongside Rory Severn with Darrell Lowe and Daren Townsley on row eight. SHW Keith Perkins was alongside Elliot Mewse on row nine whilst Richard Masterson and Gary Miller shared row ten followed by two SHW’s Richard Newton and Bradley Parrett with the final two rows made up of the qualifiers from the C Final, Patel, Jameson, Philips and Cherry. Top two to qualify for the A Final and a trophy for the winner.

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Pethers led the field off the line but Lloyd lost out to a fast starting Allen and dropped to third. Volpe lost out too dropping behind Salter and Melvin. Second time around and Lloyd was back up into second. For the next few laps the order remained static with under two seconds covering the top eight. Melvin made a move on Salter and went by taking Volpe with him. And so the high speed train continued with Pethers just out of reach of Lloyd. In fairness all the top ten were driving superbly and not making errors. But would someone dig deep over the final laps and make a desperate lunge on the front two? It didn’t happen. Melvin did take Allen for third three from home but that was it.

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B Final Winner – Dave Pethers

Pethers took the win with Lloyd right on his rear bumper at the flag with Melvin third, a couple of Kart lengths back with Allen a similar distance back in fourth. Volpe was next from Salter followed by Coombes. Just 1.583 covered the top seven. So competitive and a testament to the quality of the Karts and the skills of the drivers. Bear, Lammin and Lowe completed the top ten. The C3 honours went to Jonathan McCadie from Max Jameson and Luke Philips.

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Class 3 Podium – Winner Jonathan McAdie, Max Jameson & Luke Phillips

A Final 

(All drivers C1 unless otherwise noted)

Joe Holmes on pole from C2 Alex Pritchard. His best ever qualifying spot and he really is showing some impressive form at the moment. The second Row saw C2 Stephen Jennings alongside Miguel Hall with Chris Dixon alongside C2 Jonathan Elliott on row three. Jack Bolton and Craig Brown shared row four with Sean Brierley alongside C2 Mikey Nichols on row five. Two C2’s shared the sixth row, Anthony Ridd and Tim Williams. Row seven saw Adam Wright alongside C2 Tom Fuller. A bit of disaster for Wright’s Championship hopes particularly after his first win at the previous round. Oliver Moss shared row eight with SHW Bill Taylor. Row nine was occupied by Lewis Ridd and SHW Lee Henderson. Row ten saw C2 Paul Williams alongside Championship contender Anwar Beroual-Smith. His worst qualifying spot in my memory. A pair of C2’s on row eleven, Steve Bosley and Steve Lindley followed by Matt Wileman and C2 Tim Hill with the qualifiers from the B Final, Pethers and Lloyd on the final row.

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With two of his main Championship challenger’s way down the grid this looked like something of a free hit for Holmes. And so it proved. Holmes led away from pole and by the end of the lap he was almost a second clear. Jennings was into second with Pritchard third from Dixon Hall and Elliott. Bolton and Anthony Ridd both spun out at the far end of the circuit. As Holmes continued to pull away the battle behind began to heat up. Pritchard moved back into second and Jennings began to come under pressure from Dixon with Elliott next ahead of Hall. Dixon slipped by Jennings and immediately closed in on Pritchard. Four laps run and he was up to second but over two seconds adrift of Holmes. Pritchard remained third whilst Elliott was up to fourth at the expense of Jennings. Sadly for him he’d made contact with Jennings on the way by which would result in a four place deduction post race. 

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Half distance and Holmes was still pulling clear whilst Dixon remained second from Pritchard. Elliott was beginning to put pressure on Pritchard for third whilst Hall nipped by Jennings for fifth. Brierley was next up with Wright now into the top ten and determined to salvage some points. Over the line at the end of the tenth tour and Elliott got his nose ahead of Pritchard. Once through he immediately began to increase the gap whilst Pritchard found himself coming under pressure from Hall. With three laps to go Holmes was over six seconds clear whilst Elliott moved up to second ahead of Dixon. A lap later Brierley made it into the top five at the expense of Pritchard. And that was how it remained. Holmes took the win over seven seconds clear of Elliott who dropped to sixth in the results after his penalty. Dixon was promoted to second with Hall third from Brierley.

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Class 2 Winner – Alex Pritchard

Pritchard was fifth and took the C2 honours with Elliott next and second in C2. Wright rescued some points with seventh with Moss eighth from Nichols who took third in C2. Lewis Ridd completed the top ten. Bill Taylor took the SHW honours finishing in nineteenth with Lee Henderson second, setting fastest lap in the class and establishing a new lap record.  Adam Wright set the fastest lap in C1 with Jonathan Elliott fastest in C2.

Championship Round Up

Joe Holmes has crossed the line first in all three A finals this year but lost out at round two after a penalty. Still, two out of three is a decent enough start. Someone really needs to dig deep to stop Yorkshire’s finest from completely crushing the rest of the field. Adam Wright is second whilst Sean Brierley has moved into third after Anwar Beroual-Smith’s disastrous round at Lydd. He’ll be back. Jonathan Elliott lies fifth in the standings and leads C2 from Alex Pritchard. Both drivers are in great form at the moment. Fran Volpe is running third.

Bill Taylor leads the SHW class with Lee Henderson in second from Richard Newton.

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SuperHeavyweight Winner – Bill Taylor

In C3 Luke Philips leads the way from Max Jameson and Martyn Robinson.

Reflections

Sad to see yet again some of the C3 drivers not acknowledging yellow flags. Raise your arm, back off the throttle a touch. Have a read of the rules and regulations. They will help you to enjoy the sport a bit more.

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Joe Holmes continues to dominate the HW class. Has there ever been a better driver in C100? JV hinted at the podium about bringing back the Super Finals. What a race that would be between Joe and Jack O’Neill. Bring it on.

Off to Buckmore next. And it’s only a few days to wait!

Words: Steve Gray

Photography: John Patterson