What Now? Joe Holmes Follows Up Heavyweight Title With 2017 Elite Crown

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Heat 1

Stuart Martin led the field away from pole with Brandon Williams tucking in behind. But it was a bit frantic behind as several drivers got wheels on the grass on the exit of the first turn. Down into the first hairpin and several at the front of the grid had lost ground whilst a few from the back were intent on making up ground. Rapidly. By the end of the lap Martin led from Daz Teal, up from sixth, Dan Truman, up from fifth with two of the Championship contenders next. Ian Blake, up from thirteenth and Joe Holmes up from fifteenth. Williams was down to sixth ahead of Steve Brown, up from eleventh with the returning Ray Norris right behind having dropped down from third. Martins lead didn’t last as Teal slipped by into the third hairpin with Truman still third but being pressured now by Holmes who had fought his way past Blake. And Brown was homing in on them both, setting the fastest lap of the race on the fourth tour. A record too.

C100R11 1055Teal continued to stretch his advantage at the front as Martin held off Holmes allowing Brown to get ever closer and he duly slipped by Holmes for third and a lap later was up into second. But he couldn’t catch Teal who ran out the winner by just over a second and a half. Martin hung on to third from Holmes who was well satisfied with his points haul with Dan Healey next. Having started ninth he’d run ninth for half the race before moving up the order. Norris was next. Having dropped to eighth he’d fought his way back to fifth before losing out to Healey on the final lap. Blake was next with Williams, Truman and Alex Ring completing the top ten.

Heat 2

Jonathan Lisseter led the field across the line but it was a fast starting Blake who caught the eye vaulting into the lead from Grid four by the end of the lap with Lisseter dropping to second. Front row starter Brown was down to fourth behind Tim Clark whilst Holmes was next ahead of Marc Craddock, back in the Elites after a few rounds in Clubman’s. And comfortable he looked too. Blake continued to stretch his advantage at the front but Brown was back on the pace swiftly dispensing with Clarke and homing in on Lisseter. Holmes continued in fifth with Craddock just a couple of lengths adrift. Half distance and Brown deposed Lisseter for second and set about closing the gap to the leader.

C100R11 1292He set the fastest lap immediately after getting by Lisseter but Blake had enough in hand to keep him at bay and ran out the winner by just a tenth with Lisseter third and only a couple of tenths adrift. Clark took fourth well clear of Holmes and Craddock in fifth and sixth respectively. Healey was next after a storming drive saw him start sixteenth but move up to twelfth by the end of the first lap. He was into the top ten by half distance and then moved ahead of Barrs and Williams on the final tour. Truman completed the top ten with Norris excluded from the results after a collision with Martin.

Heat 3

Healey on pole from Craddock with Ring and Jay Elliott on row two. Healey led across the line but as Craddock tried to get in his wheel tracks Tyler Mays was alongside from fifth and running him wide. Hard but fair. By the end of the lap Healey had pulled away by a second from Mays with Ring third and Holmes fourth from Craddock and Teal. Holmes quickly dispensed with Ring and set about closing down the gap to the flying Healey whilst Craddock too dispensed with Ring who would gradually slip down the order over the remaining laps. Healey continued to lead but Holmes was nibbling away at the gap setting fastest lap and establishing a new record on the penultimate lap. But it wasn’t enough.

C100R11 1461Healey took the win almost two seconds to the good from Holmes with Mays a very good third having held of the challenge from a feisty Craddock. Elliott came home fifth after an eventful race. Having started fourth he’d slipped to seventh by the end of the first lap behind Teal before snatching the place back the following lap. He’d climbed to fourth by the start of the final lap but Craddock was swiftly back ahead of him. Teal took sixth ahead of Blake with a fading Ring next from Clark and Brown.

Final

Pole for Championship leader Holmes with Healey alongside from reighning Champion Brown on row two with Blake. Teal and Craddock on row three from Lisseter and Clarke on four with Mays and Elliott completing the top ten.

C100R11 1480Holmes brought the field steadily up to the line and then simply drove away from the rest of the aided on the first lap as Healey, Brown, Blake and Teal fought over second. By the end of the first lap Holmes was well clear with Brown second from Teal, Blake and Healey with Craddock next but under pressure from Clark. With two laps run the front three remained the same but Healey was back into fourth but some distance back having been delayed getting by Blake whilst Clarke and Craddock were line astern the latter not getting too racy and allowing Clarke to pull him towards the leading quintet. The order stabilised for a few laps but at half distance Teal was into second courtesy of an opportunistic move at the third hairpin. Brown defended but left Teal room. Meanwhile Healey closed up and was soon on Brown’s bumper and looking for a way by. With three to go he set the fastest lap and moved into third which briefly became second. But Teal managed to rebuff the move initially before Healey squeezed by to run second at the start of the final lap. But it wasn’t over. Through the hairpin sections Teal fought back into second whilst Brown remained fourth. Holmes meanwhile crossed the line to take the win and the Championship well clear of the fight for second.

C100R11 1544Coming into the final uphill right hander Teal had second but Healey was intent on the place and dived down the inside. It was ambitious at best and destined to fail. Teal saw him out of his eye corner and jinked to the left as Healey clipped the tyres and a cone and made contact with Teal. It wasn’t a heavy hit due to Teal having the presence of mind to move to the left. But it was contact. Brown took full advantage and kept his line whilst Healey gathered it together and just held off Brown by 0.007 with Teal a hugely disgruntled fourth. Emotions were running high in parc ferme and initially Healey was penalised a place for cone abuse but after a very civilised discussion in race control Healey was demoted four places to sixth leaving Brown second from Teal. Craddock was classified fourth at the expense of Blake who took a four place penalty for an incident early in the race. A good result for Craddock, the former Champion showing some good pace and race craft. Clark took fifth. Another good effort. Williams was seventh. A great drive this too having started on Grid thirteen. Lisseter, Blake and Mays completed the top ten.

Podiums and Championship

All smiles on the Elites podium with Joe Holmes celebrating not only the win but the Championship as well. And with one round to spare. Joe has driven very well this and is a thoroughly deserving winner. He’s been focused and kept his nose clean. Second on the podium for deposed Champion Steve Brown but he was full of praise for his rival. For him and Ian Blake it’s now a fight for the runner up spot. Daz Teal was happy enough with third. It could so easily have been second but it was a good drive nevertheless.

C100R11 1586Reflections

A great days racing at Bayford and two Championships settled with Joe Holmes taking the Elite honours and Harry Neale the Clubman’s. They can both relax a bit at the final round.
The Lightweights and Heavyweight Championships are both going right down to the wire. An exciting end to the season and I wonder how much Lady Luck will play her part. Liam Cochrane has had some fortune this season. But he has driven brilliantly and having already missed three round every point has had to count. In contrast Darri Simms has had the luxury of being able to drop scores. But his luck has been awful. What goes around they say comes around. Will Liam’s luck run out and Darri’s return?
In the Heavyweights I don’t think luck has played any part. Adam Wright has hung on right through the season racking up the points as his title rivals have made errors or simply not had the pace. Still, whether it’s Adam, Mark Ridout or James Browning who takes the honours it will have been hard earned and thoroughly deserved. At least we won’t have long to wait. It’s also worth reminding everyone racing in the afternoon at Buckmore that the final races of the day will be run under the floodlights so don’t forget to bring clear visors.
Finally, former Premier Champion Chris Powell was entered for Bayford but had to withdraw after his mother sadly past away. I’m sure everyone connected with Club 100 sends their condolences and deepest sympathy to Chris and all the family. Be strong for each other.