One Hand On The Title For Harry Neale

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Heat 1

Despite the forecast being for a hot sunny day the morning sessions started in chilly overcast conditions with some moisture in the air as the Clubman’s took to the track for the first heat and the first false start of the day as several drivers fell off at the top of the hill. Second time around and pole sitter James Hattersley made no mistakes to lead the field up the hill and into Christmas corner. Harrison Darvill, starting alongside Hattersley, was slow away and tripped over Championship contender Pietro Pagano putting them both to the back of the field. Darvill was adjudged at fault and would be excluded at the end of the race. Hattersley led the field across the line at the end of the lap with a sizeable lead from Mike Townley and Luke Hornsby whilst Peter Harris had driven a sensational first lap moving from Grid eleven to fourth. Martin Theodorou was next up ahead of Justin Buck who had his hands full holding off the attentions of Richard Evans who was having his first ever outing in a Club 100 kart. He currently lies second in the Birelart UK Super Elite series so he’s no slouch. Chris Penny was next ahead of Darrell Lowe with Stefan Scully completing the top ten. Another driver who put in an astonishing first lap moving up from Grid twenty three.

C10017R10 0139Hattersley continued to stretch his lead at the front as Townley fought to hang on to second from Hornsby and Harris. Not for long though as he was soon demoted to fourth behind Hornsby, Harris and Theodorou. Rob Moore had quickly worked his way up to sixth from Grid twenty one but his challenge looked to have stalled as he settled on the tail of the battle for second. Just after half distance though he made it by Townley and a lap later dispensed with Theodorou for fourth. Hattersley looked to be well in command at the front but with four to go he suddenly began to lose power and Hornsby and Harris quickly began to close in by over a second a lap. Into the final lap he was still ahead. Harris forced his way by Hornsby at the start of the lap and closed in on Hattersley. Powerless to defend the leader had to cede the place but still had enough left to hang onto second from Hornsby. Moore came home fourth with Buck fifth and the impressive Scully sixth from Lowe. Theodorou took eighth from Evans who admitted that he hadn’t quite expected the intense level of competition. Jack Bolton rounded out the top ten. Pagano set the fastest lap but it was scant reward for twenty first place.

Heat 2

Another heat that had to be restarted prompting a reduction in laps and race time. James Martin led the field up to the start for the second time but he was quickly demoted by a fast starting Thomas Glyde. Too fast as it happened as he was penalised two places for a jumped start. His day got worse as he was also adjudged to have made contact as he forced his way to the front handing him another four place demotion. Still, at least he led on the road. Championship leader Harry Neale moved up into second with Jamie Pender third ahead of Frankie Hedges. Down the order Simon Lloyd and Hattersley both spun to a halt in separate incidents. Hattersley resumed last and would ultimately finish sixteenth and set the fastest lap of the race.

C10017R10 0429Two laps gone and David Whitehouse and Stephen Docker both spun to the rear of the field. Glyde continued to lead with Neale close behind from Pender and Hedges with Martin, Bolton and Moore running line astern. Neale moved ahead with three laps remaining and promptly began to pull away from Glyde who continued to hold off Pender. Neale made no mistake to record a comfortable win with Glyde still second on the road but demoted to seventh thus handing second to Pender. Moore took third from Hedges but the latter was found to be underweight and excluded from the results handing fourth to Bolton from Martin and Townley. Dixon, Buck and Scully completed the top ten.

Heat 3

Marc Craddock on pole from Stephen Docker with Evans and Lloyd next up. This time everyone behaved themselves away from the line. Well almost. Evans and Lloyd went missing and would resume dead last but no penalties were called. Scully moved into third from Grid six with Moore driving yet another strong opening lap to move into fourth from Grid ten. David Whitehouse slotted into fifth ahead of Chris Dixon, another strong starter up from Grid twelve. Hedges Bolton and Pagano too all made strong starts from lowly Grid slots to run inside the top ten. Craddock continued to lead but was being hard pressed by Docker. But not too hard as it allowed them to build a gap to the chasing pack still headed by Scully.

C10017R10 0397Just before half distance Docker moved to the front but Craddock wasn’t going to allow him to get away and remained on his bumper. Behind, Moore made it by Scully and began to close in on the leaders. Craddock meanwhile allowed Docker a couple of laps at the front before moving back ahead. This time Docker lost a bit of momentum and from that moment on the result was never in doubt as Craddock pulled further away eventually crossing the line almost three seconds to the good. Docker was equally comfortable in second as was Moore in third as the leading five spread out. Whitehouse was an excellent fourth ahead of Dixon who set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour. Hedges was next, promoted at the expense of Scully who was penalised for cone abuse. Bolton would have been next but he too was penalised for cone abuse promoting Neale into eighth. Lowe completed the top ten.

Final

Moore on pole from Neale with Bolton and Scully on row two from Craddock and Harris on three. Hattersley and Townsley on row four and Pender and Dixon completing the top ten.

C10017R10 0011Once again the field got away cleanly with Moore in the lead chased by Neale. Scully got the better of Bolton in the run up to Christmas with Harris also getting the better of Craddock. Hattersley, Townley and Pender ran line astern with Buck completing the top ten after a sharp getaway. Further back Evans was on the move. Having felt he’d been roughed up a little in the heats he’d decided to get a bit firm and was really getting his elbows out. With two laps run Neale slipped by Moore for the lead and as the chasing pack squabbled over third the two of them began to steadily edge away. Harris moved up to third with Bolton fourth and Scully into fifth having dropped briefly behind Hattersley. Craddock ran seventh and was gradually being dropped. Neale and Moore continued to pull away at the front with Neale clearly having the upper hand and under no pressure whilst equally Harris looked safe in second. The battle for third though was really hotting up. Half distance and Bolton was back into third with Hattersley and Moore right behind. Scully was dropping away from the fight and being reeled in by Craddock whilst the charging Evans was up to eighth and closing in on Glyde. Dixon completed the top ten and then a big gap back to Pagano who was leading the remaining runners. Neale and Moore reeled off the remaining laps to take the top two spots but behind the battle raged.

C10017R10 0692A couple of times Hattersley almost made it into third but Bolton was resolute in his defence. Sadly for him on the penultimate lap he clipped a cone going into the boot. Wisely Hattersley sat back, defended from the following Moore and let Bolton cross the line third having noted the penalty on the start line gantry. A wise move giving him a well deserved final spot on the podium. Bolton took fourth after an eventful drive with Moore fifth. Scully kept Craddock at bay for sixth. Next up on the road was Evans but a three place deduction, one for cone abuse and two for multiple contacts, saw him placed out of the top ten. Still, he’d enjoyed himself and did have the satisfaction of setting the fastest lap. Hopefully it won’t be just a one off drive. Glyde, Dixon and Pagano completed the top ten the latter cutting a disconsolate figure in the paddock knowing that his chances off the Championship for this year had just about evaporated.

Championship

After his second final win in a row Harry Neale now has one hand firmly on the Championship trophy. It will take a major upset to deprive him. He’s been the dominant racer all season. He’s missed two rounds and stood on the top step in six out of the other eight.

C10017R10 0686Peter Harris has run into some good form over the last few rounds and has been runner up to Harry over the last two events. He sits sixth in the standings. James Hattersley’s third place was his first in Clubman’s this year. But then he’s only competed in three rounds having started in Elites. Rob Moore remains second in the championship from Jack Bolton.

Reflections

Another great days racing at Whilton but it was a great shame that JV had to lay down the law after the first two Clubman’s races had to be restarted. Hearing drivers claiming that other drivers were deliberately turning into other drivers or driving people off the track is not good. All drivers have a responsibility to their fellow competitors. We want to see good clean racing with drivers showing each other respect. Take heed.

C10017R10 0202I must admit I struggle sometimes to understand the mindset of some drivers and not just with regard to driving standards. I had harsh words for a couple of them in the paddock after they had retired healthy Karts. It’s true they weren’t going to win but I just don’t get why you would spend money testing, spend money on overnight accommodation and travelling, money on racing and then pull out with plenty of laps to run. Track time is important so why not take full advantage. You don’t learn anything stood in the pits. There are drivers racing who will probably never trouble the podium but they don’t just give up. They drive and race for the joy of it. I grew up in a sporting household. Football, Cricket, Snooker and Table tennis were the main games. And one thing I was taught was that that you never give in. Winners don’t quit and Champions don’t give in. Quitting displays a mental fragility. If I were competing I’d play on that. Or am I missing something?

See you at Bayford!!

Photography: Jack Mitchell Motorsport Photography