One Last Dance for Heavyweight Sprinters as 2nd Place, C2 and SHW Go Down To The Wire!

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The final round then and back where it all began in February. Buckmore Park in November is always cold and damp plus the older part of the circuit shaded by the trees never properly dries out, presenting a unique challenge.

But it’s a great venue and always produces some great racing and whilst some of the Championships had already been settled there was still much drama left to unfold.

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Heats

On a wet track Alex Pritchard got the day’s proceedings off with a dominant win in the first heat. Starting ninth he was in the lead by the end of the first lap and thereafter drove away from the squabbling pack to win by over six seconds from Adam Wright who had started from seventh. Good points in his quest for second in the championship.

SHW Championship leader Lee Henderson’s day got off to a horrible start. Starting third he fell rapidly down the order to finish sixteenth. With a decent lead in the standings the championship was his to lose and it looked like the pressure was certainly getting to him. 

Elliot Alt put in a great drive to climb through the field to third after starting eleventh. Poleman Adrian Wray was fourth from Rupert Rixon.

Confirmed 2023 Champion Joe Holmes took the second heat leading home outgoing champion Anwar Beroual-Smith by a couple of seconds with Stuart Jones third a couple of seconds back. Chris Alcock was fourth from Steve Bosley in what was a rather uneventful race.

Tim Williams took a comfortable win in the third heat taking over at the front on the first lap after starting fifth. He headed home Tom Fuller by a couple of seconds with Adam Natha third after a great drive up from grid twelve which saw him take the more experienced Steve Lindley for third with a couple of laps to go.

James Johnstone was fifth whilst SHW Championship contender Bill Taylor did his cause no harm with a decent points haul in seventh and ramp up the pressure on championship leader Henderson.

Curt Holmes won the fourth heat leading home Glen Orford by over four seconds with polesitter Tim Penny third from Mike Bodnar and Callan Sigafoos fifth. Fastest lap of the heat winners saw Joe Holmes leading the race for pole.

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Bill Taylor took a brilliant win in the fifth heat. Starting from the front row he took the lead first time around to lead home poleman Aidan Kitchener by just over a tenth and throw down the gauntlet to Championship rival Lee Henderson. Steve Bosley was third from Mo Hassan with James Johnstone taking another good points haul with fifth.

Heat six saw Alex Pritchard take his second dominant win of the day by over three seconds from Kieran Chidgzey. Stating from the second row Pritchard took the lead on the first lap and was never threatened. Curt Holmes claimed valuable points with third after starting from tenth. Stuart Jones scored more good points with fourth whilst Tim Williams completed the top five.

Adam Natha started the seventh heat from pole and won it despite losing the lead at one point to Darrell Lowe who then lost second to Chris Alcock on the penultimate lap. Tom Angier and Glen Orford completed the top five.

Anwar Beroual- Smith started heat eight from pole and was never headed leading home Joe Holmes by almost four seconds. But Holmes had had to fight his way through the pack from thirteenth taking Kyle Walker for second on the penultimate lap.

Adam Wright drove hard from eleventh to claim fourth with Kai Crawford fifth. Lee Henderson finished eighth after starting ninth. Good points after slipping back to thirteenth at the start.

With two wins out of two Pritchard now led in the fight for pole.

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Heat nine resulted in a win for a clearly on form James Johnstone who started from the front row, took the lead from pole sitter Lawrence Cheah second time around and took the win two seconds clear of Mikey Nichols who grabbed second from Cheah with two to go. Steve Bosley was third ahead of Cheah and Steve Lindley.

Heat ten resulted in a comfortable win for Curt Holmes. He started on the front row and took the lead at the start leading home third row starter Anwar Beroual-Smith by over three seconds. These two were over nine seconds clear of third placed Alex Pritchard who started seventh.

Good points for Pritchard putting him on the provisional front row alongside heat winner Holmes whose quicker lap put him on provisional pole. Only brother Joe could beat him now.

Mike Bodnar and Stuart Jones completed the top five. Good points for the returning Jones putting him mid grid for the A Final.

Heat eleven saw Chris Alcock romp to victory over eight seconds clear of Richard Newton in second. Tim Williams, Joneld Muhaj and Scott Parker completed the top five whilst further down the order Bill Taylor took another decent haul of points to put himself safely into the A Final and heap further pressure on rival Lee Henderson.

Not surprisingly the final heat fell to pole sitter Joe Holmes putting him on pole for the A Final. The gap back to Kyle Walker in second was almost ten seconds. Walker was three seconds clear of third placed Kieran Chidgzey with Adam Wright a further five seconds back in fourth with Kai Crawford completing the top five.

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Finals

C Final

All drivers in C3 unless otherwise noted.

Pole for Kristian Huus with C2 Luke Elliott alongside and Simon Dean alongside Tom Edwards on the second row. Jason Kirkham and Sam Iddles occupied the third row followed by Jamie Buchan and SHW Jack Moody on row four.

Row five saw Patrick Sekinger alongside C2 Damian Smith followed on row six by SHW Olavo Castro and Jack Giles. Antonio Gizzonio shared row seven with Charlie James whilst C2 Richard Neale occupied row eight with Christopher Pautz. Simon Fuller and C2 Mathew Batter were on row nine followed by SHW Martin Howe, Marcus Naris and Nik Klin.Top four to qualify for the B Final and a trophy for the winner.

Huus led the pack up to the start but Edwards made a great start from the second row to lead as they went through the first turns. Dean and Iddles both spun away their chances of progression. Over the line at the end of the lap and Edwards and Elliott had opened up a gap of over three seconds to third placed Huus with Kirkham fourth from Moody, Castro, Gizzonio and Buchan.

Two run and Edwards was running away with the race pulling clear of Elliott by almost two seconds whilst Kirkham had taken over in third but was five seconds adrift of second placed Elliott.  Huus was fourth and running clear of fifth placed Giles.

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One third distance and Edwards remained at the front but Elliott had stabilised the gap to just under two seconds. These two though were in a race of their own as third placed Kirkham was almost twelve seconds back. Giles had got up to fourth ahead of Huus in what was shaping up to be a decent battle for third and fourth, Seven down and Edwards and Elliott were still circulating on their own now over fifteen seconds clear. Huus was back up to third from Giles, Kirkham, Buchan and Castro.

Ten laps run and Edwards still led with Elliott a few lengths back and now a massive nineteen seconds clear of the rest of the field still headed by Huus from Giles, Kirkham and Buchan. Gizzonio was seventh but a second and a half back from Buchan.

Over the final laps Elliot’s pace began to drop and Edwards pulled clear. Buchan got himself into the top four but he spun Kirkham to a halt in the process ending his chances of qualification whilst Kirkham also lost all hope after dropping to ninth and then being penalised for rejoining in an unsafe manner.

Buchan then took Huus for third on the penultimate lap but it mattered not. Edwards took the win with Elliott a comfortable second some nine seconds back and circulating at the end slower than the rest of the pack. He was still sixteen seconds clear of Buchan who dropped to ninth after his penalty. Huus was promoted back to third with Giles taking the final qualifying spot.

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B Final

All drivers in C2 unless otherwise noted.

Adrian Wray on pole from SHW Nickolas Walker with SHW Mike Bodnar and Tom Angier on the second row. Darrell Lowe and Callan Sigafoos shared the third row followed on the fourth row by Luke Fletcher and Alex Lammin.

Jacob Harris and Dan Grocott were on row five with C3 Jonathan Wilson and Mo Hassan on row six. Aidan Kitchener and SHW Stuart Kirk were on row seven followed by Lawrence Cheah and Giles Handley on row eight and Paul Williams alongside SHW Championship leader Lee Henderson on row nine.

C3 Rupert Rixon shared row ten with James Radovic followed by Edward Gordon and C3 Marcus Gilbey on row eleven. Rows twelve and thirteen were occupied by the qualifiers from the C Final, Edwards, Elliott, Huus and Giles. Top two to qualify for the A Final and a trophy for the winner.

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Wray led the pack away but Walker was quickly into the lead as they rounded the first turns. Radovic was a super quick starter from the back but he spun Harris to halt ruining both their chances. Angier was an early spinner and no sooner had he recovered than he was hit by Henderson whose day was going from bad to worse in his pursuit of the SHW crown.

Gordon made a rapid start moving up ten places on the first lap. Radovic then got hit with a second penalty, this time for exceeding track limits too often. Then he forced Rixon wide and would suffer the inevitable exclusion post race.

Meanwhile at the front Walker was pulling clear of second placed Wray who had Sigafoos breathing down his neck. Bodnar was next just ahead of Lowe. Third time around and Sigafoos moved ahead of Wray. He was over two seconds back from Walker and quickly dropped Wray who had Bodnar and Lowe close at hand.

Four run and Lowe slipped by both Bodnar and Wray to take over in third. Half distance and Walker still led but Sigafoos had cut the gap. These two were well clear of third placed Lowe who was making no inroads in the gap to the leader running over four seconds back but two seconds in front of fourth placed Wray from Fletcher and Bodnar.

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Gordon was into the top ten whilst Wilson was tenth, comfortably leading the rest of the C3 runners. Two thirds run and Sigafoos was up with the leader and comfortably ahead of third placed Lowe who was running on his own six seconds back but three seconds clear of fourth placed Wray.

Gordon was up to a super impressive fifth, three seconds back from Wray. Henderson had fought his way into the top ten but needed more to negate his four place penalty. Walker continued to lead with Sigafoos a kart length behind. He clearly had the pace to challenge for the lead but contented himself with a comfortable second and another race.

Lowe crossed the line third but was over seven seconds back from the leaders. His was a lonely race finishing six seconds clear of fourth placed Wray who had Gordon just half a second back at the end of a very impressive drive through the field. Lammin was next ahead of Wilson who comfortably claimed the C3 honours whilst Henderson crossed the line eighth but penalised to twelfth. Now he could only suffer an agonising wait until the end of the A Final. His fate was now out of his hands.

Radovic was next but excluded promoting Rixon to eighth and second in C3 with Hassan ninth and Edwards tenth. 

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A Final

Joe Holmes on pole from brother Curt followed by Alex Pritchard and outgoing Champion Anwar Beroual-Smith on the second row. Returnee Chris Alcock shared the third row with Tim Williams followed by C2 Adam Natha and SHW James Johnstone on the fourth row.

Adam Wright occupied row five with SHW Kieran Chidgzey followed by C2 Kyle Walker and Steve Bosley on row six. Row seven had another returnee C2 Stuart Jones alongside Glen Orford with SHW Bill Taylor and C2 Kai Crawford on row eight.

Row nine saw SHW Richard Newton alongside C2 Tom Fuller followed by two C2’s Tim Penny and Mikey Nichols on the tenth row. C3 Joneld Muhaj shared the eleventh row with Mikey Nichols. No matter where Muhaj finished he was taking the top spot in C3 on the day as the only C3 to qualify for the A Final.

C2 Scott Parker and Steve Lindley shared the penultimate row followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final, Walker and Sigafoos. 

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Questions to be answered then. Could Curt Holmes finish higher that Adam Wright to seal second in the Championship behind brother Joe? His task had been made easier with Adam Wright starting a disappointed ninth. Would Joe still help Curt or would he fight for the win?

In the SHW’s reigning Champion Bill Taylor needed to finish eighteenth or higher to overhaul long time Championship leader Lee Henderson and retain his Championship. A few rounds ago it looked an unlikely prospect but Henderson had had a disastrous day at Buckmore Park.

Could Kyle Walker hang on and hold off Tim Penny for the C2 crown? He was starting four rows higher than his rival.

Away from the line and it was Joe in front through the first turns but by the end of the lap Curt was in front whilst Beroual-Smith had moved up to second ahead of Joe. Pritchard was fourth over a second adrift whilst Wright was stuck in ninth.

Walker was up a place to eighth whilst Penny had dropped six places to twenty second. Taylor was up to thirteenth and had both hands on the trophy whilst Henderson could only look on from the paddock with a look of a man whose world had collapsed around him.

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Two laps in and it was as you were at the front. Fourth placed Pritchard was falling back and coming under pressure from Williams and Alcock. Quarter distance and we had a new leader as Beroual-Smith went by Curt down the bottom of the circuit. Curt hung on but had to give best on the run up the hill with Joe in his wheeltracks.

Walker was running comfortably in the top ten with his rival Penny still trapped near the back of the field. Taylor was up to twelfth, running on his own some two seconds behind eleventh placed Lindley and over a second clear of Orford in thirteenth. All he had to do now was drive home to retain his title but sixth time around he suddenly went missing.

He spun all on his own down the bottom of the circuit, lost twelve seconds and crossed the line twenty fourth. Driver error and suddenly the calculators were out. The watching Henderson suddenly had a lifeline.

Half distance and Beroual-Smith still led but Joe was up to second. Pritchard remained fourth still holding off Penny. Taylor meanwhile had dropped further back. Once up to second Joe wasted no time in nipping by Beroual-Smith into hairpin one. A good clean move and it was great seeing to rivals racing cleanly with no hint of contact.

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Once at the front Joe wasted no time in pulling clear of Beroual-Smith with Curt third but falling back. Pritchard was still fourth but it was Alcock who was now on his bumper ahead of Williams. Johnstone was having a strong run only a few lengths back from Williams and comfortably leading the SHW class from Chidgzey who was running sixteenth.

Three quarter distance and Joe still led but Beroual-Smith had cut the gap setting the fastest lap in the process. Curt had been dropped but was well clear of Pritchard. Taylor was up to twenty second. He needed four more places.

Two to go and Beroual-Smith was back in front. Was his reign going to end in with win? Penultimate lap and he crossed the line a tenth up. Down the order Taylor was up to twenty first. Into the hairpins for the final time and Joe went down the inside of Beroual-Smith for the lead.

The leader gave him just enough room and then fought back into hairpin two. Joe defended and both lost time with compromised lines allowing a following Curt to nip under them both for the lead. Pritchard closed in on both Joe and Beroual-Smith but it was game over at the front.

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Curt crossed the line for his second A final win on the trot with Beroual-Smith second from Joe. Pritchard was next from Alcock and Walker the latter claiming the C2 class honours on the day and clinching the C2 Championship. Natha was second in C2 on the day with ninth overall and Penny third down in twelfth.

Williams was seventh with Johnstone eighth and comfortably winning the SHW division on the day.  Taylor finished twenty first. The Championship was lost by just four points to a very emotional Henderson. Wright completed the top ten.

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 Championship round up

Joe Holmes clinched the Heavyweight crown with two rounds to go and ended up a massive eighty five points ahead of his brother Curt taking his best scores. Without dropped rounds the margin was over 200 points to the next highest scorer Alex Pritchard.

It’s been very interesting over my time reporting on races watching Joe mature not just as driver but as a man. Gone are the days when a bad day would result in toys out of the pram. Now he’s very much a statesman and I think his driving is all the better for it.

A few seasons ago he and Anwar Beroual-Smith would barely acknowledge each other yet alone speak but the mutual respect has grown over the seasons. They race each other hard but they race fair.

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A lesson to all drivers. Joe won five out of the first seven rounds and but for a very controversial penalty in round one it would have been six from seven. I thought the penalty was harsh but I’m not the Clerk of the course. He was second in the other round. Round eight saw him clinch the Championship and his thoughts turned to helping brother Curt to second in the Championship and he ended the season with three third place finishes.

I would love to see a return of the Championship that pits the best of the Lightweights against the best of the Heavyweights. Curt Holmes took second in the Championship with back to back wins in the final two rounds to go with his win in round four at Rye. There are days when he looks brilliant and days when well, he looks anything but.

Can’t take it away from him though, he did what he needed to do over the final couple of rounds to clinch a famous double with his brother. First and second is some feat.

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Adam Wright was a solid third. Another season without an A Final win. It’s six years now since Adam won the Heavyweight Championship clinching it at the final round by a single point from Mark Ridout without actually winning a round. In 2021 he finally stood on the top step at the second round at Whilton Mill but only after a penalty for kerb abuse dropped Joe Holmes to third.

A win is a win but it still rankles with Adam that he’s not managed to get on the top step on merit. Those are his words. He shouldn’t worry about it and you’ll struggle to find anyone more positive than Adam at the start of each round.

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Alex Pritchard was fourth. No wins this year but he was always a factor. Alex works very, very hard at his racing and most days he is always in the mix. He too is always positive before an event invariably claiming he is going to win. The statement is always delivered with a wry smile.

Tim Williams finished seventh overall and fifth in C1. The quiet man of the series. You never see him getting over excited. He didn’t manage a podium but put in good solid drives all year. A top bloke.

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Kyle Walker was fifth overall in the standings and took the C2 crown. He took a great win at Ellough in a round that I sadly had to miss. Ellough was his only visit to the overall podium but the massive points haul gave him a good foundation over the final two rounds. He had six C2 podiums, three of them wins.

Tim Penny was the C2 runner up losing out to Walker by just twelve pints in the end. He had seven class podiums throughout the year including four wins but it wasn’t quite enough. Great season though.

Callan Sigafoos took third the result of some consistent performances. He had one class win and one other podium.

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Jonathan Wilson was victorious in C3 . He had five class podiums including two wins and made an A Final. Joneld Muhaj was runner up. He had four podiums and two wins and he too made an A Final. Marcus Gilbey was third some distance behind the top two. All three can be proud of their achievements and will doubtless be moving up to C2 next year.

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Lee Henderson finally achieved his ambition of beating Bill Taylor and claiming the SHW honours. But boy did he make heavy weather of it at the final round. He started the season with two class wins making the A final on both occasions.

Bill looked to out of the running but he came taking the class wins at the next two rounds before Lee struck back at Llandow. Then Bill won the next two rounds with Lee second and third. Into the final round and Lee had a pretty commanding lead but nerves got the better of him and he could only qualify well down the B Final with Bill in the A.

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As I ‘ve reported earlier Bill lost it on his own and handed the crown to Lee. It wasn’t until Bill went up for the trophy presentation that he realised he’d lost out. The four letter expletive said it all.

This season might, might have been a different story had 2022 Champion Anwar Beroual-Smith defended his crown but he opted to race in an owner driver series and missed the opening four rounds. But when he did come back he was never off the podium recording a string of second places. If only… 

Reflections

They say all good things come to an end and this is sadly my final report. I’ve been involved with CLUB100 since 1999 and the time has gone in the blink of an eye. If I thanked everyone I want to this Reflections would take pages. So many good people I’ve had the fortune to meet and I am going to miss the series loads but I have a new adventure which at this moment I can’t share. It has nothing to do with sport.

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One of the strap lines we’ve use in the past is ‘’it’s just racing’’. It isn’t, CLUB100 is so much more than that.

Bless you all.

Words by Steve Gray

Photos by John Patterson

Arrangement by Double Dash Motorsport Media