Overdue Double Win for Preseason Fave Jack Bolton, Secures Runner Up A Long Way Behind Joe Holmes

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c100r11-1452The real danger in missing the cut for Pre A Final at the last round, is just who will turn up out of the blue, to give their karting itch a scratch. Case in point, picking up another copy of his favourite 2013 Club100 DVD I forget which one now (but very reasonably priced, after he wore his original copy out making his children watch it) pole position man Barney Langley in the Pre B Final. It’s a question of rust, you see. How rusty? For he was still the same size as the last time we saw each other (if only he could say the same of me, I’m trying). Mike Bodnar, an old sparring partner joined him on the front row, Rob Moore on row 2, left maybe 1 spot up for grabs and Roger Davis and Peter Harris on row 3 looked like takers to me. Langley rolled back his clock, took the lead, pulling Bodnar and Moore clear of Harris dicing with Adam Brown for that last qualifying spot. Davis eventually replaced Brown, by which time the contest really was for last qualifying spot. Bodnar settled into towing Moore around, and neither needed to or went mad to gain a position, as Langley broke clear and headed off to the Pre A Final ahead of them. Davis moved into 4th spot, as Claudio La Rosa had moved through to lead the best of the rest in 7th place but 2secs off the back of the trio, was out of reach and 8.8secs off race leader Langley at halfway. A couple of good laps later Davis had broken Harris and left him to fight over 5th place with Brown. Roger joined Langley, Bodnar and the new Superheavyweight Class Champion Moore in the Pre A Final, as Harris’ failure to get out of the Pre B Final had extinguished his remote, and it really was very unlikely, mathematical chance of overhauling Rob for the SuperFat title.

I’d interviewed Steve Bosley, foolishly stood doing nothing in the paddock, after Ben Atkinson again, who still holds me responsible, interviewers curse and all that, for his woeful Ellough Park display. I related this to Steve, as he was pole position the Pre A Final grid. I told him he should not believe in such superstitions. He may now. He made a good start, but he was in for a hard time, once Jack Bolton dived in at hairpin 2 and even though he still emerged into the Esses in the lead, both Bolton and Darvill we’re hammering on his bumper to be by. On their return from Garda Bolton led, James Browning had got a cross to sit behind Darvill on Bosley’s bumper, Daniel French, Andrew Dawson, Luke Hornsby and Mark Ridout making a line of 8. It already looked like Simon Lloyd’s runner up tilt was in trouble, a 1sec gap, so no tow, back to Ridout, then to a second group led by David Whitehouse, Mark Turner, Paul Williams, and Lloyd. Another run through the top of the circuit, Darvill was through and off after Bolton, this wouldn’t give Bosley a break as Browning had been replaced by the more combative French, but the race settled into fast lapping.

c100r11-1052Darvill looked to have the pace to challenge for, indeed to win, as he pushed through to the lead on lap 6, which let Bosley edge back towards them, well he was fastest in qually, and that shook off French, gap to Browning 5th, but he had picked up a penalty for track limits, gap to Hornsby, who with Ridout had pushed through Dawson and Turner. What might be good for Lloyd, Darvill taking the lead, was looking pretty academic he was stuck in a dice with Whitehouse, in the tail of the Turner-Dawson-Jason Bradbury, Simon was 6secs off the leader and getting a little desperate trying to find a way by. Bolton retook the lead on halfway and edged out to 0.5secs, the tow though had been caught by Bosley and French and with 4mins to go there was a chance the race might all come back together at least as far as Ridout in 6th. French picked off Bosley at the bottom of the circuit for 3rd place, but could not hold on to a tow from Darvill, leaving Jack and Harrison to sort out the winner between them, Dan would drop Steve to leave him with 3rd and Steve fighting hard to hold off Hornsby, Browning and Ridout, and he would fail. Harrison appeared to have taken a break, letting the string out for a few laps before a big push towards the finish, just 0.1s off on to the last lap. Harrison took a shot into hairpin 2, but had been forced to brake late and hard by Bolton, Jack was able to turn inside him for a quicker exit and was inside into Esses then emerged from Garda to take the win, French 3rd, gap to Hornsby, Browning (penalty), Ridout, Bosley, gap to Bradbury, gap to Dawson, gap to Turner, Lloyd still 11th and Whitehouse.

c100r11-1004By now it was dark for the 18 runners chasing the last 2 qualifying spots for the main final. Quite rightly Peter Harris was on pole position, but Chris Murray, an A Final winner in 2015, lined up P3, and it had been a surprise he had not featured in the Pre B. He wasted no time in taking over the B Final and took a comfortable lead over Harris. And that might have been it, had it not been for James Shield coming through from grid 5 but even he was 1.8secs behind Murray at the end of lap 1, and 0.5secs down on Harris. But Peter lost a tenth per lap to Murray, James bit half a second off, then a tenth, and then bit in hard again, as traffic and bad light to pick out apexes with. came into play – Peter is getting on a bit you know (ageing eyes). Battle joined they diced to and fro, and maybe others could close, but Theodoros Gereoudakis was 3secs off, clear of Lennie Wood, then it was 5secs to Nick Butler, Paul Goddard and the main field. They were out of it. It would take 3 laps, but James was through, and damn if he wasn’t half a second quicker than Murray. Begging the question where was this pace in the Pre B or qually? Or was it traffic? On to the leader by lap 10 and through, and Murray couldn’t hold him. Job done, it was comfortable run to the flag, Murray settled into the finish. Or was it? There’s always the possibility of traffic, and Buckmore Park can be really awkward, it’s a quick track but theres so many pinch points, and on the run to the flag, they fell awkwardly. Right up to the line, and the pair crossed just a tenth of second apart as Shield was held up and around Cafe Curve. Not that it mattered for 25th & 26th on the A Final grid. Harris appeared around Cafe, 3secs behind them, with Gereoudakis and Wood in tow, Butler was still at the bottom of the hill, Goddard and Gillett only approaching Garda.

c100r11-1695The trouble with an A Final is, after qualifying and Pre A Final, that everyone has usually got to where their pace belongs. The only variable then are the karts, and we know that is minor. The staff kart, or the one that’s had its brakes boiled by a muppet. But otherwise… It’s Club100 after all. Jack Bolton had pole this time, Darvill’s task was not to get left exposed on grid 2, particularly to Daniel French on grid 3, Mark Ridout on grid 5. They were out for glory. Luke Hornsby sat on Harrison bumper and I think had settled in to finish the season with 5th in the championship as Harrison had stopped the rot and extended his advantage to 17points and 4th in the Final table was his. The start played out to script, Bolton stretching the field, Darvill losing the tow, Ridout, gap to a chasing of French, being relegated by Steve Bosley, Hornsby and James Browning. Jack then pegged them but once again, an awkward back marker, a couple of missed apexes, and Darvill ripped 0.5secs out of the lead and a race was on, Ridout was surfing Harrison’s tow. Darvill couldn’t close the gap, not with Mark looking for a way by. It was lap 12 before Darvill got into the draft of the leader and we were treated to hard racing to the finish. And it really was just between these 3, Hornsby had overtaken Bosley, but by the time he had and put some time into Steve, the ship for the podium had long since sailed. Bosley had his hands full of Jason Bradbury and David Whitehouse. Speaking of ships, overtaking was complicated by turn 1 remaining under yellow from lap 3 until passed half way, on the balcony Simon Lloyd’s family wondered where he had gone. That was Simon in turn 1. He’d been trying to pass Martin Gurnett and Mark Turner to get into the top 10, when a day promising so much, but returning so little, put the tin hat on him. 2016 would have to be remembered for most of the other rounds, but not this one.

c100r11-1753It was close for a while, and never cruise control comfortable, especially when a back marker might loom up from the gloomy distance, but Bolton had enough to hold off the pair. He crossed the finish line 0.5secs clear of Darvill, Jack’s third win of the season, a bit late, Harrison’s third 2nd place of the season, all at Buckmore Park, ahead Mark Ridout’s first podium. It will be interesting to see where Mark races, and how he goes, next year. And yes that was 2016.

Joe Holmes came back to join the championship presentation, flanked by the top 5 Jack Bolton, Simon Lloyd, Harrison Darvill and Luke Hornsby (okay and Rob Moore) in the photograph. We’d almost forgotten about Joe, but of course you can’t, he has the air of club royalty at the moment. They were shoulder to shoulder in the photograph but he’d been a long way ahead, I’m not being unkind here. He’d smashed the 2016 heavyweight class, and was the stand out performance across the entire club. 2016 was his year.

Round 1 is at Buckmore Park on 26th February 2017.

Photography: Jack Mitchell Motorsport Photography