Premier Sprint Championship, 2014 – Rd.2

The crème de la crème of Club 100. Some great racing, fabulous entertainment but sadly it would all turn a little sour.

Premier Sprint Heat 1

Michael Chaplin led away from pole hotly pursued by the chasing horde. Paul Janes, starting third was quickly by second placed Jamie Crease and looking for a way by Chaplin. Scott Martin, Stefan Child, Ray Norris and Pete O’Connor all contrived to get in each other’s way and fell to the back of the pack. Janes meanwhile slipped by Chaplin for the lead. Chaplin then became embroiled in a battle for third with Jack Harding, Jay Elliot having moved into second behind Janes who was by now pulling away from the pack. Chaplin finally got the better of his duel with Harding and moved back up to second with Ian Blake moving into third, from fourteenth, with just one lap remaining. Further down the pack Matt Brooks put in an opportunist drive from seventeenth to seventh with Marc Craddock making up ten places having started at the back of the grid. The race belonged to Janes however who had pulled out a massive five second lead by the flag.

Heat 2

If anyone made a film of this heat then the accompanying soundtrack would have to be ‘Rolling back the years.’ Marc Craddock led away from pole and with the rest of the pack having some major disagreements he had a comfortable lead at the end of the first lap. Stephen Hicks and Alex Ring, from fourth and seventh respectively were early spinners resuming at the back of the pack. Dan Hoy was soon up to second and as the race settled down he set about hounding Craddock for the lead. On Lap 5 he briefly got his nose in front out of turn 5 but Craddock had the better line down to turn 6 and was back to the fore. The move had consequences as Hoy was compromised allowing Milner Back into second. A lap later Matt Brooks was by into third and then on the final lap Pete O’Connor took fourth. A great drive this, making up twelve places. But the race belonged to Craddock who took the flag to huge cheers from his watching family who mobbed him in the paddock. Smiling ruefully he said,
‘There was a time when I got this kind of reception for winning finals, now I get it for winning heats!’

Premier Sprint final 1

Matt Brooks it was then on pole with Ian Blake alongside. Row 2 had Parm Nijjar on the inside of the impressive Paul Janes with Marc Craddock and Chris Powell on the row behind. As they flashed across the line Janes immediately veered to the right and hit Craddock sending the former champion briefly on to the grass. This was seriously bad driving. This veering at the start is something which seems to creeping into all forms of racing and is something which needs to be addressed. Had Craddock spun into the pack the consequences could have been extremely serious. There was a phenomenal amount of jostling going on down into Turn 2 with the inevitable consequences. With the track partially blocked the race was waved off and the pack formed up once again. Jeremy Dart came down to pit lane entrance and waved an admonishing finger at Janes. Away from the flag for the second time there was a huge amount of loading going into Turn 1 but thankfully everyone was through. Down to Turn 2 a fast starting Chris Powell was round the outside of Janes and looking to make a move on Blake but as they turned into turn 3, with Powell on the inside of Blake, Janes arrived with two wheels on the grass and cannoned into Powell sending the reigning champion into the tyres. Blake was delayed but managed to get going whilst Janes lost a couple of places but was soon back into his stride. Now, different people react in different ways to adversity and Chris Powell had every right to feel extremely aggrieved. It would be grossly unfair to state that Chris threw his toys out the pram but he made his feelings abundantly clear to all those watching. Meanwhile Nijjar had taken Brooks for the lead on lap 2 with Craddock moving into second ahead of Chris Hanson, making a demon start from eighth, and the recovering Janes. After the dramas of the opening laps the order settled down but on lap 8 Hanson and Janes capitalised on a rare Craddock error and moved up to second and third respectively but the former champion wasn’t done yet and with a brilliant move a lap later was back into second. Elsewhere down the order the three leading baby prems, Jack Harding. Michael Chaplin and Dan Hoy were squabbling over eighth Harding eventually getting the place. Trevor Randall was having an interesting race. Starting from twelfth he’d been into the top six before the race was halted. He dropped down to twenty third at one point before climbing back through the pack. Unfortunately he was collecting more penalties than Wayne Rooney and would eventually be classified twentieth. At the flag though it was Nijjar after a very professional drive followed by Craddock, Hanson, Danes and Daz Teal who had shown great maturity in keeping out of trouble. With Danes inevitable exclusion Teal would be promoted to fourth.

Premier Sprint Final 2

Paul Janes started from pole with Chris Hanson alongside. Second row had Jack Harding alongside Ian Blake. Next up were Simon Alcock, who hadn’t really featured all day, alongside Marc Craddock followed by Parm Nijjar and Matt Brooks on row 4. Reigning champion Chris Powell was languishing down in fourteenth.
At the lights it was Janes into the lead followed by Hanson and Blake. Harding was holding an early watching brief but would soon fall away. Down the pack the mid field runners were falling over themselves. Pete O’Connor fell to the back of the field. Trevor Randall shot from twenty second to twelfth. Sami Seppala from twenty fifth to seventeenth. Jamie Crease from Eighteenth to ninth. And all after just one lap. Great stuff! At the front Hanson was beginning to nibble at Janes with Blake in close attendance. On lap three Hanson swept by into the lead but it was short lived as Janes regained the place followed by the impressive Blake. Nijjar was also getting in on the drama and would take Hanson for third on lap six. Chris Powell was putting in a real champions drive and breathing down Cradock’s neck for fifth which he eventually took with an audacious pass at turn two on the very last tour. At the front Blake took the flag for the win and promptly went into a victory celebration which was to say the least, different. Think of disco dancing in a wheelchair. Seriously. Asked after the race he said,
‘When I win I like to do something different and Saturday Night is a classic.’ I look forward to the next one.
Janes crossed the line in second with Nijjar third but Janes was excluded for being underweight. A penalty which he accepted with good grace. Nijjar was also demoted four places promoting Hanson and Powell to second and third respectively.
There were a number of very angry drivers in the paddock after Sprint Final 1 some of whom felt Paul Danes should have been excluded from the meeting. I spoke with him after the event.
‘A little bit of controversy then Paul ‘
‘Yeah. It’s a shame anyone can’t have a good days Karting isn’t it. Unfortunately, people like driving round the outside of you and in this game you have to give in to the corner hence the reason why Final 1 was a bit of a disaster. But final 2 was alright. I just let him have it really.’
How did you feel about your start in Final 1?
‘The first start was absolutely fine. I got loaded into, got a good move, into the first corner, down the inside, no contact, went into the bottom corner, got loaded from behind and everyone pointed their finger at me because I’m the new boy in town.’
Bit of controversy on the start where you ran into Marc Craddock. Any thoughts?
‘ No. Don’t even remember it. If they want to play games like that then let them. It’s their championship not mine.’
I don’t know whether Paul intends to do any further rounds. I hope so because he is clearly a very talented driver and would almost certainly be challenging for the title. Perhaps he needs to channel the aggression better and a little humility wouldn’t come amiss either. We all want to win but I’ve always felt that a win, particularly a championship win, without the respect of your peers devalues the prize.
So, at the end of an interesting day Chris Hanson took the top step on the podium followed by Parm Nijeer and Ian Blake. Marc Craddock just missed out on the podium by virtue of a slower fastest lap.
So, as everyone packed their egos away it was Parm Nijjar at the top of the championship standings followed closely by Ian Blake with Chris Hanson and Marc Craddock handily placed in third and fourth respectively.
Finally though I feel I should mention Stefan Child. He asked me to write in the report what a great bloke and fantastic driver he is. Well, you’re a great bloke. The other bit will have to wait till you are!

See you at Whilton!!!