Reigning Champion Steve Brown Has Quietly Taken Over Elite Class. No Pressure.

Club100 R2 1999 scaled

Heat 1

Club100 R2 0656The crème de le crème of Karting lined up for their first heat with Pete O’Connor on pole and Dan Truman alongside. Buckmore winner Steve Brown was on row three. O’Connor got a great start helped in part by those behind falling over themselves causing Stephen Hicks to fall to the back of the field from his second row starting spot. With two laps gone O’Connor was still hanging on at the front from Brown but Tom Golding was up in to third ahead of Matt Brooks and Ian Blake who had briefly got up to fourth. At the front O’Connor finally succumbed to the pressure from Brown but wasn’t about to give up the place without a fight and re-took the lead into Ashby. But not for long. Brown tucked in behind and got a decent tow up the straight before diving inside O’Connor into the Boot. O’Connor moved slightly offline allowing Golding to nip by as well and as so often happens in the complex O’Connor’s poor line left him vulnerable and he fell back to seventh. Golding though was right on Browns bumper and with five gone he was in to the lead and beginning to pull away but then it all went horribly wrong. The yellow was being waved on the start finish line as a football was bouncing on the track. Golding was first to arrive. Seeing the ball he hit the brake, hard, and spun. Suddenly it was mayhem as drivers took avoiding action.  Worst affected was Blake who had fought his way to third. He shot across the grass and into the tyre wall surrounding the floodlight pylon. It was a hard hit but fortunately without serious injury. Badly shaken he remained in his Kart and with other machines in dangerous positions the officials had no option but to bring out the red flag. So who won? On count back Brown was awarded the win from Blake, Jay Elliot, up from ninth, Joe Holmes fourth, up from thirteenth, whilst Golding took a four place penalty for spinning under a yellow, a penalty which he felt was a little harsh. It’s true that you wouldn’t expect to see a football on the track but the fact remains that almost every driver when they see a yellow reacts in the same way. They do raise their arm or wave a hand but don’t back off enough fearing that if they do it will allow the pursuing pack to gain ground.  Rules are rules, read ‘em.  Brooks crossed the line sixth but was demoted to seventh for cone abuse promoting Brandon Williams with Jonathan Lisseter, O’Connor and Tom Dix completing the top ten.

Heat 2

Club100 R2 0313Jack Harding had drawn the pole for this one with Daniel Healey alongside whilst first heat winner Brown was down in sixteenth. Harding led the field across the line but it was Williams, starting from the second row, who got the better start to lead at the end of the first lap with Healey tucked into third. Daniel Longman disappeared quickly down the order allowing Barrs, Parmveer Nijjar and Jay Elliott into fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. Hicks suffered badly for the second heat in a row falling from eighth to eighteenth whilst Chris Powell also dropped down ten spots. At the back Brown was moving swiftly up the order as were Dix, O’Connor and Truman, all starting at the back but closing in on the top ten. With just two laps gone Harding was back up to the front from Williams with Elliott now up to third ahead of Nijjar and Healey. Barrs was running sixth but would be out a couple of laps later with a rare technical fault. Harding continued to control the pace at the front but Elliott was now up to second and Healey back up to fourth ahead of Nijjar. Great, clean racing. Half distance and Elliott deposed Harding for the lead taking Healey with him and Williams also getting by. Harding wasn’t out of it though and a lap later he back ahead of Williams and chasing down the leaders. Elliott led but Healey was all over him and with two to run he was by and into the lead. Try as he might Elliott couldn’t get back on terms and Healey took the flag almost half a second to the good from Elliott after an excellent, mature drive.  Harding came home third with Williams almost on his bumper with Nijjar fifth and well clear of Brown in sixth. Good points this though having moved up ten places. Dix would have been next but a penalty dropped him two spots promoting Blake to seventh with Daz Teal next across the line but carrying a four place deduction for exceeding track limits. Twice. Golding took eighth with Holmes tenth after a spirited drive. Brown set fastest lap.

Heat 3

Club100 R2 0742Stephen Docker on pole from Joe Holmes and as the field rounded the final corner Holmes was looking a little impatient to get the race underway. Docker led towards the line but Holmes was just a bit too early on the throttle and into the lead. But he had jumped the start and would take a two place penalty at the end of the race. Still, he did put in a great performance leading all the way to the flag but being classified third. Docker gave chase but he now had Chris Powell on his bumper. A great drive though to keep his head, defend resolutely and keep the very experienced Powell at bay. The front three had pulled out a fair gap by the end of the race. James Hattersley took fourth after starting fourth. But his race wasn’t that simple. He’d dropped to seventh at the start but drove consistently and kept out of trouble. Fourth was a good result. David Waters took fifth. He’d spent most of the race in fourth, just off the pace of the leaders but Hattersley got by with just one to go. O’Connor took sixth after a spirited drive ahead of Blake and Mays. A good fight this between these three. Harding took ninth and fastest lap, the only driver to get under the 54 second barrier, whilst Healey came home tenth.

Final

Club100 R2 0975Blake on pole, thankfully none the worse for wear after his first heat drama, with Holmes alongside. Next up Championship leader Brown with Williams alongside. Harding and O’Connor on three ahead of Nijjar and Healey with Powell and Dix completing the top ten.
Blake led the field up to the line but it was Brown from the second row who got the better traction taking the lead and taking Harding with him into second. O’Connor got a blistering start from the third row and was into fourth dropping Holmes to fifth whilst Healey got caught out badly and dropped to ninth. Williams was sixth but his race was run after just two laps. Others to suffer badly on the first lap were Hattersley, Teal and Barrs who all suffered various dramas and fell to the back of the field. Brown continued to lead but Blake was now up to second whilst Harding was having to fend off a very determined Holmes who duly took third with a move on Harding into the boot. Unfortunately he was much too aggressive in the turn and barged Harding to one side allowing O’Connor to move up as well. With four gone Brown still led but Holmes was by Blake and into second with O’Connor and Harding battling for fourth chased by Powell, Healey and Elliott.  Two thirds distance and Holmes slipped by Brown into the lead and promptly set the fastest lap of the race. Brown though had seen the penalty for Holmes displayed on the startline gantry and was content to reel off the final two laps. Blake came home third on the road whilst behind there was a battle royal for fourth between Powell, O’Connor and Harding. With one to go Powell had the place but by the flag he was down to sixth. So, a win for Brown with Blake promoted to second and Harding taking the final podium spot. O’Connor took fourth. A good day for him I felt. Unspectacular perhaps but a reward for consistency. Holmes was placed fifth after his penalty. That he is a fast driver is beyond doubt but perhaps he needs to add a bit of stealth and smoothness to his armoury instead of outright aggression. Penalties in three out of four races tells its own story. Powell was placed sixth some way ahead of Elliott with Healey, Lisseter and Nijjar completing the top ten.

Podium and Championship positions

Club100 R2 1099Steve Brown made it two out of two cementing his place at the top of the order. Nothing seems to faze Steve and he takes things just as they come. He’s so relaxed in a kart too. Most drivers hunch forward and dip their heads but he seems to sit back, arms straight. It clearly works for him. Ian Blake’s second spot was just reward after his first heat crash, the consequences of which could have been so much worse. He’s up to third in the order. Jack Harding might have inherited third place after Holmes’s penalty but he still had to work hard to fend off Pete O’Connor. Either driver would have been a worthy podium winner. Jack is now up to second in the order whilst Joe Holmes lies fourth. I suspect it won’t be long before we see him on the podium and the same goes for Parmveer Nijjar, fifth in the standings.

Reflections

What a great days racing at Whilton. Our thanks to all the marshals who do a fantastic job. Without them we couldn’t go racing. And indeed to all the officials and Club 100 staff particularly the observers and clerk of the course who do a very difficult job extremely well.

Please don’t ignore the yellow flags. They are being waved for your safety. I heard one person complaining about the rule regarding weaving to warm the tyres. This isn’t F1 where the grid is staggered. The rule is there for the safety of all. Occasionally Karts have spun off which is quite funny but does rather spoil the drivers race. More importantly are the consequences of one turning left as another turns right and colliding causing a hold up. Or turning into the path of a driver trying to take up his or her grid position. Steve Brown wins races. He juggles the wheel gently moving barely six inches either way. If it’s good enough for him should be good enough for all.

Lastly, the sport lost a great supporter recently with the passing of the great John Surtees. I thought the tribute and the few words from JV were both poignant and fitting.
R.I.P Il Grande John.