Same old story… new twist

unnamed

The top class of Club100’s centre piece Sprint Series began its 2015 UK tour with it’s traditional season opener at Buckmore Park with wins in the two scoring finals format for reigning champion Ian Blake (he is the ‘Same Old Story’ – well he’s part of the furniture now) the yard stick, totem, phallus by which everyone else’s biggest swinging talent is measured. No pressure. And the newly promoted Baby Prem Anwar Beroual-Smith, moving on from his 2013 Heavyweight title, and his top 5 in Clubmans last season, winning on debut in Prems, as he swagged both the overall trophy, as well as the Baby Prem from the main final. And with his 2nd in Pre he has, an admittedly token, early days, lead in the championship over the totem and the talented Tom Oliphant.

At this time of year, race report pages are peppered with references to the weather, and “oh how bad it was”, and while it’s probably unfair on the circuit, they don’t make us race in February or November, we choose to, nor do the staff, who suffered with us (fair play), choose the weather, and this report will be no different. Just 3 months after serving up “Waterworld” at the finale in November, Buckmore delivered a veritable smorgasbord of weather, the blue skies and sunshine at dawn were pretty, but the hard overnight frost, was indeed hard, leaving a deceptively tricky off camber long right hander at the bottom of the access road getting into the circuit, I was ready, and when the sun left early afternoon taking the temperature with it, the windchill was bitter. At least it wasn’t raining. No you lucky sods… Another Buckmore to live long in the meteorological Club100 collective memory but that only formed later while sheltering “Watcher in the Woods” style behind a tree in the woods for the aquatic afternoon sport.

Hardwork, liberal salt spreading, and some spirited road car driving, driving it in, all by the excellent circuit staff, lifted the residual black ice in time, for an oversubscribed 1hr morning test, or it would’ve been, turning away money… Leaving the track still wet when Premier Class got started, Ginetta (tick – won’t be mentioned again) racer Tom Oliphant picked up the win in Heat 1 from the front row, although he had to work his way back to it, ahead of pole man Stuart Martin, later excluded, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, but it’s Stuart so I could probably hazard a guess, and not before Darren Teal, promoted to 2nd at the finish, had grabbed an opening lap lead from grid 3 on lap 1, but he’d be left fending off Chris Hanson from mid race, before three time champion Chris Powell worked his way into 3rd behind Teal. Oliphant remained up front throughout, sliding passed Teal, the lap after Martin. Blake made up 10 positions to finish 4th, Parmveer Nijjar 5th, as Hanson faded. Heat 2 had a dry racing line, and an aborted start with several drivers in the tyres in turn 1, Freddie Gallagher swiftly lifting his kart off Jay Elliott while parallel parking. At the second attempt poleman James Burton had grid 3 David Robinson hard on his bumper going into Conways, but James ran in hot, and reversed into the barriers at turn 1. The heat carried on. Door open – Robinson took the lead, ahead of Steve Bartlett and Jack Harding, Harding forcing his way by as he had off the first start, Blake got the most out of, in the karting equivalent of a rolling maul, but when they emerged from around Cafe Curve to start lap 2 something had clearly gone on down below as Robinson had good lead from Bartlett, Harding, Blake and Stephen Hicks. Hicks recovered 4th from Blake, then Jonathan Lisseter moved passed and the leading trio edged clear. Bartlett took a shot at the lead into turn 1, couldn’t get it done, Dave let him have the outside line into the hairpin, so Steve took it, and the lead. No, no, no Jack was having it. So 3 became 4 with Hicks, Harding got back to the stripe in the lead and Bartlett ran him out wide into turn 1, and Bartlett was clear to the finish. Robinson fell away, Jonathan Lisseter escaped the pack, overhauling Blake, moving into 4th. I could see Jon wanted to go after Hicks, 7/10ths up the road, and he chipped it in half coming on to the final lap but he knew the game was up, and we cruised into the finish Bartlett, Harding, Hicks evenly spread over 3secs.

Gaining 18 places from 2 midfield grids in the heats gave Ian Blake the points for pole position for the Pre Final, as 14 had to give Jay Elliott the outside. Chris Powell and Tom Oliphant on row 2. At RoboMick’s command Elliott went for the big punt around the outside of turn 1, maybe he knew there was grip out there from his tyre visit, the track was dry now. Ian didn’t try as hard as he could have done to get it back, settling on his bumper, leaving Powell, Oliphant , Bartlett, Lee Hackett and Anwar Beroual-Smith to slow each other up if they were foolish enough to kick off. Tom slid down the group, Anwar moved through it. Elliott (I’m sorry) looked unconvincing as the leader, even ending the first lap, later claiming it was the kart, some even agreed with him, in his new brilliant white suit, what odds, some not-so-colourfast knicker washing, will see him turn up mid season the shade of Dulux Pink Snow? Blake made his move over start finish into turn 1, edging away every lap to the finish and his win, Powell looked like he was going to try push through asap, when Blake went for the lead but had backed off. And that might have been a mistake as he wouldn’t see Ian again. Elliott would have to defend Bartlett and Anwar, who were passed Powell and on him, and after a brief respite when Anwar moved into 3rd in hairpin 2 on Steve Elliott’s spirited drive to keep 2nd was a noble, impending failure as I suspected it would be. Lap 10 Beoural-Smith emerged ahead from the top of the circuit. And even though Elliott tried to go with him, he was distracted on to the defence by Powell into Garda, setting himself up to be passed up at turn 2 on the next lap. And wouldn’t you know it Powell towed another Baby Prem – Bartlett through to 4th. Elliott was left with a frustrating 5th, interjecting “lucky” into Blake’s interview faux modesty, ticking off the phrase “Wafty Growler” (don’t google it!) from his freshly printed Club100 ‘Things to say on camera’ Bingo Card in relation to describing a really good kart but the lap times suggest it was typically just like all the others. I must have been smelling something else.

An eye brow raising 46.3sec from Dave Waters in final 1 set tongues wagging about the Staff Kart on grumble net later, lining up on pole for the trophy Final 2, even if “they” acknowledged he can be very quick, and was only a fraction faster than Scott Martin’s time. I might argue a well timed tow, or a sweet lap myself. But… After a barrier repair from an aborted first start, Steve Bartlett and Lee Clackett were left shaking their heads in the tyres. Freddie Gallagher looking like he might be a bit sore this week, Bartlett went for another kart change. I contemplated a man hug from Scott’s Dad I was soooooo cold. Scott attempted to pull off the same move as Elliott had in the Pre to lead off hairpin 1, but Dave was having none of that, Scott backing out of driving around the outside of the hairpin. Waters led down hill ahead of Martin, Oliphant, Beroual-Smith, Darren Teal and David Robinson. Anwar moved on Scott for 2nd and pulling Oliphant through, Martin getting a bit rattled, and slapped about, in the melee, as he tried, and he tried and he failed to get back what he’d lost. Tom was on Anwar’s bumper again as he made his move for the lead over start finish, Waters went to cover, ran wide on the exit of turn 1, Anwar had the line for the cutback with enough momentum to be inside of hairpin 1, towing Tom through. This backed the field up into a scrum that released the leading pair and RoboMick driving warnings lit up Start Finish with like a strobe light on the dance floor of Club Bongo (a sticky shoe nightclub in Middlesbrough – not recommended). Steve Brown emerged from it all in 4th place, Martin, Teal, Robinson, Powell, Elliott, Blake in his wake, as the rotation in the pack went on, Brown engaged Martin and Teal to wrest 3rd from Waters. And they did. Steve getting on the podium just after halfway. Upfront the last 10 laps of the race showed Anwar Beroual-Smith had just the measure of Oliphant, Tom looking for a mistake, that Anwar never looked like making, to win by just over 1sec. Anwar was also too modest, refusing to be drawn on overall title contention for the overall, citing Buckmore Park as a favourite track. But he’s a player.

So that was Buckmore Park and Round 1, and shiver me timbers it was cold, not wet mind, you’ll need to read the afternoon reports, if you like water sports. It’s sunshine all the way now, it’s Ellough, in March, that’s spring-ish enough for me to call it spring. Sunshine, sunshine or someone will need to have words.