SHOCK! The Tide Turns Decisively to Phil Ingram. Or Has It?
The headline leaving from Whilton Mill was a very good day for Phil Ingram, and the round win, by a single point from Chris Alcock having a 2nd run out of the season in Sprint 60. And if it’s only mind games, well take “I think Phil will be tough to beat now” reported Anwar Beroual Smith, with a pinch of salt. But following on from Lydd, which also went to Ingram, the momentum has at least has swung in behind him. But as Phil observed, “Ha, difficult to catch at 1 point ahead!” A race 1 win ahead of Chris Alcock swept Ingram from a 2 point deficit into the championship lead, confirmed with a 3rd place behind Mike Coppin and Alcock with Beroual Smith in the second of his day’s brace of 5th places.
With dropped scores applied now, as we begin the run to the end of the season, point changes will now be smaller, Tarik Almou is 12points off the lead, Wayne Lidgbird at +22. It’s a two horse race. In SuperHeavyweights Alex Pritchard and Richard Allen shared the wins, but Alex took the round by a single point, the class battle (with dropped scores) is 5 points, that’s a two horse race, but leaning to Pritchard, with Richard Newton likely to finish 3rd at the end of the season 83 points off the lead.
Tarik Almou finished practice heading the time sheet as fastest with 55.151 from Stuart Martin by 0.4secs, but when the session went green it was Tim Clark setting the pace with 54.925, with Ingram 55.043, Beroual Smith, Daniel Taylor and Almou fractionally behind. On to lap 2 and Mike Coppin moved in ahead of Almou on the provisional third row, but the session was just getting warmed up. Beroual Smith moved into pole position with 54.628, ahead of Clark, Ingram improved to stay P3, Chris Alcock moved up on to row 2, with Coppin and Taylor on row 3. Then Phil went pole with 54.442 with Clark trying to wrest it back with 54.492. Tim Clark would not be denied returning one more time to take pole position with 54.077, but only just as the top 5 were only covered by 0.25, Tarik Almou jumping on to the front row, with Anwar and Phil on row 2, Stuart Martin on row 3, with Alcock, Coppin, Wayne Lidgbird, Ben Cottle and Stephen Jennings round out the top 10. The top 18 were covered by 1secs, and P8 to P27 by the same margin, in a field, and sold out field at that, of 37.
Anwar Beroual Smith, “Qualifying went well, but in the damp I just seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time every corner for the first few laps. Got shuffled wide at turn 1 lap 1 and then again at Christmas, and then spent a few laps battling while the top guys disappeared.” While Anwar was beginning ‘his bad day at the office’, Ingram, who I do know historically always used to go well in the wet, found the race “wet, dry, damp, dry, wet, every corner, an adventure kind of race and I love those conditions.”
The pole man Tim Clark was off and gone to the tail of the field on lap 1, and Stuart Martin came through to lead, comfortably, if you ever can be on a wet track, from Ingram, Alcock, and Almou. While Mike Coppin held off Anwar Richard Allen and Wayne Lidgbird. Alcock moved through to 2nd but Ingram was learning the track, and moved through to lead as the track dried, but now it was 10secs faster than wet and would have had another 5secs to get quicker but the advantage had already passed to Coppin, so Ingram led by 1.1secs from Mike, Alcock 3rd with Martin and the quartet were 7.5secs clear of Beroual Smith again, “by the time Richard Allen and I got clear [of the pack], and we had good pace, but we were already miles behind. Richard and I had a good race though.” Coppin teamed up with fellow Applewood Independent collective member Alcock, to close down Phil Ingram, “I managed to get Phil about 10mins in in traffic but in fairness to him, when it was raining, he had the pace on us both whereas as soon as it dried, we gained quite quickly on him.” Of course Mike and Chris had nothing to lose in the championship, and Phil was first into the next damp corner, and it was raining again approaching the 10min mark. Lap times went back out 76secs, Ingram led again and Martin was dropped to leave them a trio. Fifteen seconds off the lead Beroual Smith continued tow Allen around, with Daniel Taylor, a few seconds behind, with Lidgbird, Alex Pritchard and Alex Lammin spread out at the bottom of the top 10.
Over the next wet 10mins Ingram built up a 4secs lead over Team Coppin-Alcock, as the rain stopped again and all waited for the track to start drying on the line, Allen moved ahead of Beroual Smith, while his Super Heavyweight rival Pritchard closed to the bumper of Daniel Taylor in 8th place. What was going on under the radar going into the last 6minutes was the pace of pole man Clark re-entering the top ten after having plummeted out of it on lap 1. Ingram’s lead peaked at 7secs, and as soon as the lap times began to fall, again with nothing invested in the championship, Coppin took 0.7secs out of his lead, Alcock 1.2secs but with only 3mins left they’d have to go much quicker. Seeing the final lap board Ingram was bringing it home, Coppin again “The last rain shower in that first race saved him being caught”, Ingram winning race 1 by 4.5secs, and Mike’s abuse of track limits would see him demoted to 4th, promoting Martin from 4th 18secs off the lead. Anwar Beroual Smith, salvaged 5th place after, “a great battle with Richard, including a last lap overtake where I went round the outside!” with Lidgbird closing in 7th, 12secs ahead of Tim Clark, who also had overtaken Daniel Taylor on the last lap and Alex Pritchard rounded the top 10.
This one was dry, and off the start, Coppin made a strong start off his grid 4, passing Stuart Martin on grid 3, “I got a decent start from 4th and Alcock outbraked himself at Christmas corner and went a little wide which opened the door for me to go to 2nd.” This battle behind handed Ingram a 1secs lead, Lidgbird moved ahead of Allen for 6th to challenge Beroual-Smith for 5th. Alcock skid down the inside at Xmas Corner to recover 2nd place to tow Coppin back into leader Ingram. Once again Martin could not go with the leaders, and fell back into a battle with Beroual Smith and Lidgbird. Alcock & Coppin closed in on Ingram, Coppin again, “We worked hard and caught him about 7mins in – again I think the overtake was at Christmas – and then we tried to gap him.”
Ingram, “Race 2 was mega. I’ve raced a few different karts and cars over the years, but I’d go as far as saying that was the most fun race I’ve had and I didn’t win it either. Mike and Chris were working together and caught me up, they both got passed and I expected them to pull away but I could just about stay in the tow. What followed was an epic 20 or so remaining minutes of racing where none of us put a foot wrong, and we were circulating within about an inch of each other.” And the trio indeed pulled clear, leaving Beroual Smith trying to keep the gap down to 5secs, “[The] 2nd race was just rubbish. It was dry so I was confident of having a good race at the front, but as soon as we went through Turn 1 I knew I was in trouble as the kart just felt really flat. The top 3 just pulled away from me with ease. After that, I was just trying to minimise the damage, fortunately only 2 got by me, it could have been worse. I felt the weight for the first time all season. I have been running 6-7kg over since Round 1, but have got away with it.” Before halfway Lidgbird pushed by Anwar for 4th place.
At halfway, the dicing leading trio were 6secs clear of Lidgbird and Beroual Smith, then a gap to Stuart Martin, spreading out with Tarik Almou, holding the fastest lap of the race with 53.6, notably rapid after starting from grid 32 after a poor race 1 finish, then Daniel Taylor, Tim Clark and leading Super Heavyweight Alex Pritchard in 10th. Almou passed Martin for 6th on 20mins, and set off after Beroual Smith, Tarik would catch and pass Anwar with 5mins to go, although somewhere in his meteoric rise, he had picked up both a cone and gaining a place by contact or 5 places of penalties promoting Anwar back to 5th.
This leaves the run up front to the flag, Ingram again “I was happy to let the clock run down and wait till the end for a go, which I did at Ashby. I got past Chris but it cost us both time to Mike. I caught Mike up and had one opportunity to pass in the same corner [with 3mins to go], I got through but couldn’t slow it down enough and he and Chris got me back on the exit. Maybe I could of settled for 2nd but I was having so much fun I thought I’d give it a go and they were both racing very fair.” Mike Coppin, “and that was pretty much how it stayed. A really good set of races!”
At the finish, Coppin won by a tenth of second from Alcock and Ingram. Wayne Lidgbird finished 6.8 secs off the lead, Almou was penalised to 10th, Anwar Beroual Smith 12secs off the lead, 2secs clear of Stuart Martin, gap to to Tim Clark and Daniel Taylor, then Lammin and Almou rounded out the top 10. In Super Heavyweight Class, Richard Allen and Alex Pritchard crossed paths going in different directions before the 10min mark, around 10th place, with Pritchard finishing 14th to Allen’s 18th, to take the round win by a point. Welcome back to the Club100 fold to Stig Elboth taking the 3rd place trophy in SHW.
WORDS: Chris Simpson
PHOTOGRAPHY: John Patterson