Simms Pushed Hard But Winning Continues, Cochrane, Fioravanti & Atkinson Star In Nail Biter!

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Qualifying – Group 1

Championship leader Darri Simms went quickest on his first flying lap and then went even quicker the next time around. Christopher Bell fought hard but would ultimately miss out by 0.024. Andrew Ward was third quickest and was another driver who set his best time early. Ant Lewis ran him close saving his best until his penultimate lap just 0.085 adrift. Fifth went to Daniel Becker a mere 0.034 back and just 0.039 ahead of Adam Wheeldon who was himself just 0.032 up from Jon Watkins. And if these were close then pity Andrew Marshall, 0.001 away from Watkins. Martin and Woodger completed the top ten. The gap between them? 0.002.

C100R517 1484Group 2

For much of the session it looked as though we were going to have another Cornishman at the top of the time sheet but on his last flying lap Liam Cochrane just got ahead of Bobby Dawes. James Venning ran them both close in third with John Foulds only 0.003 behind in fourth. Next up the veteran Andrea Fioravanti from Ben Atkinson who left it very late to set his best time. Oliver Rowlands took seventh ahead of David Darling with Miguel Hall ninth and Marrel Suryokusumo the leading Rookie in tenth. This was also Marrel’s first Club 100 event.

Pre A Final

Championship leader Simms on pole from Bell with Ward and Cochrane on row two. Row three was Lewis and Becker and row four Dawes and Wheeldon. Simms led the field away but it was Cochrane who got off to a real flyer from the outside of row two. As they shot down to turn three he pulled alongside Simms and was through into the lead but it was all for nothing. With several Karts off at the rear of the field a restart was called so the grid formed up again. This time the field got away cleanly. Cochrane couldn’t replicate his first start but did move into third. Simms led from Bell and over the first few laps began to pull away as Bell fought off the attentions of Cochrane. Ward was running fourth ahead of Lewis, Becker, Venning and Dawes. Down the order Fioravanti and Roberts clashed at turn two and spun to the rear of the field. Cochrane was getting really feisty in his pursuit of Bell and almost lost it at the little kink before the tight turn three, dropping his nearside wheel off the kerb and snapping to his right. Coming out of the final corner for third time though he got a better exit and slipped into second at the first turn. Simms was several lengths up the road but Cochrane got his head down and gradually began to close the leader down.

C100R517 1500With three to go he was almost with the leader. Then Simms made a mistake at the pit exit hairpin. Cochrane went for the place and gave Simms a hefty punt up the rear as the latter defended on the ragged edge of control. Simms ran wide but Cochrane gave him enough room to regain the track. All good clean fun. Down into the first turn though Cochrane seized his moment and slid by into the lead. Simms fought back into the tight turn three but it was a half hearted move and as he abandoned the attempt he lost ground. He would later state that he didn’t want to force the issue and risk valuable points racing against someone who wasn’t in the Championship hunt. I can see the logic in this but rumour has it that Liam will be doing the rest of the series. Cochrane took the win then from Simms with the two of them some distance in front of third placed Bell who had Lewis closing in on him towards the end of the race. He’d fought hard to get in front of Ward and once he did he soon began to pull away. Ward took fifth at the head of a string of drivers who had enjoyed a race long battle. From Ward to Watkins in tenth the spread was under a second, Dawes taking sixth from Venning, Becker, and Atkinson.

A Final

The afternoon had remained cloudy and most weather predictions were for rainfall in the early evening. But with a stiff breeze blowing from the west there were suddenly much darker and lower clouds appearing. Sure enough, the first few drops began to fall as the Lightweights began to form up. Fortunately it didn’t last long but it was enough to make the track greasy as the field took the start. Most onlookers predicted a first turn incident due to excitable right feet and sure enough several machines spun to a halt including Championship leader Simms who would later claim that he had been heavily loaded into the turn. Luckily for him with several other Karts off track the Clerk of the Course called a restart and everyone was allowed back into their original positions. Mr. Simms was gutted after his bad luck at Whilton when he got spun out of a podium position on the last lap. But what goes around comes around. When you’re chasing a Championship you need a bit of luck.

C100R517 1717As poleman Cochrane brought the field round for the second start of what would now be a shortened race the rain had all but stopped. Marshall was alongside with Simms and Atkinson on row two. Row three was occupied by Fioravanti and Lewis with Venning and Dawes on four. Cochrane led the field across the line but this time Simms made no mistake and followed him round turn one whilst Marshall on the outside got pushed back to fifth as Atkinson and Fioravanti took full advantage. Second lap and Simms dived to the inside at turn three and was through into the lead. But could he hold on as there is a suspicion amongst his colleagues that he tightens up if he’s under pressure towards the end of a race? Cochrane dropped away a touch as he defended from Atkinson. Indeed on one occasion Atkinson got through but gave his rival quite a shove as he did so. He immediately waved Cochrane back through and resumed the fight. Great sportsmanship. Fioravanti was only just adrift of this battle and the front four were pulling clear of the fight for fifth now led by Marshall. Simms continued at the front but as Fioravanti began to pressure Atkinson for third Cochrane was able to get his head down and concentrate on catching the leader.

C100R517 1519Over the last three laps he reeled him in but Simms could not be denied and held on two win by a fraction over two tenths punching the air as he did so. Pressure? No problem! On the penultimate lap Fioravanti slipped inside Atkinson for third at the pit lane exit hairpin. He was flying at this time setting fastest lap in the process and holding on for his first podium of the season. Atkinson was a slightly ruffled fourth but it was a good result. A podium can’t be far away. Dawes took fifth with Woodger sixth. They’d demoted Marshall on the penultimate lap. Venning Lewis and Becker completed the top ten.

The Championship

With the standings now taking into account dropped scores Simms still remains out front from Chris Bell who did not have the greatest of days at Ellough. Sammy Venables is third but he’s missed the last two rounds. Sam Nash is fourth but he was also missing from Ellough. Jon Watkins is next. He too didn’t have a great day at Ellough. Andrea Fioravanti is next but all these drivers bar the leader have missed at least one round. There will be many twists and turns of fortune in the Lights before this season is over.

C100R517 1905Reflections

What a great days racing. The weather might not have been outstanding but it didn’t detract from a great event. Some fine drives, great sportsmanship and it was good to see family members getting behind their drivers in a good way. I wasn’t able to speak with the lightweight newcomers but I did catch up with two of the heavyweights. Nick Robinson put in great performance and is hoping to be back as is Mat Goodyer whose family were cheering him on from the grandstand. Brother Dan tells me he’s quicker that Mat and is hoping to compete when he loses a kilo or two. Wonder if Mat agrees?
Our thanks to all the staff at Ellough Park for running a fine venue and supplying first class marshalls. And thanks too to all the Club 100 officials who do such a great job. And lets not forget the Kart technicians whose hard work and dedication we sometimes forget. Kart preparation is second to none.
Lastly our congratulations to Elite driver Ian Blake who gets married next weekend. All the very best wishes from everyone. Just don’t forget Ian that Club 100 comes first….

See you all at Clay !!