Stuart Martin wins on a tie-break
Introduction A moderately warm day greeted the drivers for round five of the sprint 60 championship. Matt Edmondson-Jones came into this race as the championship leader but a couple of below average races means his lead is dwindling. He would need a good result here to keep the on-form Andrew Hall Jr at bay, as well as the likes of the rapid Stuart Martin and Mike Phillipou. And of course no one can count out the legendary Sir Timothy. Qualifying A sensational performance from Tarik Almou saw him claim the overall pole as well as the Super heavyweight pole. The two Andrew Hall’s were next up with Jr once again quicker than his old man. Mike Philippou was fourth ahead of Jack Noller in sixth. Some notable names further down the grid than expected were the Tims Clark and Hill in seventh and eighth respectively, championship leader Matt Edmondson-Jones 9th and the returning James Taylor in eleventh. Although Taylor was the second fastest super lardy runner. Richard Allen was third of the tubby runners ahead of Christopher Dean and Damien Holmes fourth and fifth. Race 1 Almou made a good start to lead the field away. Andrew Hall Jr maintained second but the senior citizen lost out badly and dropped to sixth behind Philippou, Noller and the fast-starting Edmondson-Jones. Stuart Martin was another driver on the move and made up seven places on the opening lap. Taylor was also looking racy in the early laps. Andrew Hall Jr dived down the inside of Almou on lap three to take the lead. Philippou and Noller took full advantage of an out of position Almou and also got past. Almou nevertheless maintained the chubby class lead. Further back and fellow tubster James Taylor was having a hard time in the midfield and was bumped down to sixteenth. Meanwhile, the leaders were all in close contention. The top four were separated by a few tenths of a second. It was the opportunistic Jack Noller who stuck his nose in and grabbed the lead on lap 10, demoting Hall Jr and Philippou. All the while Edmondson-Jones was watching and waiting to pounce. Almou was well in control of the horizontally challenged runners. Nine places further back was second place Richard Allen. James Taylor was third but coming under increasing pressure from Damien Holmes. Sadly lap 14 saw the end of his race as, in typical fashion, he pulled into the pits and stormed off home. Back up front and the battle for the lead still raged on. The top five were still swapping places and never separated by more than a few tenths. Philippou took his turn to lead, followed by Martin and Edmondson-Jones. Noller was fourth and fending off an attack from Hall. Martin made a move for the lead on lap 16 which allowed Edmondson-Jones and Noller through. Once Martin took control, he quickly established a one second lead over the rest. By half distance, the leaders settled down a bit. Behind the top five, Almou was still running well and comfortably in control of the super heavies. Richard Allen was second in class. Chris Dean, after a slow start to the race, was up to third ahead of Richard Newton, Paul Goddard, Peter Gillett and Damien Holmes who may or may not have contributed to James Taylor’s demise. Tim Hill was running well and managing to hold off Tim Clark. Andrew Hall Sr was a fe seconds further back and defending from Seb Algieri and Philip Hoodless. Over the last ten or so laps, Noller managed to get back past Phlippou and Edmondson-Jones. Stuart Martin had managed to build a lead of over two seconds to win the first race of the day. Noller came home second, half a second clear of Philippou. Race 2 After a false start, Stuart Martin made the best use of his pole position for race 2 to take the early lead. Hall Jr took advantage of being on the inside line to snatch third from Philippou going into turn one. Good starts from Sir Tim and Seb Algieri saw them up to fourth and fifth as the karts completed the opening lap. The first change of lead came on lap 2 when Hall Jr made a move. Tim Clark was also on the move and took both Hill and Algieri for fourth. Over the next few laps, Hall maintained a slender lead over Martin and Philippou. Clark was a second further back but slowly closing the gap to the top three. Noller was fifth ahead of the battling Hill and Algieri. Tarik Almou was running eighth and once again was in command of the super heavyweights. He was a full five karts ahead of Richard Allen in second. Things were extremely close for third in class with Damien Holmes, Chris Dean and Paul Goddard all in contention. Stuart Martin took a dive at Hall Jr on lap eleven to snatch the lead. This allowed Philippou and Tim Clark through as well. The following lap it was Mike Philippou’s turn to get shafted and he lost out to Hall and Clark. This allowed Martin to once again build a small cushion. There was a great midfield battle going on between Stuart Osborn, Daniel Russell and Phil Hoodless. Likewise further back Gerard Moore and Ben Blackwood were having a great duel. The field was extremely close, again demonstrating the level of competition and awesome machinery in Club100 racing. Over the last ten laps the battle for the lead intensified. Clark had closed right in on Martin again and dived down the inside of him on lap 23. Philippou and Hall once again benefitted and Hall took full advantage, making a move for the lead a lap later. The argy bargy between them allowed Noller and Algieri to join the party and Martin soon found himself in trouble. To be honest, the last few laps were a bit of a blur of activity. There were so many passing moves that it was hard to keep track. The upshot is Andrew Hall Jr managed to extend a lead of nearly a second over the last couple of laps while his rivals battled it out. Some opportunistic driving saw Seb Algieri claim an impressive second. Stuart Martin came home third, a fraction ahead of Mike Philippou and jack Noller. Final Result It had been an extremely close day all round. This was reflected in the overall result as Stuart Martin and Andrew Hall Jr tied on points and finishing positions. It therefore had to go to the fastest lap. Stuart Martin was ultimately classified as the winner by one tenth of a second. Hall Jr had to content himself with second (As someone who has lost a victory on track by a hundredth of a second, I can sympathise). A consistent drive in both races saw Mike Philippou take another podium finish in third. Just missing out on the podium was Seb Algieri. Matt Edmondson-Jones finished fifth and still leads the championship but he really needs to get back to his early season form if he’s going to maintain his position in the second half of the year.