SUPER-GoaTs Guest for the Content & the Winners’ Trophy.
That might be the main takeaway from Round 6 from a sell out Whilton Mill. But although the E60 may not receive a lot of love and may perhaps be seen as filler in the space of the corona hit Endurance Championship, it may yet come to pass that E60 proves such a popular replacement that it may yet live on as a proper championship in 2021, or at least an off the shelf format for special events. A full grid of 38 karts suggests this championship has merit and is developing it’s own fans from everyone who tries it, and new advocates at every round, reigning Super Final champion, Steve Hicks, “the format is great, SuperGT and I both used it as good practice for Sunday’s sprints”.
The main news in Class A was Murray Knott, who after taking 5 points out of the championship lead of Tarik Almou at Lydd, took another 3 points at Whilton Mill, which has halved Tarik’s lead to 9 points, with 3 rounds to go. In Class B Alex Edwards having lost the championship lead at Lydd, after leading it since Round 1 with his win, returned to the virtual top step with his 2nd win of the season at Whilton Mill to reverse a 4 point deficit to Clive Morphett into 2 point lead. Stuart Kirk is within 9 points of the lead, and a poor round for Matt Horgan may have ended his run for the B title, 44 points down. With 3 rounds to go, it’s still going to be a close run thing.
It’s October. Morning dew. Chilly. Although if initial practice drove like wet it was only because it was cold, it wasn’t really wet, with a little heat in the tyres, and staying off the grass, by the time the field ran into the green light on the 5mins qualifying session Tom Szwed was at the top of the timing sheet with 54.378, but that wasn’t in qualifying where Murray Knott with a statement of intent lead early on, with 54.066. He wouldn’t beat his time, although he would go close, nobody else could beat it either. Szwed first went close with 54.145 on the next lap, a lap later Happy Racing moved into P2 with 54.078, Max Kenney moved on to P3 with 54.088 and Szwed improved his time and his position with 54.084. Alex Edwards was joined by JJ Aiston on row 3, AB Motorsport (including a returning MX5 racer Olly Allwood) was with All Torque Racing on row 4, Steve Brown had struggled for pace, or perhaps ideas for his viewing numbers took primacy, team mate Steve Hicks, “SuperGT only qualified 9th, and was getting quicker each lap. Apparently he was sandbagging for a middle of the grid [position] to make the content good for YouTube.. Believe that if you like..!” with James Johnstone rounding out the top 10. Strangely absent were Matt Wileman P12, Tarik Almou only P14, Naff Taffs only 33rd!?
Off the start SuperGT wasted no time with the full send, out of the turn 1 complex he had weaved in out up to and around Xmas, perhaps his favourite corner, to emerge 4th for the Goats, Knott converting pole position into a gap on leading B class runner Happy Racing, Kenney, at the expense of Szwed and Edwards. Also on the charge Almou with James Johnstone in tow. After some to and fro-ing Max Kenney moved to the lead, with Brown, Knott and Edwards making up a leading quartet. Tarik Almou was 1.7secs behind after passing Happy Racing, whose qualifying pace had not transferred to the race, and was now holding up Tom Szwed, James Johnstone and AB Motorsport. 10minutes in Szwed had moved through the second group to lead it with Almou, over 2secs off the back of 4th place Edwards. Alex had become the leading B Final runner, his main B class rival Clive Morphett was 26th, in the mix Matt Horgan only 20th, Matt reporting, “Absolutely terrible day for me unfortunately, I realised a bit too late that my kart might not have been on the pace so qualified down the order. Everything has been good so far [this season] – I just need more seat time to understand quicker when I might need to swap the kart.” Amen brother we have all wrestled with the ‘is it or isn’t it, quite on the pace, get it tested or get it changed’ dilemma.
By the quarter hour, Brown’s attempt to stretch Kenney had failed but Max had been towing Knott around as they’d started to drop Edwards, only for Murray to dive through for 2nd, and although his lead went back out over second, it started to edge back down. Hicks again, “Steve got into the lead but then Murray chased him back down and got past again”, at around the 25min mark. Behind often matching their pace while working his way up the order Tom Szwed had moved passed Edwards then Kenney to be 3rd place 3.5secs off the lead, Kenney couldn’t live with the high 53 pace, nor Edwards, a further 4secs behind AB Motorsport were towing Almou. Having started 33rd Naff Taffs had moved through to P8, on 54 flat pace, but their damage had been done in qualifying they were 16secs off the lead, coming through in their wake Matt Wileman was 9th, James Johnstone made up the top 10.
There had been little movement toward pit lane when the window had opened, Aiston and Chris Lewis Evans were the first and generally the only visitors, they’d both cling on to the lead lap, Morphett had pitted from 20th to return behind JJ in 23rd 36secs off the lead. Elliott Wilson and Jason Kirk pitted from 11th and 12th, and returned behind Aiston, but none of leading players. At half distance that all changed.
Goats’ Steve Hicks again, “We stopped first and then Murray stopped a lap later”, Hicks returned 5th behind Edwards 9secs up the road, but out ahead of Naff Taffs, “Steve [Brown] being 3ft taller than me meant we had to make a pedal position compromise to have a chance against the solo racers who don’t have to swap”, it meant no time to mess with pedals. And indeed Knott exited pit lane 1.4secs ahead at the timing beam, but was still accelerating into turn 1 as Hicks arrived at full tilt behind, the gap was just a couple of tenths at the end of Murray’s out lap. Szwed led Kenney by 1.1 and Edwards by 4.4. Tom dived into pit lane to leave Kenney on the front, he returned 6th by Johnstone, and 4secs again behind Hicks. Kenney peeled off and beat Szwed off pit lane, a couple of laps later Edwards returned from pitlane in 6th place 2.2secs behind Szwed, but with Class B in the bag, crucially, his nearest rival in the class was Ramunas Cerkauskas running with Mel Broxis in 13th and 14th, and this was really where Class B began, Elliot Wilson was 16th, Stuart Kirk 17th, Howards Mitchell, Clive Morphett, Happy Racing 19th, 20th and 21st respectively.
Up front Knott’s lead was half a second, James Johnstone was 2.5secs off the lead but owed everyone a chain lube stop, before that though, there was a change for the lead, briefly at any rate, Hicks again, “I stalked Murray through the traffic for about 20mins after figuring out I wouldn’t pull away from him in a clean fight, and thought clever traffic management might be the key. I had a go a Xmas and tried to make a break for it, but Andy Mather had other ideas doing his best to wipe me out having his own attempt while having his own accident a lap down at Xmas/Kink and I was back to back down to 2nd.” Matt Horgan, “Andy’s spin had left me nowhere to go but hit him and it ended up bending my steering and I had to get a replacement kart. The only plus side was in the new kart I was around 8 tenths faster so I’m happy that I might have had the pace under different circumstances. It’s made my run on the Class B championship more ‘interesting’!”
Johnstone left it to the last moment to pit, he’d been passed by Szwed for 3rd a lap or so before, James returned behind JJ Aiston in 9th place 22secs off the lead, ahead Knott and Hicks were carving through traffic together, Szwed had got the gap to the leaders down to 2.6secs, he’d not figure in the battle for the win, unless the pair collected or were collected by each other or back markers, Max Kenney was 2secs behind him, Alex Edwards was heading for the Class B honours, a further 5secs behind, Tarik Almou was cruising in a safe 6th place, AB Motorsport perhaps the only other battle in the top 10 with Naff Taffs.
So about the finish, Hicks again, “I got back to the lead, amongst traffic at Xmas, and tried to break Murray but could never get more than a 0.3s lead”, setting up a big finish and a close one at that. “On the last lap he had a good run on me and I had to defend hard for the whole lap. I over defended The Boot and a potentially slightly controversial finish” or rather last corner. “He got a good run and half a kart overlap on me on the outside into the final corner, I didn’t lift, there was a bit of nibbling of the inside kerb and there was some contact between us, [but] Mutley saw it all and called no penalty, and I wouldn’t have complained if there had been one. Murray didn’t complain about it afterwards I think he knew was rolling the dice” and it was the last corner of the last lap. Elbows out.
Behind it played as hinted at earlier, Tom Szwed chipped in and out with the traffic on a similar pace, staying around 2secs down, until Hicks went full defensive, 54 flat pace turned into a last 56secs lap and Tom rushed up to finish just two tenths off, another couple of corners, etc, etc. only for a cone penalty to be applied that dropped behind Max Kenney, so thats probably just as well it didn’t go another couple of corners. Then again Kenney had multiple penalties to be applied, Max would drop to 7th promoting Alex Edwards B class win 5th on the road to 3rd place on the road, but being Class B it meant Tom got the 3rd place anyway! Tarik Almou, Naff Taffs, AB Motorsport, JJ Aiston, the latter in 9th finishing in a line. Tarik had no penalties for a change, and would be classified 5th, Naff Taffs, Kenney, AB, Aiston and Matt Wileman rounded out the top ten. Elliot Wilson and Clive Morphett (cone penalty) was replaced by Stuart Kirk on the class B podium, and that helps keep him the title hunt.
WORDS: Chris Simpson
PHOTOGRAPHY: John Patterson