The Mike Coppin Era Begins. And it will be very Blue.
How fantastic is it to be back on track?! On a day blessed with near perfect conditions just for a day the trials and tribulations of these strange days could almost be forgotten as racing resumed after the enforced break.
Firstly though I need to apologise to Jason Bradbury. At Buckmore Park during the first round he had a rather nasty shunt at the top of the hill resulting in his helmet coming off. I was quite critical of him forgetting to fasten it securely and he contacted me after the report came out to assure me that his helmet was fastened and it was the force of the impact that had caused the helmet to come off. If I get something wrong I am always happy to be corrected and always happy to apologise if I have inadvertently offended someone.
First up for the morning session the Lightweights.
The Road to the Finals
Ed Barrs took the first heat of the day but it was a far from straightforward victory. Dan Healey started from pole with Barrs alongside. The lead changed hands several times before Barrs eventually prevailed. Ashley White took a lonely third. After starting on grid six he was up to third by the end of the first lap. He was unable to match the leaders for pace but was well clear of fourth placed Christopher Powell who had worked his way steadily up from grid eleven. Stephen Westwood took fifth after an eventful drive. Starting from grid twelve he was up to fifth by the end of the first lap. Then he dropped to sixth before moving up to fourth and then dropping to seventh with two laps to go.
Heat 2 went to Chris Woodger with Ben Atkinson second. Pole man Hussain Rashid spun away his chances with Woodger taking over at the front after starting from the second row. Atkinson had started from the front but after slipping into second there he stayed. Championship leader Daz Teal opened his account with third after starting from grid eight. He held off a late race challenge from Mike Coppin who made his way up from grid twelve. Stef Theodourou was placed fifth after Rob Langthorp took a penalty for cone abuse.
Heat 3 went to Joshua Craft. Starting from the second row he was at the front by the end of lap two and never headed. James Wattis chased him home but could never get on terms. Matt Wileman took third but another lap and it might have been different as he crossed the line just 0.090 ahead of Tom Fuller who had worked his way up from grid twelve. Fifth went to Martin Theodorou.
Rhianna Purcocks took Heat 4 but it was a far from straightforward win. Dan Truman led from pole in the early stages before Purcocks moved to the front after starting on the second row. Truman slipped back to fourth behind Mikey Nichols who had moved smartly up from grid eight. Whilst the race was a procession it was still absorbing. Purcocks crossed the line just a Kart length up on Chris Alcock who had started alongside Truman. Nichols took third with Truman next from Lloyd McGeoch-Williams.
Mike Coppin took Heat 5 in some style with a lights to flag victory. Aymen Salih chased him throughout the race only to lose out over the final lap to Martin Theodorou, Ben Atkinson and Fraser Brunton. Brunton however took a four place penalty promoting Salih back to fourth and Joshua Craft to fifth
Heat 6 was a lights to flag win for Stephen Westwood. But he was made to work hard for it as Bailey Morgan harassed him all the way just missing out by a tenth of a second. Ed Barrs took third after working his way up from grid nine but he couldn’t get on terms with the leaders. James Grant took fourth with Stef Theodorou fifth.
Heat 7 went to Dan Healey. Starting from row four he took a couple of laps to work his way forward. Once at the front though he drove away to take the win over three seconds clear of Rhianna Purcocks. She and Chris Alcock had mighty fight for second. Purcocks led for most of the way chased hard by Alcock who finally got by with two laps left. But Purcocks wasn’t to be beaten and forced her way back into second. Alcock missed out badly slipping behind Matt Wileman and Nicholas Evans.
Josh Adams took the win in Heat 8. And what a heat it was too. Both front row starters missed out badly on the first lap. Pole man Tom Fuller fell back to fifth and never recovered whilst fellow front row sitter Jason Bradbury spun down the order. Adams led at the end of the first lap after starting from the second row but a lap later James Martin took over at the front. Behind these two Pietro Pagano and Mikey Nichols were duelling over third whilst not letting the leaders make a break. Pagano even led for a lap before Adams took the place back as Martin dropped to third. Adams went back to the front on the penultimate and stayed there beating Pagano to the flag by just over a tenth. Dan Brewer came home third after fighting his way up from grid twelve with Martin fourth from Reece Pope.
Heat 9 went to Fraser Brunton. Starting from the second row he was ahead by the end of the first lap and there he stayed. Christopher Powell came home second courtesy of a last lap pass on James Wattis who ran second for much of the race. Andrew Ward took fourth with James Grant fifth.
Martin Theodorou finally picked up a win in Heat 10. He ran third for much of the race as Ashley White and Dan Brewer kept swapping the lead. Penultimate lap and Theodorou took them both whilst White took Brewer on the line for second by 0.089. Adrian Mertens took fourth with Dan Truman fifth after starting from grid thirteen.
The penultimate heat fell to Mike Coppin. Starting from grid seven he was into first by the end of the first lap ahead of pole man Daz Teal. Teal came back at him though and retook the lead second time around. But only for a lap. Coppin took the place back and there he stayed all the way to the flag edging out Teal by a couple of Kart lengths. Ed Barrs took third after running there for the majority of the race. He could not quite get on terms with the leaders despite setting the fastest lap of the race. Mikey Nichols took another valuable points haul with fourth whilst Dan Healey took fifth after starting from grid eleven.
Steve Hicks finally got his act together to take a dominant win in the final heat. He’d not had a great day up to that point. James Martin took second after battling past Pietro Pagano mid race. Pagano held on to third with Oscar Lancaster fourth from Hussain Rashid.
Lightweight C Final
Eric Mignon sat on pole for the first final of the day. One of a number of drivers on sixty one points after the heats he missed out on the B Final by virtue of a slower fastest lap. Aymen Salih lined up alongside him. James Cook and Rob Dowsett shared row two. Cameron Ross and Jason Bradbury lined up on row three the latter having suffered in his final heat when he was called into the pits during the race. Ironically to have his helmet fastened! Tommy Welsh and Jed Toole were on four with Ramunas Cerkauskas and Luke Dunnett behind on row five. James Browning and Jack Mcintyre shared the sixth row from Jake Wilkins and Greg Smith on row seven. Row eight saw Rogeiro Mendes alongside Edward Raprager. Sam Morris and Ned Douglas occupied row nine with the tenth row shared by Luke Branch and Russell Cooper. Jack Goble and Luke Philips were on row eleven whilst the penultimate row was shared by Sam Bentham and Thomas Partridge with Pete Crompton and Cameron Williams bringing up the rear. Top four to qualify for the B Final.
Mignon brought the pack up to the line and was swiftly away tailed by Salih. By the end of the lap he was still out front but Dowsett and Bradbury had used all their experience but to move up to second and third respectively whilst Salih fell to fourth. Moss remained fifth from Cook, Toole, Welsh and Cerkauskas. Second time around and these three would tangle round the pits hairpin and fall back down the order and out of contention. Third time around and Mignon still led but Bradbury was up to second and looking very threatening. Dowsett was third from Salih with Moss fifth and pulling away from sixth placed Cook. The next two tours would prove to be Mignons undoing. Bradbury, Dowsett and Salih all went by and a lap later the former leader was down to sixth behind Moss and Cook having clearly lost his rhythm. Half distance and Bradbury was pulling clear at the front running just over three seconds ahead of second placed Dowsett who was in turn a couple of seconds clear from what was developing into fine battle for the final two qualifying spots between Salih, Moss, a recovering Mignon, Cook and Dunnett. And still not out of the reckoning was Smith who had worked his way up from grid fourteen.
Four to go and barring incidents Bradbury was going to take the win whilst Dowsett looked equally safe. Although four seconds back from the leader he was a couple of seconds up on Salih, Moss, Mignon, Cook and Smith. Dunnett was falling back but still just in touch. Two to go and Bradbury was running clear with Dowsett still second from Salih but Cook was up to fourth having taken full advantage as Moss and Mignon held each other up fighting over fourth. Smith remained seventh unable to gain ground. Penultimate lap and the top two were settled but Salih was coming under pressure from Cook. Both looked safely through though with Mignon almost a second back in fifth. Bradbury took the win almost six seconds clear at the flag setting fastest lap in the process with Dowsett a comfortable second. Salih took third with Cook the final qualifier after settling for fourth. Mignon fought back over the final couple of laps but had to settle for fifth with Smith next from Moss who then found himself penalised four places down to eleventh. Mcintyre, Dunnett, Wilkins and Morris completed the top ten. But still the drama wasn’t done. Third placed Salih was found to be underweight and excluded promoting Mignon into fourth and Moss back up to tenth.
Pole for Adrian Mertens with Andrew Ward alongside. Lloyd McGeoch-Williams and Dan Seager shared row two with Tom Fuller and Hussain Rashid on row three. James Grant and Callum Brewell occupied row four with Peter Hargreaves and Oscar Lancaster on row five. Row six saw Dan Truman alongside Nicholas Evans. Next up Reece Pope and Andrew Rabbage. Nial Tuohy shared row eight with Joel Davis from Alex Simmons and Roger Davis. Mathew Collier and Rob Langthorp were on row ten with Chris Dixon and Nik Hoyle on row eleven. The final two rows were occupied by the qualifiers from the B Final, Bradbury, Dowsett, Cook and Mignon. Top two to qualify for the back of the A Final.
Mertens led the pack away with Ward tucking into second ahead of McGeoch-Williams. Seager lost out badly round the first turns and was down to eighth whilst Fuller moved up to fourth. With three laps run Mertens was building a gap at the front as Ward came under increasing pressure from McGeoch-Williams. Hargreaves was up to fourth from Rashid, Grant and Truman as Fuller dropped to seventh. Next time around Mertens was still clear at the front but Ward had cut the gap and set his best lap of the race thus far in his efforts to move clear of McGeoch-Williams who was now looking over his shoulder at Hargreaves. And Truman was up to fifth and closing in. In his haste to move up he put a move on Hargreaves which failed to come off.
Rashid was instantly by but only for a lap as Truman turned up the pressure sweeping past both Rashid and McGeoch-Williams in the space of a lap. Half distance and Mertens was over three seconds clear with Ward still second but being caught by Truman. Mc Geoch-williams was fourth but losing ground to Truman whilst Rashid was next but carrying as cone penalty effectively ending any of his hopes of qualifying for the A Final. Mertens continued to edge clear at the front as Ward fell back into the clutches. Across the line for the ninth time and Truman was alongside. As they turned into Clubhouse hairpin he was through. By the end of the lap he was over a half second clear but over four seconds adrift of the leader. He would cut the gap over the remaining laps but it was not enough. Mertens took the win with Truman second over two seconds clear of Ward. Rashid was next across the line but his penalty dropped him to fifth behind Hargreaves with Grant sixth from McGeoch-Williams. Pope was next followed by Roger Davis and Dixon.
Mike Coppin on pole from reigning Champion Ed Barrs. Dan Healey and the first of the Class two runners Martin Theodorou shared the second row. Rhianna Purcocks and Ben Atkinson occupied row three with Joshua Craft and Dan Brewer on four. Championship leader Daz Teal was on five alongside Pietro Pagano. Row six, Ashley White and Mikey Nichols with Christopher Powell and Stephen Westwood on row seven. Next up, Chris Alcock and Fraser Brunton followed by James Martin and Chris Woodger. Stef Theodorou and Matt Wileman shared row ten with Bailey Morgan alongside Steve Hicks. Josh Adams and James Wattis were on the penultimate row followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final, Mertens and Truman.
Coppin led the pack away but by the end of the lap Healey had moved ahead of Barrs into second. Purcocks was ahead of Theodorou with Atkinson holding station in sixth. Crafts hard work in the heats came to nought as he spun out of seventh. Teal fell back down the order leaving himself an awful lot of work if he was to maintain his Championship lead. Coppin still led but Healey was putting him under increasing pressure and moved to the front third time around with Barrs third only a few lengths adrift. Purcocks remained fourth from Theodorou. Healey and Coppin were almost line astern with Coppin continually indicating that they should work together and try to pull a gap to third placed Barrs. Half distance and the strategy appeared to be bearing fruit. But it was berry sized rather than melon. Healey was a tenth up with Barrs just under half a second back from Coppin. Purcocks remained fourth. She had dropped Theodorou who now had Pagano on his rear bumper. And closing in on both of them was Alcock having worked his way up from grid fifteen. Healey and Coppin had the gap back to Barrs at over a second and Coppin was now intent on making a move for the lead crossing the line just 0.090 behind Healey. Down into the final turns at end of the lap Coppin made his move.
Healey defended hard and both were slowed allowing Barrs to close up. Coppin got better drive off the corner to lead by half a Kart with Barrs only Kart length back from them both. And Purcocks couldn’t be discounted either should the front three trip themselves up. Pagano was fifth but some three seconds back and holding off the advances of Alcock. Penultimate lap and Coppin had opened up a gap but Healey was having to defend from Barrs. Down the bottom of the circuit and Barrs made it by almost taking Purcocks with him. Healey hung on. But only just. Coppin pulled clear taking a well judged win by over a second. A fine drive this giving him his first ever Sprint win in Club100 and laying down a marker for the rest of the season. Barrs hung onto second despite the efforts of Healey who made a do or die bid for the place on the final lap only to be rebuffed and lose a podium spot to Purcocks in the process. Great, fair racing from them all. Alcock took fifth from Pagano crossing the line just 0.087 ahead in what was arguably the comeback drive of the race. Had he qualified better he would surely have been in the mix for the win. Brewer took seventh with Martin Theodorou eighth and taking the Class two honours with White ninth and second in C2. Teal took tenth with Hicks next almost alongside him as they crossed the line. Not the greatest of days for these two stalwarts but they’ll be back. As will Dan Truman who set the fastest lap of the race on his way through the field. Mikey Nichols took third in the C2 class with Mertens setting fastest lap.
Mike Coppin’s win takes him to the top of the standings with Ed Barrs second and Daz Teal third from Dan Healey and Chris Alcock.
Fraser Brunton heads the Class 2 runners from Ben Atkinson with Ashley White third ahead of Mikey Nichols and Hussain Rashid.
In Class 3 Niall Tuohy leads the way from Andrew Rabbage, Greg Smith, Jed Toole and Ramunas Cerkauskas.
Niall Tuohy topped the C3 podium at Shenington with Andrew Rabbage third from James Cook. And all three made it to the B Final. A great effort.
A great days racing brilliantly organised. Sorting out how to keep everyone safe in these strange times must have been a nightmare but I think everything went smoothly and everyone used their common sense. Hats off to JV and the team and all at Shenington. Sadly there is a long way to go before life is back to normal but at least we are racing again.
See you all at Clay!!
WORDS: Steve Gray
PHOTOGRAPHY: John Patterson