The Sunshine State Of James Small

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Clubman Class rotated back to share the morning session with Lightweights, although it was nearly noon before Heat 1 took to the track it’s morning for us. A healthy 19 on the grid, former European KF3 Junior works Birel driver James DeHavillande adding some karting ‘cred’ to the class, along with some Club100 ‘cred’ of our own in Jon Pethick, 2007 Lightweight, who I’m pretty sure has had runs in Premier Class before off and on, Chris Daines, described to me as one of Anwar’s crowd – probably useful then… Not that the class was lacking for credibility in any case. Someone was smiling on Small giving him pole, but it’s swings and roundabouts as it came with Andy Cowell on the front row with him so James got the hole shot but Andy was going hard from the lights and he led Adam Nakar into the Esses. The 3 pulled clear of Oliver Knights under pressure initially from Ed Barrs but that proved counter productive for Ed, just setting himself up for a rapid (rocket) Russell Endean to sneak passed as Ed was baulked in his move by Oliver, lost momentum and got overtaken. Daines and DeHavillande acquainted themselves with each other fighting over 8th place and watching Rhianna Purrocks pull clear ahead. The front 3 stayed pretty much as they were, a faint here and there from Nakar or Small, a little narrower and there from Cowell to keep in front yet kept them a few kart lengths clear of Knights as he held the field at arms length until Endean got through in hairpin 2. Russell dropped Knights in short order and closed rapidly on leading trio to make it a 4 way dice. Small moved up to 2nd, Endean to 3rd. But Adam wasn’t finished, on to the final lap Cowell covered up inside into turn 1, and Small possibly unaware Russell closing so quickly left enough room for Russell to get in on Andy’s bumper. James, pinned on the outside for hairpin 1, was vulnerable to 3 wide with Adam coming from the outside to underneath the pair on the exit hairpin to out drag them to inside into the Esses. Back in 2nd, and Cowell was clear to the win.

C100Buck-2905Tyler Mays was in pole position on the flipped grid of Heat 2, Mike Bodnar appeared to comically oil up on the outside line such that whole inside line beat him across the start line. Kart change. With the return of Bodnar only Mays got the drop on Mike on the 2nd start, Pethick, Daines, Endean and Truman loaded each other up into the 2nd hairpin, Daines crawled out but the group were left group left behind. Regrid. Start 3, grid 2 Bodnar lost out to Longman, Steve Townsend, James Haslehurst and Hurlock before turn 2. He had the inside for hairpin 2 to hold DeHavillande off for 6th although he’d lose that up to Cafe Curve at the end of the lap. Mays was clear of Longman, who in turn was clear of Townsend. Then Haslehurst got through to 3rd at Paddock, Hurlock demoted Townsend at the 2nd attempt up at turn 1. Longman looked for the lead, and it looked only a matter of time, Tyler was on the defensive and permanently narrow into every corner which just invited in Hurlock and slowed them some more. So DeHavillande could pick off Haslehurst to go 4th and left Haslehurst in charge of the pack with Osborn and Townsend. Hurlock forced a pass on Longman into Paddock, who was determined to make the exit as narrow as possible so before either knew it DeHavillande had jumped them both inside of Garda. That just left the question could James catch Tyler before the finish of the 8 laps for the win? Errr… Yes. Up to Cafe Curve. But Tyler got to the chequered flag first.

C100Buck-2631James DeHavillande had pole position for the Pre Final and that’s all you really need to know in hindsight. He was helped immeasurably by the slow run up to the start which left Russell Endean on grid 2, hardly a novice, all bogged down. He swooped across Adam Nakar on grid 7 when he got going, into turn 1. Lose 3 spots hung out on the outside of turn 1, or 3 before the start, I don’t suppose it matters. DeHavillande, Tyler Mays and James Small filled their boots in the inside line into turn 1 and Oliver Knights, James Haslehurst, Danny Hurlock and Andy Cowell boiled up behind the grid 2 man not wanting to break formation before the start line. Endean retrieved a spot in the switchback of hairpins from Small. But going, if not already gone, DeHavillande swept through Symes and then Pullmans half dozen kart lengths in front of Mays. Tyler, who was struggling, Endean edging him out into turn 1 and then Tyler was fighting hard side by side through the Esses to hold off Small. This was good for Oliver Knights as he joined in from behind. Jon Pethick passed and dropped Nakar for 6th. Small moved up to 3rd and Mays backed Knights initially into Pethick only for Andy Cowell to get in the mix. Small had quickly run Endean down and his Clay pace was clearly no flash in the pan. Mays fell away into holding off Oliver Knights but with Andy Cowell’s intervention on Knights it gave Tyler a chance to get away again. It ought to have been Knights and Cowell chasing Tyler back down for 4th but it would be Jon Pethick. Oliver had got a poor run off Paddock, Andy a good one, despite Knights making it narrow, Andy went inside into Garda, they rubbed side pods passed the apex and with that and impeccable timing Jon nipped by Andy on the outside into Senna, only for Andy to stubbornly stuck his nose in, no contact, but he rattled over the inside kerb, then rode up over the left rear corner of Pethick and spun backwards into the barrier before the cut through. Still he was free to go look for a fast lap for the remainder of the Pre Final. Adam Nakar moved into 6th ahead Oliver after checking up behind Andy before Cafe Curve. Ahead Endean was defending hard and cheekily suggesting to Small that he should work with him to catch DeHavillande, like Small needed his help? Rather he needed Russell to concede! It wasn’t going to fly and with Mays and Pethick closing in rapidly, James needed to out think Russell to get through his effective defence. Pethick was posed with the same issue with Mays and this allowed Endean and Small to return to single combat for a while and also backed Pethick into Knights before they all came back together into a five way dice due Russell’s increasingly narrow, if not slightly desperate defending. It has to be said the upturn palm from Russell off Garda suggests a slightly desperate nudge from James, Jon Pethick was coming with him into 3rd place, but there was no penalty and it was the last lap. James DeHavillande? Oh yeah, he won by 6.3secs… Andy Cowell had fastest lap and pole position for the final.

C100Buck-2856James DeHavillande was well placed to repeat his Pre Final win on the front row for the Final but he completely missed the start and was hung out to dry by the pole man, as soon often happens with the short run to turn 1, a long right hander, and Andy Cowell with the 5 karts behind him left James sliding down the outside of the inside line out of the exit of turn 1, in 7th place. He never really got going. Cowell himself could not hold off the leading group and on to lap 2 he couldn’t hold his line through turn 1, or he was gently nudged from it by Small? Regardless Pethick wasn’t letting Andy have James’ bumper through the infield hairpins and he was ably assisted in the play by Endean and Steve Townsend. Then Endean launched one down the inside of Cowell into Paddock that let James Small get clear even if Russell’s move failed. It was only lap 2, but James Small remained out of reach to the finish. It was a hard fought opening with Rhianna Purcocks, DeHavillande, Hurlock and David Longman wanting to move forward to contend but it was easy to get caught up in 2-3-4 kart dice in the midfield and before you knew it – that was all your race. Pethick took to the kerbs to force a pass on Cowell to go 2nd, Endean getting through as well but driving smarter, looking tidier and going faster was Oliver Knights who worked his way through the top 6 as the race unwound principally by diving for an early apex of hairpin 1 and moving on to the next kart. It was simple and his victims were powerless to respond before he was gone. First Cowell, then Endean and later Pethick all in the same place. It was well rehearsed and well executed. Unfortunately for Oliver James Small was just as quick and far enough up the road that Oliver was nowhere near to using it a 4th time. Jon Pethick joined them on the podium, Russell Endean, Andy Cowell and Rhianna Purrocks rounded out the top 6.

Next stop is Llandow Circuit, South Wales on 30 August 2015.