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This Is It!!!

The season finale and the traditional end of season round at ‘’Buckers.’’ Love this track even though it’s almost always cold and damp when we visit. Great facilities from my point of view too as I can see all of the top part of the circuit from race control where there is a multiple camera feed allowing me to see the bottom part of the circuit too. The heavies had to contend with an early morning mist before the sun came out whilst the lights had to race for most of the afternoon under the lights. With most Championships settled it was the Heavyweights who would be taking centre stage. Could Anwar Beroual-Smith hang on to his slender Championship lead or would reigning Champion Joe Holmes claim a sixth title? And would Richard Alien spoil it for them both. His chance was a slim one but he had nothing to lose.

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The Road to the Finals.

What a way to start the Championship showdown. Championship leader Anwar Beroual-Smith and defending Champion Joe Holmes both in the same heat. Would there be fireworks this early in the day? Holmes started from the front row with Beroual-Smith back on grid six. Holmes went into an immediate lead off the line whilst Beroual-Smith made up just a single place first time around. But whilst Holmes immediately began to pull clear at the front Beroual-Smith worked his way through the pack and up to second third time around. Holmes was just over four seconds up the road. The gap stabilised for a few laps before Holmes gradually edged further clear only for Beroual-Smith to pull out the fastest lap of the race final time around some four tenths quicker than Holmes. Points for Holmes and fastest lap for Beroual-Smith. Pole–sitter Steve Lindley came home a very distant third with Elliott Alt fourth after starting there. Initially he fell to seventh before fighting back for a very creditable result. Paul Williams was fifth after a very entertaining run which saw him start ninth, move up to fourth, drop back to seventh and then move forward again over the final laps.

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C2 Championship leader Curt Holmes started Heat Two from pole but fell back behind his nearest challenger Mikey Nichols at the start. But he went back into the lead third time around and never looked back. Chris Alcock was second after working his way up from grid eight. Nichols crossed the line third but a cone penalty dropped him to fourth behind Tim Penny who had finished some elevens seconds behind. Steve Bosley was fifth.

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Third in the standings Richard Allen still had a very outside chance of taking the title but he needed to be on top form and hope his rivals seriously faltered. Starting from the second row in Heat Three he went to the front two laps in and was never threatened again. On a drying track he also set the fastest lap. Advantage Allen in the race for pole? Well not quite. Tim Williams came home second after a strong drive up from grid nine. Callan Sigafoos was next over the line but two advantage by contact penalties saw him excluded from the results and promoted Darrell Lowe to third from Tim Hill and Andrew Hicks.

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Joe Bailey took the win in the fourth heat. He took over at the front from early leader Nickolas Walker down at the bottom of the circuit as Walker and Alex Pritchard slowed each other battling for the lead allowing Bailey to slip by. Jacob Harris also benefited but into the first turn fifth time around Harris went wide onto the damp part of the turn and speared into the barrier ending his race. Fortunately the Kart fared worse than him. Bailey ran clear to take the victory with Pritchard second from Phil Ingram, Andrew Cherry and David Longman. Bailey set fastest lap, quicker than in the previous three heats giving him the lead in the race for pole.

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Heat Five resulted in a comfortable win for Anwar Beroual-Smith. Starting from grid seven he was first by the end of the first lap and then pulled clear to win by over five seconds from pole sitter Tim Penny. James Radovic claimed third after an entertaining battle with Steve Lindley which saw the latter cross the line ahead only to lose the place after a cone penalty. Alexander Lammin was fifth.

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Joe Holmes made it two wins from two starts winning the sixth heat after working his way through from the third row. Chris Alcock chased him home. He led the heat for a while before Holmes went by. Curt Holmes was next over the line but a penalty cost him four places and promoted Tim Hill to fourth ahead of Mikey Nichols.

Richard Allen had to win the seventh heat to keep his slim Championship hopes alive. Starting from grid nine he was fourth at the end of the first lap and then third a lap later. But the very experienced David Longman had started from pole and was well up the road. Allen took Richard Newton for second at half distance but was over four seconds adrift of the leader. He gave it everything over the final laps but was still eight tenths adrift at the flag. Newton remained third with Alex Pritchard next over the line but collecting so many penalties he was classified sixteenth! A shocker. Callan Sigafoos moved up to fourth with Nicholas Walker fifth.

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Phil Ingram was a comfortable winner of Heat Eight leading all the way from lap two. Steve Bosley crossed the line second after a last lap pass on Joe Bailey. But it was all in vain as a two place penalty for advantage by exceeding track limits saw him drop to fourth and promote Bailey to second ahead of Tim Williams with Elliott Alt fifth after another excellent drive.

With two wins from two starts Joe Holmes now led the race for pole.

Heat Nine went to SHW Champion elect Bill Taylor. He led two laps with Curt Holmes running second but over a second back. Over the rest of the heat Holmes cut the gap every lap finally taking the lead the final time around. But a four place penalty saw him drop to fifth and promote Taylor back to first for the win. Mikey Nichols was second with Tom Angier next over the line but penalised to sixth promoting Alexander Lammin to third and Paul Williams to fourth.

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Three wins from three starts for Joe Holmes then as he comfortably outpaced the pack in Heat Ten leading Jacob Harris home by over four seconds to secure pole for the A Final. Harris ran second from lights to flag with Tim Hill running third for a time before dropping back and then dropping out after a nasty shunt backwards into the tyres at turn one. A good advert for neck braces when you see how his neck extends at the point of impact. Tim was very fortunate not to sustain lasting damage. Chris Alcock was third from Dan Hollinshead and Heinrich Watson-Miller.

The penultimate heat of the day went to Anwar Beroual-Smith. Much needed. He took the lead on the first lap and was never headed leading home Steve Bosley by over three seconds. It would be enough to put him on the front row and set up a thrilling final. Tim Williams was third from Steve Lindley whilst Alex Pritchard crossed the line fifth only to be hit with another penalty and drop down the order. Richard Newton was promoted to fifth.

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Phil Ingram won the final heat but only after a cone penalty demoted race long leader Richard Allen to second. The win gave Ingram a spot on the second row for the Final behind Joe Holmes and alongside Allen. Elliott Alt had another strong result finishing fourth and then being promoted to third after a penalty to Samuel Bensley. Mike Bodnar and Lennie Wood completed the top five.

The Finals

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C Final

(All drivers in C3 unless otherwise noted)

SHW Vinod Hirani on pole from Antonio Gizzonio with Mathew Batter and Matt Griffiths on row two. C3 Championship leader Richard Neale shared the third row with Shane Cotter followed by Tom Jobson and Josh Lamorena on the fourth row. Nathan Teague and Richard Pain shared row five followed on the penultimate row by Richard Melton and C2 Callan Sigafoos. The final spot on the grid was occupied by Steven Salway. Top four to qualify for the back of the A Final and a trophy for the winner.

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Hirani brought the field up to the line but it was Gizzonio who made the better start. Too good as it turned as he was ahead as he and the pole sitter crossed the start line. Hirani had an awful start losing out badly through the first turns and dropping to eighth whilst Cotter moved through the pack quickly to lead by the end of the lap. Batter too had a bad first lap dropping to seventh. Griffiths was up to second with Gizzonio third and gesticulating at race control when he saw his penalty on the board. Oh no Antonio, the timing beam doesn’t lie. Sigafoos was up to sixth. Second time around and Gizzonio put a move on Griffiths at hairpin one. It was not without contact but as they went into hairpin two Griffiths attempted to take second back but only succeeded in losing control and spinning. He resumed tenth. Gizzonio was rightly penalised putting him out of contention for a top four finish.

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Quarter distance and Cotter had moved himself clear of the penalised Gizzonio at the front with Neale third and putting pressure on Gizzonio. Sigafoos was up to fourth, setting faster laps and moving clear of fifth placed Batter. Cotter continued to extend his lead at the front aided by the penalised Gizzonio holding up the pack. Sigafoos continued his climb up the order nipping by Neale at the bottom of the circuit. A couple of laps later he went by Gizzonio for second, after the latter ran wide in the hairpins, and set about cutting the gap to the leader. Gizzonio was now coming under pressure from Neale with Batter just a tenth back. Neale finally displaced Gizzonio with four to go. Batter ran fifth but he’d picked up a penalty for multiple contacts and needed to be second to advance. By this time the leading five were over six seconds clear of the chasing pack. But with Gizzonio and Batter both carrying penalties there was still a qualifying place up for grabs.

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Final lap and Cotter’s lead at the front had been cut to under a second by the flying Sigafoos. Neale had been dropped and was over three seconds adrift after his battle with Gizzonio. Batter was fifth with Jobson sixth from Lamorena, Griffiths and Salway. Griffiths was pushing hard over the final laps and went up the inside of Lamorena for seventh at hairpin two. And he wasn’t done as he took Jobson on the run up the hill to the finish. Cotter the winner then with a faultless drive. Sigafoos crossed the line second but a cone penalty demoted him to third and promoted third place on the road Neale to second. Gizzonio was next over the line but penalties dropped him to tenth. Batter crossed the line fifth but penalties dropped him to sixth and promoted Griffiths into the final qualifying spot ahead of Jobson. Fastest lap overall went to Sigafoos.

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C Final Winner – Shane Cotter

B Final

(All drivers in C2 unless otherwise noted)

C3 James Radovic on pole with Samuel Bensley alongside. Row two had SHW Lee Henderson alongside Andrew Cherry followed by C3 Heinrich Watson-Miller and Lawrence Cheah on row three. C3 Scott Parker shared the fourth row with SHW Stuart Kirk. Row five had C1 Alex Pritchard alongside C3 Jonathan Wilson with SHW Adrian Wray alongside C3 Tom Angier on row six. C2 Jacob Harris shared row seven with C3 Andrew Hicks the latter needing a strong result to edge out Richard Neale for the C3 Championship crown. Row eight had C3 Marcus Narris alongside C3 Luke Elliott followed by C3’s James Antwis and Mo Hassan on row nine. The tenth row saw C3 Oliver Tebbutt alongside C2 Kevin Coombes followed by C3 Owen Smith and SHW Damian Smith on row eleven. The final two rows were taken up from the qualifiers from the C Final, Cotter, Neale, Sigafoos and Griffiths. Top two to qualify for the back of the A Final and a trophy for the winner.

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Radovic brought the pack up to the start but Bensley was clearly ahead as they crossed the line. A clear jumped start ending any chances of qualification for the A Final. Both he and Radovic ran wide round the first turn and the pack bunched up as the pack squabbled into hairpin one. Pritchard struggled to turn whilst Henderson spun to a halt. Radovic maintained the lead but out of the second hairpin Cheah and Kirk both spun. Antwis too got delayed. End of the lap and Radovic led from Watson-Miller with Harris up to third from Angier, Wray, Wilson and Bensley. Hicks was running eighth whilst C3 Championship leader Neale was down in eighteenth but still looking favourite to take the C3 crown. Harris’s exceptional start was nullified as his number flashed up on the digi-board. A penalty after the clash with Henderson ruining his day. Watson-Miller moved ahead of Radovic as they went through the hairpins with Harris third on the road chased by Angier, Wray, Wilson and Bensley.

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After the first lap drama the leaders were settling down running line astern. Harris went by Radovic into hairpin two and set about chasing down the leader. He took a couple of laps before moving ahead. The leading four were by now moving clear of fifth placed Wray. With three to go Watson-Miller moved back to the front as he and Harris rounded the first turn. Pritchard moved up to fifth but was too far adrift for it to matter. Watson-Miller crossed the line for the win with the penalised Harris almost alongside. Harris would be classified eighth. Radovic was next over the line and promoted to second giving him a place on the back of the A Final grid and meaning that he and Watson –Miller would be disputing the days C3 Honours. Angier was third and third on the day in C3 with Pritchard fourth. Richard Neale finished in sixteenth. Enough to confirm him as the C3 Champion for 2022.

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B Final Winner – Heinrich Watson-Miller

A Final

(All drivers in C2 apart from C1 drivers Anwar-Beroual-Smith, Joe Holmes, Richard Allen, Chris Alcock and David Longman. SHW drivers Bill Taylor, Nickolas Walker and Lennie Wood plus C3’s Heinrich Watson-Miller and James Radovic)

Before the Final got underway we had a lengthy wait whilst Jacob Harris tried to appeal his penalty in the B Final. His quest proved fruitless but it did serve to ratchet up the tension as everyone waited for the HW finale.

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Joe Holmes on pole with Anwar Beroual-Smith alongside followed by Phil Ingram and Richard Allen on row two. Chris Alcock and Tim Williams shared row three. Row Four had Joe Bailey alongside Mikey Nichols with Steve Bosley and Steve Lindley on row five. Row six had Elliott Alt alongside Curt Holmes followed by David Longman and Tim Penny on row seven. Row eight saw Richard Newton alongside Paul Williams followed by Dan Hollinshead and Mike Bodnar on row nine. Nickolas Walker and Lennie Wood shared row ten with Bill Taylor and Alexander Lammin on row eleven. Darrell Lowe and Tim Hill occupied row twelve followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final, Watson-Miller and Radovic.

As the pack finally came out for the final the tension round the circuit was palpable. It clearly got to Steve Bosley as he managed to spin on the formation lap. Hope the cameras caught it? It’s one way to become immortal.

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Twelve minutes from glory. Joe led the field up to the line but Anwar was a little slow away and Ingram nipped by into the first turn. Alcock got the better of Richard to slip into fourth with Tim Williams sixth. Advantage Joe. But not for long. Second time around and Anwar slipped inside Ingram at Garda to re-take second and the lead in the Championship. Richard meanwhile went by Alcock for fourth with Tim Williams still sixth. Third time around and Richard went by Ingram into third. Over the line at the end of the lap and Joe was a second and a half up on Anwar with Allen half a second back from the leading pair. For a couple of laps the gap between Joe and Anwar remained stable whilst Richard was falling back but remaining clear of Ingram, Alcock and Tim Williams. But Joe was about to roll the dice one last time. Sixth time around and he slowed his pace allowing Anwar to cut the lead by a couple of tenths. Next time around and he was slower by a full second as he tried to back Anwar back into the back and hope that someone did him a favour by taking Anwar. Not the easiest of strategies but Joe is a consummate racer and he had nothing to lose if he wanted to retain his Championship. And it worked.

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Half distance and the top nine were covered by a second and a half. Joe crossed the line with Anwar almost attached to his rear bumper. Allen was a tenth back with Alcock right on his rear bumper ahead of Ingram. Tim Williams, Nichols, Curt Holmes and Penny. Into turn one and Joe defended to the inside from Anwar whilst Richard drove round the outside of them both to take the lead! He then had to defend hard through the next couple of turns. Down the hill and Joe tried to get back in front of Richard at the Paddock Exit. He forced Richard out wide and immediately gave the place back. The race was turning into an epic. Over the line at the end of the lap and Richard remained ahead with Joe right on his rear bumper. Joe attacked into the first turn but Richard hung on. Into Hairpin one and Joe edged ahead but Richard came back at him in Hairpin two and edged back ahead. Side by side they disappeared from my direct view as the raced down the hill and I switched my gaze back to the monitor bank in race control. Anwar remained third and still in the championship lead with Alcock a fag paper adrift. Ingram remained fifth but a second and a half back from Penny, Curt Holmes and Tim Williams. Tenth time around and Allen still led with Joe still right on his rear Bumper. Anwar was a tenth back and a tenth up on Alcock whilst Ingram had got back into the fight as the leading quartet battled and lost time with the top ten covered now by less than two seconds. Even in race control the tension was ramping up so what must it have been like in the Karts? Four to go and the top four remained the same but all the backing up had allowed Curt Holmes to muscle his way into fifth courtesy of a strong but fair move into hairpin two. But he was about to turn his Kart into a JCB.

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Richard continued to defend hard at the front with Joe trying everything he knew to get by with Anwar sat immediately behind. Alcock slipped ahead of Curt Holmes round hairpin one but Holmes hit back slipping up the inside of Alcock and Anwar into Hairpin two. But his move on Anwar was not without hard contact and Anwar got pushed wide onto the grass and down to sixth. Advantage Joe. But only briefly. Anwar recovered quickly and went by Tim Williams for fourth down the hill. Alcock too quickly recovered lost ground and went by Tim Williams for fifth into Garda. Curt Holmes robust move earned himself a penalty promoting Anwar back to a net third. Advantage Anwar. Over the line with three to go Richard was tenth up on Joe with Curt next from Anwar. Richard defended again whilst Anwar went up the inside of Curt into hairpin two. Out of the corner and Curt cut back and alongside Anwar. Into the left hander Curt ran Anwar wide and hung onto third. Down the hill and Anwar came back at him and went by into the right hander at the Paddock exit. But Curt came back at him into Garda hitting him again and forcing him wide on the exit. Another penalty. Alcock took advantage to move back into third. Had it not happened on the penultimate lap then Curt’s second penalty would have resulted in a black flag.

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Last lap and Richard continued to defend as if his life depended on it whilst Anwar slipped ahead of Alcock for third into Hairpin two. Curt remained fifth in his JCB but was too far back to do any further damage. An elated Richard crossed the line half a second up on Joe with Anwar third and taking the Championship by just a single point and ending Joe’s five year reign as Champion. Well deserved although when I spoke to him post race he looked as though he’d found a penny and lost a quid whilst Joe was beaming from ear to ear! Alcock was fourth with Penny fifth and first in C2. Nichols was sixth and second in C2 with Tim Williams seventh and third on C2. Ingram, Bosley and Lowe completed the top ten with Nickolas Walker eighteenth and claiming the SHW honours. Lennie Wood was twentieth and second in SHW with Bill Taylor last on the road, third in SHW. James Radovic reversed the B Final order taking the C3 honours from Heinrich Watson-Miller. Anwar set the fastest lap of the race on the penultimate tour with Penny the fastest in C2, Taylor fastest in SHW and Watson-Miller fastest in C3.

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Twelve minutes to Glory? 12:10.643 to be exact. One point and just half a second at the flag as Anwar waved his arm in delight and relief. A thrilling Final to complete an enthralling battle for the crown.

Championship Round Up.

What a way to end the season. A well deserved Championship for Anwar Beroual-Smith ending Joe Holmes run of five consecutive Championships’. And it was great to hear both drivers praising each other’s efforts over the season. Two very fine drivers and sportsman. Six A Final wins for Anwar with just one for Joe but just a single point separated them in the end. Joe was imperious in his heats all year but the finals were not kind to him. Anwar however seriously upped his game this season, took the fight to Joe early and kept up the pressure (apart from a wobble at Ellough!).

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Class 1 Podium – Winner Richard Allen, flanked by Joe Holmes, and the new champion Anwar Beroual-Smith

Richard Allen ended the season in fine style winning three out of the four final rounds and ending up just six points behind Joe. On this sort of form he will be a serious threat next year. Chris Alcock was fourth. Mr Consistency. He’s always near the front. So what’s missing? Does he need to be a little more ruthless. Could he for instance have beaten Alex Pritchard at Rye? Only he knows the answer. And what of Alex Pritchard? The last round not withstanding he’s had a great year and took a maiden victory at Rye. Does he need to focus a little more? Clearly he has some pace.

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Class 2 Podium – Winner Tim Penny, flanked by Mikey Nichols and Tim Williams

Sixth in the Championship and a maiden CLUB100 Championship for Curt Holmes. A great season and a deserved win. The points table doesn’t lie. And let’s not forget he missed two rounds. The final round is one to forget but is likely to be remembered for the wrong reasons. His desire to help his brother wasn’t pretty at times but let’s not let it overshadow his own moment of glory. Mikey Nichols was seventh overall and second in C2. A good year and he kept Curt honest till the last. Steve Bosley and Steve Lindley finished eighth and ninth and third and fourth in C2. Both can be well satisfied with their efforts this year although Mr. Lindley might remember that there are no off sides in CLUB100. He knows what I mean. Tim Williams was tenth overall and fifth in C2. Another good effort.

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SuperHeavyweight Podium – Winner Nickolas Walker, flanked by Lennie Wood and champion Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor retained his SHW crown with ease. He’s in a class of his own at the moment finishing thirteenth overall. Nickolas Walker was a comfortable second in class with Lee Henderson third. There is more to come from both these drivers I’m sure.

Richard Neale wrapped up the C3 Championship at Buckmore beating Andrew Hicks by ten pints in the end despite a big effort from Hicks. Good efforts from them both. Tom Stalker was third despite not racing in the final two rounds.

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Class 3 Podium – Winner James Radovi?, flanked by Heinrich Watson-Miller and Tom Angier

Reflections.

And there it was, done. Two brilliant A Finals to round off the season and they will live long in the memory. It only remains for me to thank all the CLUB100 team, our brilliant medics who are always on hand should anything untoward occur, the marshals’ at all the tracks without whom we couldn’t go racing, JV and Chris Simpson for keeping me straight and to Chris again for the great headlines and lastly to all the drivers for the entertainment!

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Words: Steve Gray

Have a great off season, a Happy Christmas and a great New Year!

Words: Steve Gray
Pictures: John Patterson