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This is the Joe Holmes Era, Absent Luke Philips Clinches C3 Title. C2 & SHW Go to Bayford.

by Steve Gray | November 4, 2021 | Sprint Championships

With Rye dropped from the calendar it was off to Lydd for the second time this season and with the clocks altering an early start was necessary for the penultimate round. A full day event too. Personally I love the full day events as it brings all the lights and heavies together making for a more social event. Championships would be decided too. But what a start to the day with heavy rain and a strong wind blowing off the Channel.

Heats 1-3

Adam Wright got his day off to the perfect start with a comfortable win in the pouring rain. Starting from grid five he was into the lead after two laps and then used all his vast experience to drive away from the pack. Second row starter Craig Brown followed him home with pole sitter Callan Sigafoos taking third. Alex Pritchard crossed the line fourth but was demoted to fifth after a cone penalty. A storming drive this after starting from grid twelve as was Mike Bodnar’s, always one to watch in the wet. The top five were some fifteen seconds clear of the pack who were struggling to adapt to the inclement conditions.

Heat number Two resulted in a fight for supremacy between second in the standings Anwar Beroual-Smith and third in the order Matt Wileman. Beroual-Smith took the lead on the first tour with Wileman having to fight his way by fellow front row starter David Jarvis. It took a couple of laps but once into second he pressured Beroual-Smith all the way to the flag. Jarvis too remained in touch and as Beroual-Smith defended over the last lap from Wileman, Jarvis closed in dramatically but he wasn’t quite close enough to mount a challenge. Miguel Hall was fourth some twelve seconds back with Mikey Nichols fifth.

Championship leader Joe Holmes got his day off to the perfect start with a comfortable win in Heat Three. Starting from the second row he was quickly into the lead tailed by Chris Alcock. Richard Allen was a fast starter, up from grid ten, to run third behind Alcock which became second as he nipped by Alcock on the final lap. Pole sitter Tarik Almou took fourth with Steve Bosley fifth. Again, the pack finished some eleven seconds back from the three front runners.

Heats 4-6

Alex Pritchard took a resounding win in the fourth heat. Starting from pole he led all the way crossing the line almost ten seconds clear of second placed Anwar Beroual-Smith. In fairness, the latter had to fight his way through the field from grid twelve but once into second he could make no impression on the gap to the leader. Super Heavyweight (SHW) Kieran Chidgzey took third courtesy of a last lap pass on Matt Wileman. Good drives from them both as they worked their way up the order from mid grid. Lewis Ridd was fifth.

The fifth heat produced a great battle for the win between Adam Wright, Richard Allen and Chris Alcock. The rain was still belting down with standing water in places all round the track yet these three were defying the conditions and performing superbly. Wright led from Allen with Alcock third for lap after lap. Penultimate lap and Wright got out of shape at the far end of the circuit and Allen nipped by. But Wright wasn’t done and went by on the run to the Horseshoe. But Allen wasn’t done and fought back down the back straight. Wright ran wide and Allen slipped by to take the win by 0.097 with Alcock third from Miguel Hall and Steve Bosley.

Heat Six saw another comfortable win for Joe Holmes. Starting from grid six he was at the front by mid race and then drove clear to win by almost six seconds. Behind him was a splendid fight for second between Tarik Almou and Craig Brown who swapped places over the line continually for four laps with Almou finally taking the place. Great respectful racing. Kevin Coombes was fourth but well back with Steve Lindley fifth.

Heats 7-9

Finally the rain began to abate as the HW’s came out for their final round of heats.
Anwar Beroual-Smith led the opening laps of Heat number Seven having benefitted enormously at the start as front row sitter Richard Masterson was very tawdry getting away. His race would get worse as he spun away his chances down the bottom of the circuit. Alex Pritchard and Matt Wileman were quickly up to speed to run second and third. Three to go and Wileman nipped by Pritchard into the Horseshoe for second. The rain was beginning to fall again. Penultimate lap and Beroual-Smith was having to defend into the final turn. Wileman remained on the outside and took full advantage as Beroual-Smith slid wide on the exit. Pritchard too looked to go by but Beroual-Smith held on only to lose the place at the entrance to the Horseshoe. Valuable points gained for Wileman with first. Valuable points gained for Pritchard in his fight for C2 honours. Valuable points lost for Beroual-Smith which would see him knocked off the front row for the A final. Steve Bosley and Lewis Ridd completed the top five.

Joe Holmes made it three from three in Heat Eight. He had to work a bit for this one though as he started from grid thirteen. Fifth by the end of the first lap he bided his time picking up places carefully and taking over at the front from early leader Kieran Chidgzey with a couple of laps to go. The win would secure him pole. Chidgzey remained second from Mikey Nichols, Tarik Almou and Tom Fuller.

Richard Allen was clearly revelling in the tough conditions taking his second win of the day in the final HW heat. Chris Alcock led the opening laps before Allen went by to take the win just over a second clear. Adam Wright should have finished third after a real curates egg of a race. Tenth at the start, fourth after the first lap, knocked into a spin by Kevin Coombes and resuming ninth before fighting his way back up to third only to spin off a few corners from home! Josh Pettit took third with Steve Lindley fourth from Craig Brown. Allen’s win would see him line up on the front row of the A Final with Joe Holmes.

The Finals

Finally the rain had stopped and the sun was out. But the track was still wet in places and standing water would continue to be a hazard throughout the remaining races.

B Final

C2 Kevin Coombes on pole alongside impressive newcomer Super Heavyweight (SHW) David Jarvis. C3 Samuel Bensley shared row two with C2 Simon Kavanagh followed by SHW Richard Newton and C3 Lawrence Cheah on row three. C2 Jason Bear was alongside C3 Andrew Hicks on the fourth row with C2 Paul Williams and C3 Bradley Porter on row five. Row six saw C2 Richard Masterson alongside C3 Benjamin Wooten followed by SHW Joel Arguelles and C3 Jaeden Cadogan on row seven. Row eight was shared by two C3’s Tom Stalker and Mathew Batter with SHW Andrew Cherry and C3 Luke Elliott on row nine. SHW Paul Jameson shared row ten with C3 Stephen Hullock with C3’S Kristian Huus and Mat Griffiths on row eleven. The penultimate row had C3 David Wilson alongside SHW Mathew Mandipira with C3 Martin Robinson alongside SHW Olindo Venturi on the final row. Top two to qualify for the A Final and a trophy for the winner.

Coombes led the field away with Jarvis tucking into second. Bensley lost out to a fast starting Bear and Williams whilst Newton’s chances disappeared with a spin a fate which also befell Masterson. Coombes led the pack across the line at the end of the lap but a second lap spin would see him down to ninth by the end of the lap. Jarvis took over at the front with Kavanagh second whilst Williams nipped by Bear for third. Four laps run and Jarvis was beginning to edge away at the front as Kavanagh defended from Williams. Bear remained fourth but was dropping back from the battle for second. Bensley was fifth and leading C3 from Wooten and Cheah running sixth and seventh. Cherry was eighth and second SHW behind the leader Jarvis. Half distance and Jarvis still led but Kavanagh had closed the gap and broken away from Williams who remained well clear of fourth placed Bear. Bensley remained fifth but was dropping back from Bear. The battle for fifth was shaping up nicely with a couple of seconds covering fifth to tenth. Two thirds distance and Jarvis had once more pulled clear at the front whilst Williams in third continued to fall back from second placed Kavanagh. But he was now over five seconds clear of fourth placed Bear who had managed to pull a gap back to fifth place now occupied by Cherry.

B Final Winner – David Jarvis

Two to go and Jarvis was over two seconds clear of Kavanagh who was safely clear of Williams who was in turn well clear of fourth placed Bear who had Cherry closing in. Coombes had recovered some lost ground and was back up to sixth but over three seconds adrift of Cherry. Jarvis took the win over four seconds clear and set the fastest lap tenth time around. Kavanagh was a comfortable second over four seconds clear of Williams who was in turn over five seconds clear of Cherry who grabbed fourth from Bear as they crossed the line. Coombes was sixth with Bensley seventh. This would translate to second in C3 on the day with Hicks eighth and third in C3. Cheah was ninth with Arguelles completing the top ten.

Class 3 Podium – Winner Samuel Bensley, flanked by Andrew Hicks and Lawrence Cheah

A Final

(All drivers in C1 unless otherwise noted)

Joe Holmes on pole from C2 Richard Allen with Anwar Beroual-Smith and Matt Wileman on row two. Row three saw C2 Alex Pritchard alongside Chris Alcock. Row four had C2 Tarik Almou alongside Craig Brown with C2 Steve Bosley alongside Super Heavyweight (SHW) Kieran Chidgzey, the latter revelling in the wet conditions and recording his highest ever grid placing. Two C2’s on row six, Steve Lindley and Callan Sigafoos followed by Lewis Ridd and Adam Wright. Miguel Hall and C2 Josh Pettit shared row eight with C2’s Mikey Nichols and Tim Williams on row nine. Two more C2’s on row ten, Mike Bodnar and Tom Fuller followed by C2 Anthony Ridd and SHW Lee Henderson. The penultimate row had C3 Daniel Hollinshead alongside C2 Jordan Salter. A great effort from Daniel guaranteeing him the C3 honours on the day. The final row had the two qualifiers from the B Final, SHW David Jarvis and C2 Simon Kavanagh.

By this time in the proceedings the sun was out and there was no chance of further rain but the track remained damp with the odd patch of standing water to catch out the unwary. Holmes and Allen brought the field up to the line in perfect formation. As they crossed the line Holmes immediately went to the left cutting off Allen. A near perfect start and he exited the first chicane already several lengths clear. Over the line at the end of the lap and the leader was several lengths clear. Allen was hanging on whilst Beroual-Smith, not a lover of the changing conditions, was falling back. Pritchard was next from Wileman followed by Almou who almost lost it into the first chicane. Alcock was next, crossing the line just ahead of Sigafoos and Bosley. Down at the bottom of the circuit Almou put a move on Wileman. They touched and Wileman was sent spinning into the tyre wall ending any faint hopes of the Championship and not helping his fight with Beroual-Smith for second in the standings. Almou would be penalised six places in the final results. Two run and Holmes was extending the gap at the front from Allen whilst Beroual-Smith had stabilised the gap to Allen but wasn’t closing it. Pritchard was few lengths back in fourth whilst Almou was fifth but had lost time after the incident with Wileman.

Quarter distance and Holmes was almost three seconds clear and by far the quickest driver on track. Allen had increased the gap to Beroual-Smith whilst Pritchard remained a few lengths shy of Beroual-Smith but never quite close enough to challenge. Despite his penalty Almou was still driving well and keeping himself clear of Alcock. Half distance and the lap times were coming down as a dry line began to emerge. But it was still tricky off line. Half distance and Holmes was over five seconds clear and driving superbly. Allen too was putting in a superb drive, not on Holmes pace but pulling well clear of Beroual-Smith who was having to keep a watchful eye on Pritchard just a few lengths back in fourth. Alcock was fifth and just beginning to edge closer to Pritchard. Down the order SHW Chidgzey was leading the class with from Jarvis who was a couple of places back but some eight seconds adrift whilst Henderson dropped much needed points with a spin.

Three to go and Holmes was over nine seconds clear with Allen a lonely but comfortable second and taking the C2 spoils. Beroual-Smith remained third with Pritchard fourth. Alcock remained fifth but was getting ever closer to Pritchard. Final lap and the top five were still running in the same order. The lap times were coming down as Wileman, running way down the order after the incident with Almou, setting the fastest lap on the penultimate tour. Holmes crossed the line almost ten seconds clear. Three heat wins and the A Final to wrap up the 2021 HW Championship in fine style. Allen crossed the line second taking the C2 honours on the day after a stunning drive. Down the back straight for the final time and Pritchard dived to the inside of Beroual-Smith. They rounded the corner side by side with Alcock on Pritchard’s rear bumper. Beroual-Smith ran a touch wide and Pritchard took the final podium spot by just 0.027 from Beroual-Smith with Alcock fifth a tenth adrift. Great racing.

Callan Sigafoos claimed sixth, his highest finish which also netted him third in C2. Plus he set the fastest lap of all final time around. Another superb performance. Almou crossed the line seventh but was penalised out of the top ten handing seventh to Wright from Bosley, Nichols and Brown. Chidgzey took the Super Heavyweight honours from Jarvis and Henderson.

Round up

Has there ever been a more dominant driver in CLUB100 than Joe Holmes? What a day he had at Lydd with three heat wins and the honours by some margin in the Final. He’s missed one round this year, taken five wins and never been off the podium when he’s raced. Mightily impressive.

Class 1 Podium – Winner Joe Holmes. flanked by Anware Beroual-Smith and Chris Alcock

Anwar Beroual-Smith has battled hard all season and will finish second in the Championship whilst Matt Wileman now has only a four point lead over Adam Wright in the overall standings. Chris Dixon remains fifth in C1.

Class 2 Podium – Winner Richard Allen, flanked by Alex Pritchard and Callan Sigafoos

The battle for C2 honours is so close now. Alex Pritchard’s last gap pass for the podium gained him an extra point and leaves him one point ahead of Richard Allen. Great performances from these two and the battle to watch out for at the final round. Jonathan Elliott missed Lydd and is third which is where he will remain.

In the Super Heavyweights Lee Henderson has a five point lead over Bill Taylor. Another fight to watch in the final round.

SuperHeavyweight Podium – Winner Kieran Chidgzey, flanked by David Jarvis and Lee Henderson

Despite missing Lydd by my reckoning Luke Philips has won C3 from Samuel Bensley and Andrew Hicks but maths was never my strong point so no doubt someone will correct me if I’m wrong!

Reflections

What a day? The worst conditions for a round all season and probably for several seasons in the morning. But how well everyone coped. Hats off to all the drivers with some good clean racing and a noticeable reduction in the amount of penalties dished out. Our thanks too to the unsung heroes the marshals and the observers who had to endure the wind and rain but did so with their usual calm efficiency.

On to Bayford then for the final round.

See you there!

Words: Steve Gray
Photography: John Patterson

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