Three From Three. The ’O’Neill’ Defence, Trumps The ‘Barrs’ Attack.

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Heat wave warmth, bright sunshine and just the hint of a breeze greeted the competitors for round three at Lydd, the Montreal of the Karting world. Well the circuit and surroundings bear a resemblance but not sure the nightlife in Lydd itself stands the test. But it is a great track and it was nice not to have the threat of rain to spoil the action. First up, the Lightweights. 

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The Road to the Finals

Daz Teal led the pack away for the opening heat tailed by Hussain Rashid. But it was Fraser Brunton who caught the eye climbing to third from grid eight on the opening lap. Teal was having to defend hard to keep Rashid at bay but with three gone Rashid was into the lead. Brunton remained third but with four to run he dispensed with Teal and a lap later made it by Rashid for the lead. Thereafter he was never threatened. Rashid crossed the line second only to be penalised four places after making contact with Teal on his way by. Pietro Pagano was promoted to second with Bailey Morgan third from Teal and Sam Slater.

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Heat Two resulted in a comfortable win for Ed Barrs with David Longman second. They had started from the front row. Barrs got the better start from poleman Longman with Martin Theodorou running third. Mike Coppin took over in third mid race and immediately began to pressure Longman for second allowing Barrs to run clear at the front and take the win a couple of seconds clear. Longman hung onto second with Coppin crossing the line third only to be hit with a cone penalty and dropping to fourth behind Theodorou. Dan Seager crossed the line fifth but a six place penalty for spinning out Alexandre Alloro on the opening lap saw him drop to eleventh.

Steve Hicks claimed the third heat. But only just. He led from the second lap after getting by polesitter Josh Adams on the second lap with Dan Healey third from Chris Alcock. Half distance and Healey was up to second and putting pressure on the leader.  Hicks just had enough in hand to hold him off taking the flag 0.078 ahead with Adams a comfortable third from Alcock with Rhianna Purcocks fifth.

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Championship leader Jack O’Neill got his day off to the best possible start taking the win in Heat Four. He had to work for it though. After starting from grid ten it took him until the penultimate lap before he slipped by long time leader Alisdair Irvine for the lead. Irvine held on to second with poleman Stef Theodorou third from Andrew Ward. Jason Bradbury was next across the line but two cone penalties dropped him to seventh and promoted Ashley White to fifth.

Ed Barrs made it two from two in Heat Five. Polesitter Andrew Rabbage led most of the way with Barrs running second. He’d started on grid eight but wasted no time in fighting his way into second tailed by Dan Healey, up from grid twelve. Rabbage was driving superbly, upholding the honour of the C2 runners and not being fazed one bit whilst Barrs was holding off Healey. Two to go and Healey slipped by into second and immediately went for the lead. Unfortunately he made contact with the leader slowing them both and allowing Barrs to nip by to take the win. Healey had another go at Rabbage and this time went by cleanly but the damage had been done. He crossed the line second but was hit by a two place penalty dropping to fourth and promoting the excellent Rabbage to second from Martin Theodorou. Rhianna Purcocks took fifth.

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Josh Adams continued his impressive form with a dominant win in the sixth heat. Starting from the fourth row he was at the head of the field by lap four and thereafter drove away from the pack taking the win over three seconds clear of second place which went to Reece Pope. He’d started from the front row but dropped to fourth at the back of a titanic battle for second involving Garrett Berry and Chris Alcock. Final lap and Berry and Alcock fell over each other allowing Pope to nip by pipping Alcock on the line by just 0.041 with Berry fourth from Dante Dhillon.

Heat Seven produced a fine battle for the win between James Wattis and Andrew Ward with an equally absorbing battle for third between David Longman and Rob Langthorp who were running just over a second behind the leaders. Wattis held off repeated attacks from Ward who just could not make a move stick and losing out to Wattis by just a tenth. Longman took third as Langthorp finally settled for fourth with Alisdair Irvine a couple of seconds back in fifth.

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Heat Eight resulted in Jack O’Neill’s second win of the day. Starting from the second row he took a couple of laps to get into his stride before deposing polesitter Ramunas Cerkauskas for the lead. Thereafter he pulled away to take a comfortable win with Cerkauskas second. Daz Teal took third after a strong race which initially saw him down in ninth before working his way through the field and taking third from Ashley White on the penultimate lap. White had run third for much of the race the but had spun Sam Slater out of second early in the race resulting in a six place penalty and handing fourth to Steve Hicks with Fraser Brunton fifth.

Dan Healey took a comfortable win in the ninth heat. Starting from the second row he was into the lead by the end of the first lap and then pulled away taking the win by over three seconds with Stephen Westwood second from Rhianna Purcocks, Bailey Morgan and Jed Toole in what was something of a procession.

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Three out of three for Jack O’Neill with a win in the tenth heat. Starting from the third row he hit the front at half distance and then motored away to take the win over four seconds clear of Tom Dix who inherited second after Lloyd McGeoch-Williams was penalised two places after jumping the start, a fate which also befell Sam Slater who crossed the line fifth. Callum Brewell was third with Martin Theodorou fifth.

Adrian Mertens led the opening laps in the penultimate heat from Fraser Brunton, Garrett Berry, James Wattis, Dante Dhillon and Alisdair Irvine. But two fraught mid race laps would decide the order. Brunton took Mertens for the lead but a lap later Berry was at the front whilst Mertens dropped to fifth behind Wattis and Dillon. Penultimate lap and Irvine took Mertens for fifth. Berry increased the gap at the front over the final laps to take the win from Brunton, Wattis, Dhillon and Irvine.

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The final heat produced a win for Mike Coppin. It was hard fought though as he had to repulse repeated attacks round and out of the last corner from both Christopher Powell and Dan Seager. Coppin took the lead at the end of the first lap crossing the line 0.094 ahead of Seager and promptly pulled a gap.  But Seager began to cut into his lead over the following laps to just a tenth with Powell just a tenth further back. End of lap six and Coppin’s lead was a mere 0.091. But he hung on. A lap later it was 0.099 but it was Powell in second now from Seager. Final lap and Coppin had some breathing space. White was up to second but he’d been a touch too forceful again and bumped Seager down to sixth with Powell third. Over the line and Coppin held off White by just 0.097. A fine drive. White was demoted down to sixth with Powell placed second from Ed Barrs, Seager and Jason Bradbury.

The Finals

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C Final

(All drivers are C3 unless otherwise noted)

C2 drivers occupied the two front rows with Dan Cohen on pole and Cameron Moss alongside. Matt Collier and Joshua Sangster occupied row two. Row three saw Bryn Alban alongside Jagjeet Singh followed by Alex Brandham and Russell Cooper on row four. Aaron Clarke and Robin Kassam were on row five with Matthew Cockerham and Ami Breacher on row seven and Justin Draper alongside Andrew Bushell on row eight. Matt Hugo and George Lawlor shared row nine followed by James Browning and Tim Clark on row ten. Jordan Cranstoun and David Hamer were on ten with the penultimate row occupied by James Dunnett and Liam Rogers with Tom Guest and Finn Pharoah on the final row. Top four to qualify for the B Final and a trophy for the winner.

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Cohen led the field away but Collier got a great start from the second row to displace Moss for second. Sangster remained fourth whilst Alban dropped back behind Singh and Brandham.  Cohen continued to lead and was building a gap back to Collier whilst Sangster was up to third from Moss with Singh next and leading the C3 class. Three laps run and Cohen still led but it was Sangster up to second and beginning to close in. Collier was third from Moss with Singh fifth and still in with a good shout at a top four finish. Next time around and Sangster was at the front. Singh remained fifth from Clark who took Alban across the line.  Over the next couple of laps Sangster began to ease clear but only by a few tenths from the following pack still led by Cohen from Collier. Clark took both Moss and Singh in a single lap to run fourth. He quickly put pressure on Collier and within a lap he was ahead taking Moss and Singh with him. Cockerham too was alongside Collier over the line and through. Collier was badly off line and both Draper and Alban nipped by.

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Half distance and Sangster was over two seconds to the good and drawing clear of Cohen who now had Clark breathing down his neck. Moss was a second back whilst Singh was still in the hunt for fourth just a Kart length back with Cockerham next setting the fastest lap ninth time around. Two thirds distance and Sangster was well clear whilst Cohen was still keeping Clark at bay. Moss was still fourth with Cockerham next from Singh. Cockerham quickly cut the gap to Moss and was soon by into fourth. Singh too went by Moss. Cockerham was really flying now and was soon challenging Clark for third. With three to go he was through and immediately challenging Cohen for second. A risky strategy as he was going to qualify comfortably and Sangster was too far ahead to catch. Cohen repulsed the attack and Clark nipped by back up to third with Singh still fifth.

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C Final Winner – Joshua Sangster

One to go and Sangster was over six seconds clear. Cohen was still second but now Clark was risking qualification as he challenged Cohen. Sure enough, contact was made and Cohen fell to fourth still comfortably clear of Draper and Breacher who both made it by Singh on the final lap.  Sangster was over seven seconds clear at the finish with Clark second. But a cone penalty and a last lap contact warning to add to the two he already had dropped him to fifth and out of the qualifying places. Third would have been good enough. All of which promoted Cockerham to second with Cohen third and Draper taking the final qualifying spot. Breacher was sixth from Singh with Moss, Cooper and Alban completing the top ten.   Sangster set the fastest lap of the race with Cockerham the fastest of the C3 runners.

B Final

(All drivers are C2 unless otherwise noted)

Andrew Rabbage on pole from Adrian Mertens with Dan Seager and C1 driver Ashley White alongside on row two. Hussain Rashid and Callum Brewell shared row three with Ned Douglas and C1 driver Tom Dix on row four. Row five saw Peter Knight alongside Jed Toole followed by Ramunas Cerkauskas and C1 driver Pietro Pagano.  Row seven had Zac Venn alongside Charlie Monk with C1 driver Rob Langthorp sharing row eight with Greg Smith. Chris Lewis-Evans was on row nine with the first of the C3 qualifiers Aidan Rudge. Alexandre Alloro and C3 driver Samuel Essery were on row ten with Rogerio Mendes and Sam Slater on row eleven followed by the four qualifiers from the C Final, Sangster, C3 Cockerham, Cohen and C3 Draper. Top two to qualify for the A Final and a trophy for the winner.

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Rabbage led the field away with Mertens slotting into second whilst Seager lost out to a fast starting White. Rashid got pinched and fell back to tenth whilst Brewell spun to the rear of the field. Knight and Toole both made up places rapidly to run fifth and sixth. Two run and the top three remained the same but Knight was up to fourth and looking very racy. Three down and Mertens slipped by Rabbage taking White and Knight with him. His lead would last but a lap as White nipped by. Mertens remained second and doing well to hold off a very determined Knight. Rabbage remained fourth from Seager, Rashid, Dix and Pagano. With seven run White remained at the head of the pack a couple of lengths clear of Knight in second who deposed Mertens into the final turn. Rabbage was hanging on in fourth with Seager next from Rashid. Half distance and Knight got a better run out of the final turn to lead White across the line by just 0.094. Mertens was just three tenths back with Seager next from Rabbage. You might have thought that Knight and White would work together and pull themselves clear of the pack but White was intent on re-claiming the lead crossing the line just 0.087 adrift of Knight as they crossed the line ninth time around. But Knight held him off and pulled out a couple of tenths. Seager closed in but he was out of the hunt for a qualifying spot having clashed with Cerkauskas earlier in the race.  White wasn’t done yet and came back at Knight again out of the final turn. He almost made the move stick but Knight rebuffed him again and White again lost ground. Seager closed in and was being pulled along nicely despite being out of the hunt. Rashid was running fourth but over a second back.

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B Final Winner – Peter Knight

Knight set the fastest lap of the race fourteenth time around to give himself some respite but next time around White responded setting the fastest lap but not by enough to make a significant difference. Seager remained third whilst Rashid was falling back. Penultimate lap and it was game over. Knight was six tenths clear with White well clear of third. Seager was duly penalised handing third to Rashid with Smith next from Dix and Mertens. Seager was next from Pagano with Rabbage ninth from Cerkauskas. Cockerham took the C3 honours after a very determined drive from the back of the grid up to eleventh. Second in class went to Rudge with Draper third.    

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Class 3 Podium – Winner Matthew Cockerham, Aidan Rudge and Justin Draper

A Final

(All drivers are C1 unless otherwise noted)

Pole for Jack O’Neill with Ed Barrs alongside followed by Dan Healey and C2 Fraser Brunton on the second row. Mike Coppin and Martin Therodorou shared row three with Steve Hicks and C2 Alisdair Irvine on row four. Row five had Andrew Ward alongside Rhianna Purcocks followed by two C2’s, Bailey Morgan and James Wattis. David Longman and Daz Teal shared row seven followed by two C2’s, Reece Pope and Stephen Westwood. Garrett Berry( C2) and Christopher Powell were on row nine with C2 Dante Dhillon alongside Josh Adams on row ten. Jason Bradbury occupied row eleven with C2 Lloyd McGeoch-Williams. C2 Stef Theodorou and Chris Alcock shared the penultimate row followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final, Knight and White.

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O’Neill led away from the with pole side of the grid getting the better of the anti pole side across all the first five rows. Over the line at then of the lap O’Neill was a couple of lengths clear of Healey with Barrs a tenth back but almost half a second up on Coppin from Brunton and Hicks. Three down and O’Neill still led but he wasn’t getting away from Healey and Barrs. Coppin had lost fourth to Brunton and only just held off Hicks on the line. Hicks went by as they entered the first turn. Once by Coppin, Brunton immediately begun to cut the gap to the leaders. Fifth time around and Barrs got a run on Healey into the final turn. Healey almost held on but Barrs was ahead as they crossed the line. Brunton was just a couple of lengths behind with Hicks right on his bumper. Coppin was four tenths adrift but a few lengths up on Martin Theodorou. Once into second Barrs closed in on the leader but O’Neill was wise to Barrs attack into the final turn positioning his Kart to keep Barrs behind. Barrs cut to the inside crossing the line to start lap seven just 0.092 adrift. He had the better line into the first part of the first chicane but O’Neill remained alongside with the better line into the second part of the complex and remained ahead. But could he withstand the pressure right to the end? Half distance and O’Neill was a couple of tenths clear whilst Barrs worked out the best place to press home his attack. Healey remained third almost stuck to Barrs bumper with Brunton next and having to defend from Hicks whilst Coppin was still in touch in sixth and pulling clear of Theodorou. And so it continued.

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Ten run and Barrs tried again round the final turn as they completed the eleventh tour. But O’Neill held his line crossing the line 0.091 ahead and forcing Barrs to give way into the first chicane. Barrs tried the move again the next lap but O’Neill remained ahead by just 0.094. And Healey was right with them both followed by Brunton whilst Hicks was trying all he knew to claim fourth from Brunton. Next lap and again Barrs tried the same move. This time he was even closer as they crossed the line separated by just 0.039. O’Neill held his line again but Barrs was brave and briefly ahead as they entered the first chicane. But O’Neill was still with him and had the better line round the second part of the turn. Still Barrs hung on but he ran wide. In a heartbeat Healey and Brunton both swept by into second and third. Barrs now had a very feisty Hicks to attend to and as Hicks tried the ‘Barrs’ attack through the final turn so Barrs used the ’O’Neill’ defence to hold his place by just 0.90 as they crossed the line. Coppin too closed in, well clear of seventh place  which was now occupied by Irvine. Now it was Healey’s turn to put the pressure on O’Neill. He too attacked through the final turn but O’Neill held him off leading over the line by just 0.094. One to go and O’Neill was a tenth clear. Round the final turn and Healey gathered himself up for a last attempt. O’Neill defended down the middle again of the back straight. Healey tried to cut back but O’Neill held on to take a memorable win by just 0.097 and giving us the same C1 podium for the second round in a row. At least the field are getting closer to the flying O’Neill. His aggregate winning margin for the last two rounds is a couple of tenths.

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Class 2 Winner – Fraser Brunton

Brunton came home third and took the C2 honours with Barrs fourth and third in C1. Hicks was fifth with Coppin sixth. Irvine took seventh and second in C2 with Martin Theodorou eighth. Wattis was ninth and third in C3 with Purcocks completing the top ten. Hicks set the fastest lap of the race with Brunton setting fastest lap in C2.

Championship Round Up

Three from three. Who will stop Jack O’Neill’s run? Reigning Champion Ed Barrs is second tied on points with Dan Healey with Steve Hicks fourth from Mike Coppin. 

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In C2 Alisdair Irvine leads the way from Peter Knight and James Wattis whilst the C3 runners are led by Samuel Essery from Mathew Cockerham and Russell Cooper.    

Reflections

Sad to see yet again some of the C3 drivers not acknowledging yellow flags. Raise your arm, back off the throttle a touch. Have a read of the rules and regulations. They will help you to enjoy the sport a bit more.

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Joe Holmes continues to dominate the HW class. Has there ever been a better driver in C100? JV hinted at the podium about bringing back the Super Finals. What a race that would be between Joe and Jack O’Neill. Bring it on.

Off to Buckmore next. And it’s only a few days to wait!

Words: Steve Gray

Photography: John Patterson