“Titan’s Jack O’Neill Did The Race Solo. He Was Untouchable” – G3 Pro – 2nd.
According G3 Pro’s captain Matt Hale. It seems Titan’s competition would like Owen Jenman to be brought back from illness, as soon as possible, to be the success ballast to slow Jack O’Neill down to give everyone else a chance, at least on this evidence. I suspect the changeable weather, and being present throughout helped him, as he iron manned the race. Always familiar with track conditions, as others came in, and the slower speeds would make the physical effort maybe less, even if the mental effort, in concentration, was greater. Running the pit wall for both Titan teams, and ready to dust off his race gloves to spell Mike Philippou in Mitan, Martin O’Neill, “On the pit wall, with 2 teams, 2 sets of radios, checking pit windows, strategies etc, was a full on job as it turned out, but Jack, once again made driving in the rain look easy, which after my few laps in practice I can certainly vouch that it’s not!”
In the best of the rest Premier Class, G3 Pro had similar division of labour, with Barry Luetchford away at a wedding, Matt Hale did not wish to extend himself further than his ceremonial head duties, “Joe said to split the race evenly and i said bollocks to that”, he’s the professional after all, “we were clean, but black flags, track limits, contact in the race, well I’ve never seen so many, for Scuderio Bandito, Applewood and Ministry. It didn’t change the result.” With Holmes doing the start and the back half of the race, G3 Pro ahead of Ministry of Speed, after they were demoted a position, due to some new guy, called Blake they were trying out, as Darren Teal described, “if Big Mick (legendary flag man – CS) was still around, the knob board would’ve been displayed after Ian performed multiple contact warnings and earned us a black flag, demoting us to third in class.” But this 2021 and not 2014. I have a string of quotes about the last member of the front running sextet, Scuderio Bandito, along the lines of “they missed a fuel window coming in at 48 mins and we did chuckle rather”, but I’ll leave it to Anwar Beroual Smith to summarise, “We dumb, was a genuine assessment of that stop! But we have the makings of a good team – just trying to learn and move forward for next year.” Next year? It’s Round 2!
On the subject of ceremonial participation, Tim Hill’s Speedscreen were pretty untouchable in Clubmans. The team name was the masterstroke, not to say nearly the only stroke, of the captain’s contribution, “I couldn’t drive it, I was 1.5secs off the pace, Dickie [Allen] on the other hand was flying & qualified 3rd. He did 6 hours in the wet the previous weekend at Whilton in BPEC, and I left him out for an hour and a half, as a consequence, which was the best thing I did all day, before I messed up the fuel stop, and then handed positions to the G3 Pro and Ministry, in my 15mins at the wheel.”He goes on, “I do have a string of excuses starting with having not driven in the wet since 2019, to my 2nd jab, and I even said to Dickie to slow down, before there are too many complaints about pot hunting!” In the previously ultra competitive Clubmans, Clay winners JK Rolling could only manage 6th in class so Auditing Armageddon and Conman Racing have a share of the lead, but now, depending on the line up in Speedscreen, there is a cuckoo in that nest, who must all hope for more Tim Hill input off and on track.
In the Intermediate Class, Brillio took the win by some distance, and managed to keep their win through post race driver weighing in, this time, leaving 2nd place The Three Swans to consolidate their Rd1 win at the top of the championship, from a distant 3rd place for FFS Racing and Team Jaws in the rookiest of the classes.
The Centurians from Intermediates set the mark at 1.19.7 for all of 10secs before Allen in Speedscreen, then Jordan Hill for Ministry of Speed, then the Titan missile (old joke) O’Neill took over with a 17 flat. Hill edged to within a fraction, on an obviously wet track before O’Neill returned to move it to 16.3. By mid session, Allen had returned to put Speedscreen in contention for the front row, for the Clubman team, ahead Ministry, Holmes in G3 Pro, Brillio from Inters, Conman and Class of ’13 from Clubmans, G3 Pro Farecla, Three Swans and Scuderio Bandito making up the top ten.
Familiarity with the track and track conditions and perhaps a modestly grippier line would see times improve rather than tumble. Holmes moved on the front row, only to be knocked back off it by Allen, now only 3/10ths off pole, only for Hill to move into P2 just 2/10ths off O’Neill. Jack moved pole position to 15.78 with only seconds remaining on the 10min count down. Everyone would have one last lap to set the grid. And everyone missed, aside from Conman moving up to 9th and Class of ’13 moving up to 7th. It was as you were, pole position for Titan Motorsport, Ministry of Speed on the front row, looking slightly un-Clubman like Speedscreen and G3 Pro on row 2, Will Van Es in Palatinate Racing on grid 5 and from Chris Alcock in Team Applewood, team principal, Alex Pritchard, “Chris always does qually for us, as Mike [Coppin] has woeful qualifying skills so we don’t let him anymore, his best is P23”. CKS Throatpunchers lined up outside of Class of 13 on row 4, Conman and G3 Farecla made up the top 10. Brillio was leading Inter on row 6 with Matt Wileman from Scuderio Bandito.
Jack O’Neill appeared to have grip no one else felt as confident about, putting 3secs into the field on lap 1, okay G3 Joe Holmes was trying to find a way passed Jordan Hill in Ministry, behind Allen for Speedscreen was being “knocked back to 6th by bully red plates”, exclaimed Tim Hill, by Van Es for Palatinate and Pritchard for Applewood. Heavy rain, makes for a topsy turvy start, Holmes moved to 2nd, Pritchard slipped back behind the recovering with Speedscreen and G3 Farecla moving up.
By 8 minutes, Holmes had finally posted a lap quicker than O’Neill, although by only a tenth, and still not outright quicker, much of the damage was done however, Jack taking Titan out to 6secs. Allen was looking rapid, but was struggling to throw off Ministry, the pair a further 4secs behind. The first chasing group, all Prems, Farecla holding off Palatinate, Anwar Beroual Smith starting Scuderia Bandito from grid 12, working his way up the top 10, and Applewood. Conman from Clubmans, and Brillio from Inters making up the top 10, over 20secs off the leader.
On 10mins, Beroual-Smith kicked started the first fuel stops, keen no doubt to avoid being caught, as is so often the case, in the crush at the back end of the first window, and no doubt looking for a clearer track to make progress, he returned P15, Matt Hale came in for G3 Pro in P10. A rapid turnaround from Farecla put them in between G3 Pro and Bandito. Titan covered them off, with Ministry taking over the lead for a lap, as Allen pitted Speedscreen and returned. When Hill and Pritchard returned for Ministry and Applewood, Jack O’Neill’s lead was 23secs, after a rapid fuel stop, with dad Martin, working some “slick stops” magic. Speedscreen were 2nd, edging clear of G3 Pro, Ministry, gap to Bandito, gap to Applewood who had moved passed Farecla, gaps to cLunge Racing, CKS Throatpunchers, and Auditing Armageddon from Clubmans in 10th, although pitstops were still owed down here, and Brillio would come into the top 10. Brillio looking to have Intermediates under control before the half hour mark, with only FFS Racing 15secs behind and The Three Swans at around half a minute behind in 3rd.
When the 2nd fuel window closed on 45mins, Beroual-Smith’s excellent progress moving Bandito through G3 Pro, then Ministry of Speed into 2nd place was all undone, by dint of having not stopped in time, “we missed the pit window by 3 mins, so that was a 40sec penalty. It killed our race.” O’Neill had gone early in the cycle and was able to retain his lead albeit only 4secs clear of Allen, who in turn had dropped Jordan Hill in Ministry by over 10secs, and into a four way dice with Bandito (before penalty), Hale in G3 Pro, and Pritchard finishing off his Applewood shift, “I need time to recover for SP60, so I go out first.”
At 50mins, Allen took up station again 30secs off Titan, 26secs ahead of Darren Teal just in for Ministry and Mike Coppin for Applewood, 6.5secs behind, Hale installed Holmes back into G3 Pro. Leaving aside Allen in Speedscreen, Clubman had seen DDMM Barnstormers climb as high 2nd in class, which really is the lead, with Dickie in this form, Andrew Ward double stinting off the start, just replaced by Andy Mather, “We were first team to stop in the first window, and that gained us quite a few positions. Our (my) effort faded through the course of the race, my stint from 45mins onwards was just… Okay. I suppose. I didn’t spin!” Once again it was close run affair in Clubmans, at least for the podium lower steps with Auditing Armageddon, Conman, JK Rolling, before their penalty, for track limits off the last corner, and All Torque, a lap off the race leader and DDMM for a while.
Over the next half hour, there was a modest improvement in the weather, enough to see lap times pick up a few seconds, another round of fuel stops over, including the poor one executed by Tim Hill on the Speedscreen wall, left Allen nearly a minute behind O’Neill, and into the range of Darren Teal in Ministry, “I was smashing the tits out of the kart (that’s in a nice way – apparently CS), I was mucho rapido”, with a healthy gap over Coppin in Applewood with Holmes edging G3 Pro in behind. Teal would move through to 2nd place around the 80min mark as lap times dropped below 70secs for the first time, although Allen would be back. Off the lead lap cLunge were being caught by Will Dendy in Scuderia Bandito, in Prems. Showing 2 laps off the lead, Mike Philippou had worked Mitan Totersport up to P8 from the back of the grid, on his single hander, sub Martin O’Neill, “Mike had complained of lack of no turn in qualifying, and made the decision to ‘play the joker card’ and start at the rear of the field. And as the track improved he’d work his way into the top 6 by the finish, with some great lap times, and with my input limited strictly to the pit wall after my practice laps.”
Premier Class – Jack O’Neill (centre), G3 Pro and Ministry of Speed.
With pit window 4 closed and 25mins remaining, O’Neill’s lead was 1 minute, over Holmes pedalling hard, not so much after Titan, but securing 2nd place over Ian Blake starting in Ministry of Speed, although heading for trouble, for the first time, in a long time, but still managing to be 3secs a lap quicker, than mascot Tim Hill, briefly into Speedscreen, soon to depart, for fear of jeopardising Dickie Allen’s comfortable win in Clubmans, and before he could be caught Chris Alcock, who might be pushing, but was unlikely to run Blake down from 30secs back. That said there was one more pitstop to do and weather that could change. Two laps off the leader Clubmans’ other trophies came down to a fairly close thing between Auditing Armageddon, Conman Racing and All Torque, although the latter would fade away another lap before the finish.
Clubman Class – Dickie Allen (centre), Auditing Armageddon and Conman Racing
In Intermediates, Brillio had maintained nearly a laps lead over The Three Swans for much of the race, FFS Racing had hung on to 3rd place, even though they were 3 laps on the class winner.
Intermediate Class podium, Brillio (centre), The Three Swans and FFS Racing
After the last round of fuel stops moved the dial very little, except allowing Jack O’Neill to push everyone else off the lead lap, the race was over. Another win for Titan Motorsport. It’s looking ominous Jack O’Neill is in great form, witness Sunday in Lightweights. G3 Pro’s Joe Holmes finished nearly a minute ahead of Ministry of Speed, and Dickie Allen could only close Speedscreen to 10secs, 4th on the road, first in Clubman Class. Alcock finished Team Applewood 15secs behind 4th in Premier Class 2 laps down the leader with Mike Philippou in Mitan on the same lap but half a minute behind.
Words: Chris Simpson
Photography: John Patterson