Tom Golding Gets It Done, As Expected, But Does it Style. Top 5 Falls Into Place

LW TOP 5 e1480371118442 scaled

c100r11-1229I’m pretty much certain, Lightweight Class was fully booked for Rd.11, aside from a thank you for your participation, that’s a banged out 48 drivers qualifying, and once the top 20 was hived off the Pre A Final, it left a full 28 shooting for 4 qualifying spots on the back of that grid in the Pre B Final. Even if perhaps the top 15 stood a chance of getting through to the front of it, there were B Final grid positions to jockey for the 2 spots on the back of the A Final from the B Final. Freddie Fincham had missed on the Pre A, started in pole position and would lead throughout. Not unsurprisingly. When the start shook out, Craig Summers had switched placed with Joseph Liddiard, half a second off Freddie’s bumper. Mike Noon held his 4th place on the grid and these 3 joined by Stefan Scully and Chris Penny diced for the other qualifying spots, while Fincham just stayed out of reach.

Penny moved through Scully and on to Noon, as Stefan faded off the scene around halfway. I’d say Summers and Liddiard were joined at the hip but Craig kept coming through start-finish Summers behind, well fractionally like 1/100th of second, Noon and Penny still right there. James Munro, Darren Martin and Jon Gooch had replaced Scully but 2.5secs behind the group ahead it would need them to trip up to let them in before the finish. I’m going to take a punt here on Chris Penny’s 4place contact penalty being related to Mike Noon’s off, I could be wrong. So that left a top 4 on the road, Fincham running out 3secs clear, as Summers, Liddiard and Penny diced on. Munro would run out of time, just catching Penny’s slipstream at the finish but safe if he’d seen the incident or the scoreboard, that he’d replace Chris in the top 4.

c100r11-1661I have been critical of Christopher Powell, this season, only because I know he is quick, I also know he is quick at Buckmore Park, in particular and so it was no surprise to me after timed practice that he would be on pole position for the Pre A Final, doing what he had to put some pressure on Pietro in the championship. I don’t think anyone as sensible as Chris thought 26points was possible, not with Pietro on the 3rd row. Off the start he led Martin Theodorou through the Esses with Pagano and Hedges off the 2nd row down the hill, this quartet in line already had a gap on Andrew Hunt, Adrian Mertens and Golding. A trip across the bottom left Mertens behind Darri Simms and Tom off after Hunt. Andrew was dispatched in the hairpins, while Pagano possibly conscious of Golding coming up, although realising the championship was almost certainly out of reach already, pressing Theodorou for a way by. This allowed Powell at this early juncture to extend his lead to half a dozen kart lengths “going to plan”, however this actually was a disguising, either a kart he ought to have changed or at least one he didn’t quite get on with. Pagano bridged the gap, Golding slipped through Theodorou, bridged the gap in short order towing Martin back in, just off Hedges towed Simms and Hunt, James Williams had passed Mertens and Ben Atkinson made up this 3rd group in 10th. Golding wasted no time in dispatching Pagano at the top of the circuit, into either hairpin it seemed to be just how he rolls at Buckmore Park. Unless he’s all over the leader in Cafe Curve, drafting through into turn 1, which is probably where Powell realised he really should’ve swapped that kart. The top had coalesced into from 3 groups into 2 lines of 5, separated by second although as Golding stretched away, Hedges was making a bid to get a cross as he teased the second group apart. Pietro sliced inside of hairpin 2 for 2nd, Theodorou after being demoted to 4th and on to Hedges’ nose tried to go 3 wide with Hunt and Simms through the Esses, the fallout would let Williams get a run on Simms and loosened up the 5 behind a disappearing Golding, although Williams did not reappear. The run to the flag was Powell trying to hang on to as much as possible, and Theodorou getting his 2nd wind, and running Pagano down. Simms got by Powell, closed up to make it a three way fight over 2nd place, Darri on a tear through Martin and right up to Pietro’s bumper starting the penultimate lap and wasted no time trying to pass him into turn 1. It didn’t go to plan although the pair made it through the corner, Theodorou had sailed by under them mid corner to move back into 2nd place ahead of Darri and Powell and Hedges were able to hitch their wagons on to the group for the final tour. Martin got his elbows out for the last lap and covered where you needed to cover. It all made it looked easy for Golding 5secs clear, Theodorou, Simms, Pagano (track limit 1 place penalty), promoted Powell to 4th, Ben Atkinson likewise was promoted for a Hedges track limits call. Although Ben had been 4secs down the road with Freddie Fincham, on fire from his grid 21, Daniel Becker and Adrian Mertens making up the top 10. The Pre A result had settled the championship, the top 4 certainly, and left Theodorou perfectly placed on the front row for A Final, and 14points ahead, to secure 5th overall, into the last race of the season.

c100r11-1422By now it was dark, and strange things happen at the last round in the dark, usually more peculiar if its in a downpour, Darren Martin and Jon Gooch lined on the front row with a fairly capable looking grid for the B Final. Martin converted pole, Gooch right there looking to pass at the end of lap 1, probably conscious of Stefan Scully (I had high hopes for Stefan start of the year, where did it all go wrong?) in 3rd, then Penny once again, Sam Dicker, David Darling, Oliver Rowlands, Elia Evagora and Mike Noon made up the top 10, and any of them could have qualified. The surprise packet was Chris Archer, 18th on the grid, anonymous in the Pre B, but flying up to 11th as they started lap 2. Gooch moved through to the lead, Archer demoted Evagora out of the top 10, passing Noon for 8th. I’ll take a punt on Scully’s departure from the fray might be connected with Penny’s contact penalty. He’s a wild one, entertaining, never processional (Have we published the final Wall of Shame penalty table for 2016 or is that for internal use only?) Dicker closed in and looked for a way by Darren Martin for 2nd after Penny slipped back to 6th and into Archer’s speedy clutches. Sam left the stage taking Darren with him, I’m hazarding its connected to Sam’s penalty? A third of the way by then, Gooch led by 2.6secs from Darling, Rowlands, Archer just passed Penny. Mike Noon was 1.2secs further back. So the ten who I thought could qualify had whittled themselves down to 5. The quartet diced on, elbows out, prisoner free, releasing Gooch into an ever growing 4secs, Noon came back on board but Archer had sliced and diced his way to 2nd place, from 18th! Good starts you see… I can only think Gooch got caught up in a back marker as his next lap was 4secs slower. If it isn’t he’ll still be kicking himself. Boom! Archer led. Jon got going again but with Darling on his bumper and Rowlands, Noon waiting for a repeat. David made his move that released Archer to a comfortable run to the flag, well all the hard work was done on lap 1. Gooch looked for a mistake that was not forthcoming, indeed Rowlands squeezed by on the last lap, with Noon looking for a way by, Seb Algieri finished in 6th. So Archer and Darling moved to the A Final.

c100r11-1675I trailed the highlights of the A Final in the introduction, Tom Golding on pole position, a difficult proposition, made worse by the championship being secured, its a track he likes, he’s got clear track. Simms stuck to his bumper through turn 1, Theodorou losing out on grid 2. Tom already had a margin 1.2secs, but a 0.7secs quicker his lead was soon 2.5secs and the race looked to be setting into a bit of nothing race. Ben Atkinson had grabbed 3 positions off the start, to go 4th and what this was masking was Pietro Pagano was bottled up behind him. Frankie Hedges, fortunately safe in 4th in the championship disappeared from behind him and once Pietro had cleared Ben on lap 4 Pietro was 5.5secs down on the leader with Martin Theodorou then Darri Simms ahead of him. Yellow flags, spinners and back markers slowed the field, Golding first in 2.5secs more than most. The race was sliding in together, Pietro picked up Martin’s tow and set off after Darri. Over half way Pietro was through and the quickest man on the circuit. 2.5secs, was 2, then 1.9secs for a couple of laps, 1.4, 0.9secs with 2 laps to go. Behind (Good) Simms was holding off Theodorou, back to his pace from the beginning of the year, Ben Atkinson was holding off Freddie Fincham, the Pre B Final winner, finishing the year with the sort of satisfying run that might set him up for an overdue step up to a win in 2017, certainly racing to keep the fire burning over the winter. Pietro had opened the taps and set the fastest lap on the penultimate tour, but the lead was still 0.5secs. I don’t think Tom was cruising in he was on his pace for the time. But the final lap board was out, when they got to Garda, Pietro was not close enough, the run up hill, is an easy defend, Tom wasn’t going to drop the ball. In another lap maybe? But thats what we all say.

Round 1 is at Buckmore Park on 26 February 2017.

Photography: Jack Mitchell, JAM Motorsport Photography