Too Close to Call. Double Win King vs Munro for the Title? Another 6 Fight Over the Top 5!

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Tiny margins again. With news of the Daniel Ricciardo Series prize pool being announced the most competitive championship in the Club100 portfolio just raised the ante. SuperLights remains so close, so competitive, you would keep your money firmly in your pocket if you were a betting person. But even in a race of tiny margins, Ralph King had a tiny bit more, even if he needs to work on his baseball cap wearing, to take wins in both finals. Tiny margins enough to edge clear in the final to take the win from the returning Beau Sullivan, even though Ralph’s the edging away had been from Dan Munro running in 2nd place up to halfway. Sullivan edged back into Munro after hanging on to Dan’s slipstream for most of the middle portion of the race with Beau putting in a big finish with a last lap overtake.

Ralph King doing the double, winning from the font but also from behind, as even if he had only qualified P4, to an excellent pole position for Dylan Brierley, for the Pre Final, Munro had moved through to the lead in the early going, while King was taking care Sullivan for third, and then passed Brierley for 2nd on halfway before running down the leader’s half second lead to pass Dan in the closing stages. 

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Ralph King heads into the final 2 rounds at Buckmore Park, as championship leader, and it might suggest he’s favourite for the title, but Lydd in the baking blue sky of summer and Buckmore Park in amongst the trees in late September and especially in late November could be a very different affair, and very different kind of motor race, survival and attrition if its wet, and everyone is pushing to the max as they have to, especially as we are talking about about tiny margins. I’d need to know more about the protagonists experience of rain and the chilly late afternoon possibly under lights at the Buckmore Park finale, to make predictions. 

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It’s all to play for. Ralph King holds a 5 point lead, over Daniel Munro, a further 8points over the absent Dillon Davis, 2 more over Beau Sullivan and the same over Max Papworth, Michael Burrows missed a 2nd round, Casey Baughan also skipped Lydd to take a win at Daytona (I suppose thats okay), even Dylan Brierley in 8th, and already a Daniel Ricciardo Series regular, may have a major part to play in at least who is champion, even if its unlikely to be him, but there are also championship top 5s to be fought for.

Qualifying

Dan Munro had headed the practice screen from Beau Sullivan who appeared faster for missing a round, when the session went green, it was Munro again setting the pace with 43.813, and Dylan Brierley, who while not on home field had been a winner in Honda Cadet in the past, from Ralph King, Sullivan, Thomas Northcott and Max Papworth. The next lap, warming to the task and the track, Brierley took pole position down to 43.686, with Northcott also showing some previously undiscovered pace to join Dylan on the front row. Around halfway Munro moved back on to the front row and Kasper Marriott joined Northcott on the second row, then King moved back on to the inside of row 3 with Sullivan outside.

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Closing stages Sullivan threatened the front row going 3rd with King moving up to P4, King tried again to move further forward on his last lap, covered off by chief rival for the day Daniel Munro, who himself tired and came still a few hundredths of second short of Dylan Brierley’s pole position time of 43.686. That made the order for the Pre Final Brierley, Munro, Sullivan, King, Northcott, Marriott, Papworth joined on row 4 by Phillip Baboolal, William Taylor and Nathan Crowley rounding out the top 10. Top 9 covered by 0.3secs, thats just a decent tow down the back straight difference! And a top 18-19 covered by 1secs from pole man to Max Nash and Zach Berney. Tiny Margins!

Pre Final

After an aborted start, Brierley led the early going unable to throw off Dan Munro, which was probably an ominous sign that the pole position man might not be able to convert it to a win. That said Sullivan in 3rd was in danger of slipping off the lead battle, such was the leaders pace, as he held off Ralph King. Kasper Marriott had jumped Max Papworth on lap 1, the pair making up a top 6 touring Lydd in a high speed train. William Taylor in 7th could not go with the leading group and he pulled through the midfield in a train of his own all the way back to Jan Lopich in 16th.

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Up front it was all change as after 3 laps and doubtless after having figured out am I quick in this kart?And am I faster than him ahead? The answer, rightly or wrongly was Yes. Munro moved to the lead, King passed Sullivan, Papworth moved back passed Marriott. Then they set about checking if their answers were true. And no, for the top 6 it was very even pace. And with everyone on everyone’s bumper using the back straight slipstream to make up for any mistakes around the rest of the course the dicing was just getting started. On halfway King moved through Brierley to go 2nd place. Dylan was able to hold on to the bumper ahead, but maybe getting a little taller than his cadet days, he was offering a big hole into the air, into which Sullivan sucked up and by for 3rd place a couple of laps later.

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On to lap 12 Munro had made no progress in breaking away in the lead, King and Sullivan were hovering to make him pay, while Brierley was more hanging to Sullivan in 3rd than challenging, with Papworth, Marriott, Crowley, and Taylor doing much the same. Munro set his fastest lap with 43.550 but that only supercharged King to better it and pass Munro for the lead on the next lap. 

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On to the final lap and maybe Munro might be close enough to strike into the horseshoe, even a lunge down into the last corner but King was having none of it, going faster again with consecutive fastest laps, in the last 2 laps. His winning margin 0.7secs, although more like 0.5secs heading down the back straight, but Sullivan was looking for a last lap lunge of his own, so for Munro lunging the leader would’ve have been foolhardy at best. He held off Sullivan. This time. King, Munro, Sullivan, Brierley, gap to Papworth, Crowley, Marriott and Taylor. Northcott and Pemble made up the top 10. 

Final

When it came to the main event, Ralph King was able to convert pole position to the lead turning, as you’d expect, into the right-left, cutting across to the left to take the apex on the left hand kerb and to lead on the exit of the first chicane. Grid 2 Dan Munro had priced this in, happy to be on and stay on Ralph’s bumper to the next chicane. Beau Sullivan on the hand would be rubbing sidepods with Dylan Brierley, off grid 4, before Dylan lifted to let Sullivan track out cleanly into 3rd place. It would also leave Brierley trying to move over to the same line while Max Papworth was half way alongside, and Max was reluctant to give any part of his line. Indeed it would only be at the 2nd apex of the 2nd chicane with Dylan determined to track out that Max let 4th place go, or risk being run out over the exit kerb. Out of the hairpin Brierley pointed forward to Papworth behind, as if to say let’s work together to catch up the top 3, who already had a few kart lengths, but also, of course, say or we can carry on rubbing and be dropped completely. And to his credit, Max let him go, possibly because he wanted to see if Dylan could pull him forward but also to cover off Nathan Crowley looking for a way by down the back straight. As they came through to end lap 1, Kasper Marriott had moved by William Taylor for 7th, in the long train of 8 behind leader King. A gap just opening up to William Pemble and Thomas Northcott, in 10th, with Louis Robinson in this second group, then a 1secs gap to Stefan Kaczmarczyk towing the rest of the 25 driver field.

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Brierley edged a tenth in, still 0.6down on Sullivan, Papworth giving him another lap to try and pick up the slipstream as Dylan’s draft had pulled Papworth a second clear of Crowley. But Max had seen enough, and perhaps Dylan would play along staying on the racing line into the Horseshoe, Papworth dove through for 4th. Up ahead, King had broken clear of Munro, now under increasing pressure from Sullivan. Munro steadied his ship, holding Sullivan at a kart length, which meant he was in range with the slipstream at the end of the back straight, if he had a good run out of the horseshoe and a little more top end. But Munro was tidy enough that Sullivan had to follow, before losing a little a ground, Dan without the distraction began to bridge back to the leader. Papworth had taken a tenth or so out of Sullivan as Brierley had the lap before, so Dylan appeared happy to let Max plough, while he rode, but when Papworth took 3/10s out of 3rd place, he was in Sullivan’s tow, and Brierley was struggling to hold on.

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And this was the see saw of the top 5 between 0.5 and 0.8 between them, small mistakes, good cornering and a little tow creating a +0.1 or .2, or negative each lap. Crowley had dropped to 1.5secs behind in 6th, a small margin, but in a class of tiny margins, it was quite a gap, in behind him, William Taylor and Marriott were hanging on to his coattails, then gap to Pemble, gap to Northcott, Kaczmarczyk and Robinson in 12th.

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Over halfway the gaps eased open a little more, while Brierley got firmly back into Papworth’s wheel tracks, come the back straight he could not pull out of the draft with enough straight left to attempt a pass. Ralph King eased into a lead that never looked threatened, so long as he made no mistakes. To the untrained eye there was not a lot movement in the top 10, this belied the maximum effort being applied. Tiny margins again, Marriott moved by Taylor and onto Crowley’s bumper as open battle for 6th place started, the trio slipping 3secs away from Brierley’s bumper. Sullivan picked up his effort pulling up close to Munro’s bumper to make a pair, as Papworth and Brierley restarted their pairing. Marriott jumped by Crowley, and Nathan was shuffled to the tail of the 6th place battle by Taylor.

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SuperLight Podium, Ralph King (centre), flanked by Beau Sullivan, left 2nd, and Dan Munro.

With two laps to go Ralph King was safe, 2secs clear, and heading for back to back wins in his chase for Daniel Ricciardo Series prizes, at a great time of the season, Munro had to be conscious of Sullivan looking for a way by and on the last lap Dan could hold him no longer, Sullivan through to 2nd place, and after missing a round, Sullivan it appeared to confirm had come back quicker and stronger. Papworth and Brierley made up the top 5. Battle for 6th stayed with Marriott, then Taylor and Crowley. Two seconds behind Pemble, gap to Kaczmarczyk just getting the better of Northcott, and Robinson.

Words: Chris Simpson

Photography: John Patterson