It’s Wins 8 & 9 For Tom Golding, Can Anyone Stop Him Winning The Title At Ellough?

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c100r9-2154With 20 drivers qualifying directly to the Pre A Final, there was still a massive (and it bodes well for 2017) 31 drivers chasing 4 qualifying spots from Pre B Final. To be fair, around Whilton Mill, especially on the Zulu layout, it would require a small miracle, or carnage, to come through outside the first 6 or 7 rows, but I’m sure it has been done before. It would require a great start. As ever it would be a bit of both. Oliver Rowlands on pole position would be heading for an exclusion, Darri Simms on the front row would finish 2 laps down, Jack Vincent on grid 3, ended a lap down. End of a busy lap 1, Benjamin Brown off the 2nd row led Lewis Nurse, Rowlands and Alex Lammin. Brown consolidated his lead, helped in no small part by Rowlands trying to pass Nurse for 2nd. Adam Sircar briefly replaced Lammin, before it all kicked off before halfway. Lammin emerged 2nd, 6secs off Brown managing tricky track conditions, James Venning with Sam Dicker on his bumper half a dozen kart lengths behind. Mathieu Gautier-Thornton, Bobby Dawes, Lee Norris, James Munro all moved forward at Sircar’s expense, Keith Segal made up the top ten. Lammin’s pace was not good enough, Venning, Dicker and Gautier-Thornton moved by in consecutive laps, and the top 4 had pulled into focus. Benjamin Brown managed down his part gifted lead to 3secs by the finish, he deserved it nonetheless ahead of Sam Dicker, off grid 19, James Venning settling into 3rd place off row 7, with Mathieu Gautier-Thornton. Seems like it’s 10 rows when the track is wet.

c100r9-2358The track was still an awkward mix of cold but dry, and damp but not quite wet for the Pre A Final, the strong breeze was working, but it was a cold one, so not doing it particularly quickly. Off turn 1, Golding had made the most of pole position, with the best line and most momentum, leaving Griffiths looking over his shoulder, and vulnerable all the way up to Xmas. He didn’t need to worry, just yet, the 2nd row of Thanassi Barnicoat, was there but not cleanly, but Freddie Fincham was left behind, and it was James Baldwin off grid 5 in 3rd place, gap to Barnicoat, gap to Jonah Barker, indeed the dicing only began at Martin Theodorou and Dominic Green over 6th place, James Martin and Mike Noon looking to take advantage of a chance encounter between a Green brother and a competitor (it seems to happen a lot). On cue, a big hole opened up behind Barker and ahead of Martin and Niki Richardson was on the radio, after contact into Xmas.

c100r9-2340There was not a lot of competition up front by halfway Golding’s lead was out to 2.5secs, Griffiths holding Baldwin at 2secs, Barnicoat had slipped out to 3.4secs. Jonah Barker was 17secs off the leader. No, the fun started in the fight for 6th place, where James Martin held off Ben Atkinson, although he’d soon be replaced by Pietro Pagano towing James Venning, Jon Watkin, Frankie Hedges and Ben Brown. This battle would break Pagano’s way, he’d set off after Barker and pass him in Inkermans for 5th place on the last lap, but there’d be no more positions crucial to keeping Pietro championship bid going beyond Ellough Park, he’d finish 27secs off Golding, and 12secs off 4th place Barnicoat. Golding, who’s biggest obstacle was had been tripping up over lapped traffic, would cruise into win #8 5secs clear of James Baldwin, 11.5secs ahead of Griffiths. Owen had held his own and 2nd place and I can only assume, as I did not see it, that the same back markers, competently taken care off by Golding, on an awkward layout, didn’t play ball and had done for Griffiths as Baldwin came through for the 2nd place on the finish line.

c100r9-2121After missing out in the Pre B Final, Lee Norris and Adam Sircar were well placed on the front row, on a then dry track, to qualify from the B Final, turn 1 was crucial, Sircar disproving the Whilton Mill rule about grid 2 to lead up to Xmas corner, it was Norris looking over his shoulder at James Munro, Alex Lammin off row 2. They’d be in single file through the corner, to their advantage, while it was 2 by 2 starting with Keith Segal holding off Michael White for the rest. Although off Inkermans Segal, White and Craig Summers joined in line, leaving Zulu to sort the wheat from the chaff, men from the boys, choose your metaphor… Lammin shot and missed on Munro around the Boot, Norris lined up Sircar up the hill for the lead, pulling through into Inkermans after Adam went deep into Xmas. Lammin got his move done on Munro behind. Although Alex was 3rd, Norris and Sircar had nearly a seconds advantage, Alex would need Munro, Segal, Summers, White and Darren Martin to play along, if any of them, although chiefly Alex, in his mind, wanted to qualify on his shirt tails. Norris probably needed to drop Sircar out of his slipstream as well. Lee obliged. So 2nd place and a final qualifying spot was in play.

c100r9-2492A couple laps later Lammin had moved into Adam’s draft, he’d also dropped Munro, leaving him to Segal and Summers if they would leave each other alone, to be in position to go for 2nd place. It needed to be clean and quick, and probably inside of Xmas, instead Sircar spun out at Inkermans and from there Lammin joined Norris in scampering away to qualification. Alex followed Lee for a few laps, toying with a move for the lead maybe, before looking over his shoulder and cruising into the finish. No one had challenged James Munro in 3rd place, but James could make no impression on 2 drivers who were just plain quicker, at least not until Darren Martin got up and passed by Summer and Segal, and through Munro 3 laps from the finish but 7.5secs behind 2nd place. Which was pretty academic by then. Darren would be followed in by Summers and Munro. Andrew Hunt had worked his way through to finish 6th ahead of Andrea Fioravanti, but he was carrying, 4 place penalty for contact, possibly a robust change of direction, Lewis Nurse, a disappointing Darri Simms, his Llandow A Final win looking like it belonged to another Darri Simms.

c100r9-2367We’ve discussed the A Final opening exchange in the introduction between Golding and Griffiths, as they tracked around the Boot, Tom returned the wave to acknowledge Owen had given him the position back, and I suppose accepted his apology for a heavy pass into Inkermans. Ending lap 1, Griffiths had a crucial tow from Golding, that he needed to keep as Baldwin, from grid 2, and was recovering, but 0.7secs down, confident after the Pre A Final, that he could run Owen down. A couple kart lengths behind Baldwin, James Venning, was being lined up by Pietro Pagano for the run up to Xmas and needing to clear the drivers ahead to keep the championship going. Frankie Hedges, Ben Atkinson, Martin Theodorou, with Thanassi Barnicoat, edging clear of Ben Brown. Baldwin was informed of his penalty on Jonah Barker up at Xmas, of course RoboMick doesn’t tell the size of the penalty, 1, 2, 4 places or exclusion? So I guess you have to race on, and argue, if you’ve got a case, later.

c100r9-2717By the end of lap 3, Griffiths had fallen off Golding’s kart wash, and it meant his progress from here would be his own, it would take a lap or so, but Baldwin started to edge in from 0.8secs, once it got down to put 0.3secs, say 4 or 5 kart lengths up to Xmas, their game was afoot and Owen was expecting James. Behind Pagano’s pursuit had first been thwarted by the bad timing of a back marker that had allowed Venning back through briefly. Although Pietro would clear Venning again soon enough, any hope of getting on the podium by his own efforts was gone, and a race victory by his own admission, playing down his chances during qualifying, had proved on point and correct. Pietro towed through an expanded chasing line that had lost Barnicoat at Inkermans, a lap so earlier, but added Andrew Ward, Chris Powell and James Martin. Pagano and Venning edged clear of the pack, then so did Hedges and Atkinson and the dicing started at Brown holding off Theodorou and Powell over 8th. Golding was about to push through to a 1secs lead and end the contest for the win, Baldwin moved on to Griffiths bumper, side by side through Zulu is not quick, but it forces someone to lift or be launched over substantial kerbs, Owen let James have the exit line, he could not do anything else or be run out to the grass, at the bottom of the sequence and at the end of the lap Golding was 2.5secs clear.

c100r9-2779From there Griffiths waited for a mistake, an opportunity to repass, never more than 3 or 4 kart lengths away from Baldwin, of course if he’d also seen James penalty notification, he would have known he probably, an appeal not withstanding, did not need to do anything but follow. Pagano threw off Venning into Hedges and Atkinson, but was  sliding out from 6secs out to 14secs, into the closing stages, when Ben Atkinson who had opportuned his way passed between the kerbs in Zulu when Hedges and Venning had clashed off Inkermans, ran down Pagano and as he showed the nose, he’d help first Hedges, then Venning, Theodorou, Brown, Powell and later Andrew Green back on to the 4th place bus heading on to the final lap.

Golding was 20secs up the road picking up the win. Baldwin crossed the line 5secs behind, to learn he was excluded, Griffiths moved back into 2nd. Out of Zulu, and out of my sight, Ben Atkinson had moved up to 4th on the road, ahead Hedges and Venning, and by the looking over the shoulder going on the back straight, something heavy, but presumably penalty free, had gone on between Xmas and Inkermans. Pagano was 7th, heading for 6th. Benjamin Brown would hold off, as he had done for the 2nd half of the race, Theodorou, Powell, James Martin, Andrew Green, also excluded, and Andrew Ward 11th.

Round 10 is at Ellough Park on 30 October 2016.

Photography: Jack Mitchell, JAM Motorsport Photography