KC - Club Championship
Round 2 - Little Rissington - 06/04/03
Race report by Chris Hartley
For the second month in succession, Rissington played host to over 230 drivers. The season-opener may have offered a very positive start to the year, but by the end of this second event the 2003 season had absolutely exploded into life. The racing was pure drama. Collisions between key frontrunners, stoppages, last-corner failures, driving which was energetic, verging on frenzied. Now that's entertainment.
The Formula TKM final best summed up the tone of the event. A massive entry of over 65 meant that C- and B-finals were required to decide the starting line-up for the main event. Oliver Venn, Philip Rose, Mark Newton and Jerry Gifford qualified from the C-final, while James Gubby, Scott Davenport, Luke Embling and Mark Chalmers qualified from the B-final.
In the A-final, James Bartlett and Mike Brinkworth led the charge into turn one, but they were followed by a sizeable pile-up. With at least eight karts involved, the red flags were quickly brought out. Amazingly, the entire grid were able to make the restart, with the exception of the unfortunate Amy Barker.
Upon the restart, there was yet more first-corner incident, although yellow-flags were sufficient this time around. Bernie Smith must have been wondering who he'd upset, as he got delayed for a second time. Up front, Bartlett held the lead from a determined-looking Brinkworth. Ross Allen tucked in behind and the lead trio began to pull a gap. James Holman ran fourth, but was struggling to find a good balance and he gradually began to fall away.
There was a terrific exchange between the leaders midway through the race. Brinkworth charged into first place at the Dog-Leg, only for the resilient Bartlett to return the compliment going into the Elbow, just a few corners later. The pair ran side-by-side for several more laps, with Allen still enjoying a grandstand view of the action from third spot. Further back, Holman, Ian Blake, Nick Pasmore, Guy Tolley and Jamie Bell provided great entertainment in the battle for fourth.
Then, approaching three-quarter distance, Scott Davenport and Tim Wilson came together with a clout and the race was halted for a second time. It was particularly galling for Davenport, who had been making terrific progress from the back of the field. When the race got back underway, Brinkworth continued to press for the lead and then spotted a half-chance going into The Elbow. Unfortunately, his attempted manoeuvre was somewhat clumsy and resulted in a collision. Bartlett was sent skidding across the grass, and did well to avoid a spin - rejoining in around 8th place. Brinkworth stayed on the circuit, only for his equipment to fail a couple of corners later - presumably as a result of the collision.
This promoted Ross Allen into the lead and succeeding in mixing up the top six order. Allen duly kept his cool to win a dramatic race. Mark Allsworth, Blake and Holman followed, with Bartlett recovering to claim an eventual 5th and Passmore a battling 6th.
The Junior Rotax
Max/Junior TKM Intermediate had a staggered rolling-lap, with the faster
125cc machines scheduled to take the green light around 15 seconds ahead of
their 100cc counterparts. At least that was the plan. But when one of the
Intermediates ground to a halt just a few metres into his formation lap, smack
bang on the exit to turn one, the Rotax grid were waved onto a second rolling
lap. Except only half the field saw the signal and some confusion followed, as
the marshalls tried to communicate the false start to a field which wasn't quite
sure whether it was meant to be racing or not.
Second time around, poleman Rupert Parker took an early lead from Chris Dittmann and Lee Leach. Before too long, they were joined by Josh Cuttell and Daniel Russell to make it a terrific five-way tussle for victory. Despite some intense pressure, Parker held the lead for all but a few seconds of the race. But as the lead-pack approached the last lap, they closed upon a couple of backmarkers from the Intermediate field, both of whom were involved in their own private battle.
With four racers breathing down his neck, Parker really couldn't afford any kind delay from these slower karts. So while what followed was certainly a misjudgement on Parker's part, his actions were certainly understandable. Parker lunged desperately into Paddock for the final time, as he attempted to get underneath both backmarkers. The move was never on and all three slid out of the race - both backmarkers making heavy contact with the tyre barrier. Cuttell swiftly took up the lead, from Leach and Daniel Russell.
To continue the slightly chaotic end to the race, the new leader was shown the last lap board for a second time, rather than the chequered flag he had expected. So the pack continued onto the next lap full speed ahead, before the race was eventually red-flagged, so that the stricken backmarkers could receive attention.
While all this was going on, Philip Stanley won the Junior Intermediate class, despite starting from the second-row. After some fine performances in the heats, polesitter Oliver Poxon had looked favourite to claim victory, but he struggled home in third, not helped by one particularly sideways moment. Stanley came under pressure from Matt Allnutt during the closing stages, but drove a mature race to claim the flag. Michael Broadhurst, Adam Saunders and Scott Barnes followed. The sole Junior Minimax entrant, Joseph Williams, failed to finish.
Another thriving entry in Formula Rotax Max resulted in the need for a B-final. Oliver George, Adam Harris, Winston Bent and Mark Siebenaller were all able to qualify onto the back of the A-final grid. At the opposite end of the scale, Richard Palmer claimed pole ahead of championship leader, Adam Constable.
As the front-row men held position, reigning champion, Richard Hughes, had a typically adventurous first lap and moved up to third sport - outgunning Gerard Moore and Dean Arthur in the process. Constable was initially able to press the leader, but ultimately he didn't quite have the legs of a flying Palmer. Meanwhile, Hughes was busy wringing the neck of his machinery to stay within striking distance of the second-place man. Any fractions of a second that he managed to gain throughout the majority of the lap were lost with a sluggish exit from the tight Dog-Leg section. Further back, Moore, Arthur and Shaun Fulford were busy trading places in an exciting battle for fourth.
As Palmer headed for victory and the championship lead, the second and third-place men headed into the penultimate corner of the race together. Then, with Hughes poised to attack, Constable slowed dramatically and the second place man was forced to take evasive action. Within sight of the flag, Constable's machinery gave up the ghost - he eventually crawled across the line in 26th place - allowing Hughes to dart into second. Moore, Fulford and Arthur were next, with novice Jason Bird claiming an excellent sixth.
The Formula 210 Nationals were in action for the opening round of this year's short circuit 210 Challenge. Third in last year's series, Graham Payne announced himself as the man to beat in 2003, by taking victory in all the heats. On two of the three occasions, he won by a massive thirteen seconds.
Still, in the final there was some encouragement for Payne's rivals following a poor start which saw him drop out of the top three. Conversely, 2002 series runner-up, Rob Perkins, had an absolute flyer - rocketing from 8th to 1st place in the blink of an eye. Dyer and Watkins followed, with Payne down to fourth.
Perkins ran at the front for a good portion of the race, but was eventually let down by mechanical woes and had to settle for 10th place, one lap down on the leaders. As the hitherto race-favourite Payne struggled to get on terms with his equipment, Dyer was now able to take up the lead. However, Payne was gradually building up the speed to a crescendo and he duly despatched Watkins at the end of the back straight to move into second.
Dyer didn't relinquish his lead easily, but a rejuvenated Payne proved too strong and the poleman got his nose back in front at three-quarter distance. Dyer continued to hang onto Payne's shirt-tails though and only one second separated the duo at the flag. Watkins took the final podium position, ahead of novice Tom Anderson, who finished a very credible fourth. John Fuller's consistency was rewarded with fifth place, while Mike Coombs took sixth.
In Formula Cadet, poleman Jake Farndon was looking for a second consecutive victory, while club newcomer, Adam Jeffs, continued his impressive start to the season by qualifying on the outside of row one. As the race got underway, the pair were joined by Ben Palmer and James Webb - the only other drivers able to keep the leaders in sight.
At mid-distance, Farndon managed to put a bit of breathing space between himself and Jeffs and for a time, Jeffs had to work hard just to keep Palmer at bay. But the situation was temporary and Jeffs soon began to put Farndon back under some genuine pressure, setting fastest lap along the way. As the leaders approached The Elbow for the last time, Farndon was forced to take a seriously defensive line into the turn. He succeeded in spoiling any chance Jeffs had of outbraking the leader, but Farndon paid the penalty with a slow exit to the corner. Jeffs was able to pull right alongside on the sprint to the finish, but it wasn't enough and Farndon held on to win by just 0.12 seconds.
Meanwhile, Webb almost managed to dislodge Palmer in an equally gripping battle for third. And further back, there was yet more excitement as Alexander Paterson and Patrick Fletcher raced across the line together for fifth and sixth, the latter having worked his way up from 16th on the grid.
The top three finishers in last year's Championship - Alex Checketts, Nick Mathias and Paul Johnson - resumed old rivalries as they all qualified on the front row for the Formula 125 Open final.
But there were mixed fortunes at the start. Checketts got off to a flyer from pole, while the usually fast-starting Johnson made a lacklustre getaway, dropping down to third. Mathias faired worst of all, as he crawled out of the blocks and tumbled down the order.
Checketts made the most of the clear track ahead of him and quickly established a two-second cushion, while Johnson got held up in third. By lap three, Johnson had moved up to second position and began to push hard, using every last inch of tarmac in a determined effort to close the gap. But, try as he might, Checketts remained just out of Johnson's reach and Checketts was able to claim back-to-back wins. Dean Thomas won a close battle with Andrew Ferguson for third, as Mathias recovered to finish fifth, with John Westwood the only other runner to finish on the lead lap, in sixth.
There was an interesting scenario in Formula Junior TKM, as the 2001 and 2002 club champions lined up alongside each other on the front row. Scott Allen was the man on pole, with reigning title-holder, Will Miller as his nearest rival.
Both drivers went for it right away, as they ran side-by-side into turn one. Neither seemed prepared to relent and Miller kicked up dust as he ran out of track on the outside line. As Allen edged in front, Jason Dredge remained super-glued to the leader's rear bumper and was able to sneak through into second place.
All too aware of Allen's ability to establish a race-winning margin during the opening two laps of a race, Dredge pushed his kart to the limits early on. Further back, Miller had his work cut out with the increasingly confident Jason Wilson, who was snapping at the heels of the third-place runner. A good scrap was also developing between Mark Tisdale, Tom Roche, Nick Smith and a charging Dale Bowkett; all now in the hunt for fifth place, following a poor start from row-three qualifier, James Birch.
Into the second half of the race, Allen started to stretch his lead, as he lapped fractionally quicker than Dredge. But the remaining top-six positions were far from decided. Somewhere along the line, Tisdale dropped back, leaving Bowkett and Roche to argue over fifth. Bowkett eventually won that debate and then joined Miller and Wilson to make it a three-way contest for the final place on the podium. A little over half a second separated them at the flag, with Miller only just keeping the tenacious Wilson at bay.
Gavin Bennett looked the odds-on favourite to take the Formula 250 National honours, after taking all three heats and setting some stunning sub 30-second lap times. British Open champion, Mally Witts, and British No. 4, Steve Dennis were Bennett's front-row companions on the starting grid.
A terrific start saw Dennis move straight into the lead, although Witts made him work for it through the first corner. Meanwhile, Bennett struggled off the line and dropped down to third place and there was first-corner chaos as Roy Bennett and Darren Gaulton got into a tangle and span out of the race. Kevin Busby and Dave Oldroyd were also delayed by the incident and lost early ground to Dean Warner, Richard Sanders and Mike Wynell-Mayow, in the battle for fourth.
The main story of the race though, was an exhilarating battle between Dennis and Witts. The leaders pushed each other every single inch of the way. Witts seemed to have a slight speed advantage in second place, but was finding it impossible to outdrive Dennis. Bennett was marginally quicker in third, but never quite able to recreate the amazing turn of speed he had shown in the heats.
The race leader was well
aware that he couldn't afford to put a wheel out of place and Dennis kept his
cool brilliantly to beat Witts by just under two-tenths of a second. Bennett was
a further second adrift, while Oldroyd and Busby both drove with determination
to recover to fourth and fifth respectively, following that bad start. Warner
rounded out the top six.
Driver of the day: James Bartlett, Formula TKM.
Drove with great verve and tenacity all day and led the majority of the final, despite the difficulties of two race stoppages. Incredibly unlucky not to win.
1st Jake Farndon (Zip/Comer)
2nd Adam Jeffs (Zip/Comer)
3rd Ben Palmer (Zip/Comer)
4th James Webb (Shark/Comer)
5th Alexander Paterson (TopKart/Comer)
6th Patrick Fletcher (Zip/WTP)
Formula Junior TKM
1st Scott Allen (Jade/TKM)
2nd Jason Dredge (Jade/TKM)
3rd Will Miller (Venom/TKM)
4th Jason Wilson (Attack/TKM)
5th Dale Bowkett (Jade/TKM)
6th Tom Roche (Attack/TKM)
Junior Rotax Max
1st Josh Cuttell (TopKart/Rotax)
2nd Lee Leach (CRG/Rotax)
3rd Daniel Russell (TonyKart/Rotax)
4th Glen Mullan (TonyKart/Rotax)
5th Matthew Smith (Rotax)
6th Jack Meekings (Project One/Rotax)
1st Daniel Russell (Mike Wilson/Rotax)
Junior TKM Intermediate
1st Philip Stanley (Ultima/TKM)
2nd Matthew Allnutt (Venom/TKM)
3rd Oliver Poxon (Venom/TKM)
4th Michael Broadhurst (Project One/TKM)
5th Adam Saunders (Gillard/TKM)
6th Scott Barnes (Wright/TKM)
1st Ross Allen (Jade/TKM)
2nd Mark Allsworth (Venom/TKM)
3rd Ian Blake (Jade/TKM)
4th James Holman (Venom/TKM)
5th James Bartlett (Venom/TKM)
6th Nick Passmore (ARC/TKM)
Formula Rotax Max
1st Richard Palmer (Tecno/Rotax)
2nd Richard Hughes (Arrow/Rotax)
3rd Gerard Moore (TonyKart/Rotax)
4th Shaun Fulford (Solo/Rotax)
5th Dean Arthur (Mike/Rotax)
6th Jason Bird (TonkyKart/Rotax)
Formula 125 Open
1st Alex Checketts (Gold/Pavesi)
2nd Paul Johnson (Wright/TM)
3rd Dean Thomas (Mike/Pavesi)
4th Andrew Ferguson
5th Nick Mathias (BRM/Pavesi)
6th John Westwood (BRM/TM)
Formula 210 National
1st Graham Payne (Anderson/Nametab)
2nd Garth Dyer (Invader/SPV)
3rd Adrian Watkins (F1/Villiers)
4th Tom Anderson (Anderson/DMV)
5th John Fuller (F1/Motiv Villiers)
6th Mike Coombs (Jade/Villiers)
Formula 250 National
1st Steve Dennis (F1/Honda)
2nd Mally Witts (Jade/Honda)
3rd Gavin Bennett (Anderson/Honda)
4th Dave Oldroyd (Jade/Honda)
5th Kevin Busby (Jade/Honda)
6th Dean Warner (Jade/Honda)
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