With round 3 of the 2012 Sprint Championships finally upon us, it was the turn of North Wales to play host with the undersubscribed field of Heavyweight Clubman drivers arriving at Glan-Y-Gors. The weather would be sure to play it’s part this weekend, with changeable conditions and light showers sure to keep the drivers guessing. As it happened, the rain began falling heavily prior to the racing getting underway, ensuring that it would be a wet start to proceedings at the very least. The excellent North Wales track is one of the drivers’ favourites, with it’s long straights and demanding corners offering a challenge and plenty of exciting action.
All the main players were here once again and ready to do battle. Jamie Crease would be one to watch after his excellent start to the season continues to gather momentum. Barney Langley, Championship leader, was no doubt in buoyant mood after claiming a first win of the season at Clay Pigeon last time out. Could he carry that form on and produce the goods here? Dan Underhill is still waiting for his first win of the season and will no doubt be in the mix, whilst Trevor Randall’s good start to life with the Clubmans will give the other drivers cause for concern. Missing from the action though are Tim Hill, Andrew Cowell and Dan Hoy, the trio all opting not to make the journey to the beautiful Welsh countryside. On the other hand, there were two new faces to the grid for the season. Peter Cowan and Mark Oliver both joined the fray for what are likely to be no more than guest appearances. However both men have the ability to throw a spanner in the works for the front runners and certainly aren’t here just to make up the numbers.
Heat 1 was won with ease by pole-man Jamie Crease in the wet and slippery conditions. He got off to a great start and never looked back, eventually pulling out a 2.6sec gap before taking the chequered flag. Finishing 2nd was Trevor Randall. After starting 5th, he took full advantage of other drivers’ hesitancy and used his experience well to carve his way through and get into 2nd. By the end of the race, the front 2 were a long way ahead of anyone else, with Mike Bodnar over 7.8secs adrift in 3rd. Tom Foy did brilliantly form 9th to come through the pack and take 4th, narrowly ahead of Dan Underhill who himself came through from 10th. There were a few incidents out on track with the drivers struggling to get to grips with the conditions early on. Mark Oliver was given a black flag after he tagged Jamie Bird on the entry to the Carousel on lap 1. Bird was knocked off and his race was ruined. Stu Martin was also given a controversial black flag late on after a coming together with Stephen Jennings. In fact it was Jennings catching the back of Martin as they went through Druids which caused the incident, pushing Martin sideways and only succeeding in spinning himself out. The call went against Martin though and he saw black.
Heat 2 saw Peter Cowan take maximum points after he was able to convert his pole position in the drying conditions. He didn’t have it easy though and was put under immense pressure from Martin all the way, eventually taking the chequered flag by barely a tenth of a second. It was Martin who took 2nd, staying exactly where he started. Paul Jennings settled for 3rd with the impressive Underhill having another great heat to claim 4th after starting 8th. Further back from him was Harry Landy who put in a solid drive from 12th to claim 5th. Surprisingly, no penalties were dished out in what turned out to be a relatively clean race. Alex Withington found himself heading in the wrong direction though as he went from 7th to a lowly 16th. Trevor Randall struggled to make any progress, having to settle for 13th after starting in the same position.
The major surprise for Final 1 was Peter Cowan, making a first sprint appearance for some considerable time, doing enough to earn pole position for Final 1. His endurance team mate Dan Underhill secured himself 2nd, whilst Paul Jennings and Jamie Crease formed row 2. Harry Landy and Tom Foy were 5th and 6th. As the race got underway, the conditions had once again become treacherous after more sporadic showers. As the drivers tip-toed their way through turn 1 it was Paul Jennings who sprung to life, slipping up the inside of both Cowan and Underhill to steal the lead. Underhill managed to get the better exit from the corner to edge ahead of Cowan. As if that start wasn’t bad enough for him, it soon got worse when Jamie Crease out-dragged him along the straight to demote Cowan to 4th. Now he had Tom Foy all over the back of him and applying the pressure. It didn’t take long, with Foy diving up the inside on the entry to the Carousel and Randall trying to follow him through for good measure. He couldn’t pull it off though and had to wait for his next chance. It arrived moments later when the struggling Cowan left the door open into Druids. Randall snapped up the chance and took Landy with him, dropping the helpless Cowan to 7th before the end of lap 1. Underhill in 2nd found himself under pressure from Crease and as the pair came through Druids 2, Crease went deep into the left-hander and muscled his way through to take over 2nd. Further back, Stuart Martin had made a great start to the race and by the end of the lap had skittled his way through the pack and was up to 9th, having started down in 16th. Mike Bodnar lost control of his kart and found himself sliding out of contention before even making it onto the Dragon Straight.
As the drivers came through to begin lap 2, Jennings was on his own in front, with a small gap developing whilst Crease and Underhill fought over 2nd. Underhill struck back when he threw his kart to the inside of Crease at turn 1 and found better traction to re-take 2nd. However, a mistake from Underhill at the Spoon saw him run deep and gifted Crease with the position once more. Tom Foy was just behind the pair and took full advantage to slip through and drop Underhill back to 4th at the Carousel. Just behind them, Martin had continued to maintain his charge and had found a way past three more, including Cowan and Landy to take 6th behind Randall. At the back, Jose Soler went spinning out on the exit of Compression Corner to drop him to the rear of the field. The next lap remained fairly settled, with no position changes at the top of the order. Jennings was still out in front and pushing hard, but Crease was faster and was slowly closing the gap down. Just a lap later he was close enough to strike. He went for the lead when he dived up the inside of the Carousel, but he couldn’t find the grip and ran wide, making contact with Jennings. The pair held it on track and Jennings was able to stay in front. Foy was able to join the party and was now all over the back of Crease in the hunt for 2nd, whilst Underhill had Randall asking all kinds of questions of him as the pair battled for 4th. Adam Nakar did well to get himself ahead of Angus Boath, albeit only for 13th position.
With the rain stopping and the track slowly drying, the action was beginning to heat up nicely. As the front 5 came round turn 1 close together, Foy found himself with a much better exit than Crease and was able to drive clean past him on the run up towards the Spoon. Underhill was right there behind him and followed Foy through to push Crease down to 4th. Just behind, Martin was absolutely flying and had steamed up to the back of Randall. He made a forceful move into the Carousel and muscled his way through to steal 5th. Randall thought better of a move back at him through Compression Corner and settled in behind him. As the drivers came through the twisty complex, Foy launched himself to the inside of Jennings and snatched the lead of the race, with Jennings seemingly unaware of his presence. It was a great move from Foy and all of a sudden the chance for a first ever win had truly presented itself. Underhill was doing his utmost to stick with Foy and he too made a move on Jennings before the lap was over. The door was left open at Paddock Bend by Jennings and Underhill duly obliged, taking 2nd. Crease was now just behind and fancied getting in on some of the action. Seeing his opportunity with Jennings vulnerable, he lunged him at the inside of turn 1. The inside is a slippery part of the track in the wet though and he found no grip, pushing the pair of them wide. A grateful Stuart Martin romped through past the pair of them, quickly followed by Randall. That move from Crease proved costly, with him now down to 5th and poor old Jennings finding himself going from 1st to 6th in the space of a handful of corners.
The next lap saw less drama and a chance for everyone to have a breather and take stock. Foy was out in front and holding Underhill at arm’s length, whilst Stuart Martin was now incredibly up to 3rd place and closing in on the front 2. Randall, Crease and Paul Jennings had lost some ground behind them, whilst Cowan had somehow missed out on all the action and was still bumbling around in 7th. Further back, Jamie Bird found a way past Stephen Jennings and was now into the top 10 as the lap times really began to tumble with the track drying at a rate of knots. As the next few laps passed by, Foy maintained his advantage out in front and was looking good value for the lead. Underhill was being forced to go defensive with Martin all over the back of him. As the pair came through the Spoon, Martin got a great exit and saw his opportunity. Out-braking Underhill into the Carousel, he went to the inside and took 2nd with an excellent move. Underhill looked for the switchback but Martin cut it off to prevent him coming back through. His sights were now set on Tom Foy, barely half a second ahead. An amazing drive for Martin had now presented the opportunity to challenge for what would be a sensational win. With still a few laps left to go, there was plenty of time for more drama. Further behind them, Jennings had regrouped and was now pressuring Crease. He found his way past eventually and moved back into 5th behind Randall. His brother Stephen was doing the opposite though and had now been caught and passed by Mark Oliver for 11th. He fought back though and managed to reclaim the position on the subsequent lap.
As the race entered its closing stages, the tension could be felt everywhere as the spectators watched with baited breath for what other drama would develop. They weren’t to be disappointed. Underhill made an attempt to reclaim 2nd at the Spoon when he dived to the inside of Martin on the penultimate lap. He couldn’t hold it though and lost momentum, with martin able to move back ahead of him. Foy was unable to pull away from the pair and was coming under increasing pressure. As the last lap board came out, the three of them were neck and neck, with any one of them with a real chance to win it. As they flew up towards the Spoon, Martin went for it, launching himself up the inside of Foy and taking the lead. It was short-lived though, as Martin ran wide and Foy forced his way back through underneath him with contact between the pair. Underhill seized on the opportunity and edged ahead of Martin, taking the inside line and stealing 2nd from a visibly frustrated Martin. Underhill now looked for the lead himself and as they came through the complex he tried to barge his way through into Druids. Foy wasn’t having any of it though and refused to surrender the lead. Martin was right with them and the three of them were practically side by side as they came through Paddock Bend. Tom Foy somehow managed to keep his nose in front, taking the chequered flag and an excellent first ever sprints victory to his obvious delight. Underhill and Martin produced a photo-finish as the pair crossed the line side by side, with Underhill edging 2nd by barely 0.03secs. Martin completed a sensational drive from 16th to take 3rd, with the trio producing one of the best races seen so far this year in any class. Randall eventually crossed the line 4secs behind them in 4th, with Paul Jennings just about holding off Crease as they completed the top 6.
So after recovering from that breathtaking first final, it was time for Final 2. Dan Underhill was given the opportunity to take a first win of the season after his fastest lap of the day was enough to secure pole. Jamie Crease was once again up there, taking his place in P2. Randall and Bodnar were on row 2, whilst Landy and Nakar were 5th and 6th. Stuart Martin could only manage 7th, whilst Final 1 winner Tom Foy was way down the order in 15th. The rain had again fallen during the interval and conditions were once again extremely wet and slippery for the start of the race. As they got underway, Underhill seemed to bog down. They crossed the line with Crease too quick on the accelerator and ahead of Underhill, meaning the jump start would cost him a 1-place penalty come the end of the race. Underhill was swamped on the run up to the Spoon and found himself losing out to both Crease and Randall, dropping down to 3rd in the process. Adam Nakar found himself squeezed out and onto the grass on the way up to the Spoon, causing him to drop way down the order. Stephen Jennings had made an electric start and had filed his way through into 8th after starting down in 16th. All eyes were on the leaders though and Randall was looking rapid. He made his move for the lead as they came through Druids, sending one up the inside of Crease at the left-hander to take the lead. Underhill wasn’t close enough to take advantage and crossed the line narrowly ahead of Bodnar in 4th.
As they came round for lap 2, Randall put his foot down and began to pull away. He looked at home in the conditions and was creeping away from Crease who was unable to match his pace. Underhill was now finding his rhythm and beginning to chase down Crease in search for 2nd. Further back, plenty of shuffling was taking place, with Mark Oliver forcing his way past the drivers in front to move into 5th. Stephen Jennings was continuing his excellent start and had now worked himself into 7th ahead of Langley. There was to be no repeat of Final 1 for Martin, this time going backwards as he came under fire from all directions. By the end of lap 2 he had sunk back 6 positions to 13th. Tom Foy wasn’t faring much better, just ahead of Martin in 12th. Mark Oliver was the quickest man on the track and by lap 3 had caught up with Bodnar. It didn’t take him long to find a way past, making his move and taking 4th in the process when Bodnar made a mistake and almost dropped it at Paddock Bend. It was all beginning to get congested in the mid-pack though, with Stephen Jennings slugging it out with Withington and Langley for position. Contact between them as they fought tooth and nail resulted in Withington being overtaken by the other two men. Langley then made a mess of things when he out-braked himself into the Carousel, spinning off and almost collecting Cowan in the process. Meanwhile, Foy was really having a hard time at the back and as he came through the complex with Paul Jennings and Martin, Foy was forced off the track and across the grass as a result of contact. He was adjudged to have been at fault, with a 4-place penalty being his reward. As if that wasn’t enough, Foy was then deducted a lap for using a cut through, meaning any hope of a solid Final 2 were dashed.
Out in front, Randall was still leading the pack but Crease was fighting back and had managed to reduce the deficit. Underhill couldn’t stick with him though and had fallen back, with Bodnar now looking to close in on him after getting himself back ahead of Oliver. That was only thanks to Oliver taking it upon himself to emulate Langley and lock his brakes on the approach to the Carousel. With the yellow flags still out due to Langley being pushed away, Oliver slid off track and jumped out of the kart with flailing arms, clearly rather annoyed with himself after throwing away a great opportunity from 4th. Just behind, Stephen Jennings was in full flow and catching Landy for 5th. Before the end of lap 5 he’d got himself ahead and opened up a gap. He had his work cut out to catch Bodnar though, with the gap between them a massive 6secs. Cowan and Withington were having a good little tussle over 7th but losing ground to those in front of them. At the back, Foy had got himself going again and was squabbling with Martin and Soler as no one was seemingly able to pull away and make a move stick.
As the laps rolled by, Crease continued his charge and before long was right behind Randall. He applied the pressure and looked for an opportunity, but Randall is a seasoned competitor, keeping his head and not making any mistakes as he fended off the advances from behind. Underhill was failing to make any ground up and was 2secs adrift of the leading pair. He’ll probably already have known about the penalty to Crease though, which effectively meant he was 2nd. Further back, Cowan made a great move on Withington to take 7th at the Carousel. However things were to turn sour. In his desperate efforts to get back ahead of Cowan, Withington made a clumsy move as they approached Druids on the following lap. The pair came together and both men fell off the track, dropping them out of contention and gifting Jamie Bird with 7th. Withington subsequently saw the black flag, which signalled the end of his race with only 6 laps completed. The following laps were fairly uneventful though, with Randall again beginning to pull away from Crease and looking good for the win. Underhill had started clawing back some of the deficit but was still over a second behind Crease as they entered the closing stages. The penultimate lap saw Jamie Bird finally find a way past Landy for 6th. Paul Jennings was with him and followed him through as Landy dropped to 8th. Meanwhile at the back there was more drama with Tom Foy as he found himself hung out to dry by Angus Boath, with Oliver and Martin also barging their way past.
As the last lap board came out, Randall was on his own and took the chequered flag comfortably ahead of Crease to secure his 2nd win in as many race weekends. Crease was untroubled on his way to crossing the line 2nd on track, but that 1-place penalty meant he was in fact 3rd. Underhill kept Bodnar at arm’s length to secure that 2nd place, with the latter taking a relatively untroubled 4th. A massive 9secs behind him was Stephen Jennings. It wasn’t quite a repeat of Martin’s efforts in Final 1, but 16th to 5th capped a fantastic performance for Jennings, who in the end was easily ahead of Bird and his brother Paul. They took 6th and 7th, with Landy settling for 8th. Jose Soler found himself mugged for 9th in the final few corners as he fell back from 9th to 12th. Adam Nakar was the man to steal it from him, with Boath and Oliver also coming through.
So some action-packed racing saw some terrific performances and a colossal battle for the lead in Final 1. Tom Foy will be delighted with his first ever win, despite an unsuccessful Final 2. Randall’s win in Final 2 means he scores heavily again and continues to assert his presence on the grid. He may be further down the standings as a result of missing Round 1, but make no bones about it he will be right up there come the end of the season at this rate. After 3 rounds, Jamie Crease finds himself on top in the standings thanks to yet more big scores. The consistent Dan Underhill is now 2nd thanks to two 2nds this weekend. He’ll be itching to get that first win of the year under his belt at Llandow. Langley drops to 3rd after a less fruitful weekend, with Paul Jennings and Tom Foy completing the top 5.
Driver of the day could be awarded to any number of performers yet again this weekend. Tom Foy was superb on his way to winning Final 1, whilst Randall was on the mark yet again with a 4th and a win to strengthen his Championship credentials. Stuart Martin was outstanding in Final 1 after coming tantalisingly close to a win from 16th on the grid and he continues to go from strength to strength. Jamie Crease always finds himself at the sharp end of the grid and has done so again this weekend with two excellent scores. The Driver of the Day though has to be Dan Underhill though. The epitomy of consistency this season, he continues the trend by taking two hard fought and well deserved 2nd places here in North Wales. That’s now 4 podiums out of a possible 6 and despite not quite getting that win yet, he’s showing why he’s strongly tipped for taking the Clubman crown this year.
CLUB100 Racing Ltd, Bon Accord House
Castle Road, Eurolink Commercial Park, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10 3SJ
Tel: 01795 422455 Fax: 01795 427606
Home | Sprint Series | Endurance Series | Testing | Testimonials | Brochure | Membership Forms | Technical Spec | Calender | Latest | Articles | Race Reports | Tracks Directory | Forum | Rules & Regs | Links | Midweek Events | Club100 TV