A Maiden Win for James Venning, But Mike Noon Moves To The Top Of The Championship


Steve Gray
Lightweight Sprint Championship 2018, Rd.3,

Rye. The home of British Karting. A proud boast from another iconic track. Is it the Karting equivalent of Monte Carlo with the canal as its backdrop? Probably not. Great track though and good for spectating too as its compact nature allows for a view of the whole circuit. It’s one of the oldest Kart circuits in the country and is, as most people are aware, the circuit where Lewis Hamilton was first introduced to motor racing. Like many circuits it’s getting ready for some re-surfacing and it’s a pity about the permanently wet infield which can lead to water being dragged on to the track. But then, that’s part of the challenge. For the third round in a row the weather was overcast and cold with a threat of rain later in the day. A day for the spectators to wrap up well. Or hide in the Clubhouse!

Qualifying

Freddie Fincham And James Venning were quickest out of the traps in Group 1 immediately popping in sub forty four second laps but they couldn’t improve and it was Chris Woodger who came out on top with a 43.365 on his last flying lap. Tom Mackenzie and Andrew Ward completed the top five.

A slower Group 2 with only Mike Noon posting a sub forty four second lap. His 43.730 would be good enough to put him third on the grid for the pre-A final. Jon Gooch, Mathew Bell, Tom Maton and Emily Rogers were the top five.

Pre B Final

Billy Robson on pole from Craig Rankine with Keith Segal and Joshua Sergeant on row two. Row three, Terry Oliphant and Pez Taraj from Jed Hicks and George Wood on four.
Segal got the better start and was in front by the time the field reached the first hairpin. Ben Jones and Jack Hounsham, starting from ninth and eleventh were early spinners. By the end of the lap Segal led from Robson, Rankine and Sergeant. Sergeant took his chance down the inside into Stadium but both Robson and Rankine were resolute in their defence and as they headed out of Stadium they were three abreast into the left hander onto the short straight. Sergeant, now on the outside, didn’t back off and ran out of track. Straight into the large puddle that had formed just off the circuit. JV had warned about this in the briefing. Sergeant was momentarily lost in the huge cloud of steam and as he regained the track he dragged an awful amount of water with him. He inevitably spun at the first hairpin. Hicks, in fifth, managed to slow sufficiently to get round the corner but Oliphant and Teraj joined Sergeant. As did Wood. At the end of the lap Segal led from Robson, Rankine and Hicks with Alessandro Carloni in fifth having started on grid thirteen. And Charles Jackson was next, after starting from grid twelve. By the time the leaders reached the hairpin the carnage had not been completely cleared. Segal slowed, raised his arm and went to the inside. There was just no grip and he understeered gently into a stationary Kart, lost momentum and stalled. As did Robson and Rankine behind. All this promoted Carloni into the lead with Jackson second from Hicks who had just managed to avoid the stalled Karts at the hairpin. Incredibly Segal was picked up quickly by a pusher and resumed in fourth. Carloni continued to lead but Hicks was putting pressure on Jackson and by half distance he was into second and closing in on the leader. With two thirds of the race run he was at the front and reeled off the remaining six laps to take the win by over four seconds from Segal who took Carloni with just four laps to. By the flag he was over eleven seconds clear of Carloni. Oliphant took the final qualifying spot helped by late race spins from Jackson and Robson. Sergeant set the fastest lap but was two laps adrift at the flag. And no one got a penalty.

Pre A Final

Pole for Chris Woodger after his qualifying heroics with Freddie Fincham alongside. Mike Noon and James Venning on row two from Tom Mackenzie and Andrew Ward. Ben Atkinson and Club 100 returnee Graeme Coombes on row four. Graeme is no longer a regular racer but despite being very rusty he’s still clearly got the pace. Adam Wheeldon and John Gooch completed the top ten. After the excitement of the previous two races what would the lights throw up? Very little as it happened. Woodger led the field away and despite the usual bumping and boring the field stayed pretty much intact. Woodger led across the line at the end of the lap with Noon up to second ahead of Fincham. Mackenzie ran fourth but Venning was back into the place by the end of lap two. And that was how the front runners remained save for Venning taking third from Fincham mid-race. Woodger pulled himself clear at the front and set the fastest lap of the race with Noon, Venning and Fincham circulating within a few Kart lengths of each other and well clear of Atkinson in fifth who held off Wheeldon by just 0.070 at the flag. Rob Langthorp, Matt Jones, Coombes and Mackenzie completed the top ten.

B Final

Hounsham on pole from Rankine with Carew and Wood on row two. Ben Jones and Jackson on row three from Sharma and Taraj and Robson and Sergeant on row five and Elohim Ribeiro bringing up the rear. Rankine and Carew both got the better of Hounsham down into the first hairpin to lead the field across the line at the end of the lap. Wood was fourth behind Hounsham with Jones fifth. Sharma and Teraj both spun but were quickly back on the move. With two laps run it was clear that Rankine certainly had the pace to take the win but there was a real battle for the second qualifying spot beginning to develop. Sergeant was moving up the order as was the recovering Taraj. Mid race and they were closing in on Hounsham and Wood in third and fourth. Sergeant made it through at the hairpin but in trying to follow him Taraj spun Hounsham out. Rankine continued to pull clear at the front with Carew still second and now defending from Sergeant. Jones was holding off Taraj whilst Wood had dropped back to sixth and out of the hunt and only just ahead of Robson. Sergeant got by Carew for second but despite his best efforts couldn’t close the gap to the leader. Taraj meanwhile was still not giving up the chase and dispatched Jones and Carew in successive laps to run third. It was not without contact though. A twelve place deduction would see him classified last. Rankine took the win with Sergeant crossing the line a comfortable second only to be excluded at the post race weigh in handing the second qualifying spot to Carew who held off Robson at the flag by just 0.048 as they crossed the line.

A Final

Woodger on pole from Noon. Venning and Fincham on row two with Atkinson and Wheeldon on three. Langthorp and Matt Jones on four with Graeme Coombes and Tom Mackenzie completing the first five rows. Woodger led the field away but Noon lost out to Venning. Fincham too dropped a place to slot in behind Atkinson whilst Wheeldon lost out badly round and out of Stadium dropping to ninth behind Langhtorp and Coombes. Woodger continued to lead with Venning just a few Kart lengths back ahead of Noon. Atkinson remained ahead of Fincham with Coombes pressing Langthorp hard and holding off the attentions of Wheeldon who had slipped by Jones into Stadium at the start of the second lap. Two laps later he was up to sixth taking full advantage when Coombes dived up the inside of Langthorp at the second hairpin. He made the move stick but they both ran wide allowing Wheeldon to get better traction and take them both. Woodger continued to hold his advantage from Venning and Noon with Atkinson fourth from Fincham. Wheeldon though was closing in rapidly. He was mighty out of the final turn and alongside Fincham as they headed into Stadium. Fincham didn’t defend and Wheeldon began to close down Atkinson. Within a lap he was on his bumper and diving to the inside into Stadium. Atkinson defended, hard, and Wheeldon backed out. Down into the hairpin he was too far back but a following Fincham decided to try for them both. It was a poor move. He missed Wheeldon but took out Atkinson allowing Wheeldon up into fourth. At the front Woodger still led from Venning and Noon but Wheeldon had the bit between his teeth and was closing in on Noon helped by Woodger making his Kart very wide in defending his position. Wheeldon got ever closer and got a good run out of the final turn to depose Noon down into Stadium for third. Noon briefly got his bumper ahead out of the first hairpin but Wheeldon was on the inside for the next turn and held his place. Wheeldon rapidly closed the gap to Woodger and Venning and was intent on moving further forward. He was very committed all race out of the final turn and pulled almost alongside Venning as they headed down to Stadium. But Venning squeezed him on the straight and forced him to back out. Venning finally got a run on Woodger down into Stadium and took the lead with just three laps to go. Woodger got a little out of shape in the final turn and Wheeldon moved into second at the end of the main straight. But could he take the win? He closed in rapidly but Venning was wise to his move down the main straight moving to the right on the straight to defend into Stadium and sending Wheeldon the long way round. Great driving from both of them. Venning took the win and his first podium by just a couple of Kart lengths from Wheeldon. It was his first podium too. Woodger held onto third and valuable points despite Noon, Fincham and Coombes closing him down over the latter stages. Fincham however got hit with an eight place deduction dropping him to thirteenth and promoting Coombes into fifth. Mackenzie placed sixth with Ward, Westwood, Bell and Moody completing the top ten.

The Championship

Mike Noon takes over at the head of the standings after Freddie Finchams bad day sees him drop to second. Chris Woodger is third from winner James Venning and Adam Wheeldon in what is shaping up to be a hotly contested Championship.

Reflections

A day for a few firsts. A first Clubman’s win for Darrell Lowe. A first win in the Lights for James Venning. A first win for Seb Algieri in the Heavies and A first SHW win for Paul Williams. Great to see the joy spread around.
Will it ever warm up? With a month to go before the next round at Shenington JV has promised that it will. So don’t forget your umbrellas. I confess that I was so cold at Rye that I didn’t spend as much time in the paddock as I would have liked instead opting for the relative warmth of race control. A very interesting experience listening to all the radio chatter and watching just how much work goes into making the days racing so successful. We saw some very good marshaling too at Rye. They were very alert and used the blue flags when necessary to good effect. A couple of points to note. It was a little disappointing to see several drivers throwing the front end of the Karts down when things hadn’t gone right. Don’t blame the karts. They are not at fault and should be loved and cherished. Also, let’s not forget the golden rule. When you spin off, get your foot on the brake. No one should need reminding of this.

See you all at Shenny, the Club’s first visit for eleven years. It’s good to have a change!!