And It’s Done! Inevitably Joe Holmes Wraps Up Title, Richard Allen is SuperHeavy Champion
Off to Cambridgeshire for the penultimate round at the twisty Red Lodge circuit. Loved and hated in equal measure it seems by the drivers. It’s a very technical track and it so easy to make a mistake and lose momentum. One driver summed it up as great to drive, hard to race on. It’s certainly fun to watch. From the start line the first corner is a flat out left turn leading onto a short straight and then the first hairpin, Senna, a tight left and the scene of many a coming together. The exit is a tight right followed by a straight and then the 180. As the name suggests another hairpin which then opens out into a gentle right handed curving straight leading to the Warren, a left hander which leads onto the back straight. This run ends with a long left hander leading into the Esses, a sharp left followed by a right which opens out onto the Simpson straight which brings the field back down towards the Paddock area. There’s a quick right kink followed by a tighter left turn which takes the drivers back onto the start finish straight. First out for the day’s entertainment the Heavyweight/SuperHeavyweight classes.
The Road to the Finals
Joe Holmes set his stall out for the day taking the first heat win by over seven seconds after working his way through the field from grid seven in the early stages. Miguel Hall took second having led briefly but he was aided by Steven Downes getting hit by a cone penalty dropping him to third. Damien Holmes was fourth and first of the SHW runners with Stephen Jennings putting in a strong drive to take fifth after starting from grid fourteen.
A strong field for the second heat saw Adam Wright lead away from pole to lead all but the final two laps. Anwar Beroual-Smith also started from the front row and stayed close to Wright all the way before making a move on the penultimate lap to open his account for the day with a win. Steve Bosley took a fine third. Having started there he fell behind Mark Ridout, who had started fifth, before slipping by three from home. Fifth went to Steve Brown. Starting from grid twelve he fought his way to fifth just before half distance. Thereafter he cut the gap to fourth place but there were not enough laps left to mount a challenge. The top five finished over ten seconds clear of sixth place.
Heat three went to a gleeful Craig Brown the Class two Championship contender moving into the lead third time around after starting from grid five. Tarik Almou chased him all the way having started alongside Brown. These two were well clear of third placed Aaron Stevens who was also well clear of the battle for fourth which went to Chris Reynolds from Andrew Cherry.
Heat four went to Alex Pritchard. Starting from grid five he was into the lead at the end of the first tour. Over the next few laps he continued to pull clear of the chasing pack but much to the bemusement of many every time he crossed the start/finish line he was gesticulating in a what many took to be a ‘’look at me aren’t I great?’’ manner. As one group said it would serve him right if he spun off. Not a view I endorse but I could see their point. Frankly I thought at best it was just silly and at worst, disrespectful to the other drivers. However, his hands were firmly on the wheel over the final two laps as he had Beroual-Smith bearing down on him. Starting from grid twelve he’d worked his way carefully through the pack. A couple of more laps and he might well have taken his second win of the day. But it was a valuable point’s haul. Chidgzey took third from Chris Gristwood and Stephen Netting.
Heat five fell to Steve Brown. Starting from grid five he took over at the front three laps in and led the rest of the way chased by SHW Richard Allen who went over the line second only to drop to third after a cone penalty. Daniel Cohen was promoted to second with Joe Holmes fourth. After starting on the back of the grid he moved into the top ten by the end of the first lap and then picked his way steadily up the order. Steve Bosley took fifth.
Stephen Jennings crossed the line first after the sixth heat only to be denied the win after a cone penalty which handed the win to Stephen Westwood. But he was found to be underweight which led to his exclusion and handed the win to Adam Wright. Andrew Cherry was promoted to fourth with Miguel Hall fifth, a place which would have gone to Craig Brown but he suffered a four place penalty for a bump and pass. Valuable points lost.
Pete Jankowski claimed the seventh heat. Starting from the front row alongside Richard Newton he took the lead second time around and was never headed crossing the line almost two seconds clear of second place. Newton held the place for much of the race only to lose out on the penultimate lap to Steven Downes and Chris Gristwood and then losing fourth to Dan Cohen on the final lap. To compound his misery he then dropped two further places for cone abuse handing fifth to Richard Allen.
Steve Brown took the penultimate heat. Starting from grid ten he was up to third as the field crossed the line at the end of the first lap. Two laps later he was at the front and then pulled clear for a comfortable win. Dan Taylor took second after starting from pole. He dropped to fourth early on but fought back. Stephen Jennings took third for more valuable points ahead of Tarik Almou and Steve Bosley.
Joe Holmes took the final heat win. A comfortable win after starting from grid four he was in the lead by over a second and a half by the end of the lap. Beroual-Smith took second. He had to work for it though after starting from grid sixteen. He made up ground rapidly early in the race but then his progress stalled a touch before finally making it through into second with three to run. A points haul which would see him on pole for the A Final. Nima Oparvar took third. A good solid drive this too. He’d started from pole but dropped to second behind Holmes. But then he more than held his own in second before succumbing to Beroual-Smith and then losing out on the penultimate lap to Mark Ridout and Craig Brown. But Ridout and Brown both had cone penalties promoting Oparvar back to third. Well deserved.
Heavyweight/SuperHeavyweight B Final
There were no Class one drivers in the B Final all having made it through the heats leaving SHW Jordan Salter on pole with James Workman alongside. SHW Blaze Sienko shared row two with Richard Burrows with SHW Lee Henderson alongside Steve Lindley on row three. Row four saw SHW Richard Newton alongside Kelly Rogers. SHW Bill Taylor was alongside Mark Turner with SHW and CLUB100 veteran and stalwart fellow, Paul Williams on row six alongside Joe Reynolds. Robert Purtak and Jaeden Cadogan occupied row seven with Tommy Welsh and Benjamin Robinson on row eight. Row nine saw Dan Giles alongside Nick Breadner whilst Alex Joyner and SHW Vinod Harani shared row ten. Stephen Netting and SHW Chris Solomon were on row eleven with SHW Damien Holmes alongside Tony Holmes on row twelve. The penultimate row had Stephen Westwood alongside Lee Carey with Dmitry Zeldin bringing up the rear.
Salter led the pack round the final corner but instead of bringing the pack steadily up to line he floored the throttle and crossed the line over two tenths ahead of Workman in second. A bit eager that. Usually the gap across the line can be measured in hundredths. But he escaped any sanction. By the end of the lap he was even further up the road with Workman second ahead of Sienko from Burrows and Newton who crossed the line just 0.039 ahead of Lindley. He couldn’t hold the place however and Lindley was soon back in front. Henderson’s chances went as he spun, a fate which also befell Rogers. Turner too was delayed and he would ultimately retire at half distance. For lap after lap the top eight circulated in train pulling away from the rest of the field. Salter was over two seconds up the road with half the race run whilst Workman was equally comfortable in second over two seconds up on third placed Sienko. Burrows was a few Kart lengths back with Lindley a couple of Kart lengths adrift of him. Newton had fallen away and had Taylor closing in whilst Williams was just a few lengths back and looking very racy. Breadner was some five seconds further back in ninth.
Eight laps in and there was still no change amongst the top five but Taylor had found away round Newton with Williams still eighth. Newton fought back and a lap later he was back ahead of Taylor who now had Williams almost on his rear bumper. Once there Williams wasted no time in slipping by. Salter continued to pull clear at the front with Workman comfortable in second. Game over for the qualifying spots. Sienko though was having to fight to retain third with Burrows and Lindley still in with a shout. But he held on. Salter took the win by over six seconds with Workman a comfortable second three seconds clear of Sienko. But it was so close at the end with Lindley crossing the line just 0.029 adrift as they broke the timing line and Burrows also alongside just 0.073 adrift of Lindley. But it mattered not. Both had cone penalties. Newton crossed the line sixth but he too had a cone violation with Williams seventh from Taylor, Damien Holmes and Breadner. With the penalties applied however the results changed rather a lot. The top three remained the same but Williams was promoted to fourth as Lindley dropped to fifth. Burrows dropped to sixth, Newton dropped to seventh, Taylor remained eighth with Holmes and Breadner ninth and tenth. Holmes was also the fastest SHW with Westwood the fastest Class two runner.
Heavyweight/SuperHeavyweight A Final
Despite taking just one win in the heats Anwar Beroual-Smith just edged out double heat winner Joe Holmes to take pole by a single point. Steve Brown and Stephen Jennings shared row two. A good effort from the returning Jennings. Adam Wright and Class two Championship contender Steven Downes occupied row three. Dan Taylor and Steve Bosley were on row four ahead of Miguel Hall and Pete Jankowski. Craig Brown and SHW Richard Allen shared row six with Mark Ridout and Andrew Cherry on row seven. Alex Pritchard and Tarik Almou were on row eight with Chris Gristwood and Lennie Wood behind on ten. Next up SHW Kieran Chidgzey alongside Daniel Cohen followed by Aaron Stevens and Mike Bodnar. The penultimate row saw SHW Chris Reynolds alongside Nima Oparvar followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final SHW Salter and Class two driver Workman.
Beroual-Smith brought the pack up to the line knowing that the lead through the first turns was going to be vitally important for his race chances. But Holmes had a plan which he executed to perfection. Coming up to the line he held back by a few feet before planting his foot on the go pedal. He crossed the line just 0.043 adrift of Beroual-Smith but with much greater momentum. It was a risky manoeuvre which could so easily have seen him jump the start and forfeit any chance of the win. Into the first turn he swept across Beroual-Smith’s bows to take the lead. By the end of the lap he was seven tenths clear with Beroual-Smith second and seven tenths ahead of Brown who had Wright just a Kart length behind. And already the top four had broken clear of the pack headed by Downes. Down the order Ridout had made a great start and was closing in on Jankowski. Jankowski forced him wide. He would later claim he didn’t see him but no matter. Ridout dropped back before fighting back. This time he was the aggressor punting Jankowski out. Retribution? Only he knows the answer to that question but he would be excluded from the results post race whilst Jankowski would finish down in twenty third place. At the front it was as you were with Holmes extending the gap back to Beroual-Smith and the latter extending the gap to third placed Brown whilst Wright was agonisingly close to Brown but just not quite close enough to him to challenge for third. Taylor was just 0.084 ahead of Downes as they crossed the line for the fifth time but Downes had the momentum and took the place into the first turn. Hall was seventh with Craig Brown, Bosley and Jennings completing the top ten in what was turning into something of a procession.
Two thirds distance and Holmes had the lead by almost four seconds whilst Beroual-Smith was keeping the gap back to Brown to just under two seconds. And Wright was still snapping at Browns rear bumper. Downes was running a lonely fifth some two seconds clear of the chasing pack still led by Taylor. And that, save for Hall getting by Taylor was how it all ended. Holmes crossed the line over six seconds clear to clinch the Heavyweight crown with Beroual-Smith second one and a half seconds clear of Brown who still had Wright snapping at his bumper like an annoying puppy. Great drives from all four. Downes was next over four seconds adrift of Wright but three seconds up from Hall. Both however were hit by cone penalties promoting Taylor from seventh to fifth and first in Class 2 with Downes and Hall second and third.
Craig Brown took seventh with Jennings next over the line but penalised down to eleventh for cone abuse handing ninth to Pritchard and tenth to Bosley. Richard Allen took first in the SHW division confirming the SHW Championship crown with Chidgzey second and Salter third to claim his second trophy of the day.
Championship Round Up
Joe Holmes eighth A Final win from ten rounds makes him the 2019 HW Champion. Congratulations to him. And no one can say he doesn’t deserve it. He’s been brilliant this year. Steve Brown will finish second but third place is a real fight between Adam Wright and Anwar Beroual-Smith with just one point separating them as we head to final round at Buckmore.
Class two is mightily close. Steven Downes heads Craig Brown by just two points with Dan Taylor fourteen points adrift. Winner takes all!
Richard Allen cemented his place as the SHW Champion. His first year in CLUB100 but he is highly experienced. Eighth in the overall standings is no mean result either. Expect a strong finish at Buckmore. Kieran Chidgzey is currently second and whilst Trevor Randall is lying third his season is over which effectively puts Paul Williams up to third.
There were far too many penalties on Sunday. Red Lodge is tight and twisty. It requires a calm and measured approach. Drivers need to use their brains a bit more. And there were some silly incidents with drivers acting like petulant children. One driver skidded to a halt on the start and finish line and stormed off. He was very fortunate not to be excluded from the rest of the meeting but suffered an enormous grid penalty instead. Our observers do an outstanding job but they are only human. Sometimes different angles can give a contrasting view so if you get a penalty there is only one way to appeal it. Talk to the Clerk of the Course. Niki will always listen. But don’t just go up to him in an aggressive manner and claim innocence particularly if it’s for a bump and pass penalty. Bring the other driver with you. If the ‘’wronged’’ driver supports your claim then I have never known Niki not to rescind a penalty. But always, always, appeal in a polite manner. Shouting and arm waving will only raise the blood pressure. And don’t appeal jump starts. The clock doesn’t lie. Same goes for cone penalties. Waste of everyone’s time. But amusing I suppose when a driver claims he only hit it because someone had knocked it into his path!
This season has flown by.
See you at Buckmore for the series finale.
Words: Steve Gray
Photography: John Patterson