Aston extend their lead with Whilton win


Eddie Hall
Clubman Endurance Championship 2019, Rd.8,

Things are hotting up as the season slowly draws to a close.

As the season reaches its climax, the pressure is starting to mount for the championship contenders. The nature of the Whilton Mill track means lap times are always close so the title protagonists all need to pull something extra out of the bag today.

Aston Racing starred in Qualifying and set times right up there with the top prem teams. They took pole by a comfortable margin from CKS Throatpunchers. All Torque did well in third, JRG fourth and Lucid Initiatives well up in fifth. Notable names not having such a good day included Pixel Pirates in 26th, Runtime Exception Racing in 28th and Ballinger well off the pace in 31st and last.

The pole sitters got away cleanly and led the rest of the teams round the opening lap. The Throatpunchers dropped to fourth behind All Torque and Lucid Initiatives. The latter didn’t hold the position for long and dropped a few places back on lap two.

The next few laps saw the running order shake up a lot as teams up and down the field employed different pit strategies. Aston maintained their advantage and led the early part of the race. All Torque and CKS Throatpunchers ran second and third before an early stop for All Torque dropped them out of sequence. This promoted Lucid Initiatives, JRG and SMC595 up a few places.

Once the first round of stops was out of the way, Conman had managed to work their way into the lead. Aston and All Torque were right on their tail and poised for attack. All Torque made the first move and snatched second from Aston Racing on lap 30. Four laps later they pulled the same move on Conman for the lead. Once again, the close running order at the front saw a real mix up when teams started diving into the pits.

After two rounds of stops, Aston were back in command. CKS Throatpunchers were their nearest challenger but a few seconds behind. Lucid Initiatives were an impressive third and holding off a severe challenge from the likes of SMC, Auditing Armageddon and Slickspeed. They had their work cut out if they hoped to achieve their first podium finish for several years.

Conman had dropped off the leading group. There were 17 black flags over the course of the 2 hour race so it was hard to keep up. What was clear was SMC, Auditing Armageddon and Slickspeed were quietly getting on with the job in the mid field. M&M, Pixel Pirates, Keen As Mustard, JRG and Runtime Exception Racing were all doing something in the mid field. It wasn’t very interesting but it was something.

The running order remained fairly stable after the halfway point in the race. The top three remained unchanged and Lucid Initiatives had managed to build a bit of a gap to All Torque who were now in fourth. Further back and Runtime Exception Racing, Pixel Pirates and Keen As Mustard were doing something slightly more interesting. They had got embroiled in a three-way battle in the midfield. JRG and Conman were fighting over 20th place and M&M were well out of position behind these two – another team with suspected black flags. Seriously, I couldn’t keep track. Poor Ballinger were still struggling and were yet to make it off the bottom of the time sheet.

After four rounds of pit stops, Aston Racing had increased their lead over CKS Throatpunchers to nearly 20 seconds. Lucid Initiatives were some way further back but still had a comfortable lead over fourth placed All Torque. The battle between All Torque, Slickspeed and JRG had faded away and a gap had emerged between all the runners. Keen As Mustard had fallen further down the order.

After two hours, Aston Racing cruised home to an easy win. CKS Throatpunchers came home an impressive second. It was great to see Lucid Initiatives back on the podium in third. I think it’s been three years since their last podium.

There third win of the season sees Aston Racing extend their lead in the championship to 10 points. CKS Throatpunchers are still second and JRG third. It’s still really a two horse race between Aston and the Throatpunchers and, on current form, you’d have to say Aston hold the advantage.