Championship Tense! A Win For Browning, It’s Still 3 Going To Buckmore!
The second visit of the year to Whilton Mill reports Steve Gray and this time using the shorter ‘Zulu’ circuit which turns the flat right handed Inkermans into a tight hairpin before running into a short straight and then a tricky left, right, left sequence of corners known as Zulus one, two and three and named not after some African tribe or 60’s film but christened after the circuit owners dog. The final left hander leads onto the back straight. Some love the configuration and some loathe it but never let it be said that Club 100 doesn’t supply variety. Into the afternoon and the clouds finally began to break up to give the fine weather the weather forecasters had promised for the Lightweights and Heavyweights/ Super Heavyweights events. And it was good to see a healthy turnout too necessitating B finals in both categories.
Adrian Brammer looked as though he was going to be quickest in Group one but it was newcomer Henry Jackson who surprised everyone setting the fastest time and breaking the forty four second mark. Sadly, he was excluded for being underweight. Championship contender James Browning ended up at the top of the timesheet from a surprised Andy Cowell who isn’t the best of qualifiers normally. Brammer took third from Andrew Dawson with Craig Rankine fifth.
Adam Wright took Group two from Championship leader Mark Ridout. It was mightily close though with just 0.013 separating them. Alexander Lammin was third fastest from Ben Cottle and Chris James whilst Pete Gillet was the fastest of the SHW runners.
Pre B Final
Thirty runners for this one. Great to see. Mark Turner on pole from Daljeet Bahia with Paul Goddard next alongside Roger Mullen. Row three, Pete Gillett and Andrew Clarke with Nick Divers and Martin Gurnett on four. Jordan Salter and Shawn Morter completed the top ten. Turner made no mistake across the line at the start holding the pack and then flooring the throttle at just the right moment to lead by a few Kart lengths by the first turn.
Immediately behind Goddard tried to go with him but had to fall in behind Bahia. But not for long. He dived up the inside into Inkermans but made contact. Turner was well clear of the pack as he crossed the line at the end of the lap but Goddard in second was now carrying the burden of a three place penalty. He had to win to progress. Bahia ran third ahead of Mullen and Gillett. Turner continued to lead with Goddard still in touch but not closing him down. The two of them though were pulling well clear of the battle for third now led by Mullen from Bahia with Josh Pettit into fifth having climbed up from Grid twelve. Pettit’s impressive run came to an end with a spin promoting Shawn Mortar into fifth but well behind fourth and qualification. But with three to go Mullen spun out of contention. Turner took the win from Goddard who then dropped to fifth after his penalty.
He was the quickest of the SHW group. Unfortunate this because it had been a really strong drive from the SHW. Bahia was a lonely third on the road some six seconds clear of fourth placed Morter but he too was carrying a penalty after exceeding the track limits once too often. Still, fourth was good enough. Gillett was placed third. Down the order and unnoticed by many was a really string drive from Henry Jackson. Having been excluded from qualifying he started in thirtieth position but worked his way up to eighth by the flag and set fastest lap in the process.
Pre A Final
Pole for Browning with Wright alongside and Championship leader Ridout alongside Lammin on row two. Cowell and Cottle on row three from Brammer and Dawson with James and Wood completing the top ten. Poleman Browning detected a fault on his machine and was quickly into the pits for a kart change which gave the rest of the field a few extra rolling up laps and a chance to warm the tyres. Browning got away from the start well enough but he would later state that his second machine didn’t feel quite right. All in the mind James? Out of Inkermans for the first time Ridout had the better exit and moved to the front whilst Browning defended resolutely from Wright. Behind, Cowell had got the better of Lammin at the start to hold fourth from Lammin, Cottle and a fast starting Wood.
With three laps run Ridout still led and had opened a gap to Browning. Wright was trying everything he knew to get by but was constantly rebuffed. Down through the Zulus’ for the fourth time though Wright timed his run to perfection and as Browning moved to the left on the exit to cover a move down the inside into the boot Wright remained on the right and simply drove past him. He immediately began to pull away and close down the leader whilst Browning was now defending from Lammin. Cowell meanwhile had Cottle close behind along with Wood. Into the Boot Cottle slipped ahead and Wood tried to follow him through. Unfortunately he made heavy contact with Cowell spinning the latter to a halt. Wood also got held up allowing Dawson up in to sixth. At the front Wright continued to close down the leader and on the penultimate lap he got a good run up the hill and took over at the front. Behind Browning had finally succumbed to the pressure from Lammin and dropped to fourth. Wright took the win by a couple of tenths from Ridout with Lammin third from Browning who had to fight off a late race challenge from Cottle and Dawson. Wood was next over the line but his six place penalty saw him drop out of the top ten. Forkes took seventh and set fastest lap with Rankine, Hill and Turner completing the top ten. A great performance from Turner, climbing eleven places through the race.
Jackson on pole from Mullen with Goddard and Divers on row two and Trafford and Clarke on three. Jackson was smartly away but Mullen lost out falling to fifth by the end of the lap. Goddard moved into second chased hard by Trafford with Kelman up to fourth from grid nine. Jackson quickly pulled clear at the front as Goddard fought to keep Trafford behind. But not for long.
With three laps gone Trafford moved into second and immediately began to pull clear of Goddard whilst Kelman dropped out of fourth place after a spin which allowed Mitchell into fourth having started down on grid thirteen. Jackson continued to stretch his lead at the front and set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour whilst Trafford was an equally comfortable second ahead of Goddard and Mitchell. And this time there were no problems at the scales.
Forkes on pole from Wright with Wood and Cottle on row two. Browning and Ridout side by side on row three. Dawson and Gooch on four with Lammin and Cowell completing the top ten. Forkes led away from pole but it was Wood into second as Wright dropped to third with Browning and Ridout fourth and fifth. Down through the Zulu’s for the second time Browning muscled his way through into second and Ridout followed him through dropping Wright to fourth with Dawson fifth and Wood sixth. Forkes led across the line but as they ran up the hill for the third time Wright was back into third. Where was Ridout? At the end of the lap he crossed the line sixteenth and post race would admit that he’d simply made a mistake and run wide out of the first turn. Unlike some on the day though he didn’t throw in the towel at the first sign of adversity.
Forkes still led and had pulled out a lead of over two seconds as the rest of the pack fought over second. But Browning began to close and was soon up with the leader and challenging hard finally getting close enough to try a move into the first turn. He couldn’t quite make the move stick though round the outside but it seemed like only a matter of time and at half distance he was through into the lead at Inkermans. Dawson followed him through having demoted Wright a lap earlier. Forkes though didn’t fall away and was holding off Wright for third. It was still anyone’s race and Browning was having to defend for all his worth from Dawson who in turn needed to keep a wary eye on Forkes and Wright. With four to go there was barely a cigarette paper between them. Into Christmas Dawson made a move which Browning defended and as Forkes exited the corner Dawson lost control and spun baulking Forkes and allowing Wright into second. He then set about chasing down Browning for the lead. Meanwhile down the order Hill, who had driven a barnstorming race up from grid nineteen and into the top ten got tagged by Rankine on the start and fish straight and spun to a halt at the pit lane exit. It turned out to be race defining moment. As the leaders came into the Boot for the final time Wright took his chance but Browning kept well to the inside forcing Wright to go the long way round. But he had greater momentum and looked to be well set to move into the lead at the final turn. But the yellow flags were waving. Wright beat the wheel in frustration.
He would surely have taken the win but a jubilant Browning crossed the line a couple of Kart lengths ahead of a disgruntled Wright with Forkes an excellent third. Wood came home a lonely but worthy fourth ahead of Lammin who took the place by a virtue a penalty for Cottle for cone abuse. Ridout took seventh after a great fight back with Jackson a fine eighth after starting at the back. One can only speculate as to where he would have been had he not been excluded from qualifying. Still, he did get his monies worth from the day and a trophy for winning the B Final. Williams and Turner completed the top ten with Nick Trafford winning the SHW division.
Podium and Championship
A much needed win for James Browning. It was hard earned too as held off a determined challenge from Mark Wright who was clearly a touch miffed over his rivals resolute defence. Personally I saw nothing wrong and neither did the officials. Matt Forkes third place was well deserved. Having seen his big lead cut I thought he might slip down the order but he didn’t and was still in with a shot at the win at the death. The iZone award was just reward. And a trophy too for Henry Jackson for winning the B Final. A good day for him and hopefully he’ll return for some more. Mark Ridout still leads the Championship but the gap is just one point from James Browning with Adam Wright still well in the hunt just ten points adrift. It’s going to be a tense final two rounds. Nick Trafford took the SHW honours again and he is the hot favourite to win the SHW crown.
Another great days racing at Whilton but it was a great shame that JV had to lay down the law after the first two Clubman’s races had to be restarted. Hearing drivers claiming that other drivers were deliberately turning into other drivers or driving people off the track is not good. All drivers have a responsibility to their fellow competitors. We want to see good clean racing with drivers showing each other respect. Take heed.
I must admit I struggle sometimes to understand the mindset of some drivers and not just with regard to driving standards. I had harsh words for a couple of them in the paddock after they had retired healthy karts. It’s true they weren’t going to win but I just don’t get why you would spend money testing, spend money on overnight accommodation and travelling, money on racing and then pull out with plenty of laps to run. Track time is important so why not take full advantage. You don’t learn anything stood in the pits.
There are drivers racing who will probably never trouble the podium but they don’t just give up. They drive and race for the joy of it. I grew up in a sporting household. Football, Cricket, Snooker and Table tennis were the main games. And one thing I was taught was that that you never give in. Winners don’t quit and Champions don’t give in. Quitting displays a mental fragility. If I were competing I’d play on that. Or am I missing something?
See you at Bayford!!
Photography: Jack Mitchell Motorsport Photography