Closing on Title, Joe Holmes Takes Win #7, Steve Brown Comes Up Short in Super Final
Clay Pigeon is one of the oldest Kart tracks in the country having been formed in the late 60’s on the site of an old Second World War military hospital. A historic place loved by most and with great facilities since its redevelopment a few years ago. Rumour has it that there may be a further track extension in the not too distant future. The start and finish straight is more of a long curve leading into the famous Billy’s blind. The circuit then sweeps round to the right and into the Esses, a quick right left chicane, which opens out onto the back straight. This leads down to the banked hairpin. Out of the hairpin it’s into the double apex Horseshoe and then a flat out right hander at Buttons before the long right handed top bend which leads back onto the start and finish straight. And one other little known fact is that the circuit was the inspiration for the circuit depicted in the novel “Quinn’s Way”.
The Heats & the Road to the Finals
Steven Downes took the first heat of the day on what was a streaming wet track. Starting from grid seven he was up to first by the end of the lap. From then on he simply drove away from the pack winning by just three seconds. David Whitehouse came home second in what was a stellar drive up from grid eleven. He had to work for it as well. Stuart Jones took third. He too had come up from a lowly grid spot. Konstantinos Kyritsis aka ‘Kosta’ came home fifth after starting from grid twelve with Steve Bosley fifth. He’d run at the front for awhile but dropped back. Adam Wright fought his way up from the back of the grid but took an unusual penalty for excessive weaving on the formation lap.
The second heat fell to Mike Noon, the reigning Lights Champion opting to start in the HW’s after over indulging on his recent holiday! Starting on the front row he initially lost out to Super Heavyweight (SHW) runner Paul Williams but he took the wet weather line round the hairpin at the end of the back straight and moved into the lead. From then on he was never headed taking the win by over five seconds. Williams ran second for a few laps before Dan Taylor got ahead. Mark Ridout fought his way up from grid eleven to take fourth with Mark Turner fifth after a sensible run.
Heat three went to Championship contender Steve Brown. A stunning first lap saw him climb up to fourth from grid thirteen. Two laps later he was at the front and thereafter drove away to take the win over two seconds clear of SHW Championship leader Richard Allen. He’d started on the front row and ran second in the early laps behind pole sitter Jonathan Elliott. Once Brown had caught and passed him and Elliott he then took the latter for second pulling clear as the race wound down. Elliott claimed third with Lennie Wood fourth from Geoff Lamb. Joe Holmes day got off to a bad start. He made a fair start from grid eleven but found himself pushed onto the grass at the chicane and slipped back down the order. He did well to fight his way back up to sixth at the flag.
Kosta took heat four. He started alongside Whitehouse on the front row who he tailed for the first lap before moving ahead. Once in front he controlled the race winning by over two seconds. Whitehouse claimed second for his second high finish of the day. A great drive this keeping himself clear of the battle for third between Wright and Beroual-Smith and showing that he has nothing to fear racing in more experienced company. Wright took third with Beroual-Smith in his wheeltracks. Kieran Chidgzey took fifth. A great effort to keep the highly talented Stuart Jones at bay.
Joe Holmes started heat five from pole and made no mistakes taking the win by a huge margin of over nine seconds to get his day back on track. Tarik Almou came home second. He moved up from fifth over the first lap and although he could do nothing about the leader he claimed second almost three seconds clear of Robert Stapleton. Chris Scivier took a delighted fourth after being punted out of his first heat by Trevor Randall. It was a welcome upturn in his fortunes. Simon Lloyd came home fifth keeping Scivier honest all the way to the flag.
Steve Brown took his second win of the day in the sixth heat. He took the lead on the first lap and was never headed cruising to the win by over three seconds. Mark Ridout came home second after starting on the front row. Another valuable points haul. Miguel Hall was third after starting fourth with Aaron Stevens fourth after starting alongside Ridout. Bit of a tame heat this with all the overtaking among the top four taking place on the first lap.
Heat seven featured another runaway winner on what was now an almost dry track. This time it was Adam Wright crossing the line over three seconds clear of Stuart Jones who was then penalised down to third behind Dan Taylor. Joe Holmes had to fight his way up the order from the back of the grid. Once up to seventh he got caught up in the four way battle for fourth between Anwar Beroual-Smith, Steve Bosley and Richard Allen. He eventually got up to fourth only to be penalised to fifth behind Beroual-Smith. A fate which also befell Allen who dropped to ninth.
Heat eight saw yet another runaway win this time for Ben Cottle who started on the front row and simply drove away from the pack to take the win almost seven seconds clear of Craig Brown. In fairness to Brown he had had to battle his way through from the back of the grid taking second from Stephen Netting on the last lap. Alex Pritchard crossed the line fourth but found himself demoted to fifth after a cone penalty which promoted Steve Brown to fourth after an eventful run from the back of the grid.
The final heat for the HW/SHW runners went to Steven Downes. Starting fifth he was up to second behind Mike Bodnar after the first lap aided by an incident in the Horseshoe which saw Oliver Nitch-Smith punt out both Kieran Chidgzey and Geoff Lamb. Downes took the win a couple of tenths clear of Nitch-Smith who was then excluded promoting Bodnar back to second. Mike Noon was classified third after a strong drive from the back of the grid with Mark Ridout next over the line but penalised down to fifth after clipping a cone promoting Aaron Stevens into fourth.
Heavyweight/Super Heavyweight B Final
Two SHW runners locked out the front row with Kieran Chidgzey on pole from Jonathan Elliot. Alex Pritchard, the only Class One driver in the race, and Pete Newbury shared the second row with James Workman and Chris Gristwood on row three. Tarik Almou and Mark Turner occupied row four ahead of Benjamin Robinson and Chris Scivier. SHW’s Paul Williams and Damien Holmes were on row six with Stephen Netting and Dmitry Zeldin on row seven. SHW runner Richard Newton shared row eight with Rob Adlam with Rory Severn and Steve Lindley on row nine and Tommy Welsh alongside Daren Townsley on row ten. Two SHW’s shared row eleven with lee Carey and Paul Hibbeard on twelve, Robert Purtak and Dominic Valance on the penultimate row and Tony Holmes alongside Oliver Nitch-smith at the rear.
Top two to qualify for the A Final Chidzgey and Elliot led the field away but it was Pritchard at the front as the field sped along the back straight. Over the line at the end of the lap and Pritchard led by just short of a second with Elliot second 0.073 ahead of Chidgzey who was a mere 0.027 ahead of Gristwood as they headed down to Billy’s for the second time. Elliot and Chidgzey tripped over each other as they rounded Billy’s allowing Gristwood and Almou up to second and Third. Turner ran fifth ahead of Newbury followed by Robinson, Williams and Workman. All of which allowed Pritchard to pull out almost two and a half seconds over the chasing pack. Most expected Pritchard to continue pulling away but Gristwood and Almou had other ideas. They both began to pull clear of the race for fourth and began to steadily cut the gap to the leader. Half distance and they were right in his wheeltracks. Out of the last corner Gristwood got better momentum and was just 0.009 behind as they crossed the line. Down into Billy’s and Gristwood had the inside line as they rounded the bend. Pritchard tried to cut back but had to give best to Gristwood as they entered the chicane. And now he had Almou breathing down his neck. These three had pulled almost four seconds clear of fourth, now held by Elliot from Newbury and Turner. Chidgzey was being dropped and being caught by Workman, Williams and Netting. Elliot continued to lose ground to the leading trio as he held off the challenge from Newbury and Turner. Turner took over from Newbury in fifth courtesy of better momentum out of the final turn and a well judged move into Billy’s. Gristwood continued to lead and as Pritchard was forced to defend from Almou he managed to pull out a gap eventually crossing the line over a second to the good and setting the fastest lap of the race final time around. Pritchard hung on to second by a couple of tenths with Almou third. Such had been the relentless pace of the front three that they were almost nine seconds clear of fourth placed Elliot with Turner fifth from Newbury. Workman took seventh with Netting next but penalised two places for exceeding track limits which promoted Lindley to eighth after a strong drive up from grid eighteen. Holmes came home ninth.
Heavyweight/Super Heavyweight A Final
Pole for Steve Brown with Class 2 Championship contender Steven Downes alongside. David Whitehouse took third on the grid alongside Mark Ridout. Both drivers have had truncated seasons and whilst both probably got some benefit from the earlier conditions these were two outstanding performances. And fifth on the grid went to reigning Lights Champion Mike Noon.
Championship leader Joe Holmes lined up alongside Noon. Stuart Jones and Adam Wright shared row four with Dan Taylor and Craig Brown on row five. Row six saw the highly experienced drivers Anwar Beroual-Smith alongside Kosta. Ben Cottle and Brazilian Champion Peter Jankowski shared row seven with SHW Championship leader Richard Allen alongside Robert Stapleton on row eight. Aaron Stevens and Steve Bosley shared row nine with Geoff Lamb and Miguel Hall on nine ahead of Lennie Wood and Jordan Hawkins. The penultimate row was shared by Mike Bodnar and Simon Lloyd with the B Final qualifiers Gristwood and Pritchard on the back row. Top twelve to qualify for the Super Final.
Brown led the field with Downes alongside chased by Whitehouse and Ridout. Everyone made it round Billy’s safely but as the pack raced into the chicane space was at a premium and Beroual-Smith was left with nowhere to go but head on into the tyres which flew dramatically into the air. Fortunately they weren’t full of water and he was able to continue but down in seventeenth. At the front Downes nipped by Brown into the Horseshoe to lead the field over the line at the end of the lap with Whitehouse third from Ridout, Noon, a rapidly starting Craig Brown and Holmes. Downes and Brown began to edge clear whilst Holmes was fighting back taking Craig Brown at the end of the back straight. Third placed Whitehouse was now having to defend as Noon swept by Ridout down the front straight and immediately attacked Whitehouse round the outside of Billy’s. Both ran wide on the exit as did Ridout and a following Holmes quickly planted his Kart in the space left to move into third. Noon lost out badly round the outside as Ridout moved back in front taking Craig Browne with him the latter then diving under Ridout at the end of the back straight to move up to fifth. Stirring stuff. Noon lost out badly through the next turns dropping back behind both Wright and Jones. Downes and Brown had opened up a significant gap to Whitehouse who now had Holmes right on his bumper. Down into Billy’s fourth time around and Holmes moved to the inside. Whitehouse gave him plenty of room and Holmes slipped by into third. But could he chase down the leaders?
Whitehouse didn’t have the greatest of exits out of the chicane and allowing the chasing pack to close in. Craig Brown went down the inside at the end of the straight but ran wide on the exit. Whitehouse almost got him back but took the more conventional line into the Horseshoe which allowed Brown some room to work. Ridout too tried to take advantage but lost momentum on his compromised line allowing Whitehouse to stay ahead. Ridout immediately came under pressure from Wright who got ahead as they rounded the final turn and tucked in behind Whitehouse. As they turned into Billy’s, Wright tried to go down the inside. He was just a few inches too far back. Whitehouse was forced wide and dropped back. By the end of the lap he was down to ninth and coming under pressure from a recovering Beroual-Smith. Kosta took advantage of the confusion to sprint by Wright into the chicane. He’d crept up almost unnoticed but was into fifth and chasing down Craig Brown. At the front Downes continued to lead from Brown but Holmes was cutting the gap setting the fastest lap of the race seventh time around.
Half distance and Downes still led from Brown but Holmes was right with them now and flying. Kosta was up to fourth but almost five seconds back from the leading trio but clear of Craig Brown who was having to defend hard from Wright. Beroual-Smith was seventh and on a charge with Jones, Ridout, Noon, Lamb and SHW Allen filling the remaining twelve qualifying places. Downes continued to lead from Brown but whilst Holmes had reeled them in getting by was a different proposition. Brown took a chance and moved into the lead at the end of the back straight. Holmes tried to go with him but just nudged Downes. Sensibly he let Downes go and escaped with a contact warning. Brown’s lead was short-lived. As they bore down on Billy’s Downes went down the inside. Brown held on but lost out on the exit. Holmes almost got by but backed out as they went through the chicane. For several laps the three of them circulated almost as one. Holmes ducked out from behind Brown on several occasions but couldn’t make a move stick until with four laps to go Brown ran just a touch wide on the exit of Billy’s. Holmes immediately took advantage and went by into second. Once free of Brown Holmes immediately closed in on the leader and took the lead as they entered the final turn after getting a better run out of the Horseshoe. Game over? Not quite. Downes wasn’t giving up without a fight and got down the inside of Holmes into Billy’s. Holmes gave him some room on the exit and Downes was back into the lead. Holmes harried him all round the lap but Downes held him at bay. Down into Billy’s for the penultimate time and this time Downes ran a little wide. Again Holmes kept a tighter line and swept by as they entered the Chicane. All this allowed Brown to close up and he went by Downes for second at the end of the back straight. Downes came back at him in the Horseshoe but Brown held his line. Last lap and Holmes was clear as Brown defended second from Downes. Last corners and Downes tried everything to get by. Brown defended into the last corner as Downes stayed wide.
With Holmes clear it was a drag race for second down to the line. Brown just held off Downes by 0.048. A fabulous race. Kosta came home fourth. A strong drive this. Beroual-Smith came home fifth after superb comeback drive. Over the final laps he was the fastest man on the track. Wright was next over the line but penalised down to tenth after his move on Whitehouse. Craig Brown was promoted to sixth and second in the C2 class behind Downes. Valuable points. Jones took seventh with Noon eighth from Lamb and Wright tenth. Allen was eleventh and took the SHW honours as the only class runner with Ridout taking the final qualifying spot for the Super Final. Gristwood was third in the C2 class and thirteenth overall.
The Altima Academy with Mutation Motorsport Super Final
For the final round it was the turn of the HW’s to start from pole. Joe Holmes Championship challenge was over after missing the previous round but he was determined to end with a fourth win. Daz Teal would start alongside him with Championship contender Steve Brown alongside Andrew O’Neill. Steven Downes and Championship leader Steve Hicks shared row three with Hicks needing to finish within four places of Brown to take the honours. Kosta and Jack O’Neill shared row four with Anwar Beroual-Smith alongside Dan Healey on row five. Craig Brown and Thanassi Barnicoat were on six ahead of Stuart Jones and Ed Barrs. Mike Noon and Harry Neale shared row eight with Geoff Lamb and Max O’Shaughnessy on nine and Adam Wright alongside Dan Brewer on ten. Richard Allen and Chris Alcock were on the penultimate row with Mark Ridout and Andrew Ward the final runners.
Holmes led the field away but Teal found himself briefly up on the kerb as they sped down towards Billy’s. He was fortunate not to spin but found himself hung out to dry round the outside of Billy’s as the pack jostled for position. By the end of the lap he was outside the top ten. Steve Brown took over in second with fast starting Kosta in third from another quick starter Beroual-Smith. Downes was fifth with Hicks next. Into Billy’s second time around and Kosta moved cleanly ahead of Brown. And Hicks was ahead of Downes and in the pound seats for the Championship. Holmes was almost two seconds up the road but once free of Brown, Kosta immediately began to close the gap. Beroual-Smith then deposed Brown for third as they crossed the line at the end of lap three. And into Billy’s Hicks followed him through. Now Hicks needed a clean run to the flag and the Championship was his. At the front Holmes continued to lead. Kosta was closing in but then Holmes stabilised the gap for a couple of laps. But Kosta came back at him. Down the straight for the eighth time he pulled alongside Holmes and moved ahead. Holmes fought back but Kosta kept him at bay. Beroual-Smith remained a lonely third almost two seconds adrift of the leaders but clear of Champion elect Hicks who had Brown right on his bumper but unable to get by. Kosta gradually began to eke out a gap from the chasing Holmes whilst Brown finally got ahead of Hicks into the hairpin. Hicks was quite happy to let him go knowing that he only had to follow him home over the final laps. Kosta took the win by just over a second from Holmes with Beroual-Smith a delighted third. Brown came home fourth with Hicks a couple of Kart lengths back but punching the air with delight as he clinched the first ever CLUB100 Super Final Championship. Barnicoat came home sixth with Downes seventh from Ed Barrs. Jack O’Neill and Harry Neale completed the top ten. Kosta also set the fastest lap of the race final time around and was the only driver to get round in under forty one seconds.
Joe Holmes win at Clay was his first ever at the venue and it strengthened his grip on the Championship. With two rounds to go it’s not over with second placed Steve Brown still in with a chance but with seven wins from nine races the odds are very much in Joe’s favour. Adam Wright lies third ahead of Anwar Beroual-Smith and Kosta.
In the SHW Richard Allen is by my reckoning Champion as Trev Randall again pulled out of an event.
In the Heavy C2 Championship it could not be closer with Craig Brown and Steven Downes locked together on the same number of points. Dan Taylor is third.
The Altima Academy with Mutation Motorsport Super Final Championship
What a great championship this has been. Steve Hicks had never won a CLUB100 Sprint round until taking the first Super Sprint round at Whilton Mill. And then he added another. There will of course be those who may say the Championship might have had a different ending had Joe Holmes not missed a round but the fact is he did. Steve took full advantage taking his second win of the season. This was a thoroughly deserved Championship win and his reward is not only a shiny cup but a full day’s test session in an Altima Academy Ginetta GT5. Enjoy!
Steve Brown took second just three points behind Hicks. A model of consistency and always in the hunt for the overall honours he just couldn’t quite make it onto the top step of the podium. Third in the standings went to Chris Alcock. A great effort this. Yes, he was a long way adrift and his highest finish was a sixth place but he was the only other driver besides the two Steve’s who made it through to every Super Final. He should be very proud. Joe Holmes was fourth. Three wins, a second and a third. Enough said. A class act. Ed Barrs was fifth. Like Joe he also qualified for every round in which he was an entrant and had a third place finish as his best result. Anwar Beroual-Smith was sixth. He had to wait until the final round to take a podium. Well deserved. He would certainly have finished higher but for an seriously unlucky round at Lydd which saw him fail to qualify for the Super Sprint Final. His only DNQ. Thanassi Barnicoat was seventh with a best finish of fourth. Harry Neale was eighth, qualifying five times with a best finish of tenth. Adam Wright took ninth with five qualifications and a best finish of fourth. Rob Newman was tenth. He was a serious contender at the start of the season with a second and two thirds over the first three rounds but DNF at Lydd put paid to his chances and he pulled out for the rest of the season. Not, I hasten to add, in a strop. He is missed.
Despite the weather, (or perhaps because of it!) a great days racing at Clay. Our thanks as always to all the marshals and CLUB100 staff who work tirelessly to keep the show running. And to all our generous sponsors, Altima Academy with Mutation Motorsport, Dartford Karting and G3Pro. And not forgetting Alpha Live Productions and Double Dash Motorsport Media. Looking forward to catching up on the coverage.
Next up, the penultimate round at Red Lodge.
See you there !!
Words: Steve Gray
Library Photography: John Patterson
Podium Pics: Andrew Mather