Could Be 10 Years Ago – Tim Hill Beats Trevor Randall, Only With Bigger Bumpers
After the lengthy early season break everyone was looking forward to getting back on track at the great Northamptonshire venue. Full grids too, unlike some series which are apparently struggling for numbers this year. Just goes to show what great value for money Club 100 is and how drivers love big grids and plenty of opportunities to race wheel to wheel. After Saturdays warm weather the expectation was for a warm Sunday but the awful spring weather had returned. Solid grey overcast, cold, and a stiff breeze snapping the flags from the south. Still, at least the morning was dry for the Elites and Clubman’s. Into the afternoon then for the Heavyweights and Super Heavyweights, sponsored by EssexFlatPack.com, and the Lightweights. The weather remained overcast with a stiff wind blowing still from the South and whilst the temperature had risen a degree there was a threat of rain in the air.
First out were the HW/SHW runners and in Group 1 it was all about the veteran Tim Hill who went quickest on his first flying lap and then proceeded to lower his times over the next four laps before easing back and then pumping in a final lap which stopped the clock at 54.095. The only driver to break the fifty five second mark. Reigning SHW Champion Nick Trafford was next up but over two tenths off the pace of the flying Hill. Lennie Wood was third pumping in his quickest lap on his final attempt. Ben Benneyworth and Darren Townsley completed the top five.
Adrian Brammer set the quickest time with his first flying lap in Group 2 laying down a marker for the rest with a 55.095. Try as he might he couldn’t replicate the time but no one got close. Former Lightweight Champion Trevor Randall was next but over three tenths off the pace. He was the quickest of the SHW runners. Miguel Hall was next up from Stuart Jones and Roger Mullen.
Pre B Final
Aaron Stevens on pole from Craig Brown and Michael Ballinger with Seb Algieri on row two. Row three saw the first of the SHW’S Paul Williams alongside fellow SHW Jordan Salter. Chris Scivier and Mike Bodnar shared row four with Andrew Cherry and Paul Goddard completing the top ten. Top four to qualify for the pre A Final. Stevens led the field away but it was Ballinger and Algieri who slipped into second and third as Brown dropped to fourth ahead of Williams with Bodnar and Salter next. Cherry was next from Goddard but any hope of the latter progressing had been dashed after an early clash saw him carrying a penalty. For the first six laps the top eight circulated in the same positions but with enough of a gap to not trip over each other. Stevens had a healthy lead but then he lost it under braking for Ashby throwing away a certain win.
Ballinger moved into the lead from Algieri but the youngster sensed a victory and despite not needing too closed the leader down. Behind these two Brown was coming under pressure from Williams and Bodnar and succumbed with three to go. Algieri took over at the front to give himself something of a cushion as Williams and Bodnar closed in on Ballinger. Up the hill on the penultimate lap and it looked as though the front four would be the qualifiers but then Bodnar thought he saw a gap and dived up the inside of Williams taking them both out much to the consternation of the crowd. Algieri took the win from Ballinger with Brown a grateful third ahead of Cherry. Williams finished down in sixteenth but was still smiling whilst Bodnar got hit with an eight place deduction to be classified twenty fourth and fifth from last. Remember this.
Pre A Final
Tim Hill on pole after his qualifying heroics from Adrian Brammer with Nick Trafford and Lennie Wood on row two. Ben Benneyworth and Darren Townsley on three from the first SHW Trevor Randall and Steven Downes on four. Miguel Hall and Chris James completed the first five rows. Hill got away smartly from pole on the still damp track and immediately moved to his right to discourage any attempt at the lead from Brammer whilst Trafford kept his line for the left hander and moved into second by the time the pack reached Christmas. Wood remained fourth whilst Randall made a great start putting himself ahead of Benneyworth and Townsley. Downes, Hall and Jones were all early spinners. Hill continued at the front with Trafford in his wheel tracks and Brammer a couple of lengths back.
Several times Trafford shaped to make a move but Hill was always in the right place to rebuff the challenge. A couple of times Trafford got in too deep, particularly into the downhill left hander leading onto the back straight, and then found himself under pressure from the following Brammer. Randall meanwhile got by Wood and began to close in on Brammer. Hill though was driving beautifully and despite Trafford closing in again over the remaining laps he took the win by just over a tenth. Randall came home third just over a second back having slipped by Brammer on the penultimate lap. Wood took a strong fifth with Lammin getting the better of his fight for sixth with Bennyeworth. Mullen, Townsley and Taylor completed the top ten with Benneyworth setting the fastest lap.
And then the rain began in earnest. It wasn’t torrential but it was persistent and it was about to wreak havoc. Cherry and Scivier shared the front row with Netting and Edwards on row two. Next up, Ben Johnson and Philip Charman. Row four, Wayne Dunham and Synjen Hopkins and Pete Gillett and Paul Goddard completing the top ten. But grid position counts for nothing if you can’t keep the Kart on the grey stuff. After one lap Netting had moved up a couple of places into the lead with Aaron Stevens second having started on grid thirteen. Cherry had dropped from pole to third with Edwards holding station in fourth. Goddard was up from tenth to fifth but all eyes were on sixth placed Mike Bodnar, up from grid twenty.
There is no finer driver than Mike Bodnar in Club 100 when it’s wet. Nettings lead lasted but a lap before he fell foul of the conditions and dropped way down the order. Cherry got himself back into the lead only for Stevens to demote him a lap later. Next time around he was down to third behind Bodnar and had Williams closing on. Half distance and Bodnar moved to the front eventually crossing the line for the win almost six seconds to the good and setting the fastest lap of the race almost one and a half seconds quicker than anyone else. A phenomenal drive. Stevens hung onto second. A drive that should not be overlooked either whilst Williams had to settle for third ahead of Cherry with Goddard fifth.
Hill and Trafford on the front row again for the final with Randall third from Brammer. Third row, Wood and Lammin. Row four, Benneyworth and Mullen with Townsley and Taylor completing the first five rows. The rain had eased off but it was still showery and the track was still wet as the field crossed the line. Trafford led after the first tour with Hill right behind and Randall a couple of Kart lengths back. Brammer meanwhile had dropped back behind Wood and Benneyworth. Townsley spun down the order as did the two SHW’s, series sponsor Stuart Germon and Jordan Salter. Trafford held onto the lead for a couple of laps before Hill resumed at the front with Randall still in third. Brammer had fought back into fourth ahead of Benneyworth and Wood whilst Lammin spun away his chances of a good finish. Bodnar was up to tenth having started from grid twenty five. Half distance and Hill was beginning to pull clear at the front as Trafford was beginning to go defensive against the closing Randall. Benneyworth had re-passed Brammer for fourth with Wood fifth and Bodnar now up to sixth.
Two laps later and the rain master was up to fourth. Surely though, the leaders were too far away? Hill continued to lead comfortably but Randall was now into second. Trafford got in a little too deep into the corner onto the back straight allowing Randall through. It was a corner where Trafford did seem to struggle. Randall was soon chasing down the leader and putting distance between himself and Trafford who now had Bodnar closing in. Steve Bosley was up to fifth. Having not figured for much of the day he started down in twelfth, dropped to thirteenth at quarter distance and then began to come alive albeit with the help of a few spinners in front of him. Hill was keeping an eye on Randall who closed up over the final couple of laps but Hill had his measure setting his personal best on the final lap to take a brilliant win, his first since Red Lodge in 2015.
Randall came home second and took the SHW honours with Trafford holding on to third just over a second and a half up on Bodnar who set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour. Unfortunately his drive from the back of the grid had not been without incident and he’d picked a four place penalty along the way dropping him to seventh. But what an extraordinary drive. Truly the outstanding wet weather driver in the class and the Club. Benneyworth was thus promoted to fourth with Bosley fifth ahead of Daniel Taylor. Brammer took eighth with Cottle and Algieri rounding out the top ten. Jordan Salter took second spot in the SHW division with Germon third but last on the road after a couple of spins.
In the heavyweights Nick Trafford’s third place puts him to the head of the table with Stuart Jones dropping to second ahead of event winner Tim Hill. Ben Bennyworth and Alexander Lammin are fourth and fifth.
In the EssexFlatPack sponsored Super Heavyweight division Trevor Randall leads the way with Paul Williams second from the EssexFlatPack man himself Stuart Germon. I doubt you’ll find a more cheerful driver in the paddock than Stuart. He’s loving every moment. Even the bad times are good. Jordan Salter and James Edwards are fourth and fifth with Paul Goddard staying in touch in sixth.
Will the weather ever warm up? Won’t it be great if the next round at Rye is blessed with warm dry conditions? Unless your Mike Bodnar of course. What a stunning performance in the wet. Just ponder for a moment where he might have finished had he not taken out himself and Paul Williams in the early heats. A sure fire winner. But he doesn’t take my very unofficial award for driver of the day largely because of his error. That award goes to Tim Hill. Pole and two Final wins. It doesn’t get any better. And he becomes the oldest ever driver at sixty to stand at the top of a Club 100 podium. We think. I actually think he may have broken his own record here having won at Red Lodge in 2015. Inspirational. In the Elites Steve Brown looked back to his more relaxed self in the seat than in the latter part of last year when he appeared to have slightly altered his driving style. Reigning Champion Joe Holmes didn’t have the greatest of days but he’ll bounce back I’m sure.
Thanks as usual to all the marshals and staff at Whilton Mill and of course the Club 100 staff who work so hard to make everything run smoothly. And our grateful thanks to all the sponsors, Dartford Karting, G3Pro and EssexFlatPack.co.uk.
As I arrived at the circuit on Sunday news broke that Andy Cowell, aka Mutley, had finally decided to call it day after nigh on twenty years of competition citing the amount of time it takes to recover after each event ( old age ). He has been suffering with a sore neck after racing for sometime (it does have to support a lot of weight) and consequently his enjoyment and commitment has suffered to the extent that he is no longer enjoying driving. At that’s as good a reason as any to stop. He’s had a good career in Club 100 the highlight probably being a Final win some seasons ago in the Elite class as well as several Endurance wins. There is I don’t believe any truth in the rumour that he has accrued the most penalties of any driver in the history of Club 100 although I well remember him getting away with one at Fulbeck many seasons ago when he eased a ‘’young’’ Rookie driver off the circuit and into a corn field causing severe damage to the Rookie’s Kart. Or the time at Rye when the same Rookie was about to move into the lead after a pile up at the first hairpin only to be rudely T boned. The race was stopped. I believe the words were ‘’just couldn’t let you lead, you might have won’. Such fond memories. His advice to many a young driver and newcomer to the Club though has been invaluable and appreciated by many particularly over the last few years. A far cry from his words to me when I first started. ‘’Keep out of my way or I’ll have you off’’. Despite this though I am proud to call him my friend and his sunny countenance will certainly be missed around the paddock. God bless you Andy!
See you all at Rye!