We Didn’t Know Just How Close It Was! A Last Lap Pass Gives Adam Wright Title By 1 Point
And so we come to the end of a long, hard and thoroughly captivating season. With the Elite’s and Clubman’s Championship’s settled with a round to go it was all eyes on the battle for honours in the Lights and Heavies. Hollywood could not have come up with a better script. In the lights, season long Championship leader Darri Simms held an eight point advantage over Liam Cochrane who was making his eighth appearance of the season meaning that every point would count. In the Heavies, Adam Wright had jumped to the top of the standings for the first time in the season as his rivals faltered. And he had yet to win an A final but had consistently scored good points. Behind him we had Adam Ridout and James Browning who had for the majority of the season alternated the lead in the Championship. Pressure on then. Who had the not just the skill but the mental strength to take the crowns?
It was great to see a large gathering for the afternoon event with a good number of Elites and Clubman drivers staying over to watch the series finale for the Lightweights and Heavyweights incorporating the EssexFlatPack.co.uk sponsored Super Heavyweights.
With all the Championship contenders in the second group it was left to Bayford winner Matt Forkes and Alex Lammin to set the pace in session 1 but whilst Lammin couldn’t improve his lap time having set it on his second flying lap Forkes did but was still pipped at the death by the veteran Andy Cowell who beat Martin Gurnett by 0.025. Forkes was next from Lammin and again it was a tight session with less than a second covering the top nineteen.
Adam Wright threw down the gauntlet to his Championship rivals Mark Ridout and James Browning early in session 2 but Browning bit back on his final flying lap to pip Wright by just 0.025. Ridout meanwhile was down in sixth but all the top six went quicker than the first session. Stuart Jones topped the times though in his first run in Club100. He does however have plenty of Karting experience. He’d been languishing in the low 47’s for most of the session having trapped himself in traffic. Finally free he stopped the clocks with a 46.595 establishing a class record and over a tenth up on Browning. The nerves were beginning to jangle.
Pre B Final
Four to advance from twenty seven. Ben Cottle on pole with Clay Winner Steve Bosley alongside from Lennie Wood and Anthony Harrington on row two. Row three, Paul Williams and SHW Champion elect Nick Trafford. Daniel Godin and David Storey locked out row four with SHW series sponsor Stuart Germon and James Edwards completing the top ten. Cottle led the field away but Bosley and Wood both lost out into the first hairpin losing positions to Williams and Trafford whilst Harrington dropped to seventh behind Godin. Germon gained a place at the expense of Storey. Cottle continued to stretch his advantage chased by Williams, Trafford, Bosley and Wood with Harrington just a few lengths back ahead of Germon and Storey. Five laps run and the order remained the same but a lap later and it was all change as Trafford moved into second with Wood third from Williams and Bosley. A lap later and Bosley moved up to fourth ahead of Williams with Germon now coming into contention and setting fastest lap in the SHW division in the process.
Two thirds gone and Cottle was still out front but Wood was now up to second. And then the leader was out. With a commanding lead a bumper bolt fell out causing him to lose a couple of seconds a lap. After dropping to eighth he pulled off into retirement. Wood took over at the front but Bosley was up to second now with Trafford dropping back behind Williams, Germon and Harrington. Sadly Germons joy at being fourth lasted just a lap as Harrington forced his way by on the penultimate lap. Trafford’s day got worse as he spun out of sixth with a lap to go. Wood took the win from Bosley with Williams and Harrington the other two qualifiers. Germon crossed the line an excellent fifth only to be penalised four places down to ninth for passing under a yellow flag. Still, he was the leading SHW.
Pre A final
Jones on pole from Browning with Wright and Dawson on two and Turner alongside Ridout on three. Cowell and Gurnett on four with Forkes and Brown completing the top ten. Jones led the field away with Browning keeping to the outside as Wright came through into second. Browning spun at the first hairpin in the usual melee not helping his chances for the Championship. But he recovered quickly.
Over the line at end of the first lap and Jones had a commanding lead from Wright with Cowell up to third ahead of Turner, Forkes and Ridout whilst Dawson dropped to seventh ahead of Gurnett. Jones continued to eke out his advantage from Wright whilst Cowell was coming under pressure from Forkes as Ridout moved ahead of Turner. Wright however was beginning to experience handling difficulties and with five laps run he pulled into the pits fearing a bearing failure. He was apoplectic and convinced his championship hopes were gone he went off in search of JV to give vent to his frustration. This mini drama promoted Forkes into second ahead of Cowell who had dropped from third to sixth and then fought back again. Unfairly as it happened which is most unlike him. Turner meanwhile had re-passed Ridout for fourth but by half distance they had swapped places yet again. It got worse for Turner as within three laps he had dropped away to ninth. He would ultimately finish thirteenth which was a shame after a strong early run. Jones and Forkes were both well clear by this time so it was all about the battle for third still headed by Cowell. With four to go Dawson finally made a move stick and both Cowell and Ridout lost out as Lammin moved into fourth setting fastest lap in the process. Fourth lasted but a lap as he dropped back behind Cowell and Ridout. But yet again Cowell had transgressed and picked up another penalty.
Jones crossed the line over three seconds up on Forkes with Dawson next. Cowell crossed the line fourth but with penalties applied he was down to ninth. Ridout was next across the line but he too took a two place deduction and lost two valuable Championship points for exceeding track limits. All this handed fourth to Lammin and fifth to Bennyworth. Tim Hill took seventh, up from sixteenth, with Lennie Wood eighth after arguably the drive of the race up from grid twenty one. Henry Jackson completed the top ten. And a philosophical Adam Wright was back in the paddock, convinced his Championship was over but back in a good place after a lengthy heart to heart with JV.
Pole for Cottle from a really fired up Germon. Edwards and Storey on row two from Trafford and Godin. Two to progress from twenty three. Cottle got away clean with Germon settling into second ahead of a fast starting Trafford as Edwards dropped to fourth ahead of Godin and Storey. Trafford took just a lap to find his way past Germon for second and most people thought that his greater experience would pull him clear. But it didn’t. Cottle began to eke out a gap but Trafford couldn’t shake off the attentions of Germon who was tracking him all the way.
Such was their pace that they were steadily pulling away from the battle for fourth between Edwards, Godin and Clarke. Three quarter distance and the order remained the same. Godin set the fastest lap of the race tenth time around and moved ahead of Edwards for fourth with Clarke still sixth and then a huge gap to the rest of the field headed by Storey. Penultimate lap and Cottle still led from Trafford but Germon was intent on second and duly took the place with half a lap to go. A great result for him and apart from the Championship winners I doubt there was a happier driver in the paddock. And he set the fastest lap in the SHW class too. Cottle’s winning margin was just over two seconds after a brilliantly controlled drive.
The final race of a long, hard and thoroughly entertaining season. Wright was still convinced that his hopes had been dashed whilst Browning and Ridout remained outwardly calm. Jones was on pole from Lammin with Browning and Wright alongside each other on the second row. Bennyworth and Dawson on row three. Jackson and Wood on four from Turner and new Championship leader Ridout completing the top ten. Jones got away cleanly but as the pack entered the first hairpin Cottle pirouetted to a halt as did Turner from ninth. By the end of the lap Jones still led but it was Jackson up to second from eighth whilst Bennyworth was third. Browning was fourth chased by Wright with Lammin next ahead of Dawson and Wood. Bosley was up to ninth from grid fourteen. But what of Ridout? He’d become embroiled in a battle and was down in twelfth. It took him a few laps to claim eleventh but he was stuck behind Bosley.
At the front Jones still led with Jackson on his bumper, the two of them pulling clear of the fight for third headed by Bennyworth with everyone down to tenth running in the same order and line astern. With two to go Lammin and Dawson both got ahead of Wright demoting him to seventh. Final lap. Could Jones hold off the challenge from Jackson? He could, winning by just over a tenth. Could Bennyworth hang on to third? He couldn’t. Both Browning and Lammin got by with Browning claiming the final podium spot. Wright meanwhile got by Dawson with just half a lap remaining. Forkes came home eighth ahead of Wood with Bosley tenth and Ridout eleventh. Germon took the SHW honours. But who was Heavyweight Champion? There was an agonising wait as the points were checked and re-checked due to a very rare glitch in the system. The top three were separated by just eleven points with James Browning third and Mark Ridout second just a single point behind the 2017 Heavyweight class Champion Adam Wright. After twelve rounds, twenty four point scoring races just one single point had been enough. Never mind that Mark Ridout lost a couple of points with his earlier penalty it was Adam’s last lap pass that had won him the title. He may not have won an A Final all season but he’s always been in the hunt and racking up the points consistently. A worthy Champion.
Heavyweights Championship and the EssexFlatPack.co.uk Super Heavyweights Championship
Series sponsor Stuart Germon took his first ever win in the SHW division. It was no fluke either. He’s been on tremendous form over the last two rounds and must surely be a serious contender for next years Championship.
Nick Trafford had to settle for the runner up spot at Buckmore but what a great season he has had winning the Super Heavyweight crown by a healthy margin. Andrew Clarke took the final spot on the podium. A great result for him too.
Stuart Jones and Henry Jackson took the top two spots in their first races of the season in the Heavyweights. These are however two very experienced racers.
James Browning was the only one of the Championship contenders to make the podium. Third in the race, third in the standings. It’s been a great season for him. Mark Ridout just couldn’t quite get the job done this year but he’s a class act. He’ll bounce back all the more determined. But It’s Adam Wright who takes the crown.
Adam Wright, Club 100 Heavyweight Champion 2017. Sound pretty good doesn’t it Adam?
There were three nasty incidents at Buckmore all caused by over ambitious overtaking attempts. It’s racing I know and accidents will happen although serious ones are thankfully rare. To aid driver protection we are seeing more and more the old tyre barriers being replaced by the super absorbent F1 type barriers. These came in for some criticism at Buckmore as they have a tendency to spit the Kart back out after absorbing the impact. But they are safer than the tyre barriers. They are higher and easier to put back into place. Hitting a tyre barrier will often cause a Kart to become airborne and that really is dangerous. I agree that the new barriers do spit the Kart back out which can cause a whiplash effect but there is a solution. Wear a neckbrace. I know that they can feel uncomfortable but they do work. In my everso humble opinion. You wouldn’t race without a crash helmet but you’re far more likely to have a neck injury than a fractured skull.
Words: Steve Gray
Photography: Jack Mitchell, JAM Motorsport Photography