Domination. When Your Rivals Are Relying on Butlins (Holiday) to Stop You Now, Joe Holmes


Steve Gray
Super-Heavyweight Sprint Championship 2019, Rd.7, Class 2 – Heavyweight Sprint Championship 2019, Rd.7, Class 1 – Heavyweight Sprint Championship 2019, Rd.7,

Lydd. Karting’s answer to Montreal but without the city backdrop. A great circuit though offering plenty of overtaking opportunities. A circuit that favours the brave. Here’s how the day unfolded.

The Heats & The Route to the Finals

The day began with the Heavyweight/Super-Heavyweight (HW/SHW) runner’ first out. And it was a damp track that greeted the drivers as the circuit staff attempted to blow away the puddles. Thankfully a dry line would soon appear but the drivers had to be wary of straying of-line.

Luke Hornsby drew pole for the first heat and made the most of it taking his second ever CLUB100 win almost two seconds clear of Miguel Hall. He started fourth but was up to second before half distance. But he couldn’t catch Hornsby. Tarik Almou took third, up from fifth. With Lennie Wood fourth after starting tenth. Steven Downes took fifth after an impressive drive up from grid fourteen.

Heat Two fell to championship contender Adam Wright. Starting fifth he was into the lead after two laps with Pole sitter Steve Bosley second. Wright pulled well clear to take an easy win but Bosley lost second two laps from home and would eventually finish sixth. Stuart Jones took second after a strong drive up from grid eleven which saw him leap frog Tim Hill on the penultimate lap. Anwar Beroual-Smith opened his account with fourth place after starting on grid thirteen with Aaron Stevens fifth, down two places

Championship leader Joe Holmes started Heat Three from the second row. To no one’s great surprise he was at the front by the end of the second tour and duly took the win over two seconds clear of Simon Lloyd. Great to see Simon back after his horrendous crash at Buckmore forced him to miss Round Six at Rye. He was also honest enough to say that he wasn’t quite sure how his confidence had been affected. He needn’t have worried. Once back in the saddle, or rather seat, he was quickly up to speed. SHW Championship leader Richard Allen took third. Down a place from second but a good result nevertheless. Konstantinos Kyritsis came home fourth after starting from grid ten with a returning Mark Ridout fifth after starting on grid five.

Heat Four went to Beroual-Smith. He started on the second row but moved to the front after two laps and thereafter pulled clear of the pack to take the win by over five seconds. Second place went to an on form Hornsby. He battled his way up from grid eight. Very valuable points. Pole sitter Lennie Wood took third with Philip Charman and Andy Henley fourth and fifth. SHW Richard Allen came home third after battling up from grid ten with Ridout fourth after starting on grid thirteen. Jack Bolton took fifth after starting from the back row.

Heat Five saw Tim Hill on pole but there was drama as the field bunched up into the first chicane. Richard Newton spun to a halt causing Kevin Coombes to also come to a halt. Mark Turner, from the second row, also fell to the back of the field. Kyritsis took over at the front from SHW Kieran Chidgzey as Hill got shuffled down the order. And Holmes was up to third from grid twelve. It took a couple of laps before he hit the front and thereafter he drove away to take the win and maintain his 100% record for the day winning by just over five seconds from Kyritsis.

Heat Six saw Steve Brown take the win from pole. He was never threatened taking the win by over two seconds from second row starter Stuart Jones. Steven Downes took third after a late race pass on second row starter Craig Brown with Miguel Hall fifth after a strong drive up from grid twelve.

Heat Seven saw Beroual-Smith take the win but only after Bolton had to take a two place penalty after a jumped start. A shame for him as he crossed the line some five seconds clear of second place. Beroual-Smith’s win would earn him enough points to secure pole for the HW/SHW A Final. But what of Holmes? He started tenth but was punted out at the bottom of the circuit. He finished last and would be forced to start the A final mid grid. Not surprisingly he was not a happy man when he returned to the paddock. Kyritsis took second and enough points to give a front row start in the A final whilst Bolton’s third place would see him ninth on the grid for the A Final.

Heat Eight fell to Stephen Jennings. Starting from pole he was never headed. Josh Rahman ran second for over half the heat but was under pressure from Alex Pritchard, Tarik Almou, Steven Downes and Mark Turner. He held his place well but Pritchard found a way through at the bottom of the circuit. Almost immediately Downes and Turner followed him through. Two laps later and Rayman was down to ninth. Downes came home second to put himself into the A Final with Stevens next. He too qualified for the A Final. A fine effort. Turner took fifth.

Adam Wright crossed the line first after the final HW/SHW heat of the day but a two place penalty saw him placed third. Good enough points for a third row start in the A Final. Steve Brown took the win after a fantastic drive up from the back row whilst Ben Benneyworth also benefitted from Wright’s penalty to take second with Blaze Sienko fourth after a hard drive. Craig Brown took fifth after starting from grid ten.

The Finals

B Final

Tarik Almou on pole with Andy Henley alongside. SHW Paul Williams was next up sharing row two with Philip Charman. Josh Rayman and Mark Turner shared row three with SHW Richard Newton and Daren Townsley on four from SHW Jordan Salter and Dan Taylor on five. Row six, Blaze Sienko and James Workman with Robert Purtak and Bill Taylor on seven. Row eight, Stephen Brown and Kevin Coombes. Kieran Chidgzey and Mark Appleton on nine, Vinod Hirani and Kelly Rogers on ten, Dmitry Zeldin and Vijay Patel on eleven and Ben Harper taking the final spot. Just two to qualify for the back of the A Final.

Almou was smartly away from the line but Williams got a flyer from row two to move into second with Rayman following him through from grid five to run third. Henley dropped to fourth ahead of Charman with Salter up to sixth from ninth and looking very racey. Almou immediately began to pull clear and was almost two seconds up the road from second placed Williams who was defending second like his life depended on it. And he is one of the best defensive drivers in the business. If Karting were football he’d be in the England squad. Rayman’s chances evaporated at the start of the second lap with a spin at the first chicane. Zeldin, running at the rear, spun under the yellow flag which would earn him a four place penalty. Almou continued to pull clear and after three tours was almost five seconds clear aided by William’s stubborn resistance. It couldn’t last and fourth time around Williams had to give best to Taylor. Salter was up to fourth and looking for a way round the defiant Williams with Turner next ahead of Newton. With five run Almou was still over five seconds clear at the front but Taylor was cutting the gap whilst keeping a wary eye on Salter. Turner was up to fourth ahead of Williams Newton and Townsley. Salter was really driving hard at this point and wasted no time on deposing Taylor for second. He immediately began to cut the gap to the leader whilst Taylor was content to remain in his slipstream. Turner was a fading fourth whilst Newton had got ahead of Williams.

Half distance and the gap to the leader had been cut to under four seconds. Three quarter distance and the gap was under two seconds with Taylor under a second back whilst Turner was a lonely fourth and, barring incidents, out of the running. Two to go and Salter was under a second back and closing with Taylor cut adrift. Into the last lap and Salter was right on the leader’s rear bumper setting the fastest lap of the race. Out of the final chicane and onto the back straight he pulled alongside as they raced down to the final turns. Almou gave him a squeeze but moved back to take his line and Salter was alongside as they rounded the turn. Almou had to give best and Salter took a fist punching win by a kart length. A fantastic drive. But it was all in vain. He’d exceeded track limits mid race for a second time earning himself a two place deduction and missing out on qualification for the A Final. He could console himself with setting the overall fastest lap of the race and establishing a class record. Salter’s penalty promoted Almou back into first and Taylor up into the second qualifying spot. Turner came home a lonely fourth with Newton fifth and second in the SHW class. Charman took sixth with Coombes seventh after a strong drive up from grid sixteen. Williams was next and third SHW with the top ten completed by Townsley and Rogers.

A Final

Anwar Beroual-Smith on pole with Konstantinos Kyritsis alongside. Steve Brown shared the second row with Luke Hornsby the latter enjoying his best ever grid position for an HW/SHW Final. Steven Downes and Adam Wright shared row three with leading SHW Richard Allen and a returning Mark Ridout on row four. Jack Bolton and Miguel Hall occupied row five from Stuart Jones and Aaron Stevens. Row seven, championship leader Joe Holmes. His lowest starting slot of the season after being punted off in one his heats. Quite prophetic that he was only saying before the start of the event that everyone can have a bad day at least once in the season. Lennie Wood was alongside. Craig Brown and Stephen Jennings shared row eight with SHW Ben Benneyworth and Simon Lloyd on row nine. Tim Hill and Alex Pritchard shared row ten with Steve Bosley on eleven with Rob Stapleton, Steve Lindley and Nima Oparvar on the penultimate row and the two qualifiers from the B Final, Tarik Almou and Bill Taylor bringing up the rear. Top twelve to qualify for the Super Final.

Beroual-Smith got away cleanly but Kyritsis was in trouble as Brown got forced wide and Kyritsis half spun. Whilst Brown dropped to eighth Kyritsis got swamped by the pack and would be down in twenty second place by the end of the lap. By the end of lap one Beroual-Smith led from SHW Allen. A phenomenal start for Allen. Downes was next with Bolton up to fourth from Hornsby, Jones and Holmes. Next time around and Allen was into the lead having taken Beroul-smith round the final turn. Bolton was up to third from Downes, Hornsby, Bolton and Holmes. Down to the bottom of the circuit third time around and Bolton slipped ahead of Beroual-Smith. Downes also took immediate advantage and it was clear that Beroual-Smith was suffering from a lack of pace. He would later report that his Kart was down on pace.

Quarter distance and the hugely impressive Allen still led a second clear of Bolton with Downes third and Beroual-Smith fourth from Holmes. Hornsby was next with a recovering Brown on his tail from Wright and Ridout. Jones was down to tenth and then out as he spun in the final turn collecting the luckless Hill as he bounced back onto the circuit. Holmes wasted no time in deposing Beroual-Smith and set about closing the gap to Downes. It took a couple of laps but then he was through into third whilst Brown pushed Beroual-Smith further down the order. But Brown was some four seconds adrift of Downes following Beroual-Smith’s resolute defence. Beroual-Smith was using every inch of tarmac to defend much to the frustration of those behind. But it was all legitimate and fair. Wright tried round the outside of the first turn but couldn’t make the move stick and ran wide allowing Ridout up to seventh. Bosley was ninth whilst Hornsby was down to tenth from Lloyd and Stevens occupying the final qualifying spot for the Super Final. Allen was driving superbly but Bolton gradually ground him down taking the lead ninth time around. But Holmes was closing in. For several laps Allen kept him at bay whilst Bolton eased away by a few tenths. Downes remained fourth and leader of the C2 class with Brown next but still over five seconds adrift and making no impact on the gap. Then Stevens spun out and Bolton’s hard earned few tenths disappeared as Allen and Holmes closed up. Three quarter distance and Holmes got by Allen for second at the horseshoe. Bolton kept his head down and concentrated on keeping everything tidy but Holmes was inching towards him and Allen was still in contention with Downes still just a few Kart lengths back.

With just three to go though Bolton was having to defend. Down the back straight he moved to the right to squeeze Holmes but Holmes was well alongside and moved ahead. Both had compromised lines and Allen slipped back into second and almost took Holmes but Holmes had the momentum and stayed ahead. Bolton quickly recovered his composure and closed up to Allen slipping by at the bottom of the circuit. And a following Downes slipped by as well. Stirring stuff. Holmes immediately began to pull clear with Bolton looking to have the pace to hold second. Downes was holding third but on the final lap Allen made a move into the horseshoe and made it stick. Downes couldn’t respond. Holmes crossed the line for the win after what was his best drive of the season. Awesome. Bolton held onto second. A great drive from him but he just had to give best to the Championship leader. And then came SHW Allen. A quite brilliant performance from the SHW Championship leader.

Downes took fourth and first in the C2 class. A magnificent drive from him too. Brown came home a very lonely fifth some five seconds behind Downes but five seconds clear of Ridout in sixth. Fifth gave him the final spot on the C1 podium. Seventh went to Wright with Lloyd eighth. But then he suffered exclusion promoting Hall to eighth and second in the C2 class. Pritchard took ninth with Bosley tenth and third in the C2 class. Taylor took ninth whilst Kyritsis crossed the line twelfth only to be penalised down the order and thus promoting Craig Brown into the final slot for the Super Final place. Beroual-Smith endured a fraught race but was hanging on to tenth and a place in the Super Final. Last lap though and he was spun out in the first chicane. Dreadful luck for the former Elite Champion. Bolton set the fastest lap of the race with Allen the fastest SHW and Downes the fastest C2 driver.

Super Final presented in association with Altima Academy with Mutation Motorsport

Pole this time around for Championship leader Joe Holmes with Ed Barrs alongside. Jack Bolton and Harry Neale on row two with the remarkable Richard Allen on row three alongside Rob Newman. Steven Downes and Daz Teal shared row four with Steve Brown and Dan Healey on row five. Mark Ridout and first round winner Steve Hicks occupied row six with Adam Wright and Dan Brewer behind. Row eight, Miguel Hall and James Wattis ahead of Alex Pritchard and David Longman on nine. Row ten, Steve Bosley and Mike Coppin. Dan Taylor and Matt Jones shared the penultimate row with Craig Brown and Chris Alcock on the back row.

Holmes brought the field round to the start so slowly that some behind feared their engines would cut out. They didn’t and Holmes accelerated away moving smartly to his left to thwart any move from Barrs. Out of the first chicane though and Newman was in the tyres. Rob rarely blames anyone but himself when things go wrong. He felt he’d put himself in a stupid position. He got tagged and Neale ran over the front of his kart. Newman was out on the spot whilst Neale drove on slowly checking his kart out for damage. He was down to thirteenth by the end of the lap but back up to speed. Holmes continued to lead from Barrs with Bolton third from the impressive Allen. Teal was next from Downes, Hicks and Steve Brown. Four laps down and Holmes had the gap out to just over a second from Barrs who was keeping a wary eye on third placed Allen. He’d slipped by Teal second time around. Teal missed out badly down the back straight and dropped to ninth. Bolton remained fourth almost a second clear of Hicks. But Hicks was really getting a move on lapping a couple of tenths quicker than the leader but surely too far down the order to be a threat. Holmes continued to inch away from Barrs whilst Bolton slipped by Allen for third. Hicks followed him through and immediately closed in setting the fastest lap of the race thus far. A lap later and he slipped by Bolton into the horseshoe. Allen also took advantage of Bolton’s compromised line to slip back into fourth.

Half distance and Holmes was still edging away at the front. Barrs remained second but Hicks was closing in and dragging Allen along with him. Bolton remained fifth with Steve Brown next from Downes, Ridout, Teal and Brewer. Holmes set his fastest lap tenth time around but Barrs went quicker with third placed Hicks quicker still and just a Kart length behind Barrs. Allen was being dropped but was still hanging onto fourth ahead of Steve Brown with Bolton down to sixth. With three to go Hicks took Barrs into the horseshoe but Holmes was still over a second clear at the front. Two to go though and Hicks crossed the line just seven tenths adrift with Barrs now out of contention. Penultimate lap and Hicks set the fastest lap of the race taking almost half a second out of the leader. It was going to be close. Holmes defended into the horseshoe but compromised his line in and out. But not by enough. Hicks kept it tidy and as they raced down the back straight Holmes forced him to go to the outside for the final turn. A hard move but perfectly fair as he held his line giving Hicks just a kart’s width as they raced into the turn. Hicks remained on the outside looking to cut back as they exited the turn. But Holmes was wise to the move and as they came off the turn he moved right blocking off the move he knew was coming. Great driving from both. Barrs came home third with Allen fourth from Steve Brown and Bolton. Downes was seventh but some three seconds adrift of the top six. But it was a fine drive nonetheless. As was Brewers eighth. Wright took ninth after a late race charge with Ridout tenth. A strong drive from him too.

The Championships Round Up

In the Heavyweights who can stop Joe Holmes? Six wins and a second place from seven rounds. A class act. Adam Wright is second with Anwar Beroual-Smith third just two points behind. Craig Brown is an impressive fourth and leads the C2 class with Dan Taylor level on points but placed second by virtue of Craig’s better heat record. Steve Bosley is third whilst in the SHW class Richard Allen is out front and seventh overall. Paul Williams lies second with Jordan Salter third.

Joe Holmes has taken three wins from four rounds in the Super Final Championship. But he’s set to miss a round which will score a big fat zero and keep the Championship open. Steve Hicks is back up to second after his brave drive at Lydd with Steve Brown third just a couple of points adrift. The unlucky Rob Newman is next just three points clear of Chris Alcock. The top five are the only drivers to have qualified for every round. With Joe missing a round (I heard it’s Butlins Skegness – Editor) it will be interesting to see how they approach the final rounds. They dare not miss out.

Reflections

What a great venue Lydd is. It’s a pain for a lot of drivers to get to but the rewards are considerable. It’s a fabulous driver’s circuit and always makes for some great racing. Good for viewing too and it will be even better when the new Clubhouse is finished.
It was disappointing to see the actions of drivers in the Lightweight B Final when Kelly Rogers went off at the final turn. With Kelly beached and Niki Richardson on circuit assisting her not one of the leading drivers raised their arms in response to the waved yellow flags. And looking at the lap times nor did they slacken their pace. Personally I would have excluded them all. The rule is quite clear. When you see a yellow flag raise your arm, back off the throttle and don’t overtake. Just think, it might be you one day stuck in the barrier. Respect your fellow drivers and the officials.

An interesting discussion in the paddock over the use and position of the digi board. Several drivers thought it should be over the racing line rather than to the side as it’s easier to see whilst several other drivers felt they’d rather not see any penalties posted during the race as it messed with their heads and caused them to lose focus. Guess you can’t please everyone.

There also seems to be some confusion amongst the Super Finalists as to how the grid is formed. It’s quite simple. Top twelve from each of the A final’s line up for the Super Final and they line up alternately through the grid. If it’s the turn of a heavy to be on pole then a light will be alongside. Second row will feature the second placed heavy alongside the second placed light and so on right down the grid. And the karts are lined up in grid order.It’s not difficult to work out is it?

Our thanks as always to all the marshals, Club100 staff and circuit staff for their hard work and not forgetting our sponsors, G3 Pro, Dartford Karting and the Altima academy. And race commentators Andrew Mather and Howard Mitchell. Great work gentlemen.

See you at Whilton!

Words: Steve Gray

Library Photography: John Patterson