Ed Barrs in the Form of His Life, But Steve Hicks Capitalises on Holmes Absence in the Super – To Be Narrow Favourite in Altima Chase
A beautiful sunny early autumn morning greeted the drivers for Round eight of the Sprint Championships. A near perfect day for racing. It’s getting to the sharp end of the season with the Championships finely poised. Big news of the day was the absence of Heavyweight Championship and Super Sprint Championship leader Joe Holmes and Lightweight contender and Super Sprint contender Rob Newman. Holmes missing a HW round doesn’t affect his HW Championship ambitions by much but dependent on how others fared his Super Sprint Championship hopes could be over by the end of the day. Newman is sadly set to miss the rest of season. And there was a bit of controversy among the drivers regarding the kerb on the final corner. Some drivers felt the new kerb was too high and were worried that touching it could throw them well off line. But it’s the same for everyone. Just stay away from it. Here’s how the day unfolded.
The Heats & The Route to the Finals
Mike Coppin took the first heat of the day after starting from grid twelve. He worked his way steadily forward taking over from pole sitter Craig Rankine with two laps to go. Chris Dixon took second having started just ahead of Coppin on the grid but losing out on the first lap. Thereafter he followed Coppin through the field also taking Rankine on the penultimate lap. Daz Teal took fourth and set the fastest lap after starting on grid fourteen with James Barnard fifth.
Super Sprint contender Chris Alcock took the second heat by over four seconds. Having started on the second row he was quickly into the lead and simply drove away from the pack. Josh Adams took a fine second with Ashley White third. Dan Healey took fourth, which was where he started, after being dropped down to seventh at the start. Pietro Pagano was the star of the heat finishing fifth after starting on grid fourteen and working his way through the field setting fastest lap in the process.
Heat three featured the return of former CLUB100 Elite Champion Chris Powell. Always good to see him back. But it was Oliver Flashman who took the win with David Longman second. Longman started down on the third row but was at the front after two laps with Flashman, starting from fourth, in his wheel tracks. Bailey Morgan was running third but would ultimately slip to fifth. Flashman chased Longman all race before taking the much more experienced Longman for the lead at Christmas on the final lap. Stephen Docker took third after a healthy battle with Christopher Powell, the regular racer, and Morgan.
Steve Hicks opened his account for the day with a win in the first heat followed home by a returning Chris Woodger who had started from pole. Ed Barrs took third after starting on grid twelve with Harry Neale fourth and Andrew Ward fifth.
Coppin took his second win of the day in heat five despite a moment on the final turn when he clipped the new kerb throwing him wide. It was a fine drive though from the front of the grid with pole sitter Peter Hargreaves coming home second after a race long battle with Hussain Rashid. James Barnard took fourth with Chris Alcock fifth.
Heat six was marred by a nasty looking incident out of the final corner on lap two which saw Pietro Pagano thrown from his Kart fortunately without injury. In fact he was on his feet straight away which was great to see. Christopher Powell and Rob Dowsett also went off and out in avoidance. Thanassi Barnicoat took the win from Chris Powell with Martin Theodorou third from Stephen Docker and Bailey Morgan
Heat seven went to Dan Healey but he was made to work hard for it after starting on grid thirteen. It was not until the penultimate lap that he hit the fronts. Adam Wheeldon came home second after starting on the front row. At one stage he down to seventh but fought his way back taking second on the final lap from Ben Atkinson. Andrew Green was next across the line but was excluded after putting Daz Teal into the tyre at turn one. An Incident which left Daz winded for a time but ruined his chances of an A final spot. Chris Woodger scored another impressive haul of points with fourth ahead of Tom Fuller in fifth.
Ed Barrs took his first win of the day in heat eight. Starting third he took a couple of laps to a way past poleman Chris Dixon who took second. Third went to Brandon Williams who had Dan Truman for company throughout the race with Jon Pethick fifth.
The final round of heats saw Alex Slijepcevic take his first win with Stephen Docker second. Another good points score which would put him near the sharp end of the A final. Daz Teal took third after a storming drive up from grid ten showing that he was none the worse for his earlier incident. It would not be quite good enough though to get him into the A Final. Steve Hicks came home fourth with Dan Healey fifth.
James Wattis won heat ten. Starting sixth he was into the lead by the end of the first lap chased by Josh Adams. These two ran away from the rest of the field with Wattis taking the win a second clear of Adams. Chris Dixon took third some five seconds back but he’d had to work his way up from grid eighteen. It earned him enough points for pole in the A Final. Pietro Pagano took fourth showing that he was none the worse for his earlier incident. Tough breed CLUB100 drivers. Andrew Ward took fifth.
Ben Frost took a lights to flag victory in heat eleven with Tom Fuller second from Billy Robson, Thanassi Barnicoat was fourth.
Whilst the final Lightweight heat fell to Ben Atkinson. He led for much of the race only to fall down to third with two laps to go behind Louie Ross and Ashley White. But he fought back taking the win from Ross on the line by just 0.079 with White third from Chris Alcock and Brandon Williams.
Emily Rogers on pole alongside Stuart Hubbard with Daniel Gamblin and Tobi Shomade on the second row. Josh Wellard and Leo Stolyarov shared row three with Ben Frost and George Redstone behind on four. Martin Auger and Stef Theodorou occupied row with Simon Sharpe and Oliver Flashman on six and Keith Segal alongside James Browning on seven. Row eight saw Will Appleton alongside Aymen Salih and next up Jordan Cranstoun and Rob Dowsett. Row ten, Corey Smith and Sam Morris followed by Andrew Green and Ollie Stuart-William whilst Andy Yelland and Jake Williams completed the grid. A bad day so far for Yelland, the only C1 runner in the field and with a great deal of work to do to progress. Top four to qualify for the back of the B Final.
Rogers lead the field up to the line but it was Hubbard who emerged in the lead as the field headed up to Christmas corner. He’d been just a touch to eager across the line and jumped the start incurring a two place penalty. Now he had to finish in the top two. At the back of the field Yelland’s day got even worse as he tagged Browning, bringing him to a halt. Yelland would suffer the inevitable exclusion. Hubbard continued to lead with Shomade up to second from Rogers, Gamblin and Wellard. Flashman was on a charge and up into the top ten whilst Frost’s chances of progression evaporated with a spin. Hubbard continued to lead from Shomade but Rogers was coming under pressure from Wellard, Gamblin and Flashman. Up the hill for the fourth time and Wellard out dragged Rogers to move ahead into Christmas. Flashman almost made it by Gamblin at the same time but the latter just held on. But only for a lap. Flashman was really flying at this point and a lap later he moved into fourth at Christmas corner. Further back, Dowsett was beginning to make progress and steadily closing on the top six. Hubbard continued to lead by just a few Kart lengths from Shomade, Wellard, Flashman, Rogers and Gamblin. Dowsett though was getting ever closer.
Half distance and he picked off Gamblin. A lap later and Rogers succumbed. Fourth placed Flashman was over a second and a half up the road but he too needed to get moving as his number came up on the start line digi-board indicating a penalty. Two places for exceeding track limits. He knew it too and immediately upped his pace, closing in on Shomade and Wellard whilst pulling clear of Dowsett. Rogers and Gamblin were both dropping back and seemingly out of the hunt. Hubbard was controlling the gap back to Shomade keeping himself just out of reach. Wellard though was coming under increasing pressure from Flashman who duly nipped by up the hill with three to run. And Dowsett had got his second wind and began to home in on Wellard. Penultimate lap and Flashman dived down the inside of Shomade into the Ashby hairpin for second. Shomade ran a touch wide and Wellard took advantage to move ahead whilst Dowsett also closed up to Shomade. Shomade stayed ahead as they crossed the line e for the start of the final lap but Dowsett moved alongside as they went up the hill. Shomade tried to hang on but Dowsett was through into fourth. All the fighting over second allowed Hubbard to pull well clear at the front and he crossed the line over three seconds to the good but his penalty dropped him to third. Flashman crossed the line second but his penalty dropped him to fourth and promoted third placed Wellard into first with Dowsett second. Rogers was next from Gamblin with Shomade down to seventh after a quick spin two corners from home. Stolyarov took eight with Frost ninth after a great comeback drive which also netted him fastest lap on the penultimate tour. Stuart-William completed the top ten.
Championship leader Daz Teal on pole after his unfortunate crash in the heats with James Rose alongside. Hussain Rashid and Adam Wheeldon shared row two. Row three saw C1 runner alongside Rob Langthorp whilst Bailey Morgan and Pietro Pagano occupied row four. Craig Rankine and Loic Ditchburn shared row five with Martin Theodorou and Richard Gander on six and Oscar Lancaster and Mitchell Althasen on seven. Roger Davis and Billy Robson sat on row eight with James Wattis and Reece Pope on nine and Christopher Powell and Peter Hargreaves on ten. James Appleton and Greg Crawford shared row eleven with the final two rows occupied by the C Final qualifiers, Wellard, Dowsett, Hubbard and Flashman. Top two to qualify for the A Final.
Teal got away cleanly but it was Rashid up to second as they streamed up the hill. Wheeldon lost out badly, not for the first time this year, and would be down to ninth by the end of the lap. Langthorp moved into fourth behind Rose with Martin next from a quick starting Pagano. Theodorou too was on the move, slotting into eighth. Teal and Rashid began to edge clear of third placed Rose but only by a few Kart lengths. Rashid was looking very racy and managed to pull alongside Teal on the run up to Christmas third time around. Teal defended but Rashid was through. Pagano moved up to third ahead of Rose who now had Theodorou right on his bumper. A lap later and Theodorou moved into fourth setting the fastest lap of the race thus far. Rose was down to fifth from Martin, Langthorp, Morgan, Wheeldon and Flashman. This bunch were covered by just over a second and whilst they didn’t look like challenging for the top spots there were major Championship points at stake. At the front Pagano caught Rashid napping through the Boot and moved to the front. Teal also took advantage and moved ahead of Rashid. Theodorou remained fourth but Martin had broken through from the following pack and was giving Theodorou a hard time over fourth. Once at the front Pagano immediately began to pull clear as teal defended second from Rashid. Theodora found a way round Martin and set about closing the gap back to Rashid.
With two to go Teal was having to defend up the hill from Rashid allowing both Theodorou and Martin to close in. Rashid moved to the inside but Teal held on and Rashid almost lost out to Theodorou as he backed off. Down the hill to Ashby and Teal had a few lengths advantage whilst Rashid defended hard from Theodorou. Onto the back street and Theodorou pulled alongside Rashid as they headed towards the Boot. Rashid defended but had to give best and lost momentum as they rounded the Boot allowing Martin to nip inside as they raced down to the final turn. All of which allowed Teal to open up a gap. Pagano took the win almost five seconds clear and set the fastest lap of the race with Teal hanging onto second just a couple of tenths up on Theodorou with Martin fourth from Rashid. Langthorp came home sixth and almost made it fifth as they crossed the line with Wheeldon seventh from Wattis, Rose and Davis. Flashman set the fastest lap of the C2 runners.
Chris Dixon on pole from Mike Coppin with Stephen Docker and Ed Barrs on row two. Chris Alcock and Dan Healey shared row three with Steve Hicks and Josh Adams on row four. Thanassi Barnicoat and Ben Atkinson on five with Tom Fuller and Brandon Williams on six and Chris Woodger and Louie Ross on seven. Ashley White and Chris Powell on eight. Sam Hampshire shared row nine with Harry Neale with Alex Slijepcevic and Dan Truman on ten. Row eleven, Jon Pethick and James Barnard ahead of Andrew Ward and David Longman followed by the two qualifiers from the B Final, Pagano and Teal. Top twelve to qualify for the Super Final at the end of the day.
Dixon and Coppin both got away cleanly but it was a Barrs from row two who made the best start to lead as they headed up the hill. Down into Ashby for the first time we had mid grid chaos as Fuller got turned round forcing Woodger, White and Longman to take avoiding action. Longman was out on the spot. End of the lap and Barrs was half a second clear of Coppin with Docker third from Dixon, Healey and Hicks. Barrs continued to stretch his advantage at the front as the battle for second developed. Coppin was under increasing pressure from those behind and was suddenly pushed down to seventh as the pack came out of the final corner with Docker tasking over in second from Hicks, Healey, Dixon and Barnicoat. And further back the battle for the final qualifying spots was being waged with Williams heading a stream of machines. Half distance and Barrs was over five seconds clear at the front as he continued to post lap time under fifty three seconds. The only driver to do so. Hicks was up to second a half second clear of Docker with Healey all over his rear bumper. Barnicoat was still in the hunt for a podium spot but Coppin was being dropped as he fought with Dixon. Alcock was down in twelfth and desperate to get up the order to remain in Super Final contention. As Docker defended his third place from Healey and Barnicoat Hicks began to pull clear in second. But Barrs was out of reach and still banging in fastest laps to pull even further clear. Docker eventually succumbed to the pressure from Healey and dropped to fourth. A lap later and Barnicoat also made it through. Coppin remained sixth but off the pace of the top five as he defended from Hampshire. With two to go the top three looked settled and it was all eyes on the battle for the final qualifying spots for the Super Final. Alcock was in eleventh but had both Neale and Teal closing him down. Penultimate lap and Neale cut the gap but it was not enough to deny Alcock. Teal missed out.
Barrs took the win by a huge margin to cement his place as Championship leader. On this form he won’t be beaten. Hicks came home second to give himself a real chance in the Super Final with Healey tasking the final podium spot ahead of Barnicoat. Docker took a hard earned fifth with Coppin next from Dixon who then got hit with a four place penalty dropping him to eleventh and promoting the leading C2 runner Hampshire. An impressive run from him. Williams was next from Slijepcevic a relieved Alcock tenth and Neale taking the final Super Final qualifying spot. In the C2 class Hampshire took the honours with Fuller second and Ward third. Good points for Ward as neither Hampshire nor Fuller are factors in the Championship.
Super Final presented in association with Altima Academy with Mutation Motorsport
Pole this time for the Lights with Ed Barrs taking the spot alongside Steve Brown. Steve Hicks and Jack Bolton on row two and Dan Healey alongside Stuart Jones on row three. Row four, Thanassi Barnicoat and Kosta Kyritsis. Stephen Docker and Tarik Almou shared row five with Mike Coppin and Chris Gristwood on six and Sam Hampshire alongside Anwar Beroual-Smith on seven. Row eight, Brandon Williams and Conner Jupp. Axel Slijepcevic and Richard Allen on nine from Chris Alcock and Adam Wright on ten, Chris Dixon and Alex Pritchard on the penultimate row and Harry Neale alongside Curt Holmes at the rear of the field.
Barrs led the field away with Brown tucking into second and Healey up to third. Coppin and Gristwood both had grassy moments as the pack sorted itself out. Barrs led from Brown over the line at the end of the lap with Healey still third. But Hicks was right with him and pulled ahead as they braked for Christmas corner at the top of the hill. A lap later and he was all over the back of Brown as they went up the hill. Brown defended but as they dived down into the Ashby hairpin he moved inside and took second. Hicks immediately homed in on Barrs and outbraked him into Christmas to take over at the front. A lap later and Barrs was down to third behind Brown. Hicks continued to lead from Brown and Barrs with Barnicoat up to fourth from Healey and Kyritsis the latter two involved in a frenetic battle which saw them swapping places at almost every corner. Hicks continued to eke out a gap at the front with Brown still second from Barrs, Barnicoat, Kyritsis and Healey. Williams had gradually closed the gap with Alcock and Beroual-Smith keeping him honest.
Penultimate lap and with Hicks clear at the front with Brown still second Barrs came under attack from Barnicoat. Contact was made and Barnicoat was onto the grass. Barrs lost momentum and Kyritsis nipped by briefly for third. But Barrs recovered whilst behind these Williams slipped ahead of Healey for sixth. Along the back straight Kyritsis dived up the inside into the Boot. Barrs was compromised through the turn and Kyritsis took third. Barrs lost momentum and dropped behind Barnicoat, Williams and Healey. Final lap and Barrs struck back as they came down the hill. Williams ran over the grass and lost ground. But the final few corners were all about Hicks as he crossed the line to take his second Super Final win of the year with Brown second from Kyritsis. Barnicoat took fourth with Barrs fifth from Healey and Williams. Alcock kept his Championship chances alive with eighth ahead of Beroual-Smith and Harry Neale. Kyritsis set the fastest lap.
The Championship Round Up
With dropped scores coming into play Ed Barrs now leads the Championship. He’s in great form at the moment taking back to back A Final wins. Steve Hicks is second. He’s yet to win an A Final but a string of strong results is keeping him well in the hunt. Chris Alcock is third just two points back. Rob Newman is fourth but sadly he won’t be competing again this season. A great shame. Mike Coppin is fifth just two points up on former Championship leader Daz Teal who leads Pietro Pagano by just three points and Dan Healey by six. Dan Brewer is thirteenth overall but leading the C2 class from Andrew Ward with Rob Langthorp third from Hussain Rashid.
And then there were three. With Joe Holmes missing his chances of winning the Super Sprint Championship are over despite his three wins out of five rounds. Or are they?
Steve Hicks second win of the year leaves him with a four point advantage over Steve Brown going into the final round. Chris Alcock kept himself in the hunt as the only other driver to have qualified for every Super Final. But what if, Hicks, Brown and Alcock all fail to qualify for the final round at Clay and Joe takes the win? An unlikely scenario? So was England winning the third test this year. But they did. Strange things happen in sport.
See you at Clay!
Words: Steve Gray
Photography: John Patterson