Finally… Darrell Lowe Wins To Secure 2nd, James Hattersley Stars In Buckmore Finale
There it is. Darrell Lowe got the monkey off his back, maybe more off his mind, a win, a hard fought win in the A Final. A win, and it needed to be a win, to pull Darrell back above Stephen Docker, by just 2points at the end of the day, after Stephen’s 4th place in the Pre A Final, coupled with an anonymous 10th for Lowe, had dropped Darrell to 3rd going into the final race. Star of the Buckmore Park show however was young James Hattersley who had come into the last round mathematically in range of 3rd place in the championship but realistically looking to secure 5th place. Quietly however he has found his feet in Club100 around Lydd with a pair of podiums but he still left there 10th in the table but continued being Northern (specifically one of God’s chosen people – that’s a Yorkshireman to all of you) in outscoring everyone over the remaining rounds to “win” last 4 rounds of the season. It culminated with a first win, a flag to flag win no less in the Pre A Final and 2nd in the main to crash the championship party, taking 4th overall after a quiet day Josh Pettitt. Josh so long the only driver to consistently challenge the champion early in the season having to settle for still very fine 5th place in the final standings although had Tim Hill not gone off the boil (moaning about his karts) after 3rd in the Pre A Final but only managing 10th in the A Final he might have left Buckmore Park empty handed. That’s racing.
I’m sure Eric Mignon was disillusioned to finish the season by having to start in Pre B Final, so I’ll remind us all he’d been challenging for an A Final win at Clay! To be fair Group 1 in qualifying had had the colder of the 2 qualifying sessions. I had Eric down as one of my four my qualifiers even before he led Nick Breadner off grid 3 out of hairpin 1, Roger Davis slotted Chris Murray (Rye A Final winner – he must do his best work in the dark – fnur) for 3rd. Chris lost it (helped?) at hairpin 2, James Shield coming into the Esses with a big gap over Michael Ballinger who had been caught up in the Murray’s aftermath. The rest of the field began with Karolis Koncikas blasting out of the traps from grid 14 but emerging from Garda in 6th, Adam Brown trying to hold off Lennie Wood and Nick Butler. If they played smart the front 4 could have had it all to themselves, lapped traffic aside. Ballinger could only hold Shield at 1.4secs in his 5th position he’d need to catch a break (in the form of a backmarker of which there were already more than enough circulating) or some foolish infighting ahead. Mignon and Breadner had the best of the lapped karts by half way they were clear of Davis and Shield and they had been caught by Ballinger, who moved into 4th.
Then Nick forgot the script and took a look up the inside of Mignon into hairpin 1 as Eric put a lap on someone who’d fallen off earlier, Nick regretted it locked up enough to spin on another warmer day he might had some grip, but around zero degrees he half spun to a halt. Really a bit embarrassing. Shield took the opportunity to pass Ballinger for position so although he’d lost out to James, Michael remained in 4th. With so many errant karts struggling with the low track temperature, hard tyre = low grip condition particularly on turn in, Koncikas was struggling to make any progress 1.5secs behind 4th place at half distance with Adam Brown, Paul Williams, Declan McDonnell, Nick Butler, and Ben Daly broken up behind out to 10th place. Clear running was what was needed Mignon had the best of it. Davis had Shield on his bumper wanting, and getting by, and that was fine, it was all about qualification. Davis was left with Ballinger close for comfort to the finish fortunately for Roger, Michael was not under pressure for the last qualifying spot, Koncikas was a long way off having trouble with traffic and Paul Williams came through in the closing stages to finish 5th.
After timed qualifying set the grids Pre A Final, and joined by the Pre B top 4, the top qualifiers were headed by James Hattersley from group 2, the sun had probably put a little more grip into hairpin 1 and Paddock, maybe worth 0.4-0.5secs over what Group 1 had been, James the only driver to break 47secs for pole position. Daniel French contesting 5th in the championship was with him on the front row, Tim Hill and Julian Clist on row 2 were facing off in their battle for positions at the bottom of the top 10. Stephen Docker could only manage 11th, Pettitt 14th, Lowe 16th, but they had also been in Group 1 and I reckon suffered a little as a consequence.
Hattersley got into turn 1 and is too young to know/remember/been told what Tim Hill used be like – showing him even a sliver of kerb on the inside of the hairpin… James ran wide, Tim lost momentum and they came out three wide off the corner with Clist on the outside, Julian able to get across on to James’ bumper going into hairpin 2 but the always aggressive French took a run down the inside of Hill and double downed to arrive side by side with Clist at the apex, but in slowing each other up with the compromise off the corner, Hattersley was 5 kart lengths clear of Clist into Esses. The young man then did, what you should always do in that situation, figuratively and literally. Never. Look. Back.
Dave Price joined French and Hill lined up behind Clist into Paddock, Dave’s shot at Hill into Garda released Clist and French, and left Dave and Tim falling over each other as Mike Townley and a soon to be car keyless, Clubman Adam Nakar tripped over the pair up to Cafe Curve four wide! Hill emerged 4th. Nakar squeezed to the left hand barrier clipped it and spun in reverse over the start line (I only ever did that while leading, on the last lap). The real RoboMick would not have been amused.
The race was beginning to settle so the question was – Was Hattersley lead real? Or just opening corners clear run luck? He had a 1secs lead at the line and by the time they returned it was 1.3secs. It was real. But Julian stopped the rot pegging James at 1.3secs. Behind him the field had split into two sections, a very loose line of Clist, French, Hill, Docker, Townley, gap then to Ed Morris pushing passed Dave Price in Garda to lead the rest through. This is important as we all know once you’re detached from the leaders it’s near impossible to bridge a gap even if you can drop your own pursuers. It’s just a truth of racing unless there’s dicing up ahead you end up clear but marooned in gap. Lowe was struggling to make any progress from a four handed fight with Mark Turner, Jack Bolton and Simon Lloyd over 8th after Price disappeared. Pettitt was 13th and waiting for an opportunity to clear Joe Wiggin.
French got untidy and the race for the win was left to Hattersley and Clist, Dan left with Hill towing in Docker and Townley for 3rd to deal with. Hill moved through, letting Docker get French into hairpin 2 and the trio would circulate in close company before Hill edged clear when French took back 4th place. Through half way Hattersley was still moving between 1.3-1.7secs clear of Clist. And that was basically that, the race began a long run in to the finish and it might have finished like that after Docker edged clear of French only Mike Townley was becoming frustrated behind Dan watching Stephen move clear, and got caught between launching a pass and following around hairpin 2 again for another run down hill, looking like he was caught in two minds he fell off and out of 6th. All move up one. Clist knew the game was up, he cruised in 2secs behind Hattersley, Hill was a further 4secs off the winner, Docker would need a few laps more to get anywhere near him in 4th. French, Morris, Jack Bolton in 7th. Jack left it late on to the last lap to draft passed Turner after setting the fastest lap for A Final pole position a lap earlier. Lowe slipped to 10th and Pettitt finished 11th.
Strange seeing Jose Soler in a Heavy B Final a slight scheduling banana skin meant his driver Nakar had thought Clubmans was in the morning. No, really. Jose was on pole, Murray after at least 2 offs in the Pre on the front row, Declan McDonnell and Brazilian, by way of London and Poland, Peter Jankowski on grid 4, Paul Williams and Karolis Koncikas on row 3 looking for 2 remaining qualifying spots. Grid 2 missed out again, Murray sliding down the outside of inside line unable to get in until off hairpin 1 and before that McDonnell and Jankowski had joined Soler in having gone by. Off hairpin 2 the field headed downhill in line, Williams converted his grid 5 ahead of Koncikas and Lennie Wood. Lennie moved into 6th but in doing so he split the top 10 in half it was then hard to look passed the top 5 for the qualifiers. Murray in 4th looked under pressure for a while, then Wood appeared to be making some progress towing Adam Brown up towards Williams, but when Adam pressed to pass and Koncikas joined in the moment had gone. The group up front was hanging together though, Jankowski took a shot at McDonnell at Paddock and backed out, Murray tried to punish Pete into Garda around the outside for breaking the truce. Foolish it failed and let Williams through.
The race was on, it was lap 5 of 15. Soler wasn’t getting away even if he had a couple of kart lengths on McDonnell but the queue behind Declan was getting tighter and tighter up behind him. It looked like it would burst eventually. McDonnell towed up to Soler and passed inside of hairpin 2 for lead, Jankowski squeezed through over the kerb into Esses to force 2nd place, Pete pushing through McDonnell at Paddock for the lead leaving Declan pinned on the outside so Soler, Williams and Murray forced a way by through inside Garda and off Senna. Jankowski was free and clear, Williams drafted up the inside into turn 1 and finished off Jose inside into Hairpin 1, Murray then tried to pass Soler but Jose wasn’t going to rollover again and as they diced to the finish Williams was able to pull clear into qualification.
Reconvening for the last race of the morning session Bolton was on pole for A Final, Simon Lloyd on grid 2 looking for a good finish to the season, Hattersley and Clist on row 2, Lowe with work to do, now Docker was 2nd in the table, and James Shield on row 3. No surprise to see Bolton convert pole position to the lead, or Hattersley run down to Paddock in 2nd but they a few kart lengths clear. Grid 2 as always loses out and Lloyd would not be an exception. Nakar would bring the chasers through with Lowe, Shield and the luckless Lloyd. It looked like Hatterlsey was shaping up to go for the double sitting in leader Jack’s wheel tracks and looking comfortable. Nakar and Lowe together as well 3rd and 4th, as Lloyd was struggling, Clist dived in at Garda. It would take until lap 5 for Lowe to find a way passed Nakar he’d allowed Adam to tow him back to the leaders, only pressing with the pass into Paddock as Clist had joined in to make it a 5 way dice for the lead and Nakar was taking too long over Hattersley. Bolton had pole position on his late Pre A Final pace he had been uninspiring in the opening laps of Pre Final and it was looking much the same. Relative to his rivals Jack was really not quick enough. Just over a second behind Lloyd had been joined by Docker, Shield, Townley and Hill. The latter accounting for his lack of progress in either final to unimpressive mounts (horsey terminology).
Hattersley had seen enough making his move at the top of the circuit on lap 6, Bolton took a lunge at getting it straight back into Paddock but James once again gave Jack and himself just enough room at the apex to keep his own momentum up off the corner but upset Jack’s momentum for Darrell to dweep inside into Garda. In the confusion Clist drove around Nakar off Senna. Could Hattersley break clear? He certainly stretched them but Darrell clung on to the tow, and with Bolton not quite on the pace holding up Clist, the way was clear for Darrell if he played smart for a few laps to get Hattersley all to himself for a winning move later on. On Lap 10 Darrell struck for the lead. Bolton had lost their tow and 0.3secs off the pace, Docker perhaps realising he still needed good points to hold on to his newly acquired 2nd place got up, into and through the Bolton group as far as Jack’s bumper. Stephen was looking for a place to pass and taking too long about it. Closing laps Clist passed the pair of them, 2nd in the championship was gone again. Hattersley followed in Lowe, perhaps knowing having got a first win of his own there was no way Darrell was going to let have another, he wanted it more, just 2 points more than Docker after a season of racing. 3secs behind Clist had more than enough to hold off Bolton.
Boom, you can read about the champion elsewhere. Never mentioned him once.
We’ll see you at Buckmore Park on 28the of February 2016.