Former British Champion Connor Jupp Strikes 1st Win, Mike Noon Holds Off Chris Woodger & James Venning For Title


Steve Gray
Lightweight Sprint Championship 2018, Rd.12,

Vade ad victors spoila. To the victors the spoils. The final round of a long season with all four Championships finely balanced. A two horse race for the Elite crown between the two flying Yorkshiremen, reigning Champion Joe Holmes and Rob Newman with Holmes twelve points ahead. In the Clubman’s, five time A Final winner James Taylor against Stefan Scully who had yet to win a race but arrived at Buckmore with an eleven point advantage. In the lights Mike Noon leading the way from Chris Woodger by just eight points. And finally the Heavyweights with the oldest winner in Club 100 Sprints level on points with the youngest winner Seb Algieri. Here’s how a dramatic day unfolded.

After lunch it was the turn of the Lightweights to commence qualifying on what was still a damp track. All eyes on Mike Noon and Chris Woodger with James Venning still with an outside chance of sneaking the title. And there were some interesting guest drivers in the shape of Conner Jupp, an ex British Cadet Champion and once tipped as the next Lewis Hamilton, and Peter Jankowski, an ex Club 100 regular and the reigning Brazilian arrive and drive Champion.

Qualifying

The track may have been damp when the first group came out but a dryer line quickly appeared and it was all going to be about who timed their final run at the right time. Matt Jones judged it to perfection edging out Jankowski by just 0.077 on his final lap. Endurance specialist Jack Goldsmith took third with Venning next from Stephen Westwood. Noon and Woodger were sixth and seventh.

The track was drying rapidly for the second group which would mean that the groups would be staggered for the opening grids. Jupp took awhile to get into his stride with Andrew Ward topping the times right through the session. Until Jupp’s final lap of 57.516 bettered Wards time by a remarkable 0.687. Jonah Barker was third quickest from Rob Langthorp and Ryan Williams all of whom set their best times on their final lap.

Lightweight Pre B Final

Charles Jackson on pole from Simon Cornish with Ryan Sandall and Emily Rogers sharing row two. Daryl Snelling and Ben Atkinson on row three. A bit of a surprise to see the latter in the Pre B. Craig Rankine and Billy Robson shared row four with Terry Oliphant and the evergreen Keith Segal on row five. Four to qualify for the Pre A Final. Jackson led the field away but was almost immediately dropping down the order as Cornish moved to the front chased by Sandall. Rogers spun to the back of the field as did Segal. Rankine moved up to third with Oliphant fourth from Atkinson and Robson. With three laps run Cornish continued to lead from Sandall and both were pulling clear of third placed Rankine who now had Atkinson closing in. Oliphant remained fifth but was coming under pressure from Robson.

Half distance and Cornish and Randal were over six seconds clear at the front with Rankine still third just half a second ahead of Atkinson. Robson was up to fifth but Oliphant and Snelling were beginning to drop away from the qualifying spots. And then it began to rain again and the times immediately fell away. Sandall took over at the front from Cornish with Rankine still third from Atkinson. Snelling had taken over in fifth from Robson but they were both falling back. Any chance Oliphant had evaporated with a spin. Sandall continued to lead but Cornish was keeping up the pressure until he half spun and dropped back. He’d also picked up a penalty for exceeding track limits. Sandall crossed the line over two seconds clear of Cornish who dropped to fourth after his penalty. Atkinson was next across the line followed by Rankine to complete the qualifiers. Then we had to wait over eighteen seconds before Loic Ditchburn crossed the line. A good drive though after dropping back at the start. Martin Auger was next. Another good drive up from grid seventeen.

Lightweight Pre A Final

Jupp on pole from Jones with Ward and Jankowski on row two. Barker and Goldsmith shared row three from Langthorp and Venning with Williams and Westwood completing the first five rows. Championship leader Noon would start from grid twelve with Woodger right behind. Jupp led the pack away but it was Jones who led as they completed the first lap with Jankowski up to third from Ward. Langthorp and Venning had both spun out allowing Noon to move up to fifth ahead of Goldsmith and Barker. Sam Nash was up to eighth with Woodger right behind. Jones continued to lead with Jupp a second behind but over four seconds clear of third placed Jankowski who had Ward putting him under increased pressure. Noon dropped four places in the course of a lap dropping behind Williams, Nash, Goldsmith and Championship rival Woodger. Still Jones led from Jupp but it was Williams up to third Jankowski having spun. As he said, it was a long time since he’d raced in the wet.

Jones and Jupp continued to set a punishing pace at the front running almost six seconds clear of third placed Williams who was in turn well clear of fourth placed Ward who had Goldsmith following closely. Woodger was next followed by Noon, Barker and Venning who was recovering superbly after his early spin dropped him to seventeenth. Jones still led but Jupp was upping his pace and closing in. Down the hill with three to go he attempted to get inside Jones as they turned into the right hander. It was ambitious at best as Jones had the line. Jupp climbed the inside kerb and gave the blocks a mighty blow spinning them across the infield. But he kept control. A lap later and he was into the lead through the hairpins but inevitably he was penalised a place for cone abuse dropping him to second behind Jones post race. Williams came home a very lonely third whilst Barker crossed the line fourth only to be penalised down to eighth after and ABC. Goldsmith was promoted to fifth with Ward and Woodger also gaining a place. Noon crossed the line eighth but he too had transgressed and would be classified twelfth. The Championship was going down to the wire and Venning still wasn’t out of the hunt having been classified just behind Woodger after the penalties to both Barker and Noon. A slim chance but a chance nevertheless.

Lightweight B Final

Ditcburn on pole from Auger with Carloni and Snelling on row two. Robson and Jackson shared row three from Dane Christison and Richard Gander on four and Daniel Gamblin and Terry Oliphant on row five. Just two to qualify for the A Final and a trophy for the winner. Ditchburn led the field up to the start but it was Carloni who caught the eye moving to the front as Auger’s chances disappeared with a spin as did Jacksons. Robson moved up to second with Ditchburn third from a fast starting Oliphant who then lost out when Benjamin Carew tapped him into a spin. Carew would take a four place penalty thus ending his chances of progression. Carloni continued to lead but was coming under pressure from Snelling and Robson. Then Snelling spun away his chances leaving Robson at the front from Carloni. But closing in was Keith Segal. Having started from grid fifteen he’d rapidly made up places eventually getting by Carloni just after half distance and setting fastest lap in the process. But Robson was just too far up the road crossing the line over five seconds clear from Segal who was in turn some nine seconds clear of third placed Ditchburn.

Lightweight A Final

Jones on pole from Jupp with Williams third from Goldsmith. Ward and Woodger on row three with Venning and Barker on row four. Westwood and Gooch occupied the fifth row with Noon twelfth and with work to do to take the Championship ahead of Woodger. Jones led away but it was Jupp who led at the end of lap one from Jones with Williams third. Goldsmith, Ward and Woodger all lost ground whilst Mackenzie caught the eye moving from grid eleven to fourth.

Venning ran fifth ahead of Westwood with Noon next and crucially ahead of his Championship rival Woodger. Two laps run and Jupp had opened up a one and a half second lead over Jones with Williams third but over two seconds back from Jones. Mackenzie still held fourth from Goldsmith, Venning, Noon and Woodger. How Woodger needed an error from Noon. Half distance and it was as you were at the front but Noon was up to sixth from Woodger with Venning down to ninth behind Sam Nash. Jupp by this time was over five seconds clear with Jones looking equally comfortable in second. But Williams’s third place was coming under threat from Goldsmith who wasted no time in getting by. Three quarter distance and Jupp was over seven seconds clear whilst Jones led Goldsmith by over two seconds which looked to have settled the podium. Williams ran fourth from Mackenzie whilst Woodger had slipped by Noon for sixth. But he needed more. With two to go Goldsmith set the fastest lap of the race and homed in on Jones for second. Once up to his bumper he was quickly by. Down the order Noon repast Woodger with Nash following him through. Game over. Jupp took the win six seconds up on Goldsmith with Jones third. On another day it would have been a win. Mackenzie took fourth after a faultless drive with Williams fifth. Noon crossed the line sixth his screams of delight almost silencing the traffic on the adjacent M2. Nash was next up followed by Woodger with Westwood and Sandall completing the top ten.

Round up

Mike Noon finished just five points clear of Chris Woodger to take the Lightweight crown. He only managed one A final victory but had three Pre A final victories to his credit and he was consistent. Chris Woodger in contrast took three A Final wins and two Pre A Finals but when he was on form he was brilliant but when not, the results just didn’t come. James Venning had a good season and finished third. Midway through the season he looked to be getting some momentum supplementing his win at Rye with a further win at Buckmore and then a double at Ellough. Thereafter though he only stepped onto the podium once more. He finished just four points up on Matt Jones who would have taken the spot but for Conner Jupp’s presence at the final round. But to be the best you have to beat the best. He was mighty in the second half of the season. Andrew Ward took fifth just edging out Rob Langthorp at the final round.

Reflections

As I intend to write up a season review in December I’ll keep this brief. I just want to say a huge thank you to all the marshals, the medical team, the mechanics, observers and our Clerk of the Course Niki Richardson who all do such a great job all season although I do think Carson’s statement ‘’ and… we’re….sexy..’’ might just stretch the imagination a touch. And not forgetting JV and everyone connected with Club 100 who make everything run so smoothly. Thanks also to the sponsors G3Pro, Dartford Karting and EssexFlatPack.co.uk for their generous support. It’s the end of the TKM direct drive era with the switch to Rotax engines. Exciting times ahead. And no longer will we hear the call ‘’We need pushers!!’’

Words: Steve Gray

Library Photography: Jack Mitchell, JAM Motorsport Photography