Guest Barry Luetchford Dominates on Debut, Paul Goddard Wins Super Heavies On Birthday


Steve Gray
Heavyweight Sprint Championship 2018, Rd.9,

A glorious morning greeted the competitors for the second visit of the season to Rye House for the ninth round of this season’s absorbing Championships. After the open spaces of Lydd the tight and twisty Rye circuit offers a different type of challenge. A bit like Monaco without the glamour. A circuit where it’s so important to be tidy particularly through the first two hairpins where it’s easy to out brake yourself and not only lose time but places too.

Not a cloud in the sky for the afternoon races as the sun continued to beat down for Lightweights and the Heavyweights with the EssexFlatPack.co.uk sponsored Super Heavyweights, with the latter first out on the track for Qualifying.

Qualifying

Shenington winner Michael Ballinger was the first to break the forty three second barrier in group 1 but he couldn’t improve his time and would eventually finish fourth quickest. Championship leader Seb Algieri then went quickest only to be beaten by Barry Luetchford. Barry normally races in endurance with G3Pro and this was his first ever Club 100 Sprint event. Not a bad way to introduce yourself! Martin Gurnett was third quickest with Aaron Stevens again impressing in fifth. Jordan Salter was the quickest EssexFlatPack SHW.

If ever a man needed a confidence booster it was Nick Trafford who topped the grioup 2 times with a 42.745 a tenth up on second placed Mark Turner. Mike Bodnar was next. Something of a surprise for our wet weather specialist! EssexFlatPack SHW leader Trevor Randall was next and fastest SHW runner with Paul Goddard second quickest down in tenth. Fifth quickest was Robert Stapleton who just failed to get under the forty three second mark by a mere 0.005.

Pre B Final

Alex Lammin on pole for this one having missed the cut by just 0.022 with Stuart Jones alongside. A bit of a surprise this as he usually qualifies with ease for the A finals. Paul Goddard was the first of the SHW runners and shared row two with Synjen Hopkins. Row three featured another SHW runner, Jordan Salter, accompanied by Stephen Netting. Next up, Jeremy Deeks and Daren Townsley with SHW series sponsor Stuart Germon and Ben Johnson completing the first five rows. Four to qualify for the Pre A Final. Would it be a race or a procession? Lammin led the field away but Jones lost out to Goddard as they rounded Stadium. Hopkins too lost out round the outside of the turn and would be down to eighth by the end of the lap. Salter tucked into fourth ahead of a fast starting Germon whilst Johnson spun to the back of the field. Lammin continued to lead but Goddard’s second place was short lived as Jones slipped by into the place.

Germon too was on the move slipping by Salter and into the final qualifying spot. Down the order Andy Clarke got squeezed on the start-finish straight and spun hard into the protective barriers around the gantry fortunately without serious injury. Unfortunately, as he spun back onto the track, he collected Paul Williams who received some nasty cuts to his arm and leg and would pull out at the end of the lap when he realised his kart had also sustained damage. Meanwhile, at the front Jones took Lammin for the lead and promptly began to pull clear. Germon took over in third from Goddard and then hunted down Lammin for second. He took the place just after half distance and that settled the qualifiers. Jones took the win by over four seconds and set the fastest lap with Germon second a few kart lengths clear of Lammin with Goddard in the final spot. He was well adrift at the flag but it was a sensible race from him controlling the gap back to Netting and Salter back in fifth and sixth. Germon set the fastest lap in the SHW class.

Pre A Final

Luetchford on pole from a resurgent Trafford with Championship leader Algieri and Gurnett on row two. Turner and Bodnar on three from leading SHW Randall with Ballinger alongside. Stevens and Hill completed the first five rows. Luetchford led the field into the first turn but inevitably Trafford on the outside got bullied back to fourth behind Turner with Algieri second. Gurnett dropped to fifth whilst Randall got the better of Bodnar off the line to run seventh. Ballinger got shuffled down the order to thirteenth with Stevens remaining ninth. Lennie Wood ran tenth having moved up from grid thirteen whilst Hill dropped to eleventh. Luetchford continued to lead with Algieri in his wheel tracks. And Turner was only a tenth adrift with Trafford half a second behind in fourth. Gurnett ran fifth but was dropping away from the leaders. Turner almost got on terms with Algieri a couple of times but the latter defended his place well. Trafford moved in as Algieri and Turner lost momentum and slipped ahead of Turner for third. But in terms of position changes that was it at the front as the front four ran line astern over the second half of the race. Luetchford took the win just over a tenth up on Algieri with Trafford third just a few lengths behind but never close enough to challenge for second.

Turner took fourth with Hill next across the line but some four seconds adrift. A great drive this from Hill. Having dropped to eleventh he’d fought back superbly setting the fastest lap of the race thirteenth time around. Sadly he’d picked up a penalty having been a touch over enthusiastic in some of his overtaking moves dropping him to seventh and promoting Gurnett back to fifth. Randall was next and quickest SHW with Miguel Hall eighth from Wood. Bodnar completed the top ten.

B Final

Just two to qualify for the A final from this race and a trophy for the winner. Stephen Netting on pole from SHW runner Jordan Salter. Row two, Daren Townsley and Synjen Hopkins with Jeremy Deeks and David Stirling on row three. Vijay Patel and Jaeden Cadogan shared row four with Keith Evans and Peter Gillett on row five. Netting led the pack from the line but again the driver on the outside lost out round the outside of Stadium. In this case the luckless Salter who emerged from the corner fourth behind Netting, Townsley and Deeks. Hopkins and Evans were fifth and sixth but would soon spin out of the race. Netting and Townsley began to pull steadily clear at the front with Deeks fighting to stay on terms. SHW Salter was dropping back and by quarter distance he had Roger Mullen closing in. Mullen started from grid nineteen but had simple flown over the early stages setting the fastest lap of the race on lap seven as he chased down Salter. Netting still led by just a couple of tenths from Townsley with Deeks half a second back and still in with a chance should anything befall the leaders. Townsley was by this time right with Netting but would he take the chance? He did, but the move didn’t stick and he dropped back. Deeks was still half a second back but both Salter and Mullen were beginning to close in. Netting and Townsley began to increase the gap back to Deeks whilst Salter and Mullen closed in. With four to go the leaders looked safe but Deeks now had Salter right with him. He defended into the first hairpin but Salter kept coming with the inevitable consequences. Deeks spun out, Salter lost momentum and Mullen slipped by. Once clear he rapidly began to close in on Townsley for second which gave Netting at the front some breathing space. Townsley defended from the closing Mullen holding him off by just a tenth at the flag. Netting took the trophy with Townsley the second qualifying spot from the courageous Mullen. Salter was next across the line but penalised down to twelfth handing fourth to Ben Johnson with Paul Williams next after a hard drive up from the back of the grid.

A Final

Luetchford on pole from Algieri with Trafford and Turner on row two. Gurnett and the leading SHW Randall on row three with Hill and Hall on four from Wood and Bodnar. Luetchford led the field away but this time Trafford got the advantage of the inside of position into Stadium easing Algieri wide to slot into second. Algieri remained third as Turner lost out to Gurnett, a fast starting Hill and Randall. Luetchford continued to stretch his advantage at the front from Trafford with Algieri third. Randall swept by both Gurnett and Hill to move up to fourth whilst Bosley, from grid eleven, got ahead of Turner but not without contact which would cost him four positions post race. Gurnett dropped to eighth whilst Wood spun out of ninth to the back of the field. Luetchford was holding the gap steady at around half a second from Trafford who had Algieri closing him down whilst Randall remained fourth from Hill and Bosley.

Half distance and Luetchford was maintaining the gap but Algieri had made it by Trafford into Stadium. Randall remained fourth but it was Bosley in his wheel tracks now and closing in. With a third of the race to run Luetchford was still at the front and maintaining the gap but Trafford was back into second with Bosley now fourth from Randall and Hill with Turner also in touch. The top six were by now well clear of the rest of the pack led by Hall. With just four laps remaining and the order at the front static Randall suddenly snapped into a spin at the first hairpin the victim of failing brakes caused by the fluid boiling, suggesting an own goal by Trevor, he would dispute. Luetchford reeled off the remaining laps taking the flag by just a few kart lengths from Trafford. A great win for endurance racer Luetchford in his first Sprint Event. Second was a welcome return to form for Trafford after some tricky rounds of late and keeps him in the championship hunt. Algieri crossed the line third to extend his championship lead over Hill who was classified fourth after Bosleys’s penalty dropped him to eighth. He did however have the satisfaction of setting the fastest lap. Turner took fifth with Hall next from Gurnett whilst Wayne Dunham and Stuart Jones completed the top ten. In the SHW Randall’s demise saw Paul Goddard take a hugely popular win with series sponsor Stuart Germon second less than half a second behind. Despite watching the final few laps from the outside of hairpin one Trevor Randall still scooped a trophy for third place as there were just three SHW runners in the Final.

Round up

In the HW division Seb Algieri’s third place finish saw him increase his championship lead over Tim Hill whilst Nick Trafford’s welcome return to form sees him just five points behind Hill. Stuart Jones didn’t have the greatest of days at Rye after his Lydd podium whilst Ben Bennyworths wretched run of form continues. His double win at GYG must seem like a lifetime ago. But he’ll be back. Trevor Randall retains the lead in the EssexFlatPack SHW’S. And who’d have thought there was a certain poetry to Paul Goddard inheriting the class win, on his birthday, after Trevor took Paul off the last the time we raced at Rye? Stuart Germon, Jordan Salter and Paul Williams are all grouped together in the standings so it’s going to get interesting over the final three rounds.

Reflections

Some great racing at Rye but there were so many penalties. No doubt the tight and twisty nature of the circuit contributes to this but still. And many of these were for cone abuse. Cone abuse is not a penalty anyone can argue against. If you hit one you get penalised. If you don’t then you don’t. Most of the time drivers aren’t even aware they’ve hit a cone but the observers don’t give a penalty for nothing. Again at Rye there were some drivers failing to acknowledge yellow and blue flags. One driver had his race ruined by a back marker. Time to brush up on flag signals?
See you all at Clay and don’t forget the O Plate at Bayford. I understand there are still a few places left so don’t delay.

Words: Steve Gray

Library Photography: Jack Mitchell, JAM Motorsport Photography

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