Dan Healey’s Win Can’t Stop Ed Barrs Close Out The Title.


Steve Gray
Class 2 – Lightweight Sprint Championship 2019, Rd.10, Class 1 – Lightweight Sprint Championship 2019, Rd.10,

Off to Cambridgeshire for the penultimate round at the twisty Red Lodge circuit. Loved and hated in equal measure it seems by the drivers. It’s a very technical track and it so easy to make a mistake and lose momentum. One driver summed it up as great to drive, hard to race on. It’s certainly fun to watch. From the start line the first corner is a flat out left turn leading onto a short straight and then the first hairpin, Senna, a tight left and the scene of many a coming together. The exit is a tight right followed by a straight and then the 180. As the name suggests another hairpin which then opens out into a gentle right handed curving straight leading to the Warren, a left hander which leads onto the back straight. This run ends with a long left hander leading into the Esses, a sharp left followed by a right which opens out onto the Simpson straight which brings the field back down towards the Paddock area. There’s a quick right kink followed by a tighter left turn which takes the drivers back onto the start finish straight. Into the afternoon for the Lightweights and the weather remained dry and sunny if a little chilly. But there were some ominous black clouds building away in the distance.

The Road to the Finals

Christopher Powell took the first heat from fellow front row sitter and Clay winner Daz Teal. A good drive this from the often underrated Powell who took over at the front at half distance and kept Teal at bay for the rest of the race. Mike Coppin took third after a strong drive up from grid thirteen but he was some four seconds adrift of the leaders at the flag. Louie Ross was next. Arguably the star of the heat after starting from grid sixteen. No mean feat. Reece Pope would have been fifth but he was excluded after forcing both Oscar Lancaster and Stef Theodorou to come to a halt. Exclusion was also a fate which befell Sam Morris.

Heat two went to Chris Alcock from Dan Truman. They’d both started on the front row and drove off into the distance to take the top two spots. Championship leader Ed Barrs crossed the line third only to be demoted to fifth after two cone penalties. James Wattis took over in third with Ben Frost fifth. Steve Hicks outside hopes of a second Championship in 2019 took a nosedive after he was excluded for punting Emily Rogers off the circuit.

Rob Dowsett started from the front row and was immediately into the lead. He was never headed and crossed the line over two seconds clear of second placed Jack Mitchell. But Dowsett had clipped a cone and was demoted to second behind Mitchell. Peter Hargreaves took third from Josh Adams, a strong drive up from grid twelve, with Loic Ditchburn fifth.

Rob Langthorp drew pole for the fourth heat with Ashley White alongside. White was smartly away as the lights turned green but he’d been a little too smart and led Dowsett over the line by a couple of tenths. A clear jumped start which would result in him demoted to fourth after finishing second on the road. Chris Dixon took the win with Daz Teal promoted to second after fighting his way up from grid nine. Valuable points. And valuable points too for fifth placed Barrs after coming up from grid sixteen.

James Martin crossed the line first at the end of the fifth heat. After starting from the front row he’d moved ahead by the end of the first lap and was never headed. Unfortunately for him he’d clipped a couple of cones on the way round and dropped to third with Dan Brewer inheriting the win. He and Martin were some nine seconds clear of James Barnard who crossed the line third only to be demoted to fourth for a cone penalty. Adam Wheeldon was the main beneficiary vaulting from fourth to second with Dan Truman fifth after working his way up from grid twelve.

James Rose took a lights to flag win in heat six and did very well to hold off a late race challenge from Dan Healey. It took Healey just over half the heat the work his way into second from grid eight but once there he began to close the leader down. But Rose hung on, taking the win by a mere 0.094. But Healey’s hard work was undone a little with two cone penalties dropping him to fourth behind Josh Adams and Chris Woodger.

Bailey Morgan looked like taking a lights to flag win in heat seven but James Wattis managed to find a way by on the penultimate lap having run behind Morgan almost from the start. Andrew Ward came home just behind in third with Steve Hicks But Hicks had transgressed yet again and was excluded from the results for the second time in the day. A fate which also befell James Barnard. Tom Fuller and Aymen Salih inherited fourth and fifth.

Heat eight went to Dan Healey. Another lights to flag win with Dan in a class of his own taking the win by over seven seconds. Josh Wellard had started alongside him but dropped back to third behind Richard Gander for a couple of laps before regaining the place. He held off a spirited challenge from both Oscar Lancaster and Adam Wheeldon late in the race but neither could find a way by. Daz Teal was closing in towards the end after a tough drive up from grid fifteen. The points would be enough to earn him pole for the A final. And after a stern warning from JV regarding some over enthusiastic driving the heat was penalty free.

The final heat of the day fell to Ed Barrs. Starting alongside pole sitter Louie Ross he was quickly into the lead and drove away to take the win by over seven seconds. Ross hung on gamely in second before losing out to Chris Dixon. But third place was still a great result for the youngster. James Martin took fourth with Adrian Mertens fifth.

Lightweights B Final

The grid for the first of the lights finals was dominated by Class two drivers all bar three. Andrew Ward sat on pole from Ben Frost followed on row two by Josh Wellard and the first of the Class one drivers David Longman. Rob Dowsett and Oliver Flashman shared row three with Corey Smith and Billy Robson on four and Aymen Salih alongside James Browning on row five. Camillo Anania and Emily Rogers shared row six with Cameron Williams alongside Daniel Gamblin on seven. The veteran Keith Segal shared row eight with the second of the Class One runners Mike Coppin. Loic Ditchburn was on row nine with James Barnard followed by Richard Gander and Sam Morris. The penultimate row saw the final Class one runner, Steve Hicks alongside Reece Pope with Stef Theodorou bringing up the rear. Steve Hicks? Yes, the inaugural Super Sprint Champion was having a torrid day. His worst qualifying position ever in CLUB100. From hero to zero in one round and suffering a huge blow to his Lightweight Championship chances. Just two to qualify for the A Final.

Ward led the field away with Frost, Wellard and Longman tucking in behind. Hicks was already in trouble, Forcing his way past Morris but not without contact, the resulting four place penalty ending his already slim hopes of qualifying for the A Final. Browning and Gamblin both lost ground in the first lap scramble whilst Barnard, Ditchburn and Gander were rapidly making up places. End of the lap and Ward still led from Frost, Wellard, Longman, Robson, Flashman and Salih. And so it remained for a few laps before Longman moved up to second taking Frost and Wellard in successive laps. By this stage Ward had stretched his advantage at the front to almost a second and a half but Longman quickly began to cut the gap whilst third placed Wellard was holding off a spirited challenge from Robson. Frost was dropping away and coming under pressure from Flashman whilst the impressive Barnard was just a Kart’s length behind. A lap later and he was up to fifth dispensing with Flashman fairly but making contact with Frost as he went by. Frost fell to eleventh and a lap later would pull into the pits to retire. Barnard would suffer a post race four place deduction. But he did set the fastest lap of the Class two runners.

At the front Ward continued to lead but Longman cut the gap each lap and at two thirds distance was right on the leaders rear bumper. These two were clearly going to be the qualifiers barring incident or mechanical problems. Wellard was almost three seconds adrift and fighting hard to hold Robson at bay, with Barnard fifth over three seconds clear of Flashman who now had Coppin closing in after a mature drive up from his lowly starting spot. Somewhat surprisingly Longman began to increase the pressure on Ward. Yes, there’s a trophy at stake but it could so easily have resulted in one or both of them falling off and not qualifying for the A Final. A couple of times they crossed the line almost side by side before Longman finally slipped by on the back straight. Clearly he was the quicker of the two and once by he began to pull clear ultimately taking the win, and the trophy, by over a second. Behind these Wellard succumbed to the pressure and both Robson and Barnard slipped by. Immediately they began to pull clear and cut the gap to the leaders who still appeared to be out of reach. Penultimate lap and Robson was over a second adrift of Ward but closing in and setting faster laps with Barnard in his wheel tracks. But it was not to be. Although the gap was under a second by the end of the last lap Ward had enough in hand. Barnard crossed the line fourth but would drop to eighth as a result of his penalty. Wellard was next over the line but two cone penalties dropped him to sixth and promoted Coppin into fourth. Flashman was next across the line and moved up to fifth as a result of others penalties. Hicks was next but his penalty dropped him out of the top ten. He was however still smiling after the event. Top bloke. Rogers was next. A good result for her with Dowsett ninth and Theodorou rounding out the top ten after fighting his way up from the back of the grid.

Lightweight A Final

Daz Teal on pole and looking for a win to keep his Championship hopes alive. A winner here on the Club’s first visit to Red Lodge in 2016. And alongside him was Dan Healey, desperately unlucky not to win here in 2017 when he was leading the Elite Final by over two seconds only to have the chain break. Row two had Championship leader Ed Barrs alongside the first of the Class two drivers, Bailey Morgan. Row three, another Class two driver Josh Adams with Chris Dixon alongside. Dan Truman and Class two runner Adam Wheeldon shared row four with two more Class two drivers Louie Ross and James Wattis on row five. Next up Tom Fuller and Peter Hargreaves followed by Christopher Powell and Chris Alcock. James Martin and Chris Woodger shared row eight with James Rose and Adrian Mertens on row nine. Ashley White and Dan Brewer were on ten with Pietro Pagano and Oscar Lancaster on eleven. Rob Langthorp and a returning Jack Mitchell were on the penultimate row followed by the two qualifiers from the B final, Longman and Ward.

Teal led the pack away but Barrs got inside Healey at Senna to emerge in second. Morgan and Adams stayed clear of any trouble to hold fourth and fifth whilst Truman got ahead of Dixon for sixth. Ross too got ahead of Dixon with Wattis ninth from Fuller. Wheeldon got muscled out and fell back to twelfth behind a fast starting Martin. Teal stayed at the front for a couple of tours but Barrs was intent on getting to the front. Down the Simpson straight for the third time and from my vantage point he appeared to be just ahead as they turned into the right handed kink just before the turn onto the start and finish straight. But Teal had the line for the left hander. Neither driver wanted to back out and both ran wide on the exit with Barrs getting up onto the concrete apron. But Teal gave him enough room to get back on the circuit without clipping the tyres. But the move slowed them both and a Healey had the better drive off the corner to nip by them both into the lead. Teal was penalised for forcing Barrs wide but to me, and bear in mind I’m not the expert, this looked more like a six of one and half dozen of the other racing incident. Healey immediately began to pull clear from Barrs but Teal’s race was turning sour as Adams slipped by along the back straight. Healey continued to lead by around half a second whilst Barrs was having to keep a watchful eye on the hugely impressive Adams circulating just a Kart’s length adrift. Teal was falling away and coming under pressure from Truman and Dixon. Morgan was doing a good job in seventh holding back the more experienced Martin with Ross half a second back in ninth and Wheeldon a further half second back in tenth. Healey remained at the front but Barrs was lapping fractionally quicker over each lap and was cutting the gap. Over the course of the race ominous dark clouds had been threatening. You could see the rain falling in the distance and suddenly a few drops began to fall on the circuit from the north.

With just three to run Healey arrived at the 180 hairpin to find the circuit damp. Damp enough to lose grip. He ran wide. Barrs adjusted his line accordingly, shifted his bodyweight in the Kart and moved back into the lead as they ran down to the left handed Warren. Healey’s Red Lodge jinx had struck again. It looked as though the delay caused by JV having to warn competitors about driving standards was going to have a cruel side effect. The lap times quickly went up as drivers struggled to adjust to the wet. Barrs was pulling clear at the front and as they started the last lap he was over a second up on second placed Healey with Adams just half a second back in third. Truman was up to fourth with Dixon next ahead of Teal but he’d clipped Teal on the way past and would be hit with a four placed deduction post race. Barrs swept through the first turn for the final time but as he slowed for Senna he lost grip. His front wheels were pointing left but he was heading straight for the grass. Healey nipped by just as Barrs found grip. Into the 180 Barrs fought back. But Healey wasn’t going to yield without a fight and didn’t. He held firm and kept Barrs behind. After the heartbreak of 2017 this was his moment of redemption. Over the remainder of the lap he kept everything tidy crossing the line almost a second clear clenching his fist as he did. A great moment for both him and his watching mum Jo. This one meant a lot to them both. A cathartic victory if ever there was one.

Barrs came home second and by my reckoning second is enough to give him the Lightweight Championship for 2019. Adams was next. A fantastic third place for the young man and his best CLUB100 result. A class win too. Fourth went to Dan Truman and with Adams taking third overall this placed Truman third in Class one and put him on the podium for the first time in five years. Dixon was next over the line but his penalty dropped him to ninth. Teal followed him home but his penalty dropped him to tenth. Alcock moved up from seventh to fifth with Pagano next up. A great drive this that went almost unnoticed with the drama at the front. He’d climbed steadily up from twenty first. A cone penalty dropped him to eighth. Martin was next up but he lost a place due to a cone penalty. However, when more serious penalties were applied to others he ended up moving up a place. The big winner was Ross who crossed the line tenth but was promoted to sixth and second in Class two. Mitchell came home in eleventh after a strong drive up from the back of the grid with Wheeldon next and third in Class three.

Championship Round Up

Ed Barrs second place wrapped up the Lightweight Championship. Congratulations to him. He’s quietly gone about his business this year and is a deserving Champion. But who will take second? Daz Teal and Steve Hicks are both on the same points with Chris Alcock a couple of points back and Dan Healey a further eight points adrift. Who will come to the fore? Who will crack under the pressure? An intriguing end to the season.

The Class two honours have gone to Dan Brewer with Andrew Ward runner up. Rob Langthorp lies third but he can still be caught by Josh Adams.

Reflections

There were far too many penalties on Sunday. Red Lodge is tight and twisty. It requires a calm and measured approach. Drivers need to use their brains a bit more. And there were some silly incidents with drivers acting like petulant children. One driver skidded to a halt on the start and finish line and stormed off. He was very fortunate not to be excluded from the rest of the meeting but suffered an enormous grid penalty instead. Our observers do an outstanding job but they are only human. Sometimes different angles can give a contrasting view so if you get a penalty there is only one way to appeal it. Talk to the Clerk of the Course. Niki will always listen. But don’t just go up to him in an aggressive manner and claim innocence particularly if it’s for a bump and pass penalty. Bring the other driver with you. If the ‘’wronged’’ driver supports your claim then I have never known Niki not to rescind a penalty. But always, always, appeal in a polite manner. Shouting and arm waving will only raise the blood pressure. And don’t appeal jump starts. The clock doesn’t lie. Same goes for cone penalties. Waste of everyone’s time. But amusing I suppose when a driver claims he only hit it because someone had knocked it into his path!
This season has flown by.

See you at Buckmore for the series finale.

Words: Steve Gray

Photography: John Patterson