O’Neill and Jenman strike again. Barnard continues to impress
No surprises at the front as Owen Jenman and Jack O’Neill dominate proceedings.
The morning rain had stopped by the time the afternoon races had started but the track was still very slippery as the 27 drivers began their practice laps. With the track starting to dry in places as qualifying started, it produced some unusual results. What wasn’t surprising was to see Owen Jenman and Jack O’Neill on the front row and a second quicker then third placed Greg Barnard. Kyle Sagar showed his wet weather prowess in fourth. Darri Simms and Geoff Saunderson lined up on the third row. Stephen Westwood and Chris Brown on row four, and Sam Hampshire and Eddie Hall on row five and rounding out the top 10.
By the time the race started, there was a dry line around most of the circuit. The problem was the swaps around the edges and the water dragged onto the track by karts dipping a wheel off line or on the grass. This caught out a certain Eddie Hall who hit a patch of damp, went straight on at Pylon and narrowly avoided walloping the barriers before rejoining near the back. Silly twat.
Anyway, Jenman led from pole. O’Neill, Barnard and Sager all maintained their position. Daryl Snelling, Kyle Plumridge and Stephen Westwood were all first lap casualties. O’Neill snatched the lead away from Titan team mate Jenman on lap six as the duo unsurprisingly pulled away from the rest of the field. Greg Barnard was clearly the best of the rest and stayed comfortably in third ahead of the impressive Kyle Sagar, Darri Simms and Geoff Saunderson who were all battling closely for fourth place.
The battle for the lead raged on for several laps with Jenman getting back past on lap 9, O’Neill two laps later and Jenman again. You get the picture. It was exciting. Meanwhile, Simms had taken Saunderson for fourth place. Sam Hampshire was right with these two. There was then a big gap to Chris Brown who appeared to be struggling slightly with pace as the drying track got quicker. He was holding off an attack from Marcel Filipiak and Tim Ellis. Hall had worked his way up to tenth by lap 14 and was rapidly closing the gap.
While the leading pair continued to swap places at the front. Greg Barnard came under pressure from the rapid Darri Simms. While O’Neill managed to edge out a gap through traffic, Barnard and Simms continued to swap places in the closing stages of the race.
At the flag, O’Neill had built a solid cushion over Jenman and took the victory. Simms came home third with Barnard fourth and Sam Hampshire just holding off Filipiak for fifth.
The rain was coming down more heavily than ever as the drivers started their rolling up laps for the final race of the day. Owen Jenman made the best start and took O’Neill for the lead on the opening lap. Marcel Filipiak made a great start to slot into third. Sam Hampshire, Greg Barnard and Geoff Saunderson all lost places.
As the rain came down harder, visibility because almost zero and the drivers were all aquaplaning down the main straight. Jenman appeared to have the advantage and eked out a two second cushion over O’Neill in the first few laps. Chris Brown got past Marcel Filipiak for third and there was a big train of karts behind, with martin Theodorou, Greg Barnard, Sam Hampshire, Darri Simms and Geoff Saunderson all wading through.
Darri Simms soon found himself in trouble and retired on lap 7. Lap 12 saw Chris Brown lose out to the flying Greg Barnard and Martin Theodorou. Saunderson and Hampshire were also in a battle.
Despite the impossible conditions and lack of visibility, there was a lot of close quarter racing throughout the field. Tim Ellis was ahead of Kyle Sagar and Kyle Plumridge. Further back Ben Smith was in a close battle with Stephen Westwood and there were many more battles going on somewhere in the haze of spray.
Back with the leading group and Jenman was well in control. By lap 20 he’d built up a ten second cushion over O’Neill. Greg Barnard was comfortably in third with Chris Brown and Geoff Saunderson fourth and fifth. Sam Hampshire was next up and being caught by the battling trio of Theodorou, Filipiak and Eddie hall. The latter got past and into seventh but Theodorou got back past. Kyle Sagar was relishing these conditions and continued to climb up, taking Hall in the closing laps.
The rain stopped just as the flag fell and it was Owen Jenman who emerged from the spray as the victor. O’Neill was second and Barnard third. Another solid drive saw Chris Brown take fourth. Martin Theodorou completed the top five.
With a win and a second apiece for Jenman and O’Neill, the win came down to fastest lap. Crucially it was O’Neill who claimed this by two tenths of a second. Barnard scored his second podium finish in as many races with a fine third place. Chris Brown was a credible fourth and Marcel Filipiak did a good job to finish fifth.
Jack O’Neill has a slender three point lead over Jenman in the championship. Greg Barnard’s recent form has moved him ahead of Geoff Saunderson into third place. Eddie hall remains fifth.