Returning Pietro Pagano Wins Round, Liam Cochrane Wins A Final. Enjoy It… Rob Newman Gaffes.
The dawn of a new era and what a dawn it turned out to be. Buckmore in February is normally bitterly cold but for this season’s opener the weather was unnaturally warm. A great start to the season. And it was back to the future with the Club returning to the three heats and finals format which made for some intense racing. Finally of course we had the new Rotax engines and no more pusher Karts so the traditional shout of ‘’we need pushers!’’ has been replaced by the blowing of a whistle. Perhaps we should start a new tradition on the lines of the Indy 500. How about ‘’drivers, start your engines’’ before the first heat of the day?
Two classes for the Lightweights designated C1 and C2 with C1 being the more experienced drivers. Twelve heats of seven minutes duration with random grids and three heats for each driver to collect points to qualify for either the A,B or C Finals and a change in the restart rule too which meant there would be no restart unless five drivers had spun out.
Joshua Halloran had drawn pole for the opener with Richard Gander alongside. Former Elite runner Ed Barrs and 2018 Lightweight Champion Mike Noon occupied row two followed by Peter Hargreaves and David Martin. Halloran led the field away but hairpin one proved to be his undoing as he spun down the order. Hargreaves and Martin also spun allowing Barrs into the lead. With Karts jockeying hard for position experience told. Stephen Docker, returning after a season away , made the most of the confusion to jump up from grid eleven to second with ace lensman Jack Mitchell, having a rare Sprint outing, was up from grid eight to third with Gander fourth. Down the order 2018 Elite championship runner up Rob Newman was also on the move from grid sixteen. He would be up to fifth by the end of lap two. At the front Barrs was in a class of his own and whilst the battle raged over second he pulled away eventually taking the win by over seven seconds from Mitchell who had a near race long duel with Newman and Docker. Docker held the place mid-race before losing out to Mitchell whilst Newman briefly held second before Mitchell grabbed the spot back. Noon was fifth across the line but penalised down to seventh for multiple contacts promoting David Longman to fifth and Gander to sixth, and first C2 runner. Dan Truman, Ben Frost and Peter Hobbs completed the top ten. Barrs set the fastest lap.
Pole for Ryan Williams with Reece Pope alongside. Christopher Powell and Ben Johnson shared row two with Andy Yelland and the veteran Keith Segal on row three. Williams led the field away and stayed out in front as hairpin one again claimed a few victims. Segal, Johnson and James Barnard all spun to the rear of the field whilst James Wattis climbed from grid fourteen to second only to drop to sixth by the end of the second lap. Pope reasserted himself after dropping to third at the end of the first lap he was back into second and pressuring Williams for the lead. But he then spun away his chances of a good result and would ultimately be classified last after picking up multiple penalties. Williams continued to lead but Powell was closing in with Mitchell Althasen third from Adam Wheeldon who had climbed up from grid thirteen. Powell finally found a way round Williams for the lead but the latter pressured the leader all the way to the flag but had to settle for second just seven tenths adrift of Powell but well clear of Althasen who crossed the line third only to be penalised down to seventh after a bump and pass on Wattis early in the race. Andrew Ward was promoted to third ahead of Wattis with Wheeldon a slightly disappointed fifth. Harry Neale took sixth and fastest lap after a strong drive up from grid seventeen with Rob Langthorp, Andrew Green and Yelland completing the top ten.
Pole for Mikey Nichols with Bailey Morgan alongside. Row two saw Christian Schulz alongside Chris Woodger with row three occupied by Pietro Pagano, returning after a year out, and Chris Dixon. Nichols led the field away but Schultz, Camillo Anania and Chris Scivier all spun out at hairpin one. By the end of the lap though it was Pagano at the front showing that he had lost none of his pace. Nichols ran second from Morgan with the experience Daz Teal into fourth from grid twelve. Pagano really got the hammer down setting fastest lap after fastest lap and taking the win by over five seconds from Teal who had moved into second at one third distance. Pagano also claimed fastest lap and the lap record. Ben Atkinson took third after starting from grid eleven and was the first of the C2 runners. He was well clear of Dixon in fourth with Max O’Shaughnessy fifth after an impressive drive up from grid eighteen. One to watch. Woodger took sixth from Morgan and Nichols with Matt Jones and Oscar Lancaster completing the top ten whilst Hussain Rashid was the fastest C2 runner. And there were no penalties. A good clean race.
Shaun Hollingsworth on pole from Josh Wellard with Daniel Gamblin and Loic Ditcburn on row two. Row three saw Dan Healey alongside Josh Adams. For the first time of the day the field all made it round hairpin one and by the end of the lap Hollingsworth led from Ditchburn and Healey. Gamblin was down to fifth pursued by Liam Cochrane, up from grid ten and this year, at long last committing to a full season of Sprint racing. Also on the move was Chris Alcock. Starting on grid fifteen he was up to eighth by the end of the first lap. Hollingsworth continued to eke out a gap at the front still chased by Wellard whilst Healey was up to third but dropping back from the leading pair as he fought to get past Ditchburn. Cochrane was still fifth but Alcock was closing him down rapidly. By half distance Hollingsworth was over a second and a half clear from Wellard and looking comfortable for the win but all eyes were on the flying Alcock who was now up to fourth. Healey finally found a way by Wellard for second whilst Alcock closed in on the latter for third duly taking the spot sixth time around. It took Alcock a couple of laps to find a way round Healey but with two to run he made it setting the fastest lap of the race and chasing down the leader. But there weren’t enough laps. Hollingsworth took the win and made a little bit of History in the process as the first C2 runner to take a heat win. Alcock was second and set the lap record with Healey next from Cochrane and Wellard. Sixth went to Mike Coppin with Freddie Fincham seventh after a strong drive up from grid seventeen. Ditchburn, Louie Ross and Oliver Rowlands completed the top ten with Stuart Hubbard setting the fastest lap in the C2 class. But then came a bit of post race drama as Dan Healey was found to be underweight. Hanging out with him later he admitted that he hadn’t read the rules. Lesson there I think for all the drivers. So everyone behind the two leaders moved up a place. Crucial extra points.
Andrew Ward on pole from Stephen Docker followed by David Longman and Adam Wheeldon whilst Hussain Rashid and Ben Frost completed the first three rows. Another clean start saw Ward still at the front by the end of the lap chase by Longman and Docker with Harry Neale up to fourth from grid eight. Two laps in and Longman was at the front from Neale and Docker with Ward dropping to fourth. O’Shaughnessy was up to fifth from grid nine and closing in on Ward. Three down and Neale hit the front with Longman second from Docker and O’Shaughnessy with Dan Truman running a lonely fifth. Ward spun out of sixth leaving Rashid, Mitchell, Powell and Wheeldon to fight over the spot. Neale took the win just three tenths up on Longman with Docker third. O’Shaughnessy crossed the line fourth only to be docked a place for cone abuse and promoting Truman to fourth. Mitchell won the battle for sixth with Powell seventh. Next up should have been Rashid but penalties pushed him out of the top ten leaving Wheeldon eight from Frost and Woodger.
Pole for Cochrane with Atkinson alongside with Langthorp and Cameron Williams on row two. Wattis and Ben Kelly-McAuley shared row three. Into hairpin one for the first time and both Williams and Kelly-McAuley spun away their chances whilst Wattis stayed out of trouble to lead at the end of the first lap from Cochrane and Freddie Fincham who stormed into third from grid eight. Atkinson ran fifth from Gander who had moved up smartly from grid eleven only to drop back again over the course of the race. Fincham wasted no time in finding a way by Cochrane and Wattis and immediately began to pull away at the front. Wattis remained second but he was adjudged to have hit Langthorp as he made his way by on the first lap and would be penalised four spots post race. To make maters worse he also clipped a cone so second on the road became seventh. Fincham took a comfortable win with Cochrane promoted to second and Langthorp third. Healey would have been next after a strong drive up from grid fourteen but he too had clipped a cone dropping him to fifth behind Atkinson. Healey did set the fastest lap and established a new class record. Althasen took sixth. Another good drive this up from the back row of the grid. Noon, Adams and Green completed the top ten. Wattis was the fastest C2 runner.
Oscar Lancaster on pole from Dane Christison with Daz Teal and Matt Jones on row two from Rob Newman and Chris Alcock on three. After a couple of clean starts over the preceding heats this one got very untidy as the field poured into hairpin one. Both Lancaster and Christison got shuffled down the pack into seventh and tenth respectively. Jones lost out too dropping to eighth. Newman made the most of the confusion to lead by the end of the lap from Teal and the flying Alcock. James Martin was up to fourth from grid eight followed by Hollingsworth and Barrs. At the front Newman remained at the head of the pack but Alcock was closing him down rapidly having dispensed with Teal. Hollingsworth took Martin for fourth but was adjudged to have done so unfairly earning him a penalty. Alcock took a couple of laps to close down Newman but once by he immediately began to pull away. He took the win by some two and half seconds from Hollingsworth who had taken over in second from Newman at two thirds distance. Sadly, for him, his penalty would drop him to sixth. Barrs was classified third ahead of Teal and Roger Davis making a welcome return to a Sprint series. Martin was seventh with Lancaster, Jones and Yelland completing the top ten.
Martin Auger on pole from Craig Rankine. Mike Coppin and Peter Hobbs shared row two with Stephen Westwood and Matthew Collier alongside each other on row three. Augers pole advantage came to nothing as he spun out along with Collier and eighth placed Peter Sharpe. Coppin led over the line at the end of the lap with Rankine second from Pagano who had driven an astonishing first lap moving up from grid fourteen to third. Ryan Williams had followed Pagano through and was into fourth from grid ten. Coppin hung on the front for a couple of laps before Pagano dived inside him at the bottom of the hill. Thereafter he simply motored off into the distance taking his second win of the day by some three and a half seconds. Coppin, Williams and Hobbs battled it out for second with Rankine Westwood and Robson fighting over fifth just a few tenths back from the leading group. Coppin held on for second with Hobbs taking third from Williams on the penultimate lap. Rankine led home Westwood and Robson whilst eighth went to Stuart Hubbard. Nik Hoyle was ninth and fastest C2 runner whilst Reece Pope rounded out the top ten. Pagano set the fastest lap of the race.
Scivier on pole from Davis and Neale and Rowlands occupying row two. Anania and Truman shared row three. Another heat with too many drivers trying to win the race at the first corner. Scivier dropped to sixth with Neale, Anania and Rowlands dropping to the rear of the field. Davis led over the line at the end of the first tour but his glory was short lived as Truman swept by into a lead he would never lose. Atkinson was up to third having started on grid fifteen with Wheeldon in his wheel tracks after climbing up from grid eleven. Hollingsworth too was on the move, up from grid seventeen to fifth. Whilst Truman continued to pull away at the front. Davis remained second but couldn’t hold off the flying Hollingsworth. Atkinson too was closing in along with Rob Newman who was making steady progress. Half distance and Davis was down to sixth. Further down the order Neale was beginning to claw back lost ground. Then Atkinson took over in second but only for a lap before Newman made it by. Truman took the win and set the fastest lap the final time around with Newman crossing the line second only to be excluded for forcing a fellow competitor to come to a halt with an over ambitious move. This promoted Atkinson to second with Hollingsworth third from Wheeldon. Neale took fifth after a brilliant comeback drive with Davis sixth from Scivier. Longman, Adams and Ward completed the top ten with Wellard the fastest C2 runner.
Hubbard on pole from O’Shaughnessy with Sharpe and Althasen on row two. Ross and Green shared row three. Hubbard led into the first turn but it was O’Shaughnessy who led the field after the first few turns as Hubbard got shuffled down the order. Sharpe too lost out dropping to twelfth. It was Althasen though who led by the end of the lap with O’Shaughnessy behind from Ross, Yelland and Alcock. Althasen enjoyed two laps of glory before coming to a halt with a rare mechanical failure leaving O’Shaughnessy to take over at the front chased hard by Yelland. These two pulled clear of third placed Ross who was fending off the attentions of Alcock with Wattis and Chris Woodger next. O’Shaughnessy took the win just a few Kart lengths clear of Yelland. Alcock crossed the line third only to be penalised four places for loading into the first turn and promoting Ross back into third from Wattis and Woodger. Langthorp was sixth ahead of the penalised Alcock with Hobbs, Green and Hubbard completing the top ten.
Simon Sharpe on pole from Billy Robson with Fincham and Mitchell on row two from Chris Kirk and Paul Toms on row three. Sharpe didn’t make the greatest of getaways from pole but Robson fared even worse dropping back to tenth. Kirk too fell down the order allowing Fincham into the lead from Mitchell, Sharpe and Healey who moved up from grid nine. Noon was up from grid to fifth whilst Cochrane was up to sixth having started eighteenth and last. And all this after just one lap. Fincham held on the front with Mitchell nibbling away at his lead with Healey in touch in third. Sharpe remained fourth but it was Rashid in fifth ahead of Noon Rankine and Cochrane whose charge appeared to have stalled. Half distance and Mitchell took over at the front with Healey still third. Cochrane had got his act together again and picked off Rankine, Noon and Rashid in successive laps to move into fourth. But despite setting the fastest lap he would make no more progress. Healey found a way by Fincham for second but Mitchell was too far up the road to be caught duly taking the win almost three seconds clear of Healey with Fincham third from Mitchell. Rashid took a solid fifth from Dixon with Williams, Robson, Teal and Rankine completing the top ten.
James Barnard on pole from Sam Morris with James Martin and Nik Hoyle on row two. Oliver Flashman and James Browning shared row three for the final heat of the morning. Barnard made the most of pole to lead but Morris spun away his chances as did Browning and Keith Segal. Pagano made a sharp start from grid nine. Unfortunately he had got away a bit too sharply and would take a two place penalty for a jumped start. Barnard was several lengths clear by the end of the lap with Hoyle second from Pagano and Martin. Frost and Flashman were fifth and sixth with Jones seventh. Barnard continued to stretch his advantage at the front with Pagano giving chase in second. The two of them were running well clear of martin in third with Hoyle fourth from Coppin who had fought his way up from grid fourteen. Barnard crossed the line first having led from lights to flag. But then he was found to be underweight and suffered the inevitable exclusion. A lot of work for nothing. Pagano crossed the line second but was denied the win as a result of his two place deduction for a jumped start. Martin was promoted to first in front of Hoyle who finished fifth on the road but fourth placed Coppin was penalised four places for overtaking under a yellow and was classified seventh so Hoyle wound up second. Docker was seventh on the road but promoted to fourth as Jones had also picked up a penalty dropping him to ninth. Powell was placed fifth with Flashman sixth from Coppin and Westwood. Frost rounded out the top ten with Coppin setting the fastest lap.
A couple of surprising names in the C Final. 2018 Elite Championship runner up Rob Newman sat on pole from Chris Scivier with Mikey Nichols and Joshua Halloran on row two. Oliver Rowlands and former Elite front runner Dan Healey shared row three. Reece Pope was alongside Daniel Gamblin on row four with Ben Johnson and Dane Christison completing the first five rows with the top four runners to be promoted onto the back of the B Final.
Somewhat surprisingly Newman got off to a bad start and crossed the line fifth at the end of the lap with Nichols leading from Scivier and Healey. Halloran was fourth but a lap later he was down to sixth behind Rowlands. Healey took over at the front with Nichols second. Newman was recovering his composure and was into third ahead of Scivier. Johnson had moved up to seventh. Healey was steadily pulling away at the front whilst Newman wasted no time in getting by Nichols for second and setting about cutting the gap to the leader. But Healey had the bit between his teeth and it was to be a vain chase. The gap remained around two seconds for much of the race. Healey set the fastest lap eleventh time around and established a class record whilst Newman allowed his pace to drop over the final laps secure in the knowledge that he was well clear of third place. Johnson took third on the road after a fine drive. He’d picked up places over the middle portion of the race and took third on the penultimate lap only to be deducted a place for cone abuse. Still, fourth behind Scivier was enough to qualify for the B Final. Rowlands missed out on fourth by under a tenth but it was good performance nevertheless. Halloran took sixth just ahead of Pope whilst James Barnard was next after an epic drive from grid twenty six. But unfortunately he’d amassed a few penalties and was classified down in fourteenth. Early front runner Nichols was next on the road but penalised out of the top ten leaving Gamblin, Christison and Collier to complete the top ten.
Roger Davis on pole from Chris Dixon. Lois Ross and Nik Hoyle on row two with Billy Robson and Matt Jones on three. Stephen Westwood and Mike Noon shared row four with Craig Rankine and Josh Adams completing the first five rows. Two to qualify for the A Final. Davis led the field away with Dixon and Ross settling into second and third respectively. Hoyle spun to the rear of the field. Robson too dropped back. Down the order it was all eyes on the four qualifiers from the C Final. Both Healey and Newman made up places over the first lap but how far could they go. With two laps run Davis still led but was coming under severe pressure from Dixon and Jones. Noon too was looking particularly feisty in fifth. Dixon took over at the front with Jones following him through a lap later. Davis immediately began to fall down the order. By half distance he had fallen out of the top ten and would then spin to the back of the pack. Ross got back ahead of Noon but only for a lap before Devon’s finest reasserted himself to move back into third behind Dixon and second placed Jones. And Healey was closing in rapidly.
By half distance he was up to fourth and lapping quicker than the leaders. Further back Newman was up to eighth. Dixon, Jones and Noon continued at the front with Dixon just over a second clear whilst Jones was holding the gap back to noon at around a couple of tenths. But Healey was chipping away at the gap to Noon. Two thirds distance and the gap was just a couple of tenths. Twelve run and Noon was having to defend allowing Jones to stretch the gap. With three to run Jones was almost a second clear whilst Noon and Healey were separated by a fag paper. Fourteen run and Healey was through into third but over seven tenths behind Jones. Penultimate lap and he was still three tenths shy of second. Into the hairpins and Healey made a move but Jones held him off. But down the bottom of the hill at the pit exit Healey dived to the inside. Jones saw him coming and moved left to give him room. Both ran wide and Noon tried to take advantage but Healey held him off. Dixon took the win over a second clear with Healey second after an epic drive. Noon crossed the line third only to drop two spots for cone abuse. A good performance though. Jones was classified third. A good drive but he just didn’t have enough left in the tank to hold off the flying Healey who also set the fastest lap of the race on the penultimate lap. Noon’s penalty promoted Newman to fourth. Another good drive but not where he expected to be. Althasen took sixth. A drive that was a touch overshadowed by the performance of others but fighting up from grid seventeen was a great effort. And he was the fastest of the C2 runners. Adams was next. He too had dropped a spot for cone abuse. Ross Rankine and Gander completed the top ten.
Pietro Pagano on pole from Jack Mitchell with Liam Cochrane and the first of the C2 runners Ben Atkinson on row two. Chris Alcock and Shaun Hollingsworth shared row three with Freddie Fincham and Max O’Shaughnessy on row four. Stephen Docker and Harry Neale completed the first five rows. Pagano led the pack away in what was a god, clean start. Mitchell, Cochrane and Atkinson followed line astern with Fincham fifth from Alcock. Hollingsworth dropped to twelfth. It was as you were for the first three laps but then Pagano made a mistake and dropped to fourth with Mitchell leading from Cochrane and Atkinson.
Mitchell held off Cochrane before the latter moved ahead. Mitchell fought back but not too hard conscious of the fact that he is not doing the full season and he didn’t want to ruin Cochrane’s race. Indeed over the next few laps he fell away and backed up the chasing pack now headed by the recovering Pagano just a couple of tenths up on Atkinson. Alcock was next, half a second adrift but not really offering a challenge to the frontrunners. Fincham ran sixth with Teal closing in. Having started from grid fifteen he’d made steady if unspectacular progress. And Neale, Docker and Coppin were still in the picture. Two thirds distance and Mitchell could hold the pack back no longer losing out first to Pagano and then Atkinson and Alcock. But Cochrane had plenty in hand and kept the gap back to Pagano steady at around seven tenths to take the win.
He likes to play down his ability but Liam is a genuine Championship contender. Pagano’s second place was an excellent effort on his return to raving as was Alcocks drive to third. Atkinson came home fourth and took the C2 honours with Mitchell fifth. Teal was a lonely sixth whilst Neale would have been next but a cone penalty dropped him to eighth behind Fincham. Barrs took ninth with Healey rounding out the top ten. He certainly got his money’s worth having raced in all three Finals. Hollingsworth in twelfth took second in the C2 class with James Wattis third in class and seventeenth overall. Healey set the fastest lap and established a new record with Atkinson setting the fastest time of the C2 runners.
A great morning’s racing with the new engines and format getting a big thumbs up. Our thanks of course to all the officials who do such a great job. It’s not easy. Shenington is next on the calendar. It’s going to be a great day. It would be great to see full grids again to go with the great weather that JV has ordered.
See you there!!!