Steve Brown Takes 2nd Win of Season, But Steve Hicks Capitalises on Holmes Absence in the Super – To Be Narrow Favourite in Altima Chase
A beautiful sunny early autumn morning greeted the drivers for Round eight of the Sprint Championships. A near perfect day for racing. It’s getting to the sharp end of the season with the Championships finely poised. Big news of the day was the absence of Heavyweight Championship and Super Sprint Championship leader Joe Holmes and Lightweight contender and Super Sprint contender Rob Newman. Holmes missing a HW round doesn’t affect his HW Championship ambitions by much but dependent on how others fared his Super Sprint Championship hopes could be over by the end of the day. Newman is sadly set to miss the rest of season. And there was a bit of controversy among the drivers regarding the kerb on the final corner. Some drivers felt the new kerb was too high and were worried that touching it could throw them well off line. But it’s the same for everyone. Just stay away from it. Here’s how the day unfolded.
The Heats & The Route to the Finals
Conner Jupp took the first heat the former Honda Cadet Champion emphasising his class after taking a Lightweight win at the final round of 2019 at Buckmore Park. Starting from grid eight he was into the lead by half distance. But he still had work to do as Steve Brown fought his way up from grid ten to pressure him all the way to the flag. Jupp took the flag half a second up having set the fastest lap of the race final time around. Ben Cottle took third and if the leaders had had to work for their results it was nothing compared his drive. Starting on grid fifteen he was up to sixth after two laps, then back to seventh before working his way back and taking third on the final lap with pole sitter Tim Hill right behind. Harrison Darvill took fifth.
Chris Gristwood took heat two by just 0.092 from C1 runner Stuart Jones. He took the lead when Jones made a move on Kieran Chidgzey for the lead but clipped the curve throwing them both wide. Gristwood took advantage and moved to the front whilst Jones settled in and took Chidgzey a few corners later. Gristwood was forced to defend mightily over the final laps but did so superbly. Chidgzey came home third ahead of Chris Sawyer, who set the fastest lap of the race, and Jordan Hawkins.
The third heat went to Curt Holmes, brother of Joe, making his CLUB100 debut and having his first Kart race for thirteen years! Quite a way to make your comeback. Clearly some racing genes in the Holmes family. He’d started on the second row alongside Pete Newbury and moved to the front at half distance chased all the way to flag by Newbury. Stephen Netting came home third with Konstantinos Kyritsis fourth ahead of Craig Brown the latter two putting in strong drives from the back of the grid.
Anwar Beroual-Smith opened his account for the day with a superb drive in heat four. Starting on grid fifteen he drove an aggressive first lap to jump up to fifth. Half distance and he was up to second behind Jack Bolton before getting by and gradually easing away from second placed Bolton. Adam Wright took third ahead of Steve Lindley and Miguel Hall.
Heat five was another win for Conner Jupp. Starting from grid fifteen who took full advantage of others misfortune over the opening lap to move up to fifth behind Chris Sawyer, Daniel Cohen and Chris Gristwood. Half distance and he was up to second. Sawyer made him work before Jupp found a way by on the final lap. Cohen hung on for third with Gristwood fourth adding valuable points to his tally with Rob Adlam fifth.
The sixth heat was a much tidier affair then those that had gone before with just one overtake amongst the leading two. Whitehouse initially had the advantage from pole but Kyritsis went by on the second lap and then pulled steadily away taking the win by over two seconds and setting fastest lap along the way. Whitehouse was equally comfortable in second as was Stephane Appleton in third. SHW Championship leader Richard Allen came home fourth after a strong drive up from grid seventeen with Stuart Jones fifth.
Heat seven went to Steve Brown but boy did he have to work for it. He led away from pole with C2 Championship leader Craig Brown tucking in behind ahead of Richard Lavender. Steve and Craig both swiftly put some distance between themselves and Lavender but if Steve thought he was going to have it easy he was much mistaken as Craig stayed right with him and then moved ahead with a well judged move at Christmas corner. And there he stayed but with Steve on his rear bumper. And getting ever closer was Beroual-Smith. Craig defended for all his worth but it was compromising his lines and those of Steve allowing Beroual-Smith to get ever closer. Last lap and Craig stayed so far to the right up the hill he was almost on the grass. Steve followed him before jinking left and taken Craig round the outside. Side by side they went through the following corners, both on compromised lines and with Beroual-Smith right with them. Along the back straight Craig had a little look at Steve whilst Beroual-Smith kept his cool and line. Craig got a touch wide in the Boot in Beroual-Smith nipped inside to take the line for the final corner and claim second place. A fabulous, entertaining race. Lavender took fourth, a very good drive from him too and resisting the pressure from fifth placed Adam Wright over the final lap to keep the place by just 0.067.
Heat eight went to Trevor Randall making up for his exclusion in the first round of heats. It was however one of the greatest defensive drives of his life. Starting from pole he led all the way at the front of a six Kart train. Dan Taylor came home second just 0.097 behind with Jack Bolton third. The top five were covered by just over a second at the flag. Curt Holmes crossed the line fourth but was penalised for a bump and pass on Tim Hill on the final lap. A move which saw Hill on the grass and then pulling into the pits with just a couple of corners to go. Luke Hornsby moved up to fourth with Andrew Cherry fifth after a strong comeback drive having dropped from second to tenth on the opening lap.
Adam Wright took a comfortable win in heat nine leading all the way from pole and crossing the line over four seconds clear of Steve Brown. But Brown started from grid fifteen and had to work his way through the field. Another good points haul though putting him on the second row for the A Final. Stephen Netting took third from Harrison Darvill and Alex Pritchard.
Heat ten went to Stuart Jones. A superb drive too after starting on grid eleven. It wasn’t until the final couple of laps that he made it to the front. Anwar Beroual-Smith took second getting the better of Tarik Almou on the final lap. Daniel Cohen took fourth after leading the early laps with Dan Taylor fifth.
Miguel Hall took the penultimate heat. Starting from the front row alongside Robert Purtak he took the lead off the line and was never headed. Purtak gave chase but he fell down the order before half distance behind a rapid Steven Downes with Aaron Stevens third, Craig Brown fourth and Trevor Randall the later taking making swift progress up from the rear of the field before settling into the train for the lead with no changes over the second half of the race.
The final heat went to SHW Championship leader Richard Allen. Another great drive leading all the way from pole. For most of the race he was under pressure from Jack Bolton but he kept him at bay. Bolton dropped to fourth on the final lap after getting jumped by Conner Jupp and Curt Holmes the former gaining enough points for pole in the A Final. Stephane Appleton came home fifth.
Andy Henley on pole from Kelly Rogers with SHW Trevor Randall and Nima Oparvar on row two. SHW Bill Taylor on alongside Mark Appleton on three with David Bennison and Richard Newton behind on four. Jaeden Cadogan and John Salter shared row five with Chris Solomon and Tommy Welsh on six and Isaac Bennison alongside Jason Small on seven. Elliot Garnett and Dmitry Zeldin would start from the penultimate row with Sebastian Bennison and Paul Hibbeard the final qualifiers. Four to qualify for the back of the B Final.
A scruffy start saw Randall on the second row almost pushed off the circuit but he held the Kart superbly and hung onto third as the field streamed up the hill with Henley leading from Rogers. By the end of the lap Taylor was up to fourth from Appleton, David Bennison, and Newton with Oparvar losing out and dropping to eighth. Next time around he tried a move on Newton into Christmas but struck the former as he did so. Oparvar immediately waved him back through. A proper, sporting gesture. Randall continued to pull away at the front with Henley, Taylor, Rogers and Newton running line astern. Half distance and Newton got better traction out of the Boot take Rogers and move into fourth. With Randall continuing to pull clear Taylor decided he wanted second and went for a move into the first turns. He almost made it but had to back out losing momentum as they went up the hill and allowing Newton to move ahead. And he wasn’t finished. In almost a carbon copy of his move earlier on Rogers he slipped ahead of Henley out of the Boot. Whilst all this was going off Oparvar had steadily cut the gap and joined in the fun in sixth place. With four to go he slipped ahead of Rogers into the Boot complex. Randall was by now some four seconds up the road with Newton second and looking comfortable in second place. Henley was almost a second back in third and coming under pressure from Taylor who had picked up a cone penalty and really needed to be up to third. Penultimate lap and he looked as though he was going to go by up the hill but he pulled out of the move. A following Oparvar did well to avoid contact but he gave himself a better line as they swooped down into the Ashby hairpin. Clean as you like he was through and into a promotion spot.
Last lap and despite not needing too Oparvar tried a move on Henley for third as they came out of Ashby. Both got a little ragged into the next turn and down the hill. Onto the back straight and Oparvar had better momentum and tried again. This time he made it through and a following Taylor also got by Henley as they rounded the Boot. Randall crossed the line almost five seconds clear with Newton next well clear of third placed Oparvar with Taylor next across the line but demoted to fifth behind Henley and out of the promotion spots. And Rogers was a mere tenth back in sixth. A great battle. A shame they couldn’t all qualify. Appleton took seventh almost ten seconds adrift of Rogers with Isaac Bennison, Jaeden Cadogan and John Salter completing the top ten. Newton set the fastest lap of the race and was the fastest SHW with Oparvar the quickest C2 runner.
Three drivers tied on seventy one points after the heats but Steve Lindley and David Whitehouse missed out on the back row of the A Final by virtue of a slower lap time than Miguel Hall. It did however mean that Lindley lined up on pole with C1 runner Whitehouse alongside. James Workman and Mark Turner shared row two with Pete Newbury and the first SHW runner Kieran Chidgzey alongside. Ben Robinson and Chris Scivier shared row four with SHW Jordan Salter and Rob Adlam on five. Paul Williams and Robert Purtak occupied row six with Lennie Wood and Andrew Cherry behind on seven. Jordan Hawkins and Aaron Stevens were on eight with Vinod Harani alongside Peter Harris on nine, C1 runner Harris not having the greatest of days. Richard Lavender and Blaze Sienko shared row ten with Ben Benneyworth and Lee Henderson on eleven followed on the final two rows by the C Final qualifiers, Randall, Newton, Oparvar and Henley. Top two to qualify for the back of the A Final.
Lindley led the field away but Whitehouse was slow across the line and dropped to third behind Workman. He would be back up to second by the end of the lap. Newbury had got ahead of Turner with Chidgzey next chased hard by Salter. Down the order both Randall and Newton were making rapid progress from the back of the field. Lindley continued to lead with Whitehouse half a second adrift but clear of third placed Workman. Newbury was a few lengths back with Turner in his wheel tracks. Behind the top five though was a real hard fight. Chidgzey and Salter were going at it hammer and tong with Chidgzey having some lurid tyre smoking moments. Salter was hanging on but then both he and Chidgzey got out of shape at the top of the hill and Williams nipped by them both into sixth. Further back Randall’s charge came to an end as he was forced off the track at the Ashby hairpin. Lindley continued to lead but Whitehouse had closed the gap to a mere foot and was looking to get by. Workman was just a Kart length back in third followed by Newbury and Turner who pulled out of Newbury’s slipstream sixth time around as they went up the hill and was through into fourth. A good, clean move setting the fastest lap of the race thus far as he did so. Linley was defending hard from Whitehouse who was now looking over his shoulder at Workman. He got a good run out of the final turn however and kept the momentum as they drove up the hill. He judged his move to perfection as Turner had done the lap before and moved into the lead. Thereafter he inched away and was never threatened as Linley went defensive from Workman and the flying Turner. Workman tried several time to get by Linley but never made a move stick. As his moves became more and more desperate Turner inched ever closer. Workman went defensive but he couldn’t hold off Turner for long.
By the time Turner went by though Linley was over a second up the road and running clear behind Whitehouse. Newbury was running in a lonely fifth but behind him was a tremendous fight between Purtak, Salter, Chidgzey and Williams. Sadly, it all got a bit too feisty over the final couple of laps with arms being waved. Never does any good. Whitehouse took the win with Linley second from Turner and Workman fourth. The latter did have the satisfaction of setting the fastest lap of the race on the final tour. Newbury took fifth with Oparvar sixth after a tremendous drive from the back of the field. Cherry came home seventh with Salter next across the line but excluded and losing valuable SHW points as he was adjudged to have brought Purtak to a halt after a lunge into the Boot. This promoted Hawkins to eighth from Stevens and Newton.
Conner Jupp on pole with Anwar Beroual-Smith alongside. Steve Brown and Stuart Jones on row two from Adam Wright and Jack Bolton. Konstantinos Kyritsis shared row four with the leading C2 Qualifier Chris Gristwood. Curt Holmes and Craig Brown occupied row five with Chris sawyer and Steven Downes on six and Stephen Netting and Dan Taylor on seven. Row eight saw SHW Championship leader Richard Allen alongside Tarik Almou. Harrison Darvill and Daniel Cohen shared row nine with Stephane Aplleton on ten, Ben Cottle and Daniel Flynn on eleven, Luke Hornsby and Miguel Hall on the penultimate row with the B Final qualifiers Whitehouse and Linley completing the grid. Top twelve to join the top twelve Lightweights in the Super Final.
Jupp led the field away but Brown got the better of Beroual-Smith to move into second with Jones fourth. Wright had a grassy moment at the top of the hill and dropped to ninth. Bolton ran fifth ahead of Gristwood and Kyritsis. The leading trio gradually pulled clear of fourth place, now occupied by Bolton with Jones down to fifth. Fifth time around and they were bumper to bumper going up the hill. Brown moved to the inside and slipped by into the lead as they braked for Christmas. Jupp had a brief look into Ashby but held back before diving down the inside a couple of corners later as they turned onto the back straight. Brown had to run a little wide and lost momentum allowing Beroual-Smith to get a run on him into the Boot complex. Brown gave him just enough room and Beroual-Smith moved into second. A brave, audacious move. All of which allowed Bolton and Jones to cut the gap to the leaders and make it a five way battle for the lead. Jupp lead the train for a couple of laps before Beroual-Smith made an attempt into the Ashby hairpin. Jupp saw him coming and defended compromising both their lines and allowing Brown to leapfrog them both back into the lead. A controversial moment this. Contact was made and Jupp was forced wide but Beroual-Smith immediately waved Jupp back ahead. A sporting gesture. Unfortunately, although he himself had not gained an advantage, Jupp had been disadvantaged in losing the lead to Brown. It would cost Beroual-Smith a four place deduction. It seemed harsh on Beroual-Smith as he had allowed his rival back in front and had Brown not taken them both then he would have gone unpunished. Ironic too as had Beroual-Smith kept the place his four place deduction would have seen him finish sixth rather than seventh.
Next time around and Beroual-Smith moved back into second at Christmas. But not for long. Into the Boot complex Jupp dived down the inside of Beroual-Smith. It was a late move and Beroual-Smith was forced onto the grass allowing Bolton and Jones to slip by. Jupp’s line was also compromised and Bolton moved ahead as they crossed the start and finish line. All of which allowed Brown to pull a gap at the front. Bolton’s second place lasted less than a lap as Jupp sliced by into the Boot, this time without contact. And Beroual-Smith moved back ahead of Jones going up the hill. Jupp quickly reeled in Brown at the front but then his number came up on the start line dig-board indicating a penalty after his move on Beroual-Smith. Brown took the win with Jupp next across the line but then penalised down to eighth. Bolton crossed the line third which became second with Jupp’s penalty. Beroual-Smith was next across the line but his penalty dropped him to seventh promoting Jones onto the podium. Kyritsis took fourth and set the fastest lap of the race on the penultimate tour. He’d been close to the leaders but never quite close enough to mount a challenge. Fifth went to Almou.
A good distance back from the leading pack but a strong performance nevertheless earning him the C2 honours. Gristwood was classified sixth ahead of Beroual-Smith and Jupp with Holmes next across the line but penalised down to twelfth and promoting SHW Championship leader Allen into eighth. Wright and Holmes were the final qualifiers for the Super Final.
Super Final presented in association with Altima Academy with Mutation Motorsport
Pole this time for the Lights with Ed Barrs taking the spot alongside Steve Brown. Steve Hicks and Jack Bolton on row two and Dan Healey alongside Stuart Jones on row three. Row four, Thanassi Barnicoat and Kosta Kyritsis. Stephen Docker and Tarik Almou shared row five with Mike Coppin and Chris Gristwood on six and Sam Hampshire alongside Anwar Beroual-Smith on seven. Row eight, Brandon Williams and Conner Jupp. Axel Slijepcevic and Richard Allen on nine from Chris Alcock and Adam Wright on ten, Chris Dixon and Alex Pritchard on the penultimate row and Harry Neale alongside Curt Holmes at the rear of the field.
Barrs led the field away with Brown tucking into second and Healey up to third. Coppin and Gristwood both had grassy moments as the pack sorted itself out. Barrs led from Brown over the line at the end of the lap with Healey still third. But Hicks was right with him and pulled ahead as they braked for Christmas corner at the top of the hill. A lap later and he was all over the back of Brown as they went up the hill. Brown defended but as they dived down into the Ashby hairpin he moved inside and took second. Hicks immediately homed in on Barrs and outbraked him into Christmas to take over at the front. A lap later and Barrs was down to third behind Brown. Hicks continued to lead from Brown and Barrs with Barnicoat up to fourth from Healey and Kyritsis the latter two involved in a frenetic battle which saw them swapping places at almost every corner. Hicks continued to eke out a gap at the front with Brown still second from Barrs, Barnicoat, Kyritsis and Healey. Williams had gradually closed the gap with Alcock and Beroual-Smith keeping him honest.
Penultimate lap and with Hicks clear at the front with Brown still second Barrs came under attack from Barnicoat. Contact was made and Barnicoat was onto the grass. Barrs lost momentum and Kyritsis nipped by briefly for third. But Barrs recovered whilst behind these Williams slipped ahead of Healey for sixth. Along the back straight Kyritsis dived up the inside into the Boot. Barrs was compromised through the turn and Kyritsis took third. Barrs lost momentum and dropped behind Barnicoat, Williams and Healey. Final lap and Barrs struck back as they came down the hill. Williams ran over the grass and lost ground. But the final few corners were all about Hicks as he crossed the line to take his second Super Final win of the year with Brown second from Kyritsis. Barnicoat took fourth with Barrs fifth from Healey and Williams. Alcock kept his Championship chances alive with eighth ahead of Beroual-Smith and Harry Neale. Kyritsis set the fastest lap.
The Championship Round Up
Joe Holmes is still out front but Steve Brown made the most of Joe’s absence taking the win and narrowing the gap. Adam Wright is hanging on doggedly in third ahead of the luckless Anwar Beroual-Smith. His luck must surely change soon. Konstantinos Kyritsis lies fifth
Craig Brown leads the C2 runners and he is getting better with every round. His spirited drive against Steve Brown in the heats was one of the performances of the day. Steven Downes is second with Dan Taylor third from Miguel Hall.
Richard Allen is running away with the Super Heavy division. He’s also eighth overall. A fantastic effort. Reigning Champion Trevor Randall is second but down in twentieth overall. He’s enduring a poor run of form at the moment. He needs to dig deep and get his head straight. He’s capable of so much more. Ben Benneyworth had a torrid day at Whilton but is still third in the standings ahead of the veteran Paul Williams and Kieran Chidzgey.
And then there were three. With Joe Holmes missing his chances of winning the Super Sprint Championship are over despite his three wins out of five rounds. Or are they?
Steve Hicks second win of the year leaves him with a four point advantage over Steve Brown going into the final round. Chris Alcock kept himself in the hunt as the only other driver to have qualified for every Super Final. But what if, Hicks, Brown and Alcock all fail to qualify for the final round at Clay and Joe takes the win? An unlikely scenario? So was England winning the third test this year. But they did. Strange things happen in sport.
See you at Clay!
Words: Steve Gray
Photography: John Patterson