Woodger vs Noon. It’s On! Venning Misses. And Segal Trophies!


Steve Gray
Lightweight Sprint Championship 2018, Rd.8,

A great circuit this for both drivers and spectators and yet another facility that is undergoing a revamp. When it’s completed the new race control block will give an uninterrupted view of the whole circuit. At least from the race control booth. Lydd is certainly the longest circuit in terms of distance from north to south so that when the pack is at the north end of the circuit there is an almost eerie quiet in the pit lane area. With lakes on both sides of the circuit and its skinny dimensions I’m always reminded of Montreal. I do have a vivid imagination! From the Start and Finish line it’s a short run into the first chicane, a very quick right followed by a left and then a right hander which opens out onto a short straight. Turn two is almost a copy of turn one save for the huge kerbs which for this year were protected by a tyre wall. Turn three is the corner at the top end of the circuit and furthest away from the paddock area. It’s a right hander which leads onto another short straight before turn four. There is a wicked bump just before the braking zone for the right handed turn four which then leads into the long left handed turn five which ends in a flat out right handed turn six leading onto the back straight. Turns seven and eight leading onto the start and finish straight are almost taken as one corner. Karts were getting a good tow down the back straight on Sunday leading to some good overtaking moves into and out of the final turns. The windy weather played its part too. In the midst of one of the hottest summers on record it was again a chilly day with some dark clouds in the west offering a threat of rain. Thankfully, save for a few drops, it stayed dry.

Into the afternoon the weather remained breezy but dry for the Lightweights, Heavyweights and the EssexFlatPack sponsored Super Heavyweights.

Qualifying

Mike Noon went quickest early in the group 1 session but it was Championship leader Chris Woodger who set the fastest time on his third flying lap. And despite Noon, Andrew Ward and Jon Gooch all setting their best times on their last laps Woodger remained top. Rookie Josh Adams was fifth quickest.

Rob Langthorp topped the group 2 times initially before being beaten by James Venning and Tom Mackenzie. Langthorp hit back but it was Adam Wheeldon who topped the times with Mackenzie and Langthorp next. Venning fought back setting his fastest time on his penultimate lap. But it was only good enough for fourth fastest. The top four were covered by just 0.019! The evergreen Graeme Coombes was fifth quickest in what was the slower of the two Groups.

Lightweight Pre B Final

Four to qualify for the pre A Final with the veteran Keith Segal on pole from Jed Hicks. Mathew Bell and George Wood on row two from Thomas Williams and Mathew Collier. Row four was occupied by Dan Crawley and Richard Gander whilst Elohim Ribeiro shared row five.

Jack Hounsham, Martin Auger and Adam Norris completed the thirteen runners. Neither Segal nor Hicks made the smartest of getaways both losing out to a fast starting Bell whilst Wood and Williams settled into fourth and fifth. Bell’s lead lasted but a lap as Segal moved to the front. Bell remained second from Hicks but behind these a great battle was developing for the final qualifying spot. Wood held the place only for Williams to take the place before the former fought back. And Gander was closing in on them both with Crawley and Norris behind but losing time as they fell over each other. Segal continued to lead but Hicks was right on his bumper with Bell and Gander in close attendance the latter having got by Wood at half distance. Coming down into the final turns Segal went defensive but clipped the kerb throwing his machine sideways and coming to a halt. Cruel luck but it was, as he admitted, his mistake. Hicks took over at the front with Bell running second but he was already carrying a penalty for an early race indiscretion. And then he picked up another penalty for getting over enthusiastic in his fight with Gander for second. Although Bell crossed the line second he was demoted out of the qualifying spots. Gander was promoted to second from Williams and Wood with Crawley just missing out by 0.001!

Lightweight Pre A Final

Woodger on pole from Noon with Ward and Gooch on the second row. Wheeldon and Mackenzie shared the third row with Langthorp and Venning on row four. The impressive Josh Adams, in his first Club 100 meeting and Graeme Coombes completed the first five rows.

Woodger got away well but not as well as Noon who slipped into the lead. Ward, Gooch, Wheeldon, Mackenzie and Langthorp held station but down at the second chicane it was mayhem as Venning, Billy Robson, Guy Holiday and Sam Nash all came to a halt. Sadly for them the incident occurred outside the false start zone which meant that Vennings winning run was unlikely to be extended in this race. Noon continued to set the pace at the front pulling several Kart lengths clear of Woodger who had Ward right behind. Gooch too had Wheeldon for company the latter moving ahead in the long left hander before the back straight. A lap later and Ward moved into second in the final turns having picked up a good tow down the back straight. Gooch remained fifth ahead of Langthorp. Matt Jones was moving into contention too. Having qualified poorly he’d made steady progress up from grid eleven.

Noon continued to pull clear from Ward with Woodger a few lengths clear of fourth placed Wheeldon. Langthorp, Jones, Mackenzie and Coombes all made it by Gooch in the space of a lap and began to close in on fourth placed Wheeldon. Wheeldon began to close in on Woodger but Jones, having slipped by Langthorp, was flying and took Wheeldon by surprise into the long left hander. Jones immediately began to pull clear and chase down Woodger as Wheeldon fell away into the clutches of Mackenzie who went by in the final turns at three quarter distance. Noon took the flag almost four seconds to the good from Ward who was in turn well clear of Woodger in third. Woodger had Jones right on his bumper over the remaining laps but held him off with a great defensive display. Jones had to settle for fourth and fastest lap with Mackenzie fifth from Wheeldon. Langthorp and Coombes took seventh and eighth with Gooch and Snelling rounding out the top ten.

Lightweight B Final

Two to qualify for the main event and just nine runners with Dan Crawley on pole from Adam Norris. Jack Hounsham and Mathew Bell on row two with Mathew Collier and Martin Auger on three from Keith Segal and Elohim Ribeiro on four and Charles Jackson bringing up the rear. Crawley led the field away with Norris and Harris running second and third from a fast starting Segal. Bell dropped from fourth to sixth behind Collier whilst Auger spun to the rear of the field. Crawley continued to lead but Hounsham was into second with Segal third as Norris fell to fourth. Bell was back into fifth but he had caused Collier to spin to a halt dropping himself out of contention for a qualifying spot. It didn’t stop him racing though and he would ultimately cross the line second. Unfortunately he picked up further contact penalties along the way and would be classified last. Crawley continued to lead with Segal close behind. The two of them were moving clear of Hounsham and Norris whilst the penalised Bell was homing in on third and fourth.

With three to go Segal moved to the front and there he stayed till the flag for a hugely popular win. And he took home a trophy. Bell crossed the line second and set the fastest lap but it was for no reward. Crawley finished third on the road taking the final qualification spot after Bell’s demotion.

Lightweight A Final

Noon on pole from Ward with Woodger and Jones on row two. Mackenzie and Wheeldon on three from Langthorp and Coombes whilst Gooch and Snelling completed the first five rows. Noon led the field away with Ward tucking into second from Woodger and Jones. Mackenzie and Wheeldon ran fifth and sixth from Langthorp Coombes and Gooch.

The order was almost static as they crossed the line at the end of the first lap but Wheeldon got better traction out of the final turn to move ahead of Mackenzie as they crossed the start and finish line. Noon continued to run clear at the front but Ward got mugged at the end of the back straight and dropped behind Woodger and Jones. Wheeldon and Mackenzie were having a mighty battle over fifth. Wheeldon held the place but then it was Mackenzie’s turn to get better traction out of the final corner. Wheeldon crossed the line ahead but gave Mackenzie room into the first turn and dropped back. By the end of the lap though he was back ahead courtesy of a move into the final turns. Noon, Woodger, Jones and Ward continued at the front. Mackenzie briefly got back in front of Wheeldon only for the latter to repeat his move from the previous lap and get back in front. But whilst they fought tooth and nail over fifth they were gradually dropping away from the leaders. Wisely Mackenzie settled in behind Wheeldon and the two of them began to bit by bit close in on fourth placed Ward. Noon remained a couple of tenths clear of Woodger at the front with Jones dropping away slightly and seemingly out of the running for the win whilst Ward too was dropping back and being caught by Wheeldon and Mackenzie. Mackenzie finally decided he’d had enough of Wheeldon’s back and took the place at the far end of the circuit. Then we had drama at the front. Woodger in second gradually began to up his pace and closed in on the leader. As they crossed the line to complete the thirteenth lap he was just 0.009 adrift and on the inside for the first turn. He gave Noon room but Noon then had the inside as the corner went left. From my vantage point I felt that Noon didn’t give Woodger room and the latter mounted the kerb on the outside and bounced along it scattering tree bark in his wake. Jones took advantage to pass Woodger but Noon too had lost momentum and Jones moved to the front at the top end of the circuit. But Woodger wasn’t done and with two to go he back ahead of Noon and closed in on the leader. Down the back straight for the final time and Woodger dived to the inside.

Round the final turn they were side by side but Woodger had the momentum and took the win by just over a tenth with Noon third. Behind these Mackenzie and Wheeldon were still fighting hard and had pulled themselves up to the leading bunch. Langthorp too had moved up. With two to go Mackenzie got inside Wheeldon at the final turn and ran the latter very wide, taking the place and allowing Langthorp to move up to fifth as Wheeldon fought to regain the track. It was great win for Woodger and much needed with Jones second from Noon. I felt Noon was unfair to Woodger as the latter went off the track at the first corner but Woodger didn’t feel it had been done on purpose. And I accept it’s easy to be critical from outside the Kart. What I perceived as a driver trying desperately to hold onto the lead at any cost could just as easily be explained as a driver fighting to keep control. Mackenzie’s fourth place was hard earned with Langthorp taking an opportunistic fifth at the expense of the luckless Wheeldon. Ben Atkinson took seventh ahead of Gooch with Ward next after a torrid couple of laps at the end of the race. Coombes completed the top ten.

Round up

Chris Woodgers win in the Lightweights could not have come at a better time for him. His Championship challenge had lost a bit of momentum over the previous two rounds but he was back to his best at Lydd taking his third A Final win of the season. Mike Noon was on great form too. He led every lap bar three over the course of the two finals and was particularly impressive in the Pre A. Still, he picked up valuable points and an A final win can’t be far away. And he’s well in touch with Championship leader Woodger. James Venning remains third in the standings despite a poor day at Lydd. He qualified badly and got taken out in the Pre A but I’m sure he’ll back to his best at Rye where he won earlier in the year. Freddie Fincham remains fifth despite missing Lydd.

Reflections

Another great days racing at Lydd. Yet again however there were several instances of drivers not heeding yellow flags. The rule is simple. When you see a yellow, raise your arm and back off. To not do so could have dangerous consequences not just for drivers but for the officials as well. I witnessed this on the approach into the first turn. It’s a quick corner and from a kart you have no idea what’s round it. And we still saw drivers weaving ferociously before the start. It actually caused a delay as a couple of drivers couldn’t get through quick enough to take up their grid positions. It’s in the regulations and one day the rule might just get applied. There was also a suggestion that a driver was adjusting the jets on his machines carb. And it appears to have some merit as it wasn’t just one driver complaining. It’s against the rules and the spirit of the Club and is something which is going to be watched for at the next round. You have been warned.

All the Championships are nicely poised as we enter the latter stages of the season.
Se you all at Rye in a couple of weeks and don’t forget to enter the O plate round at Bayford in September. A celebration of twenty five years of the greatest arrive and drive Championship in the country.

Words: Steve Gray

Photography: Jack Mitchell, JAM Motorsport Photography