ROUND 4 RACE REPORT by Alex Tyler
Grids continued to grow at Clay Pigeon as the 4th Round of the Club Championship arrived. The weather forecasts had been on opposite ends of the spectrum throughout the week, so the bets were being placed as to if or when the heavens opened. As the day dawned, bets were on it not raining until mid-afternoon, leaving the tyre choices for the finals an unknown.
As the meeting got underway, the weather was playing ball and the track was bathed in glorious sunshine. The track itself was incredibly sticky, so, strangely, lap records were not expected to be challenged.
After 2 heat wins in the morning, Guy Cunnington led from Pole Position in the Honda Cadet Final. He led every lap of the race and took, for Honda Cadet, a comfortable victory of 2.6 seconds ahead of the hard charging Archie Brown, who beat Will Uphill by just a tenth of a second at the line. The race-long battle for fourth went to Bradley Sheppard, with 4th to 9th being split by 4 tenths of a second at the flag. Cunnington now has a 31 point deficit over 5th place finisher Benjamin Burgess.
2 heat wins put Ethan Rees on Pole for the IAME/Comer Cadet Final with Shay Keough alongside him on the front row. Rees maintained the lead on lap 1 and continued to hold off the chasing pack. On lap 4, 6th place starter Toby McDonald took second place from Keough and began an assault on Rees. Rees continued to lead until lap 12, when McDonald made a move that won him the race. The two then battled for the remaining 6 laps, with McDonald beating Rees to the line for the win by a tenth of a second, with William Elswood third another 3 seconds back. Best Comer Cadet was James Alexander, who finished 8th. Finishing 7th in the Final, Reece Lycett now leads Elswood in the championship by a single point.
Tommy Foster dominated the day in Minimax, taking all 3 heat wins before lunch. He lined up on Pole with Ethan James Haynes alongside. Foster took a comfortable lights-to-flag victory of 3.2 seconds over Daniel Lamport, who had a titanic start jumping from 12th to second in the first lap. Riley Phillips made 2 places to finish a close third. Foster leads the championship by 21 points, having only lost 2 races so far this year, both of which were won by Lamport, who lies second.
Shanaka Clay also came away with a clean sweep of wins in Junior Rotax, taking a lights-to-flag win in the final by 5.9 seconds from Brandon Hague. Third was Alex Forshaw, Harry Ward was 4th and Wilf Carter 5th, with 3rd place-starting Oliver Holden retiring on lap 1. Clay now has a 20 point lead over Forshaw in the championship. Ward sits third.
Heat 2 winner Martin Wheeler lined up on Pole for the Senior Blue Final with Chris Derrick second. Heats 1 and 3 winner Sam Dible was third because of his fifth place in Heat 2. This was set to be a great race, with 9 Seeded drivers on the grid, including the O Plate of Wheeler. Wheeler proved why he has the Plate, taking a lights-to-flag victory. The #2 of Dible was second and the #1 of Chris Derrick was 3rd. As most of the entrants are not entered in the championship, the table only consists of 4 karts, with Derrick leading Toby Cook by 13 points.
Senior TKM drivers were the first to experience the expected rain……on slicks! As the karts formed up on the warm-up lap the heavens began to open, making the race about consistency, not outright pace. Senior TKM’s have a history at Clay of exciting races, but the least surprising bit of news was that the Championship leader was on pole, the in-form Michael Eastwell. Alongside him on the front row was Lewis Round, with Jamie Patten 3rd, Tom Hackett 4th and 2002 STKM Super1 Champion and current #2 Charlie Bruce-White 5th. The five of them had a monumental scrap that lasted the whole 17 laps, where one slip on the greasy/wet track would’ve been the end. In the end that’s exactly what happened, with the then-leader Bruce-White colliding with a back marker, demoting him to 5th. Patten took full advantage, beating Eastwell to the line by 0.4 seconds. However, it was deemed that Patten caused Bruce-White to collide with the back marker. He was given a 5 place penalty, promoting Eastwell back to the win with Round second and Bruce White third. Anwar Beroual-Smith made up 13 places overall to finish 5th overall and 1st in the Masters class. Eastwell continues to lead the championship. The gap is 17 points to Bruce-White. Patten is third.
James Moorcroft has won every race so far this year in Senior Rotax. That clean-sweep continues as he dominated the day against a libre class of Senior Rotax and Rotax 177 & Masters, winning the first fully wet final of the day from fellow Senior Rotax driver Dan Horsey by 23.5 seconds! In 177 & Masters, it was Steve Grose who secured his first overall Final podium of the year, finishing 3rd overall and winning the class. Moorcroft leads the Senior championship, 15 points ahead of second place Horsey. Josh Brooks and Rob Prince lead the championship in 177 and Masters respectively.
The final race of the day was Junior TKM and Junior Blue. The grids were separated so one didn’t affect another. 3 Heat wins put the in-form Cole Edwards on Pole, with his main championship rival Harry Millward on the outside of the front row. By now the track was far from dry, but if it stopped raining then there was a possibility the track would dry very quickly. Edwards led out of the first corner and quickly began to pull out a lead over the pack. The wet conditions didn’t favor Millward who began to fall back after 2 laps. Ross Deal made a good start from 7th, finding himself 2nd after lap 3 and closing in on Edwards. Deal ate away at the deficit until he finally got the lead on lap 8. The happiness was short-lived for Deal, who led for a mere 3 laps before a faulty ignition wire ridded any spark of victory. Edwards retook the lead and remained unchallenged, winning on a drying track by 1.7 seconds over Louis Beaven. Justin Draper was third. Harry Millward still leads the championship thanks to his dry weather performances, but the gap back to Edwards is a mere 2 points!
Next month brings around the half way point in the season, but more is up for grabs: the 2-day meeting looms in aid of Cancer Research and the championships are far from won…………..written by Alex Tyler, Senior TKM