On track action kicks off Buckmore Park’s year.
On track action kicks off Buckmore Park’s year.

With the first round of the winter series cancelled in January due to stubborn ice on the circuit, 160+ competitors gathered for round two, this time to more spring like weather settled over the Chatham park land circuit.

With the annual SuperOne championship visit being held in April this year, along with the Cadet O plate Festival a week later – the paddock was full, with many teams and drivers making early preparations for the upcoming events.

Katsantonis goes fastest in Bambino final but it’s not enough to stop Baruss-Haggett taking the points win.

Seven young Bambino drives were entered but only six took part around the undulating circuit; the final included three young chargers battling together on the circuit and proved that even at such a young age, their special awareness and control was a joy to see.  Joseph Katsantonis ended up the fastest of the runners, tracking down the psychedelic crash helmet wearing Damian Baruss-Haggett in the final, this wasn’t enough however to top Damien in the overall points after their timed runs. Lewis Islin completed the final podium from Eden Spanswick-Smith 4th and big Lewis Hamilton fan – Freddie Duncan in 5th ( who was 3rd in the overall points), Alexi Sorial rounded out the runners in 6th.

Mini wins for Ley and Lloyd.

The Mini X30 & Max classes combined for their events, in the X30 class Alex Ley (DKR) had an edge over the rest of the entries all day long and was a clear winner in the final, although Kristian Brookes was the only other finisher, with Fraser Brunton and Nooris Gafoor incurring problems.

In the Max class the 11 entries put on a much more competitive display, with DHRs Alex Lloyd coming out on top some 6 seconds in front of an excellent dice between Lewis Gilbert, Sam Heading, Dominic Bush, Alex Eades, Van Knapton and Kai Hunter. Gilbert and Heading swapped positions throughout, neither being able to break away from the pack and close in on Lloyd. The positions at the finish were as above, with Lloyd looking completely in control at the chequered flag.

Ravenscroft narrowly defeats Chesterton in Junior Max.

As this event was round 2 of the 4 round JAG Winter Rotax Tour, entries were up in all Rotax classes, this could be seen the most in the Junior class, with an excellent 25 kart entry for Sunday’s meeting. The final entertained us with a cracking race between Tyler Chesterton and Clayton Ravenscroft, with the latter overcoming an early advantage that Chesterton had built up and then capitalising on the extra minute that was added to the race distance at the race’s end by taking the win. Ravenscroft was a mere 0.16 seconds ahead of Chesterton after just over 9 minutes of racing. Nearly 3 seconds behind these two, Tommy Foster secured 3rd, from circuit local Oliver Appleby in 4th, he had put on a good performance in his blue KPi kart up against some of this year’s S1 favourites. Tooley’s Kieron Jermey was hot on his tail in 5th and Bradley Barrett completed the top 6.

Rowledge takes IAME Cadet win.

IAME Cadet grid was also up this month, due to the upcoming S1 and O plate events. Joshua Rowledge topped the 21 karts finishing 0.2 seconds in front of Christopher Draper and Samuel Shaw in 2nd and 3rd. Aston Millar who was one of those doubling up in Honda cadets, finished 4th from Rashan Chigorimbo 5th and Luke Watts in 6th. The fastest lap came from Craig Morgan who finished back in 10th, proving the depth of competitiveness in the colourful class.

Knight capitalises on first lap chaos in Clubmans

The Kartstore sponsored Honda Clubman class only featured six entries for this month, although they only raced against each other alone in the final: for their qualifying, heats and pre final they were mixed amongst the Cadet entries. Joseph Knight led away the slim field and then down at the first hairpin we lost two drivers due to spins, both the DNL karts of pole man Joshua Hoy and Ben Whitham pirouetted, losing seconds to their rivals. Knight made the most of the chaos behind by stretching out a lead in his DNL kart,  over a good race between novice Jai Lawrence and Jack Matthews. As the race progressed Hoy was recovering well from his first lap spin and setting fastest laps along the way, by the closing laps he had caught the battle for second place giving us a grandstand finish. As they came up the hill for the final time Knight had a 2.88 second victory margin over Hoy, who had passed both Lawrence and Matthews to take 2nd, Matthews finished clear of Lawrence in 3rd. Whitham wasn’t far behind Lawrence at the finish in 5th and novice Macie Hitter finished 6th.

Bennett blasts away opposition in X30.

The Seniors were up next, due to time restrictions which were brought about by a timing delay earlier in the day, the X30 class mixed in with the Rotax Max runners. Charlie Bennett used his circuit knowledge and experience to great effect by dominating the X30 class, his Project One kart securing fastest lap on his way to a 3.3 second win over Derek Morgan, it would be great to see young Bennett go up against the country’s elite in the S1 series this year, if he could secure a budget. Morgan finished less than half a second in front of Rory Smith in 3rd. A little way further back in 4th was Samuel Cromwell, Charlie Lamb was 5th from the KPi pairing of Harry Gent and Emily Rogers.

Turner wins in Rotax Max.

In the Rotax class the race for honours was between Myles Apps and Charlie Turner. Turner eventually managed to pass and secure the win over Apps. Behind Kit Brough came out on top over a good race for the final podium place, he had Lewis Brown and Sam Baker for close company race long, carrying on from where they left off last year in the class. Behind Baker in 5th was Joe Bleackley in 6th.

Buckmore’s ex Bambino wins in Junior X30.

After the morning’s Junior X30 qualifying session, circuit expert Luke Whitehead sat on pole but, it all went horribly wrong for him on the dummy grid for the first heat as the green flag dropped. Inexplicably his IAME engine in his KPi run Fullerton kart refused to fire up, leaving him sat perplexed while the rest of the 17 kart grid left him in a cloud of 2 stroke smoke! By the time his Dad had helped to coax the recalcitrant machine into life, the rest of the field were nearly at the completion of their warming up lap. His subsequent storming drive from 17th up to 5th was one of the highlights of the day.

For the final DKR’s Dragan Pinsent sat on pole, he had had a terrific fight with Jonny Wilkinson in the Pre Final and led the final away in the early laps, Wilkinson slotted in behind Sean Butcher in 3rd with Whitehead initially slipping from a 4th starting grid to 6th. Butcher looked fast early on and shadowed Pinsent with Wilkinson not far behind, Whitehead had found a way past Louie Short and Freddy Stacey-Simpson up to 4th and was setting purple lap times. Butcher then found a gap in Pinsent’s defences and slipped past to take the lead, Pinsent then without warning, peeled off and headed down the pit lane, apparently with fuel spraying up onto his crash helmet; his chance of the win had literally evaporated. Butcher then led Wilkinson who was now becoming a serious threat, as was fastest man on the track – Whitehead. Going into the last lap there was nothing between the trio and at the finish line MBR kart of Butcher took the win, Whitehead had one last lunge over the kerbs to try and pass Wilkinson, but just failed, just 0.5 seconds covered the three at the finish. It was remarkable win for Butcher after having two years out of the seat, the ex Buckmore Park Bambino driver was naturally delighted.  Behind the tense fight for the win Dylan Cooper took a fine 4th from Short in 5th, he too had had a stellar drive. Freddy Stacey-Simpson rounded out the top 6 and Whitehead secured the fastest lap.

Bearman continues to win in Honda Cadets.

With 53 entries the Honda Cadet class was by far the largest of the day. Sebastian Bloch proved the fastest of all in qualifying during the morning, which was split into two groups. Unfortunately for those in the first group, the circuit was still damp up at the top part of track, which affected their intermediate tyres more than the second group. There then followed a lot of deliberation between competitors and officials regarding the difference in the sessions and how the heat grids should be decided. With some feeling strongly that the eventual outcome was unjust, the heats went ahead, after what had been a lengthy delay, with the wins going to Josh Irfan and Frankie Elwell. There then followed two Pre Finals of which were won by Oliver Bearman and Alfie Rigby.

A ‘B’ final was required due the huge numbers with the top 4 progressing through to the A final. This was won by Archie Brown, with Khali Atkins 2nd, Liam McNeilly 3rd and Jack Steadman 4th.Heat winner Irfan lost out the most by suffering a scary looking roll on the warming up lap of his PreFinal, he managed to climb up 12 places to 12th in the B final.

In the now fading light the A final began over 10 laps, amazingly last year’s 0 plate winner Bearman managed to lead the 28 karts for every one of it’s laps, this under intense pressure in his Virtus kart, therefore continuing his excellent start to his 2017 campaign in the Honda class. Behind him the usual Cadet mayhem was ensuing. Alfie Rigby held down 2nd place from Oliver Gray for 5 laps and then from Joshua McLean, until McLean slipped past bringing a charging Oliver Greenall with him. Starting the last lap Greenall had moved his Evolution kart onto the bumper of Bearman, with a huge colourful snaking train of karts behind the leading pair. Over the last lap out of my sight however, Lucas Ellingham managed to jump from 6th to 2nd, with Greenall slipping to a lowly 21st, Ivan Lomliev took 3rd from Ambition’s Bloch in 4th, Frankie Elwell took 5th from Alfie Rigby, Oliver Gray, Theo Micouris, Aston Millar and Max Herbert completing the top 10. McLean took the fastest lap during his early chase of Bearman.

As a prelude to the SuperOne visit and the 0 plate meeting in April, this had proven to us that Oliver Bearman is the man to beat, even when some of those behind him had been setting faster lap times. The other 52 keen young drivers just need to work out how to stop him!