Drivers battle the cold
Drivers battle the cold

Winter arrived in Sittingbourne on Sunday for the penultimate round of the BMKR 2021 kart championships.

A keen northerly wind blowing across the track, carried with it a wind chill that the 125 competitors and their team members had to deal with. The circuit proved to be very greasy early on which caused several incidents, this led to an extra pre-race warming up lap being added, to help to warm tyres & drivers.

Bambinos.

The Bambinos took up their usual opening finals slot with a very healthy looking grid of 12 karts. Maria Ruberto topped a slippy qualifying session before Jack Cope went to take Heat and Pre-final wins, from James Roots and Maria right behind him. These three then ran nose to tail in the afternoon’s Final, each giving it their best without being able to make a pass throughout the race. Jack Cope took the victory just 0.2s ahead of James Roots in 2nd, who was only 0.6s up on Maria in 3rd. Jack now leads the championship from Maria with the one race meeting to go next month. Austin Gibson finished 4th after starting from 6th on the grid, he overtook Matthew Lilley who had been running 4th for half of the race, before finishing 5th. A three kart fight over 6th place was finally won by Ella Dixon, from Regan Mew and Sebastian Bearman, who finished 7th & 8th. Henry Algar started 12th and finished 9th, Riley Taylor took 10th, Arthur Pharoah 11th and last month’s winner Jack Blackman 12th. The fastest lap went to Jack Cope on lap 4.

Senior Club Max 177.

Nine drivers filled the grid in the heavier 177 Senior Club Max class and it was nice to see some new faces lining up, one that was particularly familiar was that of “Car Smarts” Mike Ashby. Mike having decided that he wasn’t quite enjoying his racing so much lately in the 162 class and fancied a new challenge. His class debut could not have started any better as he topped the times in qualifying, which brought the smile back.

Michael Gibbons let him know that he wasn’t going to be having things his own way by beating Ashby in the morning’s Heat, after the pair had swapped places over the opening 10 laps, with Joseph Perry and Alex Joyner taking 3rd and 4th positions. Gibbons also took a close Pre-final win from Ashby, with Joyner 3rd and Daniel Wright in 4th.One man who hadn’t featured in the opening races was last month’s class winner Billy Watts, he was about to have a big part to play in the Final.

As with the Pre-final Gibbons led Ashby away from the rolling start, with the latter keen to find a way past. Perry spun at the first corner and Watts took full advantage as he managed to cross the line in 4th, up from last on the grid!

He then made light work of Joyner who was in 3rd and set off after the duelling pair ahead of him, several seconds up the road. Gibbons appeared to be driving defensively, with Ashby unable to make a move, this left the pair gradually falling into Watts’s grasp and he could smell a win.

By half race distance the DG/KRM kart of Watts was ahead of Ashby’s newly livered black GTech run kart, and set sights on Gibbons next. These three then put on a no holds barred war for the win.

At times it wasn’t pretty to watch and all the drivers received a warning on one particular lap! It ended with Watts finding his way past Gibbons, who after some contact dropped to 4th but then managed to fight back up to 2nd. Ashby took 3rd, enjoying his class debut but probably wondering if the races were going to be this tough every month!

Joyner’s ATTAQ kart finished 4th, he had risen briefly to 2nd during the “war” before slipping back, Wright watched it all happening ahead of him in 5th place not far behind Joyner. James “Adam” Pell took 6th from Andy Locke in 7th who suffered a post-race nose drop penalty. Perry recovered to 8th and Graham Heard took 9th. Watts also grabbed the fastest lap of the race during his charge up through the field.

Mini Club Max.

The Mini Club Max class final was next on the program, with the closely matched karts always providing good racing. Josh Selvadorai was in great form on Sunday as he romped to both Heat and Pre-final victories putting him on the pole for the Final.

Tighe Wratten shared the front row with Josh, new to the class Owen Neave & Luca Osman-Price were on the 2nd row. Tom Ingram-Hill and Lloyd Hare filled the third row, Callum Sims and Josh Pullen the 4th. On the 5th were Mitchell Mulvey and Ryan Welsh with Ryan Gwenzi sitting alone on the 6th.

Selvadorai led Wratten away from the lights, Neave held 3rd as Osman-Price slipped back into the pack, leaving Hare to take 4th from Ingram-Hill in 5th. As the race settled it was clear that all was going well for the leader Selvadorai for once, as he controlled the pace with some ease. Wratten and Neave were having a good duel over 2nd, as the latter managed to usurp Wratten on lap 6.

Hare briefly got ahead of both, before Wratten regained his composure to take the place back. Over the remaining laps Selvadorai set the fastest lap as he cruised to a 1.7s lead over Neave, who came out on top of the duel with Wratten in 3rd.

Hare was close behind in 4th, Ingram-Hill beat his Project One teammate Osman-Price as they finished 5th & 6th. Sims took 7th from Pullen in 8th, Mulvey had a good race with Welsh to finish 9th, Welsh taking 10th ahead of Gwenzi.

Junior Subaru.

With a bout of covid taking care of last month’s winner Bentley Lovegrove-Fowler, the Junior Subaru grid looked a little different on Sunday. Ciaron Edgson started the Final from the pole after Liam Thomas retired from the Pre-final, leaving him with some work to do from the back for the grid. Will Fallon sat alongside Edgson at the front of the grid, KRM’s Jace Goslett & Dextor Gregory were next up on the 2nd row, Rohan Naineni and Ryan Dell completed the 3rd row, on the 4th and final row sat Jack Baker & championship leader Thomas.

 Edgson led the rumbling 4 strokes away and immediately got his head down concentrating on nailing every lap perfectly, Fallon tried his hardest to stay in his tow but gradually dropped away from the leader. All eyes were on the progress of Thomas, as he was up to 4th at the end of the first lap, with Goslett spinning to the back at the first infield hairpin, by lap 2 the GMS driver was up to third.

Gregory and Naineni were locked into a good battle over 4th, which eventually became 5th when Goslett recovered ahead of the pair. It took Thomas a number of laps to catch and pass the consistent Fallon, indeed it was on lap 7 of 13, which left him too much work to do to catch Edgson in the lead, especially as the erstwhile leader was driving so well. So as the race reached its climax, Edgson took a long overdue win, punching the air as he crossed the finish line.

Thomas was still happy to finish 2nd knowing that the 2021 championship was his, Fallon wasn’t too far behind in 3rd, as these three were a long way ahead of Goslett in 4th, Gregory who eventually beat Naineni to 5th, next up in 7th  was Baker and Dell finished 8th. Thomas set the fastest lap on lap 8, although Edgson proved his pace with a fastest lap that almost matched him.

Junior Club Max.

A fine grid of 22 karts was entered for the Junior Club Max class, which had several new names on the list, unfortunately for one of these his day was to be nothing short of a disaster. The conditions for the first heat proved to be treacherous off line, as Daniel Hughes was caught out at turn 1, his kart gaining momentum as it hit the slippery grass and ending up embedded in the tyres after a hefty impact.

What followed proved disastrous for one of the aforementioned new drivers entered – Enzo Tobias lo Turco, as he was caught out when the field slowed on the infield due to the false start flag being shown, his kart cartwheeling over another driver very dramatically.

The field was brought to an immediate halt, as the circuit medical staff attended to both drivers, who were both cleared to race again later in the day. Max Lee took the win at the restart comfortably, which was to set the tone for the rest of the day.

Last month’s winner Seb Morgan had a great start in the Pre final to lead early on, before both Lee and Declan Russell (who was on new tyres) moved ahead of him. Two other drivers on new tyres for the meeting were Mikey Porter and Jai Lawrence, they finished 4th and 5th ahead of Finley Watson in 6th.

For the Final Lee was adjudged to have overtaken Morgan under a waved yellow in the Pre final which dropped him back to 8th on the grid and with a lot of work to do from there.

Russell and Morgan led the very keen and colourful grid away for the Final, behind Porter and Lawrence were passed by Watson and then a charging Lee, who was on an absolute mission in his Roalf racing machine! Soon he was ahead of Morgan who could do nothing about his obscene pace and then on lap 4 he also found a way past Russell to lead, before going onto win by 2.56s with the fastest lap in the bag too.

Russell was never threatened in a solid 2nd place, as behind Morgan and Porter had a good fight over the remaining podium position, swapping places several times before Morgan’s Project One kart beat Porter’s JAXX kart to the position. Lawrence finished in front of Watson for 5th and 6th, Ben Cooke made up for being involved in the first Heat crash by taking 7th, Oliver Hutchings once again showed well in his FMR kart in 8th, Finlay Underwood’s Clarke kart took 9th and Ryan Micaleff drove a stellar race to move up 9 places to take 10th.

Of the other drivers that were involved in the first Heat accidents, Hughes finished a bruised 14th, Alexander Adams-Acton 13th after missing the Pre final and Lo Turco retired after 7 laps due to an ill handling kart.

Senior Club Max.

The Senior Club Max class had another cracking entry of 28 karts for this event, which necessitated a B final for 8 karts. Lewis Deacon powered to victory in this from 4th on the grid, enjoying every moment of it as he did so, joining him in the A Final were Will Tidman, Stephen Bouffe and Oliver Sutton.

Oliver Bullion topped the morning’s qualifying session, Heat winners were James Tomsett, Kieran Ives and Jack Steadman. The latter took pole with 48 points from his 2 heats, Tomsett sat with him on the front row with 46 pts. On row 2 sat Joshua Pullen and Bullion, Ives & Joseph Gethen were next up on the 3rd row. Caitlin May & Elliot Rice shared the 4th row, from Alex Holgate and Zac Dear on the 5th.

Steadman led the grid away, with Tomsett settling down in 2nd behind him, Pullen and Bullion followed suit in 3rd and 4th. Ives hadn’t gotten away well as both Gethen and Ryan Willis moved ahead in 5th & 6th, behind Ives in 7th were Rice and Dear.

The top four soon got into a rhythm at the front of the field, each watching and waiting for the driver ahead of them to make a mistake. Ives worked his way back up to his starting position of 5th after 5 laps and after that it was pretty much a stalemate at the front. The positions didn’t change up to the finish, with Tomsett, Pullen no doubt thinking about the championship points that were on offer.

So the finishing order had Steadman’s Project One kart taking the win on fresher tyres than Tomsett’s GMS machine in 2nd, Pullen and Bullion were 3rd & 4th. Ives in 5th had dropped points to his main rival Tomsett, his lead in the championship down to just 2 points now.

Gethen took good points in 6th, Willis finished 7th just off the tail of the train. Jonathan Wilkes recovered from a 1st Heat crash to take 8th ahead of Rice in 9thand rounding out the top 10 was Dear. Bullion showed that his qualifying pace was no fluke by setting the fastest lap.

Honda Rookie/Cadets.

As the sun began to set and the temperatures felt even colder, the last final of the day rolled out from the dummy grid. Another great entry of 27 karts meant that 3 would miss out in the B Final, which was won by Connor J Winfield, joining him in the A Final were Ronnie Legg, Ethan Page and Alfie Clark.

With the grids for the two classes mixed, it came as a surprise that Alfie Mew was starting from pole, as his C.H.D.D kart was running in the Rookies. Cadet drivers Jonas Klimas and Fletcher Jamieson were next up, 2nd & 3rd, rookie Harry’s Taylor & Freeman, were 4th and 5th with fellow rookie Rylan Blake 6th

It was Mew that led the pack of youngsters away, with Klimas, Jamieson and Taylor in 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Freeman dropped two positions to Blake and Antony Parfett off of the start, the trio running 5th, 6th & 7th. Joel Bullen, Riley Till and Leon Knight completed the top 10.

The battle for first place was tight as Klimas pressured the Rookie class driver throughout, eventually taking the lead on lap 4, Mew wasn’t done there though and sat in his wheel tracks. Jamieson uncharacteristically slipped up at half race distance dropping down to 8th, elevating those that were running behind him.

By this stage Freeman had charged his way up to 4th behind Taylor, with Parfett, Blake & Till next up. As the race entered its final phase Mew snatched back the lead with a lap to go and managed to hold off the Cadet driver Klimas to the finish to take a great win for the Rookies. His teammate and fellow Rookie Taylor took a good 3rd from Freeman also driving under the C.H.D.D banner in 4th.

Second in the Cadet class was Parfett taking 5th overall, Till finished 6th and 4th in the Rookie class, Jamieson was next up 3rd in the Cadets as Blake lost two places near the end to finish 5th in class and 8th overall. Knight and Bullen completed the top 10 and finished 6th & 7th in the Rookie class. Harry Freeman took the fastest lap in the Rookie class and Jamieson in the Cadet class.

Full results from the day can be found here – https://results.alphatiming.co.uk/bmkr/2021/8/

Finals Day at Bayford Meadows will be on Sunday December 19th.

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