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Drivers tested at the 2024 BMKR championship opener
Drivers tested at the 2024 BMKR championship opener

Karting during February can sometimes be only for the brave, with the English weather being very unpredictable during the month, usually bringing the Brrr factor.

On Sunday the drivers and teams experienced four seasons in one day, which tested all throughout. The circuit was very wet during the morning qualifying sessions, before going on to dry through a hint of early spring sunshine, only then for the rain to reappear again during the Finals under darkening skies in the afternoon.

The Bambinos completed their opening championship round on Saturday, running alongside general testing, with 4 karts entered including an electric powered version, for the first time at the circuit.

Of the four Freddie Williams and Jenson Drummond proved to be the fastest pairing with Freddie coming out on top in the Final by 9.99s over Jenson who finished 2nd. The “E” powered kart of Kai Erginsoy proved frugal away from the startline before eventually settling down to finish quite a distance behind the leading pair in 3rd, although Kai had a good dice with Tinaye Binikwa for the remaining podium position. Freddie took the fastest lap at 1:04.40 seconds.

Honda Cadet 200.

The Honda Cadets opened the Finals on Sunday afternoon and provided a thoroughly entertaining race, with 3 drivers fighting over the podium positions from the standing start. The morning Heat win went to Riley Taylor, his first victory at the circuit, before Jack Cope topped the five entries in the Pre Final with Noah Clare taking 2nd from Taylor in 3rd.

Cope led away the Final and had Taylor up to 2nd snapping at his heels, with Clare watching on closely in 3rd. William Spencer held a comfortable 4th in his gold and black kart before he had to retire on the 5th lap with engine problems, which promoted Tristen Bennett up a position.

The battle for the win was close at the front, Taylor having had a couple of unsuccessful attempts at passing the cool Cope at turn 1, before being rebuffed by the black & red #85 kart which re-took the lead back on the run down to the bottom hairpin. Any further attempt of taking the lead by Taylor were lost as he had to defend from a keen Clare over the remaining laps of the race.

There was just 1 second covering the top 3 over the finish line, with Cope winning from Taylor and Clare, who sealed the fastest lap at 52.94s, Bennett completed the finishers in 4th.

Senior Club Max.

The Senior Club Max class was as fiercely competitive as ever on Sunday, Josh Pullen topped the wet qualifying session and then won the morning Heat. He then held on to win the Pre Final on a drying track, with his wet tyres finished by the end, Ciaron Edgson had gambled on slicks and was catching Pullen hand over fist towards the end of the race, before just falling short.

James Tomsett also on wets, finished 3rd to line up behind Pullen and Edgson on the grid for the Final. Ella Haines sat next to Tomsett on row 2 after finishing a fine 4th in the Pre Final. On the 3rd row were Joe Gethen and Sam Chappell, ahead of Joshua Pattrick and Felix Stolkin on the 4th row.

As the sun shone the 15 starters were all on slicks for the Final and BM plate holder Edgson fancied his chances on his well scrubbed tyres by going around the outside of poleman Pullen at turn 1, unfortunately for Ciaron there was a damp patch of Bayford tarmac there to catch him out, as he then slid wide hitting the tyre barrier.

Pullen then held the lead from a keen Tomsett in 2nd. Gethen ran 3rd from a fast starting Stolkin in 4th. Jake Riches making up for a nose drop penalty in the Pre Final was up to 5th from 10th, Pattrick next up in 6th ahead of Finlay Underwood regaining lost time from earlier in the day, when he had serious kart problems, he was up to 7th from grid 13. Haines had had a tardy start dropping to 8th early on.

As the race settled down it was clear to see that Tomsett had a great kart underneath him as his lap times were quicker than the leader Pullen. On the 6th lap running down to the first infield hairpin, Pullen covered the inside line and as he did so Tomsett, carrying a lot of speed hit the back of the leader’s kart twice, taking the lead but dropping his nose fairing at the same time.

From there on the JAXX kart of Tomsett drove away to finish over 2s ahead of Pullen, before the inevitable 5s nose drop penalty pushed Tomsett back to 4th, therefore handing the Jenner Motorsport kart of Pullen the win. Gethen was promoted to 2nd which was a good recovery for the GMS driver after only completing 1 lap in qualifying.

Stolkin was rewarded with 3rd after a solidrive in his Project One kart, Tomsett in 4th was ahead of Underwood in 5th, Edgson recovered to 6th, passing Haines on the last lap who took 7th. Riches finished 8th, Oliver Sutton 9th and Chappell a penalised 10th. The fastest lap fell on lap 10 to Tomsett with a time of 46.81s.

Rotax Cadet.

Just four karts lined up for the Rotax Cadet class, headed by Dimitar Uzinov after his wet Pre Final win, Lewis Herberston sat alongside him on the grid, Jack Blackman and Ellis Honey filled the 2nd row.

There was drama from the start as pole man Uzinov threw away the chance of victory with a spin on the opening lap, leaving Blackman to head Herberston and Honey. These three ran close together for most of the race, with Honey passing Herbertson at around half distance, then just as he looked to threaten Blackman – Herberston took the place back.

This dropped the dueling pair back from Blackman who went on to win by 2 seconds, with virtually nothing separating Herberston and Honey in 2nd and 3rd at the finish. Uzinov did well to close up with the three ahead by race end, but ran out of laps to be able to make an impression on them even after recording the fastest lap of the race with a time of 53.24s.

Junior Club Max Rookie/Junior Libre Club Max.

The Junior Rookies were due up next and this one was really hard to predict. George Cole had used some valuable guidance from Jenner Motorsport to prove fastest in the wet conditions during the morning, by taking pole in qualifying and then the Heat win.

A disastrous Pre Final had dropped him out of contention though, as Ayda Sexton came through to take a comfortable win, in a restarted race which had been interrupted by a frightening looking crash involving Freddie Wall and Elliot Clark, who both who emerged relatively okay, although done for the day unfortunately. Second in the Pre Final was a very impressive Blueberry Motorsport driver – Rueben Mamelok who finished 2nd after starting a lowly 17th!

Behind these two sat HPM driver Luca Mann and Project One’s Oliver Liversedge. On the third row were Sophia Caldwell and Cole who had recovered from his disastrous first lap. Next up were KLS driver Jasmine Keepax and Louis Millington, who had run as high as 2nd at one point.

At the start of the Final Mamelok and Liversedge led over the opening tour as Sexton and Mann lost several places. Cole was soon up to 4th as Mann and Caldwell ran 5th & 6th.

The Blueberry / Project One battle at the front eventually fell to Liversedge who’s pace was just too much for Mamelok in the end, as he withstood a late race rain shower to take his first win. Mamelok, who was just 0.6s behind at the finish, had a safe cushion of 4.4s over Cole – who took the fastest lap as he drove up to take the final podium position, passing Sexton who eventually finished 5th behind Caldwell in 4th, both of the girls scoring good points for the season ahead.

In 6th and 7th were Mann and Che Marriott-Dixon, who both kept out of trouble throughout the race. Oliver Turner and Keepax swapped positions several times before eventually finishing 8th & 9th, in 10th was Daniel Butcher, who was up from the Libre class for this month. Tabitha Mellor was the only Libre class driver and will be looking forward to later in the year when she can step up and join the Rookies ahead.

Rotax Inter Final.

Seven of the rapid Rotax Inter Cadet karts were on next, all now on full wets after the late shower in the previous Rookie class Final. Elijah Hazelwood headed the Final grid from Alex Shepherd alongside him. Harry Wright and John Reynolds lined up next on the 2nd row from Cordell Sinclair and Harrison McNealey on the third. Harrison Page sat alone after retirement from the Pre Final, he was keen to make up for that disappointment.

On the run up to the start Shepherd hit problems and was out of the race, naturally distraught as he stood in the rain watching on from the middle of the circuit. Hazelwood was away well from the start and comfortably led over the opening laps, Page wasted no time in carving through the field and was up to 2nd after just one lap!

McNealey, Reynolds, Sinclair and Wright sat from 3rd to 6th over the first half of the race. Page caught leader Hazelwood within 3 laps and was soon ahead and into the lead, he then held a good advantage over the rest of the distance, finishing 2.61s ahead at the finish. Hazelwood was happy with 2nd and will be a threat throughout the year based on his drive on Sunday.

The race for third was very entertaining with McNealey, Reynolds and Cordell running close all race long with the brightly coloured kart of McNealey coming out on top, only then to have a post race nose fairing penalty issued dropping him to 4th, Reynolds also picked up a similar penalty in 5th. Cordell escaped the post race penalties to finish 3rd in the classification. Wright finished 6th and the fastest lap went to winner Page at 58.9 seconds.

Junior Club Max.

15 karts started the penultimate Final for the Junior Club Max class. The weather had an effect on the results during the day with Jack Pullen setting the fastest lap in qualifying, Ollie Orteu taking a comfortable Heat win and then Ryan Welsh making it a double for the Blueberry team with a solid win in the Pre Final.

This left Welsh on pole for the Final with Harry Russell going well for GMS alongside him on the front row. Orteu was eager to match his earlier result and lined up 3rd with Jenner Motorsport’s Pullen 4th on the grid. The third row consisted of Aiden Large, now driving for JAXX and Connor Tubby from Clark motorsport. Next up on row 4 was JHR’s Jacob Hobbs and CHDDs Ethan Page.

With everyone on wet tyres the race got underway with Welsh leading the snarling pack right on his bumper . The leader though was instantly struggling for grip as Large found away through going into the first infield hairpin, having made a great start from P5.

Welsh was in real trouble just trying to stay on the circuit as Pullen had made it though into 2nd, Orteu soon following him into 3rd. Dejaun Bennett was up into 4th having started from P10 on the grid, Russell and Welsh were next 5th and 6th.

The race then stagnated with the top 5 remaining the same, Welsh had a moment around the back of the circuit with Russell which lost him valuable places and he then decided enough was enough parking his kart after 6 laps. Pullen was pushing on towards the end of the race, setting the fastest lap and closing to within 1.2s of Large, winning on his debut with the JAXX team. Orteu’s Blueberry kart was the next over the line in 3rd, from Bennett in 4th, Russell in 5th, Byron Scott-Simmons in 6th and Teddie Cooper in 7th.

Post race checks revealed that Orteu had a non complying spark plug fitted, which although offered no performance gain and was a mere oversight during an engine swap, proved to be outside the rules for the class, so he was unfortunately disqualified from the race, moving everyone up a place from 3rd downwards.

Senior Club Max 177.

The last race of the day featured the Senior 177 class with 12 karts entered for the opening round of the championship. The Heat win went to Oliver Hutchings after Ben Avery had topped the qualifying session, Hutchings then went on to win the Pre Final too from Avery, until a non compliance with his kart post race, brought a disqualification for the BM plate holder and a back of the grid start for the Final.

Avery therefore started from pole for the Final with Daniel Wright starting alongside him. On the second row sat Frederic Lecomte and 2023 champion Adam Clark, who were ahead of Lewis Deacon and Jason Page on row 3. Michael Gibbons and Reece Anscombe completed row 4.

We were down to 11 karts for the start as Gerry Poore’s rotten bad luck persisted when he pulled over on the run up to the grid, his engine failing to run cleanly. At the green light rolling start Avery wasted no time and put the hammer down over the opening lap, opening up a gap over Wright in 2nd and Lecomte in 3rd.

Hutchings was wasting no time in moving up to 5th behind Deacon in 4th after just one lap, he then passed Lewis and closed in on Lecomte ahead. Avery set the fastest lap on the 2nd tour, comfortably pulling away from Wright, who was clear of any threat from behind, which was now Hutchings who had slipped ahead of Lecomte into 3rd.

From mid race onwards the positions remained the same and at the finish the ASM kart of Avery had won by 5.24s from Wright in 2nd. Hutchings crossed the line in 3rd until a post-race nose fairing penalty dropped him to 4th behind Lecomte who took the final podium position. Deacon took 5th, from Page in 6th, Gibbons 7th, Anscombe 8th, Dennis Trzeciak 9th and David Ives 10th.

Full results from the event can be found here – https://results.alphatiming.co.uk/bmkr/e/173132

The second round of the BMKR 2024 championship will be held over March 16 – 17th.