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Entertainment at Inaugural ‘BM Plate’
Entertainment at Inaugural ‘BM Plate’

The inaugural Bayford Meadows ‘BM plate’ meeting was held last weekend January 27-28th at the popular Sittingbourne karting circuit.

Previously a winter prelude event to the BMKR championship season, the competitors now had the chance to race for a ‘number’ that they could carry throughout the season at the circuit.

The karting community headed into 2024 with the sad news of the sudden passing of Project One figurehead Gerard Cox, a person who has been synonymous with the circuit over the years and instrumental in mentoring so many of the local young karting stars of the future. A minute’s applause was held at the morning drivers’ briefing, in honour of Gerard whose presence will be missed by all.

The Bambino drivers had their BM races held on Saturday with Benjamin Sljivar proving too fast for Freddie Williams over the day, coming out on top and carrying off the plates for the year. With having only the two drivers entered, we hope that the class numbers will pick up during the year.

Onto Sunday and the first final of the day was for the Honda Cadet 200 class, with 7 drivers lining up on the grid. Ralphie Branscombe started from the pole, after nicking the Pre Final win on the last lap from Ronnie Smart, who sat alongside him. Riley Taylor was next up on the second row with Jack Wykes sat next to him, the third row featured Noah Clare and William Spencer, Jenson Fathers lined up behind this duo on the fourth row.

Branscombe led the rumbling 4 stroke karts away with Smart tucked up behind him, Taylor held third from Wykes, Clare, Spencer and Fathers. The leading pair gradually broke clear of the rest, both evenly matched around Bayford’s twists and turns over the first half of the race.

Smart fancied a turn at the front on the 5th lap moving ahead of Branscombe, behind Taylor had looked comfortable in third until Wykes thought otherwise and headed him into lap 6, although this only lasted a couple of tours before Taylor regained third.

As we approached the climax of the race the expected late charge from Branscombe never materialised as Smart was driving beautifully taking the win by 0.22s, in what I’m sure will be one of many battles between the pair this year.

The battle for third became a little heated as Wykes and Taylor tangled, leaving the latter finishing 5th and the former in 3rd. However a post race 5s penalty dropped Wykes to 5th and promoted Taylor to 4th, behind Clare who had benefited the most from the melee by taking 3rd.

Spencer and Fathers finished a little way back in 5th & 6th. The fastest lap fittingly went to the red & white Project One colours of the new BM plate winner Smart, set at a 52.53s on the 8th lap.

Senior Club Max.

The Senior Club Max class was next on the program with 14 karts entered although only 13 were to start as Emma Stoner never made it out onto the grid. As ever the competition throughout the field was intense, ever more so given the nature of the one off prize. Ciaron Edgson sat on the pole after Pre Final winner Josh Pullen was penalised 5s for a dropped nose, leaving him 5th on the grid.

James Tomsett had proven quickest in the morning qualifying session and won the Heat in his new for 2024 JAXX run kart, he sat alongside Edgson on the front row.

Also driving for JAXX was Mitchell Mulvey, 3rd on the grid ahead of Kieran Ives in 4th, who was making a rare appearance at the circuit, running out of the ASM awning. Next to Pullen on the 3rd row was Oliver Johnson driving for HSM, the 4th row consisted of Liam Phillips and Felix Stolkin.

Privateer Edgson made a good start before suffering a major sideways moment as he turned into turn 1, miraculously correcting it before going onto lead over the opening laps. Tomsett ran 2nd initially from Ives, a charging Pullen was up to 4th with Mulvey in 5th. Phillips, Johnson and Presley Walker completed the top 8 after the first lap.

Pullen was soon up to second putting Edgson under pressure which eventually led to a tangle down at the bottom hairpin, dropping Pullen back behind Tomsett with Edgson still leading. Ives & Mulvey had a good view of the action while lying 4th and 5th, Phillips’s tenure in 6th lasted to half distance before Walker usurped him to 7th.

Going into the closing laps Pullen had regrouped and used the confidence that he had in his Jenner Motorsport kart to pass Tomsett and put pressure back onto the leader Edgson, who had been having issues with his kart’s handling since his scary moment at the start. Pullen’s next attempt at passing Edgson’s edgy LN kart, proved more successful the second time around, as he snatched the lead and then pulled out a comfortable 2s gap by the finish, the 2023 champion taking the fastest lap of the race too.

Edgson held off Tomsett by 0.18s across the line in 2nd & 3rd, with Ives less than a further second behind in 4th, Walker put in an impressive drive to jump 5 places from his grid slot to take 5th, Mulvey 6th and Felix Stolkin in 7th.

There was drama in parc ferme immediately after the race though, as Pullen was given his 3rd drop nose 5s penalty of the day, promoting Edgson to be the BM plate winner and the next 5 drivers all up one position leaving Pullen mired down in 7th. Phillips finished 8th from Ella Haines in 9th and Finlay Underwood in 10th.

Rotax Cadets.

The Rotax Cadet class was dominated by Harrison Page in his CHDD run kart, he took a clean sweep of wins and won the Final by a huge 12.62s securing the fastest lap to win the BM plates in style. Ellis Honey started his 2024 season off well by finishing 2nd in the Final, his GMS kart just under 2s ahead of 3rd place driver Dimitar Uzunov, Jack Blackman had held 3rd for the majority of the race before slipping to 4th by the end, Matthew Lilley finished 5th, ahead of Lewis Herberston, who had recovered from a first corner spin in 6th and Oscar Maskill finished in 7th.

Junior Club Max Rookie/Junior Libre Club Max.

One of the most unpredictable races of the day was in the Junior Rookie class, with George Cole proving fastest in Qualifying, Daniel Adomaitis taking the Heat win and Ayda Sexton topping the Pre Final, to start from pole in the main Final.

Sexton nailed her start to lead into turn 1 only then to find herself spinning to the outside of the corner, Freddie Wall and Rueben Mamelok (from 7th on the grid) ran 1st and 2nd over the first lap, with Adomaitis suffering a tardy get away in 3rd. Alexander Campbell held 4th, with Oliver Liversedge in 5th. Sexton’s stalled Rotax engine failed to restart and she was out on the spot, naturally disappointed she had laid down a solid marker for the rest of the season.

Wall & Mamelok ran together in 1st & 2nd for the whole race, with Adomaitis unable to challenge them before he made a small mistake and dropped behind Campbell and Cole, who had made up 7 places from his grid position to run 4th.

After 13 laps under heavy pressure, Wall took his maiden win in the class and the BM plates for 2024, Mamelok had impressed in 2nd with fastest lap, shadowing the winner across the finish line with both arms raised, in his Blueberry run kart.

Campbell took the last podium position in 3rd, from Cole in 4th, Adomaitis in 5th and Liversedge in 6th. Laurie McVeigh, Luca Mann and Oliver Turner were next up in 7th, 8th & 9th.

In the Libre Mini Club Max class Daniel Butcher managed a clean sweep and headed home Tabitha Mellor in the Final, taking the class fastest lap in his CHDD kart.

Rotax Inter/Honda 200 inter.

In the ultra quick Rotax Inter class, Lucas Knibbs drove a stellar race in his Project One machine, as he won by 4.55s from Harry Wright who had started from the back of the grid to finish 2nd, taking the fastest lap along the way as he did so.

John Reynolds, and Harrison McNealy fought hard over 2nd place early on before settling for 3rd & 5th, with William Kidd-Glass grabbing 4th on the last lap. The sole Honda 200 Inter of Zac Jennings finished 6th and Alex Shepherd took 7th.

Junior Club Max.

Fletcher Jamieson started 2024 the same way that he finished in 2023 with a win,only this time he seemed more at ease in his work. After having doubts about racing this year over Christmas, it was great to see him out, now running in the JAXX team colours. His 7.16s margin of victory will certainly have the other Juniors worried for the year ahead whenever he is on the entry list.

The Blueberry team worked together well to finish 2nd & 3rd with Aiden Large recovering from a hefty qualifying crash to go on to finish 2nd in the Final. Teammate Ryan Welsh felt a bit rusty after not being in a kart since last November, so did well to finish 3rd – a couple of seconds back from Large.

Ollie Oretu starting 11th, did well to drive up to 5th on the road, behind Ethan Page in 4th, before Page was penalised for a dropped nose post race, therefore promoting Oretu and leaving him 6th overall behind Teddie Cooper in 5th, who had a flier of a start initially holding 4th from 9th on the grid. Jack Pullen should have finished higher up than 7th but later admitted to a small mistake which left him losing one place from his starting position.

8th, 9th & 10th were Aston Munday, Kristian Stefanov and Dejaun Bennett. Jamieson was the only driver to break into the 46s bracket in the Final, setting the fastest lap at 46.82s, even quicker than the fastest Senior lap from earlier.

Senior Club Max 177.

The last race of the day was for the Senior 177 class, who were running under a setting sun after what had been the perfect weather for racing all day. Thomas Lawson was back for this event and was keen to take the BM plates home with him, which he showed with emphatic wins in the Heat and Pre Final qualifying races, he would start from pole for the Final. Alongside him in the unfavorable outside grid slot, was the all black kart of Ben Avery, who would be trying to find the 2.77s that Lawson beat him by in the Pre Final.

A newcomer to the class lined up 3rd – Oliver Hutchings moving up a fighting weight from the Senior 162 class and going well after a qualifying accident gave him a surprise in the morning! It is always great to see Lewis Deacon racing at Bayford as he has also made the transition across from the lighter 162 class, he started from 4th on the grid. ASM’s Matthew Hickson and class champion Adam Clark filled the 3rd row of the grid, from Joss Bass and Geoff Cox on the 4th.

Lawson led from pole initially with Hutchings using his inside grid slot to pass Avery over the opening few corners. Hickson was up into 4th ahead of Deacon in 5th with Jimmy Galloway – who had started 14th, rocketing his way up to 6th after just 2 laps. The pace at the front was electric as Hutchings decided that he fancied taking the BM plates home for himself, as he moved his SANA backed kart ahead of the GMS version of Lawson.

Avery held a comfortable third, not quite able to get onto terms with the two leading ahead. Behind – the race for 4th erupted during the 5th lap, with 4 karts in a heated battle which saw Clark somehow coming through into 4th, Deacon survived the skirmish to run 5th, but behind these two, Hickson and Galloway dropped back behind Frederic Lecomte in 6th.

As the laps ticked down Hutchings was setting a searing pace, taking the fastest lap on the 7th tour at 47.49s, he went on to take his debut win in the class finishing just 1.03s ahead of Lawson in 2nd. Avery was comfortable in 3rd after a quiet race by his standards and 2023 champion Clark took 4th ahead of Deacon who drove well to avoid the carnage in 5th.

Lecomte did well to be next up in 6th after starting 13th, Hickson survived to take 7th ahead of Josh Bass in 8th, Dennis Trzeciak in 9th (after Galloway had been disqualified) and Reece Anscombe in 10th.

The full results of the weekend can be found here – https://results.alphatiming.co.uk/bmkr

And the first round of the BMKR 2024 championships will be held over the weekend of 17-18th February.