Karting returns with smiles all round
Karting returns with smiles all round

It was great to be back at Sittingbourne’s Bayford Meadows kart circuit on Sunday, as owner driver racing made its long awaited return, after the easing of the government’s lockdown measures.

The spring sunshine added to the feel good factor of the packed paddock area, as for this year all the classes ran on the same day’s event program. Practice sessions run on both Friday and Saturday helped the teams and drivers to return to ‘race fitness’ as many hadn’t been to a circuit since last October. With the added factor of younger drivers changing classes for this year, the extra track time was welcomed by all.

Bambinos.

For 2021 the Bambino drivers could race competitively against each other, dropping the previous time trial format, with the young diminutive racers having three runs throughout the day. Jack Baker and Austin Newstead enjoyed a good tussle in the first run with the former just coming out on top.

Newstead returned the favour in the 2nd run, although Baker suffered a DSQ due to being underweight, leaving Jack Cope to take the runner up spot. Newstead once again came out on top of the nine runners in the final run, finishing 8s ahead of Baker. Charlie Munns took 3rd from Cope in 4th, Maria Ruberto guided her colourful kart home in 5th, Stanley Kearly 6th. 7th, 8th & 9th in the final run were Ella Dixon, Regan Mew & Jack Blackman.

Honda Cadet.

Kristian Stefanov led away the 10 kart Honda cadet class for their 13 lap final. Hot on his heels were Oscar O’Sullivan, Jonas Klimas, Fletcher Jamieson, Antony Parfett and Rio Licata. As the race progressed it was clear that Stefanov could not break clear and eventually O’Sullivan edged his Project One kart ahead. Once in the lead he had to fend off Stefanov, Klimas (3rd) and Parfett  who had managed to pass Jamieson to take 4th.

O’Sullivan succeeded with his efforts, but it was a blanket finish for the top 5 as they crossed the finish line for the final time. Behind Jamieson in 5th, Licata took 6th from Logan McAlister in 7th, Andrew Dixon in 8th and Callum Sims and Harry Taylor in 9th & 10th. Parfett secured the fastest lap on lap 8.

Mini  Club Max & Junior Subaru.

Due to the low numbers in both classes (6 in each) the Mini Max & Junior Subarus ran two separate grids in the same final. In the Mini Max class Lloyd Hare had been in top form in the morning’s heat and then the Pre final to secure wins in both, his hard work through the winter lockdown starting to pay off. Tom Ingram-Hill was making the jump up from Cadets and looked fast in his class debut starting from the front row.

Tighe Wratten, Josh Selvadorai (another up from the Rookie cadet class), Luca Osman-Price and Jack Pullen also making the Rookie class jump completed the grid. Hare continued his winning run by leading every lap of the final to take the class win, celebrating with a single finger salute as he passed by the electronic scoreboard for the final time.

Ingram-Hill had run in 2nd for most of the race until he succumbed to the pressure of Hesketh/James Hunt inspired Wratten, who was delighted with his second place. Ingram-Hill placed 3rd in front of a close battle between Selvadorai and Osman-Price that eventually went to the latter with a pass on the final lap.

Pullen (6th) didn’t seem to have much luck throughout the day, but will have learnt and will no doubt come back stronger the next time out. Osman-Price showed his experience in the class with the fastest lap of the final.

The Junior Subarus

Provided one of their classic ding dong race long affairs, leaving it hard to guess who would cross the line in first. William Fallon had been in impressive form in the Heat and Pre final, taking both wins. He led away Pre final runner up Bentley Lovegrove-Folwler in the final, until Liam Thomas relegated him into 3rd place. Ciaron Edgson, Chris Budd and Jace Goslett held 4th, 5th and 6th from the start.

The racing was fierce at the front with Fallon and Thomas continually swapping the lead between themselves, Lovegrove-Fowler watched on from 3rd place waiting to take advantage of any mishaps ahead. As they entered the final few laps Fallon looked in control, until Thomas took advantage of the faster Mini Max karts making their way through, by snatching the lead back from Fallon on the last lap.

Thomas took both hands off of the wheel to celebrate an enthralling victory over a dejected Fallon, who really should be proud of his efforts on the day. Lovegrove- Fowler needed just a little more pace to match the first 2 as he finished close behind in 3rd, although he did bag the fastest lap. Edgson finished 4th from Goslett and Budd in 5th and 6th.

Honda Rookies.

The Honda Rookies were next on the busy program, which was being held very efficiently to a predetermined time schedule. This class has always been one that is hard to predict a winner and nobody was prepared for the dominant display one driver had over the rest. Young Harry Freeman has completed a lot of laps of Bayford Meadows considering his tender age, however they were in a Bambino kart, now he had made the step up to racing cadets.

‘Head down Harry’ won both the Heat and Pre final so lined up on the pole for the main final. Albie Lapper and Archie Beard finished 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Heat and the Pre final saw Leon Knight and Beard securing the top 3 positions .At the lights Freeman was quickly away and setting a scorching pace as Knight held 2nd place with Beard and Levi Machardie next up in 3rd and 4th, Rylan Blake ran 5th with Riley Till 6th.

Onto midrace, Freeman now had a several second lead over the battle for 2nd, until Beard found a way past Leon’s kart on lap 6. Marchardie also moved ahead of Knight into 3rd a lap later.

After 12 laps Harry crossed the finish line 7.8s in front to take a dominant win and fastest lap, Archie Beard celebrated his best ever Bayford Meadows result fist pumping as he finished in front of Knight, who had gotten back ahead of Levi Marchardie to take 3rd. Joel Bullen had moved up to 5th ahead of his teammate Riley Till in 6th. The top 10 were completed by Isaac Doble, Alfie Mew, Rylan Blake and Albie Lapper.

Senior Club Max and 177s

A huge 36 kart entry made up the Senior Club Max and 177 classes, which were split into groups over the 3 qualifying Heats, with two wins going to Jack Steadman, the third to Riley Stephenson. A ‘B’ final was required to find the final 4 qualifiers that completed the 24 kart Final grid.

This was won by circuit veteran Stephen Bouffe who finished 0.8s ahead of Jonathan Harrison, William Tidman and Ben Slipper who completed the 4 A final qualifiers. Five of the 16 karts in the B final were from the 177 class, this was won by circuit returnee Billy Watts, he finished ahead of Joe Perry, Andy Locke, Lewis Holt-Brown and Andy Parish.

Jack Steadman powered his Project One kart away from pole to lead the A final over the opening lap, both Elliot Rice and Jack Bartholomew had usurped front row starter Riley Stephenson to take 2nd and 3rd, however by the end of the lap Stephenson had moved ahead of Bartholomew. Alfie Brookes was 5th from fast starting Caitlin May and Joe Gethin.

As the race settled down Steadman looked comfortable out in front, Rice was coming under increasing pressure from Stephenson’s GMS kart and eventually succumbed on lap 6. Brookes’s Roalf racing kart had pulled clear of Bartholomew and May had dropped down behind Gethin and was soon to slip another spot to Josh Pullen in 7th.

As the laps counted down Steadman’s pace was unrelenting as he went onto win by 1.18s over Stephenson in 2nd. Rice took 3rd in front of the GMS kart of Gethin who had charged up to 4th. Bartholomew who was struggling with inconsistent power still took 5th from Brookes in 6th. Pullen finished 7th, James Tomsett 8th, May had slipped to 9th finishing ahead of Kieran Ives in 10th. The fastest lap went to Stephenson on lap 5.

Junior Club Max.

The last race of an action packed day was for the Junior Club Max class, which was another that enjoyed a bumper grid, with 31 karts entered, this also required a B final to find the final 4 qualifiers for the A final grid. Of the 9 karts in the B final two didn’t make it to the grid as Holly Miall and Joshua Patrick hit problems on the warming up lap.

Class debutants Sebastian Morgan and Ryan Micaleff took the top two places after both hitting troubles earlier in the day. Matthew Copsey and Sam Light were the two other B final qualifiers.

The top 3 places on the A final grid were filled by the gleaming red machines of Project One racing, with Jamie Perrily starting from pole, alongside him and putting up an outstanding performance on his jump up from the Cadet class was Gustavs Usakovs. Ryan Willis was 3rd and qualifying well in was 4th Max Lee’s Roalf racing kart. 

At the 1st corner Perilly found himself out on the concrete run off, losing places to Willis and Lee, Jai Lawrence was 4th ahead of Usakovs in 5th. Declan Russell ran 6th, Mikey Porter’s JAXX kart 7th and Ronnie Mansfield 8th. Perilly was keen to make up for lost time over the opening lap and went from 3rd to 1st in two laps by lap 6!

He then controlled his pace to take a great first win of the year. Lee managed to get the better of Willis to take a very good 2nd place, his recent driver coaching paying off well. Usakovs worked his way back up to 3rd by the finish, topping off a great class debut by passing teammate Willis right near the end. Behind Willis in 5th was Russell who had moved up ahead of Lawrence towards the end of the race.

Mansfield took 7th behind Lawrence, Porter 8th, George Donald 9th and Kieran Janali 10th. Perilly confirmed his outright pace with the fastest lap of the race on the 12th tour.

Full results from the event can be found here – https://results.alphatiming.co.uk/bmkr/2021/20211/

The next owner driver event at the circuit will be on May 16th.

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