Mild temperatures makes for great racing
Mild temperatures makes for great racing

The final round of the inaugural 3 event BMKR Winter Championship was held on Sunday 17th February, under sunny skies and increasingly mild temperatures during the day.

The first two rounds of the series witnessed some good sized grids in all classes and as Sunday was the last chance to race before the summer championships begin in earnest, the entries were further bolstered.

The Bambino Le Conti Winter Cup.

For the final round of the Bambino winter championship, the 12 diminutive drivers were able to race for the Le Conti Cup. This marking the first time that they could match their elder peers by following a race day program, which included qualifying, one heat, a pre final and grand final.

Jesse Phillips headed the grid from pole after winning the pre final and led the field away over 7 laps, as the Union flag was waved by the race starter. Henry Carter tucked in behind in 2nd but soon found that he couldn’t stay with the flying #26 kart of Jesse. Jenson Hookey and Harry Freeman were 3rd and 4th initially until the charging Noah Baglin came flying through. Both Baglin and Freeman had proved their pace in the opening heat but were disqualified post race for a technical infringement, Freeman had then worked his way up to 4th in the pre final and Baglin up to 6th.

Baglin moved past Hookey, Freeman and Carter up to 2nd in one frantic lap, as the Bambino pilots put on a great display of close side by side racing. Out in front Phillip’s lead had looked serene until Baglin started to close in, towing the shuffling pack now in the order of Freeman 3rd, Hookey 4th and Carter back to 5th with him. As the race reached it’s all too soon climax, the top 5 were circulating as one and on the run to the first infield hairpin, Baglin made his move, passing Phillips cleanly. He then managed to hold onto the lead until the chequered flag was waved, Noah’s margin of victory was just 0.17s as Phillips was tucked right in behind going over the finish line in 2nd. Freeman & Hookey crossed the line side by side with the former Harry taking 3rd, 1st in the Winter Championship and fastest lap. Carter took 5th from Jacob Davis in 6th. Completing the top 10 were Rio Licata 7th, Fletcher Jamieson 8th, Ayda Sexton 9th and Alfie Mew in 10th.

Honda Cadet Winter Cup.

The Honda Cadet class has proven popular over the winter championship, with the circuit’s club and Project One promoting the 3 meeting event and being rewarded with good grids. Jamie Perilly has been on scintillating over the three rounds and he continued that trend on Sunday . He started the final from pole position and led the field cleanly away in his Project One kart. His teammate Nathan Marques kept the flying #40 kart of Perilly within sight over the opening laps, until an exciting mid race fight for 2nd place ensued. Consisting of Marques, Ian Margenean, Rylan Echberg and Sonny Mortensen who removed their gloves and fought hard for the runner up spot, even managing to close up on the leader as they did so. After 12 laps of great Cadet action Perilly crossed the line first, with Marques almost pulling alongside as they flashed by the waving chequered flag. Morning fastest qualifier Mortensen brought his C.H.D.D Evolution kart home in a fine 3rd, Echberg took 4th in his Project One kart from the similarly mounted Jai Lawrence in 5th, another P1 kart of Gustav Usakovs took 6th, Timi Jungling 7th, Owen Neave 8th, Margenean 9th and Jack Williamson 10th.

Perilly collected the huge Winter Cup at the post race presentation (one that he won’t lose in a hurry) for taking the winter championship, Marques finished 2nd in both the race and championship and fastest lap driver Ian Margenean (Clarke Karts) collected 3rd in the championship.

Junior Subaru UK.

12 drivers lined up for the Junior Subaru UK final, with the front row consisting of SAIT motorsport’s Kieran Janali and Jayden Neal-Holder, Charlie Hand and Joseph Knight were on row 2,  Rory Burke and Callum Romaine filled row 3. Janali led the rumbling 4/stroke karts away, with Neal-Holder and Hand close behind. As they threaded their way through the infield disaster struck Janali’s CompKart as he inexplicably spun, letting the whole of the field through and rejoining last ! This left the white #75 kart of Neal-Holder out in front and led for 4 laps with the black and orange CHR kart of Hand climbing all over him and eventually as they went into turn 1, Hand pounced to take the lead.

The top 6 were covered by a thread at this point as Knight, Burke, Daniel Hughes and Romaine pressed the two leaders in front. By lap 7 Hughes had brought his GMS kart up into 2nd place and he then started to threaten the leader Hand. Neal-Holder had slipped back to 4th as Knight held 3rd. As we approached the last couple of laps – Hand still had Hughes looking menacing on his bumper with Neal-Holder now breaking clear of Knight and joining in with the battle for the lead. Over the last lap, Neal-Holder and Hughes tangled which dropped them into the clutches of Knight, Burke and Janali, who had made an outstanding recovery drive up from last place. As they completed the 13 laps Hand crossed the line comfortably in 1st, to take the win and winter championship, Knight had outfoxed the others to take 2nd, Burke took 3rd, a recovering Janali 4th, Hughes 5th, Romaine 6th, Neal-Holder ended up 7th from Benjamin Witham 8th, Aaron Deacon 9th and Jack Cooper in 10th.

The fastest lap went to Burke on lap 12, who also finished 2nd overall in the championship from Knight in 3rd.

Junior & Mini Club Max.

Project One karts dominated at their home circuit again in the Junior and Club Max classes, with Will Egby and Ryan Willis taking the class wins. Egby was pushed all the way in the Junior class by his teammate Jack Steadman, with just 0.22s covering them both after 14 laps of close formation racing. Oliver Bullion showed a great turn of speed by keeping the red karts in sight and waiting to pick up on any possible mistakes made from the pair ahead.

Leon Clark (Clark Motorsport) impressed on his class debut by finishing 4th, some 4s back from the leading trio, Caitlin May won the battle of the GMS team girls, by passing Poppi Stephenson for 5th at the end of the race, this after Poppi had driven with some verve from being 9th at the end of the opening lap. Ryan Willis had his Mini Max kart in amongst the Juniors all race, showing some great pace as he finished 7th overall and sealing the winter championship too. Lewie Weaver finished 8th, Chloe Clarke 9th and Brendan Sathees 10th. Will Egby took the junior class winter championship from Steadman and Bullion who also took the race’s fastest lap.

Honda Standard.

11 karts made up the Honda Standard class for this month and Project One’s Gustav Usakovs led away the grid for 12 lap final from pole position. Timo Jungling ran 2nd over the opening laps until he was usurped by a charging Tighe Wratten who had started from 5th on the grid after a troubled pre final. William Murphy and Oscar Osullivan were next up, followed by the trio of Jack Owen-Drawbridge, Kristian Stefanov and Jack Pullen, who having an entertaining race of their own. Wratten was charging hard after Usakovs for the lead of the race and forged ahead at midrace, going on to take a 1.77s victory over Usakovs in 2nd.

Jungling, who like Usakovs, was having a busy day running in both Honda classes, took 3rd. Osullivan and Murphy crossed the finish line side by side with Oscar just taking 4th by a nose cone width from Murphy in 5th. Owen-Drawbridge finished 6th with Stefanov not far behind in 7th. Pullen lost contact with the two ahead after a moment with Stefanov delayed him but still took 8th from Tom Ingram-Hill, Ryan Gwenzi and Callum Sims.The retro 70’s Hesketh F1 kart of Wratten took the fastest lap and also the winter championship, Usakovs was 2nd and Owen-Drawbridge 3rd.

Senior Club Max.

Undeniably one of the success stories of the BMKR winter championships has been the excellent Senior grid. A mixture of old and new kart champions, plus drivers moving up into the class from the junior rankings, taking on the some of the circuit’s local specialists. Last month’s encounter went the way of one of the young guns, as Riley Stephenson won a close final from Elliot Rice and Jack Bartholomew.

Qualifying for this month went the way of former circuit junior champion Oliver Appleby, who was absent last month, in his Clarke kart run machine. Rice, Bartholomew and Stephenson were next up, with James Tomsett and Thomas Lawson completing the rapid top 6 . Heat 1 went to Appleby, from Bartholomew and Rice.  Appleby then took a very competitive pre final win, this time from Rice, Bartholomew, Stephenson, Tomsett and Joe Gethin, which set the grid for the grand final.

Track position proved crucial at the rolling start for the final, as Appleby got away well from pole, Bartholomew used his past experience by gluing himself to the fast starting Clarke kart’s bumper, forcing Rice to go around the outside at turn 1, this cost Rice dearly and also those behind running from the outside grid slots, with Stephenson and Gethin following Rice wide on the corner exit. Jack Wall squeezed his way inside Tomsett at turn 1 too, which helped Declan Lee to make several places up from his 8th grid slot. At the end of the first lap, Appleby led, Lamborghini Super Trofeo driver Bartholomew, Rice, Wall, Lee, Stephenson and Tomsett.

A lap later we lost two of the top runners when Stephenson misjudged an overtake on Lee at the first infield hairpin, locking his brake and clipping the Project One kart ahead, both karts and drivers out on the spot. GMS driver was very remorseful post race, apologising to those who had worked so hard for him over the weekend, it was a rare mistake from last month’s winner. Lee’s race was over too soon, but thankfully he completed enough distance to guarantee him the winter championship title.

Back to the front of the race, it looked as though Appleby had things under control as Bartholomew could not mount a challenge, he was too busy fending off Rice who looked very rapid around the tighter parts of the circuit and yet unable to find a way past. Tomsett was setting some very fast times and moved ahead of Wall into 4th, Joshua Pullen too was moving up and found away past Wall’s GMS machine, putting two Clarke karts in top 5. As we went into the last lap Appleby had the race in his pocket and took the win by just over a second, Rice managed to draw alongside Bartholomew on the last lap, but couldn’t make the pass work, leaving the positions unchanged as they crossed the line.

Tomsett crossed the line 4th , a post 5s race nose drop penalty, dropped him to 5th behind the Pullen. Joe Gethin got ahead of Wall in 6th and Thomas Lawson recovered from a major pre final moment, to finish 8th behind Wall. 9th and 10th were Mike Ashby and Kieran Ives after Jonathan Dalton too received a 5s post race penalty(dropping him to 11th), despite crossing the line in 8th. Bartholomew netted the fastest lap on lap 7 of 14 proving that he really is enjoying his karting return. With Lee’s Project One taking the championship from Pullen’s Clarke Kart and Tomsett’s SAIT run kart in 3rd, the young guns are clearly ready for the year ahead after moving up from the junior ranks last year and the inter team battles are also hotting up nicely.

The first round of the Summer BMKR Championship kicks off next month and coincides with the opening Kent Championship round on March 17th.