A clear, crisp morning greeted the competitors for the final round at the ultra fast Northamptonshire circuit. A great track too with the fast opening turn, aptly named Oblivion, the long uphill drag into the Christmas complex, down the slope through the flat out Inkermans and into the heavy breaking zone for the Ashby hairpin. Easier on the exit now that the huge Kart breaking kerb has gone. Then it’s on to the left hand Parkers with its notorious bump in the breaking zone and down into the adverse camber Chapman’s before blasting along the short straight and into the left and two right hander’s which make up the Boot complex. Out of the turn its hard acceleration into the right hander leading on to the start and finish straight. It’s a track for the brave with plenty of overtaking opportunities. And what a mouth-watering day in prospect with Championship’s still up for grabs and the coveted ‘e’ plate honours also on offer. The day when a long hard, season would finally end with joy for some and heartbreak for others. A day for firsts and the day when we were all reminded the importance of reading the rules. Here’s how it all unfolded.
With Oliver Gray having clinched the Championship at Buckmore the focus was on the ‘e’ plate and the battle for the runner up slot between Christian Lilley and leading Rookie Milo Pilfold. Dillon Reed had been fastest in the warm up but it was Thomas Harvey who was the early pacesetter. We’ve often seen this season that the quickest times have been set early in the session but after the rains of Saturday it appeared that the circuit was beginning to rubber in with the majority of drivers setting their quickest times beyond the mid-point of the session. But the times were oh so close. Lilley went fastest on his seventh tour with a 53.445 and no one could better him. Nathan Tye was just 0.490 behind. And he was down in sixteenth!! How competitive is that? Harvey was second with Kylen Ingram and Reed on Row two. Championship leader and ‘e’plate defender Gray never threatened pole and would start fifth alongside leading Rookie Pilfold who was already reporting a down on power motor. Louis Ross and George Whitehouse were on four with Charlie Humphreys and second highest Rookie Ella Stevens completing the top ten.
Once again the front runners set their best laps towards the end of the session. Morgan Wroot was an early pacesetter before falling back whilst Harry Graham and Will Martin topped the times at one stage chased hard by Tyrone Stansfield and Scott Huntley. Championship leader Toby Goodman looked to be struggling mid pack before suddenly vaulting to the top of the timing board. That wasn’t the end of the fun though as Huntley suddenly dug deep to go quickest ahead of Stansfield and Graham with Goodman dropping back but ahead of Martin, Samuel Cunliffe and Harry Barlow who was struggling to find some pace. On his second to last lap Stansfield vaulted back to the top and that looked to be it before Goodman flew round on his last lap to take the honours by just 0.029. Stirring stuff. Front row then to Goodman and Stansfield with Martin and Graham on row two Huntley having suffered a penalty and being dropped to row three alongside Cunliffe. Barlow fought doggedly to wind up seventh alongside Skye Siddall with Thomas Massarella and Morgan Cole completing the top ten.
A disappointingly low entry for the Senior Masters with not one Super Master in attendance. Still, the field might have lacked quantity but there was certainly plenty of quality. Sam Dimelow needed very little on the day to clinch the Championship but he was determined to take the title in style after a disappointing round at Buckmore. Joe Richardson was initially quickest before Dimelow exerted his authority to head the field only for Richardson to snatch the spot back. His joy lasted but one lap though as Dimelow went quickest never to be headed. The battle for the front row though was really intense. Ben Yeomans made it briefly before Neil Fisher bested him. But Richardson wasn’t done and sprung back to second. Fisher fought back but couldn’t quite get on terms. The gap? 0.003. The blink of an eye. Yeomans had to settle for fourth with Sam Fisher and Roland Breadner behind on the third row. George Friday and Shaun Port shared row four with Grand Master Mark Lawrence and Rookie Jake White-Rowell completing the top ten. Jim Rainbird, Ben Nicholls and Andrew English completed the runners. For Lawrence it was first blood over Rainbird in the fight for the Grand Master crown, the two of them separated by just four points coming into the event.
Sam Faulkner left Buckmore Park topping the table and thus the favourite to take the crown at the final round. But it was not to be. It had been pointed out that Sam had fallen foul of rule 1.5.14 which states that a competitor is not allowed to drop a zero score if he has not competed in that particular round. So his dropped score from GYG doesn’t count dropping him down to eighth in the standings and handing the crown to Kieran McCullough. Richard Evans, Matt Pearce, Ami Jerger, Matas Grigaulaskas, Jonathan Collins, Mantas Ziromskas and Jake Welsby were others to suffer. But rules are rules.
Good to see reigning ‘e’plate champion Jack Golding back to defend his crown after a season away and he was quickly on the pace but it was McCullough who laid down a marker early on to leave the rest fighting for second. Despite continuing to lap though McCullough wasn’t improving whilst Golding, Pat Lay, Faulkner and Evans continued to nibble away at the clock. Golding went top after his eighth lap and that looked to have settled the grid but Evans put in a stormer, almost a tenth shy of the flying Golding but just 0.001 ahead of McCullough with Lay just 0.010 further back. Faulkner was fifth with Jake Welsby alongside and Hunter and Pearce on row four whist Jay Hudman and Ami Jerger completed the top ten.
Lilley led the field away from pole with Harvey, Ingram, Reed and Gray in hot pursuit. Pilfold though was slow away and dropped behind Ross and a very fast starting Oscar Blanchard. Nathan Tye was another fast starter taking advantage of Dylan Brierley and Freddie Tomlinson having a bit of a moment. They all made it safely round the first lap though with Lilley pulling a slight advantage. With three laps run Harvey began to pressure Lilley for the lead. Having had a go at Ashby on a couple of occasions but not quite making it stick he closed right up into the complex. Lilley defended into the last turn but lost momentum and Harvey took him across the line. A lap later and Ingram lost third as Reed and Gray moved ahead at the uphill Christmas corner. Gray was picking up the pace having bided his time sweeping by Reed who also lost out to Ingram in the same move. Ross meanwhile was running in a strong sixth and biding his time. Harvey continued to lead but Lilley was now coming under increased pressure from Gray the latter moving ahead into Ashby. The move seemed to unsettle Lilley a little and in consecutive laps he found himself demoted to fourth behind Ingram. It was still anyone’s race though. Harvey though was controlling the pace superbly at the front despite Gray stuck almost to his bumper whilst behind these two Ingram, Lilley, Reed and Ross were having a mighty fight changing places several times over the lap. The race though belonged to Harvey who took his first ever win just a tenth ahead of Gray whilst Ingram held on to third ahead of Ross, Lilley and Reed. These six had opened up quite a gap by the flag from the following pack led as they started the final lap by Pilfold. Such was the fervour of battle though that he would eventually finish thirteenth! Humphreys claimed seventh from Stevens, Campbell-Pilling and Blanchard. But, as ever, it was very close racing. Reed set fastest lap with Stevens quickest Rookie.
Goodman led the field away into the first turns chased by Stansfield and Martin but Graham lost out badly dropping to fourth behind Huntley and Barlow whilst Cunliffe dropped back to ninth. Goodman continued to lead but he wasn’t getting away and as the field dived down into Ashby Stansfield made a move for the lead. It didn’t come off and as he and Goodman ran onto the concrete apron Martin darted by into the lead followed by Huntley with Barlow just behind in fifth a kart length ahead of Siddall. A lap later and it was all change again as Huntley got a run on Martin up the hill to take over at the front with Goodman behind the latter having usurped Stansfield who dropped to fourth. A lap later and Goodman was back at the front ahead of Huntley with Stansfield back into third after an ambitious move on Martin around the Boot. Too ambitious as it turned out as he collided with Martin sending the latter into an arm waving moment which saw him drop back to ninth as the field streamed by. Stansfield would be penalised two places. Goodman took full advantage of the battle behind and pulled a few Kart lengths on Huntley who had Barlow right on his bumper ahead of Stansfield. Barlow was particularly quick through the first turns and up the hill and made his pace tell by out dragging Huntley to move into second. And that was how they stayed to the flag. Goodman took the win from the chasing Barlow who had to defend from Huntley on the final tour. Graham recovered well after his early drama and with Stansfields penalty took fourth ahead of Siddall. Stansfield placed sixth ahead of a chasing group led by Massarella, Wroot and Martin. But Martin also took a penalty allowing Charlotte Fox and Jake Mills to complete the top ten. Stansfield set fastest lap with Siddall fastest Rookie.
Dimelow quickest away with Richardson tucked in behind. Yeomans lost out as Neil Fisher and a flying Breadner both got the better start whilst Sam Fisher dropped a spot and Port kept a watching brief in seventh. Whilst Dimelow continued to lead it was all getting very feisty behind. Richardson was looking particularly ragged behind whilst Fisher was getting particularly aggressive and with four gone moved into second with Breadner fourth from Yeomans and Sam Fisher fifth. Richardson though battled back and a couple of laps later was back up into second. Dimelow was up the road and gone. Two thirds distance and it was all change again as Fisher dived down the inside of Richardson into Ashby. It was all a bit scruffy and Richardson came off worst, much to the chagrin of his fan club. Breadner took full advantage and moved into second ahead of Fisher and Yeomans with Richardson now running fifth ahead of Sam Fisher whose race would shortly end with an engine problem. Last lap and it looked like game over but Fisher was intent on second and dispatched Breadner with a clean move. Breadner was determined to tough it out and it cost him dearly as Yeomans also went by. But he too had been slightly baulked and Richardson shot by into third. Dimelow then took the win from Fisher and Richardson with Yeomans half a second adrift in fourth from Breadner and Friday sixth after a somewhat lonely run. Lawrence took seventh ahead of Rainbird and Port. A good three way battle this. White-Rowell and Nichols completed the runners Andrew English having retired after nine laps. Yeomans set fastest lap with Lawrence fastest Grand Master.
A nasty incident at the start saw Ami Jerger thrown from her Kart at the exit of Oblivion but she was quickly up and back in the seat fortunately without serious injury. Karters are made to endure. Golding led the field away from the restart with McCullough in his wheel tracks but it was Faulkner up to third after starting a little quicker than Evans with Lay, Hunter and Welsby holding station just behind. One gone and McCullough slipped by into the lead but a lap later it was Golding back in front. Evans tried to follow him by McCullough in the Boot and the latter was forced wide which held up both drivers allowing Faulkner through into second and promoting Lay and Hunter into third and fourth with Welsby fifth. Evans recovered to sixth whilst a clearly rattled McCullough crossed the line seventh waving his arms at Evans in the hope presumably of trying to get him a penalty. It was to no avail. Golding now had Faulkner and Lay closing in on him and into the Boot with four to go Faulkner dived inside and took Lay with him. Hunter wasn’t quite close enough to take advantage. In any event he had his hands full fending off the recovering Evans, who had quickly dispensed Welsby. At the front though Golding was determined to regain a spot and made a move into Chapman’s. It was ambitious and he spun later admitting that it was a stupid move. Evans meanwhile was really flying, swiftly dispensing with Hunter and then getting the better of Lay as they crossed the start and finish line at the start of the last lap. But it was Faulkner’s race. Evans came home second, and set fastest lap, with Lay third from Hunter. McCullough took fifth, just, by 0.086 after an audacious move on the final tour. Jerger came home seventh. A good race after her early drama. Elliot Stanley took eighth ahead of a chastened Golding who was fastest of the non-Jedi runners. Jonathan Corry rounded out the top ten. Matt Rainbow put in a shift moving up eight places in the race. He might have finished outside the top ten but it was a good drive nevertheless.
Harvey led the field away chased hard by pole man Gray whilst Ross got the better of Ingram to slot into third. Not surprisingly Lilley got a great start to push Reed down to sixth whilst Humphreys got ahead of Stevens for seventh. Blanchard lost out badly spinning to the rear of the field. Two laps in and Gray was intent on taking over at the front and duly slipped inside Harvey at Chapman’s whilst behind Reed had fought back to third at the expense of Lilley, Ross and Ingram who ran wide in the Boot and fell back to eighth. At the front Reed moved swiftly into second demoting Harvey. Reed was really flying at this point and was particularly committed through the first turns. Up the hill he pulled alongside Gray and through into the lead. Good stuff. Behind, Harvey had Lilley close at hand and was soon down to fourth.
At the mid-point of the race the top five were breaking away from the pack although Ingram was fighting back. It was easy to overlook the fight for seventh as most eyes were on the absorbing battle at the front. Stevens was doing a great job holding off the challenge of Ross, Stanton, Pilfold and Gurney. At the front though Reed had his head down and pulled a couple of Kart lengths on Gray aided by the latter defending hard from Lilley, Harvey and the charging Ingram. Lilley made it through into second and set about catching Reed setting fastest lap in the process. Into the Boot complex he made his move, briefly taking the lead only to lose momentum and drop back to fifth behind Harvey, Gray and Ingram. Over the final laps it was still anyone’s race as moves and counter moves went on all round the lap but over the line the order remained static and Reed crossed the some three tenths to the good for his first ever win in Easykart. Harvey came home in second ahead of Gray with Ingram and Harvey close behind. Ross took sixth and then by Cadet standards a huge gap back to leading Rookie Pilfold who had fought hard from fourteenth. Stevens took eighth ahead of Gurney and Stanton. Great racing yet again from the Cadets.
Goodman made the most of pole to lead the field away from Barlow with Graham getting the better of Huntley for third. Stansfield and Wroot were both on the move quickly dispensing of Siddall for fifth and sixth respectively whilst Massarella held eighth. Two down and Goodman still led from Barlow whilst Huntley had moved ahead of Graham for third which a lap later became fifth as Stansfield moved by into fourth. Lap after lap the leaders came through as if joined by a length of rope. So close on pace and ability that on the seventh lap Barlow, Huntley and Stansfield all recorded the same lap time. And Graham was still in the mix. But Siddall was closing in and as they braked into Ashby with four laps remaining she dived through into fifth taking Massarella with her. At the front Goodman now had to defend hard from a very determined Barlow. Coast and collect is not something Harry does and with two to go he got a good run out of Christmas and Inkermans to make a serious challenge for the lead. He didn’t quite make it and lost a touch of momentum allowing Huntley through in a do or die move which all looked a bit scruffy but didn’t warrant any sanction. Goodman though was home free and reeled off the remaining lap to record another win and put the Championship beyond doubt. Huntley came home second ahead of a slightly miffed Barlow with Stansfield just off the pace in fourth. Siddall came home fifth and leading Rookie ahead of Martin. Graham took eighth ahead of Wroot whilst Massarella wound up tenth losing places on the final lap. Huntley set fastest lap with Martin fastest Rookie.
Dimelow led the field away but it was Richardson chasing him as Neil Fisher had two horrendous laps dropping to fifth behind Yeomans and Breadner. Andrew English was a non starter whilst Sam Fisher was making up places rapidly from the back of the grid. Having climbed up to sixth however his race was run after just six laps with seized engine. Again. At the front Dimelow continued to eke out the lead but there was drama unfolding. His exhaust was coming loose and the penalty was shown on the digi board above the start and finish line. He ignored it claiming later he didn’t see it. Neither did I. The sun was particularly strong at this point and from my position it was nigh on impossible to read. His continuing contributed to the main talking point of the race. The race for second was a real battle headed by Richardson from Yeomans and Fisher who had fought his way back past Breadner. With ten gone it all got a bit untidy through Christmas and out of Inkermans. Richardson moved right to defend but in a heartbeat he was rotated on to the grass having been tagged by Fisher. Yeomans got forced wide into Ashby and lost time but held off Breadner to retain third. Unfortunately the incident was missed by the observers as radio traffic between them regarding Dimelow was particularly heavy. It was unfortunate and just one of those things. Richardson resumed in seventh. The action wasn’t over though as Breadner made a move on Yeomans that even he considered unfair handing the place back over the start and finish line. He was already carrying a two place penalty from an earlier incident. Dimelow crossed the line first only to be excluded and handing a very fortunate win to Neil Fisher. Yeomans came home second with a surprised George Friday in third after Breadners penalty. Ben Nichols took fourth after a stunning drive through the field. At one stage he was dead last. Richardson took sixth whilst Lawrence took another step towards the Grand Master honours with rival Rainbird in ninth. Port split them in eighth whilst White-Rowell completed the finishers in tenth.
Faulkner led the grid away and up the hill chased hard by Evans but it was Hunter in third ahead of Lay with McCullough fifth. Welsby, Jerger and Stanley all slipped back behind a very fast starting Golding. Whilst Faulkner continued at the front Lay was fighting his way past Hunter for third taking McCullough with him. Golding was closing rapidly on Hunter with Welsby and Jerger following closely and at quarter distance he was through into fifth and flying. Welsby and Jerger both took advantage to move themselves ahead of Hunter. It was hard but fair racing. At the front Faulkner continued to lead but Evans was now coming under pressure from Lay. Into the Boot Lay went for it. The two touched and ran a little wide allowing McCullough through into second whilst Golding took the opportunity to move into fourth. A lap later though and Lay was back ahead of McCullough who also lost out to Golding. Lay immediately began reducing the gap to Faulkner and with a string of personal bests was on his tail with just two to run. Up the hill and Faulkner was defending. Through Inkermans and down into Ashby he looked to have fought off the challenge but Lay made a great move into Chapman’s and Faulkner gave him just enough racing room not to force the issue. Golding was right behind and looking for second but Faulkner kept it all together to hold the position. Lay crossed the just over a tenth to the good from Faulkner who was forced to defend manfully from the flying Golding. The gap was just 0.070 at the flag. McCullough took fourth but only just. Evans was just 0.047 adrift as they crossed the line. Jerger took sixth after another good drive. She’d managed to pull a gap from the fighting Hunter and Welsby who finished in that order. Rainbow took ninth ahead of Pearce who had put in storming drive moving himself up ten places. Jonathan Collins too put in brilliant drive moving up twelve places. Golding set fastest lap with Evans quickest Jedi.
The final race of the season for the Cadets with second in the Championship still to be settled and the all important ‘e’ plate to play for. Reed got a great start from pole and Harvey tucked in behind as they raced up the hill. Gray though was down to fifth from his third placed spot behind Ingram and Lilley. Ross was sixth whilst Pilfold and Stanton made gains at the expense of Stevens. Uncharacteristically for the Cadets the order settled for a few laps. But it did allow the front five to pull steadily away from Ross in sixth who now had Pilfold right on his bumper and needing to make rapid gains if he was to hold on to second in the Championship. Stevens spun at the start of the Boot and lost a lap whilst Oscar Blanchards Dad rendered assistance. Ironically Oscar made a move under the yellow at the corner and would be excluded from the results. The leading three remained as you were but Gray moved himself up to fourth at the expense of Lilley. His position lasted for just one lap before Lilley eased by. Eight laps gone and Reed held a couple of tenths lead from Harvey, Ingram Lilley and Gray. Pilfold was holding sixth ahead of Ross both well clear of Gurney in eighth. Reed was controlling the race beautifully at the front and easing away from Harvey who was now defending from Lilley. With three to run Lilley braved it out into the Boot and took Harvey for second. In a flash both Gray and Ingram followed him though. But could they catch Reed? Well, the gap came down but it was Reed who took the flag for his first ever Final win in his last Cadet race before moving up to the juniors. And of course he had the ‘e’plate trophy as well. Lilley took second and second in the standings whilst Gray took third ahead of Ingram and Harvey. These five were truly the class of the field at Whilton. Pilfold came home sixth and leading Rookie just a tenth ahead of Ross with Stanton behind. He suffered a four place penalty however which dropped him from the top ten. Gurney, Tye and Whitehouse completed the top ten.
It was a very happy podium with Dillon Reed taking his first ever win and giving a great interview as well. A very eloquent young man. Christian Lilley had his usual huge smile and cheekily asked if he could run with the ‘e’ plate in 2017 as Dillon is moving up. The refusal didn’t stop him smiling. Oliver Gray didn’t look too upset with third. After all, he’s won the Championship and by a huge margin.
Goodman led Barlow into the first turns and as they headed into Christmas the two of them had a huge lead over Stansfield in third. Everyone made it through the corner but it had clearly been a bit frantic as Siddall hung on to fourth. Huntley dropped from third to sixth whilst Martin hung on to fifth. Graham lost out too, falling to ninth, whilst Massarella and Wroot gained a place each. Goodman and Barlow were line astern at the front but Stansfield was beginning to close the gap whilst Martin got ahead of Siddall for fourth with Huntley static in sixth. Barlow had a couple of looks at Goodman into Christmas but the leader held firm whilst Stansfield kept a watching brief in third. Martin though was down to seventh as Siddall took him into Ashby taking Huntley and Massarela through too. Barlow then tried a different approach diving down the inside into Ashby. It worked too. But not for long. Sweeping into the second part of the Boot Goodman jinked to the right. It was pretty audacious and could have put them both out but Barlow gave him racing room and the two came out side by side but with Goodman better placed to take the final corner. Good, hard and fair racing. Siddall held fourth but Huntley had now slipped back to eighth behind Massarella, Martin, and Graham. Massarella was really flying and a lap later nipped by Siddall for fourth. A lap later and she was down to eighth. At the front Barlow got a great run up the hill and scythed by Goodman into the lead. This time he held it too, defending just as she should. A lap later though and it was Goodman’s turn to benefit from the tow and he was back into the lead at Christmas with just three to go. Barlow tried really hard over those last laps with Stansfield just a couple of lengths back. But it was to no avail and Goodman held on to take a hard earned but well deserved win and a clean sweep on the day. It was a great way to confirm the Championship crown and the ‘e’plate honours. Massarella held onto fourth from Graham with Huntley sixth from Martin who also took the Rookie honours. Siddall and Cole finished eighth and ninth with Connor Brown tenth. A good result for him on his return from injury.
Friday had dropped from third down to sixth but all eyes were on Champion elect Dimelow starting last. How high could he get. Seventh at the end of lap one was a good start. At the front Fisher continued to lead from Yeomans but it was Richardson now into third at the expense of Nichols who had also fallen behind Breadner. And Dimelow was closing. Fast. It took a couple of laps and then he was into fifth. Fisher still led from Yeomans and Richardson with Breadner fourth but falling into the clutches of the flying Dimelow. Just before half distance Dimelow was on his bumper. Into the Boot Breadner defended but lost a little momentum. Out of the Boot and Dimelow moved to the inside but Breadner moved to close the door as he had a perfect right to do. Unfortunately Dimelow was carrying much more speed and despite his best efforts, climbing the kerb on the inside, they touched. In a instant Breadner was backwards into the tyres and stationary. Dimelow penalised four places but still flying. Meanwhile Richardson moved into second taking Yeomans at Christmas whilst down the order Sam Fisher was posting his third retirement of the day with another engine failure. At the front Fisher continued to lead from Richardson and Yeomans chased hard by Dimelow who in consecutive laps dealt with them both to move into second. On the final lap he made it by into first to win on the road but it was a pyrrhic victory. Still, he might have lost the race and the ‘e’plate crown but did have the overall Championship to celebrate. Neill Fisher then took the ‘e’plate honours with Richardson second and Yeomans third. Friday took fourth ahead of Dimelow with Nichols sixth. Lawrence won the battle for the Grand Master honours and sealed the Championship just a couple of tenths ahead of Rainbird. Breadner was the last classified runner.
And so to the final race of the season. Lay on pole from Faulkner. The reigning Champion alongside the man who should have been Champion with the reigning ‘e’plate Champion Golding third and Champion elect McCullough alongside him. And just behind these the very feisty Evans with Jerger alongside him. Hunter and Welsby on four with Rainbow and Pearce on five. Lay led away from Faulkner with Golding slotting in behind whilst Evans moved himself into fourth ahead of McCullough and Jerger. With just two laps run Lay and Faulkner were beginning to get away. Evans was intent on third and made a move on Golding at the boot. They both lost time running wide allowing McCullough by them both. Out of the turn and down to the final corner they briefly tangled. Golding got airborne and ran wide whilst Evans continued unharmed. It was adjudged a racing incident and there were no complaints from either driver. Golding though took a lap to gather himself up by which time he had dropped to ninth. Evans was quickly back into his stride and chasing down McCullough whilst Lay and Faulkner continued to ever so slightly increase their advantage. With seven gone Evans got a tow up the hill and took McCullough into Christmas for third. By this point the leaders were over two seconds up the road but both were beginning to lose a little pace and Evans and McCullough began to close the gap. But only by a few hundredths. Faulkner had a couple of looks at Lay for the lead but whilst he had the pace to stay with him he couldn’t quite get a move done. And Evans and McCullough were now visibly closer. With four to go it was suddenly a four way battle for the lead. Two to go and Faulkner felt he had to have a go. Feeling robbed of the Championship he had nothing to lose. It was the ‘e’plate or nothing. He lunged down the inside into Ashby. It didn’t come off and although Lay ran wide he still had momentum. Evans and McCullough both slipped by the luckless Faulkner and that’s how it remained to the flag. Golding recovered to fifth having caught and passed Jerger into the Boot complex. His charge also saw him set fastest lap. Indeed, he was quick all day. Jerger’s sixth was a fine effort. Pearce came home seventh just ahead of Hunter who would take a two place penalty and drop to tenth. Welsby and Hudman took eighth and ninth.
Oliver Gray was unbeatable at the start of the season winning the heats and finals at the first two rounds and was on course to make it three from three before Milo Pilfold snatched the win on the final lap at Llandow. Thereafter he wasn’t quite so dominant but it wasn’t a case of a dip in form, it was more that the rest of the drivers upped their game. Nevertheless four more wins followed including a clean sweep at GYG. He doesn’t just rely on pace either. He’s very tactically aware; witness how he controls the pace when he’s on pole. If he has one flaw it’s his aggressive defensive driving which sometimes sees him sweep back across the track from the inside to take his line. I suspect it’s this that cost him the win at Llandow. A very worthy champion though and my number one in the Cadets.
Christian Lilley took second in the standings. His Championship challenge really didn’t get underway until a clean sweep at Ellough served notice of intent Thereafter he was always a front runner and gradually began to creep up the standings taking a further win with a simply breathtaking drive at Buckmore. Yes he made a few errors but he always bounced back. There was a kind of inevitably that he would snatch second spot from Milo Pilfold at the final round. But where do I place him in my unofficial league?
Leading Rookie Milo Pilfold took third in the standings scoring a couple a couple of wins too. He was second only to Gray at the second round at Teeside and then beat him at Llandow. For the most part he was always a threat. Whilst third overall disappointed him he should take great pride in winning the Rookie title by a considerable margin. It doesn’t get much better than racing in your first season and winning a title. But where do I place him in my unofficial league? I could make a strong case for either Milo or Christian so I’m placing them equal second. Dillon Reed placed fourth and takes fourth in my league. He’s moving up next year and I have a sneaking suspicion that the move will suit him well. For the most part he always seemed to be in contention for the podiums and had three third place finishes in the early part of the season and then a second at Clay. The final round though was all his with his first ever win in the pre-final and his second win in the final giving him the ‘e’plate crown. A great way to end his Cadet career.
Louis Ross took fifth and I make him fifth too. He started with a couple of seconds at Shennington but it wasn’t until round six that he was up there again. Still, a good consistent season. I don’t recall him ever getting a penalty either. Certainly a season to build on.
Toby Goodman started the season as the favourite to win the Championship after his Rookie win in 2015. His season didn’t get off to the start he wanted although he was on the podium in third. Second at round two and then third again at round three it wasn’t until round four at Ellough that he was able to dominate taking a clean sweep and then repeating the feat at GYG the next round. He made it a hat trick of wins at Clay and looked on course to virtually settle the title at Buckmore taking a heat win and comfortably leading the pre-final before engine trouble forced him out. He was forced to retire from the final too with a puncture. If his confidence was at all dented it didn’t show as he produced a master class at the final round with a clean sweep sealing the Championship and the ‘e’plate crown. A richly deserving winner. Ty Stansfield took second spot. A great result this after his move up from Cadets. His season started with a stunning and surprising win at Shenington where he took a clean sweep. But it is a circuit he clearly loves having put in an outstanding drive to win in the Cadets the year before. Round two and he was well on the pace again but suffered an exclusion at the next round with a technical issue. He bounced back two rounds later with a couple of seconds and had two more seconds in the pre-final at rounds six and seven before taking third at the final round. He was always in the hunt showing consistently good pace.
Scott Huntley took third. His season was a bit of a slow burner and he didn’t appear to get into the groove until halfway through the year. Third at GYG was the start of a good run of form which saw him take a pre-final win at Clay and a second place podium spot in the final. Buckmore was another second on the podium behind Skye Siddall followed by another second in the pre-final at Whilton.
Harry Barlow was fourth but takes second in my league ahead of Ty and Scott. That may seem a little harsh on them but taking into account race wins Harry outscored them. Likewise with podiums. He also had some wretched luck. At Buckmore he was just about to move into the lead when he was forced out after his chain guard came adrift. He was never afraid to take chances either but always acknowledges things when he gets it’s wrong. He’s a real racer hewn from Yorkshire stone. For me he just shades the other two. He’s also the driver that Toby most fears. Oh, and his mum made me a cup of tea. I am very cheap!
Whenever Harry Grahams name comes up it always seems to be accompanied by the word fifth. Fifth in the Championship and fifth in my league. A great season though having stepped up from the Cadets and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without a smile on his face even when things haven’t gone so well. A couple of podiums was a decent haul for a driver who was always in the fight for honours. In fifth…
Will Martin took the Rookie crown after a consistent season. A great second place at Ellough was the highlight of his season but he kept racking up the points to beat Skye Siddal by a healthy margin. Skye deserves a mention in dispatches too for her wonderful two drives at Buckmore netting first in the pre-final and first in the final. She just needs to add a little consistency.
What a shame that this Championship ended the way it did. Kieran McCullough had conceded that the Championship had got away from him with one round to go. But then he read the rule book. And no one should criticise him for this. Every one of us has the opportunity to read the rules and every competitor should be aware of what is, and is not, permissible. That said, I personally think there is a patent ambiguity in the rules with one rule stating that the positions will be determined by the best seven from eight. It doesn’t say six from seven. And there were many drivers in the paddock who expressed real concern about the rule regarding not entering, the feeling being that if you had to miss a round through illness, work, holidays etc and you couldn’t use that as a dropped score then all chances of winning the Championship were effectively gone so why bother racing? The litmus test for any rule is to ask is it fair to all? I feel sure that this is going to be looked at. But Kieran takes the crown and the Jedi honours. Grant Hunter takes second and second Jedi. A good driver and a lovely bloke who very rarely moans and if he does it’s always done very politely. Perhaps he needs to add a little steel to his countenance. He scored one podium throughout the year with third place at the penultimate round. He takes fifth in my little league.
Jay Hudman takes third. His best finish was a fourth at Ellough Park but he kept steadily racking up the points throughout the year.
Elliot Stanley takes fourth. His best, and only top ten finish was a ninth at GYG but again he kept racking up the points in mid-table.
Sometimes when you lose you are still a winner. There was huge wave of sympathy for Sam Faulkner at the final round. To lose the title in such contentious circumstances would have seriously sapped the spirit of most drivers. But not this young man. He knows what he’s achieved this year and he is without doubt the moral winner. Stepping up from the Juniors he’s really shone this year. Yes, he’s made a few mistakes whilst fighting for wins but coast and collect is not his way. Seven times in pre-finals and finals he’s crossed the line first. The next best is four. Had he turned up at GYG and done one qualifying lap he would be Champion. But he didn’t and ‘rules is rules.’ He’s my top driver in the lights followed by Kieran.
Third in my league goes to Pat Lay. Pat was never going to do the full season but when he raced he really raced. Two outright wins from five starts including the ‘e’plate at the final round. A round which he was going to do only entering on the Sunday morning. Two more second places. What a Championship it would have been had he raced all year. The reigning Champion might have surrendered his crown but he’s still a class act.
Fourth place in my unofficial league goes to Richard Evans, another to fall foul of the missing a round rule. Rich is one hard, seriously brave racer. He scraps for everything. And he rarely complains. He just shrugs his shoulders and gets on with it. Three podiums with a second at the final round looks scant reward for a very good season.
Sam Dimelow, Masters Champion. Has a nice ring to it. The question everyone seems to ask is would he have beaten reigning three times Champion Joe Paterson this year had Joe not withdrawn. I certainly think so. Joe won at Shennington from Sam but was well beaten into third at Teeside by Sam and Ben Yeomans. He was indifferent at Llandow but took a great win in the damp at Ellough. At GYG he was simply woeful. Despite a drive from the back of the grid he took several penalties culminating in a last lap coming together with Joe Richardson which both drivers could have avoided. That was his last race. Sam meanwhile was racking up wins and points. First at Teeside the ‘beard that’s feared’ was on a role. First again at Llandow, third at Ellough, back on the top step at GYG followed by a second at Clay when he chased down Joe Richardson. Another lap and he would surely have won there too. He was out of luck at Buckmore but by then the title was almost beyond doubt. A broken exhaust cost him a pre-final win at Whilton and a coming together at Whilton saw him a penalised down to fourth after being first on the road. A very worthy Champion and my top driver in the class. Ben Yeomans took second. It’s worth remembering that Ben was only off the podium once in eight races. That takes some doing. A solid season. He’s also my number two.
Joe Richardson took third. H also took two wins including a clean sweep at Buckmore. One of the most popular drivers around he’s benefitted greatly from having his highly experienced Dad John running him this year. It did seem to take Joe a few races to get into the groove but when he did he showed his class. Third in my league too and perhaps unfortunate not to be second.
The ever smiling Sam Fisher took fourth and fourth from me too. Sam was invariably quick on Saturdays and always in the mix on Sundays but never quite quick enough. Still, a couple of third places wasn’t a bad reward.
Fifth was George Friday. Another driver to garner the points and fifth was just reward. His best was two fourth place finishes.
Fifth in my league though goes to Neil Fisher. He might have lacked some consistency this year but he has been fighting for wins towards the end of the season. Yes, his win at Whilton did owe something to fortune but then, we all need a little luck sometimes.
A great season then. Thanks to everyone for making the year so memorable including all the marshals, the medics and of course to Niki Richardson, Dan Underhill and Johnny Goddard for performing what is often a very difficult task as clerk of the course and observers respectively. They will never got everything right but it is a really tough task and they do it commendably well. Thanks also to the pit lane crew and timing officials and to all the mechanics and mums and dads who support the series.
Finally we end on a sad note. John Vigor announced that after ten years it’s time to call a halt. JV, as he is affectionately know throughout Karting, will be sorely missed. A very hard act to follow with his superb organisational skills, ready wit and great turn of phrase on the microphone. I’m sure everyone connected with Easykart wishes him and everyone at Club 100 all the very best for the future.
I’ll be back next Spring and am already looking forward to it. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read the reports. The feedback is greatly appreciated.
Have a great winter break.
Me? I’m off to start writing my second novel. It’s a steamy tome of conspiracy and murder, set in the world of Karting.