Invicta Kent 22/04/2018

After 38 meetings having been cancelled so far of the 2018 Autograss season and only two having run, one in mainland England back in March and one in Northern Ireland, just one week ago, this weekend the season got fully underway with six meetings running across England, Wales and Ireland.

The week’s heat wave continued over the weekend at Invicta Kent, with the sun shining on the first meeting of the season – a national qualifier for both the Kent and Essex leagues. This meant it was straight down to business for all.

 

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Photo credit: Craig Freathy

 

With it being the first meeting run and national qualifiers it was a busy day with 150 drivers signed on. This meant for some brilliant close racing with it all to play for and black score sheets. Here are some of the highlights from the day.

Over the heats of class two there were two drivers who lead the points going into the final with two wins each, Gary Wickham (IK13) and Carl Brooks (C14E). Wickham was the one who got away, along with Jack Bromley (IK130) the two fighting the lead, whilst Brooks was in his own battle behind with Connor Bishop (IK252). Come the chequered flag Bromley had made the move on Wickham to take the win, Wickham had picked up a green flag which dropped him down to fourth. The battle between Brooks and Bishop continued throughout, but Bishop got the position to take second ahead of Brooks in third.

Two long time class three racers, Anthony Teather (C7E) and Martin Beaney (IK316), enjoyed some side-by-side battles across the two heats. In each of the heats Teather put himself in front at the start, but this didn’t deter Beaney who managed to find a way past two take the win in each of them. In the final however it was Beaney who got the best start and led until the end whilst Teather was in a battle with John Berry (IK21) behind, with Berry taking second and Teather third.

In class five down in Kent we are used to seeing a battle between the two Thorndyke brothers, Colin (IK2) and Ian (IK22). This weekend was no exception. Colin held the upper hand though and took the win in both of the heats with Ian finishing second. In the final, Steve Donovan (IK72) had split the two brothers and was sitting in second whilst the three of them battled for the top position. However misfortune struck Donovan with a lap to go when his engine let go. Colin made it three out of three and Ian picked up second.

 

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Photo credit: Craig Freathy

 

The Stock Hatch class has grown in Kent over the last couple of seasons, but this time out it was two Concord drivers, both making their return to the class for the 2018 season, who were out in front. Taking two wins each in the heats were John Sullivan (C3E) and Glen Embling (C608E). It would be the first time they went head-to-head in the final, however Sullivan got tangled up in the first bend leaving Embling to take the honors and a clean sweep.

Ladies class 11, a combination of classes one and two, was the closest of the ladies classes, with three different winners across the day. Charlotte Lines (IK498) took the first win of the day in her class one with the class one of Bethany Embling (C535E) and class two of Hannah Hinton (NASA25) closing down on her, Hinton finishing second ahead of Embling. Heat two went to Embling again with Hinton in second. In the final though Hinton was able to work her way through all of the class one’s to take the win.

The junior specials provided us with some wheel-to-wheel action. Luke Stiles (IK130) made a good start in each of the races to get in front, however he had close competition in Finn Wells (IK156) with the two running side-by-side a lot, however Wells was able to edge his way in front to take the three wins.

 

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Photo credit: Craig Freathy

 

It was great to finally be back at an Autograss track after what has been a very long winter. The next meeting we will be attending will be at Cambridge Autograss Club on 13th May.

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British Rallycross Round 2

On Easter Monday I attended the second round of the British Rallycross at Lydden Hill, the home of rallycross.

The forecast for the day was miserable, as has been expected of recent times in the UK, however during the morning the sun shone and it was a lovely day. That changed at the end of the third qualifying rounds when the rain started. It got gradually worse through the semi-finals and come the finals the racing got very interesting, and I got soaked. Although I’m sure some would say this was better than that of round one at Silverstone a few weeks ago where it had been snowing.

The format saw a number of categories over the day including; Supercars, Supernational, Juniors, Super1600, Swift Sport, BMW Mini, RX150 and Retro.

The ‘stars’ of the show are the Supercar category, and many were pleased to hear when Liam Doran was a late entry to the event, and always one to watch, however he had a bad start to qualifying heats with a non-finish, however he came back in the second qualifying  heat and produced the fastest time. Kevin Procter had the fastest time in the first qualifying heat but he was plagued with problems throughout the day and that was the only time that he ended up setting. Whilst Mark Higgins got quicker throughout the heats and took the fastest time in heat three.

Oliver Bennett, who will be competing at the first round of the World Rallycross Championship next weekend in Barcelona, scored a non-finish in heat one but consistent times in the remaining two heats saw him into the semi-finals where he went on to take the win on a damp track. Bennett was closely followed by Ollie O’Donovan and Julian Godfrey in third. The last place in the final went to Steve Hill. Mad Mark missed out after a troubled day, whilst Steve Mundy, who also suffered problems throughout the day, was a retirement. The second semi-final win went to Higgins who scored the fastest time putting him on pole position. Doran wasn’t far behind Higgins and gave him a close run battle but run out of laps to make the move up. Third place went to Jake Harris and Mike Manning also secured his place into the final.

By the time the final was run the track was very wet, which made the race even more interesting. When the lights came on Bennett stalled on the start and saw him swarmed by those behind him and dropped to the back. Higgins made the perfect start from pole position to lead the rest of the grid away, a mistake on the gravel after Hairy Hill saw Doran try and make the move past, but he didn’t quite have the legs with Higgins keeping the lead. It was here that Doran started suffering problems with his steering and retired from the race. Bennett made quick ground after taking his joker lap on the first lap. After the first couple of laps positions spread out. Higgins had built up such a lead that he took his joker lap on the last lap and still came out in front with a comfortable gap and went on to continue his winning streak by taking the victory, with championship leader, Godfrey, second and O’Donovan of Team RX Racing completing the podium in third. Harris fared better than LD Motorsport team mate Doran, and finished in fourth place ahead of Bennett and Manning whilst Hill joined Doran as a retirement.

Image: http://www.rallycrossbrx.com/news/higgins-claims-maiden-british-rx-victory-at-lydden-hill1_TOP_IMG_0524

In the Supernational category Tristan Ovenden had a successful weekend only dropping one position all day with the second quickest time in heat one, but took the fastest times in the remaining two heats, and the wins in the semi-final and most importantly, the final. Second place in the final went to the returning Paige Bellerby, who had taken the quickest time in heat one. Close behind her was the first of the Super1600’s of Craig Lomax to close out the podium positions. Paul Coney finished fourth ahead of Guy Corner, Darren Scott, Vincent Bristow and Kirk Twyman.

Tom Constantine was favourite going into the final with two fastest times in the heats and he continued this form to take the win followed closely by Marius Solberg-Hansen, fastest in heat one. James Constantine finished third ahead of Morgan Wroot, Luke Constantine and Matilda Procter whilst Ben Sayer was a retirement.

Problems plagued Chrissy Palmer in practice for the RX150’s as well as in heat one where he pushed his car off of the starting grid. However with those problems sorted he came back out in heat two flying and from then on there was no stopping him and he went on to take the win in the final by over five seconds. Leo Forster was the one to take second ahead of Ulrik Linnemann, Brett Harris, John Ward and Stephen Jones.

The Swift Sport saw two drivers setting the fastest times in the qualifying heats, they were Simon Ovenden and Morgan Bailey. With Ovenden taking the first semi-final win and Ryan Hadfield taking the other. It was only in heat to that Ovenden wasn’t quickest making him favourite for the final, however it was Bailey who made the best of the conditions to take the win ahead of Ovenden and Hadfield. Christopher Scott finished in fourth ahead of Max Weatherley, Rob Maynard and Christian Hainsworth, with Tom Llewllin a retirement.

In the BMW Mini class the fastest heat times went to Martin Hawkes and David Bell, however when it came to the final it was a different story. Whilst Hawkes had taken a win in the first semi-final, the other went to Bradley Durdin, who continued this form in the final. The joker lap played a big part in this final, with Durdin taking the win by the smallest of margins from Leigh-Anne Sedgwick. Hawkes was able to hold onto a podium in third, whilst David Bell finished back in fourth. Rob Methold finished fifth ahead of Andrew Hawkes, Frankie Helliwell and David Cox.  

Over the heats in the Retro class it was close between Roger Thomas in the MG Metro 6R4 and James Harrold in the Volkswagen Beetle and both taking semi-final wins. This battle carried on into the final with the two as the front runners, however Thomas was best suited to the conditions and took the win by 16 seconds from Harrold. Mark Finch in the Ford Fiesta took the last podium position ahead of Ray Morgan, Gary Dixon, Ian Biagi, Derrick Jobb and Stewart Bowes.

This was the first meeting we have attended of the 2018 season, the next event I will be going to will be an Autograss meeting, but the weather is putting pay to the season getting underway and at the moment I don’t know when this will be. Needless to say I am praying for some sunshine.