by Jamie Wesson
2015 Wednesday Night Championship Round 6 Race Review (Part 2)
Group two was set and ready to pick up the action following the events of the group one racers. Mike Waterfield led them away after he secured Pole Position, followed by Todd White and "Ducati" Don Bowen. Looking back, it was another intense line-up for the second tier group, with Russell Lewis, Kai Rose, Martin Taylor, Mark Bates, Simon Lee and an impressive group two appearance for Jack Warren filling out the rest of the field.
The early laps had a sort of calm franticness about them, but Mike was struggling for pace in that number 1 kart. Jam Wesson had been in the kart prior for group one's race, and Mike had decided to leave the seat in the same position. Jamie had won the previous race, so Mike understandably didn't want to tamper with the setup of a proven race winning kart. However, he noticed that it was a little too far forward for his liking. With Jamie being shorter and preferring a bitey front end, the current seat position, which affects kart weight balance and distribution, wasn't compatible with Mike's driving style and it was obvious he wasn't comfortable with it.
Todd tried to apply a bit of pressure but he was soon under attack himself from the Red Baron. The lead was starting to look like a three way between Mike, Todd and Don. However, as the pressure on Mike eased with Todd's focus turning more rearwards, he lifted the handle that fastened the seat into position down the back straight, let it slide back a little and then slammed it shut as he turned in for the final corner. Instantly he felt an improvement, and a lot more at one with the kart. Finally, kart 1 was cooperating! It showed, as over the next few laps he gradually increased the gap to Todd. He built a solid lead, and from that point onwards, he had the race won.
Toward the back, Simon went a little wide at T1 and Jack seized upon the opportunity, slipping past on the exit. Martin was also making moves, Getting ahead of Kai up the inside of the hairpin and then passing Russell in quick succession. Russell then fell back into the clutches of Kai and the two went side by side through the Lightbulb corner. As Russell got forced wide, Mark tried to slip underneath too as they approached the Switch but with Russell taking a more acute line he struggled to keep tight for the fast left hand flick and ended up pushing Mark out, all the way onto the grass! Disaster was averted though, Mark wrestled his kart back on track and the race continued ---
A few laps later, Don made a puzzling decision around the long right hand loop to move off the racing line. Whether in his frustration to try and pass Todd he thought he could try and get an undercut on the exit and slingshot himself towards the final corner, I'm not sure but he left himself more vulnerable than a man standing on a battlefield in nothing more than his underpants. It was instead he who got mugged on the exit by Martin and Kai. In quite the opposite move but resulting in a similar effect, Todd had been defending from the threefold threat behind for some laps, but curiously moved off the right hand side of the main straight and onto the racing line for T1, leaving an invitation open for a dive down his inside, one which Martin was all too happy to accept. Not only that, he now had to leave room which meant Kai undercut him on the exit, and Don got on his right hand side on the approach to the Lightbulb and got ahead on the entry. Failing to defend one corner cost him three places!
It was still close at the back, and Mark had fallen under pressure from the charging Jack Warren, who would go on to set the race's fastest lap. However, when Jack attempted to drop one down the inside into T1, he made a slight miscalculation of how close he was and couldn't draw sufficiently alongside in the braking zone. He had also carried a bit too much speed in, and in desperation to slow the kart down, squeezed the brakes a little harder, locked up and unavoidably clattered into Mark as the latter turned in for the corner. Both Karts spun, but managed to continue before being passed by Simon who caught right up to them.
All eyes were firmly fixed on the 4 way battle between Martin, Kai, Don and Todd in the latter stages. It was tantalising to watch as the four raced within inches of each other for what seemed like eternity. Wheel to wheel action on almost every lap as Martin valiantly defended his second place from Kai, then Don trying to take advantage at certain sections causing a near three-way into some corners, with Todd tucking in just behind. It was brilliant driving from the quartet and how a position change never happened between them for the near half race distance they were fighting, I will never know. I highly recommend watching Todd's onboard video as it really was a treat to behold, and demonstrated the very finest of closely matched racing at Sutton circuit.
Now, first of all I must start this next report with a bit of a confession. I didn't see much of this second race, but thought "That's okay, I'll just watch Todd's helmet cam footage", only to realise that Todd spent the entire race at the front battling for the lead, therefore not capturing any of the action behind. So I do apologise if this report doesn't seem as thorough as the first race review, and if I don't mention everybody in substantial detail.
So the second race got underway in reverse order of the first, with Simon'Lee'ding the way. Todd tried a smart cut back move out of the last corner on Russell at the end of the opening lap, but couldn't quite get the drive out. He had to be careful on the brakes too, narrowly avoiding contact with Russell at the apex to T1 as the latter went defensive. This caused a little loss of momentum for Todd, and Don had a cheeky look on the left hand side as he drew level with Todd on the exit. Todd kept his line for the Lightbulb, however Don had been caught stranded on the outside, thus losing a place to Kai who took advantage of the nice empty gap on the inner racing line.
Meanwhile, Jack Warren sensed an opportunity to take control of the lead of this race and was having a look at passing Simon, but Mark Bates was waiting patiently behind them, ready to pounce on any opportunity. That opportunity presented itself shortly after Todd had slid one cleanly down the inside of Russell at T1. Jack got on the inside of Simon on the entrance to the Lightbulb corner, they went side by side into the fast Switch but washed out mid corner, with both going wide and Jack hitting the dirt. Mark ducked underneath them both and inherited the lead, with the loss of momentum allowing Todd to drive ahead of them and claim second at the Pin.
Another move at the Pin was made a few laps later as Martin Taylor pulled off a great late breaking move to pass Russell Lewis. Now my memory on the night's events becomes a bit foggy at this point, my notes have ended and I have no video forage of the race behind the leaders, so if anyone would like to write about the rest of their race in the comments, please feel free to do so. But from the results sheet it looks like Kai had a bit of a tough time and dropped back, Don had a great run up to third place and Jack eventually managed to overhaul Simon to finish 4th.
The battle at the front though was pretty intriguing, with Todd not letting off the back of Mark's bumper for the entire race. Todd had a clear chance to take the lead of the race at several moments into T1 and the pin, but it just seemed he lacked that killer instinct or confidence to get late enough on the brakes. All credit to Mark though, he kept the pace up, drove brilliantly and didn't make it easy. Todd had another half-shot at one last attempt toward the very end of the race into the pin, and while he drew alongside on the exit, he was unfortunately on the outside. Mark held him at bay right to the last and crossed the line to take a well earned race two win.
Fastest Lap: Don - 39.956