by Jamie Wesson
Team 175 Championship Round 4 Review
We had an awesome turn out for the latest instalment of the team series, with every kart in the fleet being occupied as a full field of karts took to the track. The grid would be reversed for the start of the race, but after qualifying the timing board looked a little like this:
Kart 11: Jon & David Brown
Kart 7: Jam Wesson & Tom Kitchener
Kart 6: Andy Summers & Alex Haydon Williams
Kart 1: Mark & Sara Bates
Kart 5: Richard & Jack Warren
Kart 8: Kosta Kyrotsis & Vasilis Tsinias
Kart 10: Ross Proud & Henry Smith
Kart 2: Noah Timminston & Stewart Dee
Kart 3: Oliver Warner & Don Bowen
Kart 9: Kurt Partridge & Dave Windridge
Kart 4: Andy Hobson & Gus Kerior
The first stint was the most frantic, interesting and action packed. With the pole sitter at the back following the reversed grid, it was always going to result in a convergence of the pack. The tight racing would lead some teams to take their mandatory drive through early, while others attempted a charge toward the front, saving their run around for later.
Tom Kitchener and Jon Brown were the last two karts to leave the pits, having been the only two drivers to put in a sub 40 second lap time in qualifying. The latter had smashed the timing sheets with a 39.667. On the opening lap, Jon managed to get up the inside of Tom through the loop and got a good run toward the final corner, also getting on the inside of Andy Summers who had been caught out by the battling pack. Andy immediately saw this ever deteriorating situation as an opportunity to take his drive through, and as he had been pushed to the outside anyway, why not? It was a prudent move, and the clean air he attained afterwards enabled him to launch his team up the grid as the race settled down and the true positions began to show themselves. A couple of other teams followed Andy's lead, with Don Bowen and Kurt Partridge also making early stops.
As the tightly bunched field charged down to T1, the first big incident unfolded. I'm not sure what exactly was the cause, but Stewart Dee spun out in the braking zone, making contact with a couple of drivers in front and causing those behind to take avoiding action. Tom K was the biggest loser, finding his path blocked by the now rearward facing kart 2.
Andy Hobson had been defending the lead well, but was now under pressure from a charging Jack Warren, who had made an awesome start to find himself at the sharp end of the field. He was squeezed hard down the main straight as he tried to get the inside for the first corner, but instead made a sublime choice when he backed out, switched to the wide line, and then nailed the pass with an undercut on the exit. His lead didn't last long though. Jon Brown had slipped underneath into second as several drivers went wide at the Lightbulb. He then dispossessed Jack of the lead at the hairpin.
Andy H was still experiencing some action as he went side by side through the loop with kart 10, whom I think was occupied by Henry Smith at the time. Tom K was now stuck behind Mark Bates and struggling to find a way by. He signalled to his team mate on the pit wall if he had enough time to make a run-around and come out in clean air, but his team mate was too busy writing notes for this report. Jamie checked back, and thought he could see some space where Tom would emerge in front of a gang of fighting karts, but it would be tight. He signalled Tom to come in but the timing was just a little off, as Tom emerged he couldn't get up to speed quick enough before he was seized upon by Don & co. He tried to defend, causing a bit of weaving down the main straight, but the number 7 team had just missed the window and were now caught in the traffic. It would take Tom a few laps to clear them all and get in some clean air.
Stewart Dee was now pressuring Andy H, but they were both subject to a majestic bit of driving from Andy Summers, who caught up and passed them BOTH at the first corner. The race was now beginning to settle down as Mark Bates came in for his drive through and similarly to Tom, emerged behind Don and Kurt. By this point, Tom had already cleared them, which meant even though he had lost a bit of time in the traffic, he had successfully jumped ahead.
I'm not sure if it was Kosta or Vasilis that were in the kart but one of them ended up on the grass as Andy H made a pass, and then Mark and Don were all of a sudden side by side through the loop. I didn't get any more context to these pieces of action, as the first pit stop window was approaching and it was time for me to get my lid on.
Now I must admit I didn't get a lot of detail other than what I saw of the events that unfolded during this stint, for obvious reasons. After the pit-stop, Tom gave the kart 7 a running push and Jamie was away. He thankfully came out with a bit of clean air, and their next target was in sight. Alex Williams was now in the number 6 kart but had emerged behind Richard Warren, whom he seemed to be struggling to pass. Having his ultimate pace restricted, Jamie was easily able to rein in both of them within a few laps. As the sense of desperation to pass increased, Alex finally made his move, squeezing his nose up the inside of T1. Jamie followed him through as Richard was screened off from the Apex.
It was then all out attack on Alex, something Jamie had been unable to do when Richard had been in front, for fear of causing a collision when he attempted a pass. This place was now for position, as Andy's earlier stop had enabled the kart 6 to jump ahead of Jamie & Tom's Kart 7. First, Jamie tried a really late lunge into T1, but overshot, went wide and Alex was easily able to keep the position out of the corner. But on the next lap, Jamie spied a gap on the approach to the pin and completed the move. After pulling a small gap, he then passed Noah and Dave Windridge to get into clean air.
The next stops happened and due to the now out of sync field, the third stint was simply a case of passes being made for the sake of making passes. Jon continued leading the race, making a pass on kart 10 at T1. Tom, who was now back to running second, passed Andy H at the same corner as the latter locked up on entry. Don was applying sufficient pressure to Andy summers to cause him to look over his shoulder, and then Andy caught the other Andy which initiated some jostling through the hairpin and the loop. Don then caught Andy H as he was catching Stewart and the three were locked in a tight tussle for supremacy.
The final stops came round, and Jamie emerged behind an interesting battle between Noah and Dave Windridge. Noah put a move on Dave down into turn one, but Dave immediately fought back by making a lunge up the inside at the hairpin. However he got on the brakes a little too hot and locked, halting Noah and Jamie at the apex. However Noah kept just enough momentum going to jink right and get on the inside line for the loop. Jamie then followed Noah underneath as Dave was left stranded on the outside. Noah was then dispatched by Jamie at T1, shortly followed by kart 10 at the hairpin and Gus in kart 4 at the first corner.
This final charge was all in effort of catching race leader David Brown, and while the gap was closed significantly, time simply ran out and in the end it was only the length of the pit straight that separated the top two finishing teams. It was curious that despite the reverse grid, the top three finishers all ended up in qualifying order. It was a great race, and probably one of the best we've had all year. I would also like to give a special shout out to Sara Bates who despite being the only female driver on the grid, held her own superbly in the heat of a fast paced race. Here are the final finishing positions, and thanks for reading.
1st: Jon & David
2nd: Tom & Jamie
3rd: Andy S & Alex
4th: Ross & Henry (Awesome result)
5th: Kosta & Vasili(Another great performance)
6th: Richard & Jack (Solid drive once again)
7th: Ollie & Don
8th: Kurt & Dave
9th: Andy & Gus
10th: Noah & Stewart
11th: Mark & Sara
Next round is the 25th of October. See you there.