Welsh Karting Championships at Llandow
7:20am Thursday 7th June 2012 in Sport
WALES’ most prestigious club motorsport event, the Welsh Karting Championships, were graced not only by 106 entrants but also by the return of dry and sunny weather to the Llandow circuit, aiding the quality of the racing over the two days of competition.
With a slew of qualifying and heats to get through, the kinder conditions were essential to ensuring the smooth running of the meeting, with nine classes to be catered for and, despite the odd unforeseen incident, things proceeded smoothly throughout.
Although not a part of the Welsh Championships, the ever-popular Bambino class got things underway, with Jenson Parton the latest name to be added to those taking their first laps at the Llandow club. While his time will come, the rest of the experienced field – Jakob Chamberlain, Shayne Clarke, Brooklyn Thomas, Olli Thomas, Jack Broughton and Matthew Rees - all achieved the gold standard as they continued to rise to the targets laid before them.
With solid numbers in both of the Cadet categories, it was decided to give each its own race. That allowed Celtic champion Lewis Griffiths to stamp his authority on the Comer section, topping both qualifying sessions and winning all four races. The finishing order at the front of the field was the same on every sheet, but that belied the battling that went on between Griffiths, Tom Rawlings and Harry Andrews, while Kieran Clarke and Joe Taylor rounded out the top five. Only Andrews’ subsequent exclusion from the final managed to break the pattern, promoting Clarke to the final step of the podium.
The Honda side of the Cadet entry provided nearly a fifth of the total runners, with no fewer than 20 karts taking to the track, but one name kept appearing at the top of the order as Hugo Holmes emerged as the one to beat. Ryan Luscombe and Ethan Ling did their best to keep Holmes honest, claiming second and third in all but one session – when Alex Rees grabbed third in heat two – and the final proved to be one of the closest-fought races of the day at Holmes succeeded by 0.08secs over Dunk swell visitor Luscombe.
Honda Junior may have had fewer runners, but that did not detract from the effort on track, particularly as season-long pacesetter Ben Stevens found his rivals intent on making their own mark. Tom Ford claimed the opening heat and paced second qualifying before Stevens finally came to the fore, claiming the second heat, pre-final and final to restore some order. Ford and Thomas Croydon were duly rewarded for their efforts by completing the podium as the all-novice field swelled to a season-high six Junior TKM again looked healthy, with a number of cadet graduates continuing to boost numbers, and also saw a new name attempting to break the Ross Chell-Scott Morris duopoly at the front. Keiron Ford topped opening qualifying, but had to give best to Morris in heat one, then proved himself fastest again in the second timed session. Again, the race win eluded him, however, as Chell came to the fore, and the two regular frontrunners then took over at the front of the finals, with Morris claiming both, along with the ‘C’ plate. The battle at the front was intense, however, with the top five covered by a second at the flag, but it was Yousuf Ashraf completing the podium, ahead of Ford and Alex Thomas.
Minimax numbers almost reached double figures as some familiar names returned to contest the Welsh title, and the honours appeared to be going Harry Williams’ way for most of the event. Fastest in both qualifying sessions, Williams also won both heats and the pre-final, but slipped behind Morgan Rose at the start of the final and was unable to wrest back the lead. Lewis Malin completed the podium ahead of Shenington club-mate Edward Tansley.
An old face returned to the Junior Max class too, but Tom Harvey did not have things all his own way on his former stomping ground, as the majority of the field proved closely matched. Although Harvey proved the man to beat in both qualifying sessions, James Johnson and Sam Morgan both beat him to the flag in heat one, before the order was reversed second time around. Johnson then claimed the pre-final to secure pole for the final, only for Harvey to seize the lead on the opening lap after two false starts. Despite stretching out a comfortable lead, however, the favourite was not to go the distance, leaving Johnson to fend off the visiting Ben Hingeley for the remaining seven laps. Steven Hanford, another LKC regular now performing on the national stage, took the remaining podium spot ahead of Leon Hilleard.
Although Simon Evans started the weekend as favourite for Senior Honda honours, the form of both Nick Turley and Gareth Lewis in recent months suggested that he may at least be made to fight for what would be his third Welsh crown. Turley threw down the gauntlet in opening qualifying but, thereafter, it was Evans at the top of the timesheets, even if the margins were slight. Lewis was seldom a threat and only returned to the top three in the main event, where Evans saved his best for last, setting a string of lap records as he posted his biggest win of the weekend. Turley claimed second, while veteran Paul Saunders and Danny Griffiths took fourth and fifth respectively on the other side of Lewis.
Llandow’s blue riband class, Senior Max, returned to something approaching its largest field, with 20 runners spread across the regular and 177 classes. Although Josh Gray paced opening qualifying, the rest of the weekend saw Josh Collings and Liam Revell swapping top spot in the order, taking a heat apiece before Phil Moreton split them to take second in the pre-final. The main event was unfortunately interrupted by a nasty accident that left 177 novice Ian Hawksworth requiring the attention of the medics, and the restarted race proved equally dramatic as Collings seized with David Entwhistle – promoted by Moreton’s demise – right on his tail and with nowhere to go. Their exit allowed Revell back into top spot, holding a three-second lead over Sebastian Hutchinson to the flag. Dilip Singh completed an unexpected podium, with Dan Rodde and Gareth Evans rounding out the top five.
Nigel Hughes paced the 177 class throughout the weekend, eventually winning the final by a couple of seconds over category stalwart Wayne Stone, with Simon Wheeler third.
BAMBINO – Gold Award
Jack Broughton (Birel)
Jakob Chamberlain (Birel)
Shayne Clarke (Topkart)
Matthew Rees (Zip)
Brooklyn Thomas (Birel)
Olly Thomas (Birel)
1. Lewis Griffiths (Zip)
2. Tom Rawlings (Zip)
3. Kieran Clarke (Zip)
1. Hugo Holmes (Zip)
2. Ryan Luscombe (Project One)
3. Ethan Ling (Project One)
1. Ben Stevens (7Kart)
2. Tom Ford (Biz)
3. Thomas Croydon (Jade)
1. Scott Morris
2. Ross Chell (Jade)
3. Yousuf Ashraf (Jade)
1. Morgan Rose (Tonykart)
2. Harry Williams (Tonykart)
3. Lewis Malin (Tonykart)
1. James Johnson (Tonykart)
2. Ben Hingeley (Tonykart)
3. Steven Hanford (Tonykart)
1. Simon Evans (7Kart)
2. Nick Turley (Wright)
3. Gareth Lewis (7Kart)
1. Liam Revell (Tonykart)
2. Sebastian Hutchinson (Tonykart)
3. Dilip Singh (CRG)
1. Nigel Hughes
2. Wayne Stone (Tonykart)
3. Simon Wheeler (CRG)
Best Novice: Andrew Wong (Minimax)
Driver of the Day: Phil Moreton (Senior Max)
Kath Denscombe Memorial Award: Ethan Ling (Honda Cadet)
THR Graphics Best Presented Kart: Louis Griffiths-Walker (Junior TKM)