This weekend saw the conclusion of the Monoposto Championship for 2017. Most of the classes went into the weekend with the champion yet to be decided. The meeting saw a triple header format being used for the second time, which meant that the best qualifying times on Saturday set the grid for Race 1, the second best qualifying time set the grid for race 2 and the finishing positions of race 2 set the grid for race 3.
F3, 2000, FR2000 and Classic Grid
Qualifying saw Ben Cater take pole for both races. Simon Tate sat in second with Chris Hodgen in third for race 1, but these two were reversed for race 3. Neil Harrison took fourth for the first race, with James Densley in his Formula Renault in fourth for the second race but first overall in class – he was also on pole in class for the first race. Alex Fores did well on his debut in the F3 class, qualifying fifth for both races. Kevin Otway was front of the field for the 2000 class for both races and Ian Hughes took both poles for Classic. Ashley Dibden, who was still in the running for the championship, had issues in qualifying so only managed seventeenth and fourteenth for the two races respectively. A nasty crash for Paul Britten saw him out of race 1, but the paddock pulled together to get him the bits he needed to rebuild the car overnight and get back on the grid for the two races on Sunday.
The start of the first race for the two litre grid saw drama from the off when Simon Tate had a drive shaft let go on the start. Luckily all cars managed to avoid him, but he did cause an immediate safety car for one lap whilst he was pushed off the track. Taking it all in good spirits, Simon was seen waving at his fellow competitors as they came past him behind the safety car. Neil Harrison had a good start before the safety car, getting past Chris Hodgen for second place. Alex Fores however had a poor start and dropped back from 5th to 13th. Richard Crisp had a great start, which he later described as his best racing ever. He took 5 cars on the start to put him in 7th place behind James Densley and Hayden Edmonds and well in the fight for the FR2000 class win. Ashley Dibden also had a great start, gaining seven places before the safety car.
On the restart, Ben Cater pulled a big lead straight away. Chris Hodgen stuck close behind Neil Harrison for two laps before getting past him on lap 4 for second place. Neil had a spin on the following lap which demoted him to fourth place behind Ashley Dibden who had steadily climbed the grid and was challenging for second place before the race was red flagged due to James Gordon-Colebrooke being buried in the gravel on the edge of the track. In the Formula Renault class, James Densley and Hayden Edmonds were tussling all race, with Richard Crisp close behind them. After swapping places a few times, Hayden eventually took the win ahead of James, but Richard Crisp took fastest lap. The 2000 class race saw Kevin Otway take the win, with Bryn Tootell second and Terry Clark third. In the Classic class, Ian Hughes took the win ahead of Peter Whitmore and Will McAteer who achieved second and third respectively. Matthew Bromage did well gaining 9 places from his qualifying position to finish fourth in class and earning him the Driver of the Day award.
The first race for this grid on Sunday saw Ben Cater get a bit over excited with tyre warming on the green flag lap and he ended up in the gravel and out of the race. The drivers were then given a second green flag lap whilst Ben was cleared out of the way. With Ben out, Chris Hodgen inherited the lead of the race and went on to lead from start to finish, Simon Tate stuck behind him for the full race to take second and Ashley Dibden came third after starting fourteenth. Alex Fores came fourth overall, but took fastest lap of the race. This race secured Chris Hodgen the win of the Mono F3 Championship and Ashley came in second at this point. James Densley won the FR2000 race, with Hayden Edmonds second and Richard Crisp third, this result meant that James just had to finish the final race of the day to secure the championship victory.
Kevin Otway took another win in the 2000 class and Bryn Tootell took second. He’d been fighting hard with Kevin for the lead of the race, but a brief trip to the gravel saw him settling for second place in class, just ahead of Terry Clark. Second in this race was just enough for Bryn to secure the championship win though, with Kevin Otway taking second and Terry Clark third. The Classic class saw Peter Whitmore chasing Ian Hughes down for the entire race, he even had a spin at one point trying to get him, but eventually he did take the win just ahead of Ian Hughes. Will McAteer came in third and Nick Catanzaro was fourth. This result left Ian Hughes one point ahead of Nick Catanzaro in the championship going into the final race.
The final race for the two litre grid saw late tyre decisions being made as the weather was trying to decide whether to rain or not. In the end most of the grid went for wets except for Matthew Bromage, Bryn Tootell and Robert Smith. Wets were definitely the right choice as Bryn and Robert finished last in the race and Matthew retired after 1 lap. The start of the race saw an element of Déjà-Vu as Simon Tate had a drive shaft (opposite side this time) let go. This saw a safety car come out for one lap as he was pushed off the track. Ashley Dibden took the lead from Chris Hodgen off the start and Hayden Edmonds had a great start getting up from eighth place and second in class to fourth place and the lead of the class. Ben Cater flew up from the back of the grid to seventh place before the safety car. Paul Britten also had a great start, getting himself from fifteenth overall and fourth in class to ninth overall and first in class. On the restart, James Drew-Williams had a spin which resulted in him being at the back of the grid. He steadily climbed back up the grid during the remainder of the race to end up twelfth overall and eighth in class. Chris Hodgen made short work of getting back past Ashley Dibden for the lead of the race and maintained that position to the end. Ashley ended up second and Alex Fores was third in the F3 class.
The 2000 class saw some exciting action after Paul Britten’s brilliant start putting him at the front of the class, Kevin Otway held on to the back of him for most of the race but was unable to get past and on the last lap had a spin and took out a marker board in his efforts to catch him. Paul went on to take his first win of the season with Kevin finishing second and Terry Clark in third. In the FR2000 class, James Densley only needed to finish the race to take the championship, but this didn’t stop him from fighting for the win. Hayden Edmonds spent a few laps of the race ahead of James, but James managed to take the win ahead of him in the end, to seal his championship victory. The Classic class was the closest championship on this grid going into the last race with Ian Hughes and Nick Catanzaro separated by just one point. Although Nick got his best finishing position of the weekend, in third place, it wasn’t enough to beat Ian who took the class win and earned himself the championship honours.
1800, 1600, M1400 and M1000 Grid
Qualifying for the 1800, 1600, Moto 1400 and Moto 1000 grid saw an unusual turn of events as Jeremy Timms was beaten to pole… Twice. Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke took pole for both races, with Adrian Wright in his homebuild GEM AW3 from the Moto 1000 class taking second place. Matthew Walters took pole for the 1800 class and Eddie Guest for the 1600 class, well ahead of Geoff Fern who was using James Gordon-Colebrooke’s 1600 car after Geoff’s engine let go at Snetterton. Going into the weekend, Matthew Walters had already won the 1800 championship and Jeremy Timms had already won the Moto 1400 championship. Geoff Fern only need a few points to sew up the 1600 championship, but the Moto 1000 championship was still up for grabs with only a handful of points between Mark Reade and Mick Kinghorn for the lead.
The first race for this grid got underway cleanly, but it didn’t stay that way for long. Mick Kinghorn had a spin at Coppice and tried to rejoin the track when it looked like there was a gap. Unfortunately for both parties, Martin Wright was just making his way up the rise into the corner and was presented with Mick rejoining as he crested the hill. Martin tried to avoid him but made contact and both cars were put out of the race. This incident saw the safety car put out for two laps. On the first lap, before the safety car was called, Jeremy Timms and Jason Timms both managed to get past Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke. They went on to finish first, second and third in class respectively. Adrian Wright had dropped a few places and eventually had to retire from the race. With Adrian retiring and Jon Reed unable to make the race, Mark Reade was in the lead of the class. Mark led the class to the end of the race, taking maximum class points and making the championship that bit closer for him. Mark’s teammate and sponsor, Brendan O’Brien came second in class, in his first race with Monoposto this season. Matt Walters kept Chris Lord behind him for the full race to take the win in the 1800 class ahead of Chris in second. Marcus Sheard came third, partly due to Phil Davis getting caught up with the earlier incident which put him well down the field. Eddie Guest took the 1600 win and fastest lap, but Geoff Fern scored enough points to take the win of the championship.
After the crash in the first race, Mick Kinghorn thought his championship was over, but his team and Team Avit pulled together to get his car back together in time for the races the next day. Jon Reed had also changed his engine overnight to get out for the second race of the weekend. Unfortunately, after an impressive race on Saturday, Brendan O’Brien didn’t make it out to race on Sunday. The second race was much cleaner, with no crashes to report. There were, however, a number of retirements. Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke pulled off and retired on the second lap. Mark Reade was running second in the Moto 1000 class when his engine seized and caused him to retire on the third lap. Jon Reed had another engine let go on him which saw him retire from third place overall and first in class on the fourth lap. The final retirement was Steven Griffin who pulled into the pits with boiled brakes on lap nine. This left a few cars littered around the circuit, but thanks to some good training, they had all pulled off the track in safe positions so that the race could continue unhindered by safety cars.
Jeremy Timms did his usual trick of disappearing in the race, to finish first and 46 seconds ahead of Jason Timms in second. In the Moto 1000 class, Mick Kinghorn started off fourth but must’ve been spurred on after seeing Mark Reade, his championship rival, retire as he got passed Dean Warren for second place on the next lap. With Jon Reed also retiring, Mick was in the lead of the Moto 1000 race and he kept Dean behind him for the remainder of the race to take his first win of the season. This put him firmly back in the fight for the championship, with him going into the final race level on points with Mark Reade. The 1800 class race saw Matt Walters take the win again ahead of Chris Lord, whilst Phil Davis fended Marcus Sheard off to take third. In the 1600 race, Eddie Guest saw another win, but Geoff Fern took fastest lap.
The final race of the day saw the grid go out in the rain. With all the other championships already decided, it was only the Moto 1000 championship left to tie up. Mick Kinghorn started from third on the grid, whilst Mark Reade was down in nineteenth after retiring from the previous race. On the first lap Mick lost a couple of positions as Chris Lord and Matt Walters came past him, but he was still in the lead of the class. Mark Reade came flying up the grid, getting to tenth overall and fourth in class. He got up to eighth a couple of laps later and stayed there for a few laps through a safety cars period of two laps before climbing up to third in class and sixth overall with a lap and a half to go. Mick had been doing a good job of maintaining the lead of the Moto 1000 class, but on the penultimate lap he had a spin. That spin unfortunately lost him the championship as he ended up right down in eleventh place overall and fifth in class. He tried his best to gain positions back but didn’t have enough time and in the end had to settle for third in class and fastest lap. Mark in the mean time got past Dominic Shepherd to take the win in class and was very lucky to even finish the race as his engine gave out on the cool down lap!
Alongside the excitement of the Moto 1000 class race there were also battles going on with the other three classes. Jeremy Timms lead the race from start to finish taking his final win of the season in Moto 1400; this win meant that he had taken all fourteen of the wins up for grabs over the season, as well as 13 out of 14 fastest laps. Jason Timms came second in class, however a battle in the 1800 class split the cousins on the grid overall. In the 1800 class, Chris Lord had got past Matt Walters on the start of the race and managed to get up to second overall on the grid. Matt had a spin on the second lap whilst trying to catch Chris and he was unable to rejoin the grid until all the cars had passed which left him dead last. Luckily for him though, Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke became beached in the gravel, causing a safety car and bunching the pack back up. Matt was able to gain some places on the restart but couldn’t get near Chris and had to settle for second in class ahead of Steven Griffin who came third. Chris Lord had a fantastic race, having taken Matt at the start and got up into second place overall, he was challenging Jeremy Timms for the lead on the restart after the safety car and was in the lead of the race for a few metres before Jeremy pulled ahead of him again. In the 1600 race, Geoff Fern got past Eddie Guest on the start and sailed through the race to take the win and fastest lap, with Eddie finishing second for the first time of the weekend.
Ray Dackombe Memorial Trophy
This weekend also saw the Ray Dackombe Memorial Trophy being contested for. Scores are accumulated from qualifying and the races. This year, there was a three way tie on points for the trophy between Eddie Guest in the 1600 class, Matthew Walters in the 1800 class and Kevin Otway in the 2000 class. Each of them had taken two pole positions, two wins, two fastest laps and a second place. In the end it came down to the person who was in the biggest class which meant that Matthew Walters was the winner of the trophy for 2017.