RACE REPORT – BIRELART UK SERIES 2017 ROUND 3 GYG

Bora da! Croeso i Glan y Gors

The scenery might be somnolent but there’s nothing peaceful about this majestic Welsh track. It’s fast and spectacular for the drivers and offers great viewing for the spectators from the Clubhouse balcony. It’s not the greatest of places to get too but the rewards more than make up for the journey. To miss GYG as it’s affectionately known is to miss out on one the greatest Kart driving experiences in the British Isles.

It’s a short run from the startline into the flat out right hander at Club. So important here to get a good exit because it’s’ a long run up the hill on the Dragon straight, round the right hander at the top and then on the brakes for the right handed Spoon corner. A good overtaking spot. Out of Spoon accelerating hard through the left hander and down the hill to the double apex Carousel. Another good overtaking opportunity. Then it’s back up the hill through another flat out right and into the Compression corner, an off camber right hander which is so easy to get wrong. Next it’s into the Druids complex followed by the Devil’s Elbow with its wicked dip and then into the final corner at Paddock Bend before completing the lap, hopefully in the lead !

Qualifying

Cadets

As always the Cadets put on a great qualifying show. Ella Stevens was quickest at the start but then Nathan Tye jumped to the top of the order whilst Milo Pilfold and Thomas Harvey ran third and fourth. With just four laps run the order for the first three places was settled with Harvey taking pole from Christian Lilley by just 0.005. and leading Rookie Tye in third. Stevens dropped down the order but only briefly as she just pipped Louie Ross for fourth by 0.012. The top five were covered by just 0.055. So competitive. Jamie Gurney took sixth with Championship leader Charlie Humphrey next up from Pilfold. Having looked back on the pace early in the session Pilfold fell away but dug deep on his penultimate lap to take eighth with the top ten completed by Oakley Keightley and Kylen Ingram. Poor Callum Lockett failed to set a time as his Kart just refused to run clean. Unfortunately it stopped at the top of the hill and he couldn’t be recovered until the end of the session.

Junior 100

It was good to see reigning Champion Toby Goodman back on the grid at GYG. Hopefully he may contest a few more rounds later in the season. He showed he’d lost none of his flair immediately going top of the timing board. But not for long. Scot Huntley quickly usurped him. Sadly on the opening lap we lost Will Martin. Coming down the hill he picked up a puncture and dived across into the pit lane. Unfortunately he neglected to raise his hand and in an instant we had several Karts off the circuit. Connor Brown, Harry Barlow, Morgan Cole and George Whitehouse were all badly delayed. Once Brown resumed he took his time checking the Kart out before getting back up to speed. Fourth quickest, and leading Rookie, was a great effort. It was Ty Stansfield though who took the pole. After his unfortunate Shenington final which saw him out with broken stub axle whilst on course for the victory he was anxious to lay down a marker. He finished up over a tenth to the good on second placed Harry Graham who was looking on top form and briefly topped the times. Goodman wound up third with Skye Siddall fifth. Shennington winner Thomas Massarella was next ahead of Nicky Taylor and a disappointed Harry Barlow. Scott Huntley and Zac Parkinson completed the top ten. The Martin incident led to the Clerk of the course giving a gentle reminder to all the drivers to raise their arms when entering the pit lane. Safety is of paramount importance.

Super Elites

Mathew Pearce took this one challenged initially by Championship leader Richard Evans. With two thirds of the session run drivers began to peel into the pits clearly believing they could do no more. Not so Shennington star Ami Jerger. She left it until her penultimate lap to set the second quickest time just edging out Evans by 0.042. Tom Snape was fourth whilst pre-season favourite Sam Faulkner could only manage fifth complaining of a lack of power. Jonathan Corry took seventh setting his fastest lap on his second tour whilst Jay Hudman set his best time on his first flying lap. Elliott Stanley was another to set his best time early ahead of David Darling with Jason Bradbury tenth. James Baldwin and Will Checkley completed the grid.

Super Masters.

Some of the Super Masters are never in a hurry to take to the track for qualifying. Championship leader Sam Dimelow parked his machine in the shade and stood and watched the screen for the first few minutes before calmly leaving the pits. One out lap, one flying lap, pole. A crushing demonstration of intent. And then he rubbed home his advantage by going even quicker. He completed just four laps. Ben Yeomans was next up but was over three tenths away from Dimelow. Double A final winner and second in the Championship Michael Roots took third. George Friday would start alongside him ahead of Mark Lawrence and Jim Rainbird who were seperated by just 0.024. Sam Fisher was next up, only 0.022 adrift with Shaun Port alongside him. E plate runner Neil Fisher and Roland Breadner completed the top ten. Again the end of qualifying was eerily quiet with only Stig Elboth running at the end.

Heats

Cadet 60

Harvey led the pack away with Lilley close behind whilst Stevens got a better start than Tye and moved into third with Ross settling into fifth. We had the usual Cadet moves right through the field as drivers jostled for position but by the end of the first tour the order remained the same. Lockett was already struggling down the back of the field his Kart still not performing as he would like whilst Christian Valverde had a spin. The leading quintet were beginning to pull away from the rest of the pack helped by the squabbling trio of Gurney, Humphreys and Pilfold running sixth, seventh and eighth. With three laps run we had a new leader as Lilley took over at the front. He looked particularly quick through the first turn and duly took the lead at the top of the hill. Harvey fought back whilst Stevens had a little look into the Carousel but wisely backed out of it. A lap later she was through and right on the leaders bumper as they went through the first turn. You couldn’t put a fag paper between them. Lilley defended up the hill sending Stevens the long way round the Spoon curve. She wasn’t giving it up though and she had the line for the following left hander. Down the hill Lilley moved to his left to defend and Stevens momentarily had two wheels on the grass. But Lilley gave her room and she swept into the lead at the Carousel. Once in front she began to pull a gap as Lilley and Harvey fought over second with Harvey setting the fastest lap on lap seven. Stevens ran out the winner over three tenths to the good with Lilley holding on to second from Harvey who faded towards the end. Ross came home fifth after a good battle with Tye whilst Gurney kept a very determined Keighley behind for sixth. Pilfold took eighth after an eventful run whilst Tomlinson and Ingram completed the top ten.

Junior 100

Stansfield led the field away but it was no surprise to see Goodman slotting into second with Graham third ahead of Brown. Up the hill Goodman wasn’t going to be intimidated but he had to give way at the top as they turned into the Spoon. One lap run and as the howling pack crossed the line Stansfield had already pulled a couple of Kart lengths clear of Goodman, Graham and Brown. Siddall was next from Massarella and Barlow and Thomas Davison who had driven a brilliant first lap moving up four places. Two laps gone and Stansfield had increased the gap. Barring mistakes or Kart malfunction it was clear he was going to win this one. Lap five saw him set fastest lap and he steadily built the gap back to Goodman eventually winning by just over a second. It might not sound much to a layman but at this level it’s comfortable. Goodman duly took second but it was the impressive Brown in third having taken Graham at the top of the hill with a couple of laps to run. Siddall took a solid fifth. She remained in the place right from the start and although she never quite got near enough to challenge for fourth she was near enough to capitalise if anything befell the leaders. Massarella was next having got the better of Barlow and moving up to Siddall’s bumper. Barlow drove hard as he always does but felt he was just a touch down on power. Taylor, Huntley and Parkinson completed the top ten.

Super Elites

Pearce took this one with relative ease having led the pack away from pole. His cause was no doubt helped by an almighty fight for second. Jerger lost out at the start from the outside of the front row whilst Evans slotted into second with Faulkner third having got the better of Tom Snape off the line and flying by Jerger up the hill. Lap two and he was second courtesy of an opportunistic move at the downhill Devil’s Elbow. A lap later and Evans was back into second having slipped by Faulkner at the top of the hill. Jerger continued in fourth but it was Hudman into fifth courtesy of a demon late braking move into Paddock. Pearce continued to hold the gap back to Evans whilst Faulkner was coming under increasing pressure from Jerger. Down into the Devil’s Elbow she was alongside but Faulkner held her off. Up the hill though she got a good tow and moved alongside into the breaking area. Faulkner couldn’t respond and she was through instantly beginning to pull a gap, chasing down Evans and setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. With two to go she was right with him and duly took the place at the top of the hill. Evans fought back but couldn’t make a move a stick. So Pearce ran out the winner almost two seconds up the road from Jerger who was just a couple of lengths up on Evans. Faulkner came home fourth comfortably ahead of Hudman but still not happy with his engines power output. Snape took sixth. Jonathan Corry was next after an uneventful run whilst Jason Bradbury took eighth having made up a couple of places over the last two laps. James Baldwin and Elliott Stanley completed the top ten ahead of Checkley whilst David Darling was an early retiree.

Super Masters

Dimelow led the field across the line but Roots made full use of the inside of the second row to attach himself to Dimelow’s bumper and move into second at the expense of Yeomans whilst Lawrence got ahead of Friday for fourth. Rainbird slipped back behind a very fast starting Neil Fisher. Shaun Port was an early spinner. At the front Dimelow and Roots continued to pull clear of the pack with Dimelow setting fastest lap fourth time around. He was racing in some discomfort too the victim of a neck injury. Neil Fisher’s run came to end at the top of the hill as he pulled off the victim of a loose plug lead. Dimelow crossed the line for the win some eight tenths clear of Roots who was over three seconds up on Yeomans in third who had a race long fight with Friday for the position. Lawrence was next from Rainbird with Breadner, Sam Fisher, Howe and Port completing the top ten. A somewhat processional race which allowed the watching spectators to gather their breath after all the excitement of the previous heats.

Pre Finals

Cadets

Stevens led away but Lilley on the outside suffered the curse of turn one and was hung out to dry as the pack raced up the hill. He would cross the line fourth at the end of the first lap. Stevens continued to lead from Harvey and Ross whilst Lilley found himself back in fifth after two laps. Pilfold was sixth and looking more like his old self after a fairly fraught start to the year. As the front three began to pull clear Lilley hauled himself back up to fourth with Pilfold now down to fifth ahead of Gurney with Tomlinson and Keightley just behind. This was a typical Cadet battle with position changes all round the lap. Half distance and Stevens, Harvey and Ross were well up the road with Pilfold now heading the fighting pack in fourth from Gurney, Tomlinson and Lilley.

Tomlinson made it by Gurney at the top of the hill. Lilley had a look too but had to fall back briefly before finally making the move stick and taking Keightley with him. A lap later and Lilley was back into fifth and chasing down Pilfold. With one to go the leaders were closing down a back marker. Into the Spoon for the final time Stevens still led. The blue flags were being waved but as the backmarker pulled to the left down the hill Stevens misjudged the intent. She also went left and got baulked letting Harvey and Ross through. The backmarker wasn’t at fault. He responded to the blue flag; it was just an unfortunate misjudgement from the leader. Harvey won it by just 0.075 from Ross with Stevens a chastened third and Pilfold fourth some eight seconds adrift. Lilley came home fifth whilst Tomlinson should have been in the top six but he spun his chances away on the final lap after an attempt to wrest fifth from Lilley. Nothing wrong with having a go though. Keightley was next up with Tye, Gurney, Humphreys and Ingram completing the top ten.

Junior 100

Away from the line it was Goodman who had the better traction and he moved into the lead at the exit of turn one chased by polesitter Stansfield. As the pack streamed up the hill dust and grass flew into the air in what looked at first to be a very serious incident. Fortunately no one suffered any injuries other than to their pride. Davison was out on the spot whilst Rigg pulled off too. Huntley got going but was back in eighteenth. Siddall lost out on the first lap falling back a couple of places from fifth whilst Barlow lost four spots. Second lap and Stansfield was at the front having made a move stick on Goodman at the top of the hill. Goodman was now coming under attack from Graham the latter briefly getting ahead on the run up the hill. Goodman had the line however and Graham wisely backed out of the move. Stansfield was well into his stride after getting by the reigning Champion and gradually began to stretch his lead as Goodman fended off Graham and Brown. Down the order Barlow was staging a recovery having settled into a rhythm. Mid race and Massarella got a good tow up the hill and moved ahead of Brown for fourth. Up the hill for the tenth time and Stansfield was well clear but Graham was intent on second and took his chance at the top of the hill. It was a good move but in trying to resist Goodman found himself shuffled back to fifth behind Massarella and Brown. Down into the Devil’s Elbow he tried to put a move on Brown which failed miserably putting them both down the order. He would later explain that he’d been struggling for rear grip after the first couple of laps and took full responsibly for his move on Brown. He would take a penalty but it made little difference as he was well out of the running as was the innocent Brown who would eventually run out fourteenth. Stansfield took the win well clear of Graham and Massarella. Taylor was next. He was actually closing the gap towards the end and might possibly have made it into fourth had there been a few more laps. Parkinson took fifth ahead of Martin who had the feisty Barlow right on his bumper at the end. Baldry was next after a strong run had seen him make up seven places. Cunliffe was ninth with Mooij first Rookie in tenth.

Super Elites

Pearce made a sharp getaway from pole as did Evans from third spot hard behind the polesitter. Inevitably Jerger got forced wide and had a real squirrelly moment as she put two wheels on the grass, losing a little momentum and allowing Faulkner into third as they raced up the hill. End of the lap and as the leaders ran down into the final corner Evans dived down the inside of Pearce into Paddock. There was a collective gasp on the clubhouse balcony as he looked to be way too far back to make a move. But make it he did, and it stuck. Over the line Pearce was second but having run slightly wide out of Paddock Faulkner got alongside and was into second as they turned into the first turn. Jerger too took full advantage and out dragged Pearce up the hill. Behind these came Snape with Baldwin next up having made rapid progress up from ninth on the first lap. Bradbury was next up chased by Darling from Corry, Stanley and Checkley the latter surviving a huge grassy moment going up the hill. And that was how they remained all the way to the flag. Evans took the win and fastest lap with Faulkner second after a race long battle with Jerger. Jerger was clearly faster but just could not find away round Faulkner whose defence was inch perfect. It was a portent of things to come.

Super Masters

Dimelow brought the field up to the line dictating the pace as the poleman but as they crossed the line it was Roots who made the better start and had half a Karts lead as they apexed the first corner. They both gave each other room though but it was Roots clear by the time they crested the hill. Dimelow fought back into the Spoon but Roots held his nerve. Good hard racing. Behind these Friday got the better of Yeoman’s off the line and couldn’t be discounted in the race for the lead. Rainbird was fifth ahead of Lawrence with Sam Fisher heading Breadner. Turnbull was an early spinner. For lap after lap the top eight circulated almost line astern but no one could quite get close enough to the driver in front to challenge. Two thirds distance though and Dimelow got a good run out of the first turn and moved inside Roots at the kink before Spoon. Friday was close behind and followed him through but Roots wasn’t done. Down into the Carousel he was back alongside Friday and back into second. The scuffle over second allowed Dimelow to pull away by just a few lengths. It was enough and he duly took his second win of the day just over a tenth up on Roots. Friday came home a very encouraged third ahead of Yeomans. Rainbird came home fifth ahead of Lawrence and Sam Fisher the three of them line astern as they crossed the line. Neil Fisher took eighth after a duel with Breadner which could have gone either way whilst Port came home tenth.

The Finals

Cadets

Harvey led away from pole with Ross close behind up the hill chased by Stevens with Pilfold fourth ahead of Lilley. Valverde and Keightley were both first lap spinners. Down into the Carousel for the first time and Stevens made a brave move down the inside to emerge on the exit of the corner at the front. There was a long way to go though and as is the norm with Cadets there was no shortage of challenges being made for position round the circuit but at the end of each lap the top four remained the same with Stevens leading from Harvey, Pilfold, Lilley and Gurney. Ross had lost out badly early in the proceedings and was back in sixth. Mid race and Humphreys and Ingram had a coming together at the Compression. It looked worse than it was and they were soon back racing again without any histrionics. A great character building experience Cadet racing. As the race wound down Harvey was right with Stevens having dropped Pilfold who now had Lilley breathing down his neck for third. The leaders were coming up to the backmarkers. Would it lead to Stevens’s downfall again? Not this time. As the blue flags waved she judged her overtaking to perfection. The backmarker stayed to the left down the hill. Unfortunately he kept his foot down and was level with Harvey into the Carousel. Harvey had to go the long way round and lost valuable time allowing Stevens to pull out a lead which she would never lose finally crossing the line just over a second clear of the unfortunate Harvey. Still, from Stevens point of view it made up for her bad luck in the previous race. Behind these two Pilfold and Lilley were battling hard for third with Ross now back into fifth and keeping a watching brief. Up the hill for the final time and it all got a bit feisty up the hill as the two of them touched wheels. Pilfold was hanging on by his fingernails but as they came down the hill for the final time Lilley dived down the inside to claim the final podium spot. Ross held onto fifth from Gurney whilst Tomlinson came home seventh. Tye finished as the leading Rookie back in eighth with Brierley and Hassan completing the top ten.

A great win for Ella Stevens. She may look like a rabbit caught in the headlights when she has a camera thrust in her face but there’s no shortage of confidence when she’s out on track. But for the incident with the backmarker in the pre-Final she would have had a clean sweep. She now heads the standings from Christian Lilley who as always had a big smile on his face on the podium. Thomas Harvey’s second place puts him third in the standings ahead of Louis Ross and Charlie Humphreys whilst Nathan Tye is the leading Rookie and took the Rookie honours at GYG.

Junior 100

Could anyone stop Ty Stansfield from making it a clean sweep? He didn’t make the best of starts from pole and after a frenetic first lap Graham was at the front with Taylor up to second ahead of Stansfield and Massarella. Martin and Parkinson were next up ahead of Baldry and Barlow but Baldry was about to spin away his chances. With three laps run Graham still led but Stansfield had got past Taylor at the top of the hill and was right with the leader. A lap later and he out dragged Graham up the hill and was into the lead. Game over? Not this day. He might have been at the front but he wasn’t getting away. Meanwhile Massarella had slipped by Taylor at the top of the hill for third. A lap later and Taylor was behind Martin as Barlow moved ahead of Parkinson with a well judged move at the Carousel. Stansfield continued to lead and had pulled out a few Kart lengths but Graham and Massarella gradually closed him down. Up the hill for the seventh time and Graham got inside to lead at the kink but Stansfield was later on the brakes into Spoon and would emerge back in front. A lap later though and Graham made the move stick only for Stansfield to take the place back the following lap. And Massarella was right with them both. Behind these three Taylor had moved back into fourth and as the front three fought over the lead he began to edge closer to the battle. With twelve laps run Stansfield still led but down into the Carousel Graham went for the place. Stansfield ran a little wide and Massarella went by as well. Behind these Barlow and Martin were having a mighty battle over fifth. This was stirring stuff almost right through the field. A lap later and Stansfield was back in the lead courtesy of an opportunistic move at the Devil’s Elbow. But Graham wasn’t done and as they ran up the hill the following lap he was inside and into the lead at the kink. But Stansfield fought back immediately taking the place back at Spoon only for Graham to force his way back through as they exited the corner. Could he hold on? Certainly over the next three laps he did. Over the line at the start of the last lap and Graham led. At the top of the hill Stansfield went down the inside. As they exited the corner contact was made and Graham lost a little momentum. It was game over. Stansfield made it over the line half a second to the good. It had been a much closer race than the time suggested. A good win though and a clean sweep. Graham was his usual smiley self after the race. He felt if he’d gone defensive at the top of the hill then Ty would have gone round the outside and probably got by on the run down to the Carousel. It was an honest assessment and he was delighted with second. His day will surely come. For his part Ty felt this had been his hardest ever race in Birelart. Massarella took the final podium spot and had Taylor right on his bumper at the end. Barlow was fifth. Not his greatest day perhaps but he never stopped driving his heart out all day. Martin claimed sixth ahead of Parkinson whilst Goodman came home eighth after a fine drive saw him move up nine places. Brown took ninth and the Rookie honours. Siddall completed the top ten.

Stansfields win sees him move to the top of the standings. Ty is in imperious form at the moment and oozing confidence. Harry Barlow slips to second from Nicky Taylor, Thomas Massarella and Harry Graham.

Super Elites

Evans led up to the line on pole but Faulkner anticipated the start just a fraction better and got off to a flyer to lead round the first corner. Evans drifted wide and Pearce on the outside from his fourth place grid spot was forced out onto the grass. It was just a racing incident, Evans understeering wide on tyres that didn’t quite have enough heat in them. Jerger kept out of trouble in third followed by Baldwin and Snape with Pearce back on the tarmac in sixth. With two laps gone he took Snape going up the hill and a lap later was into fourth but some distance behind the front three. Faulkner led but Jerger was right with Evans and as they entered Spoon for the fourth time she moved into second. What followed was a master class in defensive driving from Faulkner. Think Villeneuve at Jarama in 1981. For those of you old enough to remember that is! Lap after lap Faulkner would come down the Devil’s Elbow just a little off the pace but positioning his Kart carefully enough to prevent Jerger from getting by. Then into the final turn he was hard on the throttle just a fraction before Jerger could respond. Then it was hard over the line, round the first turn and up the hill with Jerger clawing back the gap fraction by fraction. Into Spoon he would go defensive sending Jerger the long way round before moving left at next corner and compromising Jergers’s exit. Inch perfect driving. Into the final lap and Jerger could find no answer. Evans in third had dropped back by a few lengths and now had Pearce almost close enough to challenge for third. A good recovery drive this from Pearce after his first lap off he’d fought back well. Up the hill for the final time and Jerger was just a little further adrift of Faulkner as they braked for Spoon and made no attempt to challenge. But Evans wasn’t done. From well back he was super late on the brakes, down the inside of Jerger and into second. Both of them ran a touch wide giving Faulkner a bit of breathing space. As they came down the hill for the final time he wasn’t going to be caught and as he crossed the line he gave a wave of the hand. The first time in my memory that he has ever shown any great emotion at a race victory. Sam seriously felt his motor was down on power all weekend and looked well drained as he removed his helmet in parc ferme. Evans second place was valuable points for the Championship. Rich was all smiles post race. He’d seen the opportunity and grasped it firmly. He reckoned the last lap overtake was payback on Ami for Shenny. But there was no malice in the remark. Ami was disappointed with third but she’d perhaps just lost a little concentration on the final lap having unconsciously settled for second. She did have the consolation of fastest lap again. As she said, Sam had defended so well she just could not find a way by. Pearce came home fourth clear of Snape who was in turn well up the road from Stanley. Baldwin took seventh and first Rookie with Bradbury a solid eighth ahead of Hudman. Darling was next with Corry and Checkley bringing up the rear.

Evans still heads the standings but Faulkner has closed the gap a little. Jerger is third with Pearce still well in touch in fourth. It’s all shaping up to be a thrilling Championship.

Masters

The final race of an absorbing day. Dimelow on pole from Roots. Dimelow brought the field to the line very slowly and then hit the loud peddle hard pulling a kart and half lengths on his rival. Immediately after the startline cone he darted left, discouraging Roots from trying round the outside, before sweeping into the apex. This left Roots vulnerable to attack from behind and Yeomans almost made it by but as they ran up the hill he hung on to second. Game on. Neil Fisher’s day came to a premature end at the top of the hill after heavy contact with Breadner for which the latter was docked two places at the end of the race. Yeomans was into third and being harried by Friday whilst Rainbird and Sam Fisher kept a watching brief. Both the leaders were driving superbly. For Dimelow, racing with an injured neck it was a case of shutting out the discomfort and concentrating on keeping a gap. For Roots, all he could do was drive the wheels off his machine. Lap after lap a few lengths apart and then suddenly Roots was dropping off the pace. Clearly a problem. Most observers thought he’d probably got his tyre pressures wrong and was losing grip but it turned out he’d popped a rib and was in increasing pain. Dimelow suddenly found himself with a ten kart length lead. Under no pressure he reeled off the remaining laps to take the win and be the second driver to record a clean sweep at the meeting. Such had been the pace of the leaders that despite his injury Roots still claimed second from a rapidly closing Friday. Friday had been involved in a hard battle with Yeomans for the place finally getting by up the hill. Whilst he did close in on Roots there weren’t enough laps left for him to challenge. Sam Fisher took fourth. Rainbird and Yeomans tangled four from home and Fisher took advantage as they sorted themselves out. Yeomans placed fifth from Rainbird with Lawrence seventh. Port, Howe and Turnbull completed the top ten. Howe took the Rookie honours and Dimelow set fastest lap.

Dimelow remains at the top of the standings from Roots, Yeomans, Rainbird and Sam Fisher.

A fabulous days racing at GYG. Four very worthy winners. Our thanks go to all the Marshalls for a superb job and all the officials. The unsung heroes of motorsport. From the spectacular scenery of Wales its next stop the flat plains of my home county, Lincolnshire, and the long established Fulbeck circuit.

See you there!

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