Maximum finish07.10.15 Griffithsd and Carter end with a max to claim their titles.
After being beaten so narrowly to the title last year by Tom Roberts, it was difficult not to wish some good fortune on Ash Robinson for 2015. His position as one of the class leaders for many seasons deserves the reward of a title, and it quickly became apparent he would be a contender again.
Danny Hobson, who would eventually become National champion a few months later, was the highest scorer at round one. A trio of heat wins preceded a second in the final, but this would be by far his best score of the season.
The winner was the man from whom Hobson stole the National crown, as Conner Griffiths set a precedent for the rest of the season – and it would turn out to be his season.
Griffiths outscored Robinson by 46 points at South Wales, which included another victory in the final, but then when Robinson took the win at round three and Griffiths non-started, the situation was levelled again and set up an exciting battle for the final two events.
Both drivers received a black flag at round four where Kieran Griffiths was the winner, but Conner’s penalty came in heat three which prevented an appearance in the final. Robinson was the recipient in the main race itself, though it was arguably a questionable decision and in hindsight the blame should perhaps have been otherwise apportioned. But despite this, his score was nearly double that of his title rival and the resulting closeness of the points situation underlined why Class One is always so interesting to follow, which put Robinson in a similar position to last season ahead of the final round.
After four rounds, both had 210 points as their highest tally to use as their doubled score, but Griffiths put in a superb performance at the final round, taking a trio of heat wins with Robinson second in each of his. The Spalding driver’s subsequent non-appearance in the final, together with a win for Griffiths and therefore a maximum score, ultimately secured the title for the latter by a healthy 68 points.
Robinson held second overall ahead of Daniel Lodge, who has also undeniably been one of the stars of the year; consistently scoring well to finish 30 points behind Robinson, with Hobson and Ian Ullathorne behind rounding out the top five. Despite the black flag at round four and the non-start at York, Robinson is the only driver, out of a consistently strong entry at every round, to have qualified for every final this season.
The sister car to Hobson’s Nationals-winning machine has served Amy Carter well; she has taken three final wins this season on her way to the title, but Katie Wilson has been a tough rival all season.
Wilson was the winner at the first round though Carter came away the leader with a better score after three heat wins and a second in the final. Then, paradoxically, Carter was the winner at round two but outscored overall by Michaela Dance, who it was a pleasure to see return to the unmodified class for 2015 after being so dominant many years ago.
Carter’s comparatively lacklustre score at round four perhaps didn’t matter too much as she had been by far the highest scorer at Evesham’s third round so has a little points cushion over Wilson that allowed her a little breathing space for the final round. In the end, it wasn’t needed.
Carter copied Griffiths’ performance and took a maximum score to secure the title, with Wilson 102 points adrift in the end after a mix of results at round five.
Aside from Carter and Wilson, Ashlea Cowperthwaite was the only other final winner this season, removing herself from our mental list of talented drivers who have been long overdue for a win at the top level. She missed the final at rounds two and three but finished the year in third ahead of Dance, who may well have taken third herself had she contested the final round in Kieran Griffiths’ car.
Main: Conner Griffiths came out best after a good battle all year. Above: Amy Carter took her top-spec car to the Ladies title, to join its Men's Nationals-winning sister machine.