Good Job by J-Dub11.10.14 John Whitehouse takes the class nine win; Phil Rogers takes the title.
Phil Rogers was an absentee this weekend, and there was talk in the pits that he might have miscalculated the championship outcome based on Sam Gould’s potential points accruement. He felt that, after round four, he had put it out of reach and couldn’t be caught, and caught he was not: Gould had a great run but finished 29 points adrift, confirming Rogers as the 2014 champion.
Up to the end of round four, the Welshman was the only one to have the security of a maximum score: had Gould done likewise at round five Rogers may have been in trouble, but a third place in the final for Gould let Rogers off the hook and secured a safe second in the standings, a task made easier by the absence of Ian Spencer.
It’s been a comparatively sparse field at even the most well supported events this season, but with only 12 entrants here resulting in two grids, the pressure to perform at ten tenths and get a top result was lessened slightly.
Nevertheless, Gould was on stunning form and was the only driver to take three heat wins, with John Whitehouse qualifying twenty points behind. These two were a fair distance ahead of the others after the heats: only Keith Matthews and James Bowe took wins too in heats one and three respectively, but elsewhere were among the rest of the competitors with their thirds, fourths and fifths, etc.
It was a little surprising to see Gould in midfield at the start of the final, defending a fourth position from Russ Addyman, and simultaneously watching Russ Thompson and Mark Barker fighting for the runner-up spot ahead.
It had been a drag race from the line to the first corner between Barker and Whitehouse, but the Scunthorpe driver succeeded in cutting across Barker’s nose, with clubmate Thompson taking a wide line then running side by side with the Evesham driver for the next half a lap.
Thompson did a brilliant job to deftly work his way around the outside of Barker in what amounted to a lap-long manoeuvre, and no sooner had Thompson passed him that Gould was attempting a pass up the inside of Barker, but Barker’s momentum was sufficient and he held the position for another lap.
Gould’s manoeuvre on the third placed driver was also around the outside and once he was in third he stayed there, applying pressure to Thompson but finding the Scunthorpe driver equal to the task. The pair’s respective tussles with Barker had allowed Whitehouse to extent his lead at the front and he took an untroubled run to the chequer, his strong tally from the weekend moving him from eleventh to sixth in the points after having missed rounds two and four.
The battle for second was an exciting one but the positions stayed the same with Thompson impressively hanging on to his position by a slim margin, closely followed by Gould. Barker had maintained fourth since dropping away, with Addyman as close to him in fifth as Gould had been to Thompson, then there was a fair distance back to Matthews, Simon Parsonage and Mark Brooks.
As the pack entered the first corner on lap one, Brooks had made brief contact with Gould and spun out towards the barrier, then circulated at the tail end throughout having rejoined half a lap down.
Brooks’s car has been the star of the ladies class this season with Nicola Jesse at the wheel. She rounded off the season with a victory here but had to work her way up from the back of the grid.
With closest rival Kelly Paines an absentee this weekend, it was an easy task for Jesse to claim the title too.
Katie Addyman made a blistering start and led into the first turn followed by Sharon Barker, Jesse and Angie Chilvers. Barker half spun in turn one and was collected by Jesse, which allowed Chilvers through into second and put the pair back to third and fourth respectively.
It only took half a lap for the York driver to move up to third, and set off in pursuit of the pair ahead who had begun a fight for the lead. A few wide lines by Addyman in the opening stages had allowed Chilvers a chance to challenge, but her efforts were in vain until the start of the third lap when Addyman went wide again and gifted the lead to Chilvers.
Their brief fight had allowed Jesse to close up, and then Addyman made the same error again half a lap later through the pits bend. This allowed Jesse the chance to draw alongside and then take second place, and she was on the tail of Chilvers almost immediately.
It took another two laps before Jesse was able to get past the leader: the leading duo caught up to lap Barker – she had spun out shortly after being passed by Jesse – and Jesse took advantage of Chilvers’ hesitation as she negotiated the Evesham car to move herself past into the lead.
With only one lap to go, Chilvers had no opportunity to retaliate and the York driver took the victory, with Chilvers a fairly distant second, Addyman third and Barker a lap down in fourth.
Main: John Whitehouse was the clear winner, but Phil Rogers took the title despite not contesting the event. Above: Nicola Jesse took another win, and the title, after a brilliant drive (photos: Dan Moffatt).