Beating the best17.05.15 Huge, high quality entry is topped by Thomas.
It was clear from his many good performances last year that it probably wouldn’t be long before Dan Thomas took an overall win; but it’s even more impressive that he looked so in control against such a sizeable, high quality field. At 78 cars, it was the biggest entry of the weekend, and also meant we had semi-finals here too.
That Nathan Rees was the only driver unbeaten in the heats is also impressive. The fact he then failed to make the final with a fifth in the semi will no doubt have sparked the same old debates somewhere about it being unfair, that a rule change is needed, etc.; and it’s Rees’s attitude to this that’s most worthy of note.
“Chuffed to bits with three heat wins in class eight but still did not make the final. That's racing for you and that is what keeps us coming back for more. Awesome weekend,” wrote the Welshman on the Sunday evening, showing a refreshing level-headedness and ability to give perspective to his pursuit that’s seemingly – unfortunately – shared by very few drivers. He still sits fourth in the points despite not taking part in the final, which is an incredibly strong position ahead of his home round. At the time of writing he is on course to be top of the league table in national qualifying too, so you can expect another great drive next time out with the benefit of extra track time and knowledge of the circuit’s characteristics.
Thomas was only beaten once in the heats, and went to the semi in joint second with Phil Rogers. ‘Billy’ was another who’d you’d have expected to be a dead cert for a place in the final, but brief contact in his semi resulted in a spin and a place at the rear of the field. Look at the vast number of potential event winners in the top 16 and beyond, and it’s clear this was one of the strongest class eight entries for years, so for Thomas to win with such composure was a huge achievement.
In the class two report we explained about the issues with starting from grid one; but it’s just as difficult to get a decent entry to the first corner from one of the outermost grids with most of your rivals to your right.
From grid seven Thomas started and made an excellent getaway, as he was able to cut back across the front of his rivals after a fairly wide line in the first turn to lead up the finish straight. He maintained a fairly wide line throughout but his unbroken momentum kept him in the lead, with Dave Newby the constant aggressor behind. Newby was briefly able to close up, but it was a fleeting moment, and Thomas’s winning margin was a comfortable one by the final lap.
Newby, Jordan Blore and Daz Mullen were all fairly evenly matched through the first turn but Blore was an early casualty, pulling to the outside line at the end of the first lap, then parking on the infield.
Mullen held third behind Newby for the majority of the race, but in the closing stages Max Lewis passed Mullen and took the position. Lewis had practically been gifted fourth beforehand when Stephen Mills understeered wide, but Mills held the position ahead of Tom Chadwick, who was a little lost in the dust at times towards the back of the pack.
Antony Ross took a wide line through the first turn which let the rest of the drivers through in front of him. He was unable to recover from his last position, which, when added to the points from a fairly good qualifying run, leave him in an unusually lowly 15th overall.
Having not driven in class eight for many years, Nicola Jesse’s win here in what is arguably the most difficult Ladies class made her ‘feel like she’d won the Nationals’.
She was only sixth qualifier with a win and two thirds but immediately pulled ahead in the first lap of the final, withstood pressure from top qualifier Lindsay Stephenson then controlled the race perfectly.
Stephenson was her nearest rival for most of the race but was passed in the closing stages by Sue Nicholls, by which time Jesse was uncatchable.
Aly Ashmore continued to underline the ability that took her to last year’s class seven Nationals title, aswell as other BAS class titles many years ago, with a second place after the heats and a strong fourth in the final which puts her in the runner up spot in the championship.
Shelley Tipton and Emily occupied fifth and sixth respectively, each largely untroubled throughout, with Gill’s future sister-in-law(!) Laura Makar at the tail end in seventh. Tori Coles just made the cut by four points but was ultimately a non-starter.
Main: Thomas was sensational against the sport's best drivers. Above: Jesse was surprised with her win but she drove an excellent race.