Round 8 of the 2014-15 NatSKA campaign took place at the coastal track Ellough Park (3.5.2015). 86 drivers entered and made the trip east for the bank holiday meeting, some of which made a weekend of it staying at local caravan sites and hotels. The 1,050m circuit has appeared on the NatSKA calendar a few times of late but being one of the newer additions it was still very fresh for some drivers and spectators, with it’s fast flowing nature and double apex-ed corners it is a treat to behold when racing is in full flow. Being this far down south we expected some good weather but what would English karting be without a torrential down pour to kick the day off with? Rain or shine our drivers always prove an adapting skill set is very much required for racing in the UK, a few of which rose above the rest to dominate their classes, with many wrapping up the result before the final heat!
Our Cadet class 1 showed no fear come the first heat of the day, with the rain pouring down and the puddles dotted all around the track they set out regardless to practice their driving and to race against the clock. Ewan Sime of Tarporley was closely matched in the rain in the morning by Josh Neve of Bexley, who did his best to stick with Ewan throughout the day. The pair clocked similar times as the heats went on with Josh coming within 2 tenths of Ewan in the final heat, his best of the day and closet to his rival. Ewan however came out on top with an average time of 59.85 to Josh’s 59.98. William Cook of AMS followed in 3rd with a 63.12.
Class 7 Jnr TKM had a strong grid of 20 line up, all keen to take advantage of the unpredictability often seen in wet conditions. All 3 Championship challengers were in attendance and with the end of the season approaching Charlie Palmer of St Michael’s and the ever improving James Mills of Tarporley were keen to make gains on leader Lee Whittingham also of Tarporley. Lee and Charlie lined up next to each other in heat 1 back in 16th & 15th while James started 4th. He led from start to finish pulling a gap of nearly 8 seconds to 2nd place man Ben Heyes who made a strong charge early on up from 8th on the grid. Lee managed to make a stronger start than Charlie back in 16th, moving into 4th by the third lap and then snatching 3rd with 4 laps to go taking it to the chequered. Heat 2 looked to be a battle between Lee and Charlie at the front of the grid. Starting 3rd and 4th Charlie made up for losing out in heat 1 by passing not only Lee on the first lap but the other two drivers in front. Charlie led from there to the chequered flag but he had James making a charge from back in 15th to keep an eye on. James showed his wet weather pace plucking people off as he made his way to 2nd by the 6th lap. Lee went out early on leaving Charlie Mooney of 1165ATC to move up, he lost out to James’s charge on lap 6 and finished 3rd but unfortunately suffered a penalty which moved Theo Hesketh of Tarporley up the order replacing him. Heat 3 looked set to be the first dry race of the day but many of the drivers on the grid failed to see this sticking to wets. Championship leader Lee Whittingham however proved why he sits at the top by making the call to put slick tires on. With very few drivers on slicks this was a recipe for a good race! The race started with the wets being the right choice but that quickly changed with Lee and other slick tire drivers making headway, and make headway did Lee! He started in 12th but managed to catch early leader Reece Griffiths who also made use of his slicks by lap 4. Lee took it from there pulling out a comfortable 2.50 sec gap. Reece followed Lee to the line in 2nd easily ahead of the first of the wet runners Charlie Palmer of St Michael’s by 10 secs. Charlie made steady progress from 13th, showing James Mills that he had the pace in the drying conditions even on wets pipping him on the final lap for 3rd. Heat 4 was do or die for James, Lee and Charlie! With each of them winning a race earlier in the day they all had a good chance of winning the meeting going into the final heat. Charlie was set for the best chance, starting in 4th with a warm dry track he followed early leader Charlie Mooney of 1165ATC on the first lap moving up to 2nd come lap 2. Charlie Mooney pushed on pulling out a decent gap but Palmer reeled him in lap by lap, he couldn’t quite do enough though as Mooney kept it 3 tenths ahead come the chequered flag. Charlie finished 2nd with the fastest lap by some margin and a safe 4 seconds ahead of rival James Mills who finished 3rd after steadily climbing from 13th on the grid. Unfortunately for Charlie his dry weather pace wasn’t enough to win the meeting over James come the end of the day. they both bagged the same final score but James won on the ‘highest score in heats’ decider having finished 4th in heat 3 to Charlie’s 5th earlier in the day. Charlie took his second 2nd place of the year with Lee finishing up in 3rd 2 points behind the pair.
Class 11 Jnr Honda rocked a strong grid as usual with 12 drivers lining up. Joe Habershon of Barclay dominated all day, taking 3 victories and because of that chose not to start in his final heat. Joe took advantage of his front row start early in heat 1 marching into the lead in the torrential rain a full 27 seconds ahead of anyone else. With his fastest lap time a almost 3 seconds faster than the rest it wasn’t hard to see why! Charlie Whittingham of Tarporley gained 5 places from his grid slot to move into 2nd by lap 2 with Leo Crabtree of St Michaels only in his 3rd race meeting not to far behind in 3rd, chasing him as he fought through the pack. Heat 2 proved to be a bit more challenging than heat 1 for Joe as he started in 8th place on the grid. Charlie lead early on taking the place from Leo on lap 2, Charlie went from there leading for a handful of laps before Joe reeled him in. Joe took the lead on lap 6 taking it to the chequered flag with a 3.2 sec gap. Charlie followed in 2nd 17 seconds in front of Rowan Mackley of St Michaels in 3rd. Heat 3 saw an early battle for the lead with Joe pulling away from 2nd place man Leo Crabtree. Leo put in a strong performance behind Joe in the drying conditions, fighting from 5th to come 17 seconds behind Joe. Behind Leo Rio Rhoden of Edmonton made a brilliant come back finishing 3rd after falling back to 6th on the second lap after climbing to 2nd by the end of the first. With Joe sitting out of heat 4 Rio of Edmonton lead from start to finish, pulling out a mighty 12 sec gap to Charlie Whittingham and a further 1 sec to 3rd place runner Leo. Leo again showed his ever improving skills in both the wet and dry in his third ever meeting climbing from 5th on the grid. The finals results saw Joe on the top step of the podium with rival Charlie in 2nd and not far behind (2 point gap) Leo of St Michael’s in 3rd.
The Snr Honda class 12 saw another driver dominate in the changing conditions. Harvey Hollick of Barclay did all the work early on winning his first 3 heats, giving him a nice cushion as heat 4 rolled around. Heat 1 saw Harvey pull out a mighty 23.4 sec gap, leading from the front of the grid. Championship leader Merrick Crook of St Michaels 1 of only 2 drivers not from Barclay on the grid did his best to hunt him down starting back in 5th but just couldn’t rival Harvey’s impressive pace. Connor Murril of Barclay finished another 30 sec back, only just hanging onto 3rd from team mate Amy Patterson. Heat 2 saw Harvey sweat a little pushing through from a 9th place start to take the win on the last lap from Merrick who started 3 places in front in 6th. Merrick lead by lap 2 but couldn’t do enough to finish in front of Harvey who took the win by a very small margin on 0.07 sec. Team mate Amy rounded off the podium in 3rd improving on her earlier attempt. Heat 3 was a bit more relaxing for Harvey as he started on the front of the grid and lead to the finish, but in the drying conditions team mate Connor Murrill managed to finish a bit closer this time only 8 seconds behind. In 3rd William Clarke came in a further 15 seconds off the lead. Heat 4 saw a change of pace with Merrick Crook lining up on the front row, who on the first corner got caught up in a incident which put him to the back and eventually saw him go out with a technical issue. This left it to 7th place man Connor who steadily fought his way through taking the lead on lap 4, but found Harvey hard on his tail throughout. Harvey managed to slip in front of Connor early on but fell back shortly after ultimately spelling the out come of the race. Harvey fought back as hard as he could but it wasn’t enough finishing behind Connor by only 0.05 of a sec. Harvey’s early victories did enough though handing him the 1st place trophy come the end of the day with Connor in 2nd and team mate Will Clarke in 3rd his best result of the season.
Class 13 Modified Honda saw not only the 3rd dominating outcome of the day but the driver was class 12 winner Harvey Hollick. Harvey in his first meeting in the class stomped the rest by taking victories in all 4 of his heats. The theme was the same throughout the day with Harvey finishing a good 30+ sec ahead of the rest in each heat. Heat 1 saw Harvey shine in the wet conditions finishing 1st with the only other driver to finish team mate Sean Browne in 2nd. Heat 2 saw a similar scene with Harvey leading by a large margin but with Ryan Newcomb in front of team mate Sean this time. 3 drivers finished the 3rd heat yet again with Sean triumphing over Ryan who were both behind Harvey come the chequered. Harvey pulled another large gap to 2nd place in the final heat 4, which was populated by Ethan Murrill of Barclay who found himself finishing his first race of the day after suffering numerous problems. Behind Ethan in 3rd was team mate Sean Browne a good 15 seconds a drift. Harvey took his second 1st place trophy of the day as prize giving got underway with Sean Browne in 2nd and Ryan Newcomb in 3rd.
Class 14 Raket had a strong turn out and like 11, 12 and 13 it saw a single driver dominate the majority of the day. Josh Fish of St Michael’s in heat 1 made a a strong start initially losing out on the first lap to then push on to take the lead by lap 3. He convincingly led from there, pulling out a 7.30 sec to championship leader Robbie White of Tarporley. Robbie climbed from 5th on the grid making similar progress to Josh as the laps went by. Behind Robbie was team mate mate Jake Bailey-Saltmarsh who finished in the very position he started in, 3rd. Heat 2 saw a slight change of roles with Robbie starting on the front row to lead from start to finish, behind him Josh had his work cut out climbing from 6th on the grid to reach up to 2nd by the end of the first lap. There he stayed chasing down Robbie to the chequered flag with Jon Daniels of Tarporley coming in 3rd 20 secs behind. Heat 3 saw Josh take heat 1 3rd place man Jake on the first lap for the lead as they both gunned to hold the front of the grid. Josh led from here until the charging Robbie got in between them, climbing the order to take the lead from Josh on lap 4. Not only did Josh lose the lead but he also fell behind 3rd place man Jake as he capitalised on Robbie making his move for the front. But it didn’t take Josh long to come back at Jake as he reclaimed 2nd place on the 7th lap. From here the order stayed the same till the end of the race, With Robbie pulling out a 12-15sec to the two who followed. The pressure of the final heat seemed to take effect on the field as they headed out for their first fully dry race of the day. As Robbie lead from start to finish the rest of the pack found themselves fighting tooth and nail, the order changed numerous times with drivers falling back and making renewed challenges. One of these drivers was Josh who fought through from 6th on the grid to finish 2nd on the dry track, taking Jake on the second to last lap. Jake did his best to hold on but found his efforts were wasted as he fell a good 2 secs behind Josh come the end finishing in 3rd. The day ended with Robbie on the top step thanks to his 3 wins, Josh in 2nd and Jake in 3rd.
Class 15 Jnr Rotax followed the trend of the other classes with one driver rising above the rest from the start. 2nd place Championship man Jack Ward of Barclay capitalised on the weather and pushed hard from the get go, rising through the field in heat 1 to 2nd place by the first lap. From here he chased down leader Jordan Brown of AMS passing him on the 4th lap and pulling out a healthy lead. As Jack pulled away Jordan did his best to fend off the challenge of Tarporley driver Connor Bailey who started on the front row with Jordan. They both fought to the final lap where a tenth separating the two come the finish line. Heat 2 saw a close battle between James Scanlon of St Michael’s and Jack Ward, they both tussled for the lead with James eventually succeeding over Jack early on. Jack however stuck with James the best he could to find himself picking up the pieces when James made a driver error. Jack then moved ahead, comfortably leading to the line with James trailing in 2nd and Connor Bailey yet again bringing it home in 3rd. In heat 3 however Connor managed to turn his 3rd place theme on it’s head by making an excellent start from 5th on the grid on the first lap, he led from there pulling a gap. He didn’t get far though as Jack Ward started to reel him in from back in 11th, Jack pushed hard through the pack making decent progress and by lap 4 he was up in 2nd. Here Jack made his challenge to Connor out in front but Connor had already got the job done by pulling out a strong gap early on. The flag fell with Jack 2 secs behind Connor and Fraser Sime of Tarporley who did his best to mirror Jack’s rise through the pack in 3rd a further 7 secs behind. Heat 4 was all wrapped up by the first corner as Jack started from the front of the grid in 2nd moving up to 1st pretty much instantaneously. Jack pulled out a decent gap to second place man Fraser who did just enough early on to keep Connor Bailey behind him. Connor visited the 3rd place step once again, coming within 1.2 secs of 2nd place as the chequered flag fell on the final heat. The day ended the way it started which meant Jack was the most likely candidate for the meeting Victory. He stood on the top step with Connor not far behind in 2nd applying further pressure to his championship campaign. On the 3rd step for the first time was James Scanlon of St Michael’s who showed his hand in heat 2/3 challenging & leading briefly, knocking on the door but not quite having enough to hold on.
Our next meeting is at Clay Pigeon on 16th of this month so come on down if you live close by! Head over to our calender for more details and feel free to get in touch if you require anymore information.
The full meeting photo album can be found here
1. (8) James Mills – Tarporley
2. (4) Charlie Palmer – St Michael’s
3. (5) Lee Whittingham – Tarporley
1. (74) Shaun Jarvis – Bexley
2. (51) Corey O’Connor – AMS
3. (66) George Peters – Barclay
1. (31) Joe Habershon – Barclay
2. (17) Charlie Whittingham – Tarporley
3. (45) Leo Crabtree – St Michael’s
1. (20) Harvey Hollick – Barclay
2. (2) Connor Murrill – Barclay
3. (5) Will Clarke – Barclay
1. (68) Harvey Hollick – Barclay
2. (61) Sean Browne – Barclay
3. (63) Ryan Newcomb – Barclay
1. (4) Robbie White – Tarporley
2. (16) Josh Fish – St Michael’s
3. (11) Jake Bailey Saltmarsh – Tarporley
1. (3) Jack Ward – Barclay
2. (6) Connor Bailey – Tarporley
3. (23) James Scanlon – St Michael’s