With 11 rounds complete and the summer holidays creeping up it could only mean one thing, the National Finals! NatSKA’s final and biggest meeting of the year where championship titles are decided and sprint plates awarded to those who come out on top after the 3 day event. With Friday, Saturday and Sunday booked in at the brilliant Rowrah circuit everyone’s thoughts turned to the weather…. The track and facilities may be flawless but most in the organisation are very familiar with the conditions that typically spawn up in the lake district! Lets just say many sets of wet tyres were blown up and ready to go before many even arrived.
An array of activities had been organised not only for the drivers but the parents and helpers involved too. The National Finals has always been treated as more than just a race weekend, most take advantage of the social aspect by camping at the track, holding team BBQ’s and discussing more than just karting into the early hours of the morning (quietly of course). The Fun Factor games was one of these planned ‘activities’, hosting a trolley dash around the circuit and a tyre changing contest! (The brain child of our trusty grid keeper Stuart Newton). They were both a hit, more with the laughing spectators as many involved demonstrated how unfit they are after attempting a lap of the circuit on foot! Once everyone had recovered a corporate kart event took place for the parents and helpers, kindly put on by the circuit owner Malcome Fell. A strong grid of 25+ karts (3 drivers per team) lined up and set out to show everyone else how it is done! There were many spins, a few bruises and the odd spattering of wood chippings on the track come the end but it was worth it for those involved. The winning team was a set of retired drivers from St Michael’s Kart Racing Club, a scruffy bunch who obviously still had a bit of talent left in them once they’d done a few laps. It was a cracking evening and something we all look forward to every year!
Unsurprisingly there were mixed conditions through out the weekend, but nothing that seemed to faze those who had their sights set on getting their name engraved alongside past NatSKA champions on the sprint & championship shields! After a dry Friday practice the weekends racing started wet, but with the wind picking up and sun breaking through every now and again some dry racing looked hopeful…..
Class 1 Cadet
The challenging Rowrah circuit has been missing from the NatSKA calendar for some time, so rather a lot of the drivers in attendance hadn’t even raced on it before! This was certainly true for the Class 1 Cadets who tackled the tight hairpins and unforgiving wood chip traps with ease. With 9 cadets on the grid for the final meeting of the season it was a strong sign that the newly stated class was a success for the organisation this year. Scored via the best average time from the weekends 6 races Tarporley driver Harvey Cole came out on top with a time of 61.1 seconds. He was then followed by close competitors Josh Neve of Bexley (62.1) & Ewan Sime of Tarporley (62.3), a battle that’s been going on all season!
Class 7 Jnr TKM
With the ups and downs the championship challengers had succumbed to at the last couple of meetings it was always going to be a nail biting spectacle at the 11 corner 1030m beast. Lee Whittingham sat pretty at the top with season long rivals Charlie Palmer and James Mills not far behind. The first race of the weekend saw Palmer start a considerable margin in front on the grid compared to Mills & Whittingham, but with it being wet anything could happen. Whittingham charged through the pack from all the way back in 16th while Palmer did his best to hold his own in the front running pack. The wet conditions suited Lee as he took it up another notch moving into the lead, while Palmer lost out to Charlie Mooney of Tarporley on the last lap, missing out on 2nd place. Heat 2 saw the track start to dry up giving Theo Hesketh the opportunity to lead early on from the front of the grid, until an incident and a red flag brought the race to a halt. After the restart Hesketh lost out to the battling pair of Mills and team mate to both Kurt Roberts. Mills managed to succeed the pair taking 1st followed by Roberts 2nd and Hesketh in 3rd come the chequered flag. Heat 3 the final one of the day saw Palmer finally get his National Finals campaign up and running taking an early lead after a impressive first lap. Starting 10th on the grid he worked his way forwards early on in the fully dry conditions, knowing after an DNF in heat 2 it was essential to finish the day off well. He led all the way to the finish while Hesketh followed in his footsteps climbing the order from 14th to finish an impressive 2nd. Team mate Mooney bagged another decent result in 3rd. Sunday remained dry as the TKM’s set our for heat 4, but their ability to perform an acceptable rolling lap didn’t win over the Clerk of the course. After numerous attempts the race was the racing finally got under way after a much improved effort. Whittingham maked a return to the front after his anonymous effort in heat 2 & 3 which saw two DNF’s. With his chances of taking the championship now greatly diminished he pushed on regardless pulling out a healthy gap to the chequered flag. Mills did his up most to challenge Whittingham but settled for 2nd as team mate Kurt Roberts bagged another podium after starting 9th. Heat 5 saw a similar turn out after another incident that caused a red flag, both Whittingham and Mills came through to the lead after the restart not finding much resistance starting in 4th & 5th. Lee took another victory, Mills 2nd and Mooney quietly took another podium after starting all the way back in 18th. Whittingham kept up his theme of the weekend, either finishing 1st or not at all in the final heat. Sadly for him his two early DNF’s on the Saturday hindered his efforts, but he certainly did all he could to make up for them, surging from all the way back in 20th to take his 4th victory of the weekend, the only driver to get 2 or more. His victory was helped however as a high running Theo Hesketh ran into technical issues thus significantly slowing down on the racing line going into the first hairpin. This caught Palmer out as he looked to save face on his poor weekend while taking evasive action, putting it in the dreaded wood chippings. This gave him another DNF a long with Hesketh while Whittingham took the win, Mills a third 2nd in a row and Kurt Roberts another solid result which would prove vital in the final standings.
As the day came to a close James Mills of Tarporley came out on top not only in the weekends results but also in the championship. After trailing team mate and rival Whittingham all season the sprint win did the job, heavily captilasing on Lee’s Saturday misfortune. Whittingham however held his head high and rightfully so after putting in a blistering performance on the Sunday to keep everyone else at bay for 2nd place in the seasons standings. Behind Mills came team mate Kurt Roberts who equaled his best performance of the year, while also beating two time meeting winner Charlie Mooney who came in behind the pair in 3rd for both the weekend and the championship standings.
Class 8 100cc Rotary Reed
The long standing class 8 (45+ years) played host to all 4 drivers on one grid for the first time this season, with 8 point separating them in the championship. The day started with number 73 Shaun Jarvis of Bexley taking the victory over George Peters of Barclay in damp conditions in heat 1. The second heat started simple enough with Cory O’Connor of AMS walking into the lead after starting from pole. But he managed to lose control of his kart while flying solo, giving Peters the lead about three quarters through the race. Peters however found himself pitting shortly after thanks to a technical handing Jarvis another heat victory. In heat 3 O’Connor again managed to take the early lead and build a gap, but as the race went on Peters slowly reeled him in, taking small amounts of him each lap. Unfortunately it was to little to late and O’Connor took the third heat for himself. Heat 4 finally granted Peters his first victory of the weekend, enabling him to start his National finals campaign. Peters led from the front of the grid, shaking off O’Connor come the end after being pushed all the way! Peters kept his rhythm going heading into heat 5 after his earlier dry spell, bagging himself another victory this time over Saturdays victor Jarvis. The final heat sealed the weekend for Peters as he kept up his winning streak finishing ahead of Jarvis yet again as the chequered flag dropped on the weekends action.
The final standings saw Peters late dash for glory do enough for his campaign both for the sprints and championship. He finished 1st in both taking home the S plate as well as the championship shield for the season. In 2nd followed Jarvis and in 3rd team mate Jack Bird after O’Connor saw himself excluded from the weekends action.
Class 11 Jnr Honda GX160
Class 11 is often the proving ground for many drivers starting their NatSKA campaign, often those who rise above the crop here go onto bag similar results elsewhere, so it’s always a good one to watch play out not only at the National Finals but also over season! Heading into this meeting we had the Habershon brothers from Barclay on strong odds to get a foot on the podium after a very strong later half of the season, and Charlie Whittingham of Tarporley a driver who’s always been there ready to spoil the Habershon party! Heat 1 started with Whittingham doing just as he has all season, upsetting the Habershon challenge and taking an early victory after starting 3rd on the grid, behind Joe Habershon. Heat 2 saw the younger of the two brothers pull a strong lead from the beginning, leaving Joe to fend off the rest of the pack as they battled hard behind him. A similar theme appeared in the third heat but this time James sat in the lead infront of Joe come the chequered flag after starting from the very back of the grid, kicking off his National Final campaign in impressive style. Heat 4 saw the positioning swap yet again, as James moved past his brother after starting a healthy 5 places behind him on the grid, taking his second victory of the weekend. Heat 5 was a bit more challenging but again the Habershon brothers battled all the way to the chequered flag swallowing up lead man Rio Rhoden of Edmonton as they went. James started 9th while Joe on the back slot in 14th, but some how they both came out 1 and 2 again come the end with James putting another one over his brother. The final heat seemed a given for Joe as he started 2nd on the grid next to Rowan Mackley of St Michael’s. Joe led from the get go, leaving Mackley to fight it out among those challenging from behind. Joe took it to the finishing line in 1st, taking a chunk out of Joe’s points tally as he found himself taking his first DNF of the weekend while he battled from 6th on the grid.
The top 2 steps of the podium were heavily contested between the two brothers all weekend but much to Joe’s dismay the younger one came out on top. James only in his 4th meeting of the year in class 11 took his first meeting victory, bagging the sprint plate while also catapulting himself up the championship order to 4th place all the way from 11th! His brother Joe may of only taken 2nd for the weekends action but his mid to later half season efforts did the job in the championship verifying his spot at the top over season long challenger Whittingham. With 2nd wrapped up in the championship for Whittingham it was the best he could have managed after struggling to keep up with the two brothers all weekend, coming in behind them in 3rd. Kian Ray team mate to Whittingham managed to fend off the heavy pressure of James Habershons championship campaign coming in 3rd in those standings after getting a decent result in the weekends action.
Class 12 Snr Honda GX160
Going into the weekends class 12 action St Michael’s driver Merrick Crook led the standings with season long contenders Harvey Hollick of Barclay and team mate Connor Murrill the highest seeded driver on the grid. Saturday started well initially for Crook as he led from his pole position start but he couldn’t do enough to keep the rampaging Hollick at bay as he cruised through the pack from 8th on the grid to take the heat 1 victory. The second heat wasn’t much kinder to the challengers either as there was a hard early battle within the top 4, featuring both Hollick and Murrill. Hollick eventually won out, pulling away from the pack leaving Murrill to duke it out for 2nd. As Hollick took his second victory of the weekend Murrill came out in front for 2nd place after a few position changes with team mate Anthony Reynolds. With the third and final heat of the day about to start it was crucial for Murrill and Crook to make a dent into Hollicks early charge, hopefully off setting him a little going into Sunday. But that wasn’t to be as Hollick sailed to another victory after working his way from the back of pack yet again, leaving Murrill and Crook in 2nd and 3rd and pretty much sealing the deal not only on the weekends action but the championship. Sunday was do or die for the two trailing challengers but neither could touch Hollick as he set in motion a white wash of results kicking off heat 4. Hollick had one of his better grid starts, driving into the sunset and beyond for win number four. Murrill could hold his head high though after he monstered from the very back of the grid to come in 2nd, showing his experience in the class to be worth something against the rest of the field. The theme carried on in heat 5 not only for Hollick as he took another victory but also for Murrill as he raced out of his skin yet again from the back of the grid, repeating his early performance to come in 2nd. By the final heat Hollick could of chosen to lay off the assault but he ended the weekend how he started it with his 6th and final victory, well and truly wrapping up the weekend. Behind him Crook but in a last ditch attempt to regain some ground on the consitant Murrill, but the damage was already done as he came home in 2nd in front of team mate James Harbot who managed his best result of the weekend.
Both the weekends results and the final championship standings were pretty much a given at this point, Hollick’s domination saw him take home both the sprint plate and number 1 seed for next season in front of his season long competitors Murrill and Crook. With the three being so close in the championship going into the weekend, the final result of the sprints was most likely going to be reflected in the championship standings, as Murrill finished 2nd in both along with Crook in 3rd doing the same, giving no one else a look in from the first meeting. The two drivers were contenders all season pushing each other all the way, learning the ins and outs of each others driving styles as they went, something that was very entertaining to watch to the last bout.
Class 13 Modified Honda
The modified Honda class has been dominated by one driver all season, every time he attended a meeting it was given he was going to be a contender for the victory. But this weekend it went a little differently, with 5 experienced class 13 drivers on the grid and a challenging circuit with racing spanning two days it was always going to add a little something. Heat 1 saw the championship leader Cameron Kingham fail to finish the race after starting on pole, leaving it up to Ethan Murrill of Barclay to lead the pack. That he did all the way to finish, pulling out a healthy gap to 2nd place driver Georgia Haslam of OLCS. With Kingham’s campaign off to a bumpy start it was up to him to get his feet on the ground in heat 2 as he had it all do starting from the back of the grid. Kingham pushed to the front of the pack early, picking off Murill as he went for a early 2nd place. Out in front Haslam had pulled enough of a gap early on from her pole position start, leaving Kingham to fend off Murrill who seemed to be carrying over his momentum from his heat 1 victory. It went to the flag as Kingham took 2nd place some how managing to keep Murrill behind him while Haslam romped to her first victory of the weekend. Now with two separate victors from the first two heats it seemed only fitting someone else stepped up to the plate for the third heat but no one did, much to Kinghams frustration he watched Haslam lead the class 13 train to the line for another win and his chances for the sprint victory grow ever smaller. Sunday started a bit better for Kingham as he took a challenging victory in the fourth heat, winning over a 3 way battle as the race finished under a battenberg flag. Heat 5 went Kingham’s way as well, starting from pole position he managed to convert this one into a convincing victory, but Haslam followed him to the line reminding him he had it all to do in the final heat… It looked like an even steeper hill to climb as Kingham sat on the grid, starting from the very back rival Haslam stared on the front row. Kingham did his best but he couldn’t match the new found form of Haslam as she took her third victory of the weekend and wrapping up some of the closet competition class 13 has seen this season.
Georgia Haslam showed practice makes perfect by attending 10 of the 12 meetings on the calendar to eventually win the final and biggest meeting of the season, taking down the favourite. Her late form also bumped her up the championship table taking 2nd from Murrill after lagging behind for the majority of the season. The weekend may of seemed a loss for Kingham but he had done enough during the season to wrap up the championship, his impressive form saw him come no lower than 2nd in the 6 meetings he attended. Murrill started his season with two meeting victories over Kingham but couldn’t replicate that again in the later half, losing out not only to his improving form but Haslam’s as well finishing 3rd in both the weekends results and the final standings.
Class 14 Raket & BT82
Class 14 this year saw an addition to bolster the declining ranks in the Raket department, the BT82 engine (restricted TKM), an option that was taken up by only a few drivers but it proved a wise choice. One of these drivers was Josh Fish of St Michael’s who managed to make a successful push in both the weekends action and the championship table with just 4 meetings under his belt going into the finals. Heat 1 was a true reflection of this instant success for Fish as the days racing started up in damp conditions, he worked his way from 6th on the grid battling hard among a tight fighting pack to eventually take the lead, moving past championship leader and favourite Robbie White of Tarporley in the process. Fish worked the gap all the way to the line taking the victory in front of the other BT82 driver and ever improving Katie Pritchard of Tarporley. White seeing the threat emerge early pulled his socks up in heat 2 doing a stellar job to catch early leader and team mate Jon Daniels overtaking him for the victory. Keeping his momentum with him heading into heat 3 White marched to another win, leading a strung out pack including challenger Fish who quietly climbed from the back of the grid to put another top 4 finish in the bag. Heat 4 saw a different winner this time with Daniels battling Fish all the way to line, both started close on the grid duking it out until the battenberg flag came out ultimately finishing the race with Daniels in the lead. Sensing that one victory wasn’t going to be enough to challenge for the top step of the podium Fish turned up the wick going into heat 5. Fish started at the back of the grid for the second time and yet again converted it into a solid result, this time taking the victory from White himself! Also making a strong charge was Sam Bailey – Saltmarsh of Tarporley, climbing the order into 2nd taking another place from White. After doing all the hard work in the heat 5 Fish started on pole for the final heat, setting himself up for an easy win and a ticket to the top step of the podium. Fish walked it to the line as many thought would happen, leaving White to close the gap from 6th on the grid. White did his very best managing to slide into 2nd place come the chequered flag, a valiant performance from the season long championship leader.
With Fish’s strong finish to the weekend he wrapped up the sprint results on the top step of the podium by quite a margin. Plus with the victory he jumped Sam Bailey – Saltmarsh in the championship standings, bagging himself the number 2 seed for next year after only competing in the last 5 meetings of the season! Behind Fish in the weekends standings was Robbie White but not all was lost for the experienced driver as his almost flawless performance throughout the year earned him the top spot, making him class 14 champion of the 2014-15 season. The final step on the podium for the sprint results was taken by Katie Pritchard, who has really taken to the newly introduced restricted TKM engine. After being the only one to take victories off White early in the season Sam Bailey – Saltmarsh rounded up the championship table in 3rd, losing out to Fish’s late season surge!
Class 15 Jnr Rotax
Class 15 like Jnr TKM was a highly anticipated spectacle due to a tightly packed top 9 and a even tighter top 2 (in the championship table). Matthew Boyle of St Michael’s the reigning champion and challenger Jack Ward of Barclay had been the two who had dominated the season up till this point, with Connor Bailey of Tarporley being the only other driver to gain a win in the previous 11 rounds. With Ward and Bailey being the only two in the championship who had attended every single meeting up until this point, it showed that experience and seat time really counted for something. But Boyle had a crown to defend, regardless of his lack of track time compared to the other two! He set out on his defense of the title by taking full advantage of Wards mistake in heat 1. Ward looked to have a strong chance starting in pole but Boyle sat on the row behind ready to pounce and pounce he did as Ward made a error on the drying circuit going into the back corner, dropping it in to the dreaded wood chippings. Boyle happily slipped into the lead, saving him the effort of any risky challenges, only having to take it to the line for his first victory of the day. From here on in it had to be strong finishes for Ward if he was going to take Boyle’s crown, but he had his work cut out in heat 2 as he started from stone dead last with Boyle not to far in front of him. As Boyle marched through the field Ward did his best to follow but couldn’t keep up with him as he reeled in a podium finish. Boyle went even further than that taking 1st from the squabbling pair of Jordan Brown of AMS and Tom Taylor of Tarporley. As Boyle cemented his national finals campaign further the pair carried on duking it out till the end, with Taylor trailing Boyle in 2nd and Brown in 3rd. Heat 3 saw an early lead from Connor Modro of 1165ATC after starting 3rd on the grid but got involved in an accident early on, letting James Scanlon of St Michael’s into 1st. Shortly after the incident the battonberg flag emerged, leaving the pack to bunch up again until the track was clear. The flag was brought in leaving Scanlon to lead them round onto the start finish straight, he led for a short while until Ward slipped passed demoting him to 2nd with team mate Boyle close behind after yet again rising through the field. Boyle in a straight fight with Ward took the lead, making an impressive move into the final turn dive bombing down the inside forcing Ward to move for him. Boyle then led from there to the chequered flag, also showing he had the race craft to match his blistering pace. Ward got his challenge underway finishing 2nd with Scanlon maintaining 3rd after his early efforts. Heat 4 was just as dramatic as the last as Ward really stepped up his game showing he was no push over! Bailey led early, leaving Ward to climb the order and Boyle to do the same. The task seemed easier for Boyle as he started 4th, a good 6 places in front of Ward, but with flashbacks of the last heat in his mind he stomped his way to the front, shrugging off Boyle as he went. Ward slipped into the lead shortly after but Boyle was in recovery mode turning the wick back up when it mattered, catching up to the back of Ward only to overtake him in the later stages taking another straight fight victory over Ward and another win. Heat 5 looked predictable enough with Ward starting 2nd and Boyle in 11th, Ward walked away as the race got underway but Boyle had his focus set on doing as much as damage as possible. He steadily climbed the field, fighting hard for his only none win of the weekend so far, coming home in 2nd as Ward sailed off into the sunset for his first win, giving himself some breathing space in the weekends standings. With Boyle’s domination it seemed the next best thing for Ward was 2nd, so he set his sights on climbing as high as possible in the final heat as he sat in 14th on the grid. Boyle considerably further ahead made an early charge for the lead leaving Ward nothing as he worked his way up the order. Ward managed 4th come the final flag, behind the next best drivers of Taylor in 3rd, Brown in 2nd and the number 1 seed Boyle in 1st for the 5th time that weekend.
The weekend ended with Boyle keeping hold of both the sprint plate and the championship number 1 spot, much the reflection of his season, winning every meeting he entered. Behind him also finishing in the same spot in both the weekends results and the championship sat Ward in 2nd. Ward rose to another level this year, at times really pushing Boyle to the limit but ultimately not having enough to topple him. He took 6 victories from his 12 meetings entered, a worthy accolade and a improvement of 1 on last years seed! In 3rd for the weekends standings was Jordan Brown of AMS as he had one of his best results of the year, battling hard with those in the top half of the table ultimately granting him 3rd in the championship. This was a small victory in itself as he won over the very competitive 3rd – 9th place battle where only 8 points covered the 6 drivers going into the final round of the season.
Saying Thank You
The big trophies and awards are mostly given to the drivers but there’s a few reserved for those who dedicate their free time to the organisation throughout the year, those who put the organisation first and do their best by it. Every one on the committee do their bit but there’s often a few who go above and beyond! This years winner of the fabled Graham Kite trophy was our very own director Bruce Lister, who was caught rather unaware as he was interrupted half way through announcing a bogey candidate! Bruce has been at the head of the committee for some years now and has been the catalyst to the recent improvements in the organisation, bringing in many changes that have stabilised NatSKA and allowed it to grow once again! We thank Bruce for all his work and hope what he’s put in place will continue to take a positive effect going forwards into the new season!
A notable mention also goes to long time committee member and head of all things race control, entries, grids and results Gaynor Heath, who has chosen to step down this year. Gaynor and her family have given a lot to NatSKA on many fronts, with both her husband and son giving up their free time for the organisaiton. We’d like to thank Gaynor for her help and input over the years and continue to the value the effort of the rest of her family still in the line of duty!
Last but not least was the trophy for the most karts scruitneered through out the year. This fabled award went to our grid keeper, treasurer and gold kart holder Stewart Newton! A man of many many talents it seems.
With the end of the season at a close we look forward to seeing everyone next season, continuing the recent up turn in NatSKA’s fortunes!
The full meeting photo album can be found here
1. (15) Harvey Cole – Tarporley
2. (22) Josh Neve – Bexley
3. (18) Ewan Sime – Tarporley
1. (8) James Mills – Tarporley
2. (30) Kurt Roberts – Tarporley
3. (11) Charlie Mooney – 1165ATC
1. (66) George Peters – Barclay
2. (73) Shaun Jarvis – Bexley
3. (69) Jack Bird – Bexley
1. (32) James Habershon – Barclay
2. (31) Joe Habershon – Barclay
3. (17) Charlie Whittingham – Tarporley
1. (20) Harvey Hollick – Barclay
2. (2) Connor Murrill – Barclay
3. (15) Merrick Crook – St Michael’s
1. (65) Georgia Haslam – OLCS
2. (69) Cameron Kingham – Thomas Alleyne
3. (62) Ethan Murrill – Barclay
1. (16) Josh Fish – St Michael’s
2. (4) Robbie White – Tarporley
3. (44) Katie Pritchard – Tarporley
1. (1) Matthew Boyle – St Michael’s
2. (3) Jack Ward – Barclay
3. (45) Jordan Brown – AMS