FLETCHER BANISHES LAST YEAR’S DEMONS FOR CLIO TITLE
The Clio 182 championship decider was the closest of the several title battles settled amid mixed weather at Rockingham.
Patrick Fletcher and James Bark mirrored their championship battle from 12 months ago, coming into this weekend separated by just four points. Bark triumphed in the first outing from third on the grid. Fletcher defended aggressively throughout the race, parking his Clio 182 on the apex of most corners. After a couple of nudges at the back of Fletcher’s bumper, Bark made his move coming into the Deene hairpin on the penultimate lap. Fletcher wasn’t about to let him lead the points gap by too much heading into the final race though, setting the fastest lap to put just one point between them.
In the second race Bark started from pole position, but Fletcher dropped back behind Nick Balmer, who was also having a good run after finishing third in the first race. Fletcher made swift work of Balmer, setting his sights on Bark, who had built up a reasonable gap. Fletcher made a bold move up the inside into Tarzan and the pair made contact. Bark was forced wide, putting Fletcher into first place and allowing Nick Garner to come through to second. Bark didn’t take long to regain second place, but had no time to catch Fletcher as the race ended a lap early due to Simon Donoghue’s stricken Clio 182 at Deene.
The result meant Fletcher won the championship by five points, the result being reversed after Bark won last year, when the pair finished level on points and the championship was decided on race wins.
Will Ashmore took the Hot Hatch win in his Class A Honda Civic, getting a good start from second. Polesitter Tom Bell managed to retake the lead the following lap, but it was shortlived as he suffered another retirement due to rear brake failure. That promoted Alice Hughes to second, but she was passed by Alistair Camp heading through the final corner on the run to the flag. Bell won the second race.
Paul Jarvis won the first Stock Hatch outing, while championship rival Ryan Polley finished fourth. Polley was battling with Robert Fagg for third, with the pair going door-todoor through Deene and Kirby. Fagg prevailed but Polley won the second race after forcing his way past Phil Law and Jarvis on the penultimate lap.
Matt Higginson wrapped up the RGB title after Billy Albone suffered a gearbox failure on the final lap. The race was re-run on Saturday afternoon after two red flags in the morning. Albone led for most of the race, getting a good start along with John Cutmore. The pair ran nose-to-tail in the opening stages, but Cutmore misjudged the braking on the damp surface and ran wide into Deene. His mistake let Albone cut through into the lead before his malady.
Behind Alastair Boulton, Scott Mittell finished third after starting on dry tyres, giving him a disadvantage to those in front on wets, but he took the honours in the considerably drier second race on Sunday. Mittell diced for position with Albone, before the pair made contact on the exit of Tarzan, spinning Albone to the back of the field. That allowed John Cutmore to finish third, putting him in good standing to take the Class championship.
The MX-5 Cup drivers had to deal with slippery conditions in the rain on Saturday. Will Blackwell-chambers took both race wins however, despite a challenge from Ben Short. The pair made contact fighting for the lead in the first race through Deene when Short got a bit of oversteer and was tagged by Blackwell-chambers. Sam Smith was there to pick up the pieces, demoting Short to third.
During the next outing the pair ran side-by-side through Pif Paf. Short took the lead, until Blackwell-Chambers executed a challenge on the final lap, which settled the dispute. Blackwell-chambers also set the fastest lap, extending his championship lead over rival Jack Sycamore further, who finished fifth.
Carl Swift took the Class B championship win in the Civic Cup after title rival Mark Grice finished in 17th place. But it was Ben Sharpe who impressed, taking double race wins despite finding the wet conditions challenging.
Running wide at Deene from pole, he had to fight his way back through the field, soon recovering to fourth and overtaking Swift for third around the outside of Chapman Curve. Sharpe’s battle with Martin James became the battle for first when David Buky ran wide, allowing them both through. Sharpe and James ran side-by-side at Tarzan for the lead, with Sharpe making the move stick on the run into Brook.
Starting from 10th on the reverse grid in the second race, Sharpe pulled off another masterful drive to come through the field for his second victory.
Bill Cowley won the two 750 Formula races from pole, securing second in the championship after Peter Bove spun out of the first race.
Chris Preen took his first Bikesport victories last weekend. He finished ahead of title contender Philip Knibb on the first occasion, before Knibb retired with battery issues in the second race. Simon Wing won the Armed Forces race having started from seventh, while Lakhvinder Khera won the Sport Special race.
Shaun Traynor claimed a double in the Toyota MR2 races, ahead of Kristian White on both occasions. Title leader Jim Davies went off in the first race but recovered to fifth. He finished sixth in the second encounter.
Gregan Thruston took his third race win of the season, ahead of Michael Harvey, in the 750 Trophy race.
Fletcher (29) battled Bark (85) for title win
Carl Swift fought for Civic title
Davies (far left) goes off in MR2 race
Thruston won in 750 Trophy race