72 micro devotees headed for round 3 and the half way stage of this year’s series held at Dudley.
As we made the journey to the West Midlands the championship was starting to look familiar with reigning champion Craig Harris heading the field from Carisma teammates Tony Bishop and Phil Sleigh. LC Racing’s top driver Andy Jones was hot on their heals after a good showing at Torbay just one point behind Phil, in fact just 5 points separated the top 4!
The team at Dudley had worked hard on Saturday to come up with a fantastic layout which would provide a great day’s racing.
Following Driver’s briefing and the usual formalities the concours trophy was picked up by Matt Latham with his green and purple Carisma GTB catching the judge’s eye.
Matt Latham receives the concours trophy from Section Chairman Phil Sleigh
Onto the serious business of the day and qualifying got under way with an amazing heat consisting of 9 juniors, Under 16 driver Thomas Noble taking the win with a 13 lap run from fellow Under 16 contender Jack Lowry and Under 11 racer Freddie ‘That’s my boy’ Thompson both also on 13 laps.
Heat 2 saw the first man onto 14 laps with Graeme McFarlane taking a comfortable win. Heat 3 would see the pace go up a notch as Chris Young and resident shopkeeper Paul ‘Arkwright’ Knight pushed each other hard to 15 lap runs.
Steve Alcock took heat 4 by just 9/100ths of a second from Ricky MacGough both again on 15 laps but as heat 5 got underway it was clear to see that one man had found his mean streak as Chris ‘Ming the Merciless’ Mills laid down the first 16 lap run of the day to spell out his intentions.
In heat 5 CML’s Jason ‘Harry’ Potter would be the only driver to do 16 laps but with a slower time it was looking good for Ming!
Heat 7 would prove to be the heat of the day so far, as Andy Jones bossed the field with his LC Racing EMB-1 to record an 18 lap run that really raised a few eyebrows. His closest rival in the heat was Tony Bishop but he was trailing by some 10 seconds.
Could anyone in heat 8 match Jonesy’s pace? Well the answer was a clear no as Jonesy’s LC Racing team mate Andrew Funge took the heat with a 17 lap run, 12 seconds behind the pace set by Jonesy.
Chris Young and Paul Knight in qualifying action
Thomas Noble pushed onto 14 laps in heat 1 as round 2 got under way, in heat 2 no less than seven drivers recorded improved times with John Toole taking the win with a 14 lap run.
The stand out performer in heat 3 was Lee Cronshaw who battled through traffic issues to record a fantastic 16 lap run and in heat 4 only 2 drivers improved on their earlier times with Steve Alcock again taking the win with 14 laps.
Once again heat 5 was dominated by Chris Mills with ‘Ming’ as he has become known lapping everyone except second place Matthew Francis and recording another 16 lap run, heat 6 saw Jim Davis find his pace and power his way to a fast 16 lapper pushed all the way by Jason Potter.
As heat 7 got underway it was clear that Jonesy still had the pace of the field but that the others had got to grips with the track and were closing in on the TQ man, once again though it was Jonesy who would score the only 18 lap run ahead of Bish by about 4 seconds this time and Rob West just a further 2 seconds down the road.
A poor start to heat 8 for reigning champion Craig Harris would dash any hopes of a quick run for the Welsh Wizard who was running Carisma’s new ‘Air Strike’ body and wing package for the first time. It was Keith Robertson running in his first Micro National of this season who would mount a challenge to Mr Jones as he became just the second driver to record an 18 lap run. Further down the order in heat 8 top Under 16 runner Ben Young was putting in a great performance in search of his first Micro National A Final.
Craig Harris’ Carisma GTB with the new ‘Air Strike’ body and wing
Josh Hardwick took the battle of the juniors in heat 1 for round 3 as the only driver to record 14 laps in a pretty scrappy heat from the youngsters.
That theme continued into heat 2 as most of the guys failed to improve their times and John Toole recorded the heat victory with a 13 lap run, there was light at the end of the tunnel though as heat 3 bucked the trend with 6 drivers improving, the quickest again being Lee Cronshaw with another great 16 lap run.
Under 16 driver Ryan Lucas pushed Steve Alcock into second place in heat 4 as the pair recorded 15 lap runs and in heat 5 Chris Mills just missed out on a 17 lap run by 18/100th of a second.
Jim Davis was once again class of the heat 6 field with a fast 16 lap run followed by Andrew Vincent and Ant Lucas who both improved with 16 lap runs also.
In heat 7 it was all about the race to stop Jonesy sealing TQ and it was mighty close as he took the heat with an improved 18 lap run from Bish and Rob West who were separated by just 1/100th of a second!
So with Jonesy currently first in round in round 3 and with the first 2 rounds in the bag only heat 8 could stop him. Once again 3 drivers would record 18 lap runs with Craig Harris finally getting a clean run to be the fastest of them ahead of Keith Robertson and Andrew Funge, but with Craig’s time some 5 seconds off the pace of Jonesy TQ was secured with a round to spare.
Andy Jones enters the sweepstake predictions
As round 4 got under way there was still a lot to play for down the order and in heat 1 Under 16 racer Josh Hardwick once again took the win with an improved 14 lap run to maximize his final position from top Under 11 driver Freddie ‘That’s my boy’ Thompson who recorded an improved 14 lap run also.
John Toole and Rob Chalmers pushed through to improved 14 lap runs in heat 2 and in heat 3 it was once again Lee Cronshaw who was fastest with a 16 lap run from Paul Knight and Chris Young on 15 laps.
Under 16 Ryan Bamford showed his form in heat 4 with a 15 lap run beating fellow Under 16 runner Ryan Lucas by just 3/10ths of a second.
Heat 5 saw Chris Mills secure a B Final spot with another 16 lap run followed by Matthew Francis and the improving pair of Mike ‘Balders’ Baldwin and Mike Saunders.
In heat 6 Andrew Vincent secured pole position in the C Final with a solid 16 lap run from Jason Potter who had already secured a B Final spot earlier in qualifying.
Class of the field all day so far heat 7 was another victory for Andy Jones and it was looking like a clean sweep perfect score of zero in qualifying for Jonesy, behind him though the battle was on to make the A final with Stephen Davies and Morgan Rham struggling to make the cut.
In heat 8 Phil Sleigh recorded his best run of the day with his first 18 lapper but it wasn’t good enough to prevent LC Racing’s Andy Jones taking that clean sweep of qualifying to add to his pole position.
So after qualifying the top 10 was:
1: Andy Jones (LC Racing)
2: Tony Bishop (Carisma)
3: Keith Robertson (Carisma)
4: Rob West (LC Racing)
5: Andrew Funge (LC Racing)
6: Phil Sleigh (Carisma)
7: Craig Harris (Carisma)
8: Mark Hancock (Carisma)
9: Ben Young (LC Racing)
10: Paul Penney (LC Racing)
Rob Hancock’s Carisma GTB in qualifying action
Leg 1 of the A Final and could anyone mount a serious challenge to Jonesy? Well an uncharacteristic mistake on lap one allowed Bish to go through into the lead and the race was most definitely on! Rob West took up second place but a roll coming onto the straight at the start of lap 3 saw Jonesy back up to second and on the hunt for first. Jonesy would push hard to pull up to the rear of Bish and with 3 minutes remaining we were in for an epic battle. TQ man Jones survived a roll on the double jump before the straight with just under 2 minutes to go as his buggy flipped onto its’ roof and then back onto its’ wheels, a lucky break which would see him stay in contention. It was down to the last lap and as the front runners approached traffic Bish went off line for almost the first time in the race and Jonesy capitalized with a pass to power through to leg 1 victory by just 3/10ths of a second from Bish and Rob West in third.
The H Final was a quiet affair with only 2 drivers taking part it was Under 11 driver Alfie Bolam recording the win with 10 laps ahead of Stuart Strange.
Under 16 driver Jack Noble continued the juniors success with a win in the G Final with 14 laps from Matt Latham in second and Tim Lucas in third.
Wyn Morgan and Richard Tough battled it out in the F Final with Wyn taking the win (no pun intended) by just 3/100ths of a second form the very tough racing Richard Tough (no pun intended) with Under 16 Jack Lowry in third.
In the E Final Ant Hall secured victory with a fast 14 lap run from Under 16 racer Josh Hardwick and Section Photographer John Howe of RC Images.
Onto Leg 2 of the A Final and the new 3 legged format for this season was proving a hit with those drivers still in with a shout of taking the round. A clean start for Jonesy saw him a pull out a small lead but one minute a small mistake again on the double jump allowed Bish to pull right back up to the pole man, this time with Keith Robertson and Phil Sleigh in close attendance also. At the half way point in the race Phil Sleigh made a move on Keith Robertson to take third place but out front Jonesy was beginning to pull away. Just one more lap in and Phil made a move on Bish and was looking fastas he chased down Jonesy’s bright orange LC Racing machine, could he do it? A mistake on 4 minutes meant it wasn’t to be as Bish took up second. Jonesy kept a cool head to negotiate some back markers and secured the round with victory which saw Chris take the win over Bish in second and Phil in third.
The D Final would prove to be an amazingly close race as Bob Sideshow secured victory from Mike Saunders and Under 16 Ryan Lucas with just three seconds separating the top 3.
Matthew Francis and Spencer Farley were the only drivers to secure 16 lap rund in the C Final and it was the former who secured the win five seconds ahead of Spencer with Lee Cronshaw in third.
Chris Bowater free of the diff problems that had blighted his early qualifying sessions battled out an amazingly close B Final with Gavin Williams with Chris taking the win from Gavin by just 3/10ths of a second with Stephen Davies taking third spot.
With leg 3 of the A Final being a dead rubber in terms of first place it was all about who would secure second and third with a num ber of drivers in contention, once again Jonesy powered to victory to secure a clean sweep of the entire meeting and lay down a statement of intent for the remaining rounds. Behind him though the battle for second and third was settled with Keith Robertson taking second in the leg but Bish taking second overall from Keith with a third place in leg 3.
L-R second place Tony Bishop, TQ and first place Andrew Jones and third place Keith Robertson
So at the half way stage the Championship looks like this:
The next round takes place at DMS Watford tomorrow and I hear we have some superstars in attendance!