2018 Mens Nationals
Many of us arrived to a rather unfamiliar Castle Lloyd Farm as the fog has decended over the previous days, giving a damp and mercy outcast for Thursday and Friday. Finally, as Friday night drew in the fog started to clear and we came to realise we could be in for decent weather after all. We woke up Saturday morning to a bit of morning fog which quickly cleared to enable us to see the outstanding scenery of the Red Roses venue. The South Wales League could now show all their hard work and efforts to the sport which an excellently laid out venue and showed organisation abilities to match. The track held up brilliantly over the two days and provided some fantastic and quick races. We’d like to take this opportunity to once again thank the South Wales League and accompanying officials for all their hard work in putting on a brilliant Nationals!
Close but clean racing was the form of the weekend for Class One without needing any red flags throughout all three heats and the final followed suit. The final saw initial saw the battle of the minis as Connor Griffiths took the early lead in attempt to defend his 2017 title. It took three laps for Steve Edwards to find a way through after first having to pass Alex Hill in the five cars who lapped nose to tail for half the final. While all this was happening at the front however, Jason Saunders was starting his charge. Having missed out on the first corner and coming out in sixth he sought to move his way through the order, first displacing Ben Scott and then Dan Keddie to move into sixth. Alex Hill was next on the list as he made his way into top three as the battle for first continued, but as Connor and Steve fought hard, Jason Saunders managed to find a way through and up into the lead position, from there he built the pace and started to pull away from the battle behind as the order changed seeing Dan Keddie coming through the order up to second. Connor found he was able to do no more and was forced to pull to the side on the final lap with mechanical problems.
Result: WS20 Jason Saunders, 6F Dan Keddie, R137 Steve Edwards, SN164 Alex Hill, DA29 Ben Scott, SC25 Ian Ullathorne, CW4 Jamie Thorpe
Class two saw nobody unbeaten heading into the final with Daniel Robins and Ashley Robinson leading the table with two wins and a second each. As the bungy lifted, Ashley was the one that got the best of the breaks, heading out of the first corner leading the rest of the field. Connor Griffiths was the first to try to pass Daniel but failed, dropping him self down the order as Ollie Stevens came through into second and lead the challenge to prevent Ashley taking the title. Connor then lost another position a lap later to Daniel Robins who looked to fight his way back through the field after exiting the first corner down in fifth place. Joe Pipe came into the final as final qualifier and was aiming for a top four finish but could only manage sixth after battle with Gary Wickham, the latter finishing ahead in the battle for fifth.
Result: SP43 Ashley Robinson, S55D Ollie Stevens, SN34 Daniel Robins, SV100 Connor Griffiths, IK13 Gary Wickham, NS206 Joe Pipe, SL94 Daniel Martin, SC18 Simon Overty
Sam Gould was the only man to head into the final unbeaten and looked to continue his winning form in the final. Matt Lloyd had to win a run off to get into the final, but his performance paid off; making it into the final and demoting Daz Nutter to ninth position to then be the man to take the challenge to Sam Gould. Matt was the first out of the first corner with Sam Gould, Dean Robinson and Viv Cole hot on his tail, it didn’t take long for Sam Gould to find a way through but Matt continued the battle as he looked desperate to find a way back through. Dean Robinson was challenged by Viv Cole who lost out to reserve driver Leon Dorsett before battling for the third place position. Chris Allanson had to work his way through the order having come out the first corner in seventh place as he targeted a trophy winning position, but in the end could only manage fifth. Five time Champion Martin Gould came into the final with two wins and a second but couldn’t continue the form as problems on board left him at the back of the field for the duration of the final.
Result: NS334 Sam Gould, C87 Matt Lloyd, NW72 Dean Robinson, NS293 Leon Dorsett, S47Y Chris Allanson, CM4 Viv Cole, E34 Phil Holloway, NS343 Martin Gould
Although the class may be low on numbers at the minute, the level of competitiveness was certainly no less then any other class as the final looked set to be an extremely close race with no one favourite heading into the race. Rob Corbett and Huw Jones have shared the title without allowing anyone a chance to succeed over the last eight years but both were out qualified by Adam Henley who went into the final unbeaten. As last year, when the bungy lifted it was the infamous imp from the Evesham club that got the best of the breaks with Darren Grasby leading the field out of the first corner but with Huw Jones hot on his tail, he’d soon succumb to the power of the Camarthen Micra. Adam Henley followed the pair in third and took slightly longer to get past Darren Grasby and once into second went on the charge, hunting down Huw Jones as leader. Rob Corbett was also trying to work his way back through the field after a coming out the first corner in sixth behind Jamie Williams who looked to have the potential to take the battle to the front of the field. As the laps closed in, so did the battle up at the front with Huw Jones coming under increasing pressure each and every lap as Adam Henley hunted him down. The title couldn’t have been secured until the chequered flag and it took one massive last minute lunge around the outside for Adam Henley to find a way past to take one of the closest titles in recent history as the two were separated by mere inches across the line.
Result: Y777 Adam Henley, CM7 Huw Jones, PAC3 Rob Corbett, E220 Darren Grasby, M58 Jamie Williams, TA12 Dorian Davies, BC25 Richard Williams
Colin Thorndyke and Ben Reade were the two unstoppable forces after three heats of qualifying, both taking maximum points. The first run of the class five final saw the red flags come out after a messy start but as the flags came out, Ben Reade took a heavy roll into the first corner. Luckily for Ben (if there can be any luck with rolling!), because he rolled under red flags, he was permitted to enter the re-run and showed exactly why his performance over the weekend had lead him into the final. Jeff Bateman was the one to come out the first corner leading with way but unfortunately fell down the order with problems on board. Ben Reade was the man to capitalise and take the lead with Colin Thorndyke the man to take the challenge to him, Gary Cheetham and Jabez Smith also looked to fight to challenge for the lead with Luke Jenkins hot on their tail. As the final continued, the race came closer and closer with Gary Cheetham breaking into the top three, demoting two time champion Jabez Smith into fourth place but nothing could stop your early leader, coming from a roll in the first attempt to the first Men’s National Title for the Bredon Hill Club in 18 long years to take a very popular win in Class Five.
Result: B32H Ben Read, IK2 Colin Thorndyke, N17 Gary Cheetham, LUD8 Jabez Smith, PHD7 Luke Jenkins, S33D Tom Ellis, S45D Jeff Bateman, (NF) IK22 Ian Thorndyke
Defending Champion Dalton Thomas and 2015 Champion Ben Gould went into the final with maximum points and as they settled down out of the first lap it was Dalton Thomas who came out leading. Dalton looked to continue his dominant form of the weekend and soon drove into the distance as Ben Gould who came from fifth on the first lap to second a lap later went on the hunt. Over the next few laps, the man from Ireland; Evan Curran had to fight to keep hold of his third place slot as Micky Manning looked to pile the pressure on as he looked to break into the top three, leaving Tom Pipe and Matthew Scourfield to battle for the minor places after Richard Jones and Stephen Parsonage pulled over, unable to complete the final. Back at the front however it was closing up, Dalton’s dominance looked to have come to the end as Ben Gould threw out the fishing rod and reeled in the leader, pulling closer and closer and with three laps to go finally made the move to pass Dalton and strip him of his national title. It was then Ben’s turn to power away into a safe and secure lead to cross the line your national champion for the second time.
Result: NS434 Ben Gould, CM8 Dalton Thomas, DA24 Evan Curran, E5 Mick Manning, NS207 Tom Pipe, YS22 Matthew Scourfield, (NF) C279 Richard Jones, (NF) NW146 Stephen Parsonage
One of the most highly anticipated finals of the day kept up with expectation as the battles were fought up and down the field. After a messy start, the red flags came out on the first attempt. The Marshalls decided all drivers could go back in and this time it would be 1999 and 2005 National Champion, Karl Mosley who would lead out of the first corner. The battle from Cwmdu was on however and just a lap later, Cameron Mills had found a way through with Karl Mosley, Craig Bagley and Phil Cooper all in hot pursuit. Cameron was allowed a little bit of breathing space as Craig and Karl fought harder than in any other class, the position constantly changing, both drivers searching every line to find a way to beat the other with Phil Cooper not close enough to make a move but had the best seat in the house as he sat behind hoping for something to go wrong to pick up the places. Liam Evans and Mark Brown also pushed hard as they looked to work their way up the order and into the trophy winning positions. As Cameron kept the gap to the battle for second consistent, all eyes turned to the ongoing battle for second, third and fourth with Craig, Karl and Phil doing everything they could. Unfortunately, flags brought a downer on the end result after a cracking race as Craig finished second but was handed a black flag and Phil a green flag which turned the end result on its head. But no flags and no problem Cameron Mills as he became a three times National Champion and his first in Class Seven.
Result: C9 Cameron Mills, SC82 Karl Mosley, NS120 Liam Evans, SN84 Mark Brown, (GF) ARC5 Phil Cooper, (BF) C2 Craig Bagley, (NF) Y78 Andy Hornshaw, (NF) Y12 Michael Barrett
The first run of class eight was stopped almost immediately with problems off the startline, resulting in the exclusion of Dan Thomas from the final. One the second attempt, we were once again treated to close and exciting racing, Tom Lewis came out the first corner leading with Stephen Mills close behind after scraping through as eight qualifier; Jake Herdman in third and looking for top honours in his first Nationals. Daniel Barnard had managed to get ahead of your defending champion as Dan Mackenzie looked to hold off the challenge from Russ Shepherd and Jack Gibbons, only to pull off the track half way through with engine issues after contact earlier in the race. Russ Shepherd was the man who looked to work his way through the order as he brought himself up from sixth up into fourth place, whilst Stephen Mills was heading in the wrong direction and dropped from second to an eventual sixth. This left Jake Herdman to take the helm and lead the hunt for the race lead, Tom Lewis up front though looked composed and in control as he kept a blistering pace to keep ahead of Jake, although Jake did everything he could and was catching Tom Lewis, there wasn’t enough laps left and Tom Lewis was able to take another very popular victory in class eight.
Result: BC55 Tom Lewis, Y57 Jake Herdman, CA44 Dan Mackenzie, SS3 Russ Shepherd, C10 Stephen Mills, LM17 Jack Gibbons, (NF) SC181 Daniel Barnard, (EXC) PHD47 Dan Thomas
The final position in the final would have been a run off if not for the sportsmanship of outgoing National Champion Jimmy Smith in LUD80 which left Steven Lindsay with the final qualifying position. The top qualifying and only man unbeaten in the heats was Rhys Williams and out of the first corner it was he who followed through Steven Lindsay with Mark Barker, Jason Richardson and John Whitehouse in hot pursuit. Steven Lindsay from hereon in would look to control the pace with Rhys trying to stay in touch, however he himself found himself caught and past by John Whitehouse who was on a charge as he came from fifth, looking for a second national title. James Bowe was another on a mission as he came from the back of the grid to fight through to fourth place with Kevin Chapman missing out on a trophy winning position as he would be unable to following his form from Saturday where he took two wins. As the final came to it’s end, John Whitehouse would charge and fight for the title, trying to find a way to pass Steven Lindsay whilst Phil Barleyman and Rhys Williams would find themselves in a battle that resulted in contact and a resulting black flag for Phil. Up at the front however, John wasn’t able to do enough and Rhys Williams came across the line, converting race leader to National Champion.
Result: PHD1 Steven Lindsay, SN4 John Whitehouse, NS3 Rhys Williams, YD182 James Bowe, Y42 Kevin Chapman, E26 Mark Barker, P5EM Jason Richardson, (BF) P25EM Phil Barleyman
The troublesome tens took over four hours to complete heat one on Saturday and the chaos of class ten continued into the final. Although it was completed first time, racing incidents meant that all but James Poltimore was involved in contact somewhere throughout the race. Wez Tinker was the man who looked on top form with three out of three wins throughout the heats and he looked to challenge for the title, maybe a possibility if not for the contact he received through the early stages. Paul Coles and Luke Bennet came to blows down the finish straight which left them both on the back foot as they needed to work their way back through the order. Lee Seagreaves came to blows as well and ended up with a puncture and cruising around the outside, slightly better than Vinny Gibbons who after a spin on the pit bend with a couple of laps left to go found himself unable to restart and watching from the sidelines. Lance Bowen had also hit trouble and was the last of the runners in the end. While all this was happening however, Wez Tinker was trying to close up to your leader, James Poltimore who had kept himself out of trouble, the result being that he could control the pace as he composed himself to cross the line the final class national champion of the weekend.
Result: SS79 James Poltimore, Y40 Wez Tinker, SS166 Paul Coles, NW62 Luke Bennet, NS9 Dave Holroyd, ARC1 Lee Seagreaves, BC22 Lance Bowen, (NF) Vinny Gibbons
Champion of Champions
The top title in Men’s Autograss, the Champion of Champions .. a race that would see out most national Champions of the weekend and Dan Mackenzie as defending Champion. The race started with the class one of Jason Saunders leading from Ashley Robinson, Adam Henley was also in the hunt as well as Ben Gould within the first couple of laps. It didn’t take long for Ashley Robinson to catch your leader and make his way past as Adam and Ben both fought for third place. In the background, the two class eights of Tom Lewis and Dan Mackenzie were having their own battle within the race as they fought as if the class title was on offer once more, Tom Lewis just managing to keep his nose ahead as Dan looked to defend what was once his. As the race reached the closing stages, Adam Henley had taken the lead from the Ashley Robinson and Ben Gould was hot on his tail, Ben was able to take the lead a couple of laps later but soon fell out of the order with engine problems which opened the door once more for Adam Henley. However, Tom and Dan were closing in, and closing in fast with two laps to go. Adam had to peddle more than ever and with just a lap to go could taste victory, however in the penultimate corner the class eights made their move. Tom Lewis moved to the outside to make his way by but made a critical mistake which left him facing on coming traffic, all of a sudden those that left sat down in spectator land were stood in anticipation as Dan Mackenzie tried to capitalise whilst avoiding contact. He took the race lead for the first time as he headed into the final corner, only to power out as the second person in Autograss history to take the Champion of Champions title without having taking the class title in the same year!
Champion of Champions: CA44 Dan Mackenzie (Class Eight)