A well-manicured exciting motorsport facility greeted the Championship for Round Three of the series at Shenington. The clever technical layout created lots of paddock talk over Friday evening for how best to tackle this new Circuit and come out on top.
Although starting out dry, a changeable forecast lay ahead for the day of Superlite action and rain looked set to throw a spanner in the works about midday. Qualifying got underway in style after two generous open practice sessions in the morning.
The 600 Superlite class was well represented for this new venue, with Joe Richardson back and another new driver Tom Bamber adding to the grid. Interesting as the drivers got out on circuit they almost all posted their fastest times within the first half of the session showing they had adapted to the layout already. Paul Hudson was showing some returning form and posted a his hot lap of 50.6 seconds to claim third on the grid. Only 0.3 seconds ahead of him was the Superlite of No.84 Tony Turner continuing his front runner pace. However they were all pipped to Pole position by reigning Champ Jake Swann with his time just under 50 seconds around this technical and intense circuit. Jody Hicks of Doncaster showed improved pace and claimed 5th spot ahead of Willie Mac No.555 who was really turning heads at his second superlite event.
Our big boys were up next with their gorgeous screaming Fireblade engines lighting up the track whichever way you looked. Their times very much on a par with the 600 class as the circuits twisty nature created a very even balance between the twin two-strokes and larger four cylinder four-strokes. Bren Simpon No.11 who has found excellent found for his 2016 campaign was on early pace and lead the times one the first laps, however it wasn’t long before all the competitors were clocking faster and faster times. Norfolks veteran Superlite driver Phil Lee who is competing his 25th Season in the sport this year was on the pace and secured 4th place on the grid just ahead of Bren. The three top spots swapped back and forth, with some technical difficulties in the early part of Qualifying Swann No.210 had one lap and secured 3rd place on his last lap of the session. Only a few hundredths apart the two at the top made it exciting watching the timing screens but the result of the battle was Mark Richardson taking pole just in front of No.19 Simon Nutter who was again showing his capability in this class.
The rain still holding off the 600 class drivers lined up for their first championship race and the crowd were in for some fun as these drivers didn’t ease for one moment. The race split into two battles with Swann and Turner taking off in the lead in a fight for the flag, not far behind them a 5 driver fight waged the whole race for third. No.33 Paul Smythe overtook Hudson on lap one and managed to hold him off for a few laps until Phil Redfearn came through and pulled two brilliant overtakes to leapfrog them both. However this wasn’t to be as he had to retire not long after due to a coolant pipe coming loose. This left Hudson the chance to attack a tiring Smythe and on lap 8 he made it stick to take third place. Snapping at their heals Sadie Redfearn held 5th position in great style but ended swapping places with Hicks No.24 and then finally Willie No.555 made it through to take the flag in 5th. In the final stages Knox No.47 pulled some pace to pass Hicks and complete a race of constant overtaking despite the tight technical course.
The more power you have the more it needs taming and this saying fitted nicely for Race one of the Superlite 900 Championship! Off the grid Rushton No.22 had a blinder but was a little over exuberant in closing the door to take third which resulted in both himself and Swann No.210 being taken out wide and demoted to the back of the grid. This left a chance for No10 Lee and No.11 Simpson to take full advantage and cut through to 3rd and 4th. Macbeth who had had a poor qualifying got slightly tangled in the first corner melee but held his starting spot. However his form was undeniable and with some serious pace he picked off driver after driver to bring it through and finish 2nd behind the winner and current championship leader Richardson No.17. Nutter who had a great start and made it into the lead retired after making a mistake under pressure on lap 5.
Into the second points scoring race for the Superlite 600 class and although still dry on track the temperature was dropping and clouds drawing in. Swann took the holeshot by a hair from Turner and they carried on the epic battle from the first race, running basically on the same laptimes, brilliant to watch. Hudson broke the pack this time and managed to tail the leaders a few seconds adrift. The real battle was held a little further back as Smythe, Redfearn and Knox gave no quarter, Knox appeared to be a fraction faster but Sadie Redfearn showed strong racecraft to hold him off and challenge Smythe at the same time. It looked like they would get away with it but on lap 9 the heavens opened and the race was called complete due to the drivers being out on slicks. Swann held it from Turner and Hudson to take the win.
With a short break to allow all the competitors chance to change to their wet tyres, we were back in action for Race two of the 900 Superlites. Macbeth made a cracking start and started right away to build a lead. Meanwhile we had Swann who had to start near the back showing his consistent wet condition form and overtaking at speed. Mark Rushton No.22 was back in the thick of it and knocking out quick laps in third place to hold off Simon Nutter No.19 and lee No.10. Swann made it past this battling pack to line himself up behind Macbeth but the time spent chasing had allowed Macbeth to build a safe lead and he brought that home to victory. Swann secured a hard fought 2nd place and Rushton not far behind in Third.
All drivers had their full wet setup in force for the Third and final race of the 600 class. The rain was fairly unrelenting but it only seemed to enhance the on track action. Swann continued his form and was slightly more dominant in these conditions over Turner who didn’t give up chase to the very end. The crowd had a real treat though with a wonderous performance from still new driver Willie Mac No.555. His overall race experience from his Motocross background came through strong and he made pass after pass to bring his immaculate Superlite home in Third place. To say his pit crew was pleased would be an understatement, ive not seen a smile that large in some time! Hudson and Smythe had another tough but clean battle to the end to finish 4th and 5th respectively.
It looked set to be a cracking race with the two fastest lapping drivers from last race side by side off the start. Macbeth held his position off the start and had a slight breather from Swann due to the first nutter making a great start. Ruchardson was back in the mix for this race with some better tyres and mind back in the zone. He pushed Rushton the whole race but No.22 held firm and secured a well-deserved Third place. Simpson made good chase not far behind but had to settle for 5th place behind Richardson. At the front, Swann was into 2nd place after the end of lap one and pushed hard to make up the lost time. However despite setting the fastest time of the race was unable to put pressure on Macbeth win therefore took the win and overall on the day.
For a full copy of the race results and lap charts head over to the British Superlite Championship website. The Championship moves onto a totally different style of circuit for Round Four at Pembrey which is very fast with a large off-road gravel section to spice things up!