Cat and Mouse

07.10.14 IMG_4473 (640x407) Morris and Tomkinson take the class two wins; Harber and Sole secure the titles.

The standings ahead of round five meant that this was one of a few classes that had a fairly certain outcome.
Despite the consistency of Tony Hawkins this season, and his excellent performance at Stroud to take a maximum score – the only driver to do so in the class this year – he wasn’t able to stop Tim Harber taking the title, which is what most people would have predicted.
Hawkins was twenty points adrift of Harber after the heats which meant the title was out of reach before the final was run. Then, as the field left the grid in the final there was a fairly level break with the cars line abreast, and Hawkins dropped back almost immediately to hold last place entering the first corner.
It was interesting to see National champion Aiden O’Neill in his first BAS big event since his big win; he was joint third qualifier with Dalton Thomas, but then it was Hawkins who precipitated the Irishman’s exit from the final on the second lap.
The pair leant on each other as they exited turn one for the second time, but with the rear three-quarter of the blue Micra touching Hawkins’ front wing, a spin across the Severn Valley driver’s nose was inevitable, and O’Neill nosed into the barrier then pulled to the centre green to retire.
At the front Mat Morris was the one who had taken control of the race, with Harber chasing. The new champion was on Morris’s tail from the outset – merely inches away at the start of the race – and stayed close for the duration to put Morris under enormous pressure.
It was a thrilling race: Harber tried a number of angles and approaches to unseat the leader but Morris held his nerve. It was an incredibly tidy race from the Star driver; he was wise to Harber’s repeated attempts and stayed marginally ahead. The gap increased and decreased at various points but was always narrow enough to maintain a level of tension and provide an excellent climax to the season.
Mitch Wells had been a close third from the beginning and held the position securely until the end, with fourth placed Dalton Thomas coming under increasing pressure in the second half of the race from Hawkins. John Gadsby and Jake Calvert had been at the tail end from the start and occupied the last two positions on track, the race having become a seven-car affair after O’Neill’s retirement.

It has been a year-long tussle between clubmates Sharron Barrett and Vicky Sole, but the latter had put it almost out of her rival’s reach ahead of the final round.
It was a steady run through qualifying for Sole and she took a fourth in the final, but she deserves huge praise for taking her first title after what has been an excellent season.
There was another first celebrated this weekend though, as Beth Tomkinson took her maiden victory in a major final – something that seems implausible given how impressive she’s been in her short time in the class.
Given how quick Leigh Daniells was at South Wales and the Ladies Nationals, she was probably the favourite to win on home dirt, but her wide line in the first corner of the final gifted the lead to Tomkinson and the pair created an exciting final here too. Tomkinson hung on to the position, but the local lady was ever present behind her, and would have easily benefited from a mistake by the Scunthorpe driver.
However, Tomkinson drove a defensive race in much the same way as Morris had done, and held the position to the end with Daniells still on her tail as they crossed the line. Barrett and Sole were a fair distance behind in third and fourth respectively, but for Barrett, points for third were enough to secure second in the standings after an uncharacteristically lacklustre run through the heats.
The race had been red flagged initially because Annette McGrady had been nudged onto the infield, and was given a hefty hit by Gillian Grufferty. They were absent from the restart, and Nikki Calvert also retired from it, which left Annemarie Chadburn as the fifth and last runner on track.

Main: Harber followed Morris home, but had secured the title by then anyway. Above: This was Tomkinson's first big win; she'll be a championship challenger next year (photos: Sam Barrett).