Pipe Dream

17.05.15 1558 (640x282) Joe Pipe challenges the champ.

The upside to being top qualifier is that you get first pick of the grid positions for the final, and Tim Harber made this work to his advantage despite choosing grid one, which is sometimes a little risky.
Being the innermost lane, it’s easy to overshoot the bend and run wide if the car isn’t slowed down in time, or the turn-in isn’t perfectly executed, which allows your chasing rivals to slip up the inside. 
Tim Harber was marginally ahead of his rivals away from the line and up the start straight, and nosed in front into turn one with a faultless manoeuvre. Hugging the cones, he denied his rivals any chance to challenge and pulled out an immediate gap.
There was a brief moment of contact between Tony Hawkins, Damian Harris and Ollie Sole which slowed their momentum and allowed Joe Pipe a passage through to second place, and he became the star of the race as it progressed. Lee Evason was on Pipe’s tail at the start, but couldn’t quite keep up with him as Pipe chased after the leader.
There were moments in the last couple of laps where Pipe tried to find a gap up Harber’s inside; it was almost a giant-killing performance, a series of moments that were made all the more exciting and intense if you were stood near the amassed drivers and spectators on the pits bend as they screamed their support, but Harber kept a tight line and held the position to the end. 
The first bend contact had put Harris back to fifth, but over the course of the race he fought past fourth placed Mat Morris and then Evason too in the final lap, to finish a distant third. 
Behind Morris was Tony Hawkins, who was Harber’s closest challenger for the title last year, but he never fully recovered from the first corner contact and finished fifth, with Evason having dropped to sixth.
Sole held an outside line in the first turn, but in the melée was pushed a little wider, and ran at the tail end behind Dan Robins’s stunning new Micra. Sole was on his clubmate’s tail but the positions remained unchanged at the end, with Robins in seventh and Sole in eighth.

Bobbie Neale, Vicky Sole and Beth Tomkinson went into the first turn as a trio having broken away from the rest of the finalists, but Sole’s efforts to catch and pass leader Neale were ultimately in vain as she slowed with her front left tyre off the rim and dropped to eighth place.
With Sole out the way Tomkinson had a clear shot at the leader, and her drive to catch up with the Welsh lady was sensational. She had given Sole a few worrying moments before the reigning champion was forced to slow, and then hung on to Neale’s tail until the end. 
Sharron Barrett was a fair way behind in third by the end of the race, with Amanda Mason in fourth. The latter wasn’t close enough to challenge Barrett but was sufficiently ahead of fifth placed Sophie Morgan – who has developed a mature style very quickly and was one of few drivers to take a heat win – to be untroubled. 
Annemarie Chadburn was another heat winner but languished in sixth ahead of Aimee Holden, with whom she’d had a brief tussle at mid-distance.
Top: Pipe closes in on Harber in what became a superb race. Middle: Neale took a slender victory over a charging Tonky. Above: Sole could do very little other than coast round when the tyre came off the rim.