Back to the Valley

12.09.13 2340 (640x426) Round four goes to the fast, favourite Withington venue.

It feels like a long time since we were able to bring you an event preview, as the cancellation of what should have been round four at Solway has prompted a lengthy hiatus.
This visit to Severn Valley for the Kent Cams/Simpson Race Exhausts British Autograss Series – originally of course this would have been the season climax – will almost certainly attract the biggest entry of the year; it’s the favourite circuit of many drivers and offers an opportunity to race against the best names in each class. With the event being unrestricted and open to all drivers from all clubs in addition to those registered for the series, this may well feel to some extent like a second Nationals.
This will be the third big meeting at the Withington venue this year; the Summer Showdown benefited from the cancellation of the MAP Open and was run in beautiful conditions, and the Men’s Nationals event was on course to be a sensational event were it not for the heavy rainfall that befell the second day. Unfortunately, it looks as if we may be in for a similar forecast this weekend, with rain expected on both days.
Despite this slightly gloomy forewarning, this has the potential to one of the best meetings of the year. At a time when it feels like the series is undergoing something of a renaissance due to smaller turnouts and increased track time, we can feel confident in the adeptness of the host club and that even a massive entry will be dealt with efficiently.
There are a number of championship battles finely poised; the closest of these being class ten, where Liam Evans and Lee Seagreaves are separated by just five points. Of course, everybody still has the dropped score situation to contend with, but this is the point of the season where the mid-event calculations start become important, with drivers trying to work out what is necessary to either overtake their rivals or defend the points leads from their closest challengers.
Jake Roberts is in a strong position in class seven after the first three rounds, and despite not having a great outing at York himself, he benefited from Phil Cooper’s terrible run and leads the class by nine points.
Becky Shaw is one of the most improved lady drivers, but had a disastrous event at the Ladies Nationals, sustaining damage to the BC11 machine that may keep her out of the event. Similarly, Beth Tomkinson was unsure after her spectacular roll in the class two Nationals final whether she’d be able to race this weekend too; she is another who has impressed this year and deserves to end the year on the kind of note that befits her ability in the new class.
The saloons class is the closer of the two junior formulae, with Jake Bartlett leading the points in what is his last year in the Mini before joining class four. Rhys Griffiths is only twenty points adrift and will be buoyed by confidence after taking a convincing win in his Nationals final, but with Dafydd Jones and Senna Proctor not too far behind in the subsequent positions, this will be an interesting class to watch for the remaining two rounds.
Travis Kirke has yet to win a final in the specials, but leads the class on consistency from round one winner Liam Roche, with Matt Owen in third. Jason Alderson is the only other event winner in the points table – Ayrton Ellison was the winner at York, but is an unregistered driver – but is down in sixth and a long way adrift of the leaders.