Ten out of Ten

05.10.14 1574 (640x318) Phil Cooper claims the class eight crown and makes history.

Phil Cooper took a landmark victory here by winning his tenth consecutive BAS title in ten years.
It’s a remarkable achievement that may never be beaten, and his tally of 18 titles overall will also stand for many years to come too. Such a total is indicative of his meticulous attention to detail, standard of preparation, absolute skill and intelligence as a driver and almost unrivalled commitment to the sport at its top level. He deserves his place in the record books and remains one of the greatest ambassadors for the sport.
However, this year’s BAS title wasn’t an easy one to win. It came down to a straight fight in the final, which was one of the many races that needed to be rerun. Title rival Dave Newby was on course to claim it in a few of the runs after a couple of blisteringly quick starts, but when the race was stopped for Scott Aldridge’s huge accident and then rerun, Cooper made the best start, headed the pack into the first turn and led from start to finish.
Start Whitehouse had Tom Chadwick on his tail from the first corner and spent a few laps defending the position before he broke free, but Cooper was too far ahead to be caught by the time the Trent driver had clear air.
As Chadwick fell back a little he was within attacking distance of clubmate Matt Berrisford. Despite circulating close to Chadwick’s tail for a few laps he was unable to find a way to promote himself and he too dropped back, leaving him vulnerable to Newby and Simon Graeme who were battling behind.
Cameron Mills got squeezed out in the first few corners and then fought for the last position with Graeme for the first half of the race. A couple of wide lines then caused him to fall away in last place and allow Graeme a clean break to challenge Newby.
Berrisford was fourth at the chequer but dropped to sixth with a penalty, which promoted Newby and Graeme. For Newby this wouldn’t have been enough to take the title anyway, but Cooper’s win on top of the excellent heat results brought his best score of the season, so he gained even more of an advantage with a better doubled score to take the title by sixty points.

Realistically, the battle ahead of the final round in the ladies class was for second place. It needed to be a disastrous run for Sandra Jones to stop her taking the title, and with a decent run in qualifying then a fifth place in the final she was successful for the third year in a row.
However, it was Emily Gill who was top of the table in qualifying and she went to the final as the only driver to be unbeaten in the heats. She was in fifth for the first three laps of the final behind Jones before out-dragging the champion exiting the pits bend and she stayed in fourth to the chequer.
Lindsay Stevenson had made a sensational start and slowly extended a lead as the laps counted down and at the end of the race she had a five car gap over Kate Lockwood; the pair having broken away from third placed Sally Stratton.
Lockwood and Stephenson were separated by a single point in third and fourth respectively in the standings ahead of this event, with Gill just 81 points adrift of the latter. It was Alyson Ashmore’s comparatively – and uncharacteristically – lacklustre performance this weekend that helped the trio: a fifth place after qualifying was followed by a sixth in the final which dropped Ashmore from second to fifth overall in the championship and promoted Lockwood, Stephenson and Gill to second, third and fourth respectively. Clare Cockerill was on Ashmore’s tail at the end and crossed the line less than a car’s length adrift, with Rosemary Glover in eighth having held the position from the beginning.

Main: Phil Cooper benefited from the restart to take the lead and the win instead of Dave Newby, who'd been on great form in the previous runs. Above: Lindsay Stephenson was on top form in the final (photos: Dan Moffatt).