Published January 25, 2017 21:45
BUKC 2017 got underway with two days of non-stop sprint racing across the 19th and 20th of November, and for the first time ever, we streamed the racing live online for the whole world to see! With new drivers, new teams and a new season ahead of us, our handsome new media chief Jacob Harris recaps the action...
This year, the format of the qualifiers once again ditched endurance races in favour of a morning qualifying session for each driver, followed by two sprint races per driver in the afternoon (or from brunch onwards, if you’re posh and particular). Drivers took their qualifying position into their first race, and then their finishing position from the first race into the second, although teams were allowed to swap grid slots between their drivers for their second outings.
Amongst the frontrunners, there appeared to be very little chopping and changing, but in the chasing pack there were a number of teams rolling the dice throughout the weekend, trying to get themselves the best chances of qualifying for the main championship. Here’s how it panned out:
Saturday, Races 1-5
The racing began with Michael Gibbins on pole for race one for Birmingham. Michael lost the lead to Imperial A before Christmas Corner on lap 1, but as his rival made his way through traffic, he managed to recover first place to claim the first win of the day. His feat was repeated in Race 2 which Sean Dorling won for Brunel A. Challenged closely by Heriot Watt, Sean held the lead well to come home with a comfortable margin to 2nd place, with Loughborough’s Darryl Evans a distant third.
Race 3 was a third lights to flag victory in a row, this time Oliver Basey-Fisher of Reading A making the pole position count. Under pressure from Heavyweight Drivers Champion Sam Moffat (UWS) into Christmas, Oliver pulled away when Rhianna Purcocks (Birmingham) charged into second place going on the entry to Zulu. Heading down the hill, Rhianna and Sam collided, with the Birmingham driver left marooned at the side of the track. The resulting black flag for UWS gifted Oliver control of the race, and he duly converted into a convincing victory. It was also a good race for his namesake from Loughborough, Oliver Wheddon, who came through from 9th to claim the bottom step of the podium.
On pole for Race 4 and continuing the trend was Piers Prior, who claimed victory despite the death stares of Neil Vincent in the Coventry kart alongside him on the front row of the grid. Neil ended up finishing 4th after strong drives from Stephen Letts (Huddersfield), who lead for parts of the race, and Will Whitelock (Birmingham) who crossed the line in second place but was given a time penalty afterwards.
Taylor Adams was the 5th pole to podium claimant of the day in Race 5, despite having embarrassingly binned himself on his first lap of testing on the Friday afternoon. He was just 9 seconds ahead of Rob Holland, who ploughed through the top 10 from 11th place on the grid to take second spot, and Joe Davison of Bath B fought off strong competition from the likes of Andreas Gutzold of Birmingham, and Daniel Youd who started on the front row for Loughborough, to be the first non-A Team driver of any uni to take a podium place.
Saturday, Races 6-10
Race 6 saw many of the drivers from race 1 return to the track, and Birmingham A’s Michael Gibbins made it two wins from two for the Midlands team. Sam Nash in the Brunel A kart managed to go one better in his second race and push onto the podium, but later refuted the suggestion that he might be Brunel’s best driver, perhaps foreshadowing the success to come in the following races...
As darkness fell, Race 7 got underway, and Sean Dorling was back out for Brunel A. As lit as the floodlights, he fended off early pace setter Mark Ross of Heriot Watt to seemingly double up his race wins, but Mark was later granted the win when Sean was penalised by a whole lap post-race.
Race 8 did not follow suit and see the polesitter first to the flag, as winner of race 3, Oliver Basey-Fisher of Reading, could only manage 5th place, with some pundits suggesting his mind was elsewhere following a Toblerone-focused outburst on the grid. Having qualified 9th in the morning, and subsequently finishing 3rd in Race 3, Oliver Wheddon rounded off a superb day of racing by taking 2nd place on the opening lap, and inherited the lead when the digi-flag showed a OTY black flag for Reading A.
In our penultimate race of the day, we had another double winner, as Piers Prior took his second BUKC victory in as many races. Truly dark at this point, Stephen Letts and Neil Vincent followed him home for Huddersfield and Coventry respectfully. And last but not least, Rob Holland rounded off a fine day for the Brunel team with a win in Race 10, despite the best efforts of Tom Thickpenny of Loughborough, who was thirteen seconds behind in second place.
With all the racing said and done, Darryl, Piers, Ollie and Tom of Loughborough A emerged as worthy winners, taking 60 championship points into 2017. Rob, Sam, Tom and Sean of Brunel A were left rueing Sean’s penalty in race 7 as they took second place, while Andreas, Michael, Rhianna and Will (“a nice set of lads”, as Will called them) of Birmingham completed the podium with a third place finish.
Sunday, Races 1-5
Sunday started in damp conditions, with the drivers qualifying laps all timed at over a minute long, as opposed to the sub 50s standard tour of Whilton Mill Zulu. Fastest in the first session, and on pole for Race 1 was Leeds Beckett’s Toti, who fought off Exeter A’s Sam Cassidy to cross take the win by just 3.8s.
Race 2 followed shortly after, and due to picking up a penalty losing his fastest qualifying lap, Sam Spinnael started from second on the grid. He put right his wrongs however by cruising to victory for Hertfordshire A.
The third race of the day once again saw a dramatic start as six drivers were in need of pusher karts on lap one. In the Oxford Brookes C kart, Matthew Lewis found himself in 8th place at the end of that lap, but produced a stellar drive to take victory on the final lap of the race. Callum Hughes of Oxford A crossed the line before him, but a multiple contact penalty demoted him to 5th, and Titas Bucelis ended up 2nd, but was not eligible to score points.
In Race 4, the good times continued for the Oxford based teams. Jamie Dyzra, twice a Whilton winner in BUKC 2016, won for Brookes A from 2nd on the grid. Just behind him was James Lambton of Oxford A, who smashed the fastest lap of the race by a whole second and a half as the track started to dry out.
Rob Newman of Sheffield A was another lights to flag winner in Race 5. The BUKC veteran beat 2016 Lightweight Champion Jess Alexander who finished 2nd, and Warwick A’s Sam Cobb who wound up in third.
Sunday, Races 6-10
Race 6 was an Oxford Brookes whitewash, as Kyle Morby, Tim Knox and Matthew Lewis crossed the line 1st, 2nd and 3rd for teams A, B and C, with just a second and a half between them all. Sam Spinnael was back out in Race 7 for Hertfordshire A, and grabbed his second win of the day to deny Brookes A (Gareth Haynes) victories in consecutive sprints. Brookes B and C finished 4th and 7th respectively to cap a solid hour for their contingent.
As darkness fell, Callum Hughes of Oxford A set Sunday’s first sub-50s lap time on his way to triumphing in Race 8. With the track finally dry but temperatures still chilly, especially without the sun shining, Callum dominated the race, and finished with half a minute to spare, meaning a penalty for cone abuse was no worry for him.
Although the sun had long gone, the racing continued with our ninth sprint. Jamie Dyzra and James Lambton saddled up for Brookes and Oxford for a rematch of Race 4. This time, James took the spoils as his single lap pace was once again more than smoking hot second faster than the rest of the field.
We finished the day with Race 10, the last BUKC outing of the calendar year. Sheffield’s Rob Newman once again went from pole to top of the podium, but had a mere three tenths to spare as the chasing Exeter A kart pushed him right to the bitter end. Jess Alexander was a couple of seconds behind both for Strathclyde, keeping us all entertained to the very last moments of the BUKC 2017 qualifiers.
As the weekend drew to a close, Kyle, Rokas, Jamie and Gareth of Oxford Brookes A climbed to the top step of the podium as worthy winners. Aidan, Ben, Zack and Rob of Sheffield A claimed a deserved second place, and Oxford Brookes C, comprehensively outscoring their B team and coming close to matching their A’s, ended the day in third place thanks to solid drives from Dillon, Murray, Matthew and Jamie.
Hope you’ve enjoyed our “previously on BUKC…” and are more than keen for next week! We shall see you all on February 1st for BUKC 2017 Rounds 1 & 2, at the legendary Buckmore Park!