Celtic Challenge attracts 65 drivers
3:02pm Tuesday 17th December 2013 in Sport
CHALLENGE WINNER: Nick Turley - on his way to victory in the Senior Honda class at Llandow Kart Club's Celtic Challenge event. Picture: Harry Rodde.
THE Llandow Kart Club brought the curtain down on its 2013 season with the traditional Celtic Challenge finale.
Run to the ‘alternate’ format of timed qualifying, heat, pre-final and final, the event is designed to bring a fun end to a hard year of racing, whilst providing an opportunity for the winners to leave with the recognised ‘CC’ plate, which is retained for the following year. In all, a healthy 65 drivers – including 14 from other clubs - took up the challenge.
Two hardy Bambinos came out to play at the event, with Ella Stevens and Nathan Browning both achieving another gold award for the efforts on a cold and damp track.
Despite it being the ‘end of term,’ the Cadet field still produced the biggest turn-out, with 20 karts across three classes. New club champion Ethan Ling headed up the Honda contingent, but was denied another title as Stuart Ferguson emerged as the one to beat, topping all four sessions to take a clean sweep. Ling was second fastest in qualifying, but had to settle for third place in each of the three races as Oscar Ferguson took second spot in both the heat and pre-qualifying, and Joshua Martin did likewise in the final after Ferguson ran into misfortune.
Without new champion Tom Rawlings, who took the opportunity to step up to another class in preparation for 2014, the Comer class was won by Connor Kearney, who came good in the races after lagging a little behind his rivals in the timed session. Max Fenlon, quickest in qualifying, did not make the top three overall as Kieran Clarke and Thomas Nippers followed Kearney home.
The IAME class featured just two runners, with Shay Keough getting the better of Ethan Rees.
With new champion Cristiano Nardone and otherwise dominant Ben Stevens both graduating to the senior ranks, Junior Honda was reduced to just three drivers, and Kristian Prosser took control, topping each of the day’s four sessions ahead of Tom Ford and Patrick Hill.
As he had in the final round of the summer championship, Ford doubled up with appearances in Junior Rotax, where he again locked horns with former Honda rival Thomas Croydon. The pair settled for battling over third and fourth places, however, as the more experienced Rob Ellis and Ceran Sokhi - stepping up from Minimax - set the pace. Ellis, as befits the role of club champion, came out on top each time, winning each race with an increased margin.
With Sokhi stepping up and Jodie Handford missing, Joe Pritchard was the lone Minimax entrant, but raced hard at the back of the Junior Rotax grid.
The eight-man Junior TKM field was led throughout by Ryan Edwards, despite the best efforts of old rivals Scott Morris and Matthew Ayres, who filled the podium positions in each session. Class debutant Rawlings made an immediate impact, qualifying fifth fastest and racing hard to eventually claim fourth in the main event, beating 2013 Welsh and club champion Yousuf Ashraf.
After a tough year, where a dearth of entries saw the class cancelled on more than a couple occasions, Senior Honda enjoyed a return to double figures for the season finale, with no fewer than 12 karts on track. The numbers were swelled by the arrival of Stevens and Nardone from the junior ranks, as well as the return of veterans Chris Lipscomb, Nick Turley and Nicholas Rees and a seasonal debut for Roberto Nardone.
Stevens dared to beat Lipscomb and challenge senior champion Paul Saunders in qualifying, and then proved that his form was for real by winning the pre-final, but had to give best to heat winner Turley when it mattered most. Despite that, the youngster still left with some silverware, while Monty Gorringe beat Saunders to the final step of the podium.
The Honda Heavyweight class returned courtesy of Hugh Jones, but there was to be no repeat of his October heroics – where he won outright – as he finished seventh overall.
Senior Rotax remained in double figures after another strong season, and Daryl Henderson picked up from where he had left off in November’s championship finale, winning all three races after topping qualifying. James Johnson proved to be the biggest thorn in Henderson’s side, taking second spot in each session, and, when Steven Handford, failed to start the pre-final, it opened the door for Zach Jones to establish himself as number three for the rest of the day.
Bambino: Gold Award - Nathan Browning (CRG) and Ella Stevens (CK).
Cadet Honda: 1, Stuart Ferguson; 2, Joshua Martin; 3, Ethan Ling (all Project One).
Cadet Comer: 1, Connor Kearney; 2, Kieran Clarke; 3, Thomas Nippers (all Zip).
Cadet Iame: 1, Shay Keough; 2, Ethan Rees (both Zip).
Junior Honda: 1, Kristian Prosser (7Kart); 2, Tom Ford (MS); 3, Patrick Hill (Wright).
Junior TKM: 1, Ryan Edwards (Tonykart); 2, Scott Morris (Tonykart); 3, Matthew Ayres (Jade).
Junior Rotax: 1, Rob Ellis (Kosmic); 2, Ceran Sokhi (Kosmic); 3, Thomas Croydon (Gillard).
Mini Max: 1, Joe Pritchard (Tonykart).
Senior Honda: 1, Nick Turley (MS); 2, Ben Stevens (7Kart); 3, Monty Gorringe (7Kart).