Maiden Victory For Apollo in Three-Way Fight to the Flag
Having headed for Snetterton as championship leaders, the Apollo Motorsport trio of Guy and Zoe Wenham with Ryan Burke, were looking for consistency, but came away with a maiden victory from the 26 car grid.
As usual it was a frantic start with Dave Clarke holding the lead for polesitters Agua Caliente, as far as Agostini’s on the opening lap, when Andy Bicknell and Ian Payne joined him to go three abreast for DespatchBay.com and PT Motorsport.
Payne led on the exit from Bicknell, with Fabio Randaccio third at Oggies for JPR UVio. But, Nigel Greensall was on the attack too for CCS Media, fourth at the end of the opening lap, he ousted Randaccio at Oggies second time around.
Greensall soon picked off Bicknell too and had just snatched the lead from Payne exiting Murrays on lap three, when the former leader’s car just died as it crossed the line.
The lead had started to grow, but the safety car came out to recover Payne and wiped out Greensall’s advantage. Bicknell had just retaken Randaccio too, while Charlie Kennedy was going well in fifth for TFL Racing. Chris Hart’s 2Rent Dominos was sixth, after an early duel with Apollo’s Guy Wenham, ended with the latter spinning.
Greensall took charge again from the green flag, but behind it was far from settled. Kennedy briefly had second, before Bicknell took it back, then Randaccio challenged Kennedy, before both ran wide and were taken by Hart, leaving them to resume their duel.
Bicknell and Hart then started to alternate over second place, before Peter Belshaw brought his Team Sherardize car into the fray, splitting them on lap 13.
A lap later Belshaw had second and held the place until the first pitstop window opened and he handed to Marcus Clutton.
As the battles behind continued to rage, Greensall built a huge lead before being one of the last stoppers, when he handed to Ciro Carannante. “The car felt totally brilliant,” said Greensall. “I was disappointed to be so far off Nigel, but being pessimistic so I can’t be disappointed,” reckoned Belshaw.
At the first hour, Carannante had a 25.7 secs lead over Clutton, with Henry Dawes in third for 2Rent Dominos, closely followed by DespatchBay.com’s Harry Mailer, Team Viking’s Nick Nunn and JPR UVio’s Farquini Deott.
Clutton began to close on the lead with Dawes and Mailer close too. While behind them Nunn and Deott worked together in a duel for fifth.
It was lap 35 when Clutton hit the front, but the second pitstop was approaching and he was the first of the leaders to stop. Carannante and Mailer both had a brief spell at the front before their stops, but once the round had been completed, Belshaw was back in front, from Hart, with Alan Honarmand third for CCS, as Mailer and Deott pitted. “It was really hard to stay in touch,” said Deott.
The lead duo’s had held station up to the halfway two hour mark, with Belshaw 11 secs up on Honarmand, while JPR UVio’s Randaccio was just holding onto third, from GCI Racing’s Ian Wood, as Kennedy filled the top six. Mark Holme had got the Viking car up to third for a while too, but his duel with Randaccio ended in a spin, after a tap from his rival.
Holme’s spin had dropped them to ninth, but 2Rent Dominos were down in 19th, after Hart was caught speeding in the pitlane and received a 30 second stop go penalty.
During the third hour, Sherardize began to consolidate their lead, as Team Viking and CCS duelled for the other podium places, but a lengthy safety car period brought further changes from the top to the bottom of the leaderboard.
Before the safety car Team 7 Fun Bikes 3 had been 15th, but when almost the whole field pitted, Alan Brown stayed out and led for the next few laps, until he pitted too.
There were still 17 cars on the lead lap as the final hour started, but with Sherardize forced to retire with overheating problems, Apollo emerged as the new leaders from Tim Wheeldon for Team Honeywell, Team Viking, DespatchBay.com, TFL Racing and JPR UVio.
Having lost out with his earlier speeding penalty, Hart finished his final stint in blistering fashion, taking Randaccio, TFL’s Rob Croydon, Bicknell and Holme on consecutive laps, before handing to Dawes to take it to the flag from third.
There was no happy ending for TFL’s Kennedy though, when the car stopped out on the circuit in the final half hour. But while Guy Wenham took over from Sister Zoe for their last stint, Neil Plimmer’s Honeywell car was under attack from Dawes for second place, while both were being caught by Viking’s Nunn.
With 20 minutes to go Wenham had a 4.5 secs lead, but it was any one of four for second, with Plimmer just holding on. On lap 87 Dawes got by, but with the aid of the pitlane exit, Plimmer retook into Riches as Nunn and Mailer looked on.
A lap later Mailer had second from Dawes, with Nunn and Plimmer vying for fourth. “I thought I could get Neil again into Wilson Hairpin, but I braked too late and caught him,” Nunn explained. “He came down my inside and we had contact and spun,” Plimmer added.
It was finally left to Mailer and Dawes to duel for second and both having a chance of catching Wenham for the lead too. Dawes got by into Riches, but four laps later Mailer had it into Agostini’s, but importantly the lead had come down to 2.004 secs as they started the last lap.
“I just had nothing left, it was they got me or they didn’t, but over the moon and a long time in coming for us,” said the victorious Guy Wenham. “It was Ok when I was out there, but you feel the pressure when you are not,” added Burke. “When we dropped to 20th I thought this was going to be our dropped score,” said Zoe, as the whole Apollo team celebrated their maiden victory.
The winning margin was 2.147 secs, but it was Mailer that hung on for second for DespatchBay.com. “When Henry got me I thought sit back and see if we can catch Guy. But we didn’t seem to be, so I just went for it. So much more rewarding when you have to work for it,” he said after taking the Brundle and Nelson complex side by side. “A fantastic result as we were still working on the car in the morning after its rebuild,” Andy Bicknell added.
“I had to have that late lunge and thought I had him for a second,” said third placed Dawes for 2Rent Dominos. Greensall brought a battle scarred CCS car home fourth, “I nudged Nigel when we tried to avoid the Honeywell and Viking incident,” Deott admitted.
Honeywell still made it home in fifth, from JPR UVio, “the car hadn’t been right all day, it was really hard work, “said defending champion Deott.
Team Viking showed the pace for a podium finish again, but incidents left them down in seventh, while the GCI were hoping for a top 10, so Craig Butterworth was delighted with eighth.
Team 7 Fun Bikes 3 and the Jones families MCAC Racing car completed the top 10.
Next stop Zandvoort, double header!
1 Apollo Motorsport (Guy Wenham/Ryan Burke/Zoe Wenham) 96 laps in 4h01m16.363s (70.87mph); 2 DespatchBay.com(Andy Bicknell/Harry Mailer) +2.147s; 3 2RentDominos (Chris Hart/Henry Dawes); 4 CCS Media (Nigel Greensall/Ciro Carannante/Alan Honarmand); 5 Team Honeywell (Tim Wheeldon/Neil Plimmer); 6 JPR UVio (Fabio Randaccio/Farquini Deott); 7 Team Viking (Mark Holme/Nick Nunn); 8 GCI Racing (Craig Butterworth/Ian Wood/Grahame Butterworth); 9 Team 7 Fun Bikes 3 (Rod Barrett/Alan Brown/Rory Brown/Jay Shepherd). 10 MCAC Racing (Matt Jones/Philip Jones/Morgan Jones/Gareth Jones). Fastest lap Marcus Clutton (Team Sherardize) 2m16.438s (78.33mph).