With the 2014 silverware safely dished out during the annual awards night at the Heronston Hotel in Bridgend, Llandow Kart Club roared back into action with the opening round of its 2015 championship on a bright but chilly day in mid-February.
The new season was marked by a number of new faces in the paddock, as well as old faces in unfamiliar places as drivers changed classes ahead of the ten-round series.
The Bambino class kicked things off, with ‘old hand’ Nathan Browning facing fresh track companions in the shape of Ryley Price and novice Cameron Crockett. As expected, Llandow regular Browning set the pace in each of the four track sessions, but all three drivers acquitted themselves well in tricky conditions.
Despite a number of drivers having to move on over the winter, the Cadet classes once again proved to be the most popular, with Honda and IAME getting their own heats and finals for the first time. Some 19 Honda runners took to the track, providing a colourful feast of close racing, and the entry was noticeable for the number of visitors from other clubs as the stars of the future took the opportunity to get some early track time under their wheels ahead of the return of Super One and other series to Llandow during the year.
It was the guests who took the honours too, with Wesley Mason (TVKC), Kieron Jermey (BPKC) and Harry Thompson (TVKC) claiming victory in the heats, before Oliver Clarke came through to nab top spot in the final. Guy Cunnington (CPKC) took one top three finish, but it was Alex Lloyd (TVKC) who proved the biggest thorn in the side of the frontrunners, and his pressure was rewarded with second place in the main event, with Thompson completing the podium.
The IAME class showed a welcome swelling of numbers, with the six runners on track equally split between the ‘home’ and ‘away’ teams. Reggie Duhy (TVKC) (above) proved the driver to beat, however, taking a clean sweep of heats and final, while the rest of the field swapped positions in his wake. LKC regular Max Fenlon led the pursuit with second place in each of the qualifying races, but could only manage fourth in the final as Clayton Ravenscroft (TVKC) and Thomas Nippers (LKC) filled the podium.
Graduations took an early toll on Junior Honda numbers, but did little to affect the competition at the front as Ben Cutler and Alex Wilkins fought out four close races. Cutler eventually came out on top in three events, but the third heat was only decided by 0.011s and the final saw the pair split by just half a second despite the longer timed distance. Novice Finley Green completed the podium.
With no Junior Rotax on the bill, the TKM field completed the youth portion of the meeting with an encouraging eleven-strong field. The same three drivers filled the top three in the heats, however, with Alex Rees leading Louis Beaven (right) and Chris Witton before reigning champion Rees went on to complete a clean sweep by adding the final later in the day.
Having opened the season with a DNF, Ryan Edwards came through to claim runner-up honours, pushing Beaven and Whitton back to third and fourth ahead of current Welsh champion Tom Rawlings.
Senior Honda also featured an expanded entry, returning to double figures as several junior frontrunners – including 2014 champ Kristian Prosser – stepped up to take on the old guard. The heat wins were shared between the elder statesmen, however, with Cristiano Nardone, Gareth Lewis and Monty Gorringe coming out on top, before Nardone returned to the top step when it mattered most, fending off Tom Ford and Patrick Hill in the final.
Senior Max had a more familiar look to it, despite reigning Honda champion Danny Griffiths moving over to the more powerful karts, and it was Morgan Rose who continued his strong form from the end of 2014 with wins in three of the four outings, including the final. The Roses continued to bloom, with Scott claiming the remaining race. Sam Morgan reprised his opening heat second place to claim runner-up honours in the main event ahead of 2014 Junior Max titlewinner Rob Ellis.
Round two of the Llandow Kart Club championship will take place at South Wales Karting Centre on Sunday 15 March 2015.
1. Nathan Browning (Zip)
2. Ryley Price (MS)
3. Cameron Crockett (Birel)
1. Oliver Clarke (BRK)
2. Alex Lloyd (BRK)
3. Harry Thompson (Synergy)
1. Reggie Duhy (Zip)
2. Clayton Ravenscroft (Zip)
3. Thomas Nippers (Zip)
1. Ben Cutler (7Kart)
2. Alex Wilkins (7Kart)
3. Finley Green
1. Alex Rees (Jade)
2. Ryan Edwards (Tonykart)
3. Louis Beaven (Tonykart)
1. Cristiano Nardone (Elk)
2. Tom Ford (MS)
3. Patrick Hill (Wright)
1. Morgan Rose (Tonykart)
2. Sam Morgan (CRG)
3. Rob Ellis (Kosmic)
Connor Coombes (Cadet Honda)
DRIVER OF THE DAY: Louis Beaven (Junior TKM)
© Words Craig Llewellyn & images Steve Everitt