Russell Haggerty wins the 2009 Welsh Championship after a dramatic final weekend
Plenty of drama for The Man in Black -Interview
Final Rounds Pembrey 17/18 October Truck Festival
It was another beautiful sunny weekend for the final rounds of the2009 Welsh Sports & Saloon Car Championship and once again the championship was down to final races. Ok, maybe it wasnt quite so intense as the F1 World Championship in Brazil, but nonetheless there was a lot of tension and expectation in the air, with the title down to a direct fight between Russell Haggerty & Nick Jones. Actually the cards were slightly stacked against Nick as the support in Class B has been lower than Class A for most of the year, but there were plenty of twists & turns throughout the weekend before the title places were decided.
Find a space to race! Now that's the kind of trafic jam we like see!
However on the day some of the championships heavy hitters were making a welcome re-appearance. That, along with a strong entry from a variety of guests, made it over 20 entries. Alvin Powell headed the time sheets with 60.257 seconds, closely followed by Michael Roirdan, then Ken Rattenbury in an excellent 3rd place in an unfamiliar 3.5 litre red Ginetta G50. 4th was the first of our guests, David Longhurst in a 2 litre Peugeot 208 silhouette. David had come down with one of the crews in the Pick-up trucks races. 2008 Champion Rhys Lloyd was another driver making a welcome re-appearance and was 5th, just ahead of David Krayem. John Morris was also out in his 2 litre Peugeot 208 silhouette, just ahead Geraint Rees who was now assured of winning Class C, as Jeff Davies was unable to make it. Jeff being the only driver who could have beaten Geraint to the Class C title. 9th was another of our guest drivers Piers Grange in his Historic Championship 3-door Sierra., a real blast (or Thunder) from the past. Nick Jones rounded out the top 10 in his Renault Clio. Like Geraint, Nick is assured of the Class B title, but he was also in contention with Russell Haggerty for the overall title. Just to add a dramatic twist to title race Russell was missing from the grid after the front suspension on his Raw Striker collapsed in dramatic fashion after the suspension bracket on the chassis broke off! Russell was less than impressed by the Raw factorys response, by the R&R crew were anxious to help and car went off to the R&R factory for urgent repairs and they hoped to have it back for Sundays final race. Paul Trowbridge was 11th and was the only other registered contender in Nicks class. Local Guest driver Neil Watts was 12th in his Westy, Gareth Smith was the next guest in his 2 litre VW Corrado silhouette, and making 3 guests in a row was Mark Jenkins in his stock saloon VW Golf. Nigel Bowen was 15th in his Porsche 911, or would have been if his Diff hadnt broken! Chris Morris & his Suzuki was on the Class A pole in 16th from Kareem,(Rover 216) Phil Bendall (Fiesta), Adrian Chapman, (Raw Striker) and Ray Hanson (Alfa 33)last in 20th place.
Race 1 Pembrey 17th October - 15 mins + 1 lap Rolling Start
Alvin lead away from the start but behind him all hell broke loose, bringing out the red flags. Neil Watts described the action " The VW lost it in front of me, I partly T-boned it and poor Paul Trowbidge hit me in the side. My rear mudguard got broken, but Paul found his chassis was bent so he to pack it away and had to go home" Bad luck for Paul as he was looking to seal 3rd place in the championship, and also for Nick as that meant he was now only eligible for half points.
Race 1 re-start Pembrey 17th October - 11 mins + 1 lap Rolling Start
David Longhurst got the drop at the restart from Michael Riordan with Alvin in 3rd, but on lap 2 Alvin made an exit backwards in the paddock entry barriers. The back end of his car looked very second hand but thankfully Alvin was alright. He explained "I got a bit sideways on some oil from the trucks, and I thought Id caught it but the kerb spun me around. Even so I thought I was going to miss the barrier and go up the rallycross track. However the car did its job and the rest of the chassis is ok from the Roll cage mounts forwards. So we should be able to fix it" There was still plenty of action and Alvin wasnt the driver to spin or go off. Thankfully all the others regained the track, expect for Kareem who was the only other driver not to finish, Ken Rattenbury spun but then recovered to score an excellent 3rd place. Rhys Lloyd was 4th and behind him Geraint Rees was 5th. Piers Grange and Dave Krayem were only inches apart at the end as were Mark Jenkins & John Morris. Nick Jones was a fighting 10th in his Clio, Neil Watts was the last un-lapped runner in 11th place. Gareth Smith was 12th & Chris Morris was the Class A winner in 13th Ray Hanson was 14th and Adrian was 15th and the last finisher.
(thanks to Steve Williams for the photos)
Race 2 Pembrey 17th October - 15 mins + 1 lap Rolling Start
Dave Longhurst- number 3 on the car = 3 wins
Dave Longhurst, our guest who had come all the way from Worthing, made sure his trip was worth(ing) it, by taking a second dominant win. Michael Riordan was 2nd and was absolutely flat out, chasing Dave all the way, with both drivers pressing the 60 second barrier. Dave got the better of lapping the traffic to win by over 4 seconds. Afterwards Mike, who has won Class D, looked like he had been in a race, and although he had to leave early to get the ferry back home to Ireland, he promised he would be back next year if the racing is as good as it was for the final rounds. Lets hope it is, and we see our Irish friends next year. Behind them Ken Rattenbury was an excellent 3rd again until a late race tangle saw him drop to 11th. "I thought I saw a chance to get 2nd from Michael, so there was a bit of red mist, and I came up to lap some back markers, one let me through but the other didnt see me and we touched" Rhys Lloyd who had been 4th inherited 3rd from Ken, even though his power steering had gone. Dave Krayem was 4th & Geraint Rees was 5th Piers Grange was 6th
Nick Jones, Gareth Smith & Neil Watts were having a real battle, Nick passing Gareth at the Paddock turn in an excellent move. Neil was 7th with Nick making a real effort on the last lap and was only a cars length behind at the end. Mark Jenkins was 10th & Ken Rattenbury recovered to 11th . Behind Ken, Class A, and the Championship, was decided in favour of Russell Haggerty. Kareem Elsorafy had offered Russell the chance to compete, by taking over his Rover 216. Russell started from the back and battled his way past Adrian, Glynne & Chris Morris to take maximum points and wrap up the championship. John Morris was the only non-finisher.
(thanks to Steve Williams for the photos)
Race 3 Pembrey 18th October - 15 mins + 1 lap Rolling Start
Nick Jones - made Russell work hard for the championship
After a big truck crash, the field had 2 warm-up laps to try & find if there were any bad oily patches. Dave Longhurst, who had to start from the back after dipping below the 60 second barrier, joined Russell Haggerty, now back with his repaired Stryker & Kareem Elsorafy now in the Rover, in starting from the back. With Michael Riordan on his way home, this put Rhys on pole, from Dave Krayem, and when the lights changed Rhys lead from Dave with a fast starting Piers in 3rd. However Dave Longhurst was powering through the field like the proverbial hot knife through butter, and he was up to 3rd by lap 2. By lap 3 he was pressing Rhys for the lead and although Rhys tried as hard as he could, Dave was in the lead after only 4 laps! Rhys kept him honest but eventually Dave drew away for another dominant win. Afterwards Dave said "I really enjoyed it, it was good even though I havent sat in the car for 2 years"
Dave Longhurst tells how he did it
Behind Dave & Rhys, Dave Krayem settled into 3rd place, meanwhile Piers Grange & Geraint Rees had a David & Goliath battle, with Piers Seirra towering over Geraint and his Westfield. After a big brake locking moment into Hatchets, Geraint got the best of the exchange after his usual wall of death run around the inside of Debeni and the paddock turn, but after setting his fastest lap of the race, Geraint had taken too much out of his tyres and later he became the races only retirement when a flat spot turned into a puncture. Later our genial Class C champion confirmed "It was good fun while it lasted" At this time Ken Rattenbury was hauling himself up from a lowly grid place to pass Piers & Geraint and home in on Dave Krayen in 3rd place eventually getting by and sealing his best ever weekends results with two 3rd places, narrowly missing out on a hat-trick. Piers Grange rounded off the top 5, but behind them Neil Watts, Mark Jenkins & Nick Jones were putting on one of the dices of the race, with plenty of challenges & place swapping, both Neil & Nick finding Marks Golf quick in a straight line. In the end Neil was 6th Mark 7th and Nick 8th. Chris was an excellent 9th after an excellent dice between the Class A boys. Russell Haggerty made his way past Phil Bendall, Adrian, Kareem, Glynne and Chris to lead the Class, but on the way he found his brakes and engine overheating and Chris was able to re-pass him for an excellent 2nd Class win of the weekend to put himself into 3rd place overall. A super result for one of championships nicest guys. Kareem was also on the move and was 12th. Adrian was 13th and set the fastest lap of the class on his last lap and took the marshals vote for Driver on the Day Phil Bendall finished 14th with his engine sounding like a bag of nails. Glynne Jones was 14th and Gareth Smith was 10th after pitting, although he had been as high as 8th and Glynne higher too. Glynnes front bumper was coming adrift and he did a quick pit stop to have it fixed, after he was given the Black & Yellow flag. Gareth was also passing the pit wall at the time and explained "I saw the Black & Yellow flag and thought it was for me. But it turned to be for Glynne!" Gareth quickly got going again but his chance of a better result was gone "There are a lot of quick drivers in this championship, but we will come back again when we can" At the end understandably Russell was almost overcome by emotion and he paid tribute to the competitors in his class "I feel great, but I didnt win this championship on my own. I was probably only 10% of the equation. It was all down to the spirit and friendship of my Class A competitors. They worked tirelessly to fix my car, and then Kareem offered to lend me his car. He didnt have to do that, but it shows the spirit of this championship"
For his part Nick Jones had given it everything he could and its one of the toughest parts of motorsport that there can be only one winner to a championship. Certainly without him there wouldnt have been a real contest for the championship. In the run-up to the weekend Russell had paid tribute to his opponent "Nick is a great driver and I am sure that if we were both in the same cars hed have beaten me. Hes got a great future in front of him." Lets hope he comes back to try again maybe next year when the mathematics might be more in his favour.
(thanks to Steve Williams for the photos)
Footnotes: There were plenty of spectators, and not a few drivers, watching the action, including Martin & Jason Davies, Mike Woods, Rhodri, Mark Nicholson, Anthony Allitt and Andrew Williams amongst others. Lets hope we will see a few of them back on the track and in the Championship in 2010. Andy is still nursing the finger he broke at Lydden Hill, it looked swollen and painful. Andy explained "I must have caught it the steering wheel, they are trying to sort it out with physiotherapy" Andys wife Sonia confirmed "When we went to the hospital in Canterbury which was really nice, they said they might do an operation, but when we got back, our local hospital just put into a splint!" At the moment however, Andy is doing the best he can, literally with one hand behind his back. He confirmed the car is repairable and is making progress with it. Lets hope the finger & the car get better soon.
This weekend saw the first use of our Race Centre and a big thanks is due to Janice and Steve Williams who went down Friday afternoon to put it up, and then took it down after most everybody had left.It looked great and it attracted a few people, most important 3 very interested enquiries for 2010. So our decision to have one was well vindicated and if we can have it in that position for every race, that will be great. Again many thanks to Janice and Steve, and thanks to Steve for his excellent action photos.
Forthcoming Attraction: To encourage new members there is attract day at Llandow on 31st October when the new champion Russell Haggerty will be there with his cars to encourage newcomers . So if any one else can come along or just pass the message on to one who you think may have a genuine strong interest, Vince Brown and Alan Jenkins will be there to answer questions