2020 BUKC Season – Sunday Qualifiers

After Coventry A and Oxford Brookes B along with 52 other teams battled it out for top honours the previous day, it was left to 54 more teams to compete against each other to determine where they would be racing for the 2020 championship. In amongst this lot were five time champions Loughborough, 2015 champions Huddersfield, and the 2019 Intermediates champions Bath.

For the first race, it was the team from West Yorkshire who made the best start, as Huddersfield A’s Sam Tearne controlled the race from pole position to take the win. His bid for victory was aided by B team’s Jack Hodges jumping into 2nd at the start and essentially protecting his teammate. Hodges eventually finished 3rd after being overtaken on the last lap by Southampton A’s Kirk Langley, who put in an impressive drive from 17th on the grid.

Race 2 saw a titanic lead battle between three other teams from the north as two Newcastle teams and one from Northumbria went head-to-head-to-head. The battle was decided at half distance when Northumbria A’s Denholm Smith was taken out of the lead by Newcastle A’s Kyle Knight, and the resulting black flag cemented victory for B team’s James Grant. Completing the top three were Southampton A’s Diego Martinez, continuing the team’s strong start, and Nottingham Trent A’s Andrew Wong.

The third race saw Loughborough’s bid for championship kickstarted as Piers Prior resisted an early attack from Queen Mary’s Yannick Brandt before building a comfortable gap over the field. Taking 2nd were Manchester A’s Ocean Bach and Bath A’s Alex D’Arcy. Loughborough A were in contention for the win again in the next race, but they were ultimately no match for the the impressive Marcin Matczak for Brighton B. Taking another 3rd place were Bath A with James Beumee at the wheel.

After sitting the middle two races out, Huddersfield A were back out for race 5 with Aaron Walsh at the wheel. It was at this very circuit last season where he took 1st on the road during the sprint race, but wasn’t allowed to keep the win due to an ABC penalty. This time around, he had no such penalty on his way to take his first official win of the BUKC from Birmingham A’s Josh White and Loughborough B’s Charlie Bennett. This particular race saw the highest number of penalties (Not including black flags) throughout the entire weekend with 23. Five of those went to the ineligible Imperial C, all for track limits, and then they disqualified post-race for being underweight.

The final race of the first rotation saw strong performances from Nottingham Trent university. B team’s Dante Dhillon showed some good speed from pole position as he initially fended off the ineligible Newcastle C and newcomers Bournemouth A, then a rain shower created havoc with grip levels with drivers spinning off at pretty much every corner. Newcastle C took the win, but a couple of penalties for Dhillon promoted Trent A to 2nd place, and ultimately, full points for race six.

Compared to the previous day, driving standards for the first six races were more suspect with an average of 18.6 penalties per race. As a result, Club 100 clamped down on driving standards. The subsequent races were shortened by five minutes, and any penalty will result in exclusion from the race rather than just a stop-go penalty, although this didn’t apply to cone and monster penalties. The first driver to fall foul of this new rule was, unbelievably, Loughborough A, after a bump and pass for James Mills during race 7, which saw Sam Tearne do the double for Huddersfield A. It was in fact a Huddersfield 1-2 as Jack Hodges backed up his teammate, while 3rd was Olly Underwood for the impressive Newcastle B.

Race 8 saw yet another Huddersfield victory, this time for the mercurial Stephen Letts. He had a torrid time during race 2 as he changed karts during the warming up laps and had to start last. He made his way back up to 13th, but received an eight place penalty after his original was deemed raceable. From 21st on the grid, he stormed his way up the order to lead before half distance and win the race from Newcastle B and Nottingham Trent A. The big disqualification from this race was Northumbria A for a bump and pass.

Another driver did the double in race 9 as Loughborough A’s Piers Prior once again controlled the field from the start to finish to win from Queen Mary A and Manchester A. Loughborough then made it two in a row in the next race as Tom Thickpenny beat Brighton B to the win, with Bath A once again taking 3rd. This race was notable for a false start after a first corner pile-up, and also for three Birmingham teams being excluded from the race; the C team for a take-out, the A team for multiple bouts of contact, and the B team for an overtake under yellow.

This was actually Birmingham A’s second disqualification in a row as Rory Smith was black-flagged in race 9 for taking out a backmarker whilst running in 3rd, and this actually put them at great risk of not making it into the main championship. They needn’t have worried in race 11 however as Josh White finished 7th and comfortably into the mains. Taking the victory was Aaron Walsh, which was Huddersfield A’s fifth victory in eight races. Completing the top three were Nottingham Trent A and the ultra consistent Bath A.

The final race of the day saw the most exclusions of all with six including Southampton A and Nottingham Trent A. Fortunately for Trent, B team’s Dante Dhillon was on form as an excellent start propelled them from 6th to 2nd, and then took the lead from Newcastle C, who were then black-flagged for speeding under yellows. Dhillon went on win ahead of Loughborough A’s James Ireland and Newcastle A.

Despite winning more than half their races, Huddersfield A were beaten to the overall top spot by Loughborough A who had more consistent results despite Mills’ disqualification in race 7. Taking 3rd overall were Bath A, who finished in the top seven in all of their eight races. Three Loughborough teams attained premier status, while their D team would compete in clubman class, an identical outcome to Oxford Brookes.

Having won the Intermediates championship last season, Bath B made it into the main championship and with premier status as well, whereas newcomers Bournemouth A impressed with 17th overall and will participate with clubman status. Another university that had a good day was Warwick as they got three teams in the main championship.

For the second season in a row, Northumbria A failed to make the main championship, but without doubt, the biggest elimination came from seed number 15, Brunel A, who at one point were at risk of not making the Intermediates championship. Those particular teams ended up being Edge Hill B, Huddersfield C, and Newcastle C.

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