New boy Liam Murphy began the first BRDC Stars of Tomorrow cadet heat of 2007 on pole position, with alongside him on the grid – ominously – last year’s runner-up Alex Albon, and lining up behind James DeHavillande and Daniel Sweeney. Other hot tips Brett Wykes and Roy Johnson started respectively eighth and 20th.
Albon made a textbook getaway as the lights went out to get the season underway, pursued by a fast-starting Nathan Harrison, pole-sitter Murphy and a determined Wykes, while a first corner fracas severely delayed a number of the field, among them Josh Fry, Craig Coles, Charlie Robertson and series sophomore Adam Stirling.
As Albon began to stretch his legs out front, Wykes made short work of fighting his way through into second place, and had soon set his sights on the leader. As early as lap three he was past, with a neat move through the twisty complex at the back of the circuit. Harrison was by this time a lonely third, unable to live with the pace of the two leaders but equally unthreatened by Sam Vanderpump behind.
Though Albon had conceded his advantage, he was clearly not going to give in without a scrap, and resolutely refused to let Wykes get away as the pair began to go at it hammer-and-tongs around the short Cambridgeshire circuit. Johnson had clawed his way up from the rear of the grid to overhaul Vanderpump for fourth, with Ashlee Whiteman and home favourite Charlie Savage in close attendance behind. Johnson’s next target was Harrison in third, a place he soon made his own, as battles brewed all the way down the order.
Try as he might, however, Albon would ultimately prove unable to unseat Wykes, as the Northampton ace held on under immense pressure to register the first victory of the campaign at his local track. Johnson took the flag a further seven seconds in arrears in third, with Harrison fourth and Whiteman pipping Savage across the line by the narrowest margin of four hundredths of a second in their tussle over fifth.
Julian Davies and Hazz Truelove shared row one of the grid for the second cadet heat of the new season, with Luke Hughes and Ricky Collard – son of former British Touring Car Championship race-winner Rob – next up. Danger men Johnson and Jacob Stilp were respectively towards the middle and back of the grid, with American ace Andrew Murray and leading lady Abigail Gerry starting on the penultimate row.
A nudge from Collard across the line pushed Truelove into an early lead, while Jordan Houghton got a similar tap down the back straight only this time was not so fortunate, spinning down to last place before the opening lap was out. As Truelove led, Luke Hughes, poleman Davies, Polish newcomer Alfonso Skriczka, Johnson and Jake Dalton headed the chase, with Stilp and Gerry making solid progress up to 11th and 13th from down in 17th and 20th on the grid respectively.
The battle at the front soon developed into a three-way scrap for supremacy between Truelove, Hughes and Davies, with Johnson leading Dalton and Skriczka a little further back. The luckless Houghton went grass-cutting again at the back of the circuit, while Johnson – no doubt eager to build on his impressive opening heat performance – was intent on making it a four-kart fight at the top.
As Truelove hung on under tremendous pressure, a last lap shuffle saw Johnson dive down the inside of the race leader heading into the first turn for the final time. Hughes shot to the outside, and in the ensuing confusion it was the erstwhile leader who came off worst, losing three places in one fell swoop. The Lincoln ace would recover later around the lap, reclaiming second place courtesy of a daring last-gasp manoeuvre, but he could not spoil Johnson’s party, as Roy crossed the line almost half a second to the good ahead of Truelove, Hughes and Davies, with Dalton and Skriczka still duelling over fifth and Stilp holding Gerry off by the skin of his teeth to claim eighth.
Jay Goodwin began the third cadet heat of the day in the prime spot, joined on the front row by Charlie Eastwood, with 2006 front-runner James Appleton making his first appearance of the new campaign just behind in third. Gerry this time was eighth, Stilp 12th and Albon right towards the back.
As Appleton assumed the early lead, the unfortunate Goodwin got spun around in turn two while Robbie Dalgleish, Xavier Warburton, Eastwood, Jack Thorne and Gerry led the pursuit and Albon had already made up an incredible nine places to run tenth. Matthew Graham and James DeHavillande were also early casualties, causing the caution flags to come out and eradicating Appleton’s advantage.
When the action got back underway again, the Nantwich star came under immediate pressure from Dalgleish behind, with Thorne holding a watching brief in third and Eastwood and Stilp battling over fourth a little further in arrears. With just two laps to go, Thorne had hauled himself right onto the back of the lead scrap, and on the penultimate tour the Bideford ace made his move on Appleton, timing his charge to perfection and taking Dalgleish with him, positions that would remain all the way to the flag. Some last minute shuffling saw the long-time race leader drop another place to the hard-charging Albon right at the close, with Stilp and Eastwood rounding out the top six, all within less than a second of each other.
Stars’ new boys Joe Byrne and Martin Millar shared the front row of the grid for heat four, followed by Josh White and Alex Walker, with Jake Dennis seventh and Albon 12th.
Some bumping and barging at the start saw Matthew Graham go skating across the grass before the first corner had even been reached, while Samuel Parrant and Dalton followed suit through turns two and three. Among others delayed by the opening lap mêlée were Millar, Liam Murphy, Alex Walker, Collard, Parrant and Truelove. Up at the front, meanwhile, Byrne led from Dennis, White and Daniel Sweeney, with Albon already making his presence felt up in eighth. By the end of lap two Dennis had hit the front, pursued by Sweeney, White and Byrne, with Albon looking increasingly menacing in fifth.
A matter of seconds later and he was third, and the pressure he was applying pushed Sweeney onto the back of the race leader, with Byrne, White and Luke Hughes making up the top six, the latter all the way from the back of the grid. With a little under two laps to go, Albon was in the lead, though the way Dennis fought back it was clear he was not going to let the win go easily. His determination paid off, as the Nuneaton star stole the lead back again on the penultimate lap and held it to the flag, with Albon’s efforts to wrest it away once more almost causing him to lose second place to Sweeney, as the front trio swept across the line almost as one and separated by a fraction over a tenth of a second. Hughes ended up an impressive fourth, with Houghton and Davies fifth and sixth.
Local star Savage began the fifth cadet heat of the day on pole position, joined on the front row by Fry, Vanderpump and Wykes, with Truelove mid-grid and Appleton right at the rear.
Savage became the first driver of the day to retain his pole advantage into the first corner, before Vanderpump stole the lead away exiting turn one. By the time the lap was out, though, it was Wykes in front, and the Northampton star would never again be headed.
As the karts crossed the line for the first time Wykes led Vanderpump, Savage and Steven Handford, with the former already beginning to edge clear and Truelove quickly on the march. Before long the Lincoln ace was up into second place, but even he could do little about the runaway leader. Vanderpump had by this point been shuffled back into seventh place behind Fry, Handford, Hughes and Dalgleish.
As Wykes scampered ever-further into the distance, Truelove’s second place was coming under increasing pressure from Fry, with Hughes again running strongly up in fourth. Wykes’ winning margin in the end was a little over three seconds, with Truelove just holding Fry off for second and Dalgleish, Hughes and Handford staging a battle royale as they crossed the line separated by less than a second in their fight over fourth.
Scot Gregor Ramsay lined up on pole position for the penultimate cadet heat of the day, followed by Sam Cassidy, Tom Read and earlier pace-setter Johnson, with Appleton tenth and danger man Dennis right at the back.
As the karts went three-abreast into turn one for the first time, Ramsay held onto both his nerve and his lead, though by the time they flashed across the line at the end of the lap Read had assumed control, pursued by Johnson, Ramsay and Toby Sowery. Two laps later and Johnson had hit the front, with Appleton on a charge and already up into the top five. As Johnson and Read edged slightly clear in their tussle for supremacy, Appleton seized third place from Henry Hunter, followed by Ramsay and Cassidy, and the leaders’ squabbling allowed the Nantwich ace to close up behind, leaving the battle for fourth place trailing in his wake.
The next man on the move was earlier heat winner Dennis, relieving first Hunter and then Ramsay of fourth place, while as the karts entered their final tour the battle at the front was on for second, with Johnson having afforded himself some breathing space in the lead. Appleton’s persistence and pace would ultimately pay off as he stole the runner-up spot from Read through the back complex for the last time, with Dennis taking the flag a lonely fourth and Sowery, Ramsay, Alex Walker and Adam Stirling completing the top eight.
Andrew Murray was on pole position for the final cadet heat of the opening day, with Rory Cuff alongside him, Stilp and Gerry sharing row three, Dennis ninth and Wykes plum last.
Lining up on the outside really seemed to pay off as the lights went out, with Thorne jumping into an immediate lead chased by a lightning-starting Gerry, as Stilp shot down the inside of Alex Walker for third before the first lap was out and Dennis – ominously – having already fought his way up into the top five.
Walker re-passed Stilp for third on lap two, as Wykes made his way up through the order, lying 12th from 21st on the grid. Alex Gill and Charlie Savage had a coming-together at the back of the circuit on lap three, as a charging Dennis pushed Stilp back past Walker once more. With Thorne seemingly holding his pursuers up a little the top five concertinad up, and their relentless pace left Vanderpump in sixth quite literally trailing in their wheeltracks.
Gerry was the first to stumble, being shuffled back three places in one go as Stilp, Dennis and Walker showed they really meant business. Dennis and Stilp’s next target was Thorne, dispatched in equally quick succession. As the leading five contenders entered the final lap absolutely as one, it really was anyone’s race but Dennis held on ahead to the chequered flag, followed across the line by Stilp, Thorne, Gerry and Walker, with fastest lap man Wykes just over a second shy of victory in sixth.