The fourth round of the 2021/2022 Essex Winter Series was held this weekend. As the championship was entering its final stages, there were opportunities for more titles to be decided. In the Scorpion Modified Class, Kyle Branson had a good chance of securing his first EWS Championship if things went his way. The Xray pilot got things off to the best start as he set the pace in qualifying, eventually topping all of the four rounds. Capricorn’s Alex Thurston kept Kyle honest however, running within a few seconds of Kyle and securing second on the A Final grid. Chris Grainger (Awesomatix) managed to find a new turn of speed to also put himself in the mix and often matching the times of Kyle and Alex and would line up third on the grid. The front half of the grid was completed by Harley Eldridge, the new Xray signing rebounding after a difficult debut last month for her new team, and Schumacher designer Andy Murray, piloting the production version of the Mi8 car he had penned himself.
The qualifying result had effectively already netted Kyle the title, with anything other than a last-place finish now being enough for an unassailable points lead. But Kyle wanted to continue his domination of the days’ racing and led the field away at the front. Alex was able to stick within a second or two of Kyle, not really close enough to apply direct pressure but near enough such that a mistake from Kyle would have given Alex the advantage. But the Xray driver out front kept his cool and secured the win and thus the championship title. Behind the top two, Chris initially pulled out a gap over a battling Harley and Andy, before the duo was able to reel in the multi-time national champion in the middle stages of the race. However, with all three closely matched on pace, there was no chance for Harley to line up a real move, and thus he held onto the final podium spot at the finish.
Scorpion Modified A-Final result
1. Kyle Branson – Xray/Hobbywing
2. Alex Thurston – Capricorn/Hobbywing
3. Chris Grainger – Awesomatix/Reedy
4. Harley Eldridge – Xray/LRP
5. Andy Murray – Schumacher/LRP
6. Stefan Chodzynski – Yokomo/Hobbywing
7. Richard King – Awesomatix/Hobbywing
8. Ben Moorey – Awesomatix/Reedy
9. Damian Giddins – Xray/Hobbywing
10.Gareth Hollis – Awesomatix/Hobbywing
11.Daniel Robins – Schumacher/LRP
The overall title in the Rush Super Stock class had already been decided in Zak Finlay’s favour at the previous round with his perfect score. The Xray driver continued his stranglehold over the 13.5 class with another perfect set of qualifying results. There was a close fight for second on the grid between two further Xray drivers, Marcus Askell and Ricky Copsey both taking two second place scores, which went the way of Marcus on the tie break. Ashley Wiffen was best-of-the-rest in fourth for Awesomatix – just about able to match the pace of Marcus and Ricky, but always coming up short by fractions of a second. Tony Broad rounded out the top five after a strong start to qualifying but fading in the later rounds.
As in the Modified A Final, the pole sitter led the field away and looked in control of the race. Marcus, starting second, initially stayed in touch with Zak but Zak opened up a couple of seconds advantage by the halfway point. Marcus remained close, but it was going to require a mistake from the leader to give him a chance of victory. Behind, there was a lot of action as Ricky gave up third place on just the second lap with a technical issue. Dani Young came from seventh on the grid to challenge Ashely for the final podium spot, but her challenge ran out of time and she had to settle for fourth overall, with Sam Nicholls, eleventh on the grid after bumping up from the B Final picking up places throughout the race to take fifth at the finish.
Rush Super Stock A-Final result
1. Zak Finaly – Xray/Zombie
2. Marcus Askell – Xray/Hobbywing
3. Ashley Wiffen – Awesomatix/Trinity
4. Dani Young – Awesomatix/Hobbywing
5. Sam Nicholls – Awesomatix/Hobbywing
6. Adam Southgate – Xray/Hobbywing
7. Martyn Ross – Awesomatix/Hobbywing
8. Mark Buonaiuto – Awesomatix/Trinity
9. Billy Fletcher – Capricorn/Hobbywing
10.Tony Broad – Xray/Trinity
11.Ricky Copsey – Xray/Hobbywing
The Infinity Front Wheel Drive class had the title up for grabs, and it was the championship contenders of Gary Taylor, Jason Butterfield and Paul Hill who each topped a round of qualifying – leaving the final qualifier to set the grid. This saw Gary narrowly coming out on top, to secure the pole position ahead of Jason and Paul. Series newcomer Stuart Collard lined up fourth overall with Mark Caton rounding out the top five.
The A Final saw a fantastic race for the victory – the top three drivers knowing every place and point was vital. Gary led away, but early in the running Paul sneaked past Jason to take second, before Jason returned the favour a few laps later. Paul then managed to again get back to second, before challenging Gary for the lead just after half way. Eventually Paul found a move that stuck, but as the top three continued nose-to-tail, any small errors would shuffle the order again. But all three kept their heads down and continued the great display of close driving, crossing the line just one second apart. This result moved Paul to the lead in the championship, but the title is not yet decided and goes down to the final round of the series next month.
Infinity FWD A-Final result
1. Paul Hill
2. Gary Taylor
3. Jason Butterfield
4. Stuart Collard
5. Mark Caton
6. Oscar King
7. Craig Woods
8. Bill Boag
9. Kevin Fenn
The Tonisport Sportsman Stock class created close racing as always. Out front, Tim Langdell took control of qualifying as he looked to keep himself in championship contention, and managed to win all four rounds. The close racing saw Matt Quinlisk get things together in the last two rounds to move to second on the grid, with Billy Kavanagh staying firmly in the mix and lining up third. Jon Gray had a great set of results from the ‘B’ qualifying group to take fourth overall, with Tim Woron, another championship contender completing the top half of the grid.
The A Final was one of the best races of the day. Out front, Tim Langdell got a good start and opened up a decent gap – but the action was taking place behind. Early in the running, Stuart Rand had moved from seventh on the grid up to second, with Tim Woron from fifth to third. But a technical issue on lap six took Stuart out of the running, moving Tim into second and Steven Swan into third. At half way, an error from Tim collected Steven, slowing both of them and allowing Masanori Oyama, who had bumped up from the B Final, into an amazing second place to huge cheers from the crowd. But Steven, now into third place as Tim Woron dropped down the order, hadn’t given up and applied the pressure to Masanori. With just two laps to go, Steven slipped back through to second place, and from there the podium places were decided. As the buzzer went, Tim Langdell took a comfortable win to keep the championship alive, with Steven and Masanori receiving a round of applause for their great results.
Tonisport Sportsman Stock A-Final result
1. Tim Langdell
2. Steven Swan
3. Masanori Oyama
4. Billy Kavanagh
5. Jon Gray
6. Matt Quinlisk
7. Dave Ringsell
8. George Munns
9. Tim Woron
With two titles decided, there still are two up for grabs when the series concludes in March for Round 5.