MAIDEN VICTORIES FOR CATON & HAND
25 cars were at Cadwell for the JSCC seasons opener, with a complimentary blend of rookies and returnees.
Deagen Fairclough was fastest qualifier, but after crashing heavily before the end of the session, it was Charlie Hand that started both races from pole.
It was Caton that made the best of the start, with Alfie Jeakins initially second with Hand struggling for second gear.
Hand quickly recovered second as Jeakins had Ruben Hage pressing for third, but by lap four Hand was challenging for Caton’s lead.
“I had just got the lead into Mansfield and the red flags came out, gutted,” said Hand.
Caton made the best of the restart too, with Jeakins, Hand and Ashley Gregory chasing.
Hand recovered second, but Gregory lost out after contact with Aaron Walker at the Hairpin.
The race was hardly underway again when Reece Blakely was off, so it was red flags and classified after two laps, with Caton victorious from Hand, Jeakins and Walker.
“We had a new engine, what a difference, so much better,” said Jeakins.
“I had an issue with third gear at the start, but much improved on last year,” Jeakins added.
Harry Rice was fifth after battling with Hage over the Mountain, which allowed James Wallis to claim sixth.
It was a much better start for Hand in the second race and it was his turn to lead Caton, with Hage joining an early break.
As the lead pair escaped, Jeakins was in third, from Hage, and Walker, before a gap to the pack led by Tommy Gilham.
Caton was making little impression on the lead, but all came to nought again when the third Red flag of the day was out on the fifth lap. “When I saw that I thought oh no and just thought about messing up the restart,” said Hand.
But it was a good clean start and Hand got an immediate break, as Caton and Jeakins duelled for second.
But Caton glanced the barrier on lap two and pitted, as the fight for second became a five-car train with Jeakins heading Walker, Oliver Cottam, Hage and Gregory.
Hand was well clear but still pressing on, but after four laps Jeakins and Walker had both consolidated, leaving Hage and Cottam nose to tail for fourth.
The flag was out after a short but entertaining race, with Hand finally getting his first race win by over eight seconds. “I kept pushing as I wasn’t going to let that one go,” he said.
Jeakins was also delighted with his second podium, “It still jumped out of third gear, but I didn’t look in my mirrors too much when we were all in line,” he explained.
Walker was a close third too, celebrating his best days racing by far. “I managed to stay with Alfie, but was more than aware of the cars behind,” he admitted.
Cottam finally edged out Hage with only 0.159 secs to spare, while Gregory tailed off in sixth and was almost caught by Scott Sumpton and Gilham.
The next rounds of the Championship are at Snetterton on May 8th/9th.
Words by Peter Scherer
Photos courtesy of Colin Jackson