It seems like forever ago that we were at Brands Hatch, however with life slowly returning to normal, or transitioning into the new normal, Lamonde Automation Sponsored #232, Matt Wetherell was back in action at Cadwell Park, Lincolnshire. Cadwell is known as a Mini-Nürburgring, due to it’s changing elevation and tight turns, making it a challenging circuit and a favourite of Matt’s. Last year, Matt set a class lap record that had stood for 7 years, so hopes were high for a successful weekend of racing.
The weekend started with practise on Friday – at around >34°C, a very warm day to be in leathers! Matt’s lap timer was giving problems, so he was unable to judge where how he was doing and what was working, and perhaps more importantly what wasn’t working, but he could see that other championship title contenders were really on-song.
The weekend was beset with a few incidents, the first being during practice where Matt, unfortunately, misjudged the speed of a bike (from a smaller capacity class) and unfortunately, forced them to run wide, Matt, being the good sport that he is, went and found the rider from the Team Green 300s (Joe White) and checked he was ok after the session. Thankfully, Joe was ok and able to continue his weekend.
Despite not having a lap timer and not being able to see where he was at pace-wise, Matt qualified 3rd, he was pleased, but last years times would have had him on pole.
Saturday: dry hot and sunny.
Race 1, Grid Positions – Dan Harris on pole, Cam Harris 2nd, Matt 3rd, John Reynolds 4th, Keith Povah 5th and his brother Jake 6th.
Race 1 got off to a good start, but due to a crash at turn one further down the field from the front-runners, it was red-flagged and restarted. On the restart, John Reynolds was on fire, he took a strong lead and was untouchable, taking a well deserved first-ever win with Jake Povah close behind with a gap of just 0.130 seconds for 2nd place. Matt was a little disappointed finishing 2 seconds behind for 3rd place as his record from last year of 1:39.7 would’ve seen a better result.
Race 2 Grid Positions – John Reyolds on Pole Jake Povah 2nd, Cam Harris 3rd, Dan Harris 4th, Matt 5th and Paul Witherington (Withy) 6th.
Another cracking start by John Reynolds, leading from flag to flag, he really was on top form. Jake Povah came in 2nd again and 3rd was Cam Harris and Matt 4th. Cam and Matt didn’t really help each other battling for 3rd from start to finish, but it was one of Matt’s favourite races to date, so close, from start to finish.
Sunday: drizzly, wet but drying.
Race 3 Grid positions – Jake Povah on pole, John Reynolds 2nd, Matt 3rd, Dan Harris 4th “Withy” 5th and Cam Harris 6th. This race was all about tyre choice (the Mini-twin series is restricted to full wets, or road tyres, “intermediate” tyres are not permitted).
The tyre choices varied on the grid, John Reynolds was wet front and dry rear, Matt was on full wets and Withy went full drys. On the warm-up, it was obvious that John had made the right decision however he crashed out on lap 5, whilst unchallenged for the lead. Matt thought he had a comfortable 2nd in the bag behind Dan Harris (who is always on good form in wet patchy conditions). Despite having a good battle with Withy, Matt’s wet tyres were shot and he was sliding everywhere and was overtaken by 191 Dan Good into the Bus Stop on the last lap, Matt had no answer with the shredded wet tyres, bringing it home for another 3rd.
Race 4, dry and warm.
Grid Positions – John Reynolds on Pole (despite having crashed out of race 3, he had set the fastest lap), Dan Good 2nd, Dan Harris 3rd, Withy 4th, Kev Lilley 5th, Will Young 6th and Matt 7th.
Matt pulled the pin from the start, making it from 7th to 2nd by turn 2 and it was set for a good race, John Reynolds was on fire again and began to draw out a bit of a lead of around 4 – 5 bike lengths, Matt dug deep, forgetting about chasing John and concentrating on his own race and lines, it worked, and he started reeling John in, Matt’s Pace through Coppice was much faster, so much so that John was holding Matt up through Charlie’s 1 to 2 but John’s drive/commitment onto Park straight would see him pull away, giving away 30 years in age isn’t the issue, but, Matt is 6’3″ vs John’s about 5foot nothing, so weight has a part to play with the bikes so evenly matched (72bhp). On lap 4 Matt seized an opportunity to pass John who’d gone to the left of the mountain and pawed the air with his front wheel, Matt went to the right, kept the front wheel down and passed him for the lead into Hall Bends, the Hairpin, Barn and onto the Start-Finish straight, however, a combination of a better exit, slipstream and weight saw John come back past for the lead on the penultimate lap. On the final lap Matt decided to back off a little into the mountain section, deciding that John was at his most vulnerable here, John consistently went to the far left on the Mountain and lost speed by wheelieing the bike too much; he would also be under pressure from the previous pass. John’s front wheel went skyward and Matt could see him desperately fighting trying to get it onto the floor, Matt got great drive with John’s front wheel still in the air as he passed, Matt’s front wheel firmly on the track. John knew there was nothing he could now do to stop Matt passing. As John’s front wheel landed, his bike wobbled and he collided with Matt, who stuck his elbow out instinctively to keep him away, John was now leaning into Matt. As Matt continued to pass him, his left knee slider caught John’s handlebar and effectively counter steered him off the track. Matt knew that would have John off and he wanted to immediately stop, his first thoughts were to help John, make sure he was ok. He gathered his thoughts and saw the race out, taking the win. Matt didn’t celebrate, but instead stopped off a Marshall’s post to ask about John and was relieved to hear that he was up and ok, and apparently doing press-ups!?
It’s not how Matt wanted to win nor was it something he wanted to be involved in – it’s Clubman racing and everyone needs to go to work on Monday to pay for the next round! Matt waited for John’s return to the paddock, apologising to his dad for being involved in the accident, regardless of blame, Matt was involved with it and was prepared for John to vent or be upset about it, however, John leapt from the recovery vehicle and gave Matt a massive man hug and everyone present began to clap.
They agreed on the version of events that lead to his off, but, all that mattered was that firstly that John was ok and secondly harboured no ill-feeling.
The next round is Donington Park on 4th 5th & 6th of September!
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