Strawberry trio in S1 title fight with one round to go
Kiern Jewiss, Dean McDonald and Joseph Reilly scrapped hard for every place and point during a tough weekend at Shenington (23/24 August), and their sterling efforts mean that they will take the Honda Cadet, Mini and Senior Max Championships down to the wire at PFI next month.
As Strawberry’s sole representative in the Honda Cadet class, Kiern Jewiss is fighting a lone battle against teams fielding large squads of drivers. However, the gutsy youngster from Maidstone again demonstrated his talent by coming through two tough heats – in which he finished 18th and 23rd respectively – to net back-to-back 5th places in Sunday’s two finals.
“His pace was never in question ,but he was hampered by a lack of team-mates,” said Strawberry’s Team Manager, Warwick Ringham. “In the second final, the front three broke away and Kiern was in the chasing group - but they all started to fight for position rather than work together to chase the leaders down. So his two 5ths were okay in the circumstances as he’s 2nd in the Championship and there is everything to play for at PF.”
Dean McDonald continued his run of trophy-winning form with 2nd place in the Mini Max main final. Before that he had crossed the line in the pre-final in 3rd but was penalized for blocking with five laps to go and he was classified in 8th position. His team-mate Axel Charpentier fared better, going from 12th on the grid to 4th at the chequered flag. In the second final, another strong performance saw the French star finish 5th putting him on course for a seeded number plate during his maiden Super One season.
Connor McCarthy was the victim of a series of crashes and his frustrating weekend in Oxfordshire was compounded with an accident in the main final, as Ringham explains: “He was smashed off at the bottom of the circuit, as you come out of Wilkins onto Park Straight. He was basically stuffed into the fence and ended up two laps down. In terms of the Championship though, Dean is leading the points still and Axel is 8th overall. Anything could happen at the last round but we just have to keep our focus and a cool head. The boys’ speed was good and if they carry that to PF, we should be okay.”
The Junior Max drivers; Jack McCarthy, Darren Keane, Jack Martin and new signing Stefanos Charalambous experienced varying fortunes. McCarthy was able to leave the circuit having secured a runner-up finish in the first final but was pushed back to 12th in the following race, while Charalambous completed a solid debut for Strawberry with 10th and 14th-place finishes. “Stef adjusted well to racing with us and we hope to build on his results at PFi. Jack was shuffled back from the front and out of the top ten. That can happen at Shenington, it just seems to be the nature of the place because his race pace wasn’t lacking.”
For Keane and Martin however, a series of problems and crashes put the pair in the Repecharge. Jack Martin finished 3rd, whilst his American counterpart experienced another collision putting paid to his chances. Post-race, Jack was docked places for gaining an unfair advantage and placed in 7th, ensuring his missed the cut for the two finals, with Keane fighting back to 15th and also missing out.
A thrilling pre-final for the Seniors saw the Tony Kart team pack three drivers in the top ten; Joseph Reilly, Josh Price and Gary Donnelly claimed 2nd, 3rd and 8th respectively, with Holland’s Lars Lamborelle making ground from P21 on the grid to 13th at the finish.
Reilly repeated his earlier success as he crossed the line 0.09 behind fellow title protagonist Sam Marsh. Similarly, Price brought his Tony Kart EVK home in 3rd with Donnelly crossing the line in 5th and Lamborelle completing his day’s work with 12th. All this left Ringham feeling generally satisfied: “Joseph and Josh could have finished 1st and 2nd but Sam made the most of the rules and defended two laps from home. He won fair and square and our boys did the right thing and didn’t knock each other off. The racing was good and all four of them acquitted themselves well. Joe (Reilly) is firmly in with a shout for the title, which would be a great result on his first full year back in the sport after a long lay-off.”
Strawberry Racing heads to Belgium for this weekend’s (30/31 August) concluding round of the BNL series at Genk. Sean Babington, Andreas Backman, Max Timmermans and Lars Lamborelle are all expected to figure strongly in the championship’s final standings.