2016 Snetterton Final Round - Elise Trophy Race Report

 

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Lotus Cup Production champion Stuart Ratcliff was on the back foot coming into Snetterton, trailing leader Alex Ball by 27 points as Elise Trophy finished its season with two 20-minute races.

Qualifying

20 minutes of qualifying was the first track action of the day at 9am and a healthy entry of 18 cars took to the track. It was championship leader Ball (Elise S1) who took a crucial pole position and the two points that go with it- extending his lead over Ratcliff to 29 points.

Even worse for Ratcliff was qualifying down in seventh, leaving him a lot of work to do in race one to remain in contention for the championship.

Ball's pole time of 2m10.039s was an impressive 0.6s up on William Stacey's EMH Motorsport Elise S3, with Jason Baker just a further 0.2s behind in third. James Little (Priory Park Holiday Homes Elise Cup R), who made a strong debut at Silverstone, took fourth ahead of Seth Walpole's www.plant-tech.co.uk Elise 111R and another Silverstone frontrunner, the AbleCareGroup Elise Cup R of Jason McInulty.

Behind Ratcliff in seventh was debutant Sam Tomlinson (SkipUK Exige S2), who is assessing a full season in the category next year. David Alexander and Simon Oakley rounded out the top ten.

Chris Perkins (CT Classic GP Elise S1) and Paul Baker (CakesByAppointment Elise S1)were split by just three tenths in positions 11 and 12 ahead of Mads Peterson, Mark Richardson and Mike Perkins, who were all relatively close together in their own right. Axel van Nederveen and Jackie Perkins were the only others to set a time as Steve Summers failed to set a lap and starts at the back of the grid for the opening race of the day.

Race One

Polesitter Ball got a great launch off the line from the standing start, leading the pack into the fast right-hander of Riches for the first time. Stacey couldn't quite match Ball's start and lost multiple positions- dropping down to fifth behind a fast-starting Alexander, up from ninth on the grid, Baker and Little.

Ball's lead was just a second crossing the line to start the second lap. Stacey looked to pass Alexander for fourth at Oggies, which he did, but quickly lost out again as Alexander reattacked.

Stacey finally got the move made next time round and immediately set about chasing down Baker for the final podium spot, as Ball's yellow #47 car continued to briefly pull away from Little.

It was lap five when Little started to make small inroads into Ball's lead, whilst a charging Stacey set the fastest lap as he closed in on Baker.

Everything came to a head on lap nine- the final tour- as Stacey caught and passed Baker at the Wilson hairpin before running wide and handing the position straight back to the S2 Elise.

At the front there was more drama as suddenly Ball, now beginning to struggle with clutch issues, slowed and was passed by Little into Agostini. Little went on to take the flag first and a slowing Ball just managed to cross the line, albeit losing second to Baker. Third place was still enough for a now-deflated Ball to claim the championship as title rival Ratcliff languished down in eighth.

Elsewhere, Stacey finished fourth ahead of Walpole, McInulty and Alexander. Tomlinson finished a strong ninth in his first race ahead of Mark Richardson.

Simon Oakley was 11th ahead of Paul Baker and Steve Summers in his Datum Motorsport Exige. Mike Perkins (Yabe Trading Co Elise S2), the www.scangroup.co.uk Elise S2 of Mads Peterson and Jackie Perkins (CT Classic GP Elise S1) completed the 16 finishers; Chris Perkins retired on lap seven and Axel van Nederveen was a non-starter.

Race Two

The final race of the 2016 Elise Trophy season featured the standard top-ten reverse grid which has produced some good racing this season, and did so in this final encounter at Snetterton.

Mark Richardson started on pole and made a good getaway from Sam Tomlinson, who lined up alongside. The best start was made by David Alexander in a repeat of his flying first lap in race one, making up multiple positions from fourth and by the time the pack reached Wilson, he was out front in the yellow S1 Elise.

Agostini was a pinch point on the first lap, the tight right-hander being the scene of contact for second which pitched polesitter Richardson into a spin, giving Alexander more room out in the lead.

They completed lap one in a relatively big group with Alexander leading Stuart Ratcliff, William Stacey and Jason McInulty- all four covered by a mere 1.4 seconds! McInulty was the big mover on the second lap and managed to pass all three to take the lead going onto the third tour, completing the lap 1.1s ahead of Alexander and a fast-starting Lotus Cup winner Jason Baker, now back aboard his Production-spec Elise.

Race one winner James Little was also making progress from tenth and was up to fifth already, before passing Stacey on lap three and immediately joining the Baker-McInulty lead battle. However Stacey was not out of the question just yet, and managed a move on Little at Riches next time round to retake the final podium position.

So McInulty led from Baker, Stacey and Little- which would be the order for the next few laps as a good scrap started for fifth involving Alexander defending from Ratcliff and new champion Alex Ball, who had made great progress from the back of the grid.

Ball managed to pass Ratcliff at Murray's on lap six and set about chasing Alexander, who had briefly pulled away as the pair battled and slowed each other down.

The lead trio finished that lap nose-to-tail and finally the order changed as Baker snatched the lead away from McInulty at the Wilson hairpin. Stacey also managed to find a way past a now-struggling McInulty, who found himself immediately under pressure from Little.

Going onto the eighth and final lap Baker had a very narrow lead over Stacey as McInulty and Little went side-by-side across the timing beam, with the former hanging on through Riches but losing out later in the lap as he slowed with a puncture. For the lead Baker and Stacey were tied together but Baker had just enough to hold on, Stacey not quite close enough for a last-lap lunge into the final corner at Murray's. The pair took the last chequered flag of the year separated by just 0.182s!

Little retained third, 3.4s back but a massive 12s clear of the Ball/Alexander/Ratcliff pack, in which Seth Walpole was just 0.039s behind in seventh! Tomlinson finished eighth ahead of the slowing McInulty and Paul Baker.

Mike Perkins, polesitter Richardson, Simon Oakley and Steve Summers rounded out the 14 finishers as Jackie Perkins, Chris Perkins and Mads Peterson all retired.

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