Sunday dawned dry, bright, cold and actually not to early. Clanfield is my local track, and so only a quick 45 minute run along the M27/A3 was required. Before I was even really awake I was track side with Tony 'RC' Scott and Mark 'Byrners' Byrne discussing the much improved track environs. The club committee and members had put in a huge effort in the preceding weeks to tidy up the area around the track, particularly the area around race control. This make a huge difference and the track now looks less like a pikey dump and more like a serious race venue! The track it's self was rougher than hoped, the club had a roller for the weekend but the rain the previous week meant the track was too wet for it to be used to full effect.
Gazebo up, coffee brewed (thanks Nora!) and engine nicely pre-warmed (thanks RC Sure-Start!) it was out for a few laps practice. The track was wet but obviously drying so a set of M2 Revolvers went on and off we go. Half a tank was enough to prove that everything was a-OK, and that the track was driving very nicely - an added bonus was the car coming in pretty clean, proof that the track was drying up really quickly.
Drivers briefing was a chance for the committee to be announced to the racers, and a reminder of the rules and regs. After a short computer induced delay, suitably rectified by the erstwhile Mr Fribbens as always, we were off into round 1 of qualifying. The Revolvers stayed on and were a pretty solid choice, maybe a little edgy, and giving up some grip. M3's would have been ideal but there were none in the big ol' box-o-tyres. A solid if unspectacular run saw a quick 7 lapper and third place. It also confirmed an engine running well on the rich side of ideal. The Alpha needed a quick tweak of the needles to really hit it's stride for round 2.
Round 2 saw a change of tyres to LRP Harakiris in soft compound, historically my 'go to' truggy tyre at Clan. Not today though, the track had dried out between rounds and a few cars on it had rolled it right out. The Harakiris proved way to edgy and resulted in a very sideways run to a slower 7 lapper, but still good enough for another third place. on the upside the Alpha was singing, and the Sure-Start was proving invaluable in the freezing conditions.
Round 3 and a move to medium compound J Concpets Cross Hairs produce a run just one second off eight laps. Far more constant and good enough for second place behind Jimbo Tatlow's Losi.
Round 4 was more of the same, running to third behind Byrners and Jimbo and taking a third overall in qualifying. The tyres were working well, but again the compound was just that bit to hard. The cold weather had also caused my shocks to firm up, but with little time between rounds I decided to run as it was.
The finals were run over thirty minutes, and so off we set in formation, TQ man Byrners dropping behind a flying Jimbo and me running third. After about five minutes Byrners veered in to the pit lane with an obviously sick car, later diagnosed as a blown front diff. The race settled down to Jimbo up from me by half a lap and Adam Bailey another half lap down with his Alpha power Hyper ST. The race calmed down with everyone running steadily until the 20 minute mark, at which point the sound of a screaming OS Speed announced a blown front diff for Mr T as well. Truth told it sounded rough before he went out, so I'd suspected it wouldn't last the distance. He soldiered on with 2wd and a screaming engine for two more laps, being rapidly reeled in until he decided it was time to call it a day.
His retirement, combined with mass failures from all of the other truggies left just Adam running second and me in first with a lap in hand. After my final stop at 24 minutes I figured it was in the bag so backed right off, hovering before the line on my last lap to cross just after the buzzer (and give Fribbers in race control a panic when he though I'd handed it to Adam B!).
Truggy Podium (L-R): Adam Bailey, John Clarke, James Tatlow
The following buggy final looked an awesome affair with the XRay 808 trio of James Kerr, Bren Ralls and Jon Wolfe battling it out for honers. JK got the win in the end, with some storming driving and lap times to be proud of. I'd love to say more, but between marshalling and shivering it was hard to keep tabs on the action!
All in all a top day. The atmosphere was great, the weather was good an the track is rapidly getting back to it's best thanks to the efforts of the committee and hard working club members. Top work all of you!
On a personal level I'd like to give a big shout to (in no particular order) - Nora for keeping me coffee fueled all day, Bryan for pitting for me in the final, Mr Alan Dell for helping out in the pits during practice, Chris S-S for running race control and finally Tony and Byrners for the banter.
Looking forward to round 2 on the 12 December. Be there, if Sunday is anything to go by it's going to be good one.