Sunday, 2 January 2011

TORCH Grand Re-opening

New years day 2011 and the Clanfield faithful are hovering near PC's and mobile phones waiting for one piece of information; 'Are we racing tomorrow?'. With the dreadful weather of late it was always looking dodgy, and eventually the news went round that the race was canned, the clay sections of the track were holding too much water, and the committee didn't want to risk the track surface. Bugger, another week and no racing. I hate winter.

Then Tony 'RC' Scott texts... did I know that TORCH was opening it newly rebuilt track? Truth told I'd not been keeping up with things on Oople so I'd missed that. Yay, racings back on, out to the workshop and LiPo's on charge. Boys, we're going 'leccy racing again!

One of the best things about TORCH is that it's only twenty minutes from me, and I can pick Tony up on the way through. So at 8:30 we roll up track side to find the place busy, with a large number of the Clanfield Massive in attendance. I've got the Might Ansmann and will be rolling 2wd with Cammers (X62 or Cougar), whilst Tony RC and Grant Fribbins are both rocking the Durango 4wd. They are joined by Lionel Croucher (the original Crazy L) with his Tamiya Durga, plus Jon Wolfe and Dave O'Brien with... cars of some sort (can't remember what). Jimbo Tattlow is the surprise visitor of the day with his AE B4.1 RTR, complete with RTR transmitter! Rob 'Holywood' Raisey was also in town, but had swapped his AE B44 for a Tamiya TRF, a masterpiece of carbon-fibre and blue anodizing.

Now for the new track. It mahoosive! Much smoother than the old surface and with a technical but flowing layout that rewards the ability to be smooth and carry speed. There's also a table top in place, with the promise of some more air time to come later in the year. Definitely a hit!

The new TORCH track.

After a bit of practice I'm out for round one of qualifying. We're running four rounds with two to count, and as long as I beat Jimbo I'll be happy. The round is OK, still learning the car and track so 7 laps in 5.30ish is not too shabby, good for 6th of 14 in the round. Tyres were all wrong though, yellow mini-pins all round gave way to much turn in and made the car stupidly darty and edgy. A change would be required for round 2.

Out for round two and I'd swapped to stagger ribs on the front end. I also elected to go with a last minute change to yellow mini-spikes on the back and that proved my undoing. I must have fluffed fitting one of the wheel nuts as half way around the first lap, just as I was thinking the car was the nuts... I got over taken by one of my own wheels. Arse, school boy error and worse, a no score round. Top marks to Jon Wolfe for finding all the bits, including the wheel nut.

The mighty Ansmann XPro - Stagger ribs and yellow mini-pins were order of the day

Round three, no changes to the car but the astro's drying up now so the grips up. Car feel awesome and is flying (well, for me anyway). Then I get a bit carried away heading onto the back straight and tag the pipe right in front of Hollywood. I can hear the snap from the rostrum on the far side of the track. Somethings very broken, and I have no steering. Back in the pits an its pretty obvious the servo horns bust, and I don't have a spare. At least my el cheapo Futaba servo's still in one piece, and Fribbers comes to the rescue with a spare horn, I owe you mush. A quick bodge later, and I'm back in the game ready for round four. It's all down to this one. If I screw it up RTR Tatlow will do me... the pressure is on big time.

So, round four and I need a good time, but I have to finish. The cars feeling really good now, and I get a safe 7 lapper in 5.12. I'm happy, but a couple of grip rolls have cost me time and I need to sort that for the final. Better still me two 6 place's mean I've done Jimbo by one place, qualifying 7th overall with him 8th. I'll be tail-end Charlie in the A final with him heading up the B.

With so much going on I didn't have time to follwo how other were doing to any detail, but on the whole people seemed to be running well, I the Dave was having some new-to-him car issues and Cammers had swtched from Schumacher to XFactory after experiencing diff issues with the newly rebuilt Cougar. Rob R was obviously flying with the Tamiya, and it looked like TQ and the win would be betwean him and the equally hard charging Steve Brown with his Durango.

Fribbers fettles his Fandango (Durango) during qualifying

Lunch is a chance to catch up with a number of other Clanfield regulars who have turned up to see what all the fuss is about. Have a feeling a few more nitro-heads may be trying the electrics fairly soon! Car changes were limited to raising the front end by a millimeter and adding a little negative rear camber to try and fix the grip rolling. Other than that, I figured it felt good enough as it was and I didn't want to risk screwing it up trying to be clever.

Lionel's Durga prepares for launch, 4wd B final leg 1

Finals ran over the standard threes, all of which followed the same pattern. I run round at the back, just about able to hang on to the end of the pack but not quick enough to get onto terms with them. I'm more than happy with the performance, it proves I need more time with the car (it's only the second outing in my 2wd career), and that the suspension on the Ansmann could do with some tuning to handle the ripples a little better. It's also a little nose down off the jumps which I'll have to look at sometime soon. What is gratifying is that my lunchtime tweaks have worked, and can certainly be felt in how the car goes. It's always a good sign when you can feel the changes you're making to a chassis.

After the mad rush of racing I manage to kick back an watch the last leg of the 4wd A final which is a belter. Holywood is running out front but Steve B is pushing him really hard with the Durango. The racing is fast and close but extremely clean, it fascinating to watch. Steve can get his nose in, but just can't make the move stick for lap after lap. Coming on to the back straight on the last lap Rob has a couple of car lengths, but Steve reels him in through the twisties. Again, he just can't make the killer move. Then at the last corner Rob goes in just a little too hot and flips the car so Steve nips through for the win. An amazing final that had the crowd on the edge of their seats and a great display of driving.

Time to pack up an head home after a brilliant days racing at a great track. Once the work is 100% complete TORCH will really have something to be proud of. I have to tip my hat to a great club, and offer my thanks to all the members who helped with the rebuild. The amount of work involved, and the weather it had to be competed in make the time it took scarcely believable. Top job to all involved, I'm looking forward to many more great days racing there this year.

Results to follow once posted by the club.

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