Thursday, 24 March 2011

Clanfield WInter Championships

Sunday 20th March saw the final round of the Clanfield Winter Championships, and with the promise of some good weather and a freshly rolled track things were looking on for a great days racing. Going into the day the only position not up for grabs was top spot in the rally-cross, John 'Swords' Wolfe having sorted that out!

After getting my pit table set up with the rest of Team RC Banter (Byrners, Tony RC, Dave 'Dibble', Jamie Kerr and the rest) it was time for a quick track walk. At this point it became clear that some serious roller action had occurred, and that the assembled racers owed a lot of thanks to the guys who had put  in the time and hard work to make it happen.

The lesser spotted Higgsy tries to remember how racing works

Biggest shock of the day was the arrival of Rob Higgs for a rare outing with his RC8T... spring must be in the air if Higgsy is out of hibernation!

Out for practice, and the Alpha engine is not behaving itself too well, fortunatelly Jaf is happy to twiddle the screw driver and with a bit of leaning out we get some performance going. Tyre choice is proving interesting though, the now hard packed and dry track is starting to develop a fine layer of dusty marbles, and noting seems to be working that well... a smooth throttle finger is going to be needed or you will be pointing in the wrong direction pretty quickly. I'm pretty pleased with my Hot Bodies Block/Khaos combination, in their soft Red compound. They are offering as good a grip as anything else, whilst giving a nice progressive break away at the rear meaning drifting is possible, rather than crazy snap over-steer. I wound up sticking with the combination all day.

Round 1 qualifying was quite smooth (after a quick computer/timing glitch). A solid 8 laps in 5:35 is an OK start to the day. The Alpha is cracking, but seems to be taking an age to warm up, it rich as anything off the bottom for the first couple of laps then comes alive... it drinking fuel as well. Dave has a 'mare, at the end of lap to I come out of the last chicane and notice his buggy trackside with one corner hanging off, something must have given way but I don't know what. I end up fourth in the round behind Mark B, Tony RC and Jimmie Tatlow.

Round 2 is carnage... we all get bunched up and typical truggy madness sets in. It must have been hilarious to watch, at one point Tony Bolwell runs flat out down the main straight on the wrong side of the pipe before coming to a swift halt when he meets a stake in the ground. I'm not sure Tommy Chung can believe nothings broken when he marshals him! I only get 7 laps in, most of which involved some kind of coming together with Rob H, but incredibly that's good enough for third in the round.

Round 3 is cleaner, I'm back in the 8 lap range and again fourth in the round. Tatlow records a 30 second lap, followed by a 21... hum, I smell a rat!

Jon Wolfe's Agama comes in for landing during qualifying

Round 4 is back in the 7 lap range, and only good enough for fifth over all as I have a bad round and Cameron Taylor get his mojo going. Still, overall I'm good for fourth in the final, the track's cleaning up, the grips rising and my tyres are starting to really work. The truggy's running well I'm I'm really happy with the way I'm driving.

The final is a 30 minute affair of hectic action. I'd normally run a two stop strategy, but there's no way that's happening today, the motors just to thirsty. After clearing the first corner carnage I settle into a good rhythm and knock out good clean laps to my first stop, running with James T and swapping third and forth places. The first stop is OK, but again the motor goes massively rich on the full tank, so I get a couple of slow laps. The second stop is crazy slick, Jon Bennett doing an awesome job of turning me round, and things are looking good - motor goes rich again though. Then it all goes a bit pear-shaped...

I miss the call to pit for my last stop, and I know I'm going to be short to do an extra lap. Still, I get into the pits clean, Jon grabs the truggy, squeezes the fuel... and it cuts. Bugger. On to the box to restart her and nothing. Blown plug, and for once I don't have a spare in the pit lane, requiring a mad rush to my table to grab one. It takes an age to fit, but once it's in the motor fires straight up and I'm off having spent about four minutes in the pits. Tatlow is gone, and I'm fifth, Higgsy having just gone through for fourth. I drive my socks off for the last five minutes and peg back Rob's lead to just 10 seconds at the line, close but no cigar. At least I'm happy with the times of my last laps, and over all I feel I've driven the best race I can.

First rate prizes for the championship, courtesy of RC Sure Start

So the championship comes to an end, and I'm wondering if I've done enough to beat Adam B for third place, it's going to be close! And so it turns out, the final placings in truggy being Mark B in first place on count back from JT in second and Adam taking third by just two points from me... Ah well, there's always next time. The top three get some rather natty trophies courtesy of RC Sure Start, and Byrners gets a special Gold Sure Start as well.

Overall truggy podium (l-r): James Tatlow (Losi/OS), Mark Byrne (Associated/Recab). Adam Bailey (HoBao/HoBao)

The final placings in buggy see Wolfie on top of the podium, followed by Jamie Kerr and Grant 'Fribers' Fribbens.

Overall buggy podium (l-r): Jamie Kerr (Agama/OS), Jon Wolfe (Agama/na), Grant Fribbens (JQ/Nitrotech)

A great days racing an an awesome track. Good banter with the guys (and guest stars Chris Sheerin and Ping-it Pete), excellent weather and some good memories. Special thanks need to go out to the track crew at Clanfield for their hard work, the committee for making it all happen and everyone who's helped out in any way over the winter. Bring on the summer and more nitro action in the Hampshire countryside.

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