Tuesday, 8 March 2011

TORCH in the sunshine

(at last!)

Sunday the 6th March was scheduled to be another morning of electric fun at the southern Hampshire venue of TORCH. Big things have been happening at the club of late, and even more is promised. Making this weekend racing extra special was the prospect of running the new layout on the new astro in the dry for the first time.

Waking in morning I was disappointed to see we'd had rain overnight. I only live about 15 miles from the track, so assumed it would be wet there as well... drat. But, on arrival at the track things are back on track, no rain there, and none for the day according to the BBC. Blooming cold though.

I chosen this race as the last run, for while at least, of the Mighty Ansmann. The XPro has done me sterling service, but the Magoo Skunk-works had rustled up a new ride to play with in the shape of a Team Durango DEX410R. Not quite ready for racing, but the visit did give me some time for a shake down test after the racing. More on that in another post...

I'm quite excited about the move to 4wd...

Hollywood Rob Raisey was trackside, running his 2wd Tamiya TRF201, after electrical gremlins at Maritime the previous weekend. He was joined by Simon and Mark from RCLazy running a shop to support the racers. Of the usual suspects, we were down on numbers, Crazy L was out with his Durga, along with Byrners, Cammers and Chris Spencer-Smith, all in 4wd. Tony RC had to work (and was probably sulking about that), young gun Jamie Kerr had homework or some-such to do. Over all driver numbers were right up, with 14 in 2wd and 15 in 4wd - that's got to be a good sign for a club with ambition.

Out for round one qualifying and I'm out with the big guns... how did that happen? The run feels pretty solid, cars going well with my Schumacher yellow staggers up front and pins out back giving good grip, but meaning the car is very edgy. It takes a lot of effort to be smooth and avoid grip rolling in the corners. My 8.5T motor is feeling a little sluggish too, with the extra grip. Biggest concern is that there's no 'bleep' as I cross the line. School-boy error, I ran a hand-out last time at TORCH having forgotten my PT, and I'd neglected to point out to Mike when I booked in that I was back to my normal number. Oh well, that'll be a dropped round then!

At this point I was out to marshal, and took up post by the jump, where I marshaled all day. I'm not sure if I was wearing a target or not, but I seemed to be some kind of magnet for Lionel and especially Chris who seem to be aiming at me. Thanks for keeping me on my toes guys, but I;m sure it's faster if you keep it between the pipes ;-)

Hollywood kicks back in the sunshine... he's got it all under control

Round 2 qualifying, and I'm getting in the groove. The unforgiving set up on the car and increased speed is causing a lot of mistakes, but an 8 in 3:19 is OK, and nets me fourth in the round. I'll assume a high level of breakages!

Round 3, and I'm feeling really good. A half degree extra negative camber on the rear end has eased the grip-roll problems a little (I still can't relax though). A couple of goofs mean that over all I'm only a second faster this time out, and record a 7th in the round. Still, I'm pretty happy with that.

For round 4 Cammers suggests a move to worn yellow min-pins. These 10th tyres are still a black art to me, but I trust his judgement so I make the swap. I quick practice lap and I'm not sure it's a good move - has Cammers done me?

Out to qualify and the answer is a definite 'no'. Whilst the rear grip is down from the mini-spikes the balance is better, and the snap grip-roll is gone meaning I can push harder and stay consistent. It's going really well until the lest lap when two crashes and then 20 seconds stuck under the pipe at the last corner cost me a 9 lapper. But hey, I'll take 8 in 3:11, it's the fastest I've ever gone by some way. I think finally I might have a dry set up that works as well as my wet settings.

Byrners preps his B44 for the final and contemplates his bladders

Finals time, and I'm 6th in the 7 car A main. I'm stoked having hoped for the sharp end of the B at the start of the day. Hollywood is just shocked to see me on the rostrum... can't say I blame him! After a driver vote we're running 7 minute finals, which is good by me. I find five minute single leg finals really hard, as one mistake and you're days basically done.

A scruffy start drops me way back, although I've recovered to my starting position by the end of the first lap. It's a long first lap at TORCH as you start on the back straight meaning it takes a lap-and-a-half before scoring starts. I then proceed to run round in 6th, trying to stay out of the way of the fast guys and not to make too many mistakes. I'm reasonably happy with my lap times, but there are a couple of mistakes which cost considerable time, a bobble means a minimum of 10 seconds delay and so they are very costly. In the end I'm 6th, which given my experience and the level of driving I'm quite happy with. It's a good send off for the Ansmann.

Lionell 'Crazy L', the Original since '76, King of the Sausage Rolls etc.

The A final for 4wd is good to watch. The first lap is carnage, leaving commentator Rob Raisey speechless (probably a first) with no idea who's where. Things eventually calm down, Steve Brown with his Tamiya giving a master class in 'smooth and clean is fast' to take the win by 17 seconds from the battle between Jon Dell (Tamiya) and Phil Williams (Durango) who cross the line in that order .17 of a second apart. Byrners brings his B44 in 8th, but declares himself happy with his new secret weapon - bladder and foam compensator equipped shock. I'll be testing the in 'Rango next time out, so we'll see what the score is.

Great stuff, there will be a video of the first few minutes on line in the next day or so.

All in all a great day. Fantastic weather, a great club and good company. Top job to all involved in making it happen.

Full results can be found on the TORCH website here.

Photos courtesy of Crazy L

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