Round 1 at the Brookland Raceway in Kent is done and dusted, or done and dried up, depending on which final you were in….
The grip was quite low on the Friday but the track was sprayed on Saturday morning and was good within a few hours. The weather forecast was good for the Saturday but rain was expected for the Sunday before lunch so getting a good time in the first 2 qualifiers would be essential. Drivers made the most of the 9 to 6 track opening time to get the cars dialed in.
Despite a bit of fog the weather was decent to get us started. Drivers briefing was an opportunity to welcome all racers back and remind all of the few changes that were put in place after last’s year AGM, namely the EFRA style start of qualifications for nitro (on your number instead of rolling start) and the 6 minute duration for all heats and finals for electric (instead of 5 minutes for qualifications and 7min30 for the finals).
Practice started at 9h30 and grip proved to be quite good. The fog had cleared but it was still rather cloudy.
Round 1 started at 10h30 with the electric category. 9 cars were on the line and one question was about to be answered: can the car running on shorty lipos make the 6 minutes? The answer was yes for some and no for others. You had to be careful about your gearing and smooth on the throttle. Having the highest capacity possible lipos really helped but no one was going for warm up laps. After the 6 minutes Rob Scott had posted the best time (Capricorn) followed by Michael Lee (Xray) and Matthieu Dambrine (ARC). Adrian was struggling to complete the 6 minute run. 2 drivers were using Corally pan cars with a homemade rear end and battery rack, which made the cars better on bumpy tracks. Good job Paul and Colin. A warm welcome to electrics to Michael, Luke and Gino.
Nitro drivers were watching the weather as rain was forecasted for lunchtime, meaning that rounds 1 and 2 were the ones to get right. Tim Wood (Shepherd), Mark Green (Serpent) and Neil King (Capricorn) were the top 3 qualifiers and posted their best times in round 1.
In round 2 James Conolly made an excellent come back to 8th scale and qualified 4th, Followed by David Spashett in 5th, John Carr in 6th, Craig Nutting in 7th (good going after winning the electric championship last year), Niall Cochran in 8th, Jack Garett-Lines in 9th and Andrew Hastings in 10th.
Round 3 was cut short by the rain and this basically marked the end of qualifications. Most drivers made the most of Jo’s cafe for a hot meal, waiting for the finals to be published. Round 4 was not run.
A few drivers decided not to run in their final because of the wet conditions, or because qualifying didn’t go according to plan. Front runner Alex Thurston could only qualify in the C.
Matthieu Dambrine qualified 1st in the B, followed by Michael Walton and Sam Snell.
Graham Jones qualified 1st in the C, followed by Barry Doran and Mike Manning.
The finals started at 2.30 and the first one on the line was electric leg one. Only 5 drivers decided to take part because the track was still wet. You are allowed to have a wet car in the electric category but no driver seemed to have one this time. It was about trying your luck and hoping that your waterproofing was good. It was a clean start and the top 3 drivers were on a similar pace. Matthieu had the lead until his car stopped. There was water in the esc and it was the end of racing for him. Michael took the win. Rob, Paul, Colin, Gino and Luke had decided not to run.
The C final was run on a wet track and in was all about keeping it on the black stuff for 20 minutes. Steven Smith was best at that game and won the C with 52 laps and also had the best lap of the final in 20.87.
The B final was run on a slightly drier but still slippery tracks where damps were needed (weren’t they G?). Matthieu kept the lead for a few laps and the top 3 drivers were on a similar pace. A few race incidents contributed to a change in positions and Sam took the win with 73 laps (the B final is now 25 minutes), closely followed by Michael and Matthieu was third. The best lap of the final was shared by Sam and Matthieu, both with an 18.18.
The A final started on a nearly dry track. There were many changes of positions during the 30 minutes and Tim managed to win with 113 laps, followed by David Spashett in 109 laps and Andrew Hastings in 104 laps. The best lap was for Tim in 14.27.
Congratulations to Tim for winning round 1, a good start for the 2018 champion and congratulations to Michael for winning the electric for his first ever race in the section. See you all at Halifax on 5th May. By Franck Dambrine