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Formula One - 6 July 2011

Race Report

A smaller field than usual assembled at the Barn on Wednesday to race on the longest track yet seen at WHO. The four-foot-long 'extenders' borrowed from EAHORC worked perfectly to reach out between tables and extend the maximum track length we can build.

We also saw the return of Andrew's superb scoreboard software and screen, which ran with absolutely no glitches - despite our hirsute IT guru spending the evening in London where, I believe, Take That were playing.

After a very useful practice session and some essential tune-up purchases from the club shop, our sixteen racers lined up for their heats just after seven o'clock.

Sure, it may have been a small field, but is was an extremely strong field. At the start of the night we had six overall race winners and four junior medal winners on the grid. By the end of the night we'd added two more.

The cars on the grid also show how things are changing at WHO. For the first time, Mega-Gs outnumbered Tycos. Plus five of the eight Megas were prepared by a certain technical genius from King's Lynn. Once you've tasted a Martech, there's no going back - or so they say.

With the Tyco runners including Robin, Andy and top junior Will, it was going to be interesting to see how competitive the older car can still be. Plus Matthew would be racing a Tomy Turbo - a brave move, but it was very fast on the long straights.

One more landmark was that none of the club cars turned a wheel all night. Never forget that at our first couple of F1 races, everyone used the club cars. Everything changes…

So what would happen tonight? Could the Tycos hold up a light to the Megas? Which juniors would shine? And would the Martechs rule the world?

The heats were breathtakingly fast. By the end of the first rotation, when everyone had raced two heats, it looked a case of just which four Martech cars would be in the 'A' final. John, Darren, Gareth and Mike lead the way.

With Simon's fifth Martech Mega-G suffering a few glitches, those four increasingly seemed locked into the top final. But then Andy put in two big scores in red and blue in the last two heats of the night, dumping Gareth down to the 'B' final by an agonising 0.3 of a lap. Gareth took it as well as could be expected.

The very top scores over three minutes had been 26s and 27s. Both Mike and John had managed three such scores, but John sneaked the pole by 0.1 of a lap! Darren qualified in his customary third place, taking top scores in red and white.

The four finals lived up to the promises of the heats.

The D final finished as per the qualifying the order with junior championship contender Ashley beating Rick, and last month's junior winner Ollie beating Matthew, who had learned to drive his Turbo very smoothly and with supreme patience.

Will had only managed to qualify in twelfth and was left with white lane in the C final. Up against Tyler and Jonah with their Mega-Gs, it looked like he would drop points in the junior championship. However, it only takes three minutes to turn bad fortune into good. A storming drive - and trouble for the Coombes brothers - gave him the win and minimised any damage in the championship.

The B final had three 'A' final winners - Simon, Robin and Gareth - up against Callum, who had continued his brilliant form at the recent Worthing EAHORC round. He'd qualified so well that he was guaranteed the junior medal. Darren loaned him the Martech to see if he could win the final. Without any practice, Callum found it just too fast and reverted to his own Mega-G - but too late to catch Robin in third. A fine performance though.

The battle for the win in the 'B' final was intense, with Gareth and Simon slogging it out for very nearly the full three minutes. The lead swapped back and forth as the two cars were separated by less than a second. Gareth was the one to keep his nerve and took the spoils ahead of his fellow rookie. He was happy now.

The 'A' final was also a mighty showdown. With the best heat score in white, Darren inexplicably chose to run in yellow in the final. With Darren on white and Andy on yellow, it might have been a four-way battle to the line. But it was still very close, with Darren and Andy's battle for third taking place just a lap behind the top two.

Mike and John's slugfest was simply awesome. Again, two Mega-Gs ran side-by-side lap after lap. The Mega-G is proving to be a brilliant car to race and to watch. As the race reached its final stages, it was anyone's guess who was going to take the medal.  

The power was cut as the chequered flag fell. Mike and John's cars were separated by less than three track pieces or 0.05 of a lap. Were they on the same lap? Mike's smile said it all - he'd just won his first 'A' final.

So, huge congratulations to Mike and to Callum on their first medal wins. And thanks to everyone who made it such a good night - especially everyone who helped with setting up and with packing away after a rare half-hour of post-race running. A smaller field did mean we were not up all night.

- Andy