The Fourth round of the BRCA 1/8th on road championship was hosted at one of the premier circuits in the UK, Mendip raceway. With the country hosting the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and having an extended weekend break made traveling down to the track early Saturday morning very time consuming which culminated in missing a couple of hours free practice. Upon arrival we had noticed that the track had been treated with sugar water (Coke) to increase the grip around the braking, mid corners and exits. It was quite visible that this was probably brush applied and did not have any consistent coverage. I fully appreciate this was carried out to provide a constant level of grip but it seemed to make the cars very inconsistent from the lap times and in reality the times were 0.4 seconds slower than the end of last season which was not expected. However with changing weather conditions, the track did seem to dry very quickly between the rain showers which was probably a bonus in the end.
Hot from his recent win and return to form at Adur, Tim Wood was aiming to repeat this to pile on the pressure at the top of the championship standings but team leader Mark Green looked in great form by recording quick 15.5 second lap times which were roughly 0.4 quicker than any of the chasing pack. His main rival at the top, Kyle Branson (Mugen/Sirio) was absent from this meeting due to racing at the international race at Cassino (Lamberto Collari Track) in Italy for preparations in advance of the up and coming European 200mm championships.
The Weather forecast for the weekend was for dry Saturday and rain showers all day Sunday which could make for the possibility of unpredictable results and even possibly an upside down final order if the top heat drivers never get a dry track.
After a big downpour Saturday evening, Sunday came with no rain but a damp track. The Met Office seem to have got it perfectly right since the sky was changing every time you looked up at it which had most of the drivers undecided whether to use a full wet engine of their best dry engine.
In Round 1, the track was starting to dry out but the drivers generally used damp tires. In heat 2, the track was ready for dry tires and this was confirmed by the lap times. The track remained dry until midway through Heat 5 when the rain returned. This then allowed the last heat drivers to rethink the situation and change tires back to damps. In Heat 6, it was a case of finishing the run and getting a banker time. Mark Green produced this but only finished 4th Overall. After this round, it was Simon Wood (Xray) sitting at the top of the times with Ross Simons in Second and Greg Fairlie in third.
Round 2 started much the same of round 1, but this time the track remained dry for the majority of the round apart from a slight drizzle during heat 5, but heat 6 luckily was dry and gave the top contenders an opportunity to secure a good result and a final position. Mark Green took advantage to post 19 laps, along with Pete and Andy Hastings. Dan Bancroft and Andy North produced fast 18 laps but would no doubt need an improvement to stay in contention for a top ten position.
Round 3 started fully dry and gave all the drivers a chance to post their best times without any weather disadvantage. Notable improvements for Neal King (Mugen) in Heat 5 moved him up to P2 with Jason Frost moving to P3 just 1 second behind. Heat 6 then started, but rain showers again prevented any driver posting a time.
Round 4 again started with a damp track but this soon cleared and by heat 3, the track looked in good condition. With all the drivers looking at the clouds which were coming, Heat 5 started and finished with a very quick 19 Lap 305 second result for Neal King which actually moved him to P1 prior to the final heat. In Heat 6, All the drivers knew that an improvement was needed to get into the top ten. Neil Diver however was the first casualty after passing Andy North and looking set for a top 3 finish when a layshaft pulley came loose which then stripped the gears. Pete Hastings also hit engine problems and was now hoping that his earlier time was quick enough. Tim Wood decided to not risk a 5 minute run and decided to pit for fuel, but in the end, just did enough to take P7. Upfront Mark Green made a precautionary fuel stop but not realising Neal had overtaken him at the top, meant that he finished P2, just 0.5 seconds adrift.
The top ten was as follows:
1. Neal King – MugenSeiki /Picco Murman/Contact – 19 Laps 305 secs
2. Mark Green – Serpent / Novarossi / Exceed – 19 Laps 305 secs
3. Richard Hicklin – Serpent / Novarossi /Exceed– 19 Laps 310 secs
4. Andy Hastings – Shepherd / Sonic / Shepherd – 19 Laps 311 secs
5. John Carr – Serpent/Mega/Exceed – 19 Laps 311 secs
6. Andy North – MugenSeiki / IDM/Contact – 19 Laps 311 secs
7. Tim Wood – Serpent / Exceed – 19 Laps 312 secs
8. Jason Frost – Serpent/Mega/Exceed – 19 Laps 314 secs
9. Alex Thurston – Motonica /Gimar/ Contact – 19 Laps 315 secs
10.Pete Hastings – Shepherd / Sonic / Shepherd – 19 Laps 315 secs
The final blasted away in grid order with Neal King starting to increase the lead over Mark. A mistake from Neal allowed Mark to close the gap but at the 6 lap point the rain clouds opened yet again with a fine drizzle. Up front, the drivers decided to continue in the hope that it would dry out but Andy North and Alex Thurston came in to change onto damp tires loosing 84 and 69 seconds respectively but lapping much quicker jumped both drivers into the lead for 6 laps until the track dried quickly and the advantage was then lost. Mark Green also pitted for damp tires but after some issues, was the first retirement. After return visits to the pits for the leaders to change back onto dry tires, the race settled down with Neal King leading from Andy Hastings and Jason Frost and this was the finishing order. So Congratulations to Neal King on his first 1/8th National victory and also TQ.
Full results are as follows:
1. Neal King – MugenSeiki /Picco Murman/Contact – 97 Laps
2. Andy Hastings – Shepherd / Sonic / Shepherd – 96 Laps
3. Jason Frost – Serpent/Mega/Exceed – 96 Laps
4. Pete Hastings – Shepherd / Sonic / Shepherd – 94 Laps
5. Alex Thurston – Motonica /Gimar/ Contact – 92 Laps
6. John Carr – Serpent/Mega/Exceed – 90 Laps
7. Andy North – MugenSeiki / IDM/Contact – 90 Laps
8. Tim Wood – Serpent / Exceed – 87 Laps
9. Richard Hicklin – Serpent / Novarossi /Exceed– 69 Laps
10.Mark Green – Serpent / Novarossi / Exceed – 15 Laps
The next round is at the Halifax Circuit in 3 weeks time.
Thanks to Andy North for the report.
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