Round 2 of the Essex Winter Series took place this weekend. Despite low temperatures outside, the fully heated indoor tennis centre facility left most spending the day in t-shirts and the large carpet circuit offering high levels of grip from the start. The format for the series is five qualifying rounds, with the best 3 to count, and single leg finals. In the Super Stock 13.5 class, the five rounds of qualifying produced some incredibly close racing, with positions between the top drivers often changing lap-by-lap.
In the first qualifying round, Darren Lee took the win with his Schumacher by 3 tenths of a second from the winner of the first round of the series, Tony Broad. In round 2, Tony fought back by taking the win with his Xray ahead of defending series champion, Paul Pinkney, again by a gap of a few tenths of a second. Paul now had his Schumacher dialed in and topped rounds 3 and 4, with Tony second in both, leaving the final qualifying round to decide not only the pole position, but every A final place. The fifth round saw Darren back to the top of the timesheets, with Paul second and Dean Gibbs third with his HB TCX. The battle for the last spot in the A final was just as close, with Mark Buonaiuto taking fourth in the round, thinking he had done enough, only to be leap-frogged by Jimmy Maddison, who took fifth in the round and therefore an A final place by just a single point. This all left Paul with the pole position, Darren starting second and Tony in third on the A Final grid.
In the A Final, those first three drivers broke off from the chasing pack fairly quickly, with Dean Gibbs just about hanging on for the first few minutes. The leaders circulated nose-to-tail at high speeds for the first half of the race, with Darren trying to find a way to pass Paul, but Paul keeping the door shut at every opportunity, and Darren wary of Tony behind. Just past the half distance mark, Paul made a mistake going around the large carousel in the centre of the circuit, dropping to third as Darren took off in the race lead. Paul sat on Tony’s rear bumper, and a few laps later made a great move, placing his car inside Tony going into a slow hairpin. Paul then set off after Darren, but Darren made a mistake through the high speed esses whilst under no pressure from Paul. This allowed Paul to re-take the lead and Tony to also take second. Paul then held onto the lead for the final three laps to take the win and get his championship challenge back on track.
13.5 Super Stock A-Final Results
1. Paul Pinkney – Schumacher / SpeedPassion – 23/310.71
2. Tony Broad – Xray / Vampire – 23/311.48
3. Darren Lee – Schuamcher / ThunderPower – 23/313.35
4. Dean Gibbs – HB / LRP – 22/300.73
5. Jimmy Maddison – Xray / ORCA – 22/301.62
6. Daniel Veness – Xray / Novak – 22/301.83
7. Bryan Loynes – Xray / GM – 22/304.91
8. Richard King – Awesomatix / Vampire – 22/310.03
9. Max Guerola – Xray / Vampire – 22/312.90
10.Ashley Wiffen – Schumacher / GM – DNF
In the Stock 21.5 Class, a late entry for multiple UK National A Finalist James Hart was sure to shake the order up. James was on the reserve list for the 13.5 class, but such is the popularity of the series that he was unable to get an entry and so moved over to the Stock class. Despite his lack of experience with 21.5 motors, he quickly found his feet with the different driving style required.
The first round of qualifying fell to Richard Clarke, the winner of the opening round of the championship. Richard took his TOP around the track 3 seconds faster than James Hart’s Xray, who was second in the round, with Andrew Carter’s Schumacher just two tenths further back. In the second of qualifying, James was now up to speed and took the win by 1 second from Richard, with the defending champion, Darren Tickner, securing third place points with his Xray. That was also the order from the third qualifier, and James wrapped up Pole Position with a win in round 4. James further stamped his authority on the class by topping round 5, leaving the A final lining up with James on pole, Richard second, Darren third, Andrew fourth and Luke Hobson, debuting the new Spec-R R10 car fifth on the grid.
As the A Final set off, James and Richard led at the front, whilst Luke Hobson made the jump from fifth to third. Richard made a mistake on lap 5 as he tried to pressure James into a mistake, dropping down the running order. This provided James with a healthy lead over Luke Hobson, a lead he wouldn’t lose for the remainder of the five minute final. Luke held station in second, whilst Andrew Carter did likewise in third. Darren Tickner dropped to sixth on lap one, but made the most of others mistakes to work his way back to fourth by the end of the race.
21.5 Stock A-Final Results
1. James Hart – Xray / ThunderPower – 21/305.52
2. Luke Hobson – Spec R / ThunderPower – 21/308.10
3. Andrew Carter – Schumacer / ThunderPower – 21/311.55
4. Darren Tickner – Xray / HobbyWing – 21/312.84
5. Barry Hughes – Xray / ThunderPower – 21/315.01
6. Richard Clarke – TOP / Dynamite – 20/301.50
7. Matt Butcher – Tamiya / Reedy – 20/306.08
8. Mark Young – TOP / LRP – 20/307.52
9.0 Duncan Letham – Serpent / HobbyWing – 20/309.95
10.Mark Trinder – Xray / Tekin – DNF