International Carpet Challenge – Report
The inaugural International Carpet Challenge took place this weekend in Essex, UK. Hosted by Oli Meggitt and the well-known Essex Winter Series team at their popular indoor venue, the event was supported by HPI, Tonisport and Muchmore and attracted drivers from around the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany and Poland. Kyle Branson was immediately setting the pace in the Modified class, setting the fastest three-lap time during practice, and backing that up by topping the opening qualifying round by 1.5 seconds with his Capricorn. Olly Jefferies, making his international event debut for Xray, took second in the round ahead of the Team Durango pairing of Polish driver Michal Orlowski and Elliott Harper. In round two, Kyle was again quickest, but the field was catching up and Awesomatix’ Freddy Sudhoff set the second best time, seven tenths of a second behind Kyle. Elliott was third ahead of Michal and Yannic Prumper’s Yokomo.
It seemed like the battle for pole was becoming a two-horse race as Kyle led round three with Freddy again second, just half a second behind. Yannic Prumper was now fully up to speed on the high-grip circuit, and took third in the round, one second behind Freddy. Christopher Krapp was fourth for Kyosho and Matthew White fifth with his Schumacher. Kyle wrapped up the pole position by topping the fourth qualifier, although Freddy led for much of the run until he broke his car in the high-speed sweeper at two-thirds distance. That allowed Yannic to take second, Christopher third and Chris Grainger fourth with his Schumacher. The final round finally saw Kyle beaten, as Freddy topped the timesheets to secure himself second on the grid. Kyle was second in the round, Christopher third and Olly fourth. When the qualifying results were worked out, using the best two results from five rounds, Yannic would line up third on the grid, in front of Olly, Christopher, Elliott, Michal, Chris, Matthew and Jon Bowden just sneaking tenth on the tie break with Phil Chambers.
The three A Finals were three of the closest and most exciting races we’d seen in recent years, as Kyle, Freddy and Yannic treated the crowd to some spectacular high-speed racing. In leg 1, Kyle and Freddy pulled a small gap over Yannic in the early stages, with Christopher and Olly battling over fourth and fifth. Freddy piled the pressure on Kyle throughout the entire five minutes, frequently looking like he was close enough to make a pass but never able to find a way past the young British driver. A mistake from Yannic at the two-thirds distance allowed Olly through to third, and he was quickly on the tail of the lead battle. A few laps later, Freddy was still trying to find a way past Kyle and, going into the last chicane with thirty seconds left, the two touched, with Kyle’s body getting tucked up. Olly had no-where to go and retired with a broken sensor cable. The allowed Christopher to briefly take the lead, until Kyle spun on the next corner, tapping Christopher and giving the lead to Freddy. So Freddy took the leg one win, ahead of Christopher, Yannic and Elliott through to fourth, Kyle ending up fifth.
The second A Final again saw the cars circulating in grid order, with Freddy immediately attacking Kyle for the lead. Just before the half distance point, Freddy took too much kerb through the final chicane, launching his car into the fencing and dropping him down the order. Yannic was up to second and began to close the gap to Kyle. Lap by lap the gap came down, but try as he might, he couldn’t get close enough to Kyle to make a serious move for the lead. So Kyle ran out the winner, Yannic second, Olly third, Christopher fourth and Freddy recovering to fifth.
This all meant, going into the final leg, any one of the top six drivers on the grid could take the overall title. Freddy opened up leg three by trying to pass Kyle on lap number one, but Kyle kept the door shut and the cars ran in grid order. Freddy tried everything he could, his car almost glued to the rear wing of Kyle’s car. Lap after lap, the German Awesomatix driver applied huge pressure but Kyle kept his car on the racing line and out in front, which all allowed Yannic, Olly and Christopher to close in. But try as they might, no one had that little bit extra to make a place up, Kyle taking the win by just one tenth of a second, and the top five covered by less than one and a half seconds at the line. That meant Kyle Branson took his first international-level electric win, ahead of Freddy and Yannic.
Modified A-final result
1. Kyle Branson – GB – Capricorn/Reedy
2. Freddy Sudhoff – DE – Awesomatix/LRP
3. Yannic Prumper – DE – Yokomo/Muchmore
4. Christopher Krapp – DE – Kyosho/Orion
5. Olly Jefferies – GB – Xray/Reedy
6. Elliott Harper – GB – Durango/ORCA
7. Chris Grainger – GB – Schumacher/GM
8. Jon Bowden – GB – Yokomo/Hobbywing
9. Matthew White – GB – Shumacher/Thunder Power
10.Michal Orlowski – PL – Durango/Speed Passion
Thanks to HPI, the event also saw the HPI Challenge returning to the UK, with a class for the Vintage cars, using HPI ‘classic’ VTA bodyshells and Vintage wheels and tires. The battle in this class was between CPD’s Chris O’Donoghue and former Eastbourne club champion David Spashett. Chris took the first qualifying round, before David got settled into the driving style and topped rounds two, three and four. HPI’s Jason Butterfield took second in the first and fourth rounds, with Chris topping the last qualifier to line up second on the grid.
The crowd loved the look of the cars circulating, and the slower speeds and slightly lower grip made for fun racing, with many leaving the event stating that they would want to run the class next year. Certainly the smiles on the drivers faces each run took many back to the times when they started racing and took things a lot less seriously. The A Finals were all about David Spashett, as he swept the three legs to add another title to his collection. Chris took second in the first and second legs, before deciding to share his handset with fellow Capricorn driver and top Pro Stock class racer Ben Putt in the final leg, one taking care of the throttle, and the other the steering. Jason took second place in the final leg to secure the final step on the podium after enjoying battles with team-mate James Stewart and WLRC Club Chairman Damian Giddins.
HPI Vintage Challenge A-final result
1. David Spashett – Zen Racing/ARC
2.Chris O’Donoghue – CPD Racing/Capricorn
3.Jason Butterfield – HPI/HB
4.James Stewart – HPI/HB
5.Damian Giddins – WLRC/Xray
6.Richard Clarke – Team EWS
7.Craig Fisher – Zen Racing/ARC
8. Bradley Coaker – Team EWS
9.Mark Caton – Team EWS
In the Pro Stock class, Zak Finlay set the pace with his Xray, topping the first four rounds of qualifying to secure the pole position. The fight for second was between the Schumacher of Ashley Wiffen, Awesomatix’ Richard King and Zak’s Xray team-mate James Baker. Ashley was second in the first round, James second in round two, whilst Richard took the runner-up position in round three. Ashley secured second on the grid after he took second in the fourth qualifier, and then topped the final round when Zak pulled off, the pole sitter using the round to run in a fresh set of tires for the three-leg A finals.
It was the same story for the A Finals, as Zak was challenged in the early stages of each leg by the three contendors, but from about the one minute point each time began to pull away and leave the three behind him to race for second place. James came through to take second in the first leg, ahead of Ashley and Richard. In leg two, the finishing order was the same as the starting order, Ashley ahead of Richard and James. Zak completed his domination of the weekend by winning the final leg, Ashley took second to confirm himself in the runner up position, and James took third to complete the podium.
Pro Stock A-final result
1. Zak Finlay – Xray/ORCA
2. Ashley Wiffen – Schumacher/GM
3. James Baker – Xray/LRP
4. Richard King – Awesomatix/GM
5. Daniel Veness – Xray/Vampire
6. Will Vertigan – Xray/ORCA
7. Mark Buonaiuto – Xray/Vampire
8. Jamie Hickin – Schumacher/GM
9. Simon Hibberd – Xray/GM
10.Tony Broad – Yokomo/Vampire
The Stock class saw Jimmy Maddison quickest from the start, securing the number one position in the controlled practice rounds and the first four qualifiers. His nearest contendor, Gavin Clinch, took second in the opening four rounds, and then took the final round when Jimmy dropped out. The battle for third saw Michael Ball take third in the opening qualifying round, then Nicky Yarranton third in round two. William Stuart was third in rounds three and four, with Nicky taking second in the final round to line up third on the grid. William was third in the last round to line up fourth.
The A Finals saw some mixed results. Jimmy comfortably took the opening leg, with Gavin in second but well clear of the rest of the field. William came through to take third, with Mason Weston up to fourth from seventh on the grid, and Michael Ball in fifth. Leg two saw Jimmy out in the lead again, but a mistake at the long carousel corner saw him losing places and requiring a marshall. In his haste to get going and work back through the field, a further incident took him out of the race with a broken car, despite setting the fastest lap of the race. That left Gavin to run out the winner and set up a final leg showdown, and a great run from Mark Young to come from sixth on the grid to take second, and Adam Mullock to take third from eighth. Mason took fourth again and Fabien Simonini fifth. Jimmy said the pressure was on for the final leg, but it didn’t show as he put on a great display of Stock class driving to take the win by two seconds from Gavin, securing him the overall title. William was back to third in the leg, giving him the final step on the podium, Nicky fourth in the leg and Mason fifth.
Stock A-final result
1. Jimmy Maddison – VBC
2. Gavin Clinch – ARC
3. William Stuart – Xray
4. Mason Weston – Xray
5. Mark Young – Awesomatix
6. Adam Mullock – Assocaited
7. Nicky Yarranton – Xray
8. Fabien Simonini – Durango
9. Michael Ball – Yokomo
10.Dani Young – Xray
Thanks to Oli Meggitt for sending the report. | Vintage class image: HPI [hpiracing.com]