The 3rd round of the BRCA National series took place at the Kent track just outside Maidstone over the weekend and witnessed the first victory in a BRCA National for the Agama brand.
The weather was very hot and humid on Saturday which made it pretty hard work for all the drivers as they got used to the excellent but very technical track layout that had been set down. In response to the track breaking it up at some races recently, the club had added oil to the dirt mix in many areas, and this held the dirt together well providing a contrast in surfaces between the smooth pile desertions and the loose dusty ones.
Practice was all about the track cleaning up and drivers getting used to the track before qualifying started. Tyre choice was high on the agenda as the contrast in surfaces was catching a few guys out and they were looking for a smoother transition across the two.
Round 1 of qualifying saw Darren Bloomfield just miss out on TQ by a second, but the technical track with its bumpy sections was causing all the drivers to have mistakes or half mistakes where they got caught out, so all could probably point to lost time on their runs. Excellent runs from Ollie Currie and Richard Barton placed them 8th and 9th for the round. Richard is having to miss a lot of races this year due to work commitments so he hadn't driven since the last national making his performance all the more impressive.
Into the second round and the track was starting to get a little quicker as it cleaned up, but in this round Darren felt that tyres were too soft, and weren't giving him the traction he needed, so would go to a harder compound for round 3. Despite this he took 4th for the round. Tony Truman was showing some excellent form and he took 5th for the round despite a big crash and with Ollie Currie sneaking into the round top 10 in 10th he had already put himself in a strong position for a semi final place.
Round 3 and Darren could immediately feel the extra drive from the harder tyres and he set off after TQ for the round, unfortunately a small error cost him that and he would have to settle for 2nd once again. Good runs from Ben Williams and Leon Goode placed them just outside the top 10 after both had had poor results in the earlier rounds meaning they needed to get something on the board. The 4th and final round of a very hot and sweaty day saw Darren on for TQ early on until sadly a cut fuel line meant he ran out of fuel in his run a fuel had leaked out. Ben Williams continued his return to form with an excellent drive that netted him 7th overall, its was great to see the confidence back for Ben after a tough few months where nothing seemed to go right. Richard Barton was immediately behind him in 8th and Tony Truman was 10th after tough run in which he made some mistakes and broke the car, fortunately on his warm down lap. Everybody was pretty glad to get back to their hotels and have a shower and just relax a little for the following day.
Sunday and the weather was noticeably cooler, with some cloud cover which made it a lot more bearable for everybody although it was still pretty humid. The final round of qualifying got underway at 8.00 a.m. sharp and Darren put himself on the back foot straight away with an error on lap 1. late in the race he had closed the gap down with a series of fast laps but would just fail to beat Elliott Boots time and have to settle for 3rd in the round. Tony Truman did what he needed to do to secure a semi final plea with an =6th in the round after recording exactly the same time as Jack Embling. Ben Williams also did the same with 10th in round and leon Goode gave himself a chance of the semis or top of the quarters with 11th. Ollie Currie was 15th and with his previous good results that would be enough for semis also.
Overall this left Darren 3rd, Tony 8th, Ben 10th, Ollie 13th, and Richard Barton 15th. Leon just missed out on the semis but would start as car 2 in a quarter final.
As the finals got underway the question most of the drivers were asking was "how much was the track going to break up during the finals?". In the 1/32 B final, Luke Walsham put together a controlled drive to take 2nd and bump up. On the A side of the 1/32 Dave Stanley just edged out team mate Steve Brunsden to take the 4th and final bump up spot. Mark Boon would finish in 8th. The 1/16 B saw 3 Agama guys doing battle, James Tatlow, Adrian Svensson and Luke Walsham all pushing hard but none would make the top 4 by the flag sadly. James Tatlow narrowly missing out in 5th. On the A side of the 1/16 Dave Stanley, a recent Agama convert was loving every minute and although he didn't bump, he had had a great meeting with his new car. The next driver to take to the track was Arron Girling, a tough start gave him a lot to do but he couldn't make up the time lost and would finish 11th.
The B 1/4 saw Leon Goode make use of his speed to take an easy win, despite being handed a totally unjust stop and go for a pit lane infringement. William Skidmore completed an excellent meeting to take 8th, while brother Jonny would suffer a most frustrating meeting and not bump out of his 1/4 final. Terrible traffic problems in qualifying and a bad start to his final had left him deeply frustrated after his recent good form and he couldn't get back into contention for a bump up that his outright speed deserved. Still he will come back strong at the next race…
The 1/2 finals kicked off with a a bang on the B side with a race of carnage. Championship leader Elliott Boots was in trouble from about half distance, stopping on track several times putting him out of contention. Ben Williams got really unlucky with a half spin after the big jump that saw him collected at full speed by another car, putting him out. Tony Truman was running 1st after Elliott had stopped and then he was out fuel, later traced back to a split tank rubber allowing the tank to flip open and lose fuel. Still amidst the carnage Leon Goode kept his head, and drove an excellent race to finish 5th and make his 2nd National A final, a great effort from him and reward for his undoubted speed.
The A side 1/2 final saw Darren Bloomfield down to the back at turn 1 when he hit a massive rock in the track putting him in the fence and leaving him a huge amount of work to do. By this time the track had become very hard work with the faces of many of the jumps now destroyed making the cars very difficult to jump straight. This meant Darren exercised caution oh his way through the pack to ensure he didn't make too many errors and leave himself too much work to do. He would eventually finish 3rd and safely in the main final. Both Ollie Currie and Richard Barton were in the bump up spaces at various times, but in Ollies case a few crashes on the back triple dropped him down, while Richard got stuck on the crossover section and lost a huge amount of time dropping him out.
The main final kicked off and very quickly developed in to a two horse race between Lee Martin and Darren Bloomfield, with Neil Cragg running 3rd and close enough to take advantage of any slip ups.
Darren took the lead early but then dropped behind Lee after a mistake, and the positions would stay like this for the best part of 35 minutes with Darren chasing Lee down, making an error and then catching up again. As they went into the final 10 minutes Darren put a spurt on and took the lead on 2 occasions before error handed it back to Lee. With a few minutes to go, Darrens greater speed eventually told and Lee made an error allowing Darren to take a lead he wouldn't surrender this time to take the flag.
A big cheer went up from the NEMO team and lots of the crowd and Darren took congratulations from everybody on securing the first BRCA National victory for the Agama/BETA/Bullitt and Piranha brands….
Jon and I just sat down exhausted and reflected on 4 years of hard work to get here to this point….
Many thanks to all the NEMO team for their support and help, and to Darren for such a great drive….we must also congratulate the Kent club on a great job having been drafted in a late notice to hold a National round, they did a fantastic job and provided a great track that everybody enjoyed racing on…
Next up is the European Championships in Germany and we can't wait to get there.