The inaugural BETA GP took place over the August Bank Holiday weekend at the Herts Nitro Club near Hertford.
A good entry of drivers were booked in to have a good time at the control tyre event which we hoped would prove lots of fun and very affordable for the competitors. So as not to advantage regular Herts members who use BETA tyres, the Tykytaka tread pattern was chosen as the control tyre as it not a pattern that would normally be used at this venue, thus making the playing field as level as possible for everybody.
The Herts crew had done a fantastic job of preparing the track for the event, and they had added a few new features along the way to keep it interesting. The meeting kicked off with a lunchtime start for practice on the saturday to allow for traveling and preparation etc.
The weather was warm and sunny as practice got underway, and the big interest in the pits was the debut of the new Agama car in the hands of Darren Bloomfield. Darren had had only time for 1 days acclimatisation with the new car prior to the event, but was already confident enough to be more than happy he would be on the pace straight away.
We were delighted to welcome our friends from both Northern and Southern Ireland over to the event, and NEMO's Jerome Sartel had come over from France along with his nephew JP, and new NEMO junior driver Felix Koegler.
During practice it was clear that Darren was the fastest out on track, and he was enjoying the improved handling and landing capability the new car was giving him. He commented "I can push harder, and take bigger risks without the fear of how the car will react, its a big improvement"
The competition at the front was of a good standard, allowing Darren to properly gauge the performance of the new car, the likes of Graham Alsop, Jerome Sartel and Tony Truman were all snapping away at his heels ready to capitalise on any errors.
Tony Truman was also moonlighting in the Truggy class and looked to be right on the pace, his A8T looking fantastic out on track, and he and Felix Koegler were having an excellent battle all through. In the E-buggy class it was Callum Nibblett and Jerome Sartel that were the class of the field, and TQ looked to be a battle between the two of them.
Qualifying got underway on Sunday morning bright and early, and with 6 rounds of qualifying to get through track time was going to be plentiful for all the competitors. In the Nitro buggy class it was Darren Bloomfield who stole the show, blasting the new Agama round at a ferocious pace that left the opposition trailing. The only blot on his copybook was round 5 when by his own admission he drove too hard and made a few mistakes that cost him that round, but the other 5 all went the way of him. Graham Alsop put up the most consistent challenge to Darren, taking round 5 and a string of 2nd in round finishes to be 2nd overall after qualifying. 3rd was Tony Truman, showing a good return to form after some tough races early in the season, it has been good to see Tony back amongst the leaders recently and showing the kind of pace we know he is capable of.
In the Truggy class it was Tony who lead the way with some excellent drives to be at the top of an Agama 1-2-3 in qualifying, young Felix Koegler doing a great job to take 2nd on his 1st race outside his native France, and UK Truggy stalwart Michael Shorey taking an excellent 3rd overall. The E-buggy class saw the epic battle between young Callum Nibblett and Jerome Sartel, with the youngster coming out on top after an excellent all round performance during qualifying. Jerome Sartel would take the 2nd spot followed up by JP Sartel in 3rd.
Finally on the Saturday evening we had the 20 minute junior final to look forward to. Lining up in reverse order from their qualifying performance the start was a hectic affair to say the least, however the 2 favourites to take the victory Callum Nibblett and Ollie Currie soon made their way to the front of the field after negotiating their way up from the back of the grid. Indeed both lads drove and excellent race with very few errors and with Ollie hunting down Callum as the race went on. Ollie briefly got ahead with about 5 minutes to go, but he then made a small error allowing Callum back through. The gap ebbed and flowed as they came upon back markers and a few laps from home Ollie got a whack in the side damaging his exhaust outlet, despite this he still found the speed to set his fastest lap on the final lap as he chased down Callum. Callum remained calm however and would take a well deserved victory in front of Ollie and Lewis Beach coming in 3rd.
The free BBQ was by this time already fired up, and the competitors were tucking into burgers and hot dogs a plenty, while Jon Hazlewood, making a rare buggy race appearance let his car out on track to be used by anybody who fancied a go with it. It was interesting to see the different guys pick it up and have a go with a car and radio not set up for them.
Sadly, the terrible forecast for Bank Holiday Monday came to fruition, and the rain was well set in by the time we got to the track on Monday morning. The club set a time of 11.00 a.m. to see if it would clear up, but it was clear that wasn't going to happen so unfortunately we had to declare the results on the qualifying positions. It was a real shame as everybody was looking forward to having a good race on Monday to decide the 1st overall winners of the BETA GP.
We must thank Herts Nitro Club for their work and preparation in putting the excellent event on, and we would also like to personal thank Julie Winstanley, Michelle Craddock, Nes Hassan and Lisa Nibblett for their help with booking in and the BBQ.
We genuinely look forward to our 2nd edition of the race in 2015….come and join us...