UK Nationals Round 1
The first round of the BRCA national series took place over the weekend, and it was a great showing from the NEMO Racing/Agama team…
The Deerdale club just based just near Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood fame was the host for this round, and for the first time in about four years a BRCA 1/8 Buggy National was held on Astroturf. Plenty of drivers had been putting some time in to hone their driving and set ups for the ultra high grip surface, as it requires a completely different driving style to get the most out of your equipment.
The weather forecast was dry and breezy, and the gusting winds caught a few drivers out on the jumps as their cars caught in the breeze. The track layout itself is nice and flowing with some testing features that could reward good driving and punish bad.
Practice was the usual fare of drivers testing different bits and pieces to dial their set ups in and be sure they were happy with the level of tyre trimming they had undertaken for optimal traction.
Into qualifying and round one was pretty cold still as the sun wasn’t fully overhead, and it was Nemo’s own Darren Bloomfield who blasted his Agama A215 to the first round TQ of the season by four seconds over the competition. New team member Callum Niblett on only his second outing with his new car was an excellent seventh and Tony Truman ninth, and with Leon Goode just outside the top ten in eleventh, it was solid start for the team. Round two saw Darren right on the pace once again, but one error cost three seconds and meant he would be third in this round. In fact the top five drivers were actually basically able to run the same pace so it was just down to who had the cleanest run with the least small errors in it to decide who was on top in any given round.Callum was once again superb in this round, taking a great fifth with Tony again ninth. Oliver Currie and Richard Barton were starting to find their feet and were just outside the round top ten.
Round three saw a Bullitt engine one-two with Graham Alsop this time taking the round from Darren Bloomfield, Darren made exactly the same one error as he had in round two which again kept him off the top spot. There had been a few ongoing timing issues throughout the day where as the loop was on a lane that wasn’t the outside lane of the track it ran underneath the main straight and was causing a few guys to start their clocks early, and have a fast first lap. Problem was that if this then mean they got through for the extra eighth lap they retained the lap but with a slow split time, which is actually wrong as they should have had a seven lap run, and gained them a few places in the round. The final round of Saturday would see another man take the round win and Darren once again suffer one error that may or may not have cost him the win that round also. Jonathan Skidmore had got himself in the game and was an excellent seventh in round, and Callum’s eleventh would secure his semi final place.
Sunday morning and the weather was much more overcast, and with a biting wind that seems typical of this venue. I guess when you are racing near a wind farm, you should expect it to be windy!
The final round of qualifying was an incredibly close affair with the top three split by less than 3/10’s of a second, and it was the fourth different round winner with Neil Cragg taking the honours this time around, but it would be Graham Alsop with his Bullitt B-220 powered car that would take the overall TQ honours, and Darren end qualifying in third overall. Another great run from Callum saw him sixth in round and Leon Goode pulled it together to take eighth for a semi final place. Callum would end up a superb eighth overall, Tony Truman tenth, Leon Goode fourteenth, Ollie Currie fifteenth and Jonny Skidmore sixteenth to make six Agamas directly into the semis…
The finals were out on track after a short break, and the 1/64 B final saw three Agama’s bumping up with Luke Walsham, James Tatlow and Josh Graham all making the bump. The 1/32 B that these guys bumped into, already had Steve Brunsden and Winston Barnett lined up and indeed Winston put in a great drive to come from tenth on the grid to take fourth and the final bump position. In the 1/32 A side Dave Stanley was unlucky to just miss out with a great comeback to fifth, one place short of the bump. The 1/16 A final saw a great drive from Dave Blakeley to take a comfortable win, the new Agama A215 was proving that in finals it was much easier to be consistent than its predecessor and the results saw more drivers in contention for bump up positions.Adrian Svensson just missed out in this final, seven seconds shy of what he needed to make the top four. Ben Williams would make the bump in his 1/8 B side final after a timing error was corrected and saw him take the final transfer position. The 1/4 A side final saw Richard Barton make steady start to keep out of trouble, and then work his way to the front for a comfortable eleven second win at the flag, and young William Skidmore would capatilise on Bradley Baird running out of fuel on the final lap to take the fourth and final bump position and in doing so make his first ever semi final, a great achievement. This year the schedule doesn’t feature a semi practice, so the the guys who had qualified high up had been waiting around for six or so hours since the final round of qualifying when the semis finally took to the track. Tony Truman recovered from an indifferent star in the B side to take a good fourth place and lead a gaggle of Agama A215 chassis with Callum Niblett, Jonny Skidmore and Leon Goode all directly behind him and all making the top seven for a place in the main final. The A side semi saw a big race long battle between Darren Bloomfield, Graham Alsop and Elliott Boots with all three taking turns at the lead. Eventually Darren forced himself to the front, and would take the win from Graham and Elliott , but a scant 1.3 seconds covered the trio. The battling slowed them up and meant their race pace wasn’t as quick as the other side of the semis and would mean that Darren would line up third on the grid. Ollie Currie, the silent assassin went about his business in his usual calm way, and although he hadn’t put the headline times in some of his teammates had, he also drove through the semi to take his place in the main final and in doing so just pipping team mate Richard Barton who finished eighth and just outside the bump.
The main final got underway with the threat of rain hanging over it, and the main protagonists were battling it out at the front. First man to drop back was Neil Cragg after two terrible laps he dropped about fifteen seconds off the lead pack. Coming into the first round of stops it was Lee Martin who held a slender lead from Darren, Graham and Elliott. At the stops leader Lee Martin suffered a flame out in pit lane and dropped right back, leaving Graham and Darren at the head of the pack, Graham then made a mistake and allowed Darren into the lead which he would steadily build over the next fifteen minutes and during this period Graham stopped on track due to they think a short fill at a pitstop, leaving Elliott chasing Darren. Elliott was pushing hard, but Darren was in the groove and was pumping in the laps so that Elliott couldn’t quite match the consistent pace of Darren. But at a round half distance Darren had a grub screw work loose in the drive train and end his challenge. This left Elliott to go on to take the win, despite a late charge from Neil Cragg. Tony Truman had a steady run to take seventh and a good start to the season, with Ollie Currie putting the consistent times in to take ninth. Leon took eleventh and Callum twelfth after a gamble tyre change on to wets as the drizzle started failed to take hold and he drooped back.
We were delighted to have 6 A215 cars and 8 Bullitts in the main. Our most successful National ever. An excellent team performance from the NEMO Racing guys, and it bodes well for the rest of the season with all the guys running at the front of the pack.