As the hot weather really starts to ramp up in Europe, the drivers from NEMO Racing were upping their game across the continent to produce some excellent results. We were represented in six different country national championship rounds, and on Sunday night the scores were in. Three outright wins and Podiums in the other Three.....
The relocated 3rd round of the BRCA National series was at the the recently revamped Slough track near Windsor Castle. For the first time in many years, the competitors arrived at Slough to a completely new layout, rather than a tinkered one that could trace its roots back 10 years or more.
The new layout offers a huge driving challenge, despite on the face of it looking quite simple. The track is very fast, but has numerous high speed sections that require extreme precision, and with some bumps thrown in the mix it meant mistakes were very easy to come by.
Qualifying saw Darren Bloomfield, Elliott Boots and Neil Cragg challenging for the overall TQ, with Elliott taking it from Neil and Darren. The times over the last few rounds were very close as the drivers honed their set ups and worked on the tyre selections. Unusually for Slough the surface was very abrasive and causing high tyre wear for everybody.
Fellow Agama drivers Tony Truman, Jonny Skidmore, Ollie Currie and a resurgent Richard Barton were all directly qualified into the semi finals after some excellent results throughout the qualifying. Just missing out were William Skidmore and Callum Niblett, but had excellent chances to progress due to their underlying pace, indeed both would comfortably bump up into the semi finals after excellent drives.
The semi finals were extremely competitive, and after some rain during the mid part of the day the track surface had got wet and then dried out, meaning the surface was evolving and the grip levels changing. Darren opted to try SuperSoft compound tyres in the Semi as the track was looking slick, but it was the wrong choice. Still he drove well within himself to consolidate his position and ensure he made the main without any drama. The second semi race was notably quicker than the first, meaning that despite finishing 3rd in his semi, he would line up 3rd on the grid. Tony Truman also made a wrong tyre call and he would have to fight hard to progress, but he did so with a consistent drive. Jonny Skidmore and Callum Niblett continued their excellent seasons by both bumping up in to the main final.
The main final got underway and Darren made a great start to get to the front early and pull out a good gap back to 2nd place up to the initial round of pit stops. Darren having switched to Medium compound tyres was immediately much faster than had been the case in the semi. A few small errors from Darren over the next 10 minutes saw that lead eroded and Elliott was back with him, the pace of the two drivers was exactly the same in clear air, with the gap only changing slightly either way outside of errors. Another clipped pipe from Darren saw Elliott sneak into the lead and hold around a 5 second lead, which was gain maintained as the pace was equal. Just before the final round of pit stops, Elliott made an error over the back and Darren was back in the lead with the two drivers together and battling. At this stage Darren was driving tight and slow to keep the line and make Elliott try to go around him, when Darren clipped a pipe and checked up, Elliott was so close and couldn’t avoid going into him. This incident happened just as they were in a group of back markers who all got tangled up and unfortunately for Elliott his engine stopped. This left Darren with an commanding lead, so he backed right off to preserve his tyres and cruised round a few seconds a lap off the pace to take a hard earned victory, the first BRCA win for the A215 chassis, with Neil Cragg 2nd and Elliott 3rd.
This result leaves the Championship wide open between those 3 drivers and the series moves on to the Herts track after the European Championships where the competition will be every bit as hot.
The Irish National was once again dominated by the drivers of NEMO Racing team Ireland. Alan Scroggie was the man on pole after some excellent qualifying performances with Gary Baird and Barkley Abernethy in close quarters as the Emerald Isle basked in the Sunshine.
The 45 Minute main final saw an outstanding drive from Gary Baird who turned on the afterburners and drove almost error free for the entire 45 minutes to dominate and come away with a unchallenged win. Barkley was challenging early, but a long pit stop dropped him back and he fought hard to come back through to finish 2nd. Colin Whelan rounded out the podium to complete an Agama A215 podium lockout.
We continue the NEMO European round up with news of a resurgent Robert “GUS” Gustafsson. After a few years in the wilderness, the switch to the Agama A215 has revitalised the likeable lunatic from Sweden, and he would only just miss out on TQ for the meeting by less than a second in the deciding round of qualifying, and lets not forget this was against the current double European Champion David Ronnefalk. Gus has been showing glimpses of his former self in the early months of the year, but on this occasion he shocked the younger generation and was right in the hunt for the top honours.
The main final was a great race and battle, with Gus taking a superb 3rd overall and a place on the podium.
Edouard Hugon has been another driver to switch to the Agama A215 chassis in 2015, and he also has had his results turn around for him as a result. He has worked away at his set ups and put plenty of time in on track to find what works for him and now the results are starting to flow.
The previous national was looking like a strong result for him but a late race semi final tangle resulted in a engine cut and no place in the main, not what he deserved.
This time tho he was right at it and mixing it with the very strong drivers at the top of the tree in France. With Multiple European Champions and World finalists to beat he powered the A215 to the podium with a fantastic 3rd place
Back up to Scandinavia and this time Finland. These boys don’t come out to play very much until high summer due to weather and daylight hours but when they do they are relentless.
Ari Heinonen, another new man to NEMO Racing and Agama in 2015 was right on the pace straight away. Ari was challenging hard for the TQ spot, but would just lose out and place 2nd in the qualifyng sessions. Sadly the weather would intervene and mean that no finals could be run, so the results would be declared on the qualifying results leaving Ari to take 2nd place on the podium and another good result for his Championship challenge.
Last but by no means least we head to Belgium and here we end with another victory. Bart Mullink has been a revelation since joining NEMO Racing in the winter and he dominated this round of the National series with a commanding performance from driver and his Bullitt powered Agama A215 car. He simply drove away from the field to record an excellent victory and continue his Championship charge.
Next week sees the majority of the team heading for Italy and the European Championship A where the hot weather is set to continue and hopes are high after an excellent test subsequent to the Warm Up race in May.