So that’s it, the season is over. What a year it has been, starting out with the Slash 4X4 and exceeding my expectations with that truck then swapping to the mighty TEKNO SCT410 for the final 2 rounds.
FINAL STANDING: 9th 4wd (full results on series website here http://www.ukshortcourse.com/results/)
EVENT: 6th Place 4wd
Practice went well, very little setup change required to get it comfortable, the biggest challenge I found here was the differing levels of grip from the track surface, no two parts of the track were the same, some areas would cause grip roll and others masses of understeer followed by oversteer. This made tyre choice very difficult.
RD1 Was a like a practice session as the track was still wet from the dew and rain the night before, the cloud cover was near 100% so grip was non existent so went with tyre strategy from Sat practice with a combo of Proline Pin Points on the front with Schumacher Mini Pins of rear. I really struggled with the grip and only managed 5th in heat with 13laps while the leader did 15. Its in these tricky conditions that you need to know your truck and its handling inside out, an area where I need more time to develop, the pace was there as I set the fastest lap in my heat with a 24.603.
RD2 More used the track conditions I came 2nd in heat with 14 laps and best lap of 24.952. More focus on trying to keep it clean was the aim and it seemed to do the job, still a few parts of the track catching me out as it starts to dry out and grip up, the same line never seemed to give the same grip on any given lap. After the 2nd round I was 3rd overall in qualifying.
RD3 The ever evolving grip levels caused a tyre change as I was getting more traction roll on the front end in RD2 so I opted to swap the Pinpoints up front for a less aggressive Kourse King tyre. This changed the handling and meant I could push a little harder into the corners without so much risk of grip roll. I had a race long battle for 2nd place with the young (and very quick) Lewis Williamson, swapping places numerous times over the 6 minute heat, I eventually got in front and kept it there till the end. Finishing 2nd place in heat with another fastest lap of 24.647, Lewis also set a blinding fast lap of 24.689!!
RD4 This was the toughest qualifying round I had ever done, with Lewis Williamson setting a strong pace, Lewis and I would swap the lead position from start to finish, eventually Lewis took the heat win with me in second place, we both set a Personal Best time and both broke the 15lap barrier, our average lap time for the heat being just 0.019 sec apart. I still managed to grab the fastest lap of the heat though with another 24.493.
FINALS (qualified 4th in the A-Final 4wd)
LEG 1 This did not go quite to plan, sitting 4th on the grid, I was on the inside going into turn 1 and got punted from behind which sent me straight onto my roof, a few others ended chassis side up at the first turn, once I got turned over I was dead last and quarter of a lap down, I did my best to not get wound up and just do my best to pull back some positions and put this down as a bogey round and bad luck. I finished 7th place with the fastest lap of the race with a 24.259. The pace was there however the clean start I needed wasn’t.
LEG2 Starting again from 4th place, my reaction off from the buzzer was very good arriving at the inside of turn 1 close to the pipe to make sure there’s no room to squeeze through and then Boom, smashed over onto my roof again in the same place as the first leg, frustratingly by the very same driver? Some quick marshalling saw me back on my wheels and going for it, I wanted to at least finish where I started, the grip had been and gone again by this point in the day as the sun had gone in and the ambient temp dropped a fair bit. The truck started to get a little loose as I was giving it everything to gain some places back. I finished in 4th place behind Luke Eyre, Craig Summers and Mark Everitt. Best lap was Lewis Williamson with a 24.476 with me being 2 hundredths off with a 24.494. Who ever said truck racing isn’t close pay attention 🙂
LEG3 Going into the last final I had contemplated changing the tyres back to what I ran earlier in the day when the grip was lower, however I wanted to be able to push, so in the end I wimped out and left them as they were. I didn’t want to go into the final round with a truck that was going to feel different to how it had the race before. With the benefit of hindsight I should listen to and follow my gut feeling as not changing was a costly mistake, queueing to go up the rostrum I saw a few cars had changed tyres too? I had a much better start and got off the line cleanly, and in the excitement just rubbed into the side of Lewis’ truck, we both carried on without any drama or rolling over. The grip was non existent this end of the day in the cold and I could not get the truck to turn and any amount of throttle made it rather lively. I couldn’t seem to keep pace with the guys I had been racing earlier so just did my best to bring it home and get as many points as could. A difficult end to an awesome days racing. Finished a lowly 8th place in the last final, with the scoring only the best 2 count so I rounded out the day in a respectable 6th place A-Final finish which given the circumstances and the dodgy call on tyres was a good result for me.
A1 Racing Club has a great track, I love the flow of the layout and varied grip levels and jumps which you cannot take flat out make it a real nice flowing layout with just enough techincal elements to make it exciting. A well run and friendly club, I would be more than happy to come back again. I have met some great people over the course of this season so a big thanks to the organisers Chris, Paul, Mark and thanks to all the clubs that we have race at this year. Its been a huge learning curve and I think I may have only just seen the tip of the iceberg. I very much look forward to another season of hardcore Short Course action next year 🙂