The 2017 BRCA East of England regionals kicked off the year at the all astro track of Stotfold MCC. Being early April astro tracks are seen as sensible choices due largely to the expected rain, cold weather and even snow of past years, little did we have to worry as we were blessed with sun from start to finish with shades, caps and t-shirts replacing coats and hoodies. Once all the drivers were booked in and the mandatory drivers briefing complete practice started a little after 9am, with in two heats the early morning dew had gone and the tyres were coming off the track bone dry. A quick break to give heat one drivers a chance to get through scrutineering and we were under way just after 10am with four rounds and finals ahead we were in for a busy day.
The lap started with a blast along the main straight into a fast right hand sweeper up onto one of the small tabletops, dropping off this and a 180 left took you into an open sweeping right hander heading back towards the rostrum. A tight left hander led you onto another small table top, landing was important as a slow left hand bend followed which had a series of three humps if you took the wide line around here. Once clear of this section drivers flowed around a simple right left and then into another right hander which took you up on to the crest of the hill, a right hand tightening bend dropped you back off the hill and into a hairpin left into what seemed a short straight but actually had a flowing kink in it which caught so many drivers out during the day. A 90 left and up the wall into the hairpin right and race down the wall into a double small natural table top section, turn right and back onto the straight to complete a lap.
With 2wd being run first we ended the first round with an unusual line up at the top of the field, Simon Overall 7 seconds ahead of Danny Conway who in turn was 7 seconds ahead of James Wright, Tony Price, Stuart Collard and Jonathan Brown all within 2 seconds of one another. Round 2 and Danny hit back to take the win with Simon now second overall, Joe Howson had got himself going with second in the round and third overall while James, Tony and Jonathan were all still in the mix. Round three and the top three were now Simon, Danny, Joe, James and Jonathan who all had two top five scores and could start to look forward to an A final spot later in the day. Round four and Danny took TQ with the only 14 lap run, while Jonathan and Joe had solid last runs. Simon had a poor run while James had a nightmare but was safely inside the top ten. The rest of the A final would be Stuard Collard, Tony Price, Darren Pollard, Simon Watson and Adam Bowyer-Lowe grabbing the last spot for the three legged A finals.
In 4wd first blood for 2017 was very much a repeat of 2016 as Danny Conway and Steve Biscoe took the top two spots with Simon Overall rounding out the top three, Rob York, Kristian Gibbs, John Myall, Darren Pollard, Stuart Collard and Joe Howson all very close while Martin Long clung to the last A final spot just 0.3 seconds ahead of Paul Pratley. Round 2 and Danny Conway was already looking good for TQ with the only 14 lapper, John Myall had a great run to take second while Steve Biscoe had to settle for third. A little further down and anyone from eight drivers were still in with a shot at the A final with a good run. Round 3 and Danny took another round and with it secured TQ, John Myall another solid run in second while Steve and Simon rounded out the top four. Darren Pollard had a three point round advantage over Tony Price for the final spot on the A final grid so baring a disaster in the last round we were set with our A finalists. Round 4 and Simon Overall had a flyer taking top spot and with a time close to Danny’s, John Myall Steve Biscoe and Danny rounded out the top four in round and would also line up on the top four grid spots. Rob York with another solid run lined up fifth, while Kristian Gibbs, Stuart Collard, Martin Long, Joe Howson and Darren Pollard rounded out the A finalists, unlucky man was Tony Price who took the top B final spot.
E Final – Chloe Tester who battled with her dad during the five minutes aided by some dubious (but well received) marshalling to keep the two runners together on track left us with a run for the line, Chloe taking the win by 0.02 seconds to a round of applause from the watching spectators.
- Chloe Tester.
- Mark Tester.
D Final – Quite a scrappy start to this one but once the drivers settled down it was Richard Sharp who made sure that he converted his number 1 car into a win, while Richard White took second and Paul Cooper crossed the line in third just 0.5 seconds ahead of Matt Carey in fourth.
- Richard Sharp
- Richard White
- Paul Cooper
- Matt Carey
- Matthew Griffin
- Oakley Mattiloi
- Kelvin Groom
- Emme Gooch
- Norman Jepson
- Mark Tester (dropped to the E final)
C Final – A much cleaner final this time as the top five circulated within a few seconds of one another, the front two putting in some very similar times until pole man Andy Long had a poor lap which left Craig Francis clear to take the win ahead of Andy. Adam Spencer and Joe Sharp were in a real tussle and Adam crossed the line just 0.4 seconds ahead of Joe.
- Craig Francis
- Andy Long
- Adam Spencer
- Joe Sharp
- Lee Flynn
- John Aitken
- Scott Curlin
- David Foulger
- Daniel Usher
- Connor Watkins
B Final – After the first lap had been crossed off the top four had broken away, Ben Hubbard, Simon Hart, Neil Newby and Daniel Robins while the rest of the pack tried to sort themselves out. As the minutes ticked over Ben just had a little lead while Christopher Pennington had got going after a bad start and was now on the back of the leading pack. As the race wore on Ben seemingly had a clear run but Daniel Robins was putting in some cracking laps including the fastest lap of the race on his last lap to miss out on the win from Ben by just under 1 second. Simon Hart was a comfortable third from the charging Chris.
- Ben Hubbard
- Daniel Robins
- Simon Hart
- Christopher Pennington
- Neil Newby
- Ben Chester
- Steve Baker
- Carl Nunn
- Sam Bradshaw
- Chris Hampson
Leg 1 – and from the buzzer Danny and Joe got the jump and by the end of the first minute were over the length of the straight ahead of the chasing pack, Adam Bowyer-Lowe having a great run from tenth to sit in fifth early on. A couple of minutes in and Danny made a small mistake over the second small tabletop and needed marshalling allowing Joe to jump into first, a couple of laps later and Danny made another mistake over the treble humps just after the tabletop and in the process gave Joe a lead the length of the straight. Further back and Jonathan was alone in third with Simon Overall and Darren Pollard trying to chase him down. Danny gradually clawed Joe in while Simon had passed Jonathan and was now in fourth while the rest of the pack had the leaders closing to lap them. Joe made a mistake going into the wall which allowed Danny through who in turn then rolled at the end of the main straight, as he rejoined they was nothing between them, Joe making one more small error which allowed Danny back in front to take leg1, Joe in second, Jonathan third.
Leg 2 – Danny made the break while some of the rest of the field tripped over one another, Danny himself a couple of laps in also making a mistake coming onto the main straight allowing Simon Overall through in to the lead. Simon gradually pulled out a lead with some consistent laps while Danny and the rest of the chasing pack made a few small errors. With around a minute to go Joe Howson had slipped through into second and started to put some daylight between himself and third while also reeling Simon in. Coming onto the last lap and as they entered the first small table top exiting the first bend Simon maybe carrying a little too much speed dug in on landing and although not requiring a marshal it was enough to allow Joe through in to the lead and take the leg win ahead of Simon with Danny in third.
Leg 3 – Clearly the battle was between Joe, Danny and Simon for the overall win. From the start Danny led away but making a small mistake closely followed by Joe dropping them both back in the pack and handing the advantage to Simon who was away at the front. Jonathan Brown was in second at this stage and the pair worked together to pull out around a second gap over the rest of the pack. Around mid distance and Danny and Joe had caught third placed Darren Pollard and were starting to pressure him, Danny with a cheeky but well executed jump over Joe on one of the humps but then undid all his hard work by rolling and allowing Joe back through while the front pair continued to pull away. As they crossed the line Simon held on for the win with Jonathan a couple of seconds back and Joe Howson a solid third, James Wright with an excellent leg to come home in fourth. Danny had a nightmare last couple of laps crossing the line back in tenth.
Overall. With the scores tallied up we had a tie at the top between Joe and Simon with both having a win and a second, so it would come down to the fastest time between them to decide the winner. Step forward Joe Howson whose fastest time was 2.04 seconds quicker than Simon, Danny comfortably claimed the final podium spot while Darren Pollard, Tony Price and James Wright putting in a great showing over the three legs to round off a solid day for them all.
- Joe Howson
- Simon Overall
- Danny Conway
- Darren Pollard
- Tony Price
- James Wright
- Jonathan Brown
- Stuart Collard
- Simon Watson
- Adam Bowyer-Lowe.
Joe Howson with the overall win also took the top juniors spot while Daniel Robins took second not only in the B final but with it juniors runner up spot, Joe Sharp who only just missed out on the podium in the C final had some consolation by claiming the third top junior for the meeting.
D Final – Alan Gooch made the jump at the start and despite a couple of mistakes settled down and put in some consistent lap times to cross the line a lap up on second placed Rob May while Lucas Prendergast-May would claim the final podium spot in third.
C Final – A close run thing between the front two of Anthony French and John Aitken with Anthony getting the nod over the line to claim the win, John only a few seconds back. Behind them Sam Bradshaw, Craig Summers and David Webster were all within a mistake of losing spaces to one another with Craig Summers rounding off a superb charge from ninth on the grid to take third spot.
B Final – A master class drive from pole man Tony Price to win this one with ease slipping through for the only 13 lapper. Back on 12 laps we had the rest of the field so anything could happen on the last lap or two, Carl Dufton keeping his nerve and took second just over 1 second ahead of Christopher Pennington. Paul Pratley would feel slightly disappointed having started second and having to settle for fifth, all in all though a very good clean race to watch.
Leg 1 – As the buzzer sounded and we headed around the opening few laps with drivers not wanting to cost themselves a chance of the win in the early stages. As the race settled we had Simon Overall, Danny Conway, Steve Biscoe and John Myall who were all just edging out a small gap. Around mid-distance and Steve Biscoe had slotted himself in at the front with Danny , John and a recovering Simon who after a mistake had dropped back a little. Entering the last lap and Danny just picked up a little too much grip which allowed John through into second, as the front pair entered the hill they clashed wheels just enough to allow Danny though. Danny then caught a track marker before the wall and rolled over the hose onto the other side of the track while the other three entered the wall. Danny was told by the referee to wait as he was deemed to gain an advantage, this unfortunately threw Steve Off line and the front four all crossed the line within 1.2 seconds with John Myall the very happy winner, Simon Overall second and Steve in third. With the 10 second penalty added to Danny’s time it left Kristian Gibbs in fourth.
Leg 2 –Danny once again made the start and started to pull out a slight gap with John Myall in second they soon put some distance between themselves and the rest of the field, Rob York having a great start had put himself in a very useful position. Over one of the table tops Danny rolled it and John was through and looking at overall victory if he could hold his nerve, these were eased as Danny made another small error allowing Simon thorough into second. As the five minutes was up it was indeed John Myall who came over to take the leg and overall victory showing that he still has what it takes, Simon overall with another solid result while Steve Biscoe got through to take third and Danny a disappointed fourth. Kristian Gibbs was comfortable in fifth overall while the rest of the field needed a solid last leg to bump themselves up the order.
Leg 3 – With John sitting this one out having already won the meeting the door was open for a new victor. That man was the impressive Simon Overall who rounded off a superb day in both classes by taking the 4wd leg three victory with his fastest time so far. Kristian Gibbs cemented his solid performances by taking second in the leg and Steve Biscoe third. Martin Long would be happy with an excellent driver to finish fourth while Stuart Collard got himself going to come over the line fifth.
Overall – There was no doubting the winner with two leg wins it was John Myall beaming from ear to ear. Simon Overall took second top spot while Kristian Gibbs and Steve Bisoce were tied on points so it was down to the highest finishing position to see if they could be split, step forward Kristian who with his second place in leg 3 took also claimed third overall (I’m so sorry Kristian as I called Steve out in third at the presentation – Colin)
Joe Howson made it a double by taking top 4wd junior for the day, while Daniel Robins and Jody Howard were both in the C final meaning it would be a straight fight for second top junior, Daniel with his seventh place took second top junior and Jody third top junior with his ninth place finish.
Thank you all to the Stotfold crew who ran a great smooth meeting and the 45 races and we finished the presentations on time and still in sunshine. We roll on to Norfolk Buggy Club for round two over the Easter weekend.
Race report from Colin Parsfield.