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Formula One - 6 December 2017

Race Report

The final HO race of the year at WHO always has a great end-of-term atmosphere. This time was no different and we had a our biggest ever December attendance with twenty-nine people racing.

There were no new faces in that crowd, but we welcomed back some WHO old-timers we'd not seen for a couple of years. Mark and Tom live in Australia and race with us whenever they're in town. Jonah joined his uncle and cousin for his first race in two and a half years - and Gareth was also back for his first race in since the spring of 2015. It was great to see them all again.

The choice of a Bathurst-inspired layout was a nice coincidence and we also has some stickers sent over from the Glendale Raceway group in New South Wales (thanks Shane). The Antipodean theme was all very magnanimous after another overnight cricket thrashing at the hands of the Aussies...

A big set-up crew got the circuit put together in good time and it proved an excellent one - fast and technical, offering pros and cons for all the chassis and with four very decent lanes. The racing was going to be fun.

This year has seen a Mega-G+ take-over of the F1 grid and there were no less than twenty-one examples on show tonight, against six Mega-Gs and two Classic Cup cars - Duncan's Tyco and Gareth's Life Like M.

Hayley and Daniel took charge of race control and with superb team work and iron discipline we got through the eight groups of heats pretty quick. Half way came just after 8 o'clock and saw Andy in pole, just ahead of Tony, Mike and Simon - the top four separated by three laps. Aiden was in fifth and top junior and Tom in sixth and top Aussie. Duncan led Gareth in Classic Cup by three laps.

The racing in the second round of heats was really exciting and gave us a glimpse of what might be in store in the finals. Plenty of racers upped their games, although a few did fall away. In part, that depended on whether you got on okay in yellow lane - slightly tricky in places, but the shortest way round.

Mike D put in a couple of superb heats in red and white and it was enough for pole position, despite Andy setting the best score in yellow. Tony was third, Aiden fourth and Rick rising up to an excellent fifth. Tom was one of those who fell down the standings and his dad beat him to top Aussie qualifying honours. Near the back, Duncan comfortably beat Gareth in the Classic Cup stakes.


The J final was a showdown between Aaron and Gareth. It was the big Life Like that held the early lead, although plenty of crashes for both meant plenty of lead changes and the occasional moment of complete silence... Through all the drama, Aaron managed to build up nearly a lap lead and then blew most of it with a big off. That gave Gareth a chance to catch up, but he then crashed with just a few seconds left and that was that. Nonetheless, it was a nice relaxed return to the Barn for the WHO veteran - last place, but enough to grab runner-up spot in the 2017 Classic Cup championship. Good job.

Aaron moved up to white in the I final, alongside his dad, Deborah and Ned. Ned was the only racer in with a chance to challenge Mike D for the F1 championship, so he was unhappy to be eight finals away from the top with a very glitchy Mega-G. Deborah was also dissatisfied with her evening so far - on recent form she should have been near the front too. They both had a point to prove and ground to make up. With Ned stuck on the line, Deborah took off into the lead. A crash for Deborah dropped her right back and gave Ned a lead that he relentlessly increased. Deborah worked herself back to second and then dropped back again, just pipping Jamie and Aaron at the end - those three covered by half a lap and Ned four laps up the road.

The H final was much closer. From the start it was Ned and Duncan in a right old battle. A spin for the Tyco turned to disaster when Duncan was re-slotted back-to-front and he dropped to the rear, behind Hayley and Steve. Ned led Hayley by a lap at half way. That gap stayed pretty static as Steve moved up into second. As the race ended, Ned won by just over a lap with Steve and Hayley separated by half a lap. Duncan just couldn't push enough in yellow to catch up and lost more ground with a few offs. At least he had the satisfaction of a clean-sweep in the Classic Cup this season.

Ned stayed in white lane for a youthful G final. Jerome had been top qualifier with his quick Mega-G+ and he looked the man to beat. Ned had another iffy start, losing nearly a lap stuck on the line. Once he got going, he was off like a rocket after Jerome, working his way past Ash and Oliver within 30 seconds and neck-and-neck with Jerome by halfway. It didn't take Ned long to get his nose in front, but then a couple of crashes in quick succession plus a return of mechanical gremlins dropped him right back. Jerome took advantage and sped to the line, a lap and a half ahead of Ash in yellow and Oliver in red. That was an unusually early end of a WHO evening for Ned, although it was enough to retain his WHO F1 junior and club junior titles, even if Aiden was to win tonight's race.

Jerome stepped up to the F final, where he'd face John, Ryan and Matthew in an all-Mega-G+ race. The order settled down pretty quickly with Ryan in red and Matthew in blue battling for the win. John and Jerome were doing all they could to hang on. Matthew made it hard for himself with an awkward off in the closing stages, but held his nerve to win by just over a lap. Jerome beat John for third.

Neil was a lone Mega-G in the E final, alongside Peter, Matthew and Keith. The opening stages saw all four cars lapping at very close quarters, stretching out just a little by half way when the order was Keith, Matthew, Neil and Peter. Neil slipped past Matthew with thirty seconds to go, but couldn't close the gap on Keith who had pulled out a lap lead. A late crash dropped Matthew to fourth, less than a lap behind Neil in second.

If the racing in the E final was close, then the D final was even closer in the early stages. Four cars running in formation dropped to three when Tom crashed in the esses and lost nearly a lap. At halfway, Keith, Mark and Mike were covered by less than four seconds. As the clock ticked down, Mark was chipping away at Keith's slender lead and we were heading for an epic finale. With less than twenty seconds left, Mark binned it and Keith was let off the hook to roll in less than half a lap ahead. Mike beat Tom to third.

Keith stepped up again to face Daniel, Terry and Jonah in the C final. The close racing didn't ease up, with the field covered by a couple of seconds at half distance - Terry and Keith separated by 0.36 of a second up front and Jonah just a second behind. This time is was Keith who blinked first and Jonah moved past, but could not close the gap on Terry. They would finish four seconds apart, with Terry taking an excellent win. More woe for Keith saw him drop behind Daniel at the end, yet still just a lap and a bit behind the winner.

Aiden was the lone junior in the B final. Guaranteed the junior medal, he was ready to battle for another appearance in the top final. Both Aiden and Rick had looked extremely good in qualifying and it was no surprise they left Simon and Terry in the their wheel tracks from the start. Neck and neck in the early stages, Rick had opened out a gap of 0.3 seconds at half way and doubled his lead to 0.75 seconds with thirty seconds to go. Those were tiny margins and there was no room for error. Try all he could, Aiden couldn't get back on terms or pressure Rick into a mistake. It was another masterclass of precision driving from Rick and he finished 1.32 seconds or 0.20 of a lap ahead at the chequered flag. Simon was two laps back and a lap ahead of Terry.

That left us with the A final -  the last HO race of 2017 at the Barn. After a decent qualifying session, Andy managed to throw it all away at the first corner and then crash again on lap two. That left Mike ahead of Tony and Rick. Rick was next to let the adrenaline get the better of him and an off dropped him back to third. Tony was soon to follow and that all looked good for an easy run to Victory Lane for Mike. However, the rest of the race was anything but easy. Despite being more than a lap down, Rick was back in the groove and lapping faster than Mike. Rick moved up and unlapped himself, but with time running out he needed to force a mistake from Mike. The tension was pretty high, but Mike kept his nerve and took a fourth straight F1 win of the season. It had been a great drive from Rick in yellow, certainly the driver of the evening. Only a lap back, Tony rolled in third, half a lap ahead of Andy.

Huge congratulations to Mike on that fourth F1 win and for retaining his Formula One and Club championships. In the hallowed WHO Hall of Fame, that means Mike just slips in front of John for the first time - twelve championships to John's eleven. Massive congratulations also go to Aiden on his first HO club night junior medal. Terry rounded off a dominant rookie of the year season with a B final appearance and Mark ended up beating Tom in the battle of the Aussies.

A big thank you to everyone who came along to see out the end of our eighth HO season at the Barn. Special thanks go to Hayley and Daniel who did such a brilliant job on race control - it's easy to forget they only took over from Stephen in October... Big thanks also to all those who arrived early to help set up and stayed late to pack away - it's been a great team effort this year. There's still the Digital Saturday on 16 December to finish off the year, but our HO racing now takes a break until Wednesday 10 January 2018.

- Andy P



Race Results

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