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WHO Mod - 10 January 2018

Race Report

We kicked-off the new year as we finished 2017, with another great night and another big turn-out. Twenty-eight racers joined us for the opening round of our ninth season at the Barn. That equalled our best-ever January attendance, back in 2011. We welcomed Ollie and William for their first tastes of WHO action and it was great to see Bob back at the Barn for the first time in eighteen months. It would also be the first time Gareth had started a WHO season since 2014...

Simon designed another fabulously fast and flowing 100+ foot track. There were lots of parallel lines and brilliant twisty bits, but we were left scratching our heads over how to fit the power system into the layout. We decided on using the ex-CHORC AFX double chicane near the start of a straight, which did spoil the flow somewhat. We suspected it would cause some mayhem - and we weren't wrong! The general consensus was that the chicane was an enjoyable challenge, once you remembered it was there.

Typically, for the first race of the year, there were quite a few new cars and newly-tweaked old cars on the grid. The Viper chassis has dominated the WHO Mod grid, winning all the 2017 races, so it was no surprise that Gareth had treated himself to one for his return to WHO Mod action. Mike D's BSRT G3 had a tune-up after a winless 2017, with Ned, Ollie and William test driving some new and tweaked Dadson Vipers and Super-Gs. Aiden's G3 had some serious upgrades to hopefully take him into the thick of the junior medal action. There were fifteen Vipers in total, plus two G3s and three modified Super-Gs. The remaining eight racers were running in WHO Tuners - six with the Mega-G+, one Super-G+ and one Life Like T.

Hayley and Daniel worked their magic on race control to get us through the first half of the heats right on schedule. After everyone had completed two runs, it was Andy Player at the top, two laps ahead of Deborah, who was half a lap ahead of Gareth - they looked the pick of the bunch and were three laps clear of John, Corey, Ned and Aiden. Mike D was back in tenth. Everyone was getting caught out in the chicane, even the leading trio. Any loss of concentration through that devilish detour proved costly. On the positive side, it was providing an excellent post-Christmas work-out for whoever was marshalling that section of the track...

Working swiftly through the second round of heats, Gareth went first and improved his scores, finishing with 18.40 on white. That put pressure on Andy, but with four scores over 18 laps, he'd done more than enough - finishing two and a half laps ahead of Gareth. Deborah was up next and couldn't quite match her first round scores, which dropped her just behind Gareth. Could anyone challenge those top three?

Most racers improved, but only a little and the changes in position were mostly down to dropped scores. John just pipped Corey to fourth, with Mike D recovering to sixth but nine laps off pole. Ned and Aiden followed close behind, with Ollie qualifying as top rookie in eleventh and Rick easily top Tuners in fourteenth - his nearest rival was Simon back in twenty-first.


After all the trouble at the chicane, the I final got off to a clean start with all four cars negotiating it perfectly on the first lap. It was an all-Mega-G+ WHO Tuners race with Ash, Steve and Oliver racing club cars and Peter with his own Nascar. We're used to the Mega-G+ cars giving us a close race and this was no exception - at half way the field was covered by a lap, Ash leading the way in red. Ash knows how to win a final and he'd extended his lead over Peter to a lap by the end. Steve beat Oliver to third.

The H final reverted to type, the chicane claiming only Mike, but setting up a chaotic opening thirty seconds. Bob's Life Like took the early lead ahead of Ryan, Mike and Ash. By half distance, Ryan had moved into the lead, just a second ahead of Bob. That stretched to just over two seconds, but then Bob started to reel in Ryan. With seconds to go, Bob's green Life Like passed Ryan's Mega-G+. One last time, the two approached the chicane, Ryan's car flipped over and slid up the track just as the power was cut. The car ended up, on its roof, a few inches ahead of Bob, handing the youngster an unlikely last-gasp win. A stroke of genius or a huge slice of luck for our 2017 AFX champion? Only Ryan knows... Mike beat Ash for third.

William and Terry made it through the chicane carnage at the start of the G final. It was Ryan and Simon that got caught out. William had his moments at the chicane on subsequent laps and it was Terry who looked comfortable out front. Just before half distance, an innocuous off saw the rear axle dislodge and Terry drop down the order, William and Simon cruising through as roadside repairs were completed on Terry's stricken car. William brought home an excellent win, with Terry breathing down Simon's neck at the end. Ryan came home fourth.

The F final was a steady and reasonably uneventful race. Daniel gently spun rather than crashed at the chicane on the opening lap and Hayley led William in the early stages. Matthew had moved up to second by half distance, with Daniel still in fourth. Daniel seemed to change gear for the second part of the race, moving past William into third and then overtaking Matthew for second place with around twenty seconds to go. But Hayley was long gone and took a comfortable win with her stylish purple Viper.

Jerome, Andy, Hayley and Rick served us up a cracking E final. A perfectly clean start saw all four cars lapping within inches of each other for the first thirty seconds, Rick's Tuners Mega-G+ leading the way. It was Rick who was the first to blink - caught out at the chicane - followed a few laps later by Andy, at exactly the same place. Jerome led Hayley by less than a second at half way. The pressure on Jerome was huge and a crash dropped him back to third, with Hayley taking the lead and Andy moving up to second. All four were covered by less than a lap. As the clock ticked down, Richard moved up to third and started to close in on Andy, but time was not on his side. At the chequered flag, Hayley was just a few feet ahead of Andy, who was just a few feet ahead of Rick - the whole field covered by just a smidgeon over half a lap.

Hayley stepped up again and was the only non-orange car in the D final. There was plenty of adrenaline evident on the start line and, unsurprisingly, two cars failed to negotiate the chicane - Neil and Keith the victims. Keith jumped lanes and did at least a lap in someone else's lane, something that would be important later... The race settled down at quite a pace, Ollie leading Neil, followed by Hayley and Keith, everyone pushing as hard as they could. The battle between Ollie and Neil was superb throughout, the gap never more than a couple of seconds. With ten seconds to go, Neil moved into the lead, but Ollie immediately fought back, re-took Neil and then binned it on the final pass through the chicane. Despair for Ollie and joy for Neil... until Keith's missed lap was added back in and that made Keith the winner, ahead of Neil, Ollie and Hayley - all four covered by a lap and a half.

Keith moved up to join Tony, Aiden and Ned in the C final. A clean start saw Aiden move his updated G3 into the early lead. An off in the chicane allowed Ned to move into the lead, but then Ned returned the favour and Aiden was out front again. The two youngsters were completely outclassing Keith and Tony, both of them WHO Mod race winners. In the end, it was another error from Aiden that let Ned take control of the final. It was the first time Aiden had raced such a fast car, so he will undoubtedly come back stronger next time...

Ned stepped up to battle Corey for the junior medal in the B final. Alongside our top two juniors were the top two racers in the WHO Hall of Fame, Mike D and John. That was quite a line-up. Ned was the first lap chicane victim, leaving Mike D just ahead of John and Corey in the early stages. Mike had found his tweaked G3 a bit of a handful all evening and two crashes in quick succession dropped him behind John and then behind Corey. It got worse as more crashes allowed Ned to cruise past into third. Ned had his eyes on Corey and the junior medal, but he was already too far back. Corey was driving well, not on the same pace as John or Ned, but he defended his second place and junior medal perfectly. Up front, John just banged in the laps and became only the fourth driver of the night to score eighteen laps or more.

Spreadsheet hassles before the start of the finals had delayed proceedings by about ten minutes, so it was a later than usual finish. Nonetheless, plenty had stayed to watch the A final - and it was good one. The four fastest cars of the night rocketed off the line. Gareth was first into turn one, but Andy was first through the chicane. At the end of a clean opening lap, Andy led Deborah, John and Gareth - the four Vipers separated by about five feet. A crash for Deborah dropped her down to fourth, a lap back from Andy coming up to half distance. Gareth and John were somewhere in between. Deborah quickly un-lapped herself and started putting in some of the quickest lap times of the race. Andy knew he would be under immense pressure for the final sixty seconds.

At the halfway point, Deborah was up to second place and taking tenths of a second out of Andy almost every lap. With the lead shrinking to not much more than half a lap, Deborah had another off, letting Andy off the hook and Gareth up into second place. Andy could relax a little and brought home his first WHO Mod win since September 2010, scoring a massive 20.15 laps in the process. Gareth held on to second, finishing half a lap ahead of a disappointed Deborah, who certainly showed she had race-winning pace. John was a further half lap back, with a score than was not bettered by anyone outside the top four.

Congratulations to our medal winners, Andy and Corey. Deborah set fastest lap and so is inducted into the WHO Hall of Fame. Ollie finished top rookie and Rick dominated WHO Tuners.

A big thanks to everyone who came along to start the season in such great fashion. Special thanks goes to Daniel and Hayley for the exceptional work on race control and to all those who came early to set up and stayed later than usual to pack away. It was a long, but excellent evening.

Next up at the Barn is a digital Wednesday on 24 January. Then it's our first Nascar race of the year on Wednesday 7 February - which will also be the club's eighth birthday and our 2017 prize giving.

- Andy P



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