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Formula One - 1 March 2017

Race Report

Just seven days after a breathless opening event of our AFX Endurance Championship, we were back at the Barn for the first round of the WHO F1 season. With twenty-two racers on the grid, it wasn't such a full-house, but would still be a busy night.

WHO F1 supremo Mike McCann had chosen a real-life kart track as the inspiration for the layout - and it was both huge and challenging. A couple of medium-sized straights, a long sequence of twists and turns - plus a final fly-over section - made up the lap. However, the biggest challenge seemed the abrupt chicane at the end of the longest straight. That would need some attention.

The new Mega-G+ Formula cars have been selling well from the club shop, so there were plenty new cars on the grid. Stephen purchased his two-pack just seconds before he featured in the first heat of the night. Borrowing a SuperTires-shod rear axle, the new car debuted with a second place and then a commanding win.

Mike's track was providing some superb racing, the heats often playing out like finals. Drivers who'd normally focus on racing the clock, were getting drawn into intense on-track battles. None raced closer than Andy and Simon, the latter having swapped last year's Classic Cup winning Tyco for a Mega-G+.

At the half way point, we had a surprise pole-sitter. Deborah had been absolutely on fire for her first two heats in white and yellow. Deborah sat almost a lap ahead of Simon, who was a tenth of a lap ahead of Tony. Stephen was a further third of a lap back and Mike D back in fifth - those top five covered by less than a lap and a half. Ned was top junior, back in ninth - Ned and his dad being the only Mega-Gs in the top half of a field dominated by the new Mega-G+ cars.

As racers became more familiar with the track, the scores increased. However, the gaps did not. Each heat gave at least one racer the opportunity to go top. First it was Stephen, who only just failed to capitalise on his great start. In the following group, Simon pipped Andy by a twentieth of a lap. Ned then absolutely blitzed red and the unfavoured blue to go top, but that only lasted until the next group when his dad recovered to take provisioal pole position.

It was all down to Deborah. An average run in blue left her languishing somewhere down near the C final. But Deborah's confidence and focus came rushing back for a big score on red, putting her just behind Mike and Ned and giving her a first ever A final qualification. Just over a lap covered those top three.

A tenth of a lap behind Deborah was Simon, with Andy a twentieth back. The final automatic place in the B final went to Stephen. All the top five drivers beat fifty laps for their best three heats, Mike with 52.60 and Stephen with 50.40 laps. It was one of the best two hours of qualifying heats I can remember at the Barn. Would the finals be any good in comparison?


The G final was a mix of three Mega-Gs and Andy Phillips' Super-G+. Neil led the first lap in yellow lane and then went on to win quite comfortably, despite a late off. Behind Neil, a great scrap developed between Aaron and Andy, the two swapping places and running very close. As the seconds ticked down, Aaron led through the line on the final lap, but Andy overtook through the twisty section, finishing a mere car-length ahead. Back in fourth was Corey, who saw the funny side of a nightmare evening. At least it's WHO Mod next month...

Neil had a bad start in the F final and it was Alex who led away with his new Mega-G+. Terry then took the lead in the red club car and held a slender margin over the pursuing pack, Neil moving into second place at the halfway point. That turned into quite a battle - Neil slipping through into the lead, but failing to shake off Terry. The gap was just eighteen inches at the chequered flag. Alex was a lap back in third.

Have won in yellow and white, Neil was handed blue lane in the E final. A crash at the chicane on the first lap didn't help Neil's chances of a third straight final win, but he held on to second in the early stages - Ash leading the way in the white club car. Ash was driving perfectly, but the gap was only a couple of seconds over a hard-charging John going into the final stages. On the very last lap, Neil came unstuck again in the chicane and took out the race leader, John swept past, took the win and was most apologetic about it. That's racing. Duncan was third - top (and only) Classic Cup runner in his Tyco.

It was Keith who stormed away at the start of the all-Mega-G+ D final - John, Aiden and Rick hanging on as best they could. Keith was on a mission after a disappointing set of heats and no-one came close. John had to drive hard to hold off Aiden, especially in the closing stages - both of them enjoying their new Mega-G+ cars. Rick had a torrid time in that horrible chicane.

There was another dominant display in red lane up in the C final. Mike had qualified his new Mega-G+ in sixth, just behind Stephen, and he drove beautifully to ease into the B final. Behind him, Keith fell away from a good start, leaving Tony and Hayley to take the fight to the leader. Neither came close and a good recovery from Keith meant he pipped Hayley to third right at the end.

If everyone drove as well as they had in the heats, the B final was going to be a cracker. However, adrenaline took over and a scrappy opening few laps let Mike and Andy escape. Then, when Mike crashed out of white lane at the chicane, Andy was on his own in red lane. Simon fought back and was the closest pursuer, but nearly a lap back. A late drama for Andy closed the gap only very slightly, with Stephen in third and Mike fourth.

The A final proved to be tense and exciting, especially after a restart. Mike got away from pole position, with Ned and Andy swapping places - mostly when Ned crashed. Deborah was never far behind. Mike was having to drive hard to pull out a decent lead. He eventually lapped Andy, only to crash twice and fall back, putting himself under more pressure than was entirely necessary. As the chequered flag fell, Mike took the win, Andy was second and on the same lap, Ned just half a lap back and Deborah less than a third of a lap behind Ned. A close one, with absolutely no room for error.

Huge congratulations to Mike D on another impressive win from pole-position, an evening he found particularly tough, but enjoyable. There's still life in that old Mega-G yet. Ned was top junior and also set the fastest lap. Duncan took the Classic Cup points and Terry the Rookie points.

Big thanks to Mike McCann on a great track choice and for running race control so well. Thanks also to everyone who came along and made it another excellent evening at the Barn, especially to those wonderful people who came early to set up and stayed late to pack away at the end.

- Andy P



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