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WHO Mod - 4 October 2017

Race Report

When we get to October, it's crunch time - every HO night until the end of the year is a championship decider. The first titles this year are for WHO Mod and WHO Tuners. Keith was leading Mod, just twenty points ahead of John and seventy ahead of Corey, who was also odds-on for his third junior Mod trophy. In WHO Tuners, Rick was nine points ahead of Duncan and fourteen ahead of Simon.

As the tension mounted, we had twenty racers join us on the grid, including Peter and Jerome making their WHO debuts. It was also our first race without Stephen on race control, so all eyes were on his successors, Daniel and Hayley, as they set the heats in motion.

Simon had designed us another wonderful Mod track, with a dizzying whirl of loops and bridges leading on to a fast, flowing section that looked like a leg and foot. It was all pedal-to-the-metal and heart-in-mouth stuff for the fast Mod cars and rather more tippy-toed for the hard-bodied Tuners.

And the quick cars - all of them Vipers - were very quick. Of the championship contenders, Keith stamped his authority on the first pair of heats, with John pulling out all the stops in his second pair to put Keith under enormous pressure. Following immediately in the next group, Keith put in two solid scores to hold on to his pole position by less than a third of a lap. Keith has four poles in four WHO Mod races this year.

Corey had struggled in his heats and was ten laps adrift, back in fifth place. Ahead of him were Andy Player and Tony, who were not far off the pace of the top two and had battled all night for that last automatic spot in the A final. Andy won that scrap and left Tony with the task of winning the B final to still be in with a chance of the race win.

Further back, Hayley had qualified an excellent sixth, giving her new Mod car a first run, ready for next year. Debutant Peter had the eleventh best score - a magnificent achievement as he was second in Tuners, just a lap and a half behind Simon. Rick was close enough to Duncan to be quietly confident about the Tuners championship.


The G final was a head-to-head between Mike and Andy Phillips. The two of them were both up for it and it turned out to be a right royal crash-fest. In the end, it was Mike who won by two laps.

Mike stepped up into yellow lane in the F final. His Viper had not been running well in the heats and after a strip down, re-build and a new taller pair of tyres, it was beginning to behave itself. Mike was off the line like a rocket and lead from start to finish, despite Matthew's best efforts and a great drive with the blue Mega-G+ club car. The gap was three-quarters of a lap. Behind them, Terry's hopped-up Super-G had failed to get off the line at the first time of asking. Once it got going, he hunted down and passed Jerome, ending up not far behind Matthew.

Mike stayed in yellow for the E final and the result was the same. This time he had Rick chasing him in blue lane. Rick's rapid Mega-G+ Nascar kept Mike in sight, but the Viper was getting quicker and Mike held on to win by half a lap. Ash just pipped Daniel for third.

In the D final, Mike would be up against the fastest three Tuners cars - Simon and Duncan with their Super-Gs and Peter with the blue Mega-G+ club car. This time, Mike didn't have everything his own way, Simon taking the lead before Mike slipped past. At half way the gap was nine hundredths of a second. With forty seconds to go, Simon binned it big time, dropping back to last place. Then, almost immediately, Mike's car crashed to the floor. Thanks to some great marshalling, the Viper was soon running again, but the whole race was up in the air...

For a change (maybe a permanent one), the club cars were kitted out with the Peugeot Le Mans Prototype bodies, giving them a slightly lower centre of gravity. Peter drove the car superbly, taking advantage of the late-race chaos and beating both the Super-Gs. That meant he had won WHO Tuners on debut - quite an achievement. However, he couldn't quite beat Mike's Viper. Despite his big off, Mike set another best score and fastest lap of his meteoric rise and would take a fourth step-up of the night.

The C final was Mod-only territory. Deborah and Mike had Vipers, Neil his Super-G and Aiden a BSRT G3 with Super-G components. Neil was first out of the blocks and off into the lead, before getting tangled up with Aiden's crashed car. That let Deborah through and, despite a determined charge by Neil, that's how it finished - the gap just half a lap. Deborah was delighted and Aiden had plenty of explaining and apologising to do. This was a final too far for Mike, but he'd certainly given his Viper a great shakedown for next season.

Deborah joined Hayley, Corey and Tony in the B final, all four of them racing Vipers. Hayley crashed heavily on the first lap and lost loads of time while a popped axle was re-fitted. Corey had got away, just ahead of Tony. It was a humdinger of a duel, with Tony pushing as hard as he could to take back a tenth of a second here and a few hundredths there. The pressure on Corey was intense. Neil stood behind him, feeding him the important information and Corey held firm, running error-free to beat Tony by three tenths of a second. Behind those two, Deborah beat Hayley to third place.

With Corey stepping up to the A final, we still had three title contenders. John needed to win or finish two places ahead of Keith to be crowned champ. Corey needed just one result - a win, Andy second, John third and Keith fourth. It was much less clear cut for Keith. He couldn't let John win, but he could finish one place behind John if someone else won (unless it was Corey with John and Keith finishing third and fourth, of course). If John finished second and Keith third, their season results would be identical, but Keith would win by having all four pole positions.

Keith had a lot to think about. All the others could do was to focus on the race win. When the light went green, it was Andy who rocketed away into the lead in yellow lane. John was close behind, wary about pushing too hard and blowing his championship chances. Andy lead the first five laps at a blistering pace, but then took off over the bridge, hit the barriers hard and dislodged the car's body. Game over for Andy and a relieved John inherited the lead. Where was Keith? That was the big question as our pole man was nowhere in sight. A stodgy opening few laps had left him half a lap back from John and by the time he got properly up to speed, the race leader had sight of him and had a better chance to control the race.

With Andy still repairing his car and Corey dropping back, John and Keith were lapping fast, but not taking too many risks. Keith hoped John would make an error, but could not pressure him into one. It was an incredibly tense run down to the finish, with John closing in on Keith and lapping him near the end. Keith was first with the congratulations - ever the gentleman, despite what must have been incredible disappointment that he'd missed out on his first WHO HO championship by a mere ten points.

It was delight for John on his eleventh WHO championship, putting him two clear of Mike D at the top of the all-time list. Joining John in the WHO Hall of Fame were Corey, for his third junior Mod title in a row and Rick, who wins his first ever WHO trophy for WHO Tuners.

Thank you to all those who came along and made it such an exciting WHO Mod night. Hayley and Daniel did a grand job on race control. I'm sure Stephen could suggest some areas to work on, but it was an impressive debut for the new race control dream team. A very big thank you to all those who came along early to set up and stayed late to pack away. We couldn't do it without you.

Next up at the Barn is the final AFX Endurance Championship team race of 2017 on Wednesday 25 October.

-Andy P



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