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WHO/DIGITAL Scalextric Sport Digital Racing in Worthing

It was a hot day on the south coast for our June digital Saturday. Despite the baking heat outside, we had a cool breeze blowing through the Barn and we'd built a fabulous Dadson track to enjoy a leisurely day of digital racing.

During the day - from 8.30am to 8pm - fourteen people raced, plus a few more joining us in non-racing roles. It was a relaxed set-up with a experienced crew of Duncan, Barbs, Simon, Mike and Andy joined by Terry, who quickly learned the ropes. We were very nearly up and running when Jean, Ash, Phil, Finley and Jonathon joined us at 10.30-ish.

Nascar team race

The main aim of the day - apart from having a lot of fun - was to learn the features of the RCS64 race management system. After a short practice session, we jumped straight into a Nascar team race - with five pairs. As usual, we'd run four segments in the race, swapping cars each time.

For the first ten minutes we got use to driving the cars with the basic RCS64 software and the Truspeed wireless controllers. Mike and Jean, colleagues at the local woodwind factory (hence the team name "Not The Pink Oboe") got off to a monster start, clocking up 42 laps. The other four teams were bunched together, five laps back.

We introduced fuel burn and pit stops in the second ten minutes, with at least three pit stops required. After a short demonstration and practice session, all the racers seemed to pick up the interface and button-pushing sequence pretty quick. Having three monitors available certainly helped, once we remembered we could move around the track with the wireless throttles. It was Simon and Jonathon - the "Bond Babes" - who won the segment, scoring 38 laps. They were three laps up on the following group, with Phil and Finley - team "PJ Mask" - a further three laps back.

The lead was just a lap going into the penultimate segment. Fuel burn was removed and replaced by tyres - a choice of soft or hard compounds at the start and at subsequent pit stops to replace worn rubber. Of course, soft tyres wear quicker than hard, but offer more precise handling when new. On an average pace, we expected the hard compound to last 14 laps and the softs about eight. After another short practice session, Mike and Jean ran a perfect race - scoring a huge 40 laps on three pit stops, three laps ahead of Terry and Andy (aka "Andy Capped") who did the ten minutes on two tyre changes. The Bond Babes and "The Digies" (Ash and Duncan) were a further lap behind, with Phil and Finlay struggling with this one.

It looked like Mike and Jean had the race wrapped up, even before we started the final ten minutes where racers had to think about both fuel burn and tyre wear. It was a lot of fun and the whole RCS64 package seemed to click, all the teams running lap scores pretty much the same as in the first feature-free segment. Mike and Jean took the segment and race win with 39 laps and 156 overall - Jean's first WHO medal. Second in the segment were the Bond Babes - Simon and Jonathon also finished runners-up overall, ten laps back. Finishing equal on laps in the segment and in the race were Andy Capped and The Digies. Terry and Andy were a quarter of a lap ahead on the road, so took third place. Back in fourth were Phil and Finley - both had an excellent morning, but young Finlay was beginning to wilt by the end. Nonetheless, the gap back to them was less than the gap between the top two. A great race and an excellent learning process.

GT Rotation

After Simon and sous-chef Barbs served us up a lunch of Simon's legendary WHO dogs, we waved goodbye to Phil and Finley and said hello to Dave. That gave us nine racers for the GT rotation race. Mike quickly got Dave up to speed with RCS64 and then he was thrown in the deep end, starting in the first heat. Andy was enjoying the user-friendliness of RCS64 and set up the same 'Euro' rotation we're used to, each heat being five minutes and all the cars set up with both fuel burn and tyre wear that would require at least one pit stop per heat.

The day was a learning experience for us all and we soon learned that when you're out of fuel or your tyre condition is down to 0%, your car ceases to score laps in RCS64. When you've got to pit, you've got to pit. During the entire race, there were a handful of laps that didn't count. Most of them were early on and Mike was certainly clobbered for a few. Would that cost him?

Ash was the first to complete his six races, using all of the six WHO GT club cars. His score of 111 laps looked under threat by Andy, who was scoring twenty laps and above, until a scrappy final race in the green Aston Martin left him on 122 laps - enough for the lead, but would it be enough for the win? Jonathon was next through, scoring 113 laps, to clinch the junior medal. Then the final six racers faced-off in the final heat.

Jean and Simon had both scored consistently well, Simon's 22 laps was equal best of the race with Andy. However, both of them needed to get 23 laps to tie Andy for the race win. Despite their utmost efforts, neither managed a top score. Jean got 20 and Simon 19, to finish second and third. Mike finished with a 21 lap score to finish fourth, six laps off the lead and ruing those early missed laps. Duncan also finished on 21 laps, his best of the race, but only enough for fifth overall. Jonathon was sixth and Ash seventh. Terry came in eighth, ahead of Dave, both recovering well from difficult starts as they got the hang of the pit stops. Dave's sequence of 11, 15, 14, 17, 18 and 17 showing perfectly that learning process.

Goodwood Revival race

We took a bit of time out, grabbed a cup of tea and set up a Goodwood Revival race to finish the main part of the day. Ned joined us to give ten racers. We decided to run it as an individual race, rather than the usual pairs format. That meant a few racers requiring 'loaners' - Mike's Camaro and Simon's Ferrari P4 featuring in the qualification races. Andy set up ten minute races with fuel burn and tyre wear, plus a brief practice/qualification session to determine the starting grid for the heats.

It was Andy who won the first qualifying heat in his 1969 Camaro, scoring 39.50 laps, despite a stop-go penalty for a jumped start. Simon also jumped the start in his Mercury Cougar, finishing third behind Dave - who was driving Simon's Ferrari. Ash and Duncan finished fourth and fifth and were sweating about qualifying for the six-car feature race.

The second qualifying heat was much faster. Mike finished out of fuel, but won the heat with 41.75 laps and qualified first for the feature race. Second was another Dadson car, Jonathon driving the #88 Camaro to 39.75 laps and second qualifying position. Terry drove Simon's Ferrari to third qualifying position, equalling Andy's score in the first heat, but setting a quicker fastest lap. Jean's fourth place was just enough for the fifth spot in the feature race, but Ned failed to make the cut, leaving Dave in the final qualifying place and Simon, Duncan and Ash missing out.

With spare time on our hands, we ran a five-minute consolation race. Ash dominated the race, but ran out of fuel at the end, handing the win to Ned. Simon beat Duncan for third.

Dave switched to Mike's Mustang for the feature race. Off the line it was Andy and Jonathon who lead the way, but Mike was soon right up there, passing Andy before the first pit stops and pulled out a healthy lead, Jonathon moving up to second and Terry hanging on to the front-runners. Andy switched to a strategy of stretching out the gap between pit stops, making just three in the race, compared to five for Mike and Jonathon and four for Terry.

The different strategies left Jonathon and Andy battling it out after the final pit stops, Andy moving up into second and having to fight more than he'd anticipated. Andy's blue Camaro ran out of fuel and was heading to the pits as the race ended, Jonathon was just a quarter of a lap back and would have taken runner-up spot had the race lasted a few seconds longer...

The win was Mike's - continuing his clean-sweep of the 2017 Goodwood Revival season so far. Terry came in fourth, less than a lap behind Jonathon. Jean was fifth and Dave sixth, both a little disappointed they hadn't performed better in the feature race after out-qualifying some regular Goodwood top-dogs.

Digital Saturday - Extra Time

That was it for "normal time" and we said goodbye to Ash, Dave, Jonathon, Ned, Duncan and Terry. The remaining four racers were joined by John and Alex for a bit of extra time action. First and foremost, John and Alex needed their RCS64 training. Then we wanted to try out some 'wet weather' running and to debut the new DiSCA GT4 class that we hope to introduce into our regular WHO/digital events.

The format we came up with was to run a dual-format race - a 25 minute individual race, followed by a 30 minute pairs race using the results of the first race to determine the pairs (first with sixth, second with fifth, third with fourth). If racing RCS64 for five or ten minutes had been good, running for twenty-five and thirty minutes turned out to be utterly brilliant.

In the individual race, Mike drove his Corvette CR6 hard, with Andy following him closely in a borrowed (from Mike) Aston Martin Vantage. On slightly different strategies, Mike made two extra stops and was able to push hard at the end to finish three laps up - 104 to 101 laps. John drove his Camaro to third (96 laps), followed by Jean's Audi R8 LMS (94 laps), Simon setting 91 laps with his Maserati Trofeo and Alex finishing on 83 laps with his Ford GT.

RCS64 offers a superb weather simulation. We'd run all day on a dry track - it was pretty hot outside - so ended with some rain, a wet track was forecast to dry out as the race went on. Mike teamed up with Alex in the Corvette; Simon moved into the Aston with Andy; Jean and John drove the Audi. Mike, Simon and Jean took wet tyres to start the race.

Strategy in the wet was to drive a little more carefully and to take fuel on the pit stops - the wet tyres wearing much more slowly. More tyre choices certainly make pit stops more tricky and Simon made the first error, accidentally swapping to hard tyres while it was still raining. He was straight back in to change back to wets. Mike lead Jean, ahead of a recovering Simon - each a couple of laps apart.

Tyre strategy came into play as the rain stopped and the track started to dry - albeit very slowly. An experiment by Jean to switch to hard tyres proved way too early - all three drivers then switching to intermediates in the minute before the driver change. At the changeover, Mike had stretched the lead to four laps, with Jean still two ahead of Simon.

Mike coached Alex perfectly after the change - the youngster drove a superb race and got into a perfect rhythm. Behind Alex, John and Andy attempted to reduce the gaps to the cars ahead. There was some ebb and flow, but a consistent rhythm and staying on track was key. On the drying track, pushing too hard and spending too much time in the pits really didn't help. Andy experimented with soft tyres, but couldn't get them to last as long as a tank of fuel.

In the end, Alex's mature drive preserved the full four lap lead Mike had handed over at half way. John brought the Audi in second, just a lap ahead of Andy. All three pairs had made twelve pit stops and the three fast laps were covered by 0.25 of a second. After a long day, the endurance had given us all a second wind and was the perfect end to an awesome day of racing.

At the end of a brilliant day at the Barn, what had we learned? First, that RCS64 works perfectly on the big tracks at the Barn, with various formats and with racers with different levels of experience. Mike's quick, hand-on tutorials worked well, but the only way of truly learning the system is to use it. Other things we learned were that the three screens and the wireless controllers meant racers could get up close at pits stops and the race-update audio generated by RCS64 was extremely clear and helpful once you'd tuned into it.

There's still plenty to tweak and introduce over the next few months, ready for the digital Saturdays in September and December, plus the Wednesday evenings in July and November. We're pretty excited by RCS64 and about the future of WHO/digital. A big thanks to everyone who came along, helped out and made it such an excellent day.

- Andy P

After the event, you’ll be able to click on the logos to watch the video and look at more pictures.
RCS64 Data output sheet: click for loads of data!