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WHO/DIGITAL Scalextric Sport Digital Racing in Worthing

Our first ever WHO/digital SSDC Saturday was a cracker. Designed to be a low-key try-out of our new GT class and of spending the whole day at the Barn, we had a very manageable fourteen racers on the grid.

Henry joined us for the morning session and it was great to see Keith in the afternoon, the day before his big move to the south coast.

Starting set-up at 8.30am was only mildly uncivilised for a Bank Holiday weekend and we had the track up and running in record time. And what a track it was - absolutely huge with sweeping corners and a couple of tricky little complexes. It proved perfect for the magnet GT cars and an enjoyable challenge for the non-mag Nascars.

GT practice started a little before 11am and we began qualifying at 11.40. Groups of three drivers would have 60 seconds to post a quick lap that would determine which final they would start in - two step-up places being available in each.

Unfortunately a short circuit caused a lengthy interruption to the session, with the track taken apart and the Barn's vacuum cleaner deployed. In the end Paul suggested a reset on the powerbase... It's always the simplest solution that gets overlooked.

Back to qualifying, and the top four ended up as Mike D, Paul, Andy and Simon. The other would need to battle it out in the finals to get to the feature race.

The C final was a full grid of six racers. The twenty lap race saw John and Tyler battle for the lead, but both wary of missing out on the step up. John had his first re-fuelling nightmare of the day, but lucked-out when all of his rivals got stuck behind his ailing car. He made it to the pits without losing any ground.

Tony mounted a late challenge with his hastily repaired Audi R8, but fell just short of moving up to the B. Jonah just beat Daniel to fourth and Henry was left very disappointed with a breakdown after just two laps.

The B final saw an exciting four-way battle for the win and for the two step-ups. To begin with it was the two guys with 20 laps under their belts who made all the running. John and Tyler seemed to heading for the feature race with no problems. Then Stephen joined the battle, starting to get the most out of his Gallardo. Mike was not far behind, but his Jag got mixed up other people's drama, denting his late challenge.

With the twenty-five laps running down, it looked like John and one of Tyler or Stephen would grab the step-ups. Then John had his second re-fuelling drama of the day which would cost him a place in the feature race. Taking on too much fuel with just a couple of laps to go, he let both of his pursuers through, Stephen taking the B final win.

The feature race was to be 50 laps. That made it less of a sprint and much more tactical. Mike's red Ferrari F430 and Paul's yellow Porsche 977 shot off the front of the grid with only Andy's black and orange car keeping in contact. Offs by the front to two handed the lead to the Mad Butcher after four laps and that lead was never relinquished.

Andy kept his nose clean and controlled the race. One late drama unfolded when he missed the pit lane and crawled round for half a lap. Perhaps he was feeling the pressure of Stephen and Simon's Gallardos, both of whom drove a very quick second half of the race to take the other podium positions.

Behind the top three, Mike had faded - not helped by two unscheduled detours through the penalty pit lane. Paul was further back, not being able to turn his qualifying speed into a consistently fast run over 50 laps. Tyler struggled with the McLaren, his dad having commandeered the family Gallardo for the Feature.

The morning ended with a surprised, but delighted, duo taking the medals. Stephen's runners-up spot was a superb performance by a junior.

Following a sumptuous lunch by our on-site professional caterers (thank you Simon!), Zoe picked names out of a hat for the afternoon team race. As fate would have it, Andy and Mike D ended up in the same team - so Team Race Control would go for a hat trick of WHO/digital team race victories.

This time they were joined by Jonah and Tyler - last place finishers in both of the previous team races. Challenging Race Control were Crash, Smash & Bash Crew (quite a mouthful to call out during the race - I think that was the aim of the name), Almost There and the Speedy Nitro Wheels.

Running three-racer teams, we ran four 15-minute segments. One driver from the four-man Race Control team would sit out a segment.

The first fifteen minutes saw Jonah and Tyler on fire - they didn't really need their two team mates. They'd pulled out a four lap lead over Crash, Smash etc before Mike took over and lost one of those laps... Stephen, John and Mike McCann looked a strong team to take the challenge to Race Control and they equalled Race Control in the second segment.

Behind the top two, Almost There - Zoe, Tony and Paul - were in a momentous battle with the Speedy Nitro Wheels - Alex, Daniel and Simon. Almost There just shaded it at half way, with a one lap lead. That lead stayed the same after both teams finished neck and neck in segment three.

Race Control pulled out another three laps over the CSB Crew in segment three, giving them six laps to make up in the final fifteen. That would be a big ask, but not impossible...

It was a cagey last 15 minutes for the top two teams, with penalties, offs and fuelling errors. In the end, Race Control edged out another lap, winning the race by seven. However, in front of them on the track, Almost There and Speedy Nitro Wheels had a superb scrap for third place. Both posting huge scores, SNW won the segment by two laps over Almost There, giving them third by just one lap - a great battle!

The usual pics of the teams, presentation of medals and prizes (thank you Slot Car Mag) ended the formal racing for the day - but there was still some time for a couple of no-holds-barred 25 lap races which were a lot of fun and - coming at the end of a day of very careful non-contact racing - were not as chaotic as one might have feared.

Well done to the winners and to all the competitors who made it such an excellent day. Much fun was had and much was learned for future events. Many thanks to everyone who helped set up, pack away and contributed to the day in whatever way.

Keep an eye out for more WHO/digital dates.

- Andy P

SSDC Saturday - 24 May 2014

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Race results are below, click to enlarge.

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