Cragg & Hall secure AE double at Kidderminster
Neil Cragg starts his 2wd title defense in style whilst Tommy Hall secures his first 4wd National victory.
After a couple of years off caused by the pandemic, the BRCA 1/10th Offroad Nationals has returned with a new calendar, new organising team and most interestingly a new section Chairman. Martin Owen has taken on the roll which was occupied by Paul Worsley for the last 20 or so years. Paul has been instrumental in building the standards of the British Championship which makes it one of the most competitive domestic championships in the world. Paul is ushering Martin in this year, so will continue to be at events and make the transition as smooth as possible – our thanks to him.
Kidderminster (16/17 April) is the first round of six planned for between April and August of this year. The 2022 series visits Kidderminster, Southport, Stotfold, Boughton, Torch and Robin Hood. The track, as always, has been presented in immaculate fashion by Tony Meredith and his team. The undulating surface looking as formidable as ever for those who have been to Kidderminster before and know how it can bite. Tony Meredith told us that the track was originally built as a grass circuit in 1994. When it was covered with artificial grass several years later, it was rolled with a garden roller and then “nature took over” as all the bumps and creases formed over the following two decades.
The Kidderminster track was first built in 1994
The track is built on what was a bowling green. We used the original surface for a few years, but being sandy soil it soon deteriorated. We then laid turf over half of it and used it as a normal grass track from 1992 to 1994. We then decided to go for a permanent track. I designed the original track in Sept. 1994 on an A3 sheet of paper, starting with two circles of 9 metre diameter. The current track (although smaller in depth front to back) was built over the winter of 1994/95 to be ready for a National first week-end of April 1995. Much of the green astro is original from 1995. All the features are original. The astro is laid on sand which was rolled prior to covering with the astro, but not always to give a smooth surface (it is Off-Road). Most of the surface has not really changed over the years.Paul Worsley
As always at the BRCA Nationals, there is only two classes. 2wd Modified which runs on Saturday and 4wd Modified which runs on Sunday. Each day comprising of 2 x 3-minute practice sessions, 4 heats of qualifying with the best 2 to count and 1 Final or 3 Finals if you made it to the A Main.
The 2wd section of the event kicked off at 8am on Saturday morning and there were some notable absentees from the heat listing. Tom Yardy is sitting out this year’s series to concentrate on the Truck Nationals, Lee Martin was otherwise engaged with the 1/8th Nemo Dirt GP and Kev Lee won’t be joining the series till Round 2 at Southport. To offset some of these losses, there is a very welcome addition to the series – Michal Orlowski from Poland will join the series for all rounds apart from round 2 in Southport when there is clash with an EFRA event. The recently crowned 1/12th European Champion and former 1/10th Offroad European Champion will probably be Schumacher’s best chance, but not only chance at a title challenge in either class.
Misty and damp conditions greeted racers as they arrived at the track. After the early morning practice sessions, it was business as usual in Round 1 of 2wd Qualifying for many of the experienced competitors – Cragg going fastest closely followed by Tommy Hall, Paul Crompton, Danny McGee, Ben Pugh, Luke Holdsworth and Jamie Hall – all within 5 seconds. Orlowski initially taking time to get to grips with the circuit back in 17th. Neil Cragg showing that not racing at National Championship level for two years had not slowed him at all. Tommy Hall building on the pace we saw from him at last years SOOM series.
Round 2 of 2wd qualifying was slightly slower as the mist burnt off and the track fully dried with some areas of the track becoming loose – this was very evident around the banked corner which was tricky at times. Again, it was Neil Cragg setting the pace with his Associated B6.3 making it two from two and as per Round 1 he was closely pursued by his teammate Tommy Hall – both drivers having errors in their runs. Danny McGee put in a solid performance to lead the chasing pack with local hero Ben Pugh going fourth and a solid improvement for Michal Orlowski going fifth.
Qualifying Round 3 was the first time we saw clean runs from the leading drivers. Tommy Hall put in a textbook performance going fastest with Neil Cragg having to settle for second half a second down. Danny McGee was unable to reproduce his earlier performance – absent from the top 10 – but Ben Pugh could. The Schumacher driver going third, closely chased by teammate Michal Orlowski who is making big leaps in performance as he became more used to the track. Ben Smith, Josh Holdsworth and Jamie Hall all only a few seconds behind – proving the excellent pace at the sharp end.
The final round of 2wd qualifying was a critical one. Neil Cragg has two TQ’s to Tommy Hall’s single TQ. Round 4 of qualifying would settle the claim to pole position. The pace was stepped up again by the leading drivers. This time it was Neil Cragg who took the round and topped the overall qualifying table – securing pole position for the A Finals in the process. Michal Orlowski, again improving as the day unfolds, took second in round with a performance which still contained errors – only 1 second or so behind Cragg. Josh Holdsworth put in an immense display with his Schumacher to go third in round which relegated Tommy Hall to fourth – Ben Pugh rounding out the top 5.
Tommy Hall at speed off the straight
2wd Overall qualifying top 10
|1||Neil Cragg||14/ 312.26||0 [0 (0) (2) 0]|
|2||Tommy Hall||14/ 312.79||2 [2 (2) 0 (4)]|
|3||Michal Orlowski||14/ 313.49||6 [(17) (5) 4 2]|
|4||Ben Pugh||14/ 317.44||7 [(5) 4 3 (5)]|
|5||Danny Mcgee||14/ 318.74ec||7 [4 3 (13) (7)]|
|6||Josh Holdsworth||14/ 315.33||9 [(10) 6 (6) 3]|
|7||Paul Crompton||14/ 315.32||11 [3 (17) 8 (15)]|
|8||Ben Smith||14/ 318.82||11 [(8) (10) 5 6]|
|9||Jamie Hall||14/ 318.40||14 [7 7 (7) (9)]|
|10||Luke Holdsworth||14/ 317.52||15 [6 9 (11) (21)]|
All the ingredients were correct for an intense set of 2wd Finals. There was potential for the A Finals to run with very few occasions for the marshals to be activated, but we can’t say the same about the remaining finals as drivers in all of them struggled to not get caught out by the complicated track surface.
At the start of the 2wd A Final Leg 1, Neil Cragg made an initial break as Michal Orlowski made his way past Tommy Hall. Neil appeared to expand the gap over the first three or four laps before Orlowski started to reel him back in. Coming off the tarmac hairpin on the left side of the track, Neil had fought the car alot to keep it in control under power. On lap 6, his luck ran out as the car oversteered on a fast section, hitting a concrete apex, and launching into a viscous barrel roll. The crash required marshalling, which was supplied quickly, but not quickly enough to prevent Orlowski from picking up the lead – Cragg recovering to second and was able to put in consistent laps about 0.5 seconds faster than Orlowski, but the gap was too large and there wasn’t enough time to set up a pass. Leg 1 result: Orlowski, Cragg, Tommy Hall.
Michal Orlowski on his was to the Leg #1 win
2wd A Final Leg 2 started off clean. The first four cars of Cragg, Hall, Orlowski and Pugh circulated without any major incident for several laps. At the race midpoint, Pugh dropped back to the chasing pack as the leading three became isolated. Several bobbles and an oversteer moment from Neil bunched the leading three cars dangerously close. Neil started to settle and break away again, but Hall did not have a response, now under extreme pressure from Orlowski who was looking left and right for a way through. At the 4-minute mark, Orlowski got the break he was looking for when Hall clipped a track marker and barrel rolled off the line, landing on his wheels but losing the position. Neil was far enough ahead at the final buzzer to be unthreatened by the chasing two, however in a desperate move to pass Orlowski, Hall carried too much speed into a cobbled hairpin and became entangled in Orlowski’s wing requiring the marshal. Hall’s challenge was over – result Cragg, Orlowski, Hall. Cragg and Orlowski now with a win a piece.
Neil Cragg settling the score in Leg #2
Unfortunately, Leg 3 did not carry the suspense of Leg 1 & 2. All the cars got away in order and proceeded to circulate well. Neil Cragg started to break away, but it was noticeable that rather than Neil’s speed causing the break, it was instead the reduced speed of Tommy Hall in second who was doing his best to keep Orlowski behind him. Orlowski made several attempts to pass Hall, but ultimately was not close enough to make it stick. It would later emerge that Hall had a drive pin dislocate causing the reduction in speed. Neil checked out and won the final, Orlowski passed Hall in a spring to the line to claim 2nd with Hall rounding out the top three.
Overall 2wd results:
|1||1||Neil Cragg||2 [ 2 1 1 – 14/ 311.23 ]||22.23|
|2||3||Michal Orlowski||3 [ 1 2 2 – 14/ 317.23 ]||22.66|
|3||2||Tommy Hall||6 [ 3 3 3 – 14/ 314.46 ]||22.46|
|4||4||Ben Pugh||8 [ 4 4 4 – 14/ 318.80 ]||22.77|
|5||8||Ben Smith||11 [ 6 7 5 – 14/ 321.97 ]||23.00|
|6||6||Josh Holdsworth||12 [ 8 6 6 – 14/ 320.47 ]||22.89|
|7||7||Paul Crompton||13 [ 10 5 8 – 14/ 320.09 ]||22.86|
|8||5||Danny McGee||14 [ 5 9 9 – 13/ 302.10 ]||23.24|
|9||9||Jamie Hall||15 [ 9 8 7 – 13/ 300.22 ]||23.09|
|10||10||Luke Holdsworth||17 [ 7 10 10 – 13/ 303.01 ]||23.31|
Neil Cragg being present with his 2wd winner’s trophy by section chairman Martin Owen
Other 2wd final winners:
- L Final – Dominic Mawby
- K Final – Liam Robinson
- J Final – William Mount
- I Final – Jamie Buchanan
- H Final – Dave Burton
- G Final – Brett Birch
- F Final – Yasir Mughal
- E Final – James Pritchard
- D Final – Phil Sleigh
- C Final – Richard Barton
- B Final – Tyler Liddle
On the Sunday morning, the competitors arrived in unseasonably sunny, but chilly weather. The forecast for the day is the same as yesterday – dry warm and sunny. Two rounds of 4wd practice started at 8am – each session lasting only three minutes. The organisers arranged for this session to be timed – a change from yesterday. There are many drivers going quickly this morning including Neil Cragg, Ben Pugh, Danny McGee, Michal Orlowski, Tommy Hall and Ben Smith.
In 4wd Qualifying Round 1 some of the drivers reported that the track was not as quick as it was in Practice Session 2 – only time would tell. Multiple European Champion Michal Orlowski had a very pacey run in what was a difficult heat 7 as he was so much quicker than his closest rival. A mixture of traffic and marshals stepping out in front of him cost him dearly – putting in a 13/303.87. As Michal hadn’t had a clear run, it was expected that it wouldn’t be long till he was being relegated down the overall order, but that expectation was very wrong. In heat 8, Paul Crompton showed serious pace and lead the heat by a good margin till he made a few consecutive mistakes, ruining his time. Jamie Hall taking the heat with a decent banker on 13/305.81 – still not enough to displace Orlowski. It was a similar story in Heat 9 – Ben Pugh setting a very fast pace before putting it off – Josh Holdsworth taking the heat with a 13/304.33 – very fast, but even that was still not enough for TQ at this stage. So onto the final heat in the round – heat 10. Neil Cragg set the initial pace with Tommy Hall in tow. Some bobbles and bad bounces allowed Tommy to reign in Neil and briefly lead the heat before the latter opened the taps mid-race – putting in a couple of astonishing fast 22 second laps. Some more bobbles and a champions roll at the end of the straight all set Neil back, but he just managed to keep Tommy behind him. Both drivers going 1st and 2nd in round with 13/302.00 and 13/302.11 respectively – displacing Michal Orlowski to 3rd, Josh Holdsworth 4th and Ben Smith 5th – exciting stuff!
Round 2 of 4wd qualifying has failed to scratch the itch we have for outstanding performances – don’t get me wrong – the pace at the sharp end is unreal, but all of the potentially dominant drivers are making errors and having traffic issues which is distorting the overall points table. But it is only round 2 and there are two round to go – hopefully things will improve. Again this round would be dominated by performances in Heat 7 and Heat 10. Orlowski still having traffic issues but still managing to improve on a 13/303.06 – going fastest.. Tommy Hall not improving but doing enough to go second with a 13/304.08 and this time its Paul Crompton going third on a 13/305.13. Neil Cragg making a significant mistake on his run to only manage 6th in round.
The battle for pole position in Round 3 of qualifying is an interesting one. There are a handful of drivers who are showing massive pace, but they are all on the ragged edge and mistakes are creeping in. In Heat 7, Michal Orlowski was on to put in the fastest time of the day when an error caused by a tyre edge becoming debonded cost him about 3.5 seconds on one lap – he adapted quickly and recovered well to put in a time of 13/305.50 – which is his slowest qualifier yet. Paul Crompton and Jamie Hall in Heat 8 also had a push on – but the sum of the time lost with little errors cost them. Crompton going 4th in round, Hall going 9th. In Heat 10, Neil Cragg and Tommy Hall set into a seriously quick pace – both on the fringe of a predicted 14 laps. Tommy drew up on the rear of Cragg enough to lead the heat on times, even though not on the track – perhaps only 2 metres between them. The two Associated drivers looked like they were getting every last drop from their cars. At the midpoint of the heat, Cragg had just started to pull away from Hall when he grip rolled on a high-speed double apex bend in the middle of the track requiring the participation of a marshal. This let Hall through who was able to get a few seconds away before Cragg was back on his wheels. Over the proceeding two minutes, Cragg made small indents into Halls times on every lap, but it was not enough of a difference to catch and pass his teammate. Hall took the heat and the round after managing to be one of the only top competitors with a clean run and no problems. So, with three different TQ winners from three rounds, one of them will need to Tq round 4 to be secure Pole.
In Heat 7 of Round 4, again Michal Orlowski showed tremendous pace, but unfortunately a barrel roll mid-race would only allow him to clock a 13/304.39.Paul Crompton has shown lots of speed all day but he just hasn’t hooked up a perfect run…. until now in Round 4. Crompton and Jamie Hall had a very high speed run, swapping the lead of the heat on the timing system several times. A fastest lap of 22.83 mated to a string of fast 23 second laps was enough to yield him a time of 13/303.45. This time is only 1 second slower than the fastest time posted by anyone all day – so it will be a tall order to beat it. In the last heat, Tommy Hall and Neil Cragg went to battle again. Both on a furious pace, they tortured their cars around the tight undulating track. 2 minutes in and Neil made a mistake allowing Tommy through. Ben Smith then got involved on the clock and split the two Associated cars. Cragg made several attempts to regain ground on Hall, but was unsuccessful. Cragg recovering to a blistering time of 13/304.72 with Ben Smith just ahead of him with 13/303.70. However, Tommy couldn’t be touched setting a fastest time so far for the meeting of 13/302.07
4wd Overall qualifying top 10
|1||Tommy Hall||13/ 302.03||0 [(2) (2) 0 0]||23.23|
|2||Neil Cragg||13/ 302.00||2 [0 (6) 2 (6)]||23.23|
|3||Michal Orlowski||13/ 303.06||3 [3 0 (3) (5)]||23.31|
|4||Paul Crompton||13/ 303.45||5 [(7) 3 (4) 2]||23.34|
|5||Jamie Hall||13/ 303.57||7 [(6) 4 (9) 3]||23.35|
|6||Ben Smith||13/ 303.70||9 [5 (7) (5) 4]||23.36|
|7||Josh Holdsworth||13/ 304.33||9 [4 5 (13) (9)]||23.41|
|8||Luke Holdsworth||13/ 306.95||15 [9 (50) 6 (15)]||23.61|
|9||Edward Callan||13/ 309.25||15 [(16) (10) 7 8]||23.79|
|10||Phil Sleigh||13/ 309.15||16 [(17) 9 (10) 7]||23.78|
The general consensus around the track before the A Final was that any of the top 3 or maybe 4 could win it as they all had plenty of experience leading A Finals with world class drivers behind them. Tommy Hall scored big at last year’s SOOM Series, 2005 World Champion Neil Cragg needs no explanation, and 1/12th European Champion Michal Orlowski doesn’t either. You get the picture. At the start of the 4wd A Final Leg #1, Tommy led the field through the first lap with everyone tightly bunched. The only change from the starting order was Crompton getting the jump on Orlowski into turn one to pinch third in the running order. Tommy drove in a very controlled and mature fashion, dictating the pace. Neil could only get so close and not close enough to make a move. The cars formed a procession for several laps with the only overtaking being caused by bobbles and errors further back the field. At the mid-point Cragg was starting to increase the pressure on Hall. Coming down the straight a move felt imminent when Cragg started to grip roll into turn one – he caught it, but went wide clipping the concrete on the outside of the corner. As Neil re-joined the racing line he tried to close the door on an advancing Paul Crompton, but Paul was already in the gap and even though he paused to allow Neil room, it was too late and Neil was flipped onto his roof. requiring the marshal. Tommy made a break as Orlowski and Crompton fought for second place. Crompton misjudging a corner on the far left side of the track and ending up on top of an island as Orlowski breezed through. Crompton recovered to third with a hard charging Cragg behind him, another mistake from Crompton later that lap let Cragg through for third. Final result: Hall, Orlowski, Crompton.
Apart from Tommy Hall it seems like none of the competitors were particularly happy with their Leg 1 performances, so we were expecting big things in Leg 2. The second leg started in chaotic fashion. After the first couple of corners, Neil Cragg, in second, touched off a concrete curb forcing him to kill a wheelie resulting in contact with Orlowski who couldn’t hang onto the out of control car and collected Paul Crompton. Somehow, both cars ended up on their wheels and pointing the right direction – Crompton remaining in third, Orlowski rejoining in sixth. Things settled down and Tommy Hall started to put in very pacey laps with a blessed Neil Cragg in tow. Cragg was able to draw up to back of Hall on a couple of occasions but there wasn’t enough speed in reserve to get by him. Finishing order: Hall, Cragg, Crompton. The second leg win secured the 4wd meeting for Tommy Hall. Cragg, Orlowski and Crompton take the battle for second to Leg #3.
Tommy Hall on his way to securing the 4wd meeting in Leg #2
Things calmed down considerably for Leg 3. Tommy Hall from pole lead the field away and the first lap was incident free. At the start of lap two, Neil Cragg made a small error which was enough to let Michal Orlowski though to second. Orlowski would then go on to make and error himself – just glancing a track marking – but held Cragg at bay. The battle for second gave Tommy Hall the opportunity to check out at the front of the field. Cragg in third putting Orlowski under major pressure for a couple of laps. Unfortunately, Neil’s challenge was cut short when he cartwheeled off the circuit at the end of the straight breaking his car. Orlowski was now secure in second. Tommy and Michal delivered roughly the same times lap after lap so the notion that a battle for the lead was going to develop was unrealistic. Tommy held the lead all the way to the finish making it three from three.
Overall 4wd top 10
|1||1||Tommy Hall||2 [ 1 1 1 – 13/ 300.34 ]||23.10|
|2||3||Michal Orlowski||4 [ 2 8 2 – 13/ 303.78 ]||23.37|
|3||2||Neil Cragg||5 [ 3 2 10 – 13/ 300.94 ]||23.15|
|4||4||Paul Crompton||6 [ 6 3 3 – 13/ 305.76 ]||23.52|
|5||5||Jamie Hall||8 [ 7 4 4 – 13/ 308.46 ]||23.73|
|6||7||Josh Holdsworth||9 [ 4 5 6 – 13/ 307.97 ]||23.69|
|7||6||Ben Smith||10 [ 5 6 5 – 13/ 308.67 ]||23.74|
|8||9||Edward Callan||14 [ 9 7 7 – 13/ 314.11 ]||24.16|
|9||10||Phil Sleigh||16 [ 8 9 8 – 13/ 316.75 ]||24.37|
|10||8||Luke Holdsworth||19 [ 10 10 9 – 12/ 301.38 ]||25.12|
Tommy Hall being awarded with the 4wd TQ and Winner trophies by Section Chairman Martin Owen
Other 2wd final winners:
- J Final – Flynn Liddle
- I Final – Harry Saunders
- H Final – Callum Mitchell
- G Final – Ethan Chappell
- F Final – William Venables
- E Final – Steven Pierce
- D Final – Steve Brown
- C Final – Dominic Nunn
- B Final – Ben Pugh