The BRCA National circus travelled to Norfolk for Round 3 of the 2023 BRCA 1/0th Offroad Nationals at Boughton. The track is very unusual as it gets very little use throughout the year and is generally overhauled just in time for the national each year. The track surface is mossy and loose, and most drivers struggled with lack of both traction and sidebite over the two days despite the spell of glorious weather.
2023 1/10th Offroad Nationals Round 3
Boughton Raceway [UK] – 10-11 MAY 2023
All drivers were given 2 x 3 minute practice sessions as usual first thing on Saturday morning for the 2wd section of the meeting and the track proved to be very loose in places which caused everyone problems. We got the first hint of how the weekend would pan out when Neil Cragg set the fastest time for three consecutive laps in both practice sessions – closely followed by Jamie Hall, Tommy Hall, & Paul Crompton. Cragg didn’t have some sort of tuning secret, instead he was just smooth in the corners and paying specific attention to not overdrive the car – holding onto the racing line well where others were drifting off by getting on the power too early.
During 2wd qualifying, initially it was not Neil Cragg at the front. The first round of qualifying went to Jamie Hall with Cragg only managing 7th, however the amount of pace he had in the car was clear and everyone was expecting him to be right there in the battle for Pole Position. Jamie, followed by Tommy Hall and Paul Crompton, building on his 4wd in in Mendip last month. Cragg went on to top the time sheets in the all of the remaining qualifying rounds and claiming Pole Position. Jamie Hall, Tommy Hall, Lee Martin and Paul Crompton making up the remainder of the top five positions.
Leg 1 of the 2wd A Final got off to a tender start as the drivers all tried to assess the grip level. There were plenty of oversteer from many of the drivers over the first lap without any changes in the race order. The first change to the order was at the start of lap 2 when a small error from Jamie Hall in second let Tommy Hall through. Neil Cragg led a train of seven or eight cars around the track with very little gains for anyone. A minute in and oversteer and resultant pipe ride and roll over for Tommy Hall dropped him all the way back from second – Jamie now back to second closely followed by Martin and Crompton. Shortly after it was Jamie Hall’s turn to catch a pipe which them collected Lee Martin. Somehow, after everyone got going again, Lee inherited second with Luke Holdsworth in third. Cragg now with an unredeemable lead. There were many mistakes from many drivers over the following couple of minutes – too many to list. The washout was that Cragg maintained his substantial lead, the chasing pack of Lee Martin, Tommy Hall, Luke Holdsworth and Ben Pugh stabilised whilst the remainder of the field did their best to catch up. There were no further incidents and Cragg comfortably took the Leg 1 win.
2wd A Final Leg 2 started off in a similar fashion to Leg 1. Cragg at the front made a very good start and immediately started to gap the field. Tommy Hall again got past Jamie Hall for second position. By the end of lap 2, Cragg had a 3 second lead and looked in control as the remainder of the field slid and squirmed around the corners. As the race progressed through the midpoint, the top four of Cragg, Tommy Hall, Jamie Hall and Lee Martin all spread out with no battles evident. With only 15 seconds to go, the first piece of action occurred when Jamie Hall caught the pipe on the farthest banked corner and was again collected by Lee Martin – the latter getting away first from the incident. The final order Cragg, Tommy Hall, Lee Martin, Tommy Hall.
Having taken the 2wd meeting in the first two Legs of the A Final, Neil Cragg had nothing more to prove. He chose to run in Leg 3 – perhaps with the hope of proving his total dominance. Leg three got off to a tighter and faster start than the order two. Initially Neil Cragg started to pull away from the field with Jamie Hall going with him. With a minute down, Cragg rolled leaving the car on its roof and needing marshalling dropping him to fouth – Jamie Hall taking up the lead. The new lead pack of Jamie, Tommy and Lee Martin were moving at a fast pace and were bunched tightly. At the two minute mark, Martin made a move on Tommy Hall – going around the outside of him off the stright – Hall ran wide collecting Martin who spun and needed to recover – Hall waiting patiently to avoid a prenalty. That allowed Luck Holdsworth through to third and meant that Jamie Hall now had a signifcant lead. With a minute to go, the major battle on track was between Holdsworth and Tommy Hall for third. Hall applying liberal amounts of pressure managed to track Holsdworth very closely off the stright and then nipped up the insde of him over the tabletop – an excellent move. The battle wasn’t over yet tough – half a lap later Tommy touched a hose at high speed, blowing him across the track which open tha gap for Holdsworth to retake the third position. A further mistake from Tommy shortly after turned the pressure off complete for Holdsworth who secured third. Jamie Hall taking a convincing win with Lee Martin in second.
2wd Podium: 1st Neil Cragg, 2nd Lee Martin, 3rd Jamie Hall
With 2wd done and dusted it was now Sunday and time for 4wd. The 4wd used the 2wd track in reverse which worked well. Another scorcher of a day awaited drivers as they emerged from tents and campers at the large Boughton Raceway site. The top drivers were straight down to business in the practice session. There were several top drivers to keep an eye on – Cragg on a high from winning 2wd, Jamie Hall on a high from winning 4wd in Mendip and Paul Crompton on a high from winning 4wd here last year. As if by arrangement the times came in from practice session 1 showing Cragg, Jamie Hall and Crompton as the fastest three drivers! It was going to be a very competitive day. In practice session 2 it was Tommy Hall who topped the table just ahead of Jamie Hall and Neil Cragg.
Qualifying was again made tricky by loose conditions. The sun had softened up the Astro and that combined with a mossy sublayer meant that the cars drifted out of most of the corners under power. Neil Cragg was the first man to stamp his authority on qualifying with a 12/322.76 – Crompton going 2nd in round on a 12/324.34. Tommy Hall had a response for Cragg in round 2 of qualifying – taking TQ in that round with Lee Martin just behind. Things were very close and there were no surprise when Cragg went on to take round 3 and Hall repeated in round 4. On level points, Pole Position was awarded on the fastest time – which went to Tommy Hall on a 12/321.61.
2023 1/10th Offroad Nationals Round 3
Boughton Raceway [UK] – 10-11 MAY 2023
4wd A Final Leg 1 got off to a pacey start with the whole field bunched. The top five cars lapped with only about 3 of 4 metres between each car – all at the same pace. The only driver on the move was Neil Cragg in second who was chipping away at Tommy Halls lead a tenth of a second per lap at a time. With two minutes down the first to faulter was Lee Martin – tipping a hose causing a half spin. Just enough time lost to let Jamie Hall through into third. At the three minute mark the first Leg had become a two horse race as Tommy Hall out front fended off Neil Cragg’s challenges. Jamie Hall in third seconds behind. Coming off the straight, Tommy conservatively jumped single – single as had been the order of the day. Cragg however through caution to the wind and went for the double in an attempt to pass Hall. The car flew just a little too nose high and the resultant stall caused the car to come back to earth pivoting on one rear where. The result: an epic barrel roll which was quickly marshalled. This gave Tommy Hall a three second advantage with ninety seconds to go. A second mistake from Cragg a lap later let Jamie Hall, Lee Martin and Ben Smith through – Cragg dropping to fifth. The order didn’t change after that – Tommy Hall, Jamie Hall, Lee Martin.
Tommy Hall must have gone into 4wd A Final Leg 2 feeling very upbeat and positive. He has set the pace in qualifying, led Leg 1 the whole way and defended the challenges of the most successful driver in the class’s history. The first half of the race was a high-pressure affair. Tommy Hall out front with Neil Cragg running very close to his back bumper. Hall was neat and tidy and carrying less speed at the apex. Cragg as drifting a little more with the aim of setting up a drag race out of one of the tighter corners – but there was no advantage to either style. After the midpoint of the race, Tommy Hall started to eek away from Neil Cragg – up to a 1.4 second advantage at one stage with Lee Martin in third nibbling at Cragg’s advantage over him. The race was changing and Cragg was being transitioned from Pressure-er to Preseure-ee. Coming out of the centre chicane with a minute to go, Cragg got a tank slap sort of slide on and hit the hose – pin balling him across the track and letting Lee Martin through. Tommy Hall converted his comfortable lead into a win – taking the 4wd meeting – Lee Martin 2nd, Neil Cragg 3rd.
With Tommy Hall having wrapped up 4wd in Leg 2, he could have sat out Leg 3 but decided to compete and go for total dominance. The race started just like Leg 2 with the very little separating the top three cars. Tommy Hall lead then around with Neil Cragg and Lee Martin close behind – Jamie Hall leading the chasing pack. Neil Cragg was the first driver to make a mistake – barrel rolling off the double jumps in front of the rostrum letting Lee Martin in second and Paul Crompton into third – Tommy Hall now with a very healthy lead. The race then developed into a showcase of Tommy Hall’s skill – unpressured, he opened the taps and put in half a dozen very fast laps which put another win as a near certainty. On his last lap he attempted the double into front of the rostrum and made it! Final result: Tommy Hall, Lee Martin 2nd, Paul Cromton 3rd.
The 2wd and 4wd Championships both have clear leaders with only three rounds done. Cragg and Hall are very fast in both classes, but we hope to see new winners as the season progresses.
2wd Championship Standings
4wd Championship Standings
Round 4 of the 2023 Season comes to you on the weekend of June 24/25 from Southport.