July 16, 2024

RacewayOne

Cool & Filtered news from the worlds of RC Racing

It is hard to believe that we are now at the halfway stage of the 2024 BRCA National Series. So far, after two rounds we have had wins from Neil Cragg and Ben Smith in 2wd and Tommy Hall has secured two wins from two in 4wd. RHR and Herts although quite different in their nature can be attacked in a similar way as the consistency for want of a better word of both the circuits is similar. The third round of the series is held at Stotfold and it is quite different – completely inconsistent!

The drivers in the series gathered on Saturday 8th June in fresh and bright conditions and weather forecast for the day was uncertain. Patchy rain approaching from the Northwest was a worry and a potential swing to due North may mean lower temperatures and a change in grip.

Many consider Stotfold to be one of the last remaining “old-skool” tracks not because it is under equipped or basic, but because the surface is laid in a way where you get what you get, and you don’t get upset! It is very bumpy. Transitions in the artificial grass are unapologetically mislaid and marker hoses are kinked and retained with small boulders. A bit like me it’s not pretty, but it works most of the time. The club has recently gone to much effort and installed a new rostrum which does the job, but I can’t help thinking that a 12m rostrum instead of 10m would future proof the track and allow ample space for the referee and cameraman. That aside, it must be said that most drivers accepted the challenge and found achieving a clear run in the circuit to be very rewarding.

Practice initially got underway in warm sunshine which later clouded over as temperatures dipped. Tommy Hall went fastest over two consecutive laps in Round 1. Neil Cragg looked comfortable in round 2 to go seconds and Josh Holdsworth rounded out the top three. Abe Lyons coming from left field to go fourth – we all watched on with interest to see if he could work some magic in qualifying.



Some drivers were blisteringly quick on one lap but couldn’t string two together as they were caught out by the hidden lumps and bumps on the track.

In qualifying, initially Tommy Hall could not convert his good pace in practice into a solid five-minute run as he struggled over the bumpy surface. Neil Cragg also made some mistakes in Round 1 but made up for it with raw pace and went fastest with a 15/309.04. Hall responded in qualifying round 2 by going faster with a nearly clear run 15/308.33 – Cragg putting in a very consistent 15/309.11 and Jamie Hall going third. Locals Kit Jones and Alex Carter going 5th and 6th in round respectively. Mistakes started to creep in round 3 as the track cooled and traction peaked. Again, Tommy Hall went fastest on a 309.86. Cragg was second fastest but a long way back on a 314.56. Cragg would need a TQ run in round 4 on a fast 308 split to take pole position, but it wasn’t to be as Tommy Hall registered his third fastest time from four attempts – 15/310.01. This time Ben Smith going second and Lee Martin third. Tommy secures pole positions for the A Finals.


2wd A Final Leg 1 got off to a smooth start with a train of cars making their way around the circuit. Tommy Hall’s car looked a little loose at the rear, but he was getting lots of pace out of the car and Neil Cragg in second wasn’t being offered any nice overtaking opportunities.

90 seconds into the race the lead group of Tommy Hall, Neil Cragg and Ben Smith started to break away from the pack. The three cars all ran for several laps in close proximity, with all having little mistakes and bobbles as they pushed to try and eek out an advantage. There was tension in the air and the spectators were eagle eyed for a large enough error from any of the racers to affect the running order. At the four-minute mark a couple of bad bounces for Hall allowed Neil Cragg to draw right up to his back bumper. Coming onto the straight, Hall just ran slightly wide on power and Cragg was able to draw up his inside – the two cars now drag racing for the racing line into the first corner. Amazingly, the two rounded turn one side by side and then jumped through the tabletop chicane side by side – Hall being forced to choose between going under a jumping Cragg or hit the hose. Cragg’s car landed on top of Tommy Hall’s and spun, allowing Hall to continue in the lead with Cragg now aggressively pushing him to force an error before things settled down again. As the battling duo came back onto the straight, Hall tagged the inside marker and momentarily slowed, unfortunately Cragg was directly behind him and had no chance of getting around Hall in time – again the two entering the first corner almost side by side. As mentioned, Tommy Hall’s car looked loose at the rear, and he may have known it as he tended to understeer just before the apex of the corners – the car kicking out under power. As the battle continued with only seconds to go into the infield, Neil Cragg made an attempt to get up the inside of Hall as he managed his understeer/oversteer situation. The two cars ran side by side over the large mount and both aimed for the single lane entry point into the following hairpin. Tommy was first in, but unfortunately, he put a wheel up on the hose at the apex, unsettling the car, and was then collected by Cragg. The pair required marshalling and the marshal was very fair placing the two cars downside by side. The battle resumed onto the last lap, Cragg now leading, Hall chasing hard. Tommy Hall did everything he could, including a leap of faith on the last jump but it wasn’t enough and Cragg took the Leg. Race order: Cragg, T. Hall, Smith.

The second Leg of the 2wd A Final got under way with sunny skies and slightly warmer temperatures. All ten cars got away safely and made their way through lap 1. Hall’s car looking a little more secure at the rear. He initially appeared to be putting a small gap between himself and Neil Cragg in second, but coming onto the straight for the first time Hall clipped the apex and wheelied out of the corner – lucky to retain the lead. Over the next few laps he slowly build an advantage of about half the length of the straight over Cragg in second, Smith third and Lee Martin in fourth. With three minutes down the lead three drivers had broken away and were running close together. A collection of bobbles and oversteer under power moments from Hall should have presented a big opportunity for Cragg, but there wasn’t the right time or place to get the manoeuvre made. As the lead two battled hard, Smith sat in third biding his time. Just as the clock rolled over four minutes, Smith pulled a textbook move on Cragg promoting himself to second. The three cars progressed over the mound, all bumping and bouncing over it and Cragg collected Smith through no fault of his own. After a moment off track, the two rejoined the race in still the same positions – Hall now with a substantial lead. Smith occupation of second place was cancelled a lap later when Cragg got up his inside over the finger jumps in the top left side of the track and Smith had no choice but to give him room. A lap later, Hall takes the leg with Cragg seconds, Smith third and Martin a close fourth. Its going to Leg 3!

The overall win would be decided in 2wd A Final Leg 3. The shadows grew long in the summer sunset at the race started. All ten cars away without incident and Tommy Hall out front looking smooth and controlled. With a few laps down, Hall had gapped the field led by Cragg who was under pressure from Smith. Coming up to the two minute mark, Cragg tagged a hose through the tabletop chicane after the straight and became stuck. Smith managed to avoid the accident, but Martin was not so lucky. This gave Tommy Hall a huge lead and also put Smith in a very comfortable second, Luke Holdsworth running third. The race continued in very subdued fashion until the clock struck four minutes. Tommy Hall with a massive lead put his car onto its roof whilst traversing the fingers. Quickly marshalled he maintained the lead, but his advantage over smith is halved. Another bobble on the final lap reduced the lead further, but Hall had done enough to take the Leg win and the 2wd meeting. Leg result – Hall, Smith, J. Holdsworth.

A great result for Tommy Hall which moved him a step closer to claiming an early 2wd championship.

2wd Podium: Tommy Hall 1st, Neil Cragg 2nd, Ben Smith 3rd.

Sunday morning got off to a sunny start and temperatures were a little higher. The Stotfold track crew were very quick on Saturday evening to lay a new crack design and it looked faster than the 2wd track.


In 4wd practice Lee Martin was fastest and his car looked really good. His 2wd had looked good too, but proved to be a pinch short of pace, not the case with his 4wd – it looked fully dialled. Tommy Hall fortified his 2wd pace by going second fastest in 4wd practice with Jamie Hall looking dangerous in third. Jamie’s car looked different to all the others – it looked planted! Neil Cragg was also at the races as was Thomas Phipps in fifth.

4wd qualifying got underway and Tommy Hall continued his winning streak by taking rounds one and two. There was nothing between the pace of the top 6 cars, it just came down to who could have the least of mistakes, bobbles and bad bounces. Tommy looked a good bet for Pole Position, but Jamie Hall had different ideas. The technical whiz took round three and four and went faster than his brother to take Pole Position for the 4wd A Finals.

Behind the Halls, Lee Martin led the charge. Lee was on a TQ run in round 4 before his car strangely ran slow for a few seconds and he only managed fourth. Thomas Phipps capitalised on Martin’s misfortune put in a P2 in round 4 – an excellent performance for a young man not used to running as the very sharp end of Nationals. Josh Holdsworth was running fast but several small errors on every run set him back. Neil Cragg had more pace than his points suggest – very fast but some errors preventing him from running at the front of the field.

Overall 4wd Qualifying Positions

Jamie Hall started 4wd A Final Leg 1 by instantly gapping the chasing pack led by Tommy Hall. By mid-lap three he had a 5 second lead. Jamie’s gets out of shape as much as all of the others; however, his car seems to be very good and very quick at pulling itself back into line. It appears that the front of the car is planted and tracks well whilst the rear skips and hops as it catches the bumps. As Jamie pushed on, there was a pile up behind him and when it was sorted out if was Josh Holdsworth in second place with a minute down. Over the next minute, Tommy Hall managed to get by Josh Holdsworth and he had the hammer down trying to reel in his brother. A couple of slow laps from Jamie coupled with some rapid ones form Tommy dropped the deficit to three seconds at the race midpoint. Then at the stroke of three minutes as Tommy was only 2 seconds behind, Jamie had a bad landing, flipping his car into a roll and letting Tommy through and barely defending Josh Holdsworth still in third. With Tommy through, Jamie’s pace seem to be renewed and the two ran very closely for the remainder of the race. Jamie had a lunge at the last corner but it was not fruitful. Leg 1 result: T. Hall, J. Hall, Phipps.

Text Box: We enjoyed watching the progress of Simon Smith at the Stotfold National. Simon is well able to steer and he looks like he enjoyed himself.
 
Before the start of Leg 2 the chat in the crowd was all about whether Jamie would come back fighting or was Tommy going to put in another great performance and take 4wd – opinions were split 50/50 – either way, all bets were on a Hall. 2wd A Final Leg 2 started with all 10 cars running as a close-knit train for the first lap. Tommy Hall in second was the first to falter when his car exited stage left at the end of the straight allowing Lee Martin through and dropping Tommy to 10th.  It took Lee Martin a couple of laps to aggressively reel in Jamie Hall and battle commenced. With two minutes down and Martin starting to get within striking distance of Jamie Hall, we saw a return of the issue he suffered in qualifying; the car slowed dramatically and he had no rpm from the motor. He dribbled down the straight and then the car seemed to recover and he was able to continue. Hall initially had a 3 second lead, but that double when Martin’s technical issue returned later in the lap but he still managed to retain second place for now. Martin’s issue seemed to subside over the middle part of the race and he was biting chunks out of Jamie Hall’s lead. With thirty seconds to go, once again the gremlins were playing with Lee Martin’s nerves, the car intermittently powering up – Jamie Hall gone like a dog off the lead. Behind the lead two, Neil Cragg lead the chasing pack with Josh Holdsworth in fourth and Tommy Hall had recovered to fifth. Tommy Hall went up the inside of Holdsworth coming onto the straight and got by, but the move was reversed as Holdsworth had significantly more ponies than Hall. Holdsworth was almost back past Tommy half way down the straight when he pulled across Hall and wiped the pair out with a massive barrel roll off into the first corner. Hall unlucky to get trapped in behind a table which was several feet of the track. Tommy Hall deciding to retire at that point. As the finish tone rang out, Jamie Hall crossed the line to take the leg. As Lee Martin in second rounded the last corner his car lost all power which was later discovered to be a motor sensor failure – his car left stranded at the exit of the final corner aimed at the finish line as all the cars passed him. Neil Cragg took advantage and claimed second, Luke Holdsworth third. A gutting conclusion for Lee Martin and the battle for the win goes to Leg 3.

Overall 4wd A Final results:

4wd podium: 1st Tommy Hall, 2nd Jamie Hall, 3rd Thomson Phipps.

Congratulations to Tommy Hall on doing the double at Stotfold. He now leads both 2wd and 4wd Championships. His 4wd campaign looks very strong with a 9 point lead. 2wd is a bit more open with 4 or 5 drivers in the hunt.

2wd Championship points

4wd Championship Points


GALLERIES