RAFMSA drivers were the dominant force at Cadwell Park last weekend.
A training event was delivered on Thursday and Friday which consisted of a trackday to familiarise the drivers with the circuit followed by a classroom session delivered by Darren Berris (RAFMSA), Westfield V8 on Thursday.
The weather conditions were changing on Friday evening and it looked like there might be a wet qualifying session on Saturday morning however the rain stopped before the meeting got underway and other formulae dried the track off nicely ready for AFRC qualifying at 1000hrs.
The longest lap on the 2017 calendar on the narrowest track was always going to make qualifying difficult. The safety car was deployed half way through the session to recover a stray wheel which broke free from Dan Tedstone (BAMA) and to tow Si Frowen (RAFMSA) clear of the circuit after his engine cut out at the bottom of the Mountain section.
RN had a strong turn out, 6 cars and 7 drivers along with a number of supporting crews / potential drivers getting involved in their team. Richard Scott brought out his newly acquired Ford Escort Cosworth for its maiden voyage, and despite some heat management being required he had a good run out putting in a solid stint in the race.
Lewis Pemble (RN) made a return to the grid for his first race of 2017 sharing the Sultan Locost with seasoned driver, Sean Graham (RN) and Farard Darver (BAMA) made his first appearance since 2015 in his newly build BMW E46 M3, sharing the driver with Richard Scott in a relay team and running solo in Roadsports.
Numerous delays throughout the day meant a changing timetable, most problems encountered in qualifying were rectified, however unfortunately Dan Tedstone (BAMA), Honda Civic and Ray Honeybone (Guest) never made it to the start due to mechanical issues.
The grid was formed slightly behind the planned schedule but the race was delayed by 10 minutes for barrier repairs as a result of accidents in the Clio Championship race which preceded AFRC. The tight grid at Cadwell Park always makes an interesting first lap. The first lap was mostly without incidents, more than can be said for the other formulae running that day.
There were some great clean battles throughout the field. Despite the low experience levels displayed by some of the AFRC drivers compared to other championships there certainly showed their maturity and ability levels on the circuit. Cadwell Park is arguably the most dangerous circuit on the AFRC 2017 calendar, not a lot of run-off, no gravel traps and no ‘live-snatch’, but it was the first race this year without a safety car period – a feat the drivers should be proud of.
Darren Berris commanded a lights to flag victory of the race and Class A (up to 260whp/ton), followed by Ed Fuller (RAFMSA Associate), Tiger Six and Billy Fletcher (Veteran – RAF) in his Fletcher Hornet Mk2.
Daz Smee (BAMA), Honda Integra had cured overheating problems experienced in testing last week to bring it home in 2nd overall and 1st in Class B (up to 200whp/ton). Mark White (BAMA), Honda Civic finished 2nd in Class B on the road, however following judicial adjustments after he missed some signals from the marshals he was awarded a time penalty which promoted Darren Howe (RAFMSA), VW Golf to 2nd in Class B and dropped him to 3rd.
Class C (up to 140whp/ton) was also fiercely fought out. Mark Inman (RM), Vauxhall VX220 was mixing it up the front of the race with Class A and B cars with Ed McKean (RAFMSA), BMW 325i hot on his heels. A few laps from the end of the race there was a signaling confusion when Mark mistakenly took the black/orange flag intended for Mark White as being for him. After a trip through the pit lane he rejoined the race 2nd in Class C where he was to finish. Paul Waterhouse (Veteran – RAF), Peugeot 306 GTi managed to hold off Chris Slator (RAFMSA), Peugeot 306 Rallye for 3rd in Class C.
The Performance Index (PI) awarded by the consistency of the drivers is what matters to the championship and the points awarded. Paul Waterhouse extended his championship lead by taking the overall win on PI and 11th overall. Dan Smith (RAFMSA), Ford Fiesta took 2nd overall on PI in his first race of 2017 following his deployment. Chris Slator pipped Ian Fletcher to the final podium position to replace Daz Smee in 3rd in the championship.
The highest placed novice on PI was Stuart Balls (RN), Peugeot 206 who was the first novice driver to take a win this year other than Keith Attwood (RN), Mini R50.
The updated championship table can be found here.
There was a one-off award this weekend. Mr Colin Jebson, Javelin Trackdays asked for a ‘spirit of the event’ award which was to be awarded by the drivers to the driver they thought deserved it for having the best spirit throughout the event. It was great to see so many different nominations, especially across the different Services but the entry of Andy Holborn and Chris Vosper (both RAFMSA) won the vote. They worked tirelessly to rectify accident damage picked up on the trackday on Thursday in order to make the race, parts were shipped from Birmingham and local engineers were used along with some ingenuity. The car was ‘finished’ and presented for scrutineering late on Friday night when it passed without an issue. Andy and Chris now have a voucher to use on any UK Javelin Trackday in the next 12 months.
Our gratitude goes to all those people who make our championship possible. 750 Motor Club staff as always did a great job at putting the event on, Andy and Rob from Podium Prep suffered dire weather on Wed afternoon when setting up our hospitality, then being on hand to help the competitors in their time of need. Mike from Hogs at Home provided a great lunch. Mark and Amanda, Race To The Finish F1 Memorabilia didn’t have any disappointed trophy winners as they continue to provide our high quality championship awards. Lastly the marshals, rescue, timekeepers and officials deserve credit for making the meeting happen – without them it simply wouldn’t go ahead.
There’s now a five week break to reorg and prepare for the end of season finale at Rockingham Motor Speedway on 9 Sep 17 where we’ll be running an extra non-championship handicap race to finish the AFRC season off with.