Round 5 Clay Pigeon 31st July 2004

Report by Alan Wood

Russell Crowe of Dogz drove all bar one hour of the race!
Photo: Roy Sinclair
Sixteen teams made the long trek to Clay Pigeon for round five of the Southern Promax Challenge. Somewhat less than the usual entry, but there were some pretty convincing excuses given. Steve Stapley of B&R had somehow managed to break his leg while team mate Mike was walking down the aisle that day and felt that he couldnít get away with a five hour race on the same day. Warden Hill was very hot and sunny from the start and the purveyors of wet tyres were unlikely to make their fortune at this meeting.

Zoom Lynn Road set the tone for the day with a fine pole position though it was no mere pushover as RSM was a mere hundredth adrift. On row two of the starting grid was current British Champions Titan Motorsport who shared the second row with Cobra ASM.

The five hour race got underway without Modelworld who needed to change a battery and joined with a half lap deficit. Screenvyn 86 had a spin at the hairpin on lap four but were soon back in the fray. Titan made a well timed move on Zoom and slipped ahead while RSM and Cobra closed in on the leaders. Thirty-six minutes into the race KI threw a chain and spent 8.5 minutes off track effecting repair.

With thirty minutes complete there was a tight bunch of four leading the race and a fair gap before the second wave. Out front was Titan with four seconds in hand over ZLR while RSM and Cobra were neck and neck just three seconds down the circuit. Fifteen minutes later saw K1 in for fuel, perhaps slightly modifying their strategy to suit the time lost earlier. Xtreme were not far behind and took the chance to go out of sync with the rest of the field.
Zoom Lynn Road
(Picture by Gary Chandler)

After such a good start, sixth on the grid and still sixth on circuit after three quarters of an hour, Xtreme were forced into early retirement with a cracked chassis and a wheel off. ZLR managed a blindingly quick fuel stop just before the hour marker and gained nearly twenty seconds on some less well drilled teams. Midas was forced into an unplanned pit stop as the raced into the second hour. A bent axle was the cause and twelve minutes delay the effect. Embarrassingly, the contact that caused the damage was with their own stable mates PDQ, causing red faces in the pit bay of the latter.

It became apparent that Modelworld UK had a problem when their pace deteriorated badly. A very soft front tyre was the culprit, soon cured but another unnecessary pit stop for the team. Things were a tad fraught in the PDQ camp as well. This normally well drilled team seemed to be blessed with more than their fair share of electrical problems and with just over half the race run, their day was effectively over. Retiring with a lack of spare batteries and an even lower supply of patience, the boys will have to chalk this one up as a dropped round.

With the race now four hours old Titan headed the leader board by fully three laps from Cobra. ZLR would have been closer than their current third had they not lost time when their engine refused to fire after a fuel stop. Dogz were having personnel problems. Already one man down due to Mark Hannawin having injured his neck at work, Roy Sinclair fell prey to a similar ailment and was having to restrict his driving to the bare minimum. This left fully four hours of the race in the more than capable hands of Russell Crowe and their eventual 8th place is a testament to the man's stamina. Mind you, a dropped chain had cost the team 8 laps earlier and it could so easily have been a fourth. Midas managed to misjudge the fuel capacity of their tank and ran out of fuel just before the four hour mark. Six minutes was lost as the trolley was sent to collect the thirsty kart.

RSM Racing
(Picture by Gary Chandler)

There were some terrific scraps for position in the midfield, despite the passing of nearly four hundred laps. Auto 1 were currently running in seventh but just a tenth of a second separated this much improved team from Screenvyn 86 while hung onto their tails just seven seconds down the road. RSM were also pushing hard to close the twenty second gap to SRP in fourth place but top of the Open class race.

Titan continued to stretch their legs as the race reached the final sixty minutes. Their lead was nigh on unassailable now and barring accident or unforeseen mechanical problems the team could see their third win of the season already in the bag. Cobra must have been quietly confident that they were about to deposit a nice big 45 points into their team points account, but mechanical gremlins soon put pay to that when a blown head gasket tumbled the team back into the midfield with just fifteen minutes remaining.

So, at the final flag it was Titan by nine laps from ZLR with Special Racing Projects third on circuit. SRP actually came over the weighbridge at 174.9kg, just 100grams underweight and suffered the indignity of a ten lap penalty for the equivalent of a couple of packets of crisps, overly harsh? Probably, but as they were more than ten laps ahead of their nearest class rival Screenvyn 85, it hardly mattered. SRP now have four Open Class wins in the bag and the series pretty much under their control. Third in the Pro class were RSM from fourth on circuit.

A day then of trials and tribulations for some, further glory for others and a fine day of sunbathing for the spectators. Itís back to Bayford for the final round of the 2004 Summer series on the 11th September where I am sure the grid size will be back up to full strength as the holidaymakers, sick, injured and recently married return to the fold.

Many thanks to Roy Sinclair & Gary Chandler for the pictures used in this report.

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