Beautiful cars but there were two problems with the beginning of this Series. First, most of the punters were absent for various reasons. Second, only Andy had read the rules and come with a car fitted with the replacement urethane tyres that transform these little devils into reasonable-handling cars with no magnet. There was a 'fruitful and constructive debate' after the first qualifying Heat (decided by fastest lap time) which Andy won by nearly a second. The outcome was that Alan tried Slot.It F1 tyre on his Tyrrell 002 and it upped its performance to the same league as Andy's Brabham. The clouds then rolled away and we continued racing. After the Qualifying Rounds the Step-Up finals ended with Andy and Alan racing for the win. Alan set fastest lap (8.504) but came off a lot, leaving Andy the winner for the evening.
Because of this we decided to allow the Slot.It tyre as a replacement for the rest of the Series
Round 2: A more even contest with more human beings
The second round was a lot less frantic than the first, with everybody now sporting either urethane clones of the 90s Scalex F1 Monstro-Slick tyre or the Slot.It F1 tyre. More people showed up too, as the vagaries of summer holidays moved in their mysterious ways. Qualifying (90 secs per lane) threw up a close result for Pole position, with Andy averaging 9.115 for the four lanes and Alan 9.408 secs. Behind them it was dramatically close, with Gordon, Andy 2, Les and Alastair all sitting in the gap between 11.285 and 11.710.
In the knock-out phase (30 laps) Evan comfortably eased past Benjamin to take his place in the semis, where he placed second to Alastair, who moved on to the top race with Andy, Alan and Gordon. The final began with a tense struggle between Alan and Andy, with the leadership see-sawing as each lost control of these very temperamental machines. At about halfway Andy started easing away and established a lap's lead which he kept to the finish, posting fastest lap (8.534) in the process. Alastair and Gordon also had a close race, finishing a couple of laps behind the leaders.
It seems to be a two horse race for the Series Title at the moment, as Chris takes a sabbatical. Unfortunately, Alan is also going absent in the near future so it could be a very boring few months for Andy.
Alan has departed, leaving Andy to gambol around the track unmolested. However, others are beginning to speed up and with a bit of good fortune there may be a good competition in the near future. Andy2 is certainly improving and Alastair has dipped into sub-10 sec laps
Round 5: Halfway point - Chris returns to the fray
Chris showed up for the first time in the Series and it was the first appearance of an Eagle - looking gorgeous. It wasn't quite race-sorted, with untrued tyres but that didn't prevent Chris from comfortably placing 2nd in the qualifying session (9.411 average). In the knockout phase Andy 2 had to fight from the bottom rankings, winning two consecutive races, the second on a poor lane against Gordon, Les and Evan - massive! In the finals Andy pulled away slowly but steadily from Chris in second, Alastair third and Andy 2 fourth.
Andy seems impregnable at the top but Chris will fight hard - how high can he get by the end of the Series?
Yes, Chris is really back. This time he showed up with an improved Eagle F1 which lapped comfortably in the low 9 secs range (average 9.198 across the 4 lanes). Unfortunately, Andy seemed to have found a bit more pace too and set an average of 8.898 - the fastest so far in this Series by quite a way. Next in qualifying was Evan with 9.939 then Gordon and Andy 2 a further tenth back.
In the Step-Up Round 1, Benjamin was loaned a good car and controller which he used to beat Les, posting a very creditable 10.098 fastest lap. In the next race, Andy 2 was the class of the field, winning by a lap from Gordon and putting in a FL of 9.539. In the final Chris and Andy battled it out as expected and it was only poor handling of the Eagle in the esses that gave Andy enough breathing space to run out the victor by less than a lap, with Andy 2 beating Evan. Chris's FL was 8.761 and Andy's 8.557.
Andy remains in the Stratosphere but Alastair in 2nd place is coming under pressure from Andy 2 while Chris starts his remorseless trudge up the order . . . .
Last nights racing began as the previous Round had left off, with Andy and Chris fighting for the Pole position. Andy prevailed again, by a couple of tenths. Andy Finlay, Gordon and Alastair were all very close around 10 secs and qualified in that order.
In the KOs, Benjamin crushed Brian and Les then beat Evan after stepping up - well done! Gordon won that heat and went into the Final. This was a close struggle at the top, with Andy making an error early on that lost him 3 secs. He caught Chris 7 laps later only to find Andy 2 sitting in his path in a corner. A costly de-slot and delayed marshalling in an awkward spot lost him another 6 secs with about 15 laps to go. He gave it a good try and crossed the line at the end 0.6 secs behind Chris, who had been controlling the race - just! Andy Finlay beat Gordon for 3rd, both drivers finishing a couple of laps back.
Andy has now won this Series but Chris has leapt three places up the ranking and seems likely to overhaul everybody else in the remaining 3 Rounds
There was an Autumnal feeling in the air as this Series entered its end phase. The qualifying was once more dominated by Andy (average 9.309 sec), this time driving a Graham Hill John Player Lotus 49. Gordon (10.087) headed Andy Finlay, then Alastair, with just 0.034 secs separating these three! Brian and Evan were within a tenth of them.
In the K/Os Les triumphed over Benjamin in a close race, and Alastair won the second Stepup, with Brian second driving Andy's regular Brabham BT26. In the Final Andy cruised away from a feisty Gordon, then came off half way down the pit straight on his 3rd lap as his guide hit the bottom of the slot. Gordon drove sensibly and fast, with a single off but Andy reeled him in quite easily - then came off again, again, again and again, with recurrences of the same problem. In the end Gordon came home a popular winner, followed by a rueful Andy, then Andy Finlay and Alastair fourth.
It's now extremely close for 2nd - 4th, Andy's gone.
The penultimate Round in the Series was marred by unfortunate absences - Gordon swanning around in Abu Dhabi and Chris roaming o'er the gloaming in his shorts. The big surprise in qualifying was the appearance of a brand new Gold Leaf Team Lotus 72 for Les, who had fried the motor of his old Lotus 49 while truing his tyres. This turned out to be a good investment as his performance improved dramatically - second in qualifying overall with the highlight of a 9.637 sec lap on yellow. Andy was persevering with his Graham Hill Lotus 49 - shaving some of the guide blade cured some of its errant ways (see last post) but it was nowhere near as good as his Brabham, which was on loan to the Donington Grand Prix Collection. In the end Andy managed to stay on pole, followed by Les, Andy Finlay, Alastair, Evan, Brian and Benjamin (whose car expired).
In the Knock-out first Heat, Brian shaved Evan for promotion to the final. The final was full of errors with at least 15 offs. Towards the end Andy was holding Les about a half lap behind then on the 13th lap Andy fell off and Les took his chance. In the penultimate lap there was carnage on the exit from the bridge, with all drivers off, luckily the marshalling was correct and Les ran out a deserved winner of his first Round in the Series. Andy was second and Andy Finlay third - his fourth consecutive result in this position.
As we move towards the final Round next month, Andy is already practicing his acceptance speech, Andy Finlay is looking for his first ever runners-up position in a Series, Alastair is wilting under the pressure and may fall to Gordon and/or Chris who may be able to bridge the gap.
The final Series Round was brightened up by the first appearance of a McLaren - Andy was determined to roll out his high-wing orange car that had sat around doing nothing all Series. Fitted with a Brabham rear axle to allow it to run on the replacement tyres it was fast and neat until Chris pointed out that it was also illegal! Five minutes later this ruling was challenged - by Chris (!) and the Round Robin qualifying stage was completed with Andy on top as ever (9.145), followed closely by Chris (9.366) then (Gordon), (9.784) and the rest in the 10s.
In the Step-ups Alastair prevailed over Brian and Benjamin and Les won Round 2 with Andy Finlay a close 2nd. In the Final Andy snatched an early lead then came off twice in quick succession, which was enough for Chris to win by a comfortable margin, with Les 3rd and Gordon 4th.
The Series went to Andy then, with Andy Finlay netting his first ever Runners-up position - well done! Alastair finished off the podium places, closely followed by Gordon, then Les then Chris.
Final verdict? Very pretty cars but the tyres were't good enough to make them truly enjoyable to race most of the time.
Mixing up the formats like the legends qualifying session.staggered grids and cumulative laps, has really made racing more interesting rather than just 4 series of sprint races & it's mixing up the results.
Let's hope the next 4 are just as good.
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