One year, seven months and one day later....one child later....one prolonged and painful house move and renovation later....one elective and slightly eye watering surgery later.....
I'M COMING BACK TO THE BARN!!!
Or in the immortal words of The Rock (one of my all time heroes!):
Finally, The G has come back to Goring!
The cars have been dragged out of storage, my controller has been changed from Tjet mode to missile mode, a vast quantity of energy drinks will be consumed to send my heart rate even further through the roof and I will be ready to try and make a mark on the Tuners championship in the final round. Plenty of testing needed in preparation for next season. See you all this evening!
Nineteen on the grid for the last WHO Mod action of 2016. Sadly Gareth didn't make it, so we'll have to wait a little bit longer to welcome him back at the Barn.
Simon's track was a cracker - very compact with lots of short straights connected by mostly quick-ish corners. It took plenty of concentration and a fair bit of bravery to nail it...
We had some new lexans on the grid, mostly on Vipers, but this on a Turbo...
These were the heat scores, with most of the WHO Mod crowd gradually cranking up their speed as the evening went on...
After some excellent finals, this was the A final grid, containing all four championship contenders...
These were the finals...
That was Mike beating Ned by less than two 15-inch straights...
Mike took the win, Ned the junior medal (and fastest lap), with Alex picking up yet another under-11 medal...
That meant Mike took his first WHO Mod title, with Corey finishing runner-up - the first time a junior has managed to finish runner-up in any WHO class championship. Corey successfully defended his Junior WHO Mod crown and Duncan won his first WHO Tuners title...
Congrats to all our medal winners and to our first champions of 2016. Well done to Aiden who beat Andy Phillips to finish as top rookie of the evening. A big thanks to everyone for making it another excellent night at the Barn, especially to those who helped set up and pack away.
There are loads more pictures over on Flickr. A full report and a video will appear in the next day or so
Simon had designed a fabulous track for the 2016 WHO Mod championship decider. A complex spiral of short straights, flowing curves, switchbacks, a flyover and a wiggly technical section greeted our nineteen racers, including all four championship contenders, when they walked through the door.
The math was simple for our top two. All Mike and Corey needed was a win, wherever the other one finished. For John and Ned, it was more complicated. They'd need the win and their rivals to mess up a little.
In WHO Tuners - the hard-bodied sub-class - Duncan and Hayley were separated in the championship table by just four points, exactly the difference between pole plus a win and second. Andy and Richard were also running in Tuners. They couldn't win the championship, but they could influence the result.
The heats began with everyone showing Simon's track plenty of respect. With the rapid changes of direction, loops and a few tricky corners, it took racers a while to settle in and build up their pace. Some had awful first heats.
At half way, Mike D lead the way, two laps up on John, with Keith and Aiden two and a half laps further back. It was an impressive show by young Aiden, driving a Dadson loaner, putting him top junior and top rookie at this stage. Andy was top Tuner back in eighth, ten laps off Mike.
The order was shaken up through the second round of heats. The pace increased for most and some big scores were knocked out. Mike comfortably took pole position, now seven laps ahead of John. However, John had been knocked down to third by Ned, who squeezed past by just half a lap. If Ned's recovery had been impressive, so had Corey's. A torrid time in blue had left him languishing near the rear of the field, but he bounced back to fourth and still in the championship hunt, although he'd need to win the B final first.
The top eight was rounded off by Deborah, Keith, Aiden and Neil. In Tuners, Andy had qualified top, back in eleventh, with Duncan right behind him, both in the D final. Richard was fourteenth and in the E final. Sadly, Hayley's Mega-G had gone right off the boil and she was back in nineteenth and needed a gigantic miracle to keep her championship hopes alive.
It wasn't to be for Hayley. Up against three WHO Mod Tomy Turbos, there was no escape from the F final. And Mike McCann's rapid Turbo was in another league to the others. Having tested a new magnet in the heats (which turned out to be pants) Mike switched back to his trusty red neo block and he was flying again. He finished comfortably ahead of Stephen, who recovered from a dodgy start to beat WHO Mod debutant Andy Phillips, with Hayley fourth and continuing to have a season's worth of bad luck all in one night.
With Stephen returning to his race control duties, Mike stepped up to the favoured yellow lane in the E final. Mike's not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and gave it all he'd got against Simon's misfiring Viper, Alex's lexan-clad stock Super-G+ and Richard's Mega-G+ Nascar. Simon had a bad start, but recovered to be third at half way. At the front, Mike was a lap up on Alex, with that lead staying pretty constant to the end. Two and a half laps back, it was nip and tuck with Richard keeping steady and maintaining a small advantage over Simon's crashy Viper. Richard thought he'd blown it with a crash right at the end, but Simon was too far back and the chequered flag fell just in time.
The WHO Tuners win would be decided in the D final where Andy's Mega-G+ Nascar had only just out-qualified Duncan's GT40 Super-G+. Neil took the lead from the start and eked out an unassailable lead with his Viper. Mike's charge up the field soon faltered with mechanical issues and by half way he had retired. Duncan and Andy's cars had an 'altercation' going into turn 3 on the first lap. Andy rejoined first and that was the last Duncan saw of him. The more Duncan pushed, the more he crashed. It didn't really matter - Andy was happy with his first Tuners win and Duncan was delighted with the Tuners Championship.
Neil joined Tony, Neal and Aiden in the C final. Aiden's BSRT G3 lead the three Vipers through the first corner and just kept extending his advantage. It was a flawless two minutes by the youngster, joining Mike D and Ned as the only three racers to beat 22 laps. Behind him, Neil was best of the rest, Tony coming third and Neal's very lovely purple Viper was fourth.
The B final was the big chance for Aiden, Corey, Keith or Deborah to join the battle for the race win. Thirty seconds in, all four racers were on the same lap with Keith in the lead, followed by Deborah, Aiden and Corey. An off and a brief meltdown saw Deborah drop to the back. At half way Keith had a handy lead over Corey, Aiden and Deborah, who were all still incredibly close. Soon after, a catastrophic off saw Aiden out of the running. With the clock running down, the other three were bunching up. The pressure was beginning to tell on Keith, whose challenge crumbled with late car troubles. Deborah was hanging on, but just couldn't overtake Corey. A final lap off meant the gap is shown as four tenths of a lap, but it had been much closer. And if only a marshal hadn't knocked Deborah's car earlier in the race... But that's racing!
The last A final of the WHO Mod championship had ended up with all four title challengers present and correct. Corey had to win, but he got off to a bad start and the next two minutes didn't get much better. He knew he'd sown up the junior Mod title, so that was some consolation. Up front, Mike and Ned were neck and neck with John desperately trying to hang on. He did a grand job, but he couldn't prevent the Dadsons' Vipers pulling away from his Marchon a little each lap.
The gap between the front two never stretched beyond a couple of feet or a few hundredths of a second. Their pace was relentless. In the second half of the race, Ned made his move, overtook his dad, but couldn't pull out any sort of gap. We were all mesmerised. Mike fought back, taking risks that paid off. When the power went off at the end of the race, his car was less than two feet ahead of Ned's. Mike had the win and the his first WHO Mod title, Ned was taking home the junior medal and Corey had successfully defended his junior Mod crown. Only John was left with nothing, but he still had a smile on his face.
Thanks to everyone who took part in such an exciting evening of racing. There will plenty of head scratching and decisions to be made before the start of the 2017 WHO Mod season, but there's a good chance it will be even faster... A few small changes to rules for 2017 will be announced next month.
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