The 1st round of the BRCA National Championships was held at the Deerdale track on the edge of Sherwood Forest over the weekend, and the NEMO Racing Team put up a great showing on a difficult track. The only round of the Championship that is held on an Astroturf surface, it presents the drivers and teams with a very different challenge than they normally face on the dirt surfaces through the rest of the season.
Practice went well for the team with several of the drivers going very well and setting themselves up for qualifying.
Qualifying started with Darren taking 3rd overall in round 1, despite not being completely happy with the set up of his car, Jonny Skidmore was just in the top 10 with a scrappy run and Tony Truman just outside in 11th. The track was completely dry and after some set up tweaks, Darren would go on to TQ round 2 of qualifying despite not taking the faster, but risky line round the jump up corner on the back section. The Agama drivers throughout the field were performing very well, with the likes of Jonny Roberts, Jordan Shelton, Mark Rumble and Dave Stanley all performing exceptionally and producing fantastic times.
Round 3 saw Darren once again in the top 3 with a clean, but conservative run which gave him the 3 good scores he needed and would allow him to push a bit more in the final 2 rounds of qualifying. Jonny Skidmore and Tony Truman were putting in the consistent times that would secure semi final places, and round 3 saw Ollie Currie start to creep up the leaderboard with a top 10 time.
Round 4 and Darren changed his car to be more like that of Jonny Roberts, and would go on to TQ the round, despite a bit of late race traffic that cost him a few seconds. He was very happy with the set up changes and felt the car was much easier to push than it had been previously. This result left the TQ position between Darren and Elliott Boots with the final round to decide on Sunday morning.
When we arrived at the track on Sunday, heavy rain and then a surprising freeze had left the track very slippery for the early heats, and put the doubts in the TQ chasers minds as to which tyres and settings would be best. Actually by the time heats 8 & 9 came around the track was bone dry, and Elliott out first was confronted with a huge amount of traction that caught him out a few times and as a result he didn’t win his heat, meaning Darren had secured overall TQ before he took to the track. Just to underline the point Darren would TQ the final round as well despite a shaky start to the run where the grip caught him out also. Star of the team was Kyle Boon, who on his National debut with NEMO/Agama qualified into the 1/4 finals, and was as high as 16th in a round. Joining Darren in the semi finals were Jonny Skidmore, Tony Truman and Callum Niblett.
The finals were generally really good for the Agama runners, and we had plenty of success stories through the field, many guys bumping up or in contention. Ollie Currie and Kyle Boon would both bump up from their 1/4 final into the semis, despite some late race drama that caused dads a few missed heartbeats. The semis were tough as usual, and the mid pack was as close as ever. However Darren would win his side in the quickest time, enough to give him pole for the main final where he would be joined by Jonny Skidmore and Tony Truman.
The main final saw Darren drop a place after a bobble on lap 1, but he would quickly be back into the lead and pulling clear, the gap up to about 5 seconds as we hit the 5 minute mark. Neil Cragg, Lee Martin and Elliott Boots were the chasing pack, with Elliott struggling to match the pace of the other 3 but keeping it consistent, which as the others started to make a whole series of mistakes brought him right back into play. It was Neil who made the break around 10-15 minutes to stretch a lead of about 10 seconds, but a lapse of concentration saw him hit the outside track marker on the main straight and take a corner off, leaving him out. This left Darren, Lee and Elliott battling it out, swapping positions lap by lap as the mistakes kept coming. Indeed it was probably one of the most error strewn main finals of recent years as the leaders struggled to make the pace without errors. Heading into the final 5 minutes it was Elliott who had the lead with Darren and Lee chasing, Elliott adopted a slower but more consistent pace when he realised he didn’t have the outright pace of the others, and this proved to be his winning ticket as the others crashed their way out of the lead several times, he was there to pick up the pieces and it was he who took the flag from Lee and Darren, all within a few seconds of each other. Jonny Skidmore drove an excellent race to cement his early season good form to take 5th overall.
Congratulations to all the guys, and Elliott on his win…and most of all to Chris Jeffery, who as the only real representative of the host club performed a herculean task over the weekend and came up trumps…Thanks Chris!
The series moves on to Kent in the south of England and their fabulous 3D dirt track.