For the 2015 European B Championships the event was held on familiar turf for the NEMO Racing team at the Herts Nitro Model Club in the UK, and more than ever the level of competition would be extremely high.
The club had put in an immense amount of effort in improving and updating the facility in readiness for the event, and frankly the track and facilities were looking fantastic, and with mainly good weather forecast for the weekend hopes were high of great 3 days racing.
As ever the Euro B is a more compact event at 3 days, and is no less an event for that, its maybe a better format although it doesn’t allow much delay time in adverse weather. Practice got underway on friday and the top drivers were running very close times meaning any errors were punished heavily.
After a couple of rounds of non-timed practice we headed into the times sessions for reseeding, and straight away the times were quick, indeed the top guys were just sneaking through for the 8th lap and that would be right on the pace with the Euro A drivers that race here at this track. The 1st seeded round saw NEMO guys showing really well, with Callum Niblett 2nd, Ollie Currie 3rd, Tony Truman 4th and Jonny Skidmore 6th and as predicted the times were super close. Ollie Currie and Tony Truman improved their times in the 2nd round and were also top 4 again, with this time Leon Goode joining the frame with a cracking run to place 6th in round. These results would see them all seeded well and the faster heats for qualifying and with the confidence to know they were in with a good chance if they put the runs together.
Unfortunately when saturday came, the weather was not as predicted and the conditions were in fact terrible. The rain was light but consistent, and didn’t really let up until the very end of the day.
This meant tyre choices from practice were out of the window and it was down to the intuition of the drivers and their mechanics to try and get the best set up possible for the conditions. There were quite a few electrical casualties as the races went on due to small patches of standing water and this was spoiling many a competitive run. For example Tony Truman was on course for a top 2 in round 1 before water entered the receiver and put him out. A sit was Ben Williams showed excellent form in round 1 to take 3rd overall, and with Callum Niblett in 4th the Agama boys were well represented at the top of the leaderboard. Leon Goode continued his good practice form to be 9th. But even in these conditions the times were very close, and only 15 seconds covered the top 30 drivers in round 1. Round 2 saw Callum Niblett turn on the afterburners and put an excellent run together to take the round win, and with Leon Goode also starring with a great 2nd in round. Jonny Skidmore was up to speed and he was 7th in round 2. Tony Truman was again on a quick run, but a last lap error cost him dear and he had to settle for 11th in round.
The 3rd round and this time Tony Truman managed to put a run together to take 2nd in round, with Jonny Skidmore securing his semi final place with 4th in round. Ollie Currie had struggled with the wet conditions and had not been up to his usual form, but was now getting it together with 12th in round 3.
Round 4 finally saw a break in the weather and the track began to dry out, meaning that the heat rotation favoured the top heats as they would run last and on the driest track. Tony Truman was once gain 2nd, driving a little bit within himself to ensure he got the good result he needed, and Ollie Currie drove excellently to take 4th in round to ensure he placed his Agama A215 in the semis.William Skidmore drove a heroic round to take 6th overall and a place in the 1/4 finals, while brother Jonny and Leon Goode also made the top 10.
This meant that 5 Agama and 8 BETA Tyre runners were in the overall top 10 after qualifying, showing the strength of the package on this track.
Sunday once again saw the weather not being particularly kind and the drizzle was pretty consistent until around lunchtime when finally it eased and the track began to dry out. Its a testament to the track that it stood up to a day and a half of being pounded in the rain to still be a good race track after it dried out.
The bump up king of the NEMO team was Roman Kummer from Switzerland, starting in the 1/16th finals he bumped his way through to the 1/4 finals where he should have also bumped himself into the semi finals, only missing out by 1 second and he made a costly error right at the end. Ben Williams did drive quickly and consistently to take the win in that final to book his place in the semis.
The B side semi saw Callum Niblett dominate, taking an easy 10 second win over Riccardo Berton and with Jonny Skidmore driving very well to take 4th and book his place in the main final. The final bump position was a battle between the two Agama drivers Ollie Currie and Ben Williams, the two diced fairly and it was Ollie who prevailed to book his final place.
The second semi saw Tony Truman battle with TQ man Joao Figueiredo and finally come home in 2nd, despite making a few errors. This semi was quick and this meant that both Joao and Tony would beat the time set by Callum in the other semi to take the first 2 spots on the grid. Leon Goode was easily quick enough to make the main final, but errors cost him his chance and he would stay in the semis.
The 45 minute main final got underway after the lengthy presentations and at the beginning it was the final that nobody wanted to win, every time somebody took the lead they crashed. Callum Niblett and Tony Truman in particular had terrible starts, a succession of mistakes by both left them languishing at the back after the first stint and with a huge amount of work to do.
Jonny Skidmore was the first guy to really take the lead and look after it, driving an excellent 10 minutes either side of his first pit stop. Gradually a few mistakes crept in as he was put under pressure and he would slowly drop in to the mid pack. By around 15 minutes, both Callum and Tony were starting to make inroads in to the top 6 and a podium looked possible for both if they could keep the pace up without making errors. They continued to charge and they were closing the gap to the leaders when Figueiredo broke his car, giving them another free spot they were after the leader. They were both relentless as the clock wound down but it was clear they didn’t have enough time to catch the leader Riccardo Berton. Callum would cross the line in 2nd with Tony coming home a few seconds behind in 3rd to both make the podium. Tony set the races fastest lap only 2 from home showing his tyres were performing right through the 45 minute main. Ollie Currie made a good comeback also to secure 5th overall and take a good result after a disappointing qualifying.
Congratulations to the winner Berton, who drove with maturity to take the win. The NEMO team can rightly be very proud of themselves after they all put in an excellent performance, and with Barkely Abernethy second in the over 40’s final and William Skidmore winning the junior final, it capped off an excellent weekend for the team.
We now look forward to the Euro A Championships in Italy in July….