Ups and Downs

19.08.15 4007 (640x420) Spectacular action at a bumpy fourth round.

Look back to round four in 2013 and the Withington venue felt empty; spectatorland was sparse and the weather dull and cold. Fast forward two years and we can look back on what was an unexpectedly glorious weekend, with one of the biggest BAS entries since the UKAC was formed.
That event was remembered for some sensational racing and this weekend offered exactly the same. It was perhaps a little more spectacular than it should have been because the quality of the track wasn’t great in places, but there’ll be no complaints from anybody watching some of the sport’s finest drivers negotiating a series of ever-changing undulations, forcing them to the limits of control.
It was clear that some work had been done to the track since the Nationals, but the decision to move the cones wide early on in the event only seemed to succeed in slowing down the action, the cars getting bogged down in the bumpy, displaced loose instead of moving it further outwards and smoothing the surface. Continuous work throughout the event remedied it to a certain extent, and the tractors had a lot of track time; one marshal remarked that it looked like an agricultural show at points there were so many of them out at once as the diggers and bowsers worked on the track at the same time. There were a couple of comments from people along the lines that it was the worst they’d ever seen the track, but when it’s usually so beautifully flat and smooth, that’s not necessarily too disparaging a comment. While it was clear that it was a little rougher than it should have been, drivers certainly weren’t afraid to still use a wide line in order to gain extra traction. A risky chance though it was as the ruts and bumps sometimes sent the cars airborne or in unexpected directions, you only had to watch Lance Bowen or Phil Rogers, for example, as they threw their specials around the outside line to realise that the whole circuit was still useable and the wide line advantageous.
Having struggled for marshals several times in the past, it was heartening to see that for this weekend at least there were many people from different clubs willing to lend a hand, fulfilling a variety of roles around the field. There were a couple of times where it felt like the pace of the event had slowed down a little bit, and the fact that it was another late finish on Saturday was a little disappointing, especially as the programme of races was unfinished and carried over to Sunday morning. There were also a couple of questionable marshalling decisions too; not just simple cases of a natural difference of opinion in apportioning blame, but decisions that seemed unjustifiable and would have easily spoilt the weekend for a few drivers.
However, the considerably earlier finishing time on day two remedied any ill feeling about the timeliness of the event and because the quality of the racing was so good, rounded off by some brilliant finals, the few niggly faults can be forgiven because this will be remembered as a good event. There have been a couple of contradictory stories being told regarding the use of, or loss of, the Withington venue next year: there’ll be an official response by the end of the week, but we hope that there will be the chance to visit again next year because it’s a nice place to be and remains a favourite with both drivers and spectators.