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24.09.15 1187 (640x348) New high standards overshadow a decent York event.

Sometimes after a weekend’s racing, the event has been so good that you can’t wait to write about it; on other occasions, it’s worth taking a few days longer to reflect and get a little perspective. Round five falls into the latter category, but that doesn’t mean it was a bad event.
However, it wasn’t brilliant either. In past seasons, the quality of this meeting might have marked it as one of the better ones of the season, but as we said in the preview the standard of this year’s rounds has been exemplary, and consistently of superb quality.
Round four had attracted a huge entry; this event a considerably smaller one, so an early finish on both days was entirely possible. The reality, however, was rather different: the second heats finished a little after 1900 and the finals took a few minutes under four hours, finishing at 1805, which, with 360 cars present, was too long.
Upon arrival, it was clear the track had been worked because it looked snooker table smooth, but the nature of the surface’s soft texture meant that even after a few races for the front-wheel drive machines – we started with Class Two, One and then Junior Specials to keep noise at a considerate level for the neighbours – the track started to break up, and from then on the club were fighting a battle that was almost impossible to win.
As the ruts started to form the cones were moved progressively further away from the infield creating a circuit that was not only huge, but also at times presented worryingly little run-off space. Then when ruts started to form out wide the only alternative was to bring the cones back in and use an almost equally bumpy tight line again. The incredibly wide line used for a large percentage of the event also meant that there were too many instances where almost all the cones were taken out on the first bend, which not only presents problems of apportioning blame for the marshals, it makes it difficult for the drivers to know where the inside of the corner should be then also wastes more time to re-lay the corner after each race.
Of course, there was a lot of work done by the roller and the grading bar over the course of the weekend but it’s difficult to find a balance between spending too long on track holding up the racing and carrying out sufficient remedial work . The club deserve praise for attending to the track at regular opportunities, and for the several hours of work carried out well into darkness on Saturday evening to return the track to its original state; but then on Sunday it simply rutted up again and the balance of tractor versus clock begun again. It perhaps wasn’t as dusty as we might have expected, but nevertheless the bowser was used sensibly. More often than not the water was applied on the inside of the cones to try and keep drivers off them – at least the intention was there, even if it didn’t always work – but when the racing line itself was dampened it was beneficial and didn’t spoil the racing by creating too slippery a surface.
Inevitably, so many ruts and bumps caused a huge number of punctures and several of the rolls over the weekend. It was a particularly dramatic event it has to be said; if you enjoy the spectacle of a rollover you would have been rewarded, and there’s no doubt that – as was the case at Severn Valley too – it’s enjoyable to watch the cars bouncing about and jostling for position as the unpredictable nature of the track caught out even the most able drivers at times, and encouraged some brilliant racing.
But it’s only enjoyable up to a point. Once the balance starts tipping negatively; once you start to feel that an event’s timeliness is being negated unnecessarily and the red flags become tiresome, then not only does it affect the spectator’s pleasure and the positive perception of an event, but also frustrates the marshals, with whom we were stood for a fair portion of the weekend, and their ability to judge an incident with clarity.
However, despite these niggles there remains the undeniable fact that the racing was excellent and there were some exciting and surprising conclusions to many title battles, the stories of which we will be bringing you on this page over the next few weeks. The event also served as a reminder that the York venue is a nice one to spectate and camp at; not only is there a clear view of all the track, the camping areas are huge and the venue as well laid out as always; plus there were some lovely catering facilities present, particularly on the start straight. And we stand to be corrected if our impression is wrong, but there seemed to be a decent number of club personnel undertaking a variety of jobs around the field to ensure its cleanliness, tidiness and efficient operation, which is refreshing to see when many clubs struggle for help.
It’s worth remembering that this event should be viewed in context and relative to other events both in the past and this season. In the pre-UKAC era there could easily have been double the number of cars at an event, in which case the club would have struggled to get through the programme of races without a little more urgency; but compared to some of the terrible events we have experienced in the past, this final round would have compared favourably, and by no means will it be remembered as a bad meeting. Think back to the preceding four rounds this season though, and reflect on the quality we have enjoyed: because the bar for a successful and enjoyable meeting has now been set so high, the club can be excused for having fallen a little short of the new standard.