Silver Lining

18.06.13 843 (640x427)_3 Rain produces great climax at Cwmdu

The weather played a big part in the second round of the Kent Cams/Simpsons Race Exhausts British Autograss Series, but not in the way many would have expected.
Such is the pessimistic outlook of the collective British psyche where the weather is concerned, there were many fears over what shape the meeting would take after continual forecasts of weekend-long rain prior to the event, and speculation over whether the event might be cancelled. There were a few heavy showers on Saturday that weren’t really significant enough to slow the speed of the track, serving instead as a natural water bowser, but it was the couple of hours of rainfall prior to the finals which could easily have spoiled what promised to be a great set of races.
It quickly became apparent as the finals started that despite the rain the track was still conducive to close racing; a number of the classes featured more place-swapping than you’d see on a dry track, with some drivers utilising the limited traction of the tight inside line and others the bumpy but far grippier outside line, sometimes at the same time, which created some of the best races we’ve seen for a long time.
As was apparent at round one, the smaller entry helped improve the quality of the event; five and three-quarter lap heats on Saturday, four and three-quarter laps for heat three, and then an extra lap again for the final gave drivers plenty of opportunity to fight for places and satisfy the desire for as much track time as possible, while leaving enough chance for the club to deal with a number of incidents and, particularly on this occasion, to repair the fence countless times. Think back to those rounds in previous years that had upwards of 700 cars, and the amount of downtime that was necessary here would have proved a real problem. The track was continually fettled over the course of the weekend too, as cars were recovered or as repairs were made, to keep the undulating nature of the surface under control; it remained in great shape even in wet conditions and dried out quickly once the rain had slowed.
There were certainly a few too many red flags on day one, and seemingly quite a relaxed attitude which still resulted in a fairly late finish despite there being just under 500 cars. That the meeting was concluded by 1635 on Sunday can only be commended however, and in hindsight the club pulled off the kind of meeting we would have expected, and successfully continued the revival of the Series.
As seems to be the norm now, there were also a number of stoppages in the finals – though not as many as in South Wales – but the quality of racing more than made up for it, particularly in classes Three, Four and Eight. Luke Smith’s incredible run in Class Four, battling with Rob Corbett, was scintillating stuff and will be remembered for a long time. Likewise, Aaron Mackenzie’s similar approach to the Class Three final and his commitment to his chosen line was impressive, but like Smith, the tactic didn’t quite work in his favour. This still proved to be Mackenzie’s best ever BAS finish, but both drivers would have thoroughly deserved their narrow victories. Dan Mackenzie was long overdue another overall victory, and made the most of the third restart on a drying track to take a convincing win against stiff opposition.

Main: Aaron Mackenzie took the wide line and nearly beat Pete Robinson. Middle: Dan Mackenzie took a well deserved win in the restarted final and took maximum score from the weekend. Above: Luke Smith's approach to the final was brave and committed (photos: Dan Moffatt).