Into The Dust

15.07.13 959 (640x426) Round Three suffers in the summer heatwave

After speaking favourably about weather that should have negatively affected the meeting at round two, it is ironic that the beautiful weather had a negative effect on round three of the Kent Cams/Simpson Race Exhausts British Autograss Series.
Whatever the weather might be, we Brits like to complain about it, but there was no denying that Saturday’s heat was a little uncomfortable for us all, and reports of the temperature reaching 34 degrees are entirely believable. Then on Sunday, the oppressive heat was replaced by unpleasant levels of dust that made things difficult for everybody: it was hard for the marshals to see the on track action and make any necessary decisions; it would surely have been difficult for spectators to enjoy what was going on, particularly those on the pits side of track in whose direction the wind was blowing; and, stood on the infield, it was certainly difficult for us to tell what was happening in the dust clouds that billowed up lap after lap.
It seemed fairly clear to many people that when the bowser came out there was too much water going down on the track, and that simple adjustments on the tanker would have created a finer spray of water and not soak the track, making it less treacherous for those who raced on the slippery surface. It was mentioned a few times that the track was watered in readiness for a certain race to create ideal track conditions – often one of the more powerful classes – and there would be a short period of downtime for the water to soak in; this proved at times to have been a pointless exercise, as the intended race was then run later than expected, on a track that had become dry and dusty again. Such is the nature of a hard, polished surface like the one at York, there were progressively larger ruts that formed in the corners as the weekend went on that no amount of grading can quickly rectify during race day. There was more than a little damage sustained throughout the weekend to tyres, wheels and suspension by a few drivers, but that is to be expected to an extent; the majority of drivers must surely have been prepared as most will know the characteristics of the York track by now.
There were a number of reruns over the weekend as usual - something it would be nice not to have to report someday - and a huge tally of complaints from drivers claiming they'd been wronged, which then frustratingly resulted in races being restarted. With only just under 400 cars in attendance, the fact that day one was completed a little before 7pm is indicative of the how unhurried things were; Sunday's progress felt a little slicker in the third heats - which were completed by 1330; the finals started half an hour later - and it felt as though we might be in for an appreciably early finish to the meeting. A conclusion of around 1745 is by no means a disaster, but plenty of red flags, downtime to allow the water to soak into the track and then horrendous levels of dust meant that the finals didn't offer the same kind of climax as at Cwmdu.
That is not to say the finals were poor; indeed, there were still some excellent races, the Class Four and Junior Saloons finals in particular. Rob Corbett was again the star of the final in the 'Fours, with Huw Jones stepping into Luke Smith's boots to create a thrilling race in which they fought for the lead lap after lap. Senna Proctor also made Jake Bartlett work hard for his victory in the Juniors and drove a mature race.
It was refreshing to see that the club had made an effort to stage a Champion of Champions race - and supplied some lovely looking trophies for it, and the rest of the finals - but a shame that not many drivers had stayed to take part in it. The Men's and Ladies race was combined, and was won by Ben Gould, with Leanne Huschka behind him as the Ladies winner.