Fair and Foul

13.08.14 025 Wind and rain spoil what could have been a great weekend at Red Roses.

There was huge potential for the South Wales league to produce an excellent round of the Kent Cams/Simpson Race Exhausts British Autograss Series, but they were denied the chance to fulfil it as the weather forced the cancellation of the finals.
Because of the regularity with which our sport is affected by adverse conditions, there are always countless forecasts shared to prepare ourselves, but it's difficult to plan for a weekend at Red Roses because the coastal location creates so many unpredictable changes in the weather. As has been proved on a number of occasions the South Wales League have always been quick to react to changes in the conditions and they underlined their efficiency this weekend too.
The first heats were run in lovely conditions, highlighting both the fast flowing nature of the track and the excellent quality of the racing surface, and this was another circuit at which there were a number of different racing lines. The fact we were given a clear indication of the event's potential had we enjoyed two days of good weather meant that its curtailment was especially disappointing, as we could now have been looking back on the best meeting of the season.
Great progress was made on the first day, and with the forecast changing for Sunday the decision was made to start the third heats on Saturday evening. Of course this meant a later finish, but it was an understandable move that also meant a welcome early finish on Sunday, which would have been the case even if the finals had gone ahead.
The wind direction on day one meant that we could see the conditions heading our way from over Caldey Island, and this turned out to be a meeting of two halves. Up until the second half of the men's second heats the conditions were great, but with the dark clouds and rain on the horizon came a sense of foreboding, and once the rain arrived it never fully ceased. Then when the tail end of Hurricane Bertha arrived overnight along with torrential rain that continued into Sunday morning, it created an immediate sense of uncertainty as to whether the programme of races would reach a full conclusion.
It wasn't too long after the third heats commenced on Sunday morning that the decision was made to cancel the finals, with the points awarded from the heats only. The track, though wet and muddy, was still more raceable than most others would have been in similar conditions, but a lot of drivers, even those who'd been announced as finalists on Saturday evening, had already loaded up ready to leave so the finals would probably have been down on numbers anyway. It's unfortunate that a couple of hours after the last race had finished the sun came out and a decent set of finals could possibly have run, but the decision to end after the third heats was an understandable one as both the marshals and commentators were finding it virtually impossible to identify cars or police any incidents in the trying conditions.
Despite not being able to run a full meeting, the South Wales League highlighted their capabilities. The track watering was efficient, with the welcome sight of two bowsers circulating side by side which saved time (and is an approach that should be adopted by all clubs with more than one bowser); the recovery of broken cars was quick, and there seemed to be plenty of personnel on hand to take on various roles.
It was good to see drivers marshalling again and sitting in the camera room; anything that continues to foster a better understanding of the decision making processes can only be a positive. Adam Jones had a fair approach as Chief Marshal as was expected, and the marshals worked well together as they had done at Stroud. It was also good to hear that the host league had allowed drivers to view the footage of their incident on the cameras if they asked, which created better feeling between the officials and the penalised driver, and greater transparency over the decision making processes.
It perhaps helped that many people were already in Wales at the end of a week's holiday and hadn't had to travel for hours specially to get to a meeting that ended up being cut short, so were a little more relaxed after a seaside break and some great racing at the Nationals and the Wednesday night meeting. Then the early finish allowed them to return home earlier than expected. In hindsight it was disappointing that the momentum from Stroud wasn't allowed to continue through the whole meeting, that the rain had to spoil another event and that the South Wales League were denied a full chance to shine. You can say with certainty it would have been a high quality event with some scintillating finals, which is a notion that can be applied to the final round at Yorkshire Dales too, having been there for several Nationals events, with the title in many of the classes still to be won.