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Essex Regional Heat Report

Emma, Monday 11th July, 2011

Ford Dunton Race Report 9th July 2011

We arrived at Ford Dunton in Essex fully prepared for yet another damp race, the sun was shining but there were plenty of threatening black clouds hanging around and generating a fair bit of wind which made putting up the gazebo and flags a little tricky! However, the teams sprits were definitely not dampened with many teams arriving before the event team even got there!  We ended up with a full complement of 15 teams and there was a busy 90 minute practice session with the drivers getting used to the banking at turn one and then the tight hair pin before heading on to the pit straight.

The race started with 14 cars on the grid and one team, Purple Blazer, having to start late from the paddock due to technical difficulties.  All the cars managed to make it round the first lap and through the hair pin with no big issues.  Unfortunately after only 20 minutes of racing Tomato Salad form Colchester County High School for Girls lost a wheel as they came flying through the hairpin.  Luckily they were close to the paddock and the marshals managed to safely wheel them out of the way under the yellow flag.

By now a few cars had had the experience of diving into the hay bales at the hairpin with a couple of drivers having to be cautioned over their speed into the turn.  Just over an hour into the race AON from Business Academy Bexley dramatically left the track at full speed heading for the paddock.  Due to some quick thinking and brilliant driving skills from the driver no one was hurt and nothing got hit.  A scary moment for everyone who saw it, sadly for the team they were forced to retire from the race as they couldn’t get their brakes fixed.  Around this time there were only 7 of the 15 cars on the track and the rough surface of the circuit was beginning to take its toll on both the mechanical and electrical connections in the cars.  The next lap saw Maltings Missile crash into the hair pin once more, this time it wasn’t down to driver error, but their chain had snapped and locked up the rear wheel.  The car limped off the track and after some quick repairs they managed to complete the race with only half a chain link holding their chain together!  Despite their troubles Maltings Missile managed to set the fastest lap time of the day of 2minutes 43seconds around the 1.1 mile circuit.

As the only newcomer amongst a grid of 15 experienced schools, Alderman Blaxill School with Blue Square Racing had a fantastic day finishing in a very respectable 5th place.  They were racing with one of our old Seagull cars, as were Thomas Lord Audley School with Team Griffin, who also proved that these cars can still be competitive even into old age as they coped well with the hairpin and finished in 10th place having done a distance of 41.8 miles, just beaten by LIS from Little Ilford School and King Prawn from Colchester County High School for girls who came across the line in 9th and 8th places respectively, both having done 44 laps.  Tabor Science College had a last minute change of car and raced with Red Current who suffered some body work damage during the race, but managed to finish just outside the top ten places.

BRM brrrmmm from The Philip Morant School & College were having a difficult day with multiple trips to the pits and the paddock, but they managed to stay on the track until the end and I’m sure it certainly proved to be a challenging day for the new drivers they were training.  The Flying Cow Girls from Westcliffe High School for Girls were as always in high spirits (helped by the birthday celebrations for their chief cowboy!) but frustratingly they just missed out on qualifying for the finals as they finished in 4th place having covered a very respectable 55 laps, a distance of 60.5 miles.  The top spot was comfortably won by Leigh Stormers 2 from the Leigh Technology Academy who completed a whopping 66 laps.  Second and third place were extremely close and frequently swapping places right up to the last minute when Basildon Bullet from Basildon Young Engineers Club just piped Darkside of the Plume from The Plume School to the post with a difference of 1 lap between them.

Despite the challenging track everyone had a fantastic day out and it was topped off with a lovely prize giving where the winning teams were presented with one of a kind trophies made in the rapid prototype machines at the Ford site a only a matter of meters from the trackside.

The Essex Regional Heat is the final Formula 24 event of the summer series and fittingly it was our first dry event of the season (even though the clods did threaten us with a couple of drops of rain throughout the afternoon).  Although The Greenpower team are looking forward to a well deserved few days of rest over the summer we have had tremendous fun so far this year and are hugely excited about the rest of the events happening in September and October, see you all there!