They lead, others follow30.09.13 Brilliant final round from the Scunthorpe club shows how it should be done.
There could have been few better ways for the 2013 Kent Cams/Simpson Race Exhausts British Autograss Series to end, as the Scunthorpe club staged a terrific meeting at their excellent Blyton Park venue.
The venue has been improved over the past seasons, and now must rank as one of Autograss’s finest. There has been permanent catch-fencing erected to separate the track from the spectators, instead of the usual temporary installation of Heras fencing that we see at some venues, and also the addition of a small grandstand that quite rightly proved popular with spectators, providing a great view of the circuit.
Also, we have mentioned in the past how good it is to view the track from on top of the large hill on the pits bend at Cwmdu’s venue; however, the spectator banking at the on the outside of turn one at Blyton Park also provides one of the best vantage points from which to watch the racing, and it’s also a great place for our sport’s many photographers to take photos.
It was clear from the moment you arrived that the track was in great shape too - in addition to the curiously ‘special’ feeling of the venue in general - a point that was quickly proven as racing commenced and reiterated throughout the weekend. The surface was flat and smooth and polished up very quickly, which is a sometimes unfavourable characteristic for some, but by now everyone knows the nature of the circuit and what to expect.
It a rarity these days that a track should need no work from either a roller or a grading bar/blade throughout each day to keep it in shape; we are used to seeing various equipment appear during periods of recovery and downtime, but Scunthorpe track was in such good condition, the first time any machinery appeared was at the end of the first day. Of course, the club had no rain to contend with in the run up to the event that necessitated work on the track to keep it raceable – a situation so familiar to many of our clubs over the past few seasons – but nevertheless the track was superb and stayed in great shape all weekend.
We were lucky with the weather and experienced glorious sunshine on both days which made for incredibly dry and dusty conditions, so the water bowser was required often, but for the most part the water was well placed and kept the dust at bay without turning the tarmac-like surface into a skating rink. The dust became a problem in a few of the finals for the more powerful machinery, sometimes to the extent that we could hardly see what was happening on track from our position on the outside of turn one, but for that to be the only real criticism of the whole meeting is indicative of the quality of the event. We knew the event would be good, but the club can justifiably feel proud for what was a brilliant meeting, one that was befitting of the series climax and marked another step-up in quality for this always impressive organiser. It will quite rightly leave a lasting memory over the winter months, and on the strength of such a good event, it’s a pleasure to think that it will be the first venue visited for the 2014 series.
The final round of the series usually attracts a slightly lower entry, but with 419 drivers signed on this event was commensurate with most of the other BAS events this year, which was great to see, and as predicted was boosted slightly by the presence of some drivers who’ve been competing in the UK Autograss Championship this year. We felt rather sorry for the marshals who had the unenviable task of continually retrieving the course markers, as driving standards were very poor in terms of cone discipline: there were more than a few penalties issued as a result, and strategic use of the water bowser to send the drivers on a wider line away from the cones. The number of reruns in the finals also served to spoil a few of the races (class seven for example) but the majority of the racing was excellent, and the resolution of the championship battles fascinating.
The collection of the cones - sometimes the whole bend’s worth of markers had been obliterated - and the removal of stricken machinery was dealt with quickly and efficiently, and the lengthier periods of downtime in which the ambulance was required caused no disruption to the flow of the meeting.
There were some brilliant finals to resolve some of the titles, though many had already been sorted in the heats. The class ones provided a sensational race from which Arron Sharp emerged as a hugely deserving overall winner. The class nine final was also a highlight, as Anthony Read and John Whitehouse went nose to tail in an exciting encounter.
Liam Roche and Jake Bartlett were the junior specials and saloons champions respectively, the latter benefiting from a black flag for closest rival Rhys Griffiths in the heats. Rob Corbett was the overall Men’s champion after a dominant year in class four, with Jodie Faulkner the overall Ladies winner