Monday, 23 January 2012

Area51 ... RC's worst kept secret!

It's a shame about the Petit and all the associated acrimony but as the saying goes 'The King is dead. Long live the King!"  (Or for the French "Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!")

So named because of the top secret location on military land in deepest darkest Oxfordshire this meeting was organised by the very capable crew from the Silverstone club.
If pre-event interest was any guide then this was going to be a big one.
270 entries across 3 classes (2wd, 4wd and SC) all looking forward to a weekend of racing and camaraderie.

The cars were prepped, the hotel was booked (2 nights in a Travelodge) and I was on my way.

 We were greeted at the gate by security who checked us in, warned us to behave, and directed us to a big mysterious hanger which was to be our home for the weekend.

This hanger was mahoosive!
I would not be surprised if it had indeed been used to house inter-stellar space craft.
The track filled approximately a third of the space the other two thirds left plenty of room for pitting.
It was great to be able to walk in at a reasonable hour, if 7.00 am is reasonable on a weekend, and choose where to set up. I do hate having to jostle for a pitting spot, especially when it always seems that one guy is 'saving a space' for about 20 of his mates!

The track itself was a triumph.
Overlooked by a perfect rostrum it was mainly carpet with a couple of well placed slippy sections.
Sprinkled around the circuit were a great range of features that can be seen in the accompanying pictures.

There was the Tekin drop-off which, to a relative noob like me, looked intimidating but was actually great to drive. A table-top with a little kicker, judging ones speed correctly on entry ensured a quick exit from the down ramp. A 180 degree step down table top that claimed a victim or two over the weekend and various other smaller but nonetheless testing features.

It was a track, like all the best tracks, that was relatively easy to get round for everyone but a little more difficult to get round quickly, unless your name is Lee Martin or Darren Bloomfield of course. 

Saturday was 2 wheel drive day, had I bitten off a little more than I could chew? Probably.
At least the Losi 22 looked good on the pit table.
2wd is all a bit new to me so I was careful not to expect too much of myself.
I didn't drive too badly and certainly enjoyed myself but did find the Losi a bit of a handful. I finished qualifying in the bottom third, pretty much where I expected.

One of my pit buddies on the day was touring car refugee Glen Westwood. He was driving the wheels off his prototype Cougar and was turning solid B final times all day, well done bud.

The south was well represented with a good turn out of drivers from both TORCH and SHRCCC.
I enjoyed my final and had a decent drive to second place. I was disappointed to learn post race that only the winners of the finals were to receive trophies.

The A final was to be contested by the usual suspects with Darren Bloomfield and Lee Martin duking it out for top honours. Darren eventually victorious with his Losi 22 getting the better of Lee who was driving his new Tamiya based Vega.

Catering over the weekend was taken care of by 'Chubbies' who offered a variety of victuals not necessarily aimed at the health conscious. The usual variety of meat filled buns were available as well as some more exotic fare.
Nobody went hungry.
This was Neil Percivals lunch of choice . . . Mrs Percival, I hope Sunday night was bearable.

The long gaps between heats meant that alternative means of entertainment were sought.
Welcome to the inaugural running of the SHRCCC bodyshell hat race.
This was to be hotly contested and was probably the only race of the weekend Dudders had a chance of winning.
The flag dropped and they were off. Some early jostling between pre-race favourites Terry Streeter and Rob Elms saw them drop off the pace leaving Dudders and Tartman to fight it out for the victory.
Darren was 1st across the line but a stewards enquiry later established that despite having a velcro head his bodyshell had become prematurely detached.
Victory was therefore duly awarded to the Kajagoogoo hair styled Dudders.

It all proved a little too much for some, Darren took a nap, ahh bless. Terry liked his new hat so much he wouldn't take it off.

Sunday dawned and it was time to do it all again, this time in 4wd.
Overnight however the heating had broken down and with the outside temperature below freezing it was gonna be cold cold cold!

The SX3 was looking good.

James Rumble turned up with his Durango for the Sunday and joined me, Rob and the rest of the flagging SHRCCC gang for the days frolics.

I was hoping to be a bit more competitive in 4wd and indeed I was. I didn't go quite as well as I had hoped but qualified mid pack which was ok in a field with such a depth of quality.

The same two guys disputed the victory in 4wd but this time Tamiyas Lee Martin took top honours from Darren driving his (vintage?) Losi.

The scrutineering table. Touring cars take note. . .
The extent of the scrutineering was to check that the cars were fitted with Schumacher control tyres and that was it. 
Schumacher were chosen as the control tyre supplier, I reckon that was worth around £3500 in tyre sales alone, not to mention my repair bill.

RC tarts Rob Forbes and Neil Dudman had both opted for matching pink and blue paint jobs.
Quote of the weekend goes to Rob who when I asked him how it was going replied "Mate . . I couldn't win a f*****g egg and spoon race!"

It was a great weekend, even at my end of the grid.
I slept like a baby when I eventually got home on Sunday evening.
To host an event like this takes alot of work and as a racer I would like to say a big thanks to everyone involved, your hard work is much appreciated.
I will certainly be looking forward to Area52.

Full results for the weekend can be seen HERE

Now that's over with it's time to start looking forward to Off Road Wars in February.
Area 51 is a tough act to follow but I am sure the guys at Maritime will be up to it.

See you at the 'Black Mailbox'.

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