BRCA Micro National RD1 - Sleigh triumphs at MB Raceway

Micro

With an increase in popularity outside of our normal stomping ground (Midlands & South Wales), the section decided it should try travelling a little further North this season, and with that our first National event of 2016/17 was held last weekend at MB Raceway near Leeds. 

Several of the Committee travelled up on the Saturday evening to visit the venue and ensure everything was in place for the day ahead. We were greeted by Michael Ball of MB Models who gave us a tour of track facilities, and to say it was impressive would be an understatement. 

The track adjoins the shop and offers permanent pitting, direct access to the shop, cafe, timing screens in the pits, fully accessible rostrum and excellent lighting throughout. Awesome!!

With everything in place and under control, it was off to the hotel bar for a 'relax' and catch the England match (how to ruin a good evening!)

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Bright and early the following morning, the doors opened and again we were greeted by Michael and his team who helped direct parking and ensure everyone was smoothly unloaded and setup for the day ahead. 

As the cars hit the track for the first of two practice sessions, it was instantly evident that the seemingly easy layout would be balanced out by the extreme level grip from the EOS style carpet. Drivers experimented with differing tyres to get the best feel for their own driving style, with a rough 50/50 split between the Schumacher Rally Blocks and Mini-Pins. 

After the two rounds of practice, we were straight into the first qualifier. The target was early on by Matt Ward and then Leigh Richardson, before ultimately going to Phil Sleigh with a steady run (21/307.91).  In hot pursuit would be new comer to the Micro Section, Eugene Galley, finishing 2nd. 

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Several runners opted to swap their tyre choice for round 2, with still no clear advantage from either type. This round it was Peter Craig and Richard Miller who set the early pace, with Eugene then showing great speed to take the overall round points from Round 1 leader Phil Sleigh. Eugene's time would also be slightly quicker (21/306.20) to give him the overall lead after round 2

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Several runners had now secured their A final place but the main places were still up for grabs. Round 3 would provide yet another round winner, this time it would be the LC Racing EMB-1 of Andy Jones who would keep clear for 5 minutes and not only win the round, but also go slightly quicker again (21/305.81). This time Eugene would be second and Phil third. 

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As the racers headed into the final round of qualifying, the overall TQ position was still up for grabs with anyone of three drivers in contention. Early on it would be Lee Ball and then Laura Hicklin both having excellent runs and improving their qualifying places. The top heat hit the track and TQ contenders started 1,2,3 and circulated like this closely together for the first 6 laps. A small mistake from Andy Jones would leave it a two way battle for top honours, with both Eugene and Phil predicted improved times. 

By mid race the gap at the top had increased to a few seconds after Eugene had rubbed the track markers a few times too many, yet still on an improved time. 

As the buzzer sounded it was Phil Sleigh who squeezed through to compete the only 22 lap run of the day and with it take the Top Qualifier positions. 

Other stand out performance go to Laura Hicklin and Ben Smith, both new to Micros and placing in the top ten. Congratulations both!

The A finalists got underway for the first leg with a relatively clean start for most, but the unfortunate loser on lap 1 would be car 4 of Andy Jones. The field started to stretch out a little as several racers came unstuck by the high grip levels. Out front though it was an excellent race between Phil and Eugene, who traded the leader several times before Phil finally squeezed through a tight gap coming off the table top. With this the lead opened fractionally until the last lap, where Eugene had an uncharacteristic mistake to drop a few seconds back but still retain 2nd place. 

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The second A final was a little more laid back with the field running in numerical order for several laps and gaps opening throughout. The early improver was young Ben Smith, who jumped to 3rd where he would run for several minutes before dropping a couple of places. Not to be disheartened, Ben put his head down and charged late on in the race to eventually take 2nd place behind then race winner Phil. Winning the second leg secured Phil the overall meeting win and start off his Championship campaign in the best possible way. 

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Leg 3 saw another clean get away. With Phil already taking the meeting win, the focus this time was for positions 2 onwards. Eugene looked to be fairly safe in 2nd but several other drivers were in with a shot of finishing 3rd overall. As the 5 minute mark approached last years Champion, Ben Cosgrove, was upto 3rd in the race but it was Ben Smith who would take the last step on the podium. 

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C final - Top 3

1st - Andrew Porter

2nd - Lee Ball

3rd - Jonathon Kedge

B final - Top 3

1st - Andrew Hicklin

2nd - Steve Bunning

3rd - Richard Miller

A Finals - Top 10

1st - Phil Sleigh (TQ)

2nd - Eugene Galley

3rd - Ben Smith

4th - Andrew Jones

5th - Ben Cosgrove

6th - Tony Bishop

7th - Leigh Richardson

8th - Laura Hicklin

9th - Peter Craig

10th - Matthew Ward

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Many thanks to all that attended the first round of the Championship, and we hope to see you all at Silverstone in 4 weeks time. 

Thanks 

Micro Section Committee