10th Circuit Report From Eastbourne

10th Electric Circuit

Check out what happened at the first round of this years series

 Sunshine and warm weather greeted our national touring car drivers back to the Eastbourne track as they assembled for the first national of 2021, numbers were a little down for round one but we are still edging out of lock down and Eastbourne is a long trip south for some of our northern drivers, 2021 will have a slightly different feel to it but something that was still there was the spirit of competition

 Photo 1

Practice on Saturday was important as always, the bulk of the modified contenders secured some good track time at the King of Clubs event the week before the nationals, but for a lot of the stock drivers Saturday practise was the first chance of some real track time ahead of the national

The Eastbourne tracked looked superb for the first national of 2021

 

Current reigning champions, Olly Jefferies in modified and James Hart in stock led the field away in their respective classes as qualifying got under way on Sunday morning, practice promised that up and down the field in both classes this was going to be a close fought event.

 

Round one and a good start for the reigning modified champion as he took the first leg, but dropping out very early on were Chris Grainger and Zak smith, something that would prove to be influential as the day went on.

 

Round two of modified and Grainger was now on fresher tyres and took the leg ahead of Zak Smith, both drivers using their fresher rubber to good effect, not finishing round one now seemed to be turning to their advantage

 

Leg three and enter Ben Moorey, always quick at his home track Ben stunned many by taking round three of modified qualifying and really mixing things up, with a second place in leg three Grainger now topped the time sheets.

 

Left with the dilemma of putting on new rubber for the final leg to secure pole Jefferies decide to stick rather than twist, keeping with his three run old tyres he took the final leg and with it TQ. Chris Grainger was kind of happy with second as both he and Jefferies had a new set of Sweep tyres for the finals, behind Grainger was Moorey and while would be planning a possible move on Jefferies he also needed to keep an eye on the quick youngster lining up behind him for the A final. 

Photo 2

Zak Smith would start fourth, a usual solid performance from the Schumacher driver, behind Zak was Harley Eldridge, I am guessing Harley would be a little disappointed with fifth given her pace at some points over this weekend and in testing, but Harley is a good racer and nobody was expecting her stay fifth for long

 

 

Olly Jefferies took TQ in Modified with his Xray

 

 

Qualifying in stock had a similar aspect to it, Zak Finlay stopped on lap one of round one, and like Grainger and Smith in modified he would have fresh rubber and be out of sync with drivers around him going forward. Billy Fletcher took leg one and looked set for a good national.

 

Round two and with fresh boots no surprising Finlay took the leg, despite possibly having less Eastbourne track time than some of the drivers around him Zak looked his old self out front and in control. 

 

Zak repeated his round two performance in round three and now only Fletcher could stop him taking pole, but in the final round it was Markus Askell who topped the round, a result good enough to promote him to second on the grid for the final.

 

TC 13.5 Final Qualifying Positions

Pos Name Best Tie Break

1 Zak Finlay 21 / 311.10

2 Marcus Askell 21 / 311.57

3 Billy Fletcher 21 / 313.45

4 James Hart 20 / 301.16

5 Ricky Copsey 20 / 300.93

6 Chris Gunter 20 / 302.26

7 Darren Lee 20 / 302.37

8 Tony Broad 20 / 302.93

9 Sam Nicholls 20 / 303.95

10 Mark Trinder 20 / 305.72

 

 

TC Mod Final Qualifying Positions

Pos Name Best Tie Break

1 Olly Jefferies 22 / 312.60

2 Chris Grainger 22 / 314.22

3 Ben Moorey 22 / 311.25

4 Zak Smith 21 / 302.25

5 Harley Eldridge 22 / 314.53

6 Kyle Branson 21 / 300.19

7 Andy Murray 21 / 309.06

8 Daniel Robins 21 / 310.28

9 Colin Jackson 21 / 312.57

10 Chris Ashton 21 / 312.07

 

The first modified A final saw Jefferies ease a gap on Grainger and from halfway it looked both had settled for their respective positions, behind Kyle Branson was having a great midfield battle with the likes of Harley Eldridge and Kyle and would score a well deserved third in the first leg

 

From the buzzer it looked like same again for leg two with Jefferies easing a gap over Grainger then disaster for the Awesomatix driver as he left the track dropping him well down the order, this elevated Zak Smith up to second with Harley getting a better result in leg two and completing the podium, in fact the second  leg result was confirmed as the overall result with Jefferies taking the win over Zak and Harley, some reward for Harley who looked quick all weekend

 

Big loser in the finals was Grainger, possibly left cursing his luck in the second leg this was probably the closest Chris has got to a national win in a while and the disappointment was clear to see, but he has a good package with the Awesomatix and will regroup, but a fifth place here is likely to be a dropped score in the overall scheme of things. Like Harley Kyle Branson showed a lot of pace at times over the weekend, fourth maybe less than he was hoping for but still a strong start to the season for the nitro expert

 

TC Mod - A Final

Pos Car Name Tie Break Points R1 R2

1 1 Olly Jefferies 2 1 1

2 4 Zak Smith 7 5 2

3 5 Harley Eldridge 7 4 3

4 6 Kyle Branson 8 3 5

5 2 Chris Grainger 12 2 10

6 3 Ben Moorey 14 10 4

7 8 Daniel Robins 14 8 6

8 10 Chris Ashton 14 7 7

9 7 Andy Murray 15 6 9

10 9 Colin Jackson 17 9 8

 

Nine cars piling into the first corner of the Stock A final and something had to give, there was a little door handlining behind Zak which helped him build an early lead over the chasing Ricky Copsey and Billy Fletcher, we have seen Zak out front many times and he rarely gives up a comfortable lead and this was the case as he took leg one from Ricky and Billy

 

 Leg two started very similar with Zak looking comfortable up front, but then from second on the grid Marcus Askell started to reel the ARC driver in, with a minute to go it looked to everyone watching that Marcus had left his challenge a little late, even going in to the last lap everyone’s money was on Finlay, then in the last corner complex while defending Finlay cut a kerb to tight and causing a body tuck on his car, both cars entered the finishing straight neck and neck and sprinted for the finish line, Marcus getting the verdict by less than one hundredth of a second and the Xray driver getting one his best starts to a national stock championship.

Photo 3

Overall Zak Finlay surprised many with his speed in relation to his lack of pre-race track time, but win he did, but maybe not as convincingly as we have seen in the past. Of the chasing pack its hard to pick out a single one challenger, which is good for us watching as there is a whole host of drivers on a similar pace, Askell is looking good along with Billy Fletcher and Ricky Copsey and let’s hope this develops nicely as the season moves on

 

Zak had to work hard for his victory of 2021

Finishing fourth was James Hart, the Schumacher driver did not look comfortable with the Mi7 all weekend, he pushed hard and drove well but just didn’t seem to have the car under him to challenge those ahead, if he can get the car working to his liking you can definitely add James into the mix for the next few races.

 

TC 13.5 - A Final

Pos Car Name Tie Break Points R1 R2

1 1 Zak Finlay 3 1 2

2 2 Marcus Askell 4 3 1

3 5 Ricky Copsey 7 2 5

4 3 Billy Fletcher 7 4 3

5 4 James Hart 9 5 4

6 6 Chris Gunter 13 7 6

7 10 Mark Trinder 16 6 10

8 7 Darren Lee 16 9 7

9 8 Tony Broad 17 8 9

10 9 Sam Nicholls 18 10 8

 

We move on to Colchester next, it is the first time the Essex club has hosted a full blown BRCA National, some drivers got experience of this venue last year at the summer EWS meeting but for many this will be new ground, Olly Jefferies took the victory at the EWS event over now retired Elliott Harper with Grainger third, maybe an indication of pre-race form, who knows, a lot has happened since then and Grainger looks more at home with his car. There is very limited track time available between the Eastbourne and Colchester national so Saturday practice may become very important for some.

 Photo 4

Photo 5

 

See you all at Colchester.