|2008 Welsh Sports & Saloon Car Championship|
Alvin wins 3 - Rhys wins the title
2008 Welsh Sports & Saloon Car Championship Final Rounds October 11/12th
Saturday Race 1 or 2 any lap - Rhys & Alvin were this close and sometimes even closer! (Thanks to Steve Williams for his excellent photos
Saturday October 11th Entry & Practice
Alvin Powell made a welcome return and headed the practice time sheets after practice on a track, wet from overnight rain, with a time of 66.109 secs. Championship points leader Rhys Lloyd was 2nd fastest with Nigel Bowen was an impressive 3rd with Jeff Davies 4th. Paul Trowbridge was 5th with Lucas Ordonez the first of the Nissan Academy guest drivers was 6th. Jason Davies was 7th with the Peugeot of John Morris down in a suprisingly lowly 8th. Ken Rattenbury was 9th with his 3-door Seirra, With the cars of Rhodri Jenkins and Mike Woods absent the Honda squad was reduced to Anthony Allitt who rounded out the Top Ten in his Honda Civic R, and Class B points leader Mark Nicolson who was 11th in his Honda Integra. Guest driver Andrew Slaney-Smith was 12th in his Tiger R6 ahead of the other Nissan Academy guest driver, Lars Scholmer. Geraint Rees was a long way down in 14th ahead of toe-dipper Andrew Meyrick and his unique (for us) Vauxhall Chevette. Russell Haggerty and his Raw Striker was the first Class A runner in 15th place. Chris Morris was 16th with his Suzuki Ignis with another Guest Tiger of Dave Davies 17th ahead of Glynne Jones who only did 3 laps on slick tyres just to qualify.
Adrian Chapman was a lowly 20th after gearbox problems slowed his place. Finally Wayne Osborne was our last very welcome newcomers, with his Ford Puma making it yet another new marque joining the series, continuing its tradition of having a widespread mix of cars competing. Wayne has raced at Castle Combe before in a Peugeot. As well as Rhodri & Mike, sadly missing were Andrew Williams, whose engine was comprehensively wrecked at the last meeting, Keith Butcher and Steve & Yolande Humpreys who were on duty elsewhere. This meant that Rhys was first in line to take the 2008 championship, one of the most competitive for many years.
Race 1 Saturday Rolling Start 15 min + 1 lap
First let me say that with a 20 + grid of closely matched cars there is so much action going on that no one person can see it all, and all I hope to do is convey an impression of what was happening. Anyway there was going to be plenty of interest in this race with some drivers expected to move up from their starting position as well as some battles to be fought all through the field. There were 2 warm-up laps as they track has dried, but there were still damp patches, effectively leaving only one dry line, with the track very slippery off-line. Alvin made the best start but he had Rhys glued to his back bumper, Nigel was 3rd initially but retired on the 4th lap after something broke deep in the front suspension and pitched him into a grassy spin. John Morris was on the rise as was Geraint Rees and Glynne Jones. John eventually finished 3rd but even briefly snatched 2nd from Rhys as Alvin & Rhys battle slowed them down enough to allow John to close in, John setting the races fastest lap in the process, and going on the attack Alvin literally, giving Alvin tap at Hatchets after locking up under braking! This allowed Rhys to re-asserted himself and he stepped up the pressure on Alvin, setting his own fastest lap in the closing stages to finish only 0.222 of a second behind Alvin on the line! In the meantime Jeff Davies had a lonely race to finish 4th but he would have Geraint Rees as his sparring partner for race 2 after Geraint made his way up to 6th having battled with Lucas Ordonez on his way through. Lucas was the last driver on the lead lap.
Find a space to race - Ken & Friends stage the dice of the season
But the story of the race was the battle for 7th to 12th place with Ken Rattenbury at the head of a ducking and diving train of cars comprising of Jason Davies, Andrew Slaney-Smith, Paul Trowbridge, Mark Nicolson and Anthony Allitt. Anthony dropped away from the group after a spin at Dibeni on cold rear tyres, and then spent the rest of the race trying to latch on to the group. Just who overtook whom on what lap, would just take too long to tell, but suffice to say it seemed that just about everyone tried to get past Ken at one stage, with Jason Davies making several determined attempts only to see himself shuffled back , until he finally made it stick late in the race. Andrew Slaney-Smith followed him through and chased him to the line. Jason finally making it up to 7th after what he described as "the worst start ever. I got stuck on the wet side of the track and thought if I try to make it into Hatchets at full chat Ill never make it, or take a whole bunch out, so I had to let a lot of cars past" Ken Rattenbury was 9th with Mark and Paul in close company. Anthony Allitt was 12th and Lars Scholmer 13th and the last driver on 14 laps. Russell Haggerty took the Class A win, finishing ahead of Glynne Jones in 14th place after a race long duel. Glynne quipped "I had to let him win, he was playing his joker." Andrew Meyrick was 16th . Chris Morris 17th Dave Davies 18th & Adrian Chapman 19th after getting stuck in 3rd gear. Wayne Osborne had a quiet debut in his Puma.
Afterwards a relieved Alvin confirmed it had been tough "Rhys is obviously a very talented driver, and the one thing you dont want is someone like him 6 inches from your bumper for 15 laps!" Later Alvin missed the awards ceremony after being ordered to take a nap after showing post race fatigue.
Race 2 Saturday Rolling Start 15 min + 1 lap
Oops! A fast starting John Morris heads for the scenery after overcooking it
It would be hard to better race 1 for action, but race 2 was a good attempt. Alvin & John Morris got good starts by John departed from 2nd place with a big spin and a grassy moment, eventually recovering to 5th place. This left Rhys with a clear track to Alvin, and he homed in to give us a re-run to race 1 with the cars locked together throughout the race. Behind Alvin & Rhys II, Jeff Davies & Geraint Rees gave us a display of Westfield racing with places being swapped and re-swapped every other lap. Eventually Geraint took advantage of some lapped traffic to take 3rd place from Jeff but by less than a second. Behind John Morris in 5th was Jason Davies who triumphed over Lucas Ordonez and big Nissan by less than half a second, but the bald statistics do little justice to what turned out to a last lap classic. In the meantime Adrian Chapman made an early exit having only being able to get 1st gear Mark Nicolson and Ken Rattenbury both also made early exits but in one of those less happy circumstances that sometimes comes with close racing. Ken Rattenbury, Paul Trowbridge and Mark Nicolson looked to be staging a repeat of race 1, but Mark thought he saw a chance to take 2 places at once by diving up the inside on the exit of Dibeni as Ken made a slow exit after a big slide. Unfortunately this created a big problem for Paul Trowbridge who couldnt avoid giving Ken a tap "I lifted off and tried to brake but I couldnt avoid it" This sent Ken sideways, collecting Mark and pitching the Honda into the barrier, the car sustaining some heavy looking front-end damage. Ken did a slow lap to pit for a radiator damage check . Afterwards all 3 drivers got together and all agreed it was racing accident, Ken offering his mechanics as help and Martin Davies pitching in to try and restore the integrity of Marks Honda. Anthony Allitt & Andrew Meyrick were the only other retirements. Anthony after his tyre went pop on the main straight.
However back in the race, the duels between Alvin & Rhys and Jeff & Geraint became more intense, Rhys getting alongside Alvin at the paddock turn. Alvin resisted to continue to lead. Behind them in 7th place Lucas Ordonez had a second or so lead from a sideways Jason "You can never go too far sideways in an Escort" Davies. Well he was certainly cranking his car to some extreme angles on the exit of Dibeni, but late in the race he closed the gap to the big Nissan, just as the warring duo of Alvin & Rhys hove into Jasons rear view mirror.
Jason lays down the rubber as he piles the pressure on Lucas as Alvin & Rhys loom large!
Jason gathered himself up for a big effort at Brooklands. "I got the inside line and was up on the kerbs. I could see Alvin coming through and that slowed Lucas enough to allow me through. I might have slowed Rhys a bit though." Lucas chased Jason hard to the line, but the lappery gave Alvin a little break to win from Rhys, who nonetheless scored maximum class points to seal the 2008 Welsh Sports & Saloon Championship.
Russell Haggerty won Class A again after another exiting dice with Glynne.
Taxed-MOTed- Ready for the Road-one careful owner-Russell keeps Glynne at bay
Afterwards Alvin paid tribute to Rhys when asked if he enjoyed the race "Yes if you enjoy torture! I had to be defensive at times. Im sure if Rhys had got through he would have left me" Hear Alvin comment on his double race win. Rhys himself looked like he put a maximum effort in "I tried everything!" However the points scored all but confirmed him as the new Champion. However Class B was still in doubt with lots of maths going on to try to work out the score.
Ouch! Will Marks' car make it Sundays race after this? -check out the report on Sundays race 3