With the Pro tuners showing how to go on at the super high budget end of Time Attack, those running vehicles on a lower bank balance proved you can have just as much fun, and the competition be just as fierce. With 22 vehicles registered for competition, it also proves the most popular and accessible way to be amongst the action at a Time Attack event!
With cars competing over 5 different categories within the Club challenge (front, rear & 4 wheel drive as well as naturally aspirated up to 3000cc and over 3000cc) it means the mixture of cars is amazing with your expected Subaru and Evos running with the likes of a Metro 6R4, Vauxhall VX220 and an Alfa Romeo 155!
Warm up gave an early indication as to those who were quickest out the blocks with the session’s fastest time of 1.39.578 being set by Lee Bullen in a Subaru Impreza, and amazingly we think the car may have been driven to and indeed from the circuit as it passed us on its way in in road going trim – nice work Lee! The new shape Impreza of Jon Mathers was close on his tail with Marc Kemp, Andrew Barbour and Mark Ward all putting in impressive times.
Bo Neilsen topped the early standings with his BTCC kitted Astra VXR in the front wheel drive class, Mark Pollard was eighth overall and top of the N/A class and the flame spitting RX7 of Umar Masood lead the way in the rear wheel drive class.
Practice saw a change around as Barbour moved to the top of the pile just 0.033 seconds ahead of fellow Evo driver; Simon Nutter with Bullen, Mathers and Ward all about a second or two off the pace. Once again it was Pollard and Neilsen who were quickest in their classes and ending up an impressive 3rd and 5th overall respectively.
Qualifying was hampered when Simon Nutters’ Evo blew a sizeable hole in the engine on the start/finish straight, failing to post a time and of course putting his chances of a round win out of the window! Once the red flag had been tucked back into the marshalls’ post, Mark Pollard topped the pile despite also running into problems in the previous session where the marshalls dispensed the contents of an extinguisher into the engine compartment of Mark’s Metro!
Barbour headed up the 4WD class, chased hard by Bullen and Neilsen who had been by far the fastest FWD car all day. Further down the order saw Jimmy White take charge of the RWD class in his lime green Vauxhall VX220 nearly 9 seconds quicker than nearest RWD competitor, Umar Masood.
Obviously it wasn’t all about the top drivers and cars, with a place in the final at stake everyone was pushing hard, impressive laps came from the 2 Redbrick Racing Honda Civics driven by Charlie Butler-Henderson and Steve Peel, Johnny Fletcher’s Astra, who only a few weeks back took the top step in a 1/4 mile drag race event at Santa Pod, looked a real handful and also had his fair share of problems during his first Time Attack event including an emergency trip for some new brake pads and his turbo gasket giving way in the final!
We’re not entirely sure how Antonio Giovinazzo’s Alfa managed to put in a flying lap, as every time it came past us it sounded as though they had drained all the engine’s oil content and replaced it with washers… but he pushed on to dip below the 2 min lap time mark and we can’t go any further without mentioning our very own Rob Cowling who, due to a turn of events you will read about on Garage Awesome later this week, was without his Evo, but instead of sitting it out, fired up the ‘Bad Boy’, a mk5, 130 bhp Ford Escort track car and went out there to do battle and provided much entertainment to Bryn Musslewite in the commentary box. Rob, we salute you!
At the end of the day, it all came down to the final, and it seemed only right after the hard luck suffered by the early leaders in the Pro classes that the most consistent Club Class driver would take the championship points, and in the 4WD class that man was Andrew Barbour in his #88 Mitsubish Evo. Following him onto the podium was another Evo, this time Eric Holmes and the third 4WD spot went to the impressive new shape Impreza of Jon Mathers, unforunately Bullen missed out on a podium spot by just 0.033 of a second!
In the rear wheel drive class Jimmy White remained on top, finishing an impressive 8th overall ahead of the Wankel powered RX7 of Umar Masood and the Sierra Cosworth of Ronnie Amis, whose car seemed to be plagued with problems all afternoon. In the battle amongst the cars driven by their front wheels, Neilsen stayed at the top as he had done all day and another consistent drive from Pollard saw him not only claim the N/A class but finish 2nd overall.
If you want to see more of the action or keep up-to-date with the points standings then head on over to www.timeattack.co.uk and with the next round in just under a month’s time it sees the teams and of course, Garage Awesome, head up to Scotland to visit the wonderful Knockhill circuit where these guys will do battle all over again.
Words – Ollie // Pictures – Ollie & Rich