FINALLY – after 6 months of lockdown, the smell of nitro and the sound of screaming engines at full tap through the wicked-fast sweepers at TVR.
Round 1 of the 2020 Nationals kicked off at TVR and it was great to see that there were absolutely no signs of rust. The top guys were incredibly quick, and we were presented with a beautifully groomed track (thanks Arnie!) that delivered the pace we have come to love at TVR.
After official practice on Friday, the proceedings kicked off with drivers briefing under sunny skies on Saturday morning, and the great weather stayed with us for the whole weekend. The drivers observed a moment’s silence in memory of Franco Brombin, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Franco was a friend to many, and his warm, endearing nature will always remind us of the fun and pleasure of RC racing with friends.
Drivers briefing was followed by Concourse judging, and the win went to Rowen Rudman for a beautifully presented 8th scale with WORKING HEADLIGHTS! Great work Rowen!
The format for the weekend was set, with 3 rounds of qualifying (best 2 to count) and the 10-minute sprint final on Saturday, with the long mains planned for Sunday.
QUALIFYING – 200mm Nitro Touring
The 9 drivers were split in 2 groups. Dave Wiseman opened his account with a win in the first group a few seconds ahead of Tony George Group who was having a great dice with Peter Plint until Peter stopped with a couple of laps to go, appearing to run out of fuel. First-time Nats driver Dan Robinson had a solid run to take 4th (thanks for the great pictures Dan!)
Peter took the win in round 2 with a time faster than Dave’s round 1 time, and Dan took 2nd ahead of Dave.
Peter took another win in round 3, with Dan 2nd with his best time so far. Tony finished 3rd while Dave sat this one out.
Conrad picked up where he left off from last year set the pace in this group, ahead of the welcome return of Mike Wiseman in 2nd. Mike Meyers took his car to 3rd ahead of TVR local driver Rowen Rudman and Trevor Smit ran well in 3rd until some late issues dropped him to 5th.
The finishing order remained the same for the 2nd round, with the track slower than the morning round as reflected in the finishing times.
Conrad had some issues around lap 11 in the final qualifier, eventually finishing 4th. Mike Meyers took the win ahead of the consistent Trevor Smit who put in his fastest time and Rowen took 3rd place.
Final qualifying results 200mm Nitro Touring:
QUALIFYING – GT
There was plenty of chirping about the average age of the drivers in this class, but this didn’t dampen the fun and the extremely close racing. Dave W and Tony were a little off the pace but Peter, Lieb and Derrick pushed each other all the way with Derrick taking wins in the first 2 rounds ahead of Lieb and Peter. Round 3 saw Lieb take the win from Peter in 2nd, relegating Derrick to 3rd.
Final qualifying results GT:
QUALIFYING – 8th scale
This class enjoyed the biggest entry and the drivers agreed to run the Clubman’s entries together with the open entry.
Nico Badenhorst, Errol Warner and Rowen Rudman topped the order in the first 2 rounds – both times Nico securing the win but Errol setting identical fastest lap times in both runs (16.66). Rowen was showing good pace while Samantha Rudman and Steven Smit tussled over 4th and 5th, swopping positions in each round.
Andrew Plint missed official practice on Friday and set about getting his car sorted during the rounds and the very quick Beyers Hattingh was set to join this group on Sunday.
Errol took the final qualifier ahead of Rowen as Nico had a big off on lap 2 and fought back to 3rd.
Jacques Liebenberg was untouchable in this group, looking incredibly smooth and quick and taking the win 10 seconds ahead of 2nd placed Antonio Caroli. Mike Wiseman showed his class with 3rd ahead of the quick local pair of Wayne Sayers and Arnold Vermaak.
In the next heat Jacques put in the first 20-lap run of the weekend and Wayne Sayers slotted into 3rd behind Antonio, relegating Mike to 4th ahead of Arnie.
Having secured TQ, Jacques sat out the final round and Mike Wiseman got it all together to take the win ahead of Antonio, who completed his trio of 2nd places. Arnold had his best run and finished 3rd ahead of Wayne, all on 19-lappers.
200mm Nitro Touring
With the staggered start qualifying over, 9 cars blasted off the grid for the 10-minute sprint final with Conrad quickly building a lead that he would hold all the way to the finish. Mike Meyers stayed ultra-consistent to take 2nd just ahead of Rowen after a really good battle for most of the race. Peter Plint had a good run, staying in touch with the top 3 and ready to caplitalise on any mistakes but had to settle for 4th ahead of a fast-recovering Mike Wiseman who lost a couple of laps in the pits.
Trevor Smit had a consistent run to take 6th and Dave retired after 6 laps leaving Dan and Tony to fight for the minor placings with Dan finishing 7th ahead of Tony.
This sprint final had a bit of everything!
Peter led out for the first four laps, chased hard by Lieb and Derrick with Derrick benefiting from a couple of mistakes to take the lead on lap 5 until his own mistake dropped him to 3rd behind Lieb and Peter. Dave and Tony chased hard and moved up to 4th and 5th when Derrick retired on Lap 17.
After those exciting opening laps Peter headed the field, being chased hard by Lieb who eventually managed to take the lead around the halfway stage.
The 8th Sprint finals were run in 2 groups again.
Nico Badenhorst jumped into an early lead, followed by the impressively quick Rowen. Steven Smit and Andrew Plint had found some pace too and the 8ths were clearly liking the cooler track conditions at the end of the day. Unfortunately, Nico’s run ended prematurely with a stripped gear, leaving Rowen to bring home the win ahead of Andrew and Steven.
Jacques took this one easily, setting a new lap record (14,98) in the process. Behind him Mikey and Antonio had a great scrap with Antonio less than half a second behind Mike at the end. Arnold picked up 4th ahead of Errol and Wayne had some issues, eventually retiring after 20 laps.
200mm Nitro Touring
After two practice rounds for each class, the 30-minute mains for the 200mm class was up first. Conrad led the pack away from a good clean start and maintained his lead for the whole race, finishing with a 5-lap cushion over Mike Wiseman in 2nd. Mike Meyers finished his weekend with a well-driven 3rd place, about 7 seconds ahead of Peter Plint in 4th.
Dave Wiseman climbed steadily through the field to take 5th ahead of Trevor Smit, who had a long stint in the pits before re-joining to take 6th. Dan Robinson took 7th ahead of Tony George and Rowen Rudman ran as high as 2nd for a while before retiring on lap 48.
From the outset we knew this one was going to be close! Peter made a small mistake on lap 2 and immediately lost 2 places to Dave and Tony. Up front Derrick led out from the start trying to resist the pressure from Lieb, the gap at times less than a couple of tenths but always within a second or two.
Lieb opted for a 6-minute fuel stop strategy while Derrick stretched his runs to 7 ½ minutes – neither one could relax as Peter had regained 3rd from Dave and was poised to pounce on any mistakes. After 41 intense laps Lieb finally grabbed the lead during Derrick’s fuel stop and the battle resumed with the lead changing 3- or 4 more-times during fuel stops or slight errors.
They were still just over a second apart at the end when Derrick squeaked through a fraction of a second ahead of the buzzer to get the extra lap, with Peter taking 3rd ahead of Dave. A tight, clean battle for the whole 30 minutes and a really good advertisement for the GT class!
Beyers had joined this field and his pace was fantastic, starting from the back of the grid and charging to the front by lap 7. Unfortunately, some long visits to the pits dropped him down the order to an eventual 4th place. Samantha Rudman ran well until she retired on lap 32 and Andrew Plint ran in 4th for a while before retiring on lap 112.
After some early issues Steven Smit steadily moved through the field to take a good 3rd place, while up front Nico Badenhorst worked his way back into the lead by lap 30 and from then on ran a flawless race to hold off Rowen in 2nd.
Jacques treated us to a masterclass, even sneaking a new 14.92 lap record on lap 32 on his way to the win 3 laps ahead of Antonio who looked quick all weekend. Unfortunately some issues took Mike Wiseman out of the running quite early and Wayne Sayers closed out a good weekend with 3rd ahead of Arnie. Errol also looked quick but a lengthy stop early on and another towards then end kept him in 5th place.
8th scale mains overall results
|1||Jacques Liebenberg||166 / 2707.67|
|2||Antonio Caroli||163 / 2715.02|
|3||Nico Badenhorst||150 / 2705.26|
|4||Rowen Rudman||149 / 2701.50|
|5||Wayne Sayers||148 / 2709.55|
|6||Arnold Vermaak||146 / 2705.29|
|7||Steven Smit||142 / 2706.36|
|8||Beyers Hattingh||136 / 2717.04|
|9||Andrew Plint||112 / 2263.20|
|10||Errol Warner||103 / 2359.41|
|11||Samantha Rudman||32 / 1198.67|
|12||Mike Wiseman||15 / 440.86|
As expected, the TVR track delivered some fantastic pace and we were treated to some incredible driving from some great competitors. Even with a relatively small field the competition was intense, and there was a great atmosphere in the pits all weekend.
The pandemic has meant difficult times for many, but this round of the Nationals felt just like the medicine we needed!
Thanks to all the drivers, mechanics, helpers, families and friends. See you at TRAP for round 2!