HPI European Challenge:
|A FINAL RS4 MINI|
|B FINAL RS4 MINI|
|A FINAL RS4 SPORT|
|Karl Heinz Scherer||Germany|
|B FINAL RS4 SPORT|
|B FINAL RS4 PRO|
|C FINAL RS4 PRO|
|D FINAL RS4 PRO|
|RS4 NITRO SPORT|
|RS4 NITRO RACER|
Our report from Bedworth, the last race of 1999 for the HPI UK Challenge! The winners of this series are eligible to compete in the HPI European Championships, to be held later this year. The winners of the Championships will then be flown to California to race at the final HPI Challenge race of the year, in sunny Southern California!
The final round of the 1999 HPI
Challenge was staged at the midlands Bedworth circuit, and as dawn broke
the skies looked ominously grey. The drivers arrived at the track to find
the surface damp but with a drying wind. Although three championships
had been decided there was still
plenty to play for, not only the British Championship but also a qualifying place for this years European Challenge and with just a few places up for grabs it looked like most drivers had something at least to drive for. Bob Burr gave us his usual driver's briefing before racing got underway.
First out onto the damp slippery track were the Nitro Sports who found that the grip levels were at their worst because it was neither dry or completely wet. As the cars slithered around it was series leader Peter Sergeant who posted 14 laps ahead of Nick Bruty and David Kapp. With 10 RS4 Nitro Racers booked in it looked like there was going to be a lot of activity on the track, not just for the drivers but also for the marshalls as the rain came down making the track into the proverbial 'ice rink'. Jon Dobney managed to keep his car on the black stuff to record 12 laps from Stuart Tennant and Mark Jackson. Allen Wong was the fastest of the bunch of RS4 Sport cars and managed 14 laps of the circuit after the nitro's had kindly laid down a concoction of fuel and water! Nick Bruty was just 1 lap down with Chris Kapp and Jon Emery next over the line. Sam Groves, the only lady driver at the meeting also improved and is now getting the hang of these excellent starter class cars.
Robin Hammett topped the leader board for the RS4 Pro class with Norwich's Darren Styles just a few seconds behind. John Parsons and Syd Evans were the next best with some drivers having problems keeping the water out of the electrics.
The conditions were ideal for the RS4 Rally class and because of the sealed trays on these cars the water didn't affect them too much as they slid around the Bedworth circuit. 'Guest' driver, Mike Leavesley decided that he was going out on slicks as the others opted for the 'x pattern tyres'. This proved to be the right choice as Mike topped the leader board with an excellent 15 laps from Jon Withington and Andy Benson. A couple of non -HPI cars joined in the fun in the mini class and it was Lee Devey who came out the winner from Michael Creasey and Lee Groves.
The wind was now drying the track in parts and with the forecast of more rain this was going to be the round to post the best times. Sheffield driver, Peter Stefanski moved up to third in the RS4 Nitro Sport class and amongst the other improvers were Brodie Gardias and Michael Stefanski. Alex Fernihough took the opportunity of a drying track to take FTD in the Nitro Racer class using very old, soft tyres as Mark Jackson moved up to third and Luke Lloyd up to 5th in his first Nitro race. The 'Out of the box' RS4 Sports took to the track with Ben Jaggerd topping the times with a 14.305 from an improving Chris Kapp. New to the class, James Lovell surprised everyone by outgunning the series regulars to top the table in the RS4 Pro Class. He finished a fraction in front of Robin Hammett and Allen Wong.
Martin Kowalski made a challenge for top spot in the Rally class but couldn't beat Mike Leavesley's round 1 time. Dominic carter improved as did Les Mainwaring. Michael Creasey took FTD in the Mini class as Lee Groves moved up a place.
Up and coming Nitro Sport driver, Brodie Gardias gave Peter Sergeant a fright as he took second spot on the leader board with an excellent 14 laps. Brother, Dexter was not so fortunate as he hit the barrier which took off his rear wheel.
Wet conditions for the Nitro Racer
class meant no improvements except for Adam Read driving the car he won
in the previous round raffle. He put in 11 laps with Martin Stretton also
Allen Wong moved to FTD spot with a 15 lapper as Chris Kapp demoted Ben Jaggerd to third.
Greg Hill, the series co-ordinator, decided to take to the track and immediately took second spot, but not before Darren Styles posted FTD. No change in the Rally class apart from your Ed. Peter Emery who was finally getting to grips with the conditions despite a scraping bodywork. The Minis again mixed it with the guest cars and there was no change here either.
After a few consultations and a quick look at the sky it was decided to run another round, just as it started the rain came down again. No real surprises as the track was really wet, but in the Nitro racer class, Stuart Tennant came within 4 seconds of FTD. Allen Wong improved in the Sport class as did Fred Wing in the Pro's but could not make that A Final place he was so desperate for!
RS4 Nitro Sport
The rain didn't stop for the finals so they got underway with the RS4 Nitro Sports. Polesitter Peter Sergeant didn't make the start so it was Brodie Gardias heading the field for the first time. Nick Bruty followed Brodie for a couple of laps before taking the lead for the remainder of the race. Andy Knowlton retired on lap 6 as did Michael Stefanski on lap 7 as the other driver tip-toed around the circuit. Some drivers were even tempted to go the distance on one tank of fuel but were persuaded to do a 'splash and dash' shortly before the end.
RS4 Nitro Racer
Alex Fernihough starting from his fifth pole position of the season got a good start and headed the field for the first half of the race as Stuart Tennant followed closely. Stuart took the lead during the fuel stops and Alex lost time in spins as he attempted to take the lead back. Luke Lloyd in his first Nitro final picked up third place as Martin Stretton came home fourth from Jon Dobney and Mark Jackson who retired on lap 7. Adam Read's first nitro final ended on lap four after some problems with a mixture of fuel and water.
Allen Wong made no mistakes in the Sport class to take a fairly easy win from Ben Jaggerd and Nick Bruty. Jon Emery improved to fourth as the others found the conditions a little too slippery.
Despite his disappointment at being in the B Final, Fred Wing made no mistakes to clock up another win as his closest rivals, Andy Lloyd, who didn't make the start and Sean White who retired on lap 2. Barry Yeend came up from 7th on the grid to take an excellent 2nd from Mike Rollinson and Steve Chau.Tom Garnham made sure of his European place with a 6th position.
Greg Hill and Syd Evans decided to sit this one out and leave it to Robin Hammett, Darren Styles and Chris Smith, to see who would be British champion. A mistake by Chris Smith allowed Robin and Darren to pull out a good lead on lap one as John Parsons took third spot. These positions were held until the finish, with Robin taking the win by 3 seconds but Darren Styles taking the championship.
Mike Leavesley took an early lead but after a couple of spins it was Martin Kowalski who came out the winner. Jon Withington was third despite having a 10 second penalty. Peter Emery lost over a minute on his first lap and found it difficult to make up the time lost.
Kevin Davis drove consistantly to take the win from third place on the grid from series champion Lee Groves and Michael Creasey as the rain was now at its worst of the day.
The points were calculated, and after the presentation the announcement that some drivers automatically qualify for the European Championships was greeted with delight from some and for others the possibility of a chance from the reserve list.
The British Champions are as follows:
|RS4 Mini||Lee Groves|
|RS4 Sport||Allen Wong|
|RS4 Pro||Darren Styles|
|RS4 Rally||Dominic Carter|
|RS4 Nitro Sport||Peter Sergeant|
|RS4 Nitro Racer||Alex Fernihough|
So this years series has come
to an end except for the European Championships. As a 'one-make' series
it has proved to be a great success. It has meant that drivers from all
over the country were able to choose a class which best suited them wether
they were complete novices or regular racers. The rules meant that for
some classes the cars were completely standard and so close racing was
guaranteed. The series also gave the opportunity to race at venues where
other one make cars do not go, and this year there have been six different
tracks, all of which have tested the drivers to the limit. 112 drivers
took part in this year's innaugral series, and next year looks to be even
better by introducing things learnt from this year. So as the drivers
look forward to taking on the best in Europe at the European Challenge
at Ashby, they reflected on what has been an excellent series with lots
of new friends made and the prospect of doing it all over again next year.
Thanks must go to all the drivers who took part this year and for
travelling to circuits such as Tiverton in the south and Tibshelf in the
north. Thanks also to the race directors at Ashby, West London, Aldershot,
Tibshelf, Tiverton and Bedworth for their help, and finally to HPI Europe
for the foresight in introducing these six classes of racing and for providing
the free race entries, vouchers and excellent free raffle prizes.
See you all at the Euro's and for those who didn't quite make it, better luck in 2000!
Racers in England and the United Kingdom (UK) have been enjoying HPI/Team Orion-sponsored races since early April, with our offices in HPI Europe holding the HPI Challenge series of races. The first race was at an old BMX track (complete with banked turns and flattened jumps) in overcast rainy weather. However, this is a normal racing condition in the UK and the racing went on anyway! Peter Emery of Radio Race Car International (a UK R/C publication) has been attending the races since the very first race in Ashby and even wrote an article to get more HPI racers interested in racing their kits! The Ashby track is just around the corner from the HPI Europe main offices, so we were able to provide a lot of technical support from HPI Racers!
These pictures are from the first race in Ashby:
HPI General Managers Shawn Ireland and Jason Dearden
Nitro RS4 racers getting their cars ready in the pits
The indoor pit spaces filled up quickly!
A full field of drivers for racing gets ready
Racers prepping their cars for the races
A sharp looking Subaru Impreza WRC on an RS4 Rally
Shawn Ireland (HPI USA GM) gets ready to run an RTR Nitro RS4
Racers have fun getting ready.
Qualifying just about ready to get under way
Marshalling duties come with racing
Supercross-style starts are the norm
A damp track made for tricky running - but the rain was far worse!
The final turn of the course, dominated by the scoring tower
Nitro racers get ready to go, their mechanics ready to se the cars down
The start for one of the mains - the track is just starting to dry out!
More nitro racers prepare to go
A field behind the stand let the cold wind blow right up to the drivers
At the end of the day, happy racers!
Excerpts from letters that racers sent us after the first round (in Ashby):
"I would like to take a minute to write to you to praise the way that the first round of the Radio Race Car/HPI Challenge was handled and arranged.
The event, despite being held on a very wet day, was in my opinion an excellent success, I know everyone that I spoke to felt the same. The racing itself was very well organised and the technical back up available from the HPI staff was second to none. I would particularly like to thank Greg Hill and Jamie Booth, without their help I would have been driving back home to Manchester with a waterlogged HPI Subaru! Once again thank you to HPI for an excellent first event and thanks to your staff for their help, I look forward to future events.
Ashton Under Lyne"
And another letter from a racer and his girlfriend:
"I just wanted to write and thank you all at HPI for a great day last Sunday.
Myself and my girlfriend were really impressed with the whole event.
Despite the wet weather it was brilliant fun. Everybody was very friendly and there was a fantastic atmosphere.
We are looking forward to taking part in the next challenges.
Pat Piesley & Wendy Hill
Great comments from real racers! Thanks to everyone who attended all the races!
Current Overall Standings (after Ashby, West London, Tiverton, Aldershot and Tibshelf races):
There are 6 total races during the year in the HPI Challenge UK, the best 4 races will count towards the final standings. 101 points are gained for the fastest time of the day, then 99 points, 98, etc. The winner of the final gets 100 points, 99 for second, 98 for third, etc. Drivers have to complete one lap in the final to score points.
The last race of the series is August 8th in Bedworth, with the European Finals on September 4th and 5th at Ashby. HPI Racers from all over Europe will be there, and the champions that are listed below are already qualified to race in the HPI Challenge Finals!
|Lee Groves (Champion for the RS4 Mini class)||801|
RS4 Pro 2, RS4 Pro and modified RS4 Sport cars
Stock RS4 and RS4 Sport cars (bearings okay)
Stock RS4 Rally cars
Nitro RS4 Racer
Nitro RS4 kits, any HPI modifications
|Alex Fernihough (Champion for the Nitro RS4 Racer Class)||803|
Nitro RS4 Sport
Stock Nitro RS4, RTR Nitro RS4 kits (bearings okay, stock engine, no tuned pipes)
|Peter Sergeant (Champion for Nitro RS4 Sport Class)||803|