Traction 2016 - Round 2 Race Report
With an increased entry list, Traction 2016 was really starting to gain momentum for Round 2. The round also saw some LMP's join the field including a new chassis from Schumacher Racing. The "Eclipse" is Schumacher's return to the LMP class and this would be the first big event the car had entered into. The was a lot of talk round the pits as to how well the new contender would perform with it’s GT12 style layout. Just like round 1 there was a generally relaxed atmosphere in the pits which encouraged even more friendly banter than usual. In Traction style the track was again fast a flowing to try and suit all the classes. Everything was set for another epic day.
The F1 class was dominated by championship leader Luke Lee and James Wright. Both were tied in a close battle for pole with Wright just stealing it in the final round. David Underwood, Stephen Baggley and Lee Carter shared a similar battle for 3rd, they lined up on the grid respectively. World GT10 would see a three way battle for pole between George Brewer, Michelle Snowden and Mark Deacon. Mark Deacon held the top spot in the early stages of qualifying but it was George Brewer who would take the pole at only his first visit to Swifts Raceway.
Jonny Aird was the driver in control for the GT12 class, the Schumacher pro taking a clean sweep through all four rounds. Craig Nutting and Andy Ryan followed in 2nd and 3rd. It was also another Schumacher driver who claimed pole in the LMP class, Andy Murray was clearly happy with his new Eclipse as he also cleared all four rounds of qualifying. The battle for 2nd and 3rd was a close fight with Adam Catchpole and Craig Nutting stealing the chasing grid positions.
Super Lap Challenge
Once again the super lap challenge was run during the break before the finals. The 4 lucky competitors were Mark Rogers, Luke Lee, Daniel Baggley and Andy Murray. Handicaps were given to Lee (+1 second) and Murray (+2 seconds). Rogers and Lee were first up and set very close times, Lee leading with a 17.53. Baggley then dug deep to break under 17 seconds with an impressive 16.91. All eyes were on Murray and his heavy handicap. The F1 National champion floated the car round the track with real precision setting a 16.20, but after handicaps it meant that he hadn't done enough to win the top prize. Baggley was the one to walk away with the bragging rights.
As expected the F1 A Final was between Wright and Lee. Wright got away from a clean start to build up a comfortable lead, everything was looking controlled until a unforced error sent him over the track markers. The mistake cost him the lead and reversed the battle with Lee. From there on he managed the gap up to the chequered flag. Behind them there was a great battle between most of the others but it was Carter who kept a clean race secure the final step of the podium.
After some messy qualifying rounds everyone seemed to up their game for the final with a very clean start. The top three quickly engaged in battle in which Snowden emerged into the lead with Brewer hot on her tail. For several laps Brewer pushed hard before forcing Snowden in to an error which cost her over 5 seconds. This allowed a charging Deacon into second place which quickly became the lead as Brewer got caught up with a back marker. After that it became a challenge of who could handle the back markers better and Deacon was the driver to do this perfectly. By the midway point he had a 8 second lead while Snowden and Brewer became locked in a battle for second. It was decided in the last few laps where the pair raced side by side trading places at every corner, Brewer was the driver to fall as he clipped one of the corners sending him crashing into Snowden. Justice sorted itself out as Snowden was the one who gained the advantage from the incident to finish second with Brewer completing the podium.
After a clean start in GT12 it looked like we were going to see a strong battle between Aird and Nutting. Nutting was attempting to pressure Aird into a mistake but it was Nutting who broke on lap 4 with an error turning into the first chicane. The error pushed him all the way down to 7th. Aird made a run for it while Andy Ryan and Nathanael Goodban moved into second and 3rd places. The race settle from there until the midway point when Nutting caught up with Goodban, clearly the red mist was helping his charge as he set the fastest lap of the race. The pair had a minor coming together before Nutting completed a beautiful pass into the first chicane. For the remaining laps Nutting cut down the gap to second from 4 seconds to less than half a second. Sadly there wasn't enough time left for them to battle making Aird the winner with Ryan and Nutting runners up.
The last final of the day promised to be a good one with Murray and Catchpole once again locking horns. Unfortunately, the race would be decided by a technical fault, however it would be Murray this time with the gremlins. Accelerating off the line his new Eclipse appeared to call out in pain with what sounded like a slipping diff. He attempted to hold the lead but as Catchpole applied the pressure the car soon buckled forcing him to retire. After that the battle was for second and third. Nutting had a good gap in second but after a incident on lap 34 his pace started to drop off. Mawson capitalised and challenged for second allowing Ripley to catch up to the party. Mawson was the one to lose out while Nutting nursed his car home to second place with Ripley following very closely.
Round 2 was another amazing day, the feedback has been great from drivers and the race action has been very exciting. Luke Lee and Mark Deacon appear to be the ones to beat in the F1 and GT10 classes, however GT12 and LMP look to be very open at the minute. We expect the following rounds to get a lot more intense. Thank you's once again start with Schumacher Racing for the continuing support, also the Swifts team for another faultless meeting and of course all the competitors with all the top level racing and funny banter. Both rounds 2 and 3 will be held in "Traction November", we'll hopefully see you all again for more fun and racing at Swifts Raceway.