Traction 2016 - Round 4 Race Report
Sunday saw the final round of the Traction 2016 race series at Swifts Raceway in Sheffield. After 3 exciting rounds the finale was surely going to be one to remember. With the F1 title already decided all eyes were on the GT10, GT12 and LMP titles. Mark Deacon was the clear favourite for the GT10 title although he was missing! With Mark Christopher also missing the closest challenger was Michelle Snowden. Craig Nutting was the favourite for both the GT12 and LMP classes. His consistency had really paid off even though he still hadn't been able to steal a victory. Everything was set for another great days racing.
The early stages of F1 qualifying were once again controlled by new champion Luke Lee, chasing him was last year’s champion Stephen Baggley. But James Wright was just having a slow morning and by Round 4 had caught up to claim second behind Lee. With 5 seconds covering the top 4 it was going to be a close final. In GT10 the battle for pole was once again between Dave Sedgewick and Bob Hill. Sedgewick was the one setting the early pace but Hill stole the top spot in round 3. With Sedgewick encountering terminal car failures in round 4, Hill cruzed to another FTQ.
GT12 saw a lot closer fight for TQ, the early pace setters were championship leader Craig Nutting and Schumacher Pro Andy Murray. Going into the final round there were 4 potential drivers on a charge for pole. Murray and Nutting got held up in the final runs which allowed Dave Allen and Gavin Stephenson to make an attack. It was Allen who would just steal it with Murray in second. In LMP, Adam Catchpole was in dominant form and TQ'd all 4 qualifying rounds with Nutting following in second.
The F1 final had a suprisingly clean start for an 11 car grid, Lee and Wright quickly got away from the rest of the field. The pair were glued together as they quickly started to lap back markers. It was a real master class in F1 racing as Wright made a couple of attempts to get into the lead. For 18 laps the pair were split by less than a second until Wright placed a great move into the tricky turn one. As Lee prepared to fight back he made a mistake leading onto the straight. The error cost him dearly as it allowed a charging David Underwood passed. Underwood was using the red mist to full advantage and set the fastest lap of the race as he recovered from some early incidents. Wright had too much of a gap to be concerned though and from there the action settled making a podium of Wright, Underwood and Lee.
After recent discussions about the previous GT10 finals, it was decided to lengthen the starting grid to give the cars more space at the start. The changed appeared to work as the start was very clean with Hill accelerating into the distance. Both him and Lee Stokes were unchallenged all race. The action was all for 3rd place with Mark Rodgers, Garry Dearing and Peter Ashurst all swopping places. In the first 6 laps the trio changed places over 8 times, on lap 9 Ashurst got stuck and lost a lot of distant to the other two. Rodgers and Dearing continued to battle and keep changing places until the halfway point when Rodger seemed to catch a break and find a 10 second gap. From here the race appeared to settle as the drivers matched lap times. There was still time for a twist though and in the last 8 laps Rodgers made a mistake and lost 6 seconds to Dearing, the pair charged towards the finish until an incident caused Rodgers to get stuck again. Dearing floated past into third on the final lap of the race.
The first shock in GT12 was that pole sitter Allen had left before the final. It was left for Murray and Stephenson to battle it out at the front. Nutting looked like he put the wrong tyres on as he made a handful of uncharacteristic mistakes to plummet down the order. This left the leaders to race on into the distance. Stephenson matched Murrays laps perfectly but didn’t have enough to get close enough for a pass. For 16 laps he held the gap at a solid second, it was an impressive display as the pair skimmed the track markers and slower cars. But on lap 17 Murray pushed the track a little too hard and clipped the chicane, although he kept going it pushed him offline for the following corner where he crashed fully into the barriers. This was more than enough for Stephenson to capitalise and move into the lead. From there he continued his faultless drive to take victory. Murray and Aiden Ripley filled the remaining steps of the podium.
The final race of the day was also missing a pole sitter, Catchpole had gone home leaving Nutting to lead the field away. The championship leader was like a missile and left Hawnt and Hart to battle over second. Hart was quick to get on the attack and briefly made it past before Hawnt counter attacked back into second place. The pair had a coming together which Hawnt capitalised on to gain a 2 second gap. The breakaway was short lived though as on lap 6 he got caught up with a back marker and got knocked onto the wrong side of the track. This flipped their positions giving Hart the 2 second advantage. From here the race settled and they matched each other’s lap times for the remaining 37 laps. Nutting finally claimed that elusive class win, he was followed by Hart and Hawnt respectively.
As we know F1 was claimed by Luke Lee after round 3. There was however a great battle for second between Underwood, Wright and Michael Lee. With Wright taking the win it also gave him second place in the championship. In GT10, Snowden, Rodgers and Dearing all had a chance at the title. Finishing in 3rd, Dearing would be the one to come the closest by matching Deacons points at the top. As both drivers had only completed 3 rounds the title was decided by most wins. Deacon was the only driver with a win from Round 2 and therefore took the 2016 title.
For GT12 there was only one possible contender to Nuttings lead which was Andy Ryan. But he would need a win which was a very big ask given he'd only just received his new Mardave Venom. Both Ryan and Nutting had a bad A final which of course gave Nutting the title. The LMP title was even easier to clinch for Nutting, all he technically needed to do was complete a lap of the final. Thankfully he chose to get his monies worth and finish the series as the undoubted champion.
Until next year.....
So there we have it, after over 42 hours of RC warfare we have found 3 new masters of the Swifts Raceway Circuit. Not only that but we have made some new friends and supporters to our small friendly club. We have also enjoyed working with Schumacher Racing and can't thank them enough for their support. Team Swifts is made up of only a few dedicated individuals, we would be lying if we said the series has been easy but it has been more than worth it. The racing action has been some of the best we have ever seen in the track history, also the series revenue will help secure the clubs future and take us a few steps closer to upgrading the track markers. We hope everyone has enjoyed the series as much as we have and look forward to seeing you all back at the track soon. Traction will be back, bigger, better and finding more limits!!
Traction 2016 Champions