Ardent “Kick Energy” Winter Series Finals


13 heats, on 13th March. Unlucky for Some! – by Dez Chand, Desawa Digital.

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Since Ardent Raceway opened just over a year ago, it has quickly become the epicentre of RC racing and the ripples have been felt as an after shock across the country, if not the world!

Headline sponsor was Kick Energy with thanks to parent company Global Brands UK, the leading independent drinks company that owns markets and distributes a collection of beverages across the premium spirit, soft drink, ‘RTD’ and beer categories. They have supported Ardent Raceway from the start, supplying end of season prizes including Hot Air Balloon Rides, crates of Kick Energy drinks and presentation “glamour” to add that something special to an already awesome series. More prizes from series supporters, Schumacher, Much More UK, RC Disco and Moore-Speed meant we had to arrange a row of heaving prize tables for the raffle that followed the Trophy Presentation.

Simon Hagues, and Graham Oxford of the ‘Red Hoody’ gang, carrying out scrutineering duties to keep it a level playing field.. Kris Kennedy and Roger Cosgrove were putting on the show as always; Roger keeps the drivers and races moving efficiently, and dishes out the penalties as required, while Kris keeps them informed and whips out the odd quip to keep the spectators and drivers upto date and amused. Top Job guys! Kris Quotes of the day. Just two I can remember from the finals when Kris was in full flow!

“Now we are changing from 13.5 to the 10.5 for faster crashes.”
“They are so close on the straight – CRASH- that their futures merged”

John would like to thank Luella and Eva Revill who help with booking in and handling the raffle tickets, which requires a keen sense of organisation at very early hours on Sunday mornings, not a job many would relish, and of course Roger Cosgrove who jumped at the chance to help John out, not wanting anything in return and giving John a chance to enjoy his racing. The Support from Roger and the BRCA has been fantastic with everyone realising the positive effect a facility like Ardent Raceway has for the sport.

The track looks fantastic doesn’t it! The make over took place on the anniversary of the first year of business, and was done by John Dawson with help from the ‘Red Hoody Gang’ comprising the regulars Chris Holmes, Ian Plimmer, Graham Oxford, Simon Hagues, Stefan Chodzynski and Simon Taylor who have been there from the start. If you see anyone in a red “Ardent Volunteer” hoody you know they deserved it!

Anne and Kyle Smith have done a great job of the catering to keep the drivers happy through the series, while MB Models (Michael Ball with help from Alister Hart) have taken over the shop to offer a trackside support essential for any serious racer. Mark has kept his main shop in Leeds open to offer an on line service too, and is at the forefront of race day parts and service for several series and events around the country. Carrying a range of products from Schumacher, CML, SMD, Horizon, HPI, Durango, and RC Disco so there’s something for everybody no matter what car they drive.

It’s this team, that makes Ardent Raceway such a special facility, and the wave of emotion flooding back towards John Dawson for giving birth to such a facility in the heart of the midlands has been a veritable Tsunami of heartfelt thanks from one and all. If you haven’t visited Ardent Raceway yet, where have you been?

Race Day Dawns. It’s all up for grabs!
Nearly 500 drivers joined the entry list when the Winter series was initially announced, so the series had to be split up into different calendars for the Touring and 1/12th Circuit, the F1/GT/Mardave/Mini 2WD series, and the ‘Team Durango’ Off Road series. Such a significant interest shows just how popular the Ardent Raceway has become, in just a year. Now imagine what will happen in the years to come!

With open testing available the track is always very busy on the run up to every major event, and being the final of the series, Friday and Saturday open practice was fully booked. The series control tyres, Sorex 28JB from Schumacher Racing, need a bit of scrubbing in and there’s no better way than actually running around the on actual racing surface. They have proved reliable, consistent and with enough grip to force most drivers to adopt a set up that dials out a little grip to avoid the dreaded grip roll, yet not so soft that they are only good for one run, indeed proving useful for a couple of meetings, or more, for even the hardest, fastest drivers. What a great choice!

For this last round of the Touring and 1/12th series we had a top class entry including several European and World Championship contenders on the grid for the Kick Energy Winter Series, held over 6 rounds (best 4 to count). 6 heats of 13.5, plus 4 heats of 10.5 and two heats of Open Modified plus a heat for 1/12th circuit added up to make it ‘unlucky for some’, 13 heats. Everyone had three rounds of qualifying on an FTD basis, followed by two leg finals, with the decider based on qualifying positions as usual.

Interestingly, the difference in fastest lap times is very slim, 13.5 were hitting the 12.4 second mark, 10.5 class making it round in 12.2 secs while the top runners in the Open Modified were breaking the 12 second barrier with 11.8 second laps, so only 0.6 seconds per lap between the slowest class and the fastest, which is pretty remarkable.

Notably most drivers had adopted a plain colour shell to make the car easier to see indoors and save their fancy painted shells for the outdoor season, which is a shame, because as a few realise, Like John and Olly amongst others, when you stick to your regular colour scheme the other drivers around you know exactly who they are dealing with. If a plain white car pulls up to your bumper, it could be anyone, or Andy Moore, so is he fighting for your position or should you let him past to lap you cleanly, you see the dilemma! Plus, plain shells make poor photos, so you won’t find many in my collection, surely not the best way to repay your sponsors!

Qualifying Highlights.

Round 1.
In 13.5 it was that man, John Dawson who topped the time sheets, with only Zak Finlay and Ian Plimmer breaking the 24 lap barrier. In 12th circuit Andy Griffiths was a comfortable 2 laps ahead of nearest rivals Peter Craig and James Stewart, and with Title contenders Chris Kerswell and Mick Farrell strangely absent he was going to have it all his own way today!

In 10.5 Ryan Edwards was the only driver in the 25 lap club, leaving Darren Lee, Liam Brooks, Kyle Branson, Zak Smith and Chris Ashton regretting that one mistake that denied them that extra lap.

In Open Modified it was Olly Jeffries, the Title hopeful with three wins under his belt compared to Andy Moore’s two, that was up the sharp end, but he had Stefan Chodzynski and Phil Chambers for company, all on 25 laps, though only Olly Andy and Chris Grainger had broken the 12 second lap barrier.

Round 2.
In 13.5 Zak Finlay struck back, to lead John and Ian, with Nigel Shaw making the grade to join them on 24 laps. Nigel Shaw had popped up in 4th place to secure an A Final slot by grabbing a 24 lap finish, but it was young Ross Walker was starting to show his hand, he was fastest man in the 23 lap group and took fifth place overall in the largest and most competitive field of the day. At just 10 years old that’s pretty astounding!

In 12th it was Andy up front but now James Stewart was dialled in and set the fastest lap of the round to join Andy on 39 laps, leaving Peter Craig to find that little extra something.
In 10.5 Ryan was again the only driver to make 25 laps, and he was the only driver to squeeze just under the 12 second lap mark leaving Darren Lee, James Hart and Kyle Branson trailing in his wake.

Open Modified belonged to Olly Jeffries, his TC6 looked composed and he was relaxed, though as sharp and consistent as ever. Andy Moore was hot on his heels this time, setting fastest lap to make it into the 25 lap club along with six other drivers, so it was getting warmer in the hot seat for Olly.

Round 3.
FTQ system meant it was all to play for in round 3 to get that all important pole position and the best chance to get around turn 1 ‘unassisted’. In 13.5 Zak held onto Pole position as John failed to improve, in fact the top 18 drivers remained in the same overall position as they were in round 2, only Chris Holmes made a vast improvement, jumping up from 55th overall to deny Gary Dyson 19th place, and push Stewart Woodend down from the B final into Pole position for the C final. In 12th the order remained the same, only Tony Cook improved to deny Chris Blakey of 5th place as the swapped places on the grid. Andy was now only 7 seconds ahead of James, who was doing all he could to keep him honest, but they were safely ahead of Peter Craig and Alan Smallwood, I say safely but only one lap difference over an 8 minute race is not a lot when they re doing 11 second lap!

In 10.5 it was similarly static, but for Luke Hobson who put in a last ditch effort to jump from 19th place upto 6th and grab that A final grid spot with both hands, pipping Chris Ashton and Zak Smith in the process, and pushing Russ Williams down into B final pole position while Sam Clifton clung to 10th spot with only 0.5 seconds over the 5 minute run to his benefit. Open Modified stayed exactly the same order as before, only Stephen Creswell improving remarkably to escape relegation to the B final by securing 9th on the A Final Grid ahead of Tom Watts in 10th, leaving Paul Pinkney and John Hyde in the B final all by themselves.

Combined Final Results.
1/12th A Final

  1. Andy Griffiths
  2. James Stewart
  3. Alan Smallwood

13.5 F Final

  1. Mike Jackson
  2. Chris Clews
  3. Josh Goddard

13.5 E Final.

  1. Gary Jones
  2. Carl Morgan
  3. Michael Burks

13.5 D Final.

  1. Ian Watkins
  2. James Bestall
  3. Jonathan Bull

13.5 C Final.

  1. Adam Mullock
  2. Alex Brocklebank
  3. William Vertigan

13.5 B Final.

  1. Bradley Sellars
  2. Chris Holmes
  3. Matthew Claxton

13.5 A Final.

  1. Zak Finlay
  2. John Dawson
  3. Ian Plimmer

10.5 C Final.

  1. Matthew Cook
  2. Andrew Millner
  3. Kyle Gardner

10.5 B Final.

  1. Russ Williams
  2. Andy Low
  3. Aaron Morley

10.5 A Final.

  1. Ryan Edwards
  2. James Hart
  3. Kyle Branson

Open Modified B Final.

  1. Paul Pinkney
  2. John Hyde

Open Modified A Final.

  1. Olly Jefferies
  2. Stefan Chodzynski
  3. Chris Grainger

Unlucky for some?
Zak Smith didn’t make it to the grid for the 10.5 A final because a Speed control issue forced him to become a spectator. In the second leg he had it all to prove but was turned turtle on lap one and had a whole lap to catch up before he’d really got going so effectively ruled out of this very tight field. At home multiple Champion Chris Grainger has IKEA wooden laminate flooring throughout, because carpet is not really his cup of tea and he can’t wait for the outdoor BRCA Nationals to start which is where he has reigned supreme for the past few years. Andy Moore suffered the curse of the 13 heats on the 13th of March likewise, a split diff output saw him sidelined in the second leg of the A Final though he managed to hang onto second overall after a count back gave him the edge over Stefan Chodzynski whose extra bonus points in the second leg brought him upto equal points with Andy by the finish. Maybe 13 is Stefan’s new lucky number!

Superstar Shines.
As impressive as all the top drivers were as usual, the real Star of the Show, had to be young Ross Walker (10) who got a live interview and congratulations from Kris Kennedy, a real honour. Ross made the A final and narrowly missed claiming the third overall slot in the 13.5 class – a superb effort! The TC6 is set up and prepared by his dad as pit crew, and support from the CML team drivers through the “Race Academy” means he is destined for great things! Ross is a regular competitor at the Hinckley club where he has honed his skills over the past year, and it can only be a matter of time before his younger brother picks up a transmitter and learns the craft from his ‘big’ brother. Look out world!

Championship Top 3 Tech Charts.

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It just remains for me to say thanks to John Dawson, everyone at Ardent Raceway and all the series sponsors and supporters. The dates are already published for the summer series and the rules are being formulated for next years Winter Series, so keep checking for more details or check out ‘Ardent Raceway’ on Facebook to keep in touch.

Photos and Editorial Copyright Desawa Digital.