XRAY’s Olly Jefferies completed his domination of the 2015 International Carpet Challenge event by taking a clean sweep of qualifying and the triple leg finals. The British National Champion was clearly the class of the field at signature race of the well-known EWS team in the UK.
Olly topped the controlled practice rounds, and then proceeded to win every one of the five qualifying rounds at the 2-day event in Southend, south-east England. German star Christopher Krapp looked liked being Olly’s closest challenger, taking his Kyosho to second place in the opening three rounds of qualifying. The Schumacher pairing of Elliott Harper and Polish youngster Michal Orlowski battled for third on the grid, with Elliott placing third in the opening qualifier ahead of Michal. Irish Xray driver Mark Gilliland took fifth in the first qualifying round, highlighting the international feel of the event. The second qualifier had Michal taking third in front of David Spashett’s ARC and new Team Associated convert Matthew White. The third round saw Kyle Branson, the defending event winner, taking third with his Capricorn after he DNF’d the first two rounds. David was again fourth and Elliott took fifth. Elliott then placed second in the fourth qualifying round, with Christopher in third, David continuing his run of fourth places and Kyle fifth. Christopher was back into second in the final round, Elliott third, David fourth and Kyle again fifth. That left Olly clearly on pole position, Christopher starting second, ahead of Elliott, Michal and Kyle.
The A Finals also went perfectly to plan for Olly Jefferies, as in the first final he suffered a little early pressure from Christopher, but managed to build a lead of about one and a half seconds by the two minute marker, a lead he would then maintain until the buzzer. Christopher then had to deal with the attentions of Elliott, who ran him very close but was never quite close enough to attempt a passing move. Michal spent most of the race battling with David, but the current Junior European Champion was able to hold off the attentions of the multi-time World Champion.
The second leg started as a carbon copy of the first, with Christopher mounting an initial challenge to Olly, but Olly ultimately able to build and then maintain a gap. Early mistakes from Elliott and Michal saw them drop down the field, leaving the battle for second between David and Kyle. David’s consistency paid off as Kyle was the first to blink, sending his car off the track. Elliott had worked his way back up to fourth but couldn’t enact a pass on David. That meant Olly ran out a comfortable winner with one leg still to run, to take the 2015 ICC title.
Olly still ran the final leg, wanting to complete his domination of the event. Once again, Christopher mounted an early challenge, but as in the first two finals, Olly built a lead and left the field behind. Elliott wasn’t quite able to keep in touch with Christopher this time, leaving the top three slightly spread out. The battle behind once again went the way of David, as he moved up to fourth place by the finishing tone, to confirm fourth overall.
2015 ICC MODIFIED A FINAL – OVERALL
1 (1) Olly Jefferies – GB – Xray / LRP – 2 points
2 (2) Christopher Krapp – DE – Kyosho / Orion – 4 points
3 (3) Elliott Harper – GB – Schumacher / G Force – 6 points
4 (6) David Spashett – GB – ARC / G Force – 7 points
5 (4) Michal Orlowski – PL – Schumacher / Speed Passion – 11 points
6 (8) Matthew White – GB – Associated / Reedy – 11 points
7 (5) Kyle Branson – GB – Capricorn / Reedy – 11 points
8 (10) Stefan Chodzynski – GB – Capricorn / G Force – 14 points
9 (7) Mark Gilliland – NI – Xray / ORCA – 15 points
10 (9) Harley Eldridge – GB – Yokomo / Thunder Power – 16 points
The event also saw the return of the HPI-supported Vintage Challenge class. HPI’s own James Stewart was the early class of the field, as he topped the opening rounds in front of WLRC Chairman Damian Giddins. The fight for third was between James’ team mate Jason Butterfield and CPD’s Chris O’Donoghue, which eventually went the way of the HPI driver. The field slowly seemed to be closing up on James, as he was beaten in the fourth round by Damian, and the final qualifier went to Jason.
The finals saw some fantastic racing, not only entertaining the crowd but highlighting how fun the class is. The four lead drivers fought hard for the title, with James suffering some bad luck as his decision to run last-years tyres, rather than a new set, seemed to be catching up with him as his competitors sets were perfectly bedded-in now. Chris took the win in the first final, ahead of Damian and James, whilst Damian lead Jason and Chris home in the second leg. The final leg would see the title decided, and after an early race, Damian opened up a gap which was never to be challenged, leaving him to run out the winner of the leg and take the overall title.
2015 ICC HPI VINTAGE CHALLENGE A FINAL – OVERALL
1 (2) Damian Giddins – GB – Xray – 2 points
2 (4) Chris O’Donoghue – GB – Capricorn – 3 points
3 (3) Jason Butterfield – GB – HB – 6 points
4 (1) James Stewart – GB – HB – 6 points
5 (6) Remo Casadei – IT – ARC – 10 points
6 (8) Pierre Phaneuf – CAN – Xray – 11 points
7 (7) Lee Palmer – GB – ARC – 12 points
8 (5) Bradley Coaker – GB – Capricorn – 14 points
9 (10) Simon Rameswari – GB – 16 points
10 (9) Craig Fisher – GB – 18 points
The Super Stock class saw some of the closest racing all weekend, as VBC’s Jimmy Maddison and Zen Racing/ARC’s Will Vertigan raced the Xray’s of privateer Tony Broad and returnee Zak Finlay. Jimmy took the opening qualifier, ahead of Tony, Zak and Andrew Carter. Zak then went fastest in round two in front of Jimmy, Tony and Will. Zak repeated the feat in the third round, with Will taking second, Andrew third and Gavin Clinch fourth. The penultimate qualifer also went the way of Zak, Will again took second ahead of Tony and Andrew. Zak confirmed pole position by beating the field in the final round, ahead of Jimmy, Will and Gavin.
The first A Final saw Zak and Jimmy getting caught up at the first corner, leaving Tony and Will out in front. The two, probably seen as the underdogs in the fight for the overall win, raced hard for the win. Zak worked his way back up through the field, setting the fastest lap by nearly one and a half tenths of a second to get back on terms with the leaders. Despite their efforts, Zak was clearly the faster car, and manged to pass both Will and Tony to claim the first leg win.
The second leg saw a better start, but Zak ran wide on the entrance to the front chicane on the opening lap, allowing Jimmy through to the lead. Zak quickly closed the gap back up to Jimmy and spent a number of laps glued to his rear wing. As the two cars entered the esses, Zak ran into the back of Jimmy, leaving the Xray upside down and Jimmy off-line. Will had remained within striking distance of the leading pair, and needed no second invitation to take the lead. The junior driver then put on a perfect drive to take the leg win, to huge support from the crowd and his fellow drivers.
That set up a final leg show down for the title, but Zak had other plans and ran out a perfect final. Jimmy did everything he could, but ended up about one second behind the multi-time UK ProStock champion, always in touch but not quite close enough to make a pass. Will finished third, which was enough to confirm him as runner-up for the class.
2015 ICC SUPER STOCK A FINAL – OVERALL
1 (1) Zak Finlay – GB – Xray – 2 points
2 (3) Will Vertigan – GB – ARC – 4 points
3 (4) Tony Broad – GB – Xray – 4 points
4 (2) Jimmy Maddison – GB – VBC – 5 points
5 (5) Andrew Carter – GB – Yokomo – 8 points
6 (9) Mason Weston – GB – Xray – 11 points
7 (7) Mark Buonaiuto – GB – Yokomo – 13 points
8 (8) Michael Kiesewetter – DE – VBC – 13 points
9 (6) Gavin Clinch – GB – ARC – 13 points
10 (10) Simon Hibberd – GB – Xray – 15 points
The event organisers would like to sincerely thank the sponsors, Capricorn, Zen Racing, HPI, Schumacher, Protoform and SMD, along with all the drivers from across the UK and Europe who supported the event, and look forward to welcoming them back to another event soon.
Race Report by Oli Meggitt