28 drivers competed in the 1st unsealed surface event of the Isle of Wight Car Club 2017 season held at Knighton Sandpit.
This venue is known to be a horrible sticky mess when it is wet and a dust bowl when it is dry. It had rained leading up to this event, however, race day produced one of the hottest days of the year so far.
This combination of weather created a very mixed track for the competitors to deal with. The upper sections were loose and dusty, while the lower sections had very soft sand and the dips in the track contained muddy pools of water.
Scrutineering at the club has a new format for 2017. All drivers wanting to compete must now present their car to the scrutineering tent on the start line before 9.30am. This system works very well, not only does it make Brian’s job a lot easier it also seems to be a great place to stand and watch each car having its pre-event safety checks.
The course for the day was not particularly difficult to remember, however, it did involve several loops covering the same part of the venue. The trick was to remember which loop you were on. Many drivers did not do enough loops or did too many, and this continued throughout the day.
Round 1 was the domain of the class 5 cars. 2016 USS champion Chris Wilson set the standard for the day in his car engine single seater special, followed by Kevin Richardson in his newly acquired autograss mini and Andy Williams in his single seater special powered by a motorbike engine.
In round 2 the Morgan family, driving their AWD Impreza, were now pushing hard and challenging Chris. The only other AWD car was driven by Steve Wells, however, his car had mechanical issues, with both Maf sensor and Knock sensor faults. Due to this, Steve missed round 3 as during this time he was robbing parts off of the Morgan’s spare car in an attempt to fix it.
Class 2 is normally flooded with front engine rear wheel drive MX5s, however, there were non today. A new breed of class 2 car was kicking up dirt around the sand pit, this time rear wheel drive mid engine cars. Josh Finch was driving his MGF and Joe Moore in his Toyota MR2. Both these standard cars performed well in these challenging conditions.
Class 3 as usual is dominated by classic minis and this year there is money at stake. After finding Steve Brett and Dan Young envisioning who would be the fastest, Andy Williams persuaded them to take a £10 bet on who would be the highest placed mini in 2017.
Joining class 3 was new member Lorna Lee. Lorna had a successful first outing driving her Suzuki Alto with no wrong tests and reducing her times with each run.
By run 4 Ricky Sheppard found his mojo in his 2017 weapon of choice, a class 4 Peugeot 205 that he shared with James and Brian Robbins. Ricky had great success in his class 1 Rover 45 last year and expectations are high to see what he can achieve this year.
New for 2017 we have a sponsor for our podium. Grange Chine Service Station will be supplying Champagne (bucks fizz) for everyone on the podium and the flowers that are presented to the fastest lady of the day. So, visit Grange Chine Service Station on the military road for all your road and competition car needs.
Marion Brett claimed the flowers for the fastest lady of the day with only 3/10th of a second lead in a very close battle with Sue Mitchell.
At the close of the day, there was a clear divide between the front runners and the rest of the pack. With his best result to date, Dave Morgan claimed the 3rd step on the podium. Sibling rivalry ensured 2016 SS and over all champion Dan Morgan put his younger brother in his place by claiming the 2nd step with an astonishing 5.14 seconds lead.
However, both had to submit to the superior force of the King of Knighton Chris Wilson, who not only claimed the top spot but did so with an additional 1.39 seconds lead over second place.
Is there anyone who can challenge this man in 2017?
Our next event is a sealed surface event at the Isle of Wight College on the 9th of April.
Remember to present your car to the scrutineering tent and sign on with your entry form by 9.30. See you there.