Race report by Gary Skipp from the world of Digital Slot racing
On July 30th the Rockingham Slot race club hosted a 6 hrs GT3 race on its Spa-Francorchamps themed Digital track.
12 teams lined up on the grid with a variety of 1/32nd Slotcars of brands like Black Arrow, NSR, Scaleauto, Scalectrix, Sideways, Slot.it and TA71. This wide mix of near stock and modified slot cars were run to DiSCA GT3 rules with a BoP that safeguards a fine tuned Balance of Performance for all cars in the competition.
Racers from the Loughborough-based Quorn Slot Car Club dominant force in the Rockingham Spa-Francorchamps themed six hour GT3 race. Throughout practice it was clear that both Quornstars team of Richard Hill and Steve White (McLaren 12c) and and an extended TWR line-up adding Nik Kerswill to the usual duo of Nick Wade and Martin Thorpe (Ferrari 458 Italia) were becoming the cars to watch. Pace from home team Rockingham’s Adam Le Maistre (Lamboghini Huracan) would be offset by experienced BSCRA racer but digital novice Gavin Wills, so the question entering qualifying was would the five-time 2017 race winner Le Maistre be able to keep the raging bull in contention?
Sunday morning qualfying was a disrupted affair with some track power problems for the newly and independently built circuit. However Those set a quick time early on with White close behind in second. Once the problems were rectified the session had 15 minutes remaining for teams to improve their times on much quicker track.
Re-start issues kept the TWR Ferrari in the pits and Thorpe made it back out with around 3 minutes to go, but could only manage 5th. Up ahead was the Ferrari of previous Rockingham front man Matt Tucker, this time driving with South Manchester’s Richard August, the Lamborghini of Le Maistre / Wills, the Porsche of Eastcote trio Underwood / J. White / Johns with the Quorn McLaren on pole position. Behind in sixth was the DiSCA GT Academy Nissan R35 GT-R, making it’s GT3 debut in the hands of Skipp / Jones / Nelwan.
After an aborted start the race restarted with Thorpe quick out of the blocks and edging into a healthy lead. Richard Hill, who started the Quorn McLaren endured a frustrating few opening laps, dropping some laps behind while the car struggled for early pace.
As the race settled it was Thorpe first to pit for driver change as he handed over to third driver Kerwsill. A good stint from the relatively inexperienced Northants man came to an end when he was caught up in a big incident which left the TWR Ferrari with significant front-end damage. A quick repair got the car back out albeit it with slight handling issues. The accident had lost the team around 20 laps and a badly damaged car to nurse for the next 4 hours.
Meanwhile Hill had handed his McLaren over to a revved-up White, who made short work of chasing down the two leading teams of Rockingham and TWR. Within half an hour it was White who was into the lead, and pulling away.
The next few hours went by the Gulf McLaren continued to build a lead as TWR and Rockingham battled over second place. Into the final hour it was a straight fight for the podium between the two teams, with both trading places and losing time in traffic. Eastcote had slipped back and were only a handful of laps ahead of the DiSCA Academy GT-R which had made it’s way into fifth place over the course of the race, but the margin was comfortable and these cars would take fourth and fifth in that order.
For the podium it was Rockingham who held off the ailing Ferrari for second spot, with solid drives from both Le Maistre and the rookie Wills who spent hardly any time out of the slot. The lower podium battle left White and Hill to romp home with a massive 40 lap lead, a trouble free run and quick consistant driving giving the pair a much deserved first win.