It seems a life time ago that Santa Pod hosted the last round of 2016, the down season alive with rebuilds and set ups ready for the much awaited season opener. Not only was it going to be battle heavy, Barrel Sprint also introduced its new driver voted Hard Charger award.
The paddock was busy, new race cars and many new faces brought the field up to 34 in total and it would be no walk to the finish line as the old guard faced off against new.
Jonathan Danger Buck stood out in the AWD class practice session clocking a list of impressive times in the 18 second bracket but he was just piped to the post by Yordan Andreev in qualifying who took fastest time of the day with a 18.213.
In the RWD class Mike Newland lead the pack of 18 drivers with a 19.369 second, closely followed by fellow S Body drivers Adam Elder and Teammate Mark Young.
As many know its easy to be quick when your just against the clock, but the knockout battles bring a whole new psychological challenge to the event. Its an instant knock out and every run counts to keep you progressing to the finals.
In the U1 class it was a Biddle master class as they battled the GBS-ZERO against Team Elder’s Locost 7. Also in the FWD class Sean Franklin piloted his Ford Puma to victory and spear heading the class once again.
In the most popular RWD class, the battles were as vicious as ever, all fighting it out to take the top spot on the podium and claim the huge Nankang cheque for £100. For 6 in the class it was their first attempt at the battles and all showed the now veteran drivers they are not to be messed with, and we are sure we will see many more of them hitting the great 8 in future rounds. The top 3 almost ended in the same order of qualifying but Philip Staniford pushed Mark Young hard in the battle for 3rd and 4th taking the win by just 0.01 of a second showing just how important reaction time off the lights really is.
The AWD class battles were where the biggest shake up of the weekend came from. Of the 9 drivers we sadly had to say goodbye to returning driver Dan Smith who is now piloting the Kamikaze wagon at the end of qualifying missing out on a spot in the top 8 by just 0.2 of a second.
After electrical issues in qualifying current champion Dmitrij Sribnyj qualified uncharacteristically mid pack, suffering further technical issues with his gearbox the favourite was knocked out of competition in the top 8. His Scooby Clinic teammate Bucky then looked favourite to take a top spot on the podium until his turbo failed at the first barrel in his semi final against Andy Stevens, no longer able to continue he handed Yordan 3rd place. The final see Andy Stevens take his first Barrel Sprint podium followed by Flitspeeds Dominic Flitney.
Round two takes place back at Santa Pod Raceway on April 8th, advance discounted tickets are available now on www.fueltopia.co.uk. To come and show your support to all the drivers spectator tickets can be purchased on the gate at Santa Pod.
1st Sean Franklin
1st Nick Biddle
2nd Andrew Biddle
3rd Tony Elder
1st Andy Stevens
2nd Dominic Flitney
3rd Yordan Andreev
1st Mike Newland
2nd Adam Elder
3rd Philip Staniford
Photo credit: D media photos- Penelope Greenwell