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MSA British Drag Racing Championship

Championship Rounds Race Reports

Round 1: Santa Pod Raceway – Festival Of Power - 14th to 16th March 2017

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Report

Andy Robinson threw down the gauntlet to Pro Mod challengers at home and abroad with a powerful performance to win his 12th MSA Championship race. Only once has Robinson gone quicker or faster – his 5.968sec/239.05mph at the 2014 European Finals remains his personal best, but only by a sliver. Older products of Andy Robinson Race Cars (ARRC) have produced marginally quicker and faster performances in the hands of Marc Meihuizen and David Vegter, but this weekend’s best marks of 6.020 and 238.62 so early in the year suggest that Robinson’s more recent, more sophisticated ’69 Camaro will soon be bettering those figures.

On this showing, Robinson might as well start engraving his name on 2017’s MSA Championship trophy now. However, as we all know, the course of Pro Mod, like that of true love, never did run smooth.

Another ARRC product pushing the envelope, as it were, this weekend was Kev Slyfield’s ’57 Ford Thunderbird. The 2015 MSA champion clocked 6.499sec at a personal-best 224.51mph to qualify second, then stepped up a gear in eliminations. An opening-round solo in the absence of a broken Mick Payne produced a first dip below the 6.2’s with a 6.195 personal best, and Slyfield was a touch unlucky to chatter the tyres in his semi-final against Bobby Wallace, recovering to post a fresh speed PB of 225.52mph, albeit tied to a losing 6.415.

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That does not detract at all from Wallace’s performance, the revelation of the race. Making the first Pro Mod pass of the weekend, a solid 6.64/212, the young driver from nearby Bromham managed to avoid the opening-session mayhem that followed (see below). Only once in seven passes did he slip outside the 6sec zone, when tyre shake in Q3 reduced him to 7.288 at a still decent 206.19 (in truth, there was a whole lotta shakin’ going on all weekend, for everyone), and Wallace twice set fresh ET and speed PBs. If Slyfield may have shaken away his chances unluckily in the semi-final, the point is that Wallace didn’t. And the 6.292 personal best delivered in the first final of his career almost won him the race – Robinson was plainly quicker, at 6.065, but came within perilous inches of crossing the centre line, which would have put Wallace on the winner’s podium via disqualification.

The Q1 mayhem began innocuously enough after Wallace’s opening pass when Mick Payne, also soloing, lost reverse after his burnout. Next up, Rick Garrett and Kev Slyfield. Garrett too lost reverse in the left lane and had to be pushed back. Slyfield pulled into stage in the right lane with Garrett still 150 feet out and Garrett’s pushers all jumped over the wall out of harm’s way, leaving Garrett sitting alone in his multi-coloured nitrous Willys gleaming like a magnet to Slyfield’s car. Sure enough, the T-bird split an oil line and swerved sharp left on the dumped fluid just past the ‘tree, hurtling inexorably towards the Willys. Thank goodness, Slyfield managed to wrench the car right again and disaster was averted. The T-bird motored on down the track in its correct lane, drizzling all the way, and a lengthy clean-up followed.

Clean-up completed, Garrett took another shot. Returning after a year away with a big new engine and gobs more power, Garrett suffered his career-first experience of tyre shake which left his head ringing and would thereafter plague and perplex him and his sons all weekend. A 9.99sec pass in Q3 was his only ET to dip below double figures and there will be some family head-scratching before the problem is cured. Added impetus to find the cure arrives with Bobby Wallace’s taking over the lead in the multi-coloured nitrous Willys performance stakes.

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Then it was the turn of Jean Dulamon, on a solo pass and good job too. The French favourite can always be relied on to bring some fresh spectacle to Pro Mod. This time it began with a 280-degree spin-out into the adjoining lane at the end of a furious burnout (hence the sighs of relief that it was a solo). A deft three-point turn and reverse returned the nitrous Camaro to the left lane start line and its ensuing pass resembled a 10-second bucking bronco ride complete with violent coughs of exhaust flame with every new dab of the throttle, plus a little fluid trailed through the shutdown area. With only two accomplices on hand, Dulamon has replaced the clutch with a converter to reduce the team’s workload between rounds. When it’s not entertaining, the Camaro can be a potent performer, as its 6.305/227.83 PBs attest.

A shaking 7.22 solo from Robinson brought this lively session to a faintly dull end, and more-or-less normal service resumed thereafter (if Pro Mod racing can ever be described as more-or-less normal).

Andy Wright took over the driving duties from his BA Racing partner, ‘Bert’ Englefield, and reached the semi-final, where Andy Robinson beat him. BA Racing’s ’38 Ford, The Hot Rod, all-black for so many years, now comes with a bright flame-job licking up around its bonnet, to the delight no doubt of track photographers everywhere. Robinson’s Camaro, on the other hand, reverted to mostly black after its orange wrap was damaged. A colourful new wrap is due in place for next month’s The Main Event.

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Mick Payne retired broken after a crack developed in his well-used converter, which had seen service in his earlier Super Pro ET entry, the Artful Dodger Dodge Coronet. Payne will obtain and install a new converter as soon as possible. Wayne Nicholson retired frustrated without making a run after failing to locate a niggling transmission problem. Things had looked promising when the Lucky Devil team had tested the previous Sunday, but less so when race weekend began. Michel Tooren had earlier withdrawn his Pro Dutch Barracuda from the entry list when new parts failed to arrive in time from America.

The Pro Mod community will offer a heartfelt au revoir to Roger Moore and his nitrous Dodge Viper from Essex. The popular 2012 MSA champion’s funding has dried up. Moore plans to bring the car out for a probable last blast at July’s Mopar Euro Nationals, though not in Pro Mod. If fresh funding should materialise, of course, the story might be different, but Roger was not hopeful.

RESULTS:

Qualifying    

Po. Driver Country Time Speed
1 Andy Robinson GBR 6.100 238.62 
2 Kevin Slyfield   GBR  6.499 224.51
3 Bobby Wallace  GBR  6.569 214.90
4 Jean Dulamon  FRA 6.761 214.84
5 Andy Wright   GBR 7.085 209.04
6 Rick Garrett  GBR 9.994  108.45
7 Mick Payne GBR 10.743 100.58
No Time:
  Wayne Nicholson GBR    
Withdrawn entry:
  Michel Tooren NED    

ELIMINATIONS:
Round 1:
Kevin Slyfield 6.195, 199.76 vs. Mick Payne no show
Andy Wright 6.742, 203.35 def. Jean Dulamon 6.791, 209.04
Bobby Wallace 6.305, 219.04 def. Rick Garrett 13.156, 81.38
Andy Robinson 6.702, 152.68 bye

Semi-Final:
Andy Robinson 6.020, 237.47 def.  Andy Wright 7.012, 192.96
Bobby Wallace 6.315, 218.23 def. Kevin Slyfield 6.415, 225.52

Final:
Andy Robinson 6.065, 226.80 def. Bobby Wallace 6.292, 218.22

Low Elapsed Time of the Event:  6.020sec. – Andy Robinson (E2)
Top Speed of the Event:  238.62mph – Andy Robinson (Q4)

Personal-best performances set during event:

                                            ET           MPH
Kevin Slyfield                   6.195       225.52
Bobby Wallace                 6.292       219.04

The 2017 points table is on the Rounds & Points page.