With our own Dave Guyatt about to set sail for the wilds of NSW and Victoria for a few months travelling, caravan in tow, last night shaped up as a bit of a farewell/safe travel/get out of town event for the legend as a small crowd braved the weather to run at Logan.
All eyes were on the 21.5 Touring class, with a few additional ring-ins joining the regulars to send Heavy on his way. 10 cars faced the starter, with an additional 14 in 13.5 Touring and 4 in Open Touring.
Practice proceeded smoothly before rain predictably interrupted mid-way through the first 21.5 qualifying heat. Many said “that’s it, we’re done” with the track wet and almost no heat in the surface after days of rain. Astonishingly, just 45 minutes later cars returned to the track. Even more astonishingly, aside from a few very light sprinkles, the track remained dry and conditions good for the rest of the night – when radar revealed rain falling all over south-east Queensland, Logan somehow stayed dry.
Of course just minutes after the last final….the rain poured down once again.
Here then, is the story of the (racing) night:
21.5 Heavy D Easternational Cadbury Memorial Challenge
The pattern of the night was clear from the get-go. Terry Norman stormed away in Q1, only for Karl Kuehner to reel him in late. Terry recovered from his self-inflicted mistake however to regain the lead on the final tour for first bragging rights. More of the same in Q2 with Norman unstoppable out front, this time chased hard by Duncan Vaughan early before Terry edged away to a deserved TQ over Vaughan and Kuehner.
A1 was one for the ages. Norman had all the speed in the world early while Kuehner stalked Vaughan patiently, easing his way through mid-way through the race. He lit the afterburners, pouring enormous horsepower into his pursuit of Norman, whose own power reserves were strained as motor heat slowed him late in the race. Karl applied the blowtorch, and there’s no other way to describe it, but Norman cracked under the incredible pressure, putting his car on the grass and handing the win to the speedy Argo R/C team principal.
A2 was even better. This time Kuehner was past Vaughan in a flash and into 2nd in search of glory. Norman though was imperious, eking out a lead that reached the dizzying heights of 1.5 seconds at one stage, before once again Kuehner’s irresistible pace and Normans over-heating motor conspired to bring the pair together again. In what will go down in R/C history as surely one of the most controversial moments ever, Kuehner attempted the pass. Think Hara on Masami at the 2008 worlds. Think Maker and Bakla at the 2008 Nats. This passing attempt deserves that kind of comparison.
Norman drifted ever so slightly wide on entry to the hairpin right under the driver’s stand, and Karl did not die wondering, sticking the Schuie right into the tiniest of gaps. Motocross commentators would call it a block pass. Norman would call it a hack. Kuehner would call it genius. The resulting side-to-side touch sent Norman on his lid. Kuehner, tears already welling in his eyes, waited for his
friend teammate opponent to be marshalled. It was sportsmanship of the most costly kind…..because the following Vaughan swept past both of them and on to a race victory for the ages.
The computer whirred and clunked, the printer spat out some dust and rainfall and finally we used an abacus to calculate the results. A three way tie between Norman, Vaughan and Kuehner! Qualifying was used to split them, going in that order. What a race! Behind those three it was Noel Gordan, Michael Chiam, David Guyatt and Queensland legend Trevor Kerr.
Keith Mackrill has been a dominant force at Logan this year, and in Q1 we saw just why – a smooth mistake-free run in difficult conditions (the track still damp/wet/flooded in places) to take a first up win over Robert Tyler (making a real impression in his entry to 13.5 racing this year). A dry track in Q2 was rewarded with an absorbing duel between Mackrill and Guyatt, the two rarely more than a few tenths apart for the whole run, Guyatt holding the lead at the end to take TQ from Keith, Alex Kidas fast as well for third.
A1 saw Keith delayed slightly on lap one, and the resulting gap for Scott lasted nearly the whole run. A late race error allowed the relentless Mackrill right to his tail, the pair millimetres apart at the finish line.
A2 was different entirely. A tyre experiment from Mackrill went spectacularly wrong, giving up better than half-a-second a lap in pace and consequently spending the whole race in a fruitless defensive mode while Guyatt drove away up front, Vaughan into an excellent second after a difficult qualifying run.
Four cars fronted and did an incredible job in the conditions – this class seeming to cop the worst of the occasional light showers. Of most interest was the debut of the new HPI/Hotbodies Pro 5 car in the hands of Jason Dorn and Michael Redmond – and they looked good. Dorn too strong in both qualifying and finals to run out a comfortable winner. His throttle control in the conditions was phenomenal, and a real lesson for all those watching closely. Corey Broadstock added interest with a late switch to an alloy chassis for the last part of A2 and a post-race practice session, the car impressing him with it’s mid-corner pace and particularly it’s strength through the high-speed kink running onto the back straight.
All in all, it was a fun night. Rain only added to the atmosphere, with drivers responding well to the pressure to get the races run through very quickly in an effort to beat the rain. Somehow, and I’ll never quite understand how, that final heavy rain stayed away until the last race was done.
Travel safe Heavy D, we look forward to race reports from tracks all over eastern Australian. Or photos from bakeries. Either way is ok.