Sir James Smith's Community School

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South West Heat – Newquay – June 2016

The Greenpower South West race heat was held on Thursday 23rd June at Newquay airfield, the most challenging track in the series and attended by both Cornwall and Devon teams.

The team arrived early to be one of the first into scrutineering and after a few modifications got Retro Rocket its pass to race.

Practice went well with new Year 7 drivers Jacob Dubey and Joe Walker learning the controls and getting on pace. Caitlin Cox, another new driver, showed great promise with some very smooth, fast laps with several passes.

Race one was exciting with plenty of very close racing at the top of the field in our class. A spin later on in the race gave drivers spirit to catch-up again and we managed a podium spot - 3rd overall.

With 6 very competitive cars (3 in our class), after much deliberation over the race data the team decided to swap gearing for the big second race. The team worked incredibly hard in the pits to swap out our sprocket, remove all wheels and set up the front brakes ready for the race.

With the change of gearing many cars pulled away from us in the first few laps; fingers were crossed that our strategy to have a consistent race and move up the field holding speed to the chequered flag was tense. The live data and our own timing showed very consistent lapping, pit stops were improving too. Catlin surprised us all when she pitted early over some confusion with the pit board. Despite the surprise the team got Catlin out, Toby Alford in and Retro Rocket ready to go out on track in 29 seconds - the best time of the day!

The fast changeover in empty pits gave us the edge we needed; we were leading our class and catching the higher classed “scratch” cars.

The final stages of the race got very tense; every corner, every overtake had to be perfect. We were catching the leader Humming Bird (Plymouth School for Girls ranked 12th internationally). Our timer Harvey Jeskins (another new member) told us Humming Bird had dropped 20 seconds then 50 seconds with 3 laps to go. We had a lap to make up and Retro Rocket was not dropping off. Humming Bird passed the pits at a very slow pace with Retro Rocket only 100 metres behind and catching at speed.  They dropped 1 minute 40 seconds so to beat them we had to catch them on the final lap and overtake them. Tense, exciting…….understatement!  

Some of the team went to the other side of the track to see the long downhill straight and reported we were right behind them. The whole team gathered at the finish line willing Retro Rocket on, who would come into view first? Through the sea of spectators a glimpse of silver came into view, it was Retro Rocket speeding for the line taking the chequered flag. The team erupted in cheers and shouts - we had won.

We had won our class and managed to beat every other car in class above us too, amazed and over joyed.

New member’s parents said to me “you said it was intense, but nothing prepared us for such an exhilarating day, serious close racing with so many elements needed”. Suffice to say both mum and dad are keen to get to Castle Combe in September!

So the team returned to school not only with high spirits, 3 big trophies and a bunch of medals but also a qualification to the International Finals in October which we didn’t manage to get to last year.