Children join RC in record numbers as KOC22 kicks off at the Demon Raceway.

10th Electric Circuit

Eastbourne's talismanic stock touring car ace Billy Fletcher completed an impressive double race victory on Sunday at the opening round of the 2022 MB Models King of Clubs championship. Fletcher's double wasn't enough to stretch Eastbourne Club's winning streak, however, as Aldershot Model Car Club's team won their first club championship round win in the history of the series.

"This was the best day in my life".

It was a thrilling start to the new outdoor racing season for the King of Clubs with the 21 children racing in Tamiya Junior-E. In just its second year, the class for racers aged 12 years or under has doubled in size. Most of the children arrived at Aldershot for their first-ever race. The two heats hit the track with parents/guardians marshalling, and the progress from first practice to the last final all the children made was remarkable. Xavi Tribo won both A final races, the first comfortably from Edward Fuller, coming through from P7 on the grid, and Jacob Clay. Race 2 was much closer. Top qualifier James Snashall pushed Tribo, setting the fastest lap and taking second, with Matthew Lydall not far behind in third. Seba Okamoto produced a notable drive from P10 on the grid to finish 4th, just behind Lydall.

In the B final races, superb drives from Mikey Noble and Chloe Snashall shrewd the spoils, with each taking a race win plus a podium. 4-year-old Frankie Fletcher breaking hearts everywhere, communicating joy to everyone at his double podium result.

A social media post of two children fast asleep travelling home in their parent's car, both clutching their Tamiya Junior-E trophies, summed up the day. Above the picture, the parent posted both my kids told me, "this was the best day in my life, thank you".

Harry Jefferies wins twice in the first Touring Car Talent Cup races.

One driver whose best days look likely to be at the highest levels of RC racing is Gloucestershire's, Harry Jefferies. Young talents like Jefferies are few and far between in on-road RC racing, and racing as the only junior alongside adults can be a challenging experience. The Touring Car Talent Cup allows junior drivers to race and develop their talents together. It is hoped to offer a natural pathway for the drivers entering the sport in Tamiya Junior-E. Jefferies' double race victory at RD1 was no great surprise. The margin was perhaps more so - Eastbourne's Archie Matthews and Adur's Harry Honda challenging Jefferies, each driver winning a qualifying round. As they lined up for the final races, all three drivers believed they could win.

After all the drivers made a clean getaway in race one, Matthews set the fastest lap of the race, an impressive 15.93 seconds, on lap 2 to close in behind Jefferies. A 15 lap battle ensued, finally resolved on lap 16, a mistake by Matthews costing him a chance to try for the win. Neither Matthews nor Jefferies could maintain the pressure on Jefferies in race 2, the Aldershot driver winning by a more comfortable distance. A richly deserved double victory and championship lead for the 9-year-old prodigy, but Mathews and Honda made it clear Jefferies certainly won't go unchallenged this season.

"It was great fun to race with the other children and have fun off the track too! It was a long day but one I really enjoyed. My Xray X4 was excellent all day, and I was able to TQ and win both finals.

"I can't wait for the next round," said Harry.

GT class raced off to a brilliant start with Andy Travis TC01 taking unexpected wins.

The immense popularity of the US GT class in North America has led to the emergence of the GT class at the King of Clubs. By bringing together Tamiya TT02's, TC01, and 4WD touring cars into a class using stock treaded tyres, GT shells and fixed timed 17.5 brushless motors, plus the FWD class entrants running alongside, KOC22 could see the emergence of the class in the UK. Last year's Tamiya GT-E champion, Tim Harrop, his Eastbourne club teammate Stuart Rand and Craig Hook from Adur started as the favourites. All driving Tamiya TT02s. But it was the unusual Formula-E replica, the TC01, in the hands of veteran racer Andy Travis that won the day. A new car in 2020, the TC01 failed in the GT-E class last year, but Travis's talent and experience enabled a competitive set-up to be found. Still, Travis's driving ability made the difference, taking victories in qualifying and the closely fought final races.

Double race winner Andy Travis commented:

"It was great to take the wins with the Tamiya TC-01. It was a challenge against the TT02, but we got it to the sharp end. 

"The times between Stuart Rand, Tim Harrop and I were very close all day. A single mistake in the finals would be costly when the margins are so small. After digging deep and pushing hard, I am super stoked to take the wins."

Mike Vale raced his Frontie into P7 in qualifying, which he held in the first race, improving to 5th in the second. The two Standing boys, Harry and Tyler, raced their Xray T4 touring cars, dressed in stunning GT shells, to 5th and 6th place finishes in the B-Final. The combination of common tyres, bodies and electrics and different weight limits for chassis has created a level playing field for a wide range of cars, just like USGT. This looks to be an exciting class for the future.

Aldershots Michael Lee dominates F1.

Aldershots Michael Lee started the F1 class as the favourite ahead of a typically strong field, including Eastbourne's Aiden Gale and last year's champion, West London's Paul Ellis.

In the morning press conference, Ellis was modest about last year's championship. "In truth, Michael was faster than me all season, and I only really won the championship because he didn't do all the rounds." However, with a new faster car Ellis was optimistic about the battle ahead in 2022. "I love my Exotek F1 Ultra, and it's been going really well all winter - I'm hoping to give it a good run this year."

However, Eastbourne's Aidan Gale put the pressure on Lee in the final races, keeping the X-Ray driver on his toes to take expected but hard-fought victories in both races. 

Demon Slayer Fletchers makes it 4 from 4 at Aldershot.

Back in the first days of COVID-19 lockdown, a very different Billy Fletcher joined the group of drivers promoting the idea of King of Clubs on social media. Drivers from Adur, Aldershot, Eastbourne and West London recording short video interviews describing their favourite and least favourite tracks. Fletcher cut a different figure for two notable reasons. 

Looking back at those films now, the absence of his full beard is jarring. The reluctant confession that Aldershot is his least favourite of the KOC circuits is more so. Anyone who knows racing and racers (in any form of motorsport) understands that track preference is unrelated to circuit characteristics, loose vs tight, the ease of finding grip, facilities or local amenities. All almost irrelevant. The deciding factor is past race results and results alone. Racers like tracks they have done well at. 

There have been 5 King of Clubs races hosted by Aldershot club, and the Eastbourne driver's record reads P3, P1, P1, P1, P1. He's beaten Marcus Askell and James Hart in 2021, and now local ace's Ben Cane and Glenn Westwood taking TQ plus double race win clean sweep against arguably the strongest 17.5 touring car field seen in many years this last Sunday. Fletcher's affections likely have changed since that clean-shaven video interview.

Askell and Wiffen set up a 13.5 championship battle.

In something of a coup for the series, one of the worlds leading RC racing factories, Xray, has sent a full factory racing driver, Marcus Askell, to compete in the series for the second year running. Askell won the 13.5 Touring Car championship for Xray in 2021, and his outdoor racing focus for 2022 is solely on the King of Clubs. 

The man to beat got off to a flying start winning the first two qualifying rounds. West London's Ash Wiffen then took round three, letting everyone know this race was on. Askell made sure of TQ in RD4, but the day's final race was eagerly anticipated when the time came for finals.

After a clean start, a clash with a broken down car on lap three cost Askell the lead and 4 seconds lost to Wiffen. However, the remaining 4 minutes weren't enough to catch and pass the metronomic West London driver, known for composure and speed. The gap at the end was just 0.12 seconds. Eastbourne's Jack Collins, one of two fast teenagers from the Eastbourne's club, was an impressive third, just one lap down, taking the notable scalp of 2020 champion Liam Hendy from Adur.

The tables turned almost precisely in race two. An unusual mistake from Wiffen on lap four, costing time and opening a gap to Askell on point. However, unlike race one, Eastbourne's other talented teen, Charlie Colby, was off to a good start, moving into second place following Wiffen's mishap. Colby's pace was much closer to the front two, leaving Wiffen with a challenge to pass and set about catching Askell. By the time he was through, Askell was long gone, finding extra pace in the second race to win by a comfortable margin.

After the race, Wiffen commented, "After a complete lack of practice coming into today, I'm delighted to take a win. My son is now racing in Tamiya Junior-E, adding another dimension (and a lot of work!) to a race day, but I really enjoyed the whole day."

Askell commented, "My Hobbywing powered Xray X4 had strong performance all day, and I set a strong pace. I'm happy with my performance; despite the misfortune in race 1, my hard charge to make the race a sprint for the line at the end was pleasing. Race 2 went more to plan. A good start to the championship and looking forward to round two at Adur, where I wrapped up the title last year with a double win". 

C and B Final results prove vital in the club championship.

One of the innovative features of the King of Clubs series is the inter-club championship, won by Eastbourne Club for two years on the bounce.

Alongside the driver's championship, the founding clubs of KOC can enter teams into an interclub competition. Each club nominates a team captain, responsible for picking six drivers from the field to represent the club. Drivers have to be members to be eligible. Those six drivers then score points for the club and their usual driver's championship points, based on where they finish in their first final race. The exciting bit is each, and any final is worth the same as any other - so a third-place finish in the 17.5 Blinky D-final scores the same amount of points as a third-place finish in the F1 A-Final, or any other final.

Aldershot Club Captain Ben Cane used this scoring feature to significant effect, selecting Andy White and Ross Luffingham for the team. Cane expected White to score well in the 17.5 B-final and Luffingham in the 17.5 C-final. The tactic can backfire. White, for example, could have qualified 10th in the A instead of at the front of the B. White finished 3rd in the B-1 final and Luffingham 2nd in the C-1, scoring valuable points to secure the round win for the home club, and leave the captain satisfied with the shrewd selection.

Final Club Scores

1st: Aldershot

Ben Cane 2pts

Michael Lee 1pt

Harry Jefferies 1pt

Andy White 3pts

Ross Lffingham 2pts

Steve Adams 9pts

Total 18pts


2nd: Eastbourne

Stuart Rand 3pts

Tim Harrop 2pts

Billy Fletcher 1pt

Charlie Colby 8pts

Ben Moorey 10pts

Aidan Gale 2pts

Total 26 pts


3rd Adur

Craig Hook 4pts

Harry Honda 3pts

Benedetto De Vizio 5pts

Tim Langdell 8pts

Mick Hendy 8pts

Marcus Askell 2pts

Total 30pts


4th WLRC

Ash Wiffen 1pt

Dave Ringsell 1pt

Paul Ellis 3pts

Jonathan Ellis 8pts

Jason McConomy 10pts

Ellis Wiffen 9pts

Total 32 pts