Eastbourne Club Shakes While The Rest Bake at KOC22 RD5

10th Electric Circuit

In 2022 Eastbourne made their worst start in the short history of the KOC series. 4th place in RD2 left the club behind Adur, Aldershot and West London in the standings. From there, the team bounced back like all great champions. Coming into RD5, the home side needed to finish 3rd to take the title for a third consecutive time.

The team's championship is a signature feature of the King of Clubs series. Each club nominates six drivers from their membership to make the team for the round. These drivers then score points for the club based on their position in their first final race - no matter which final they are in - 1 pt for first, 2 for a second, 3 for third etc. The club with the lowest score wins the round.

Coming into the championship's final round, the Adur team needed to win and for either Aldershot, Colchester or West London to finish ahead of Eastbourne to take the title themselves.

The Tamiya Junior-E class is becoming a fantastic addition to the KOC series. 30 new RC racers, all aged 12 years and under with little or no race experience, joined the class this year. The development of skills through race day and a season is testimony to the talent of the young drivers, including a strong group of girls amongst the boys. In its debut season, most drivers were relatives of existing RC racers. Most drivers were new RC families in this series' second season.

The success comes from the concentrated effort of a few people working together. Aldershot, Adur and Eastbourne clubs all ran 'arrive and drive' open days, supported by social media marketing to attract newcomers. The Aldershot open day set the benchmark with over 40 new families attending the pre-season event. Anthropologist Margaret Mead famously said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world.." In this little RC corner of the world, the small group behind Tamiya Junior-E is doing just that.

James Snashall arrived at RD5 tied on points with Xavi Tribo. With Xavi away on summer holidays, James needed a second-place finish or better to break the tie and take the driver's championship. After dominating qualifying to TQ, the youngster waited for the start of race one, feeling nervous. A clean start left him leading, but an accident after a few laps left him back down the field, behind sister Chloe, Evan Hellyer and George Williams. This was the opportunity for James.

Being a champion is not about talent, the best equipment or having the fastest car; it's about mindset. Winners either win, or they learn. Of course, all champions feel pressure and fear of failure, but they don't allow that fear to stop them. James responded brilliantly to the setback picking off his rivals one by one to reclaim the lead and win the race. James Snashall, 2022 Tamiya Junior-E Champion!

Last years Junior-E champ graduated into the new Touring Car Talent Cup. Using 17.5 blinky touring car rules, limited to drivers under 16 years of age. The Talent Cup builds on the observation from Junior-E that most children have much more fun racing against other children instead of racing against adults. Junior-E drivers are ineligible for team selection, so the juniors in the Talent Cup were competing for their clubs too for the first time. Unfortunately, championship leader Harry Jefferies was away on vacation, leaving rivals Archie Matthews and Harry Honsa with a shot of snatching the tile on improved drop scores.

The high track temperature left everyone struggling to find grip. However, in the conditions, Matthew's home track advantage paid dividends. Able to run a pace Honsa and the others couldn't match, Matthews TQ'd with 3 qualifying wins. Two dominant race victories followed, delivering a top score for his club team on top of the driver's championship. Honsa and West London's Oliver Woodall, both talents to look out for in future results, were close but not close enough, each taking one P2 race finish. Mathew's racing CV now adds 2022 Touring Car Talent Cup Champion to his 2021 Tamiya Junior-E title. The future looks very bright indeed.

The KOC GT class, aimed at replicating the runaway success of US GT, brings together various chassis cars with realistic scale replica bodyshells. After producing some of the best races seen anywhere in recent years, the formula is working. Surprisingly overlooked by club membership secretaries, Bristolian Andy Travis had mathematically wrapped up the driver's championship at RD4. Instead, Charlie Colby and Jack Collins selected Stuart Rand and Barry Whibley for the Eastbourne team, omitting last year's GT drivers champion, Tim Harrop. Rand, the circuit record holder in the class at Eastbourne, was a safe bet, but it was Harrop chasing him down during qualifying, securing P2 while Rand banked pole. Whibley was not far behind, but champ elect Travis had problems getting sucked into the midpack battle with Simon Anscombe, Colchester's Adam Southgate and countryman Christopher Brain, driving a 2-wheel drive frontie.

Rand went unchallenged, taking flag-to-flag victories in both final races, largely unnoticed thanks to fantastic battles for the podium positions and brilliant B-final races. Harrop edged Whibley for second in a race-long fight, with Travis working hard to stay in touch, taking fourth in the first race. Mike Vale secured a fantastic win in the B-Final. Aldershots Peter Harridence led for most of the race, Vale coming through to sit under his wing for lap after lap. Harridence produced his best drive of the season under sustained pressure from Vale. The two entering the final turn on the last lap side by side, door handles rubbing. Vale held the inside position, Harridence on the faster, wider line. The Aldershot driver ran too wide, putting two wheels on the grass, leaving Vale a clear run to take the applause from the spectators and win. Still, the result was enough for Harridence to secure the FWD drivers championship title.
Whibley chased Harrop all race in the second round of races too. This time being close enough to attempt a last lap pass into the hairpin at the end of the main straight. The attempt left Whibley on the grass. However, Harrop was clear to take P2 from Anscombe, Southgate and Brain.

The Formula One class again became a battle between West London and Eatbournes club drivers. Paul and Jonathan Ellis vs Darren and Aidan Gale during KOC22. For RD5, Aidan signalled his intentions for 2023 with a move to the 17.5 Touring Car class, leaving dad Darren to take the fight to the Ellis family. Lee Chambers and Ben De Vizio represented the Adur club. Reigning champ Paul TQ'd from son Jonathan making it a WLRC lockout on the front row. Jonathan led race one briefly before an off dirtied his tyres leaving Paul a clear run to win. Race two went the other way, the younger Ellis winning, but it was far from easy. With Jonathan in front, the pace slowed a little letting Gale, De Vizio and Chambers all take turns leading before Johnathan came out on top of the last lap scrap. Great fun for the viewers and an accurate scale replica of the fights between Hamilton and Verstappen!

Liam Hendy's hopes for an Adur team win rested on strength in depth in the touring car classes. Marcus Askell had dominated 13.5 for the club, and Liam has himself been threatening to take wins in 17.5. Mark Chambers debuted for the team at the expense of reigning EWS champ Tim Langdell. Winning the A and B finals looked like the goal.

Perhaps Hendy should have included the C-Final in his thinking. Tom Jackson could not start RD1 of qualifying and only managed two laps in RD2. After full runs in RD's 3 and 4, the Adur club driver lined up P6 in the C final. Starting from mid-pack in the lower finals is a scary place to be. Generally, you either want to be at the front for a clean getaway or at the back to stay out of the almost inevitable turn one carnage ahead. However, Jackson drove superbly in the finals. Keeping clear of any trouble and finding the consistency of lap pace that had alluded him during qualifying to win both races after exciting dices with two Aldershot drivers, James Davis and Mark Burrell.

Colchester's David Usher won the first B final from Adur's Mark Chambers, securing a good score for his team. Race B2 was another fantastic race. West London's Frazier Tucker came out on top after a race-long scrap with Eastbourne's Ross Stevens, Aiden Gale, and clubmate Phil Ferreira.

The 17.5 drivers championship secured at RD4, Billy Fletcher opted to race in the 13.5 class, taking one potential race winner out of contention. Still, that left plenty of others, with Ben Moorey, brother Dan and Liam Hendy as the favourites. Birthday boy Gareth Hobson enjoyed a strong qualifying, sitting just behind in P4. The two A finals lacked some other races' nip and tuck action but were no less exciting. Dan Moorey's blistering pace took him through from third on the grid to lead race 1 after the early laps, but a mistake in the closing stages put his car on its roof, letting brother Ben through to win. Fortunately for Dan, the car flipped entirely over back onto its wheels, enabling him to keep hold of second place. No such mistake came in the second race, with Dan taking an impressive win from Ben, Liam and Gareth Hobson.

Illness forced West London's star driver Ash Wiffen to miss RD4. His absence at RD5 was keenly felt throughout the paddock despite the good news regarding his recovery. However, Adur's Marcus Askell wasn't in for an easy run, with 17.5 champ Billy Fletcher returning the 13.5 class in the hope of helping his club with the championship. Askell's Xray and Fletcher Schumacher matched each other throughout qualifying, tied for TQ, the Adur driver taking the tie break with the fastest time.

In the first race, the hoped-for battle was short-lived; Fletcher crashed out and needed marshalling early on, leaving Askell to take the win free from pressure. In race two, Fletcher drove superbly to pile pressure on Askell for the entire race. Askell, a former world champion in RC racing, was cool as a cucumber in the stiflingly hot conditions to seal a double race win by just over 1.5 seconds from the local ace. An impressive performance from two champion drivers.

The result from Fletcher was, nonetheless, enough to secure Eastbourne club their third round win on the bounce and, with it, the King of Clubs championship for the third successive year.

How are the Seasiders so successful despite Adur and Aldershot, for example, making concentrated efforts to win the club championship? "I think the atmosphere at our club is a big part of the success," said Stu Colby, the club committee chair. "We are really one big family. With John's cafe on site, and a group of drivers hanging out together most weeks to have supper and race on a Wednesday evening, there's a camaraderie here that really helps the team on race days. It's decent, the real deal."

It sure is. Roll on 2023.