The weekend that was billed and built up to as the Championship decider would soon be turned fully on its head by the typical unruly Norfolk weather. Saturday morning the mist descended and as the pea-soup settled, the paddock wondered if we would even get out for Qualification.
With one Marshalls post not able to see the next, it was not possible to send cars out in the usual free-for-all manner that has become the practice “race” for Locost. The safety car was soon deployed at the head of the pit lane and the cars lined up from Assembly behind it, the fog so thick you could barely see half a dozen cars ahead. Those at the back of the train were completely unaware that qualification would be behind the safety car, following strict safety car rules, and several back markers left the pitlane in the usual manner, unable to see far enough ahead to he safety car, and blissfully unaware started to overtake the slow moving cars. Luckily, sense prevailed, yellow flags waving vigorously and drivers realised their error and fell back in line before an accident had a chance to happen – a close call due simply to a lack of communication from the assembly marshals to the drivers present.
Keith Richards (#42) captured the view from the car in Qualifying perfectly:
Returning to the Padoock, it was clear that at least an attempt would be made to run the day rather than call “meeting abandoned” and soon news spread within the Locost group that grid positions would be decided based on championship position, split over 3 races with each person participating in 2 races. Soon it was time to return to Assembly, but with the fog still present would the race even take place?
Suited, booted and strapped into the cars, the paddock remained silent of revving engines as all awaited the lifting of the fog. Deadlines issued by race control came and went and with the fog deciding it rather liked Snetterton and might stop a bit longer, the first race was effectively called off by way of a drivers briefing notifying all drivers that the days racing would revert to a 2 race format, with a heat and a final.
Dismayed, drivers returned to the paddock and new grids were issued for the two races, which confusingly showed no heat and final, but rather the grid split into 2 races by alternate championship position.
With fog slowly beginning to lift, racing at Snetterton commenced and SEWC settled in to watch race 1, which should have been a nailbiter between Stuart Sellars (#61) and Mike Comber (#58), but due to the format change Stuart’s chance to win the championship was over – with the change to effectively one round rather than two, not enough points were on the table to give him the win and Mike was duly crowned Locost Champion 2012.
Mike lined up on the grid on Pole and took charge of the race which soon became a 5 car battle for top honours. The lead changed several times during the race and it turned out to be another nailbiter, with Mike taking the win from fellow Team Procomp driver Alastair Garratt (#33) by just 6/100ths of a second, with the top 5 drivers separated by just 1.7 seconds. Another typically close Locost finish proving yet again that the series is the epitomy of closely contested club motorsport.
Race 2 for Locost would be held with clearing skies and Stuart holding Pole position. A strange grid line up from the start marshalls saw Stuart on the front row on his own on the outside line, with Sian Stafford-Atkinson (#17) gridded on second, but on the inside of the second row, the marshalls seeming to decide the left hand side of the grid to be preferable for the second race. After some confusion with all drivers now placed on the opposite side of the grid to the actual paperwork issued by Race Control, Steve lined up in 3rd behind Stuart and as the lights went out moved directly into second place.
A quick run into Riches with Dave Berry (#29) being passed by Adam Lucas (#22) for 3rd place would see Adam correcting past the apex letting Dave slip back through. A swift run down to Montreal and Adam managing to rescue some banzai late breaking to enter the Bentley straight in 4th behind Dave. Meanwhile Steve pressed on in 2nd chasing down Stuart for the first lap and catching a good tow back past the line to finish lap 1 just 4/10ths behind Stuart in the lead. Progress could not be maintained and Stuart showed his class, pulling away from the field.
Lap 3 would see the appearance of Sam bradley (#60) who started from 11th as championship positions had been used for the grid and Sam had missed several races due to his GP2 commitments with the i-Sport Team during the year. Passing Steve for 2nd place across the start/finish line, Sam flew through Riches on the hunt for Stuart, Steve unable to maintain a similar pace. Sian would soon draw alongside on the Bentley straight, only to unfortunately suffer engine woes and drop fluids through several corners, finally pulling over after Riches a few laps later.
With the slippery surface flag being displayed at several marshals posts, Steve drove cautiosly towards the checkered flag, but with one lap remaining, James McAllister (#10) sniffed the possibility of 3rd place for the taking and pressed hard to catch Steve. The pair chased through Coram towards Murrays chicane and with a better exit by James as Steve lost traction on dropped fluids, a drag to the flag was underway. Aware that every 100th would count, Steve caught a tow off a lapped Paul Todd (#37) pulling out from behind Paul before James could pull alongside and box him in. The cars crossed the line a dead heat, to 1/100th of a second for the closest finish for Steve yet. Only returning to the pit lane did Steve and James find out who had taken 3rd, and it was declared a dead heat with both drivers able to receive silverware. the in-car says it all!
With a good haul of points, the final objective for 2012 had been achieved with a top 10 championship finish in the bag, Steve bringing the car to a respectable 7th place out of almost 70 point scoring drivers.