Rise of the Falcon.

Race Report: Classic Saloons 2019.
Round 2 (6th June 2019).
Benfleet City Circuit.

Lee took a healthy lead into round two of the Classic Saloons championship, with George some twenty points behind after the opener on the Phoenix Road Course. As our racers gathered at the Benfleet City Circuit, a number of them appeared to have some car troubles. Anthony, Norman and Cliff all had issues with their cars which resulted in them borrowing spare cars. This resulted in Lee – having loaned out a number of his cars – relying on his Ford Falcon, which was largely ‘box fresh’, lacking any meaningful race set-up. Meanwhile, Steve was giving his new Mitsubishi Gallant a run for the first time too. His new model had drawn some compliments on social media for its looks – it remained to be seen if it was as quick as it was pretty!

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For race one, Anthony lined up second on the grid in a borrowed Ford Mondeo, while pole man Norman took the controls of Lee’s Ford Galaxie while their own cars were worked on. It was a perfect start for Anthony – the Mondeo is a very quick car, and nicely set up. Jumping into an immediate lead at the first corner when Norman put the Galaxie into the Armco, he went on to build a lead he would not surrender for the entire race.

Challenge

The closest challenge came from Scott, enjoying his first Classic Saloons racing with his Camaro. Behind him, Steve found the Mitsubishi a little lacking in straight-line speed, and he became easy pickings for his rival racers on the straights. His race-long scrap with Cliff – himself struggling with the guide set-up of his blue Camaro – ending with Cliff pipping Steve for third.

Race One Result (Cumulative points tally shown in brackets):
1st Anthony – Ford Mondeo
25 laps (30)
2nd Scott – Chevrolet Camaro
25 laps (25)
3rd Cliff – Chevrolet Camaro
22 laps (20)
4th Steve – Mitsubishi Gallant GTO
22 laps (15)
5th Alex – BMW M3
21 laps (10)
6th Norman – Ford Galaxie
17 laps (5)

Fastest Race Lap: Scott – 14.954

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It was more of the same for Anthony in race two. Once again using the Ford Mondeo while the glue dried on his Camaro, he once again got into the lead early on and remained there for the rest of the race. Once again, the best of the rest was Scott, putting in another good performance.

Spins

Steve switched to his VW Beetle for this race, deciding his Mitsubishi needed more work before it was race-ready. The Beetle is quick on the straights, but a challenge to handle in the corners round the Benfleet City Circuit. While he was able to run at the front with Anthony and Scott in the opening laps, a succession of spins dropped him to fourth behind Darren’s Vauxhall.

Race Two Result: 
1st Anthony – Ford Mondeo
25 laps (60)
2nd Scott – Chevrolet Camaro
24 laps (50)
3rd Darren – Vauxhall Vectra
24 laps (20)
4th Steve – VW Beetle
23 laps (30)
5th Alex – BMW M3
20 laps (20)
6th Cliff – Chevrolet Camaro
18 laps (20)

Fastest Race Lap: Scott – 14.587

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An eventful start to race three saw a number of cars crash at turn one. Starting from pole, Lee negotiated the turn safely while it all kicked-off behind him, with only Steve able to tip-toe through the carnage to set off in pursuit of Lee. Steve spent the first half of the race steadily gaining on Lee, and eventually caught and passed the Ford Falcon.

Company

Neither had bargained on company, however. Scott, once his opening lap woes were behind him, had steadily reeled in the leaders, and fortune was to favour the rookie in the closing stages of the race. With Steve defending going into the final hairpin, both he and Lee were to spin, handing the lead and the race win to Scott.

Race Three Result: 
1st Scott – Chevrolet Camaro
25 laps (80)
2nd Steve –  VW Beetle
25 laps (55)
3rd Lee – Ford Falcon
24 laps (20)
4th Cliff  – Chevrolet Camaro
22 laps (35)
5th Alex – BMW M3
21 laps (30)
6th Norman – BMW 320
18 laps (10)

Fastest Race Lap: Scott – 15.267

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Having marshalled for the first three races, George entered the fray for race four, and was immediately right in the mix for the race win. It was a three-way fight for the lead in the early stages, with George and Lee leading the way, with Steve and Scott snapping at their heels. As the race wore on, there was very little to separate Lee and George, and their race looked like it might be settled in the pits. Both drivers called their fuel strategies perfectly, however, with both crossing the finishing line almost together and with mere fumes in the tank.

Struggle

Behind them, Steve was struggling with the handling of his Beetle, making a few too many mistakes and dropping away from the leaders’ pace, and being passed by Scott for third. At the back, Norman continued to struggle with his BMW 320, while Cliff too had problems with the guide on his Camaro.

Race Four Result: 
1st Lee – Ford Falcon
25 laps (50)
2nd George – Dodge Charger
25 laps (25)
3rd Scott – Chevrolet Camaro
25 laps (100)
4th Steve – VW Beetle
24 laps (70)
5th Cliff – Chevrolet Camaro
21 laps (45)
6th Norman – BMW 320
17 laps (15)

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Darren worked his way into an early lead in race four, battling through from fourth on the grid. He was given some breathing room at the front while Anthony – now back driving his trusty Camaro – and Steve battled over second. Anthony was to emerge victorious in this particular battle, with Steve once again making too many mistakes and dropping back.

More spins…

As the race continued, Scott caught and passed Steve’s Beetle, but also had a major spin a few laps later, and dropped right back to fifth. George was having a less convincing performance in this race compared to race four; a few too many spins early on had seen him drop too far back to join the fight at the front. Running fourth as the race entered its closing stages, however, yet another spin for Steve allowed him to grab the final podium place.

Race Five Result: 
1st Darren – Vauxhall Vectra
25 laps (50)
2nd Anthony – Chevrolet Camaro
24 laps (85)
3rd George – Dodge Charger
24 laps (45)
4th Steve – VW Beetle
24 laps (85)
5th Scott – Chevrolet Camaro
23 laps (110)
6th Alex – BMW M3
20 laps (30)

Fastest Race Lap: Darren – 14.775

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Every now and then, Digital racing can throw up a result which does not do justice to the performance of a particular driver. A technical issue, or being caught up in someone else’s accident can sometimes result in the system not counting a lap and a driver missing out on valuable points. Race six was one such race.

Battle

George, starting from third on the grid, had muscled his way to the front on the first lap, and was to remain in the lead for the first 12 laps. A crash saw him lose out, however, and both Scott and Lee were able to pass before he got back under way. Scott wasted now time in pulling away at the front, while Lee was drawn back into a battle for second with George.

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During the stops, it was all to go horribly wrong for Scott. He was approaching the start-finish line when Lee rushed out of the pits in an attempt to exit ahead of George, but collected the Dodge as he rejoined the track. Scott was unfortunately caught up in the aftermath, and seemingly re-slotted the wrong side of the line. This dropped him to fourth from what was looking like a certain race win. A further crash for the now leading duo of Lee and George eventually promoted Darren to first place and the race win.

Race Six Result: 
1st Darren – Vauxhall Vectra
25 laps (80)
2nd Lee – Ford Falcon
25 laps (75)
3rd George – Dodge Challenger
25 laps (65)
4th Scott – Chevrolet Camaro
24 laps (125)
5th Cliff – Dodge Challenger
20 laps (55)
6th Norman – Ford Mondeo
20 laps (20)

Fastest Race Lap: Lee – 14.382

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After the controversy of race six, the seventh race was a fairly straight forward affair. Another close battle raged between Lee and George for the win, with the lead changing hands a number of times before Lee finally took top honours. Behind them, a separate battle raged between Darren and Anthony for third. Darren edged this battle, conserving enough fuel to (just) make to the end without stopping, passing Anthony when he made his solitary stop for fuel.

Wheely Bad

It was fun and games at the back. Alex came home a distant sixth, as he continued to struggle with the BMW M3’s handling. He’d had a good night’s racing in round one, with the BMW seeming at home at Phoenix, he’d fought his way onto the podium in one race. Benfleet is a different proposition, however, and tonight was clearly a struggle. Steve’s night continued it’s downward turn. A series of spins had dropped Steve back to fourth anyway, but a tyre coming off at half distance dropped him even further back.

Race Seven Result:
1st Lee – Ford Falcon
25 laps (105)
2nd George – Dodge Charger 
25 laps (90)
3rd Darren – Vauxhall Vectra
24 laps (100)
4th Anthony – Chevrolet Camaro
24 laps (100)
5th Steve – VW Beetle
21 laps (95)
6th Alex – BMW M3
18 laps (30)

Fastest Race Lap: Lee – 14.614

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Race eight started with a huge crash in turn one, from which just pole man Alex emerged unscathed. He was to hold onto his lead for a handful of laps until Lee caught and passed him with the swift Ford Falcon. As the more established front-runners got back up to speed, Alex steadily dropped back, as first George, then Darren and Anthony got by.

Darren fights through

George was running second for much of the race, and had both Anthony and Darren for company for much of the race. The chasing pack had a messy race, however, with all three making mistakes, which allowed Lee – keeping things steady at the front – to chalk up another race win. Darren was to take second, fighting his way by Anthony earlier in the race and taking the runner-up spot from George late on.

Race Eight Result: 
1st Lee – Ford Falcon
25 laps (135)
2nd Darren – Vauxhall Vectra
24 laps (125)
3rd George – Dodge Charger
24 laps (110)
4th Anthony – Chevrolet Camaro
24 laps (115)
5th Alex – BMW M3
20 laps (40)
6th Norman – Ford Mondeo
20 laps (25)

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The final race of the evening got underway, and once again the tricky turn one claimed yet another scalp, with Norman crashing and Lee being caught up in the aftermath. At the front, pole man Anthony had taken the lead initially, but a deft pass saw Darren slip by on the second lap. Their lead was to be short-lived, however.

Out of Reach

Once back up and running, Lee set off in pursuit of George, but the Dodge was to always prove just out of reach. George first closed the gap on Darren and Anthony, passing both before pulling away at the front. Lee was next through, with his Falcon – despite it’s apparent lack of tuning – proving too fast for Darren and Anthony to resist. Lee was then to close on George, but the Dodge racer was able to hold on for the win. Anthony passed Darren in the later stages to claim the final podium place.

Race Nine Result: 
1st George – Dodge Charger
25 laps (140)
2nd Lee – Ford Falcon
25 laps (160)
3rd Anthony – Chevrolet Camaro
25 laps (135)
4th Darren – Vauxhall Vectra
24 laps (140)
5th Cliff – Dodge Challenger
21 laps (65)
6th Norman – Ford Mondeo
18 laps (30)

Fastest Race Lap: Lee – 14.313

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Round Two Result*:
1st Lee – 133
2nd George – 117
= Darren – 117
4th Anthony – 112.5
5th Scott – 104
6th Steve – 79
7th Cliff – 54
8th Alex – 33
9th Norman – 25
*Racers contested five races each in round one, and six each in round two. Points for round two have therefore been averaged down (divided by six, multiplied by five). 

Taking the dropped-round rule into consideration, just two drivers improved on their round one scores (Anthony and Scott), so Lee remains atop the table with a 20 point lead over George going into the final round on 29th August.

Championship Standings:

Round 1: Round 2: Round 3: Total
1
Lee

145

133

92

278
2
Darren

120

117

137.5

257.5
3
George

125

117

125

250
4
Scott

XXX

104

108

212
5
Steve

110

79

100

210
6
Anthony

XXX

112.5

92

204.5
7
Cliff

70

54

54

124
8
Alex

75

33

37.5

112.5
9
Norman

55

25

42

97

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