For the first time since the series started over 5 years ago, the most scenic setting for a race circuit in the UK was used to host a round of the Time Attack. Bank Holiday weekends usually mean lots of rain and long queues everywhere, but Anglesey in Wales provided near perfect weather conditions and freedom from traffic chaos.
Idyllic Setting of Anglesey Race Circuit
The Anglesey circuit can be used in a number of different configurations, and the technical 1.55 mile Coastal circuit was chosen to challenge the drivers and entertain the crowds. The Coast Circuit includes the famous corkscrew section which presents the drivers with a quick succession of tight left and right hand corners along with a fearsome 20m drop in height right at the end of the lap.
With this being the first ever Time Attack event at Anglesey, the morning warm up sessions were a learning experience for all the drivers, with very few having any experience of the circuit. In the Club challenge, it was FWD title contender Bo Nielsen who topped the time sheets in his Forge Motorsport Astra VXR, setting a time of 1:19.083 on only his second lap out, ahead of Jimmy White in the RWD VX220 on 1:19.490. Marc Kemp was the fastest of the 4WD cars, just failing to break into the ’19s with a 1:20.064
Bo Nielsen, Forge Motorsport VXR at Anglesey
In Club Pro, Mark Pollard in the ever popular Metro 6R4 was first to show his hand, setting a time of 1:18.733 on his 4th lap. Mark’s time was later bettered by Cadwell Park winner Walter “Silverback” Morris in his Skyline R32 GTR, who built the pace steadily to record a 1:18.653, the fastest time of the session. 3rd fastest in Club Pro was the amazing Buddy Club CRX of Romaine Levesque, who moved up to the Club Pro group after his dominant victory last time out at Cadwell Park. Warren Kelly could only complete 2 laps in his fabulous Escort Cosworth, before a broken driveshaft ended his session, but he wasn’t the only Ford with drivetrain problems. Fellow Escort Cosworth driver Dave Jackson was unable to start the session due to problems with his sequential gearbox.
Walter Morris, R32 Skyline GTR at Anglesey
In Pro class, it was situation normal for Gavin Renshaw in the NR Autosport prepared Mitsubishi EVO. Completing only 4 timed laps, Gavin set the early benchmark of 1:16.728 before retiring to the pits to monitor the pace of his competitors and enjoy his morning cup of tea. 2nd fastest during this warm up session was Paul Doyle in the K Sport Impreza, running his new 6 speed sequential gearbox for the first time. Despite struggling with both understeer and oversteer, Paul still recorded an impressive 1:16.981 – almost 2.5 seconds faster than Brands Hatch winner Marcus Webster’s R32 Skyline, which was starting to suffer from a slipping clutch. Russ Paton’s EVO also suffered transmission problems in the form of a warped clutch plate, making it impossible for him to change gear.
Gavin Renshaw, NR Autosport EVO at Anlgesey
With the early morning warm up out of the way, it now was now time for the drivers to start getting serious. In Club Challenge, Jon Mathers took up his customary first position in the pit lane, giving him the advantage of a clear track ahead once the cars take to the track. With a new smaller 2.0 engine in his Pro-R Subaru Impreza, Jon was immediately on the pace and set the fastest Club time of the day so far with a 1:18.914 on his 3rd lap. Marc Kemp and Andrew Barbour in their Mitsubishi EVOs were hot on his heels though, recording times of 1:19.520 and 1:19.665 respectively.
Marc Kemp, Monster Energy EVO at Anglesey
As in previous rounds, it was the FWD category that was to provide the drama. Gerry Atkinson in the Seat Leon Supercopa had been steadily improving all day, and on his 6th lap put in a stunning time of 1:18.701. With only 300bhp, Gerry’s Leon has a significant power deficit in comparison to some of his rivals, but gains time with the Seat’s tidy handling and seamless DSG gear changes. Bo Nielsen improved on his warm up laps to record the third fastest time overall, just a few tenths slower than Gerry on 1:19.029
Gerry Atkinson, Seat Leon Supercopa at Anglesey
In their first outing since the seaon opener at Oulton Park, the Giovinazza brothers made a welcome return to the Time Attack series in their distinctive Alfa 155. Driven this time by Dominico, they struggled with a water leak that only appeared at race temperatures and speeds and could only complete 5 laps.
Dominico Giovinazzo, Alfa 155 at Anglesey
Running with a borrowed engine in his distinctive green VX220, RWD contender Jimmy White was pushing hard on his “home” circuit and his efforts were rewarded with a 1:19.912. This gave him a comfortable 1.6 second margin over Umar Masood’s RX7 and the Sierra Cosworth of Ronnie Amis who was another driver struggling with understeer problems on the tighter Anglesey corners.
Jimmy White, VX220 at Anglesey
Running his new fuel system for the first time at Angelsey, Walter Morris had finally cured the fuel surge problems experienced on previous rounds. Building up the pace steadily throughout the session, Walter set a benchmark time of 1:18.225 on his 6th lap. Fellow Club Pro contender Mark Pollard then completed a 2nd set of laps in his 6R4. Mark delivered 2 fast laps in quick succession, narrowly beating Walter’s time with a 1:18.225, and then dipping into the ’17s with an 1:17.839, a time that bettered all but one of the Pro class cars. Having blown his supercharger during the earlier practice session, Romaine Levesque did not throw in the towel. A nifty swap of drive belts and remap of the ECU by his team saw him back out on track running his Civic CRX in Normally Aspirated mode. Astoundlingly, Romaine recorded the 3rd fastest time in Club Pro with a 1:19.380, ahead of the much more powerful 4WD machinery of Warren Kelly, Fiona Kindness and Neil Roberston.
Mark Pollard, Metro 6R4 at Anglesey
In Pro class, it was again business as usual for Gavin Renshaw in the NR Autosport EVO. Gavin set a set of 1:15.703 on his 2nd lap, to head the entire field by over 2 seconds. Paul Doyle was still struggling to find a good handling balance in the K Sport Impreza, whilst Duncan Graham was steadily building confidence and pace with his new 2.35 engine.
Duncan Graham, BC Racing Impreza at Anglesey
In keeping with the tranquil seaside setting, the Anglesey circuit does not operate whilst the congregation of the nearby church are leaving on a Sunday. This meant a welcome change to the usual timetable, with the qualifying sessions taking place before a later than normal lunch break. Not only did this give a longer gap between the qualification and final sessions for final adjustments, it also enabled an earlier finish which was very much appreciated by the drivers facing long journeys home.
Andrew Barbour, Mitsubishi EVO at Anglesey
In Club 4WD, both Andrew Barbour and Eric Holmes improved on their practice times in their Mitsubishi EVOs, but it was the trio of Jon Mathers, Marc Kemp and Gary Searl who topped the time sheets and earned maximum qualification points. As usual, Jon Mathers was first out on track in the Pro-R Subaru Impreza and wasted no time is setting the fastest time of the session with a 1:18.246 on only his second lap. Marc Kemp was less than one tenth slower though, recording a 1:18.315 late on in the session. Gary Searl was perhaps trying too hard to improve, locking up at several points around the track and couldn’t better his 2nd lap time of 1:18.535. The stage was now set for a thrilling final between these very closely matched rivals.
Gary Searl locking up at Anglesey
In FWD, Gerry Atkinson once again improved in his Seat Leon, improving on his morning times with an impressive 1:18.408, giving him the 3rd fastest time overall during the session. Despite being out on track for the entire session, Gerry’s smooth driving style ensured that he didn’t overwork his Pirelli tyres which were still working well on his 15th and final lap when he set his fastest time. Bo Nielsen tried hard to improve on his morning times, putting in a consistent series of 80 second laps during his two stints on track, but couldn’t better his times from the earlier sessions and recorded a 1:20.198.
Gerry Atkinson pushing hard at Anglesey
In the RWD class, Jimmy White was another driver who stayed out for the whole session. Set on his 13th laps, Jimmy’s best time of 1:19.287 was enough to earn him maximum qualifying points ahead of Ronnie Amis’s Cosworth Sierra on 1:22.759. Ronnie was still struggling with front end grip problems, and adopted a sideways drifting style to maximise his exit speed from the slower corners.
Ronnie Amis drifting his Cosworth Sierra at Anglesey
With valuable qualifying points available, it was time for the Pro and Club Pro drivers to show their full potential. Pro driver Gavin Renshaw was again first out of the pits, and on his 2nd lap he quickly raised the bar by setting the fastest time of the day with a 1:15.354. Running higher boost for the first time on his new engine, Duncan Graham showed his potential by qualifying 2nd in Pro class in his BC Racing Impreza with 1:16.875. Paul Doyle struggled again with the handling balance in the K-Sport Impreza, with several hair-raising trips onto grass, before recording a set of 3 quick laps at the end of the session, culminating with a 3rd best of 1:17.095 ahead of Mike Mahoney in the Wallace Performance EVO.
Mike Mahoney, Wallace Performance EVO at Anglesey
In Club Pro, Walter Morris in the Midlands Performance Skyline qualified first with a 1:16.477, ahead of championship rival Mark Pollard who could only manage a 1:17.138 in his 6R4. Disaster struck Warren Kelly in his Airtech backed Escort Cosworth, when his sequential gearbox failed on his 4th lap leaving him stranded at the top of the Welsh circuit. Warren could only contemplate what could have been an excellent result as he qualified 3rd overall, but would sadly fail to have his car fixed for the all important final. Fiona Kindness continued to struggle with her ill-handling Track Scotland Skyline, but still managed a respectable time of 1:20.494 just behind Neil Robertson’s EVO 1:20.431. Romaine Levesque, still running without a supercharger in his Buddy Club CRX opted to remove his rear wing in search of extra straight line speed. The loss of downforce meant he struggled for grip in the higher speed corners and was over a second slower than his earlier warm-up times and failed to break the 1:20 barrier.
Warren Kelly and his stricken Escort Cosworth at Anglesey
Club Challenge Finals
With dark clouds visible on the horizon, the Club competitors were keen to make an early impression in the final before any rain arrived. Jon Mathers in the Pro-R Impreza took immediate advantage of the clear track conditions to set his fastest time of the day with an excellent 1:17.692. Marc Kemp in his Monster Energy EVO could only manage a 1:18.573 on his first stint, which wasn’t quite close enough to concern Mathers. After a short pit stop, Kemp found both his form and clear space on track to set a fantastic time of 1:17.951, a mere 1/4 of a second off the pace and take a well deserved 2nd place. Championship contender Andrew Barbour who suffered a transfer box failure in the previous round was driving well, holding a 3rd place time of 1:18.961 before his gearbox failed. Andrew could only watch from the sidelines as Gary Searl in the GMS Devlopments EVO put together a superb flying laps towards the end (1:18.711) for a well deserved place on the podium. Jon Mathers secured his 6th consecutive SIDC trophy for fastest Impreza.
Jon Mathers powering to victory in the Pro-R Impreza at Anglesey
Dave Coe, Subaru Impreza at Anglesey
After an unusually slower pace during qualification, Bo Nielsen in his Forge Motorport Astra VXR wasted no time at the front of the field to record his best time of the day with an impressive 1:19.100 on his 3rd lap. In the Tickety Boo Films back Seat Leon Supercopa, a confident Gerry Atkinson adopted a tactically differernt approach, putting in a few gentle warm-up laps at the back of the grid whilst carefully monitoring his rivals lap times. Gerry’s strategy paid dividends as within 5 laps he had bettered Nielsen’s time, with a series of laps in the mid 1:18s. Seeing Bo return to the track, Gerry didn’t back off, and on his 10th lap set a time of 1:18.370 to record his maiden Time Attack victory, with Dave Thorpe taking 3rd place in the supercharged North TDI Honda Civic.
Dave Thorpe, TDI North Civic at Anglesey
In the RWD class, there was no stopping Jimmy White in the lurid VX220. On top form all day, Jimmy quickly put in a consitent series of low 1:20 laps, before sealing victory with an impressive 1:19.204 on his 14th and final lap. Umar Masood had a massive scare during the final session, spinning his RX7 at high speed as he came onto the start/finish straight, and ending up inches from the concrete wall and hundreds of open mouthed spectators. Umar earned a huge round of applause as he rejoined the track with a massive burst of flame from his exhaust. Umar’s best time of 1:21.381 was enough to earn him 2nd place on the podium, ahead of drift contender Ronnie Amis in his Cosworth (1:22.226).
Umar Masood Spinning his RX7 at Anglesey
Pro and Club Pro Finals
With comfortable margins in every session over his fellow Pro competitors, few people would have bet against Gavin Renshaw taking the vicroty in the NR Autosport EVO. However anything can happen in the heat of the Time Attack finals, and Paul Doyle proved the point in the K Sport Impreza. In typical fashion, Gavin lead the field onto the track for the final session, and put in a comfortable 1:15.592 on his second lap. His lead was short lived though, as less than 30 seconds later with his handling problems seemingly cured, Paul Doyle stormed across the finishing line to record a 1:14.873! With the pressure now on, Gavin went out for a further two stints during the session, and got agonisngly close with a 1:14.918 on his 8th lap, less than 5 hundredths behind. Gavin gave 110% to try and re-capture the lead, but with a busy track and tyres beyond their optimal temperature, it wasn’t to be and he had to settle for 2nd best, leaving Paul to take the honours and become the 4th different winner of the Pro class this season.
Paul Doyle powersliding his K Sport Impreza to victory at Anglesey
Mike Mahoney stepped up to the mark in the Wallace Performance EVO to secure 3rd place with a 1:16.580, his second podium of the year. A problem with a NOS hose left Duncan Graham’s BC Racing Impreza down on power for the final session, but showed great potential with an eccellent time under the circumstances of 1:16.976. With a failed clutch, Russ Paton took the brave decision to compete in the final with just 3rd gear available. Driving at and beyond the limts around the slower corners to compensate for the lack of lower gears, Russ claimed 5th place with an astounding time 1:17.632. Despite a fantastic team efffort by the Midlands Performance team to change the clutch in his Skyline R32 GTR in record time, Paton’s heroic efforts demoted title contender Marcus Webster to 6th place, a result that may come home to haunt him in final round in a few weeks time.
Russ Paton, Performance HQ EVO at Anglesey
You can watch Paul’s winning lap here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYRiHVdR1pY, and compare it to Gavin’s here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGHH5_3OBLg. You will note that Gavin is almost 15mph faster along the back straight, but somehow Paul’s overall lap time is just enough to take the honors.
In the Club Pro category, it was pretty much a two horse race between Mark Pollard in the 6R4, and Walter Morris’ Skyline. Walter had held the upper hand throughout the morning sessions. Setting a time of 1:16.665 on his 7th lap, Walter seemed to have victory sown up, as Mark could only record a 1:17.074. Mark pitted his 6R4, whilst Walter stayed out on track, tyring to improve his time. After a few warm up laps to find an empty spot on the track, Pollard stormed across the line with a 1:16.388 to head the Club Pro timesheets. After staying out on track for the whole session, Walter struggled with inconsistent grip from his “past their best” tyres, and despite his best efforts was unable to better his earlier lap time. With his rear wing re-fitted, but still running without his Supercharger, Romain Levesque pushed his CRX hard to earn 3rd place on the podium with a 1:19.434.
Romaine Levesque, Buddy Club CRX at Anglesey
Fiona Kindess, Track Scotland Skyilne at Anglesey
The full results from the Anglesey round can be found by clicking here
The Time Attack series now heads to Snetterton in Norfolk on the 25th September for the Final showdown. The points standings after six rounds are as follows:
Time Attack points after round 6
With one round to be dropped by each competitor, working out the effective positions and likely outcome proves quite difficult. Walter Morris has kindly constructed an application that calculates the effective results, which make for very interesting reading Click Here
With everything to play for an each of the classes, it promises to be an event not to miss.
Words: John Stewart
Images: Flat Out Photography
Jimmy White, Umar Masood and Ronnie Amis on the podium at Anglesey
Gerry Atkinson celebrating his first place at Anglesey
Champagne celebrations for Jon Mathers, Marck Kemp and Gary Searl at Anglesey
Mark Pollard, Walter Morris and Romaine Levesque at Anglesey
Paul Doyle, Gavin Renshaw and Mike Mahoney, Pro Class winners at Anglesey