Sitting on the grid : Joining me in the back 3 of the grid with 20 starts were Mike and Rando and I was worried about tripping over each other as we all tried to negotiate the pack. Next to me but not for long with his 100 start was Don, 3 serial winners amongst a high class field, this was going to be a tough race worthy of a series finale!
Turn 1 : Like most I pushed the start, and like most I made it with a little skill, so far so good.
Turn 2 : Already the field splits into 2 packs, I'm right in the middle of the chain that makes pack 2.
Turn 5 : Get an unexpected slip off Kevin.
Turn 6 : We now have 3 packs, the front 4, the middle 5 and Mike on his own, it sure is crowded on this track, should I glide through some corners and save some wear for later like Mike?
Turn 7 : Rando really has rotten luck and breaks his brakes, in 3 recent races with him this has happened very early on lap 1 but I've also seen first hand how adept he is at nursing a wounded car for an entire race, with that and his win in the previous championship series I'm not counting him out yet but it's a boost to my chances.
Turn 9 : Plotted 120 and spent a wear with the intention of going 180 next time around.
Turn 10 : Chicken out of the 180 as don't want to roll on the brakes yet, so wasted the wear, hopefully not cruicial.
Turn 12 : Only now does it dawn on me how Tim’s 3 big skill chips could be a game changer as he clears the hairpin in 1, could my fellow Saturday qualifier be the favourite?
Turn 15 : As the leaders cross the line Mike lines up behind me looking to chew up a serious amount of spaces next turn.
The wear counts come in, I've used 8 of my 23, not ideal for a race from behind strategy especially as I've made no headway through the long 2 wide, I'm doubting my build
Turn 16 : Decide I'm not going to be able to clear most of the pack in the final lap so plot 200 and make both rolls with a skill on each. Giving Mike a double slip was far from ideal with his big car, we’d be here again!
Turn 17 : I hadn't really planned on doing 200 in the race so didn't have the brakes I'd have liked with the inevitable wall of cars as we re-entered the 2 wide. Have to overbreak to slow from 200 but make it with the skill. I don't really seem any further forward than a few turns ago though, this isn't looking good and the pack bunches again.
Turn 18 : I question my next move, for sure I'm only going to be able to move 6 spaces through the 120 corner and ending a bit short of Millstone. An appropriate corner name given the moral dilemma I had, as I wouldn't be blocking the corner I decided to plot 100 knowing I'd get a slip to make the 6th space but denying Mike a slip of his own, which would give me a free row next time and a less complicated corner entry.
Turn 21 : Struggling to make any ground through all this 2 wide, in fact getting absolutely nowhere, while Don's breaks take a hit, another strong rival is hamstrung but Rob is starting to break free at the front, if we all keep tripping over ourselves maybe this is the end of the race for 1st and the start a battle for 2nd?
Turn 23 : 3 packs again now, Rob, a chase pack and the rear pack, at least I'm at the front of this pack now rather than the middle.
Turn 25 : Rando breaks his brakes, bad luck but it means Redscape will see a new TTS series champion!
Turn 26 : Need to throw in my last skill chip for a late break due to this never ending traffic, I feel like I'm stuck behind a French lorry driver rolling road block.
Turn 27 : Possibly messed that up as I went inside and will potentially miss out on a slip from Don.
Turn 28 : The mistake went in my favour as there wouldn't have been room for a slip so I get track position over Tim.
Turn 29 : Make another positional error as I should have ended outside to avoid giving another double slip next time around.
Turn 30 : Double slip for Chris, maybe in hindsight this was a benefit for me as it helped keep the pack tight together, but crucially I was now heading the chase pack with Don as we tried to reel in Kevin and Rob.
The final wear count, I've used another 8 leaving just 7, so I needed to make more places and use less wear. The good news was the front 2 didn't have much as did Don who was next to me, Mike still had a healthy pile though and that big car, Stephen, Chris and Tim all had good wear but I hoped now I was finally ahead of them my bigger car would keep me there.
Turn 31 : Paranoid about losing position and getting sucked back into the washing machine that was the pack around the 2 wide I went inside for the approach to turn 1, not efficient as I gave up the lines but needed to get closer to the leaders and race 4 of the Saturday series was fresh in my mind where I'd entered lap 3 with a wear advantage but not made it pay by getting stuck behind Chris K.
Turn 32 : plot 140 and spend a wear in each of the corners, it's got me where I wanted to be but at what cost? It's clear to me now I probably have 3 rivals, Kevin and Rob in front and Mike 1 space behind and now with a 1 wear advantage.
Turn 33: I plot 100 and can spend 2 to pull level with Kevin or 1 and risk the feild coming by again. Worried I needed to save some wear as Mike still has lots and a big car, I choose the later and hope for the best.
Turn 34 : My choice paid off as hampered by broken breaks and low wear Don plotted low and I went high to get 3rd place 1 row behind Kevin and Rob, Mike seems to have been caught out and is few places back, Tim spins and another challenger chances seem to be gone.
Turn 35 : Get level with Kevin 1 behind Rob, it's costing me wear but I'm finally getting position.
Turn 36 : Get the line into Echo Valley forcing Kevin to shed a precious wear.
Turn 37 : Pull level with the leader Rob thanks to my bigger engine, I feel I now have control but am warry of people picking up the dice.
Turn 40 : Dilemma into hairpin will Rob chance it? Thoughts go back to Abu Dhabi where my safe play and Rando's chance roll possibly cost me the win, do I risk it this time? I consider plotting 80 thinking Rob will take a chance roll at 100 leaving me with a late brake, last minute change of mind I'm going 100. Rob to my relief goes 80, I now have the lead but no wear, but it should be enough. But wait, Mike takes a naked chance roll into the hairpin and makes it, this is going to the wire!
Turn 43 : Into the last corner, 120 or 100, what will Mike do? I have a big car, but I'm up against the only driver in the field with a bigger one, not ideal. I don't want to be level or behind so plot 120, originally thinking I might chance the final corner which if successful should get me the win. Mike flips a 100 and I go for the slightly safer naked late brake roll, made it with a 6, should have stuck to my guns! 1 turn to go, Mike in a slip position!
Turn 44 : What will Mike do? I have no idea, I'm sure he's going back through his mental notes on RM'ing me last season to pick my likely strategy. What will I do? 160 or 180, one is safe the other needs a roll. What will Mike do? 180 or 200, one is safe, the other needs a double roll. WHAT WILL MIKE DO? I decide he'll go 180 and avoid the double roll, I put down my card. Oh I hope this is the right call. Mike puts down his, what did Mike do? I flip my 160, as I stare nervously at his green card, it turns, its a 180!! We both get a nose across the line but with the inside I take the narrowest of wins.
I only managed one race win in the series, but at least it was the final one and certainly the highest quality of feild I've prevailed against.
Thanks all for a great race here and in the heats and to the RM's across the divisions and finals. See you in 2021, Merry Christmas all!