Sir James Smith's School

Greenpower International Final

15th and 16th October 2016

Ten students and parents headed up to Rockingham on Friday 14th October 2016 ready for an exciting and very close weekend of racing.

A few members camping at the track were instantly thrown into the turmoil of work, getting the car ready to race. We had an issue with the electrics thankfully spotted as the car was unloaded, it was all hands to it to fix. We were not the only ones as we were garaged with the Portuguese team who were also asked to leave at 10.30pm by security, working hard to get the cars ready.

The whole team arrived Saturday morning at 7.00am to prepare for scrutineering; we were yet to fix the electric problem so the pressure was really on. The good news is we did fix the wiring fault and got through scrutineering (about 7 hours of emergency work), so were ready for the track but had missed the practice session. We would be heading out to the final in an untested car.

The team had decided that drivers with experience of the track should race so Isla Symons, Dan Blackwell and Will Hooper were driving. We knew this year would be incredibly close from studying data from the many race meetings around the country. There were 4 cars in with a very good chance of winning, 2 of which were positioned higher than us in the championship. With 45 Kit cars on track and 3 other top cars, the racing was tight. Retro Rocket jostled positions with Richard Lander’s car for second position for the first quarter of the race while the leader, Megazord from Bristol Grammar school kept edging away. Thankfully our pit practice paid off with two well timed stops and fast driver changes we edged into second place. The chase was on to catch the leader.  Will carved through back markers, break downs and even a few fast cars but there weren’t quite enough laps, we were catching up but the 90 minutes had run out. A second place is still a fantastic result especially against such good opposition this year. There was still the International Final to come the next day so the team took the opportunity to send more drivers out to practice in the afternoon session, we would be ready for the two top races the next day.

Sundays racing came with heavy rain, the track was soaked and many teams didn’t go out to the morning practice, Retro Rocket did as the team wanted everything to be right and ready. The time soon came for the International Final, the team was up against 74 other cars both kit and scratch built the best cars from across the globe. The VIP’s walked the grid and the team waited in anticipation for the flag to drop. Isla was going to take the first drive, with so many other cars on track the team felt experience here was key and it paid off as Isla clocked a blistering first lap and got in-front of every other car in our class by the time she pitted.  Harvey Jeskins a new driver to the team showed great skill at maintaining the gap.  Two fantastic pit stops (2 minutes quicker than some teams) edged Retro Rocket further and further ahead of the field.  The chequered flag dropped for Dan and the team erupted in cheers, screams and shouts as we knew we had won.

The second race saw many teams up their game to try and catch us but we had set a high goal to achieve. This didn’t stop the opposition trying of course and with a drive train issue slowing us slightly we only just reached the podium for a 3rd in the second race.

So the team had to work incredibly hard and overcome some obstacles this year, new drivers got some experience under their leather belts and pit practices back at school had paid off. We were proud to receive the silver Trophy for Second in the Kit Car final on the Saturday but all was quiet as the results for the International Final were read out. It all came down to the timings for both races, the car that had done the most mileage in the 90 minutes given. The commentator read out two of the fastest of the 4 cars we felt we had a chance for first. Due to our third place the team was on tenterhooks, had we won it or dropped to fourth because of the drive train issue??

………………….”and in first place an immerging icon of the series Retro Rocket Sir James Smith’s School” the team went mad, the whole team rushed up to the podium, Rachel Hicks was running around trailing a huge Cornish flag and rightly so we had done it again for SJS and Cornwall. Retro Rocket had smashed the record of 23 laps by completing 24 laps and averaging half a MPH faster than the previous record that the team set last year. We had set the bar a little higher again and will be defending it again next season!

An amazing experience as always couple with massive highs and lows, worry and jubilation.

Thanks to all sponsors, parents, the community and the team - bring on season 2017.

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