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my 2008 Slotstox British Championship story

The 2008 Slotstox British Championship was hosted by the Great Blakenham Slotstox Club at the Great Blakenham Village Hall on 2nd March 2008.  The racing took place on the six lane small track.  The meeting was sponsored by Chris Burgoyne Motorsport: 20 drivers were racing.
 
 
Having not raced regularly over recent seasons, I was racing with a Yellow grade status.  With the whole championship being run from grades; my performances at two Great Blakenham Slotstox Club championships in 2007: winning the Slotstox Champion of Champions Championship (not considered a major championship and therefore the winning driver does not have to start from Superstar grade status) plus runner-up in the Slotstox East Anglian Championship; together with some notable abesentees from the meeting - defending British Champion Noel Whinney, World Champion Robin Bater and Suffolk and Foxhall Grand Prix Series Champion Mark West - I felt that I was in with a chance of a good result.
Against me was whether my lack of racing in recent seasons would have an effect.
 
 
Each driver raced in three drawn heats of six races (one race in each lane) from grades over six laps with all drivers racing knowing that they would qualify for the quarter-finals. 
Points for all races throughout the Championship were:
5 for 1st, 4 for 2nd, 3 for 3rd, and 2 for 4th and 1 for 5th.
 
 
In my first heat I won in lanes 1, 2 and 3; finished 2nd in lane 4, 3rd in lane 5 and 4th in lane 6.  I scored 24 points (out of 30) and was joint highest points scorer in the first set of heats.
In my second heat I won in lanes 1, 3 and 5; finished 3rd in lane 4 with non-finishes in lanes 2 and 6.  I scored 18 points and after the first two sets of heats, I was highest points scorer overall.
In my third heat I won in lanes 2, 3 and 5; finished 2nd in lanes 4 and 6 with a non-finish in lane 1.  I scored 23 points to be second highest points scorer in the third set of heats and my overall heats score total of 65 was enough to be the highest points scorer in the heats.
 
In my 3 heats, I scored maximum points in lane 3.

HEATS - POS. 1ST
Heat 1
Heat 2
Heat 3
TOTAL
LANE 1
5
5
-
10
LANE 2
5
-
5
10
LANE 3
5
5
5
15
LANE 4
4
3
4
11
LANE 5
3
5
5
13
LANE 6
2
-
4
6
TOTAL
24
18
23
65

With all drivers qualifying for the drawn quarter-finals, these were run as four heats of five drivers and followed the same format as the heats i.e. six races (one race in each lane) over six laps with all drivers starting from their grades.  The three highest points scorers in each quarter-final qualified for the semi-finals.
 
 
In my quarter-final, I won once again in lane 3 (4 out of 4) before non-finishing in lanes 4 and 5.  Thankfully the heat had seen a few crashes and was low scoring up to this point.  Andy Harvey was going particularly well, showing potential Championship winning form also from a Yellow grade status, which was compromising my race starts.  With a 4th in lane 6, followed by a 3rd in lane 1 before a win in lane 2, I scored 15 points to be runner-up in a tricky quarter-final and qualify for the semi-finals.  A suprise elimination in this quarter-final was 4th place finisher Rachael Parsons who I had been saying was looking the potential champion.
 
[All drivers representing Great Blakenham Slotstox Club unless stated]

Race /
Line up
1
2
3
4
5
6
TOTAL
Pos.
243 Andy Harvey
4
5
-
5
5
4
23
1st
69 Cliff Bicknell (Arena-Essex)
-
-
-
3
2
2
7
5th
546 Mark Banham (Foxhall Foxes)
5
-
-
2
3
5
15
2nd
662 Rachael Parsons
3
-
-
4
-
3
10
4th
295 (Arena-Essex)
-
-
5
-
4
1
10
3rd

Each of the drawn semi-finals, with six drivers in each, were run over twelve races (two consecutive races in each lane) over eight laps with all drivers starting from their grades.
The three highest points scorers in each semi-final qualified for the 2008 Slotstox British Championship final.
The three lowest points scorers in each semi-final qualified for the 2008 Slotstox British Championship B-final.
 
 
On to the semi-finals and although I was once again up against Andy Harvey crucially this time I was on his inside and my starts were not compromised as much as in my quarter-final.  I started my semi-final with a solid 2nd and a win in lane 1 followed by another four wins in a row in each of my races in lanes 2 and 3 respectively.  I had now won all six of my races in lane 3!  I then had my first non-finish in the semi-final in my first race in lane 4 before a 2nd place in my second race in lane 4.  I then struggled on the outside lanes not finishing either of my two races in lane 5 or my first race in lane 6.  I finished 4th in my second race in lane 6. 
 
(The scores are kept secret from the drivers during the racing and on subsequent review, my 29 points out of 30 in the first six races were very much needed.  The semi-final had been a real close tussle with four drivers in with a chance of winning the semi-final going into the final race!  The competitiveness of the semi-final was highlighted by Paul Glading finishing every race but only two wins in his last two races ensured qualification to the final having been fourth going into the final race!  Simon Turnbull was the unlucky driver out of the four to miss out on a final place and if Simon had not failed to finish the final race then the quarter-final would have finished even closer!  If Simon had managed a 1st to 4th place finish in the final race and I had not finished then I would have been eliminated!)
 
Starting from Blue grade, Simon had looked a potential champion but did well to bounce back and dominate and win the B-final.
As for Andy, who I had been telling was in with a good chance of being the potential champion: he did not fair so well finishing only one of the twelve races and finishing 6th! 

Race /
Line up
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
TOTAL
Pos.
546 Mark Banham
4
5
5
5
5
5
-
4
-
-
-
2
35
2nd
243 Andy Harvey
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
3
-
-
-
-
3
6th
153 Paul Glading
3
4
3
2
2
2
2
1
3
3
5
5
35
3rd
254 Simon Turnbull
5
-
-
3
3
-
5
5
5
2
4
-
32
4th
295 (Arena-Essex)
1
2
-
1
-
3
3
2
-
4
-
4
20
5th
253 Jim Glading
2
3
4
4
4
4
4
-
4
5
-
3
37
1st

The starting lanes for each of the six drivers in the final were drawn. The final was run over twelve races (two consecutive races in each lane) of ten laps with all drivers starting from their grades.

 

The drivers I was up against in the 2008 Slotstox British Championship final:

500 Graeme Canty: had won the first semi-final and was looking good to win a first major Slotstox Championship.
 
153 Paul Glading: 1997 and 2000 Slotstox World Champion as well as runner-up in 1998 and 1999.  A multi-Slotstox championship winner.
 
33 Jack Branch: One of the top Parmastox drivers at Arena-Essex.
 
3 Chris Collins: Wisbech Fen Tigers Slotstox Club multi-Slotstox championship winner and Great Blakenham Slotstox Club regular.
 
253 Jim Glading: 1998 and 2005 Slotstox Suffolk Champion and 2006 Slotstox Great Blakenham Points Champion and winner of my semi-final
 
 
In the final, I started in lane 3 but was unable to continue my winning form in that lane finishing 2nd and then a non-finish.  Two 2nd place finishes in each of my two races in lane 4 kept my score ticking over but I knew Graeme Canty was going well.  With Graeme then having problems with his Slotstox, I finished 2nd in my first race in lane 5 before winning my second race in lane 5.  I then had a non-finish in my first race in lane 6 before a 5th in my second race in lane 6.  I knew that this would have closed the scores up but I had the inside lanes left.  Although lane one is very tight and tricky, I managed to win each of my two races followed by another win in my first race in lane 2.  A non-finish in the final race left me wondering if I had done enough, especially as I watched Paul Glading who usually finishes championships well, win the final race.
When the results were annouced, I had won the final by a reasonably comfortable 8 points.
 
(With the scores being kept secret from the drivers, on subsequent review, I was ahead at the half-way stage of the final.  After eight races, I was still ahead but only five points separated the first five drivers.  My three wins in a row in lanes 1 and 2 proved decisive as I secured the championship with one race to spare).
 
Graeme Canty had started the final well, winning three of the first four races and looking well set before his Slotstox began having problems.  Graeme, another who I had been saying was looking like the potential champion, was then unable to quite recapture that early final form.

2008 SLOTSTOX BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

Race /
Line up
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
TOTAL
Pos.
500 Graeme Canty
5
-
5
5
-
-
-
3
1
-
2
-
21
5th
153 Paul Glading
3
-
2
3
3
4
3
1
2
-
4
5
30
2nd
546 Mark Banham
4
-
4
4
4
5
-
2
5
5
5
-
38
1st
33 Jack Branch (Arena-Essex)
2
-
-
-
1
3
2
-
3
1
3
-
15
6th
3 Chris Collins (Wisbech Fen Tigers)
-
5
-
1
2
-
5
5
-
4
-
-
22
4th
253 Jim Glading
-
-
3
2
5
-
4
4
4
3
-
-
25
3rd

This was my second major Slotstox Championship win following my win in the 2001 Slotstox World Championship (and like the 2001 Slotstox World Championship, I started the final in lane 3 and with a 2nd place finish in my first race in that lane!)
 
Some people suggested that I only won because I was starting from Yellow grade status and also due to the drivers that were not in attendance.  Maybe, I agree these played their part, but other drivers from Blue grade status and lower including Rachael Parsons, Simon Turnbull and particularly Andy Harvey in the quarter-final had looked more likelier Champions than me at some points during the championship.  Graeme Canty was also going very well from Red grade status and it was unfortunate for him that his Slotstox had problems at just the wrong time.  However, they all fell by the wayside as the championship approached the business end and you can only beat the drivers who are racing on the day and there were still some very good drivers racing.  Like at the 2001 Slotstox World Championship you have to make the most of the opportunity when your chance comes.
 
Unlike my Slotstox World Championship win in 2001 (racing a new-ish all Blue Slotstox that I had not had time to paint) it was nice to win this time with a Slotstox painted in John Gray replica livery.
 
I had also won the Championship racing the Slotstox that I had won in the raffle at the Great Blakenham Slotstox Club hosted Slotstox British 'Open' Championship in 2004!

Copyright Mark Banham Racing