EWS 2022/23 Round 1 presented by Xray
The 2022/2023 Essex Winter Series got underway this weekend with the first round of the popular championship attracting a full capacity entry across all the classes.
In the Modified class, Xray had thrown their support behind the event and boosted the already-competitive entry with star driver Bruno Coelho and X4 designer Martin Hudy in attendance. As many would have expected from the two-time Touring Car World Champion, Bruno led the pace at the front of the field, topping all four rounds of qualifying. Team-mate Kyle Branson was Bruno’s closest challenger, with the current EWS champion getting close to denying Bruno a clean sweep in Q3, but the Portugese driver prevailed forcing Kyle to settle for second. There was a tight fight for third on the grid, with Capricorn’s Alex Thurston taking third in the opening rounds, pursued closely by the ‘design duo’ – Schumacher’s Andy Murray ahead of Xray’s Martin Hudy.
In the single leg A Final, the crowd were waiting to see Bruno complete his master class of the day, and he duly delivered, leading from the start and building up a couple of second lead of Kyle in the opening minute. From there, Bruno was able to maintain the gap as Kyle held a solid second place. At that level, it seemed only a mistake from Bruno would give Kyle any chance of victory, and the World Champion ensured that wasn’t an option as he kept his Xray on the carpet to take a well-deserved victory. Behind, there was a fantastic scrap for third place, as the three drivers from Qualifying ran line astern for the majority of the race – no one quite able to put themselves in a position to make a serious move, at least not without risk of losing a place to the car behind. Going into the final minute of the race, Andy ran a little too much kerb through the fast chicane, dropping him back from fourth place, and promoting Martin up one place. But there wasn’t then enough time left for Martin to be able to challenge Alex for a podium place, having to settle for fourth overall.
LRP MODIFIED A FINAL RESULT
1 Bruno Coelho – Xray/Hobbywing
2 Kyle Branson – Xray/Hobbywing
3 Alex Thurston – Capricorn/Hobbywing
4 Martin Hudy – Xray/Hobbywing
5 Daniel Robins – Schumacher/Hobbywing
6 Andy Murray – Schumacher/LRP
7 Harley Eldridge – Xray/LRP
8 Marcus Askell – Xray/Hobbywing
9 Adam Southgate – Xray/Hobbywing
10 Chris Grainger – Awesomatix/Reedy
11 Matthieu Dambrine – Serpent/Orca
The stock class for this year saw a re-alignment, with everyone now in a single 17.5-turn category. This created great racing through the field, with a much larger field and closer racing. Whilst Bruno had been dominating Modified, it was another Xray driver, Zak Finlay, who also kept control of the Stock class. The defending EWS and UK National champion, Zak led all four qualifying rounds by a comfortable margin, securing himself the first pole position of the season. Behind him, the challenge came from the two Schumacher drivers, Billy Fletcher and James Hart – Billy taking second in the earlier rounds, with James up to second in the final qualifier. Behind, the top five on the grid was completed by the Xrays of Ricky Copsey and Tony Broad.
Zak opened up a one-second lead over just the first two laps of the A Final as it seemed like the pole sitter was looking to complete another dominant event. Behind, the battle for second was short-lived for James, as he rolled his car on lap three, dropping him down the order. This put Ricky up to third, dragging Tony along with him, as they tried to close down on Billy. Despite remaining on terms with Billy, Ricky was never close enough to mount a challenge, always with half an eye on Tony behind him. This was the running order for the majority of the race, with James slowly recovering but with just a single leg race, it seemed like an impossible ask. At the end, Tony dropped back to sixth, cementing the podium places and allowing Martyn Ross to come through from sixth on the grid to finish fourth. Out front, Zak took his 18th win at EWS, and giving everyone something to think about as he aims for his sixth title at the famous series.
RUSH STOCK A FINAL RESULT
1 Zak Finlay – Xray/Zombie
2 Billy Fletcher – Schumacher/Team Powers
3 Ricky Copsey – Xray/Team Powers
4 Martyn Ross – Awesomatix/Team Powers
5 James Hart – Schumacher/Team Powers
6 Tony Broad – Xray/Team Powers
7 Tim Langdell – Tamiya/Hobbywing
8 Mason Weston – Xray/Hobbywing
9 Ethan Southall - Xray/Hobbywing
10 Mark Buonaiuto – Awesomatix/Hobbywing
11 Jon Gray – Mugen/Team Powers
The Front Wheel Drive class saw a swell in entries this year, and the fight for TQ was between the 2019/20 champion, Craig Nutting, and young challenger Shane Chipolina. After four close rounds, it was Craig who came out on top, narrowly ahead of Shane. Andy Faulkes secured third on the A Final grid, with Gareth Hollis taking fourth despite car issues preventing him running in two rounds.
With control electronics, the cars are always equal on speed and this was proved by the close racing in the A Final throughout the pack. Out front, Craig was put under pressure instantly from Shane, who virtually attached his car the rear of the pole sitter. Despite all the pressure, Craig was able to remain in control and started to pull a slight gap. However, in the second half of the race, Shane found a new turn of speed and closed back in. Once again bumper-to-bumper, the two cars circulated closely for a number of laps. On what was set to be the penultimate lap, Craig got out of shape coming through the hairpin before the straight, allowing Shane to get a run at him onto the main straight. As the cars were side by side, Craig tried to defend the line too late, pushing both cars to the inside barrier. Craig was able to get going again ahead of Shane, but the incident had delayed them and the race clock ran out before Craig was able to give up the place to Shane. The referees therefore made the call to apply a penalty post-race, giving Shane his first win at EWS in the Front Wheel Drive class. Behind, Andy had a rather lonely run to third place, whilst Martin Southall managed to get the better of Gareth to take fourth at the finish.
RIDE/MB MODELS FRONT WHEEL DRIVE A FINAL RESULT
1 Shane Chipolina
2 Craig Nutting
3 Andy Faulkes
4 Martin Southall
5 Gareth Hollis
6 Mark Young
7 Mark Burgess
8 Matthew Prigmore
9 Jason Butterfield
10 Alan Chipolina
11 Mark Caton
Finally, the Junior-E class made its debut at EWS this season. A class which has gained popularity in the UK this summer, racers aged 13 and under compete with standard Tamiya chassis and the chance to experience big events. James Snashall, the King Of Clubs Junior-E Champion, was fastest to get to grips with the cars on the EWS track, securing pole position ahead of Matthew Lydall and Harry Woron. In the A Final, it was Harry with the best start, quickly moving from third on the grid up to first, with James dropping to second and Matthew to third. Harry seemed to be really in the groove, running his most consistent five-minutes of the day to take the first ever Junior-E win at EWS. James held on to second place, with Matthew in third as Chloe Shanshall found good speed in the second half of the race to move up to fourth overall.
JUNIOR-E A FINAL RESULT
1 Harry Woron
2 James Snashall
3 Matthew Lydall
4 Chloe Snashall
5 Frankie Fletcher
6 Fergus Clark
7 Eliza-May Fenn
8 George Williams
9 Finnley Batt
Next up for the EWS team is the headline EWS International event at the end of November, where the UK’s best will be joined by many racers from across Europe, including World Champions Bruno Coelho, Ronald Volker, Marc Rheinard and Alexandre Duchet. There are still spaces available – entries and details are on the EWS website (www.ewsevents.co.uk)