Traditionally, Peter (RIR) and I have enjoyed spinning the "story" of each year's Mesa Roja Grand Prix in an extended narrative complete with prologue, Qualifying Day, Race Day and Wrap-up with the results revealed at the appropriate moments in the storyline. This year, events have conspired to make that impossible without delaying publishing the results still further. You have all waited patiently for over a month for this series to get started. I won't keep you waiting any longer.
But without further ado, here are the Official Qualifying Results of VRAA 2016 Round 1:
Here's a look at the Starting Grid for the GP1.5 Race:
And here is the Starting Grid for the GP2.5 Race:
The Official Race Results of Race 1 at Mesa Roja:
The Podium Ceremony for the GP1.5 Race:
First Place: Brabham #22
Second Place: Lotus #28
Third Place: Emeryson #4
The Podium Ceremony for the GP2.5 Race:
First Place: BRM #8 Third Place: Maserati #69
Second Place: Maserati #14
Congrats to Stu Loader and Dale on their class victories!
More to come later...
Last Edit: Oct 24, 2016 19:07:30 GMT -5 by old23: Added Photos
I wouldn't fret too much about the results of your cars in the first race. Mesa Roja is quite a "wild card" track, being the only plastic surface in the series. Your cars, all three of them, run well enough to be solid mid-field finishers if the breaks go their way on the day. They have no obvious vices, apart from feeling a bit sluggish, when compared to the top cars in their class. And all three are very fine looking cars.
John, your Vanwall is a blast to drive and showed no particular vices except a slight deficit in top speed. There will be many twists and turns ahead and the midfield is very close in performance, so your car will certainly show better at some tracks than others.
Some thoughts on the VRAA 2016 opener at Mesa Roja…
RIR and I drove all the cars in both classes for the Qualy session. Won’t tell you who was driving in which lane, though it is generally accepted by the green denizens of the mesa that the yellow lane is a couple of tenths faster than the black lane. That is, unless a particular car has unexpected problems negotiating the downhill sweeper (let’s call it the “Launchpad”) or the tricky lead-in to the final esses (the “Wiggle”) on yellow lane, in which case the black lane will be quicker. Confidence is everything for a driver of an unfamiliar proxy car and unanticipated de-slots are corrosive to even the most robust sense of self worth. Every year, a few VRAA cars seem to be much more susceptible to exiting into the scenery at these two corners than the rest of the field. Many theories have been proposed as to why this might be… weight distribution?... guide depth?... guide lead?... guide thickness?... Defense Department electro-magnetic experiments?... but as yet there is no scientific proof as to why it happens.
Anyway, the Qualy times reflect only the average of the BEST times run on each lane. They ignore all the disastrous laps on the way to achieving them. Those “problem” laps will inevitably show up in the lap counts of the Race Results.
Neither Peter nor I drove in the GP1.5 heats, as we ceded those duties (pleasures?) to other members of the West Island Montreal-Cornwall (WIMC) Racing and Supper Club. Each of the four drivers raced all of the cars for three minutes on their dedicated lane. Slo1quick’s pole-sitting Brabham not only set the fastest lap, it also accumulated the highest lap count in each heat. There was no question that this was the best car at this track on this day. Old23’s Lotus trailed four laps behind and never got closer than two-tenths of a second on fastest laps. Behind the top two, the next four cars were remarkably closely matched and any of them could have finished on the Mesa Roja podium. Only eight-tenths of a lap separated Phil’s Emeryson in 3rd from Stubbo’s Brabham in 6th place. And behind them, the next six cars finished within a couple of laps of one another.
A few GP1.5 impressions… Datto’s Ferrari is super-light, but doesn’t seem to suffer from that in the handling department, though its guide could sit deeper in the slot. Its main deficit seems to be power. I’d blame it on the M/T motor but Rossko’s BT3 is similarly powered and did much better in Qualy and the Race. Fastwagon’s beautiful Honda RA272 suffered from a lack of grip that bedevilled all the drivers. Another track will likely shuffle the order significantly and that will make for some interesting racing!
In the GP2.5 Class, Aloha’s pole-sitting BRM romped to a class win by two laps. I think Dale did his homework after his rookie year in the VRAA, studied last year’s results and Tech Inspection Data, and built a Cartrix-based car for 2016 that is fast, stable, and easy to drive with confidence. Heck, it looks a whole lot like my last year’s Mercedes… Kudos to him! Phil’s lovely Aston would have been on the podium but for a rear tire coming unglued and necessitating costly pit stops in each of his heats. His car is fast and very drivable so I expect we’ll see it challenging for wins in upcoming races. My Maserati finished second, which surprised me as it wasn’t as quick as my Mercedes in its only test outing at the Autodrome. Marek’s Maserati found the final podium spot, which was a bit of a shock, but everything Marek does and says is shocking so why am I surprised? Chris’s Lotus, last season’s class champion and Mesa Roja race winner, could only manage fourth. It seemed loose on the Ninco track and prone to bouncing off the guide stops in corners. I expect the Lotus 16 to show it’s true form in upcoming races on wood tracks. This year’s lap counts were higher and fastest laps faster, but it’s hard to read too much into that as drivers were different, and environmental and track conditions varied. The Ecurie Martini Maserati was a real surprise. Despite its excess avoirdupois, some 24 grams heavier than the lightest car in class, it showed good speed and, more importantly, confidence-inspiring handling. Chas’s Vanwall was very consistent and should easily make a podium appearance this season. Fastwagon’s Scalex Maserati was much improved from last year and belied its front-motored limitations. I think the Munter Vanwall and Datto’s Mercedes both suffered from a lack of top speed, while RetroRacer44’s #2 Merc fell victim to the Launch Pad and consequent driver uncertainty.
Apologies if I haven’t mentioned your car. It’s getting late, I’m getting old and my memory is numbed somewhat by adult beverages. Please check in later in the week for photos of the event.
I have now posted photos of the Starting Grids and the Podium Ceremonies of both classes in the Race 1 post above with the Qualy and Race Results. Check them out.
***IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE VRAA RACE DIRECTOR***
As most of you are aware, the opening race of the VRAA 2016 season at Mesa Roja was delayed by about a month. At the time, I offered some vague excuses having to do with out of town travel and the challenges of synchronising the schedules of RIR, myself and the other WIMC Racing Club members.
Well, now that the race has finally been run, the results have been posted and the VRAA cars are safely winging their way to sunny, southern California, I feel I must come clean to you, the VRAA entrants, and to all those fans of this series who have supported it through the years. You deserve to know the true story of what has transpired since early September.
It all began with a phone call in the middle of the night from Old Jeb, the Mesa Roja track caretaker. Cellular reception is sketchy in that area of the country and his interrupted words, together with my sleep-fogged brain, made it difficult to understand what Jeb was trying to tell me. But what did come through: “Sit-chew-ayshun… Wall… Git yerself out here… ASAP”, was enough to see me and track owner RIR on the next flight.
After two air connections and a long drive through the mountains, we finally crested the isolated desert mesa, the world’s most unlikely site for a racing circuit. What confronted us was shocking. A giant WALL, cutting right across the race track, and in fact the whole mesa, had been built sometime during the long off-season!
Some of the arriving VRAA race teams, drivers and officials were milling around the mysterious structure. Jeb, astride his trusty quad, was working hard to keep everyone calm. An early-bird group of our famous interplanetary race fans looked on with interest (for background on the Green men of Mesa Roja, check out previous race reports from VRAA races at Mesa Roja in 2013, 2014 and 2015 on SCI). Local media had just arrived and was busy interviewing whoever had a theory on what had happened and also those who had no idea but just wanted to be on television.
At Jeb’s request, some of the Green men climbed trees and a circuit lift-loader – well, they don’t so much climb as elevate. They peered over the parapet and reported that all seemed undamaged on the other side: the pits, the paddock, the track itself was ready to go. Except for that infernal wall keeping us out.
Who built such a thing? And why was it here? “Must be a government plot to keep the aliens out,” joked one driver. “There’s been a lot of crazy talk lately from some factions about building border walls,” RIR mused, “But Mesa Roja is at least a hundred miles from any border that I know of. So why here?” One of the Green men laughed with the high frequency giggle of their species. “It won’t keep us away,” he said. “If we can travel all the way here from our home planet, no piddly human wall can block us from attending a VRAA race.”
I found a phone with decent cell reception and called some friends in the capitol After threats of lawsuits and the offer of a number of complimentary tickets to the race, I discovered the “real” story. It turned out the wall wasn’t built by the Border Security Service at all, but by the Transportation Department. The structure was meant for landslide control along a nearby highway, but a surveying snafu had resulted in the thing being constructed in the wrong location!
“Well, when they plannin’ to take it away agin’?” Jeb demanded. “Apparently, they have to put that contract out to tender,” I explained, “And that could take months.” “Typical government boondoggle,” muttered a reporter. “However, they did assure me there is nothing stopping us from doing it ourselves.” “How we gonna do that? I ain’t got the men nor machinery for that kinda job,” Jeb moaned. “Lasers,” offered a Green man. “Or, what you would call lasers, at least.” “You’re packin’ lasers in that ship of yers?” said Jeb with wonder. The Green men tittered. “We don’t need to pack them. We’re born with them,” one of them said as he turned to look at Jeb with his ruby red eyes. Jeb ducked out of his direct gaze and backed away cautiously. “Okay then, let’s get started.”
So that’s what we did. The Green men cut through the heavy bolts locking the large access doors in the wall and the race transporters, personnel and fans poured through into the paddock area.
The teams were soon hard at work unloading their race cars. The Vanwall Team had a shiny new transporter to contain their two team entries, just off a freighter from New Zealand.
Mercedes had engineered a new method of carrying two cars on a single car transporter. Those clever Germans in Stuttgart…
Ferrari arrived with two cars, neither painted with the traditional red paint. Enzo must be arguing again with the Italian Motorsport authorities.
While the fans enjoyed the activities…
…Jeb and his volunteer “crew” lasered the wall into pieces and hauled it away.
Soon, the track was back to normal again. The rest of the teams rolled in to the paddock, the spectator crowds returned to their favourite vantage points and the 2016 VRAA Grand Prix of Pista de Carrera Mesa Roja went off without a hitch.
So now you know the true story and I hope you will forgive me for the delay in getting this VRAA season on track.