Following on from one of Alfie’s best performances at Wackersdorf, he hoped to carry the same confidence with him across to the state of Indiana for round 5 & 6 of the SKUSA pro tour championship at the Newcastle circuit. Hoping for another podium place and for his older brother Freddie to secure his championship, there was certainly a lot riding on this race!
Alfie’s driving had come on a lot since his last visit to the states, but with the higher demand of drivers for the micro grid it made more of a challenge!
Thursday and Fridays practice were difficult, as there was limited track time and with a one mile circuit meant the average lap time was a 1 minute 28 second lap. Therefore, a 7 minute session split into 4/5 laps.
With that said, Alfie took to the track well and after a few sessions was putting in competitive lap times to be within the top 10. The next task would be to get the perfect set up for quali.
Saturday proved difficult as Alfie was conscious of the rules of bump drafting, as he unfortunately had pole taken away in Utah. The long back straight was difficult as if there was no tow then a driver stood to lose half a second, Alfie was out in front without his tow. Overall he qualified 8th showing clear potential for top 5 if he had a better track position.
The pre-final unfortunately didn’t get a great start, and so dropped back to 12th position. Fighting with the pack made the front group get away, Alfie then showed some great overtaking especially a particular part of the track Alfie grew fond of – the hill section. As the race went on, an issue with the engine/carburettor set up wasn’t quite right, and Alfie struggled for power. After battling hard Alfie only managed 12th place in the prefinal.
Finishing 12th mean starting in the same position for the final. As the first corner was a fast left, it meant it was hard for the people starting on the outside to get in and try gain places. Alfie did not get the best start, dropping down to 15th , but with the mechanic and team changing the engine set up, made Alfie’s pace come back meant he was coming back through the pack.
He got through to 10th position with great skill, showing everyone he is a top competitor for the weekend. When in 10th position he was working with another competitor to catch the group in front to finally close the gap with a couple of laps to go. Alfie made a couple more places, finishing in 8th position overall. A solid race for Alfie as he showed great skill coming back through the pack at a particular hard track to close any gaps.
Sundays qualifier was a lot better than Saturdays. Alfie had learnt from his mistake and had better track position. He went with the pack which proved a good decision, because for most of the session he put good lap times in and was the fastest all the way up to the last lap. A competitor got the perfect tow down the main straight and just beat Alfie’s time but he was still second position which was a hugely impressive improvement from the day before.
As it was Alfie’s first time starting on the front row for a final, he was understandably nervous but didn’t let it phase him. Alfie dropped to 4th after the first lap but still in the front pack, trying to break away. Alfie decided to overtake for 3rd position as he wasn’t quite fast enough to keep with the front 2 drivers. As the race went on, the front 2 pushed away and Alfie was alone in 3rd place which let 4th and 5th competitors push up to him. It was only the last couple laps they caught him, he managed defend the off right until the last lap, but unfortunately with the tow being such an advantage, he lost both places on the line and finished in 5th position.
Final time was here and Alfie was starting 4th due to a competitor in front having a penalty. As the race started, there was a small bash and the front 3 were getting away. Alfie was still in 4th and another competitor was pushing, trying to reach the front 3. Both competitors were driving their hardest and the 2 groups were trading lap times. Alfie hadn’t driven with this level of consistency all weekend and it was very impressive. Unfortunately, he was pushing a little bit too hard and ended up dropping a wheel through his favourite section and losing a second to the front group. After this slight mistake it was just a waiting game to see if the front pack would battle on the last few laps and hopefully Alfie would be able to catch them. Unfortunately they only battled on the last few corners of the last lap and Alfie wasn’t able to catch them but still defended for 4th position. A solid final for Alfie just missing out on a podium but showing he can be a top competitor in another category of cadet racing.
A great trip and successful race for Alfie showing yet again his improvements made over the past few months. There was also success for his older brother Freddie who managed to claim the championship on the Saturday an impressive full round before the end.
The next trip to the states will be the Super nationals held in Las Vegas where hopefully Alfie can claim a podium he just missed out on. Alfie will now enjoy a couple weekends off for the summer holiday enjoying a break and coming fresh ready for his next race