For the first time in the Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series' seven-year history it was a Class B car that recorded the overall fastest time of the day, when Ross Walker delivered a faultless performance in this year's round five at the Kames Motorsport Complex on Saturday (19th July).
Walker ended a day that was punctuated by indifferent weather conditions to record a time 0.26-seconds quicker than Stephen Moore - also in Class B - and 0.68 faster than Paul Allin, who was the first of the Class C competitors. Jamie Hollett topped the Class A timesheets, whilst Simon Griffiths was the fastest of a sparsely-populated Class D field, many of the regular competitors in the category for the most modified cars unable to make it to this, the only Scottish round of the season.
The Kames Motorsport Complex, situated near Muirkirk - approximately 30-miles south of Glasgow - was built by members of the East Ayrshire Car Club and opened in 1984. With the help of Lottery funding, the track was resurfaced in 2000, its tight and twisty 800-metre, 3.5-metre wide track providing a demanding sprint course that allows little room of error.
In contrast to the hot and dry conditions when the series visited this venue last year, the day began on a damp note, with drivers feeling their way around the course during the first of the morning's four practice runs. It was clear to see that the nature of the track, combined with the uncertainty of grip, appeared to favour the Class B competitors, with Moore in his Evo VI and Keith Bryan in his Evo VI posting the first and second fastest practice times overall.
Although Allin was third-quickest in his Class C Evo V, it was Class B drivers who held the next three places, with Steve Peel (Evo VI), Walker (Evo VI) and Robbie Wyper (Evo VIII) fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. Hollett was already setting the pace in Class A in his Evo VI, with Griffiths doing likewise in Class D in his impressive-looking Evo III.
However, Peel's fourth practice run was to be his last when he was caught out by a bump towards the end of the course that sent the car into a gravel trap, before rolling into a tyre barrier. Thankfully, he emerged from the incident unscathed, but the same could not be said for his car.
With the track never quite drying out completely during the morning, drivers had just acclimatised themselves as to the level of traction they could expect ahead of the competitive runs, when the heavens opened. At points during the afternoon the rain was biblical, with torrents of water running across the track, but that didn't stop the organisers from running through the full programme, with a total of five competitive runs on offer.
Walker set out his intentions from the first of the competitive runs, when it was clear that he was on top of things more than anyone, consequently going on to set a fastest time on both his second and third. However, he was put under intense pressure from Moore, Allin, Bryan and Wyper, who were stopping the clock within fractions of a second of Walker.
By the time it got to the fourth competitive run the weather was at its worst and, feeling that he could not improve his time from run three, Walker opted to sit out the final two. And he was right; although Bryan snatched fourth place overall on run four, positions at the front of the field remained the same, which meant that Walker had secured FTD and Class B victory by 0.26-seconds ahead of Moore.
Allin recorded his fourth Class C win out of five this season, with Hollett his second in Class A and Griffiths his first ever in Class D.
With the Kames venue challenging in its own right, the downpours made the day even more demanding and, whilst most drivers enjoyed the competition this weekend, everyone now has their fingers crossed for a dry event next time round when the series visits the Teesside Autodrome for round six on 30th August.
The 2014 Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series is sponsored by: Pace Ward performance insurance, SuperPro suspension parts, AP Tuning, Ross Sport and HKS Europe.