H2H Snow race 10-11 Feb 2018, Tarvisio, North Italy

Since I still had the Pintail, it was a great excuse to put together a lads trip to Italy.

This was my first attempt at racing on snow and ice on a very tight circuit in a bowl at the bottom of a ski resort. Thanks to Sacha and his small but dedicated team for putting together such a great event.

In advance of the race I stripped down the Pintail and repaired minor hull damage from the previous season, as well as rebuilding frames and replacing bearings. I rebuilt with a standard engine and tested it at George’s airstrip the week before the event to shake it down, which didn’t reveal any issues. In this trim the craft was approx. 4kg heavier and 10Hp less than in 2017.

Graham kindly offered the use of his camper, along with Andy and a few stowaways (Broni and Hannah). We set off on our 3 day drive to North East Italy on Wednesday morning. It was only the that night we had our first taste of snow with the rest stop covered in 6” of snow and reaching -6C at night, and the other camper there sunk and stuck having left the tarmac. Luckily Andy had brought a snow shovel and snow chains which got us out of trouble a few times on the trip!

After passing the Mont Blanc tunnel, Milan, and Venice, we made it to the race site Friday afternoon while they were setting up. I managed to get a few laps practice in before getting our gear into the tiny paddock which was on a hill right in front of the bar. The other half of the UK team was Rob Hiseman racing his red and white Eurocraft, supported by Sam.

Sacha arranged for most of the competitors to stay at a Hotel just down the road at a discounted rate, where we had plenty of good food and beer, and of course the limoncello came out after the bar closed…

The race format was completely different in that there were short 3minute races between two craft, 2.5 laps each (One guy does the short ‘joker’ lap at the start and the other guy does it at the end). There are many of these short races since you compete against everybody else, so you drive straight round into the holding area waiting to be called up for the next one, which was pretty intense even with only 6 craft in F2. If you break down, hit a course marker or leave the course you automatically loose the heat, so it forces clean accurate driving, especially on such a tight course! This was easy to enforce since only two craft are on course at a time.

Benefits of this race format are that fewer marshals and support staff are required, since there are fewer craft at a time to organise. Also with less craft at a time, you can have smaller courses. There is also less course repair work to be done since there is an incentive on clean driving. With this racing format, we can race on smaller sites, and potentially noise sensitive sites since there are less craft out at a time.

On Saturday, the sun was out, and the Red Bull arch was blown up over the start, and we were ready to race. After a few wins, I was beaten by Marco in his much improved Predator, and then got airborne and hit a course marker as I was trying to increase pace, letting Rob into Saturdays F2 final. Michael Metzner later flipped at the same part of the course (right next the chairlift queue) sending his F1 end over end, luckily only damage to the lift and Michael walked away. The Saturday was deservedly won by Marco. In the cold air at 820m altitude, peak revs were 500RPM higher than it had during the shakedown in the UK.

On Sunday the course had iced up and was much faster, with no braking effect to be gained by dragging as you can on land or water (and to some extent loose snow). The same had happened on the hilly paddock, craft and drivers were slipping about in all directions it was great comedy for people at the bar! Unfortunately both the F1s were out so there was a group of 4 F50s and 5 F2s left racing. I got my mojo back and drove cleaner, winning all my races and eventually taking a win in the final against Mario Kohl in this green FS. The final was a best of 3, switching grid position each time. Marco’s predator was on the pace with its improved thrust setup, but unfortunately had to retire after a cracked lift frame.

The trusty Pintail flew great, with my socket set staying in the trailer, and I never even changed a segment. Sadly my victory lap was the last time as the owner since it is going up North to a moto-crosser. It has done 75 races over 2.5 seasons and achieved its fair share of race wins and season trophies. I hope to see it on grids in the future!

Thanks to Carlo Alberto Butto and Team Kohl for the photos.

Posted in: Beast, Featured, Racing Diary on February 20th by admin

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