Back to TIR Prince four round four of the European PROMT Racing Championship and its all action from the ever-improving Euro monster trucks.
Tim Barks, fresh from a home win only weeks before came to this event as hot favourite. His new tyres working so very well on the longish grass of the excellent TIR Prince venue. The MTR Promotions team, headed by Ian Batey had once again laid out a long but very exciting track with a twist. Instead of his favoured J shape track builder Ian had installed a novel lollypop shaped course. Which has the drivers leaving the start line to encounter a speed bump, then a set of 6 cars (long for Europe) and on to a 180-degree turn at the top of the course, and then back over the same cars for the return trip.
This meant that the turn at the top was critical to racing success. The qualifying, and heat races had set up a most intriguing final between last weeks winner Tim in Thunderfoot and Nigel in BIGFOOT #17, but their race had to wait until the third and fourth positions had been decided.
This saw Ian Batey and Tony Dixon racing for pride and valuable championship points. Tony was away first and over the cars in a flail of broken glass and metal, so Swamp Thing made it to the turn first, but for once it was wild man Ian Batey who made the better turn and as both trucks put the hammer down it was Lil Devil driver Ian who got his truck straight first and crossed the line for the win.
As mentioned previously the final race of the day would be between archrivals and great friends Nigel Morris and Tim barks. These two drivers and trucks are so evenly matched that it is always hard to call a winner in advance, but with Tim’s win the week before he had to be pre race favourite. Only digital timing equipment could have separated the two trucks at the first turn, it really was that close, but for once Nigel in BIGFOOT got a better turn than Tim and powered home for an important race win.
Swafham is a new venue to this years racing tour. Being what the Americans would call a motor speedway, it offers a safe and spectacular viewing experience for the hordes of fans, which now follow the European Championship to every venue.
Slightly tighter for space that the very enjoyable TIR Prince Swafham once again utilised Ian Batey’s patented lollypop course. Half of each racing course was on the black top of the motor racing track and the return trip and corner were on grass. This made truck set up all the harder. Perhaps too hard for some as Nigel in BIGFOOT #17 succumbed to a blown planetary gear set in only the first round of racing.
None of the other drivers or trucks seemed to find a problem with a lack, nor excess of traction, which is suspected to have been the big blue trucks downfall.
The qualifying and heats had once again sorted the trucks into their racing order, and the race for third and fourth was to be between Swamp Thing and Hulk. Hulk making somewhat of a comeback after recent supercharger hassles. It was close at the turn, but perhaps Drew lack of recent rack seat time caused him to miss judge the turn handing Tony an easy third place position.
The final for a second event in a row was full of intrigue. Tim and Thunderfoot against the man he credits as his instructor in the art of monster truck driving Ian Batey. So we had pupil vs. master, on the start line side by side for the first time ever in a racing final.
Perhaps it was race nerves, or the thought of racing his tutor, but Tim just missed making a killer turn with a little too much power a little too soon, Ian’s experience came to the fore as he kept his composure and powered Lil Devil home for its first (but surely not last) win of the year.