Whilst a small minority of motorsport fans anxiously spent last week waiting to see how Lewis Hamilton would fare in the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix, it can be safely said that the rest of the UK was focused on an even bigger and more competitive racing event : the RMS day out at DirtBuggy NI.
Long overdue a group racing event, we had considered hitting the go-karts ………………… yet again! As we were eager to try something different however, there was fairly unanimous support when a forum member recommended DirtyBuggy racing. After a few weeks of taking deposits, building up hype and some general bitching about who would be in front and who would end up on their roof, 29 of RMS’s finest racers descended upon Kilrea early on the Saturday morning. Although tired from 7am starts for most of us, with a few hangovers thrown in for good measure, the chilly air soon woke everyone up – one of the great benefits of outdoor racing. After being taken through a friendly and relaxed safety briefing by the proprietor – Stephen Blair – we quickly proceeded upstairs to get kitted out. Full race suits were provided, along with helmets, gloves and neck braces.
Without much further ado, we moved outside where a list of our placing and numbers was on display. There were a number of heats with 3 buggies on track per heat, 4 laps each, leading eventually to semi finals and the final. Watching the first buggies fishtailing out of the pit area, we quickly realised that the dry but loose surface would be perfect for some drift action for those who wanted it, whilst it was possible for those who just wanted good times to stick to the smoother sections of track in order to negotiate clean lines through the corners. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves on track, with many remarking on the different driving style required to karts – this was strictly a no-contact event, and with the lack of bumpers on the buggies, you had to be careful not to even bump the tyres in case your buggy would mount them.
Despite a few technical hiccups with the printing system which led to some delays between heats, the day progressed smoothly with lap times improving in every heat. The hard surface underneath the loose soil had now been exposed by the constant motion of the buggies, and the competitors were picking up even more speed in every lap. Before long, we were into the semi finals and eventually through to the final, where Stephen Donnelly took 1st place with the fastest lap of the day.
Everyone seemed to have enjoyed their time in DirtBuggy NI, with many remarking that they would return again. The £35 entry fee certainly provided good value for money, with plenty of track time per entrant. Although a few people commented on the delays between heats, it has to be said that the event was running at full capacity – with a smaller entry list next time (say 10-15 competitors), these delays could be reduced substantially. A number of us are already looking forward to attending again in a few weeks time with the ‘arrive and drive’ option, which promises to be bloody, messy and very cold!