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Winter Computer Challenge - 23 Feb 2001 - Aldershot

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This was a 2.5 hour enduro for Computer teams. Knowing, as we do, that the Computer Challenge is always hotly contested, we knew we were up against it. We were a three-man team, not because it was planned that way, but because only three Fugitives were available.

Our Team was, in planned driving sequence:

Gil Williamson
Must get an image consultant...

Mark Neale
Sorry, Mark, you don't really look as feeble-minded as this photo implies, and this was before you drank that stuff.

John Farr
It's only dangerous the way you do it, John.

The tense driving began before the race, even before the practice, as John remote-controlled Mark from a traffic-choked M4 to Aldershot on their mobile phones. Mark made it just in time for drivers' briefing.

Once again, our kart proved itself a duffer during practice. Before Gil even started his practice laps, a soft front tyre had to be inflated, and its performance was disappointing. It was at least two seconds, perhaps three, off the pace. In desperation, Gil managed to get the race director to assign us another kart before the end of practice, and John, practicing last, managed just one flying lap between yellow and red flags to post a moderate time of 31.48. By this time, Sopheon Muppets had posted a very respectable 31.08.

However, as the karts were lined up for the Le Mans start, our new kart turned out to have a jammed throttle, and we were assigned yet another, which was conveniently placed at the back of the grid, so Gil set off in last place. However, the kart turned out to be quite lively, and he had forced his way into second place within nine minutes, having had a best lap, so far, of 30.58 to first place Sopheon's 30.52. Ten minutes later, the first two positions were the same and the best laps hadn't changed as we were both now in among the back-markers. Gil, however, was in first place by the end of half an hour, with a half-lap cushion, despite Sopheon's 30.15 best lap. Voodoo were looking good in third place.

Well, it couldn't last, could it? Gil's rear tyre suddenly deflated, and he dragged the sorry contraption into the pits. After two more laps with our fourth kart, Gil decided he had driven long enough, and John took over, Mark being occupied with his delicious hamburger and chips, and totally unaware of the crisis. John was now a lap adrift.

However, some fine driving brought us back into the lead again 15 minutes later, John having set a new best lap for us with 30.29. Voodoo were now in second place, with Sopheon third. Meanwhile, The Malbrooks had set a scorching 28.69 best lap, a time that was never improved upon during the evening. We left John in the driving seat for the refuelling stop, and, after a total of 50 minutes consistent fast times, he handed over to Mark with a four-lap lead over Voodoo, The Crash Test Dummies now in third, posting better lap times than either of the leaders.

Mark regained the lap lost on changeover and quickly extended our lead to six laps over the next fifty minutes, showing fantastic consistency, and only exceeding 31 seconds per lap when held up. This was a particularly good showing, as he hasn't raced for some time, AND he'd consumed a hamburger and chips before his session. The Fugitives became the target for some aggression, which resulted in Mark collecting a couple of "No Bumping" warnings in his youthful enthusiasm, the only ones awarded to The Fugitives, since John and Gil committed their offences more subtly.

With fifteen minutes to go, Mark handed over to Gil, who stretched the lead still further to seven laps, a very satisfactory outcome, with Voodoo in second, Dummies in third, Sopheon fourth and Malbrooks fifth. The Fugitives were awarded the very best tin trophies and a bottle of fizzy pear juice dressed up as champagne with which we were intended to spray the audience, but Mark drank it instead, which is a matter between him and his digestive system.

Over the whole race, including red and yellow flags, two pit stops and three driver changes, we averaged 34.48 seconds per lap

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