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The 2008 GRP Dirt Challenge was held once again at the awesome track of Deerdale. The track has had a major improvement since last year and has gone to full astroturf, not dirt. The club have done a great job in retaining the character of the old track with the jumps and bumps by laying the astro on top of the old track. It is nice to drive a track with bumps with astro as the cars have enough grip to corner fast and take the bumps with ease.

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The entry form was published early January and the meeting was full within 2 weeks! The demand was so popular for this race that we knew it would be a special meeting. The track was open for Saturday practice and the drivers experienced some very mixed conditions from the British weather. Rain showers, hail storms and clear weather was the order of the day although the track held up perfectly for everyone to practice.

We managed to attract some very top UK drivers Lee Martin, Simon Willets, Mike Craddock and Jamie Booth not to mention the full XRAY team. With the entry list containing so many top guys the racing was always going to be fast and furious.

We woke up to a little bit of snow (around 3 inches, 1 hour away from the track). I thought that we would have to cancel the meeting due to the weather.

I was very surprised to turn up to the track to find a clear blue sky and hardly any snow! This was a great start to the day and every body was very excited and eager to get racing. We had the drivers briefing around 8.45am and the law was laid down by Chaz. We were all set for 3 rounds of qualifying with 2 scores to count.

The track was very nicely prepared and had lots of GRP banners. The track looked very professional and well prepared. The racing got going around 9.00am with Lee Martin in the first heat. Lee was looking very comfortable on the track even so early on and it was going to be hard to beat him.

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Buggy Round 1
On a damp and drying track it was first blood to Jamie Booth who took the round from Simon Willetts with Mike Craddock in third. It was then Bruce Thompson from Kevin Brunsden, Stephen Childerhouse, Richard Johnson, Brennan Ralls, Anthony Potter and Dave Grunhill rounded out the top 10.

Truggy Round 1
Brennan Ralls opened up quickly to give the XT8 round one pole position. The returning Karl Marsden got a second place followed by Sham Choudry. Steven Bond, Martin Hughes, Keith Belamy, kevin Burns, Wayne Bramley, James Murphy and Dean Coupland rounded out the top 10.

Buggy Round 2
After a transponder mishap in round 1 Lee Martin set the pace in round 2. Simon took another second place with Bruce Thompson in third. Mick Craddock got 4th followed by Greg Hill, Steve Concannon, Jamie Booth, Kevin Brunsden, Leigh Parker and Anthony Potter was tenth.

Truggy Round 2
Brennan secured overall TQ with another great run from Steven Bond in second and Wayne Bramley in third. Karl Marsden took 4th followed by Tony Drabble from Custom Built Archery, Keith Belamy, Sham Choudry, Mark Hamlin, Marcus Manwaring and Martin Hughes in 10th.

Buggy Round 3
Lee Martin managed to take the third round of qualifying with a great run, he was helped by the brief snow shower during heat 9 but he was blisteringly fast around the astro. Kevin Brunsden with the new XRAY 808 was in second with Bruce Thompson picking up another third position. Mike Craddock again got another 4th followed by Steve Concannon, Jamie Booth, John Skidmore, Stephen Childerhouse, Brennan Ralls and Simon Willetts had a bad run to get 10th.

Truggy Round 3
Lee Taylor also with the XT8 and GRP .28 Engine had a great run after some teething issues to take the round win. Brennan got a 2nd in the round with Steven Bond taking third. 4th again to Karl Marsden followed by Martin Hughes, Dean Coupland, Neil Burdess, Sham Choudry, Keith Belamy and Martin Bell got into the top 10.

After the qualification rounds it was time for the raffle. Ben Cosgrove from Mirage was on hand to present the winners their prizes. Every driver who entered the meeting had a raffle ticket given to them. The number of the winner would then be drawn out and the driver would have to then pic a ticket out of the box to see what prize they had won. There were many GRP prizes available as well as some XMODS and the top prize was a Hot Bodies Lightning Stadium Evo 2 Truggy Kit. This was won by young Michael Lee, congratulations!

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The finals were up next and the top 3 from each final would bump up into the next final. During the finals we were due a big snow storm which made the C finals very interesting but it did stop fairly quickly and the A finals were run in the dry conditions again.

A Final Truggy

The 20 minute A final was thrilling to watch with Lee Taylor having bumped up from the C Final into the A carving his way through the field. By about half distance he had took the lead and never looked back. After a bad start Brennan then had to fight his way up through the field to take second. Karl drove consistently to take a well deserved third place right on Brennans heels.

1 Lee Taylor XRAY XT8
2 Brennan Ralls XRAY XT8

3 Karl Marsden
4 Martin Hughes
5 Steven Bond

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A Final Buggy

The 20 minute A final was plagued by the weather and a lot of mistakes for most drivers. Lee Martin had a flag to flag victory and was never really troubled. The snow fell half way through the final again and made it very interesting for a while leaving the closing stages to be a little bit slippery. Simon Willetts took a controlled drive to finish second. Brennan Ralls had a very good drive showing great maturity under pressure after bumping up from the B final to take 3rd. Bruce Thompson was fighting for third with Brennan and for the last 2 minutes these two had a great scrap.

1 Lee Martin
2 Simon Willetts
3 Brennan Ralls XRAY XB808
4 Bruce Thompson
5 Kevin Brunsden XRAY XB808
6 Stephen Childerhouse
7 Mike Craddock
8 Jamie Booth
9 Anthony Potter
10 Dave Grunhill
11 Steve Concannon XRAY XB8EC

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The 2008 GRP Race was a great success and had everything. Great racing, great prizes and a great atmosphere. Mirage would like to thank Custom Built Racing and the Deerdale Club for once again hosting an amazing event. The GRP tyres worked perfectly on the track and had some really good wear rates. A big thanks to Chaz and Phil for running the meeting with their team of guys, always helpful and efficient. Thanks to all our team drivers who made the trip to support our excellent brands.

Plans are already underway to make the GRP Dirt Challenge 2009 even bigger and better! More drivers and a 2 day format should be adopted, watch this space for more details!

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Report from Brennan Ralls
Grp For me & as trackside manager went well.

Myself & Arron made the trip up on Saturday afternoon for some valuable practice. the weather was very changeable but stayed wet for most test session's. The xt8 showed good pace & required only an alteration to reduce rear droop & it was spot on.

The 808 had most of the run time as I had never run it on astro turf, with some stiffer roll bars & shock position change to the front the car was very stable & produced some very fast laps.

With snow overnight the track greeted us all with a wet track. With clear skies the track was to dry fast & give us all new challenges. With me running both truggy & buggy my work would be hard adapting each run to the change of grip between the different tyre's in the truggy sliding & the buggy gripping like mad on the cone spikes.

Rnd 1 the XT8 truggy found the pace from the word go & with a good run TQ'd. The 808 on the still damp track started my first 3 laps with the fastest times, but from then was all my fault & threw the run away pushing to hard & finished 8th.

Rnd 2 The XT8 carried on where it left off & with another perfect clear run TQ'd the round & took overall TQ & pole position for the main. MY round 2 with the 808 had many problems with back markers, although the car was quick but I spent most of the run being marshalled & had a disastrous run.

Rnd 3 the XT8 again was quick was on for a very quick time only for back markers to halt that but had already secured TQ.

The 808 had been altered for the conditions of increased grip. With a solid run was enough to secure me 10th overall. A little disappointing but would give me more track time.

808 & B final with some changes the car was dialled & with a steady start main goal was to just finish in a place to bump up. By lap 3 I took the lead & just pulled away to take the win at the end of 15 mins.

I then remained on the rostrum for the Truggy A. From pole position took a lap to settle down so followed in 2nd for a while. I had a good battle with 1st for a while then lee caught up. We all diced with the lead for a while but with lee's car working better let him through to secure the win. Lee slowly pulled away to a commanding lead. I took 2nd place & extended my gap on third. At the end of the 20 mins Lee took the win & myself second with an XT8 one two.

I remained on the rostrum now for the Buggy A final. From 9th on the grid had a good start to 6th & soon settled down into a good rhythm, I had a good battle with Kevin, then Jamie Booth & gradually worked my way to 3rd. With only requiring one stop at the 10 minute point gave myself a good cushion on those that had to two stop. With a super quick pit stop from Arron & Ben was on my way, With Bruce Thompson on the tow & myself making the pace he slowly but gradually pulled me in but no matter what he tried the 808 was ready to defend. I held my cool for the last five minutes with Bruce right on my bumper, with no errors held onto 3rd place after the 20 minutes with a rewarding drive for the end of the meeting.

After 1 hour on the rostrum I was freezing cold but was very happy with my results. The Team did very well working together to get where we did with some very stiff competition. Lee Taylor drove fantastic set of truggy finals to bump up from the bottom to the overall win of the meeting, congratulations!. With team XRAY going home with 3 of the 6 trophies, not a bad haul of silver ware.

Well done to all


Kevins XRAY XB808

Report from Kevin Brunsden
Well what can i say great racing pretty good weather and a not so bad track.

The first round I was 4th overall but I made loads of mistakes, the car felt good but a little off the pace. I put this down to having no practice before this run.

Round 2 I made a big improvement but droped to seventh overall as I had made a few changes to the car but still was not happy with the balance. I had a good understanding of the track now.

Round three I made loads of changes to the set up going almost back to my neo settings apart from roll bars and rear shock oil. Now the car was really good, I finished second in the round just off tq which put me 5th overall.

The finals were interesting with changing weather. I had a good start and I was up to third and chasing down second. I felt I had a faster car but after my pit crew decided to put me on a 2 stop final, I lost too much time and finally finished in fifth. Overall I was very happy with the car, just a little unlucky.

Kev Truugy in Pit lane

Report from Andy Taylor
Getting to the track I was pleasantly surprised at the track layout. Tracks are a personal thing and what suits one does not suit another! I was happy that our cars were set up as close as they could be and boy was that a good thing as it turned out!

1st round saw us get the truggy out as planned and on the warm up lap it was soon clear that Lee was focussed on the task in hand. Thankfully tyres choice was taken out of our hands and GRP grips for truggy and GRP Cone spikes for buggy were the order of the day and a perfect choice as it turned out! This allowed us to concentrate on set up instead of chasing tyres. With just two warm up laps under his belt the truggy looked dialled.

Firing up the GRP engine proved easy and amazingly Lee responded almost with the same speed as the engine. The EC was nimble, agile , quick and responsive in my opinion a match for most cars out there on the day but with only time for 2 laps counting and much of those learning the track we could only hope!

Lee had terrible luck in qualifying with many electrical issues. This caused him to miss 2 truggy rounds and 2 buggy rounds.

Lee TQ’d round 3 by less than a second from Bren giving him 1 point for the round , but two DNS would give him 45 points at best 6th place on the C final grid.

Out then in the bottom final for buggy after some frantic trouble shooting and unfortunately the timing was not working, causing a DNS. Out of buggy with a day to forget!


Lee has managed in the past to go though 6 or 7 finals and still get in the A final with a buggy so I know he gets better with more track time under his belt but now we had to contend with the weather! Need I say more! The C final started and the GRP 28 Engine launched the XT8 of the line. Remember we had not altered one thing on the cars all day! (not had time) so when he got mullered 3 times on the opening lap I thought it was all over. Just 10 mins to get back past 12 truggies is a tall order!

I need not have worried! Strangely thinking back I never worried about the truggy holding up. I never worried about the GRP engine having problems by only worry was what was going on in Lees head!

I liked point 11 for marshalling and it was just as well. A better start in the B final saw Lee set the early pace and only close attention (too close) from a driver on a mission stopped him pulling away and he got back on the track in 6th. Within a few laps though Lee had pulled up to the back of the third placed driver and some slick pit work by Marc Jordan helped me get him out in second place. The truggy looked dialled. With absolutely no need to do the double single Lee sensibly chose to conserve the truggy for the A final as this was going to be a full 20 mins having run some 25 mins already!

A great start saw Lee get through to 3rd quite quickly where he dutifully sat behind his team leader Bren Ralls who was setting about passing the rapidly improving Karl Marsden. At this point Lee realised his truggy turned better and had more grip than Brens so when a bobble sent Bren wide on a corner Lee decided it was fine to push on and within a few corners had passed Karl to take 1st place. The GRP engine was sounding sweet and in the pits we could do no more but wait for one final pit stop and Bren to start pushing on as he had by now swept passed Karl to take up a solid second place . The threat never came though and after wards Bren said he just had no more grip to push on! I love the control tyre rule!

Winning Cars

At the end its was Lee’s Girlfriend Cassy who seemed most happy with his win, but as Lee came off the rostrum it was obvious that it meant a hell of a lot to Lee also. Considering the major issues we had during the day and only one round of qualifying all day the drive from 6th in the C final to winning the A final actually impressed me I must admit! Ranking second only to the unexpected win when Lee beat Adam Drake to take the 2006 Nova Rossi Title.

The one problem we now have is fitting the trophies on the window sill as the GRP Trophy is almost as big as the one he had for winning the recent Winter series for truggies at Frankley last month.

A nice problem to have though.

Bren Ralls XT8 Set-up sheet.