The Heli UK Expo Challenge Cup 2015
After a very successful inaugural event at Heli UK Expo in 2014, The Second Heli UK Expo Challenge Cup stormed on to centre stage at the first joint Aero Expo and Heli UK Expo at Sywell Aerodrome at the end of May. Fronted again by David Monks from the Helicopter Club of Great Britain, the racing was held over two days coming down to the wire on the last run of the last event on the second day.
The race action returned with a vengeance to Sywell Aerodrome on the first day of the event with returning crews from Poland and the UK to thrash it out at the 2nd Heli UK Expo Challenge Cup. The racing format had been set at the inaugural event last year and the crews immediately settled in to knock-out racing from the off! This is racing in its rawest format, up close and exciting – you can feel the energy from the sidelines. Times were faster, crews were sharper and it was all down to time on the stop watch as few penalties were being succumbed to. And back in the commentary saddle was
our very own home grown talent – Rob Hughes, the voice of UK helicopter racing! There were two crews who were both odds on favourites to win so anything could happen!
The crew list was awash with British talent to try to stop the Polish competitors whisking the trophies off back to their motherland. Stuart Rimmer and Ady Clarke, highest placed British crew in the 2014 event were back along with other Brits in the form of Event Director, David Monks & his new crew Barnabas Younger and Quentin Smith from HQ Aviation teamed up with Philip Kadoorie to throw their hat in the ring. New to the competition but certainly ready to make their mark on the event were R22 crew Chris Summers & James Stewart and R44 crew Paul Porter & Tom
Cunningham. The scene was set for two highly competitive days of helicopter racing. Those of you who familiar with Sywell Aerodrome know that it has its own micro climate so day one saw the crews grapple with the parallel slalom race in the grey and gloom of the Sywell weather. Not that this concerned any of the crews who were pumped up and ready to roll.
The first day event was the parallel slalom. A six gate course to be navigated with a bucket full of water against the clock. With the heat on from the off set, the battle commenced with some fantastic flying from all the crews leading up to the notable quarter final. Rimmer & Clarke against Stewart &Summers saw the newcomers putting in some impressive times but last years highest placed British crew took it to the best of three after gathering a few penalty points on the way but made their way in to the last four with Stewart & Summers the highest placed losing team. Kadoorie and Smith drew lots against one of the event favourites the Szamborski brothers from Poland but clearly did not let this put them off their stride! They managed to match them on time but sadly collected penalties which saw them take an early exit from the heats. New crew Paul Porter and Tom Cunningham were unfortunate enough to be drawn against the other competition favourites, Monks & Younger, putting in a very stylish performance for a pair of first timers but with Monks & Younger having no penalties, the crew took their exit from proceedings.
So down to the last four. The favourites drawn opposite each other so The Szamborskis going head to head with Stewart &Summers and Monks and Younger, also event favourites, upagainst fellow Brits Rimmer & Clarke. Up first was Rimmer versus Monks and both helicopters were quick off the start line. Good times and good flying from both crews but the points fell in the favour of Monks and Younger with penalties separating the crews. New comers Stewart and Summers held their nerve against The Szamborskis but this heat fell to the Szamborskis after some courageous flying
from Stewart & Summers. This put both favourites in the final head to head. With both off the line in lightening quick time, times matching and no penalties with some great flying from both crews. With best of three, the Szamborskis took the first and Monks the second, showing no
sign of nerves from either side, it was down to the last run. The well matched crews shot off the starting line and tore up the field to the cheers of the crowd who were now well and truly behind the home crew. Sadly, the support could not quite lift Monks & Younger in to first place, they were pipped at the post by the Szamborskis in split second timing.
The winners of event one were Marcin and Michal Szamborski;
2nd place went to David Monks & Barnabas Younger and
3rd place to British crew Stuart Rimmer & Ady Clarke.
Day two saw Sywell Aerodrome basked in delightful sunshine, proper t-shirt weather! The day two event was the parallel fender. Three tubs, one fender on three changeable rope lengths and the object being to put the fender in to the tubs one by one on a different rope length starting at four metres and finishing at eight metres and all against the clock again. The path to the last four was paved with the same dramas as the parallel slalom the day prior with highs, lows and indeed several nice surprises where the newcomers were hot on the heels of the event grandees cutting down to the same last four and the same for the final.
Again, with the flying and timings working out neck in neck it came to the third heat to finally separate Monks from Szamborski with Monks triumphant taking the fender. With one a piece to the Polish and the Brits, a coin was tossed to choose which event – the slalom or the fender would be flown to determine the winners of the 2015 Heli UK Expo Challenge Cup.
Tales up and the event to be flown was the fender. To the delight of the crowd, both crews had clearly kept the best until last. As the flags were dropped both leapt in to action to the first container, the furthest from the start gate and were neck in neck to the second container when Monks starting lagging slightly behind on the race to the third and final container. Round 1 to Szamborski with three seconds separating the crews. Round two and off they went were again neck in neck all the way through with Szamborski finishing a second before Monks but Szamborski had picked up a huge penalty missing the start gate handing the second round to the home team, with the crowd firmly behind the home team it was all to play for. Szamborski regained his composure after his mistake in round two and again they both shot off the line and up the course at break neck speeds with
the crowd fully behind Team GB. Unable to separate their performance, the course was flown as if they were synchronised until the last barrel when Monks got the edge over Szamborski and the clock stopped at 41 seconds, the fastest time of the whole event by two seconds with Szamborski roaring in behind at 44 seconds.
After a furious two days of flying the 2nd Heli UK Expo Challenge Cup remains in the UK in the hands of David Monks and Barnabas Younger. Second place went to Marcin & Michal Szamborski of Poland and third place to Stuart Rimmer & Ady Clarke from the UK.
Catch up on news form the Helicopter Club of Great Britain at www.hcgb.co.uk and the British Helicopter Team at www.britishhelicopterteam.co.uk
With thanks to HeliBUYER EUROPE Magazine