11/04/24: Sideways GT3 – The Knob Score

The Knob Score. 

So to the second of April’s Sideways GT3 rounds, and, much like the last one, Julian was in a league of his own at the front. Lee had arrived with a new Aston Martin Vantage painted in a very attractive Momo livery, but although the car looked great, it was no faster than his Ford GT had been the week before and still two tenths off Julian’s pace, which is a lifetime at the level of driving excellence at which Julian and Lee operate. Simon, who’s no slouch either, was nowhere, a tenth and a half slower than Lee. Consequently the night’s result was pretty much done and dusted after heat 1; Julian from Lee from Simon, the gap between each of them growing larger in every heat.

Behind the leading trio though, there was an almighty battle between Alex, David and Terry, a battle that was eventually settled by crashes, which was just what race controller Neil wanted.

Neil, you see, had arrived with a fancy new spreadsheet he’d spent hours creating which he promised would be better than his infamous “Predictor”. This new version would crunch the timing data after each heat, calculate the number of crashes each driver had, his average lap time, predicted result, shoe size, sexual preference and god knows what else. What it didn’t provide for was nerfs and Jim wiping out his entire group in a desperate last-ditch effort to finish at the top of Group 2.

Heat 1. With Julian way out ahead and Lee and Simon doing their best not to look completely outclassed behind him, it was left to Alex, David and Terry in group 1, and Neil and Jim in group 2, to provide the entertainment. They didn’t disappoint. David led home Alex and Terry, the trio covered by a mere 0.29 seconds. In group 2, Neil headed Jim by 0.53.

Heat 2 was the first where Neil could get properly excited about his newfangled spreadsheet. Both David and Terry crashed. Perfect, for Neil at least. “It says you crashed, David. Did you crash? And Terry, you crashed too it says. Did you? About two seconds lost, both of you? Is that right?”

Every driver knows just how damned annoying crashing is, plenty annoying enough not to need a reminder, so the last thing David or Terry needed was Neil gleefully interrogating them about their crashes just to prove that his spreadsheet worked. It’s an impressive bit of spreadsheetery, of that there’s no doubt, but talk about hitting a man when he’s down.

And so it went on, heat after heat, for whichever poor sod had just thrown their car at the wall. “It got your crash”. It was like an endless stream of action replays, but via numbers on a spreadsheet. All that remains is to give it a proper name.

Given that the self-deprecating exclamations made by drivers when they’ve crashed are usually of the “Oh f**k” or “Bollocks” or “You c**t” variety, your correspondent suggests that the relevant section of the spreadsheet is henceforth known as the “Knob Score”, knob being just about acceptable in print without using an asterisk or two.

In Heat 3 Terry crashed – “It got your crash Terry” – which meant Alex, crash-free so far, was now three seconds clear of David who was three seconds clear of Terry.

Alex’s turn came in heat 4. He crashed, which meant David closed the gap to six tenths. Knob scores: Alex 1, David 1, Terry 2.

Heat 5 was the decider, for the Alex/David/Terry fight at least. Alex in green lane got very slightly sideways in the corner at the end of the main straight, nerfed David and it was game over. David deslotted and that was his challenge for fourth place finished. The trio’s final knob scores: Alex 1, David 2, Terry 2. The spreadsheet was loving it.

The final heat was group 2’s, and as far as the spreadsheet was concerned, it was the icing on the cake. Neil went into the heat leading the group, a comfortable nine seconds clear of Jim, but, ever the fighter, Jim still harboured hopes of a group victory. With the advantage of green lane and the inside line into the second corner, Jim ambitiously left his braking impossibly late, deslotted and took everyone else off too. The entire heat. All six of them either upside down or in the wall. The spreadsheet let out a shriek of delight. “Knobs. All of them!”