Sugar For Endurance At The Spa 24 Hours

Jul 31 2015

Ragus Drivers On The Podium

Sweet success for Ragus drivers on the podium.

Ecurie Ecosse powered by Ragus Pure Sugar Energy saved their best Blancpain Endurance Series performance of the season for when it mattered most last weekend after scoring a Pro-Am podium finish at the 24 Hours of Spa for a second year running, taking 3rd in class, 7th overall and becoming the first British and non-factory team to make it to the finish.

The event’s 67th running attracted its most competitive ever entry, which featured the cream of the world’s GT teams, manufacturers and drivers. Drivers Alasdair McCaig, Devon Modell, Oliver Bryant and Alexander Sims took the legendary Scottish squad to the chequered flag third in class, 12 months on from finishing second in the same category in 2014.

Ragus BMW Z4 GT3 At Eau Rouge Corner

Ragus BMW Z4 GT3 powers through famous Eau Rouge corner at dusk.

Sim’s, who currently leads British GT for Ecurie Ecosse, had been drafted in to the regular Blancpain Endurance Series line up for its longest race of the season and immediately proved what might be possible by progressing through to Friday’s top 20 Super Pole session. A brake binding issue ultimately scuppered his hopes of setting a representative time, but the team was nevertheless confident that its raw speed would be evident come race day.

That was certainly the case in the treacherously wet conditions at the start on Saturday when the BMW factory driver picked up six places on the opening lap. Incredibly, his combination of speed and Barwell’s bold strategy call meant 3rd in class had become 1st overall by the time his triple stint was over after three hours, most of which was spent in the top three overall.

Midnight Driver Change

Sugar for endurance at midnight driver change.

Central to the team’s progress was its decision to defy prevailing thinking up and down the pit lane and remain on wet tyres instead of changing to slicks. Sure enough it wasn’t long before that inside knowledge was proven correct, the rain falling north of the circuit in Liege subsequently soaking Spa for a second time.

That evening’s cold, damp but drying conditions proved much less favourable and as the BMW struggled to generate tyre temperature and grip following its subsequent switch to slicks, so it soon slipped down the order to lower reaches of the Pro-Am top 10. The team didn’t give up though and through the combined efforts of Bryant, Modell and McCaig, the latter’s total of six hours behind the wheel characterised by immaculate driving, the BMW Z4 was soon back in the hunt.

Ragus BMW Z4 GT3 In Night Time Conditions

Ragus Pure Sugar BMW Z4 GT3 powers on in damp night time conditions.

The BMW Z4 enjoyed a problem free 24 hours, and returned to parc ferme, post-race without a scratch to show for its work.  23 perfectly executed pit stops and no time spent in the garage, also played its part in an all round spectacular team performance by the Barwell crew.

While 3rd in class was undoubtedly a fantastic result, the greatest achievement might well have been coming home 7th overall amongst a 58 car field and behind just four of the 23 all professional driver crews that started the race.

Ecurie Ecosse

All photos: Peter May Images

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Sugar Versus Alternative Sweeteners

Jul 24 2015

Natural & Artificial Sweeteners

Alternative sweeteners cannot perform or replicate all the many functions of natural sugar.

In 2014, sugar confectionery sales dropped for the very first time, with sweeteners and sugar replacements growing in prominence. However, the sugar-free confectionery market is still relatively small.

With ongoing concerns about the reduction of sugar in the diet, many observers believe that the sugar-free confectionery market should be booming. This primarily due to ongoing technical developments that have improved sensory properties, and the appearance of new sweeteners and other ingredients with a more natural image. However, sugar-free lines accounted for less than 7 percent of global confectionery launches recorded by Innova Insights in 2014, which is a similar penetration level to that in 2013. Sugar-free launches represented just 1 percent of chocolate confectionery introductions, rising to 7.5 percent in sugar confectionery and to over 63 percent in chewing gum.

Just over 1 percent of confectionery launches in 2014 featured stevia as an ingredient, which was similar level to that in food and drinks as a whole, but behind the levels of use in soft drinks and tabletop sweeteners, for example. “Formulation problems and the bitter after-taste of stevia are felt to have held back product activity in some instances,” notes Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “However, some sectors have found this less of an issue, particularly liquorice sweets and medicated confectionery, and improved formulations are now being introduced to allow more products in other areas. The confectionery industry has been perhaps slower to take on stevia sweeteners than originally forecast, and it remains to be seen how take-up will develop over the next few years”, Williams adds.

Weighing in on the debate, Ben Eastick, director of Ragus Sugars – pure sugar and syrup specialists – makes the case for his company’s core product: “Sugar has been around since the dawn of time and remains the ‘gold standard’ sweetener by which all others are compared, whilst also a natural product”. He continues, “Unlike sweeteners (including natural fruit derived sweeteners), there are few chemicals used to process sugar-and the ones that are would not be deemed as harmful. These may include carbon or milk of lime, for example, and they do not remain in the finished product”.

Ben Eastick

Ben Eastick, Marketing Director of Ragus Sugars.

“No other sweetening alternative can perform or replicate all the functions that sugar can: namely sweetening, colour development, flavour, bulking, and moisture retention, which allows products to remain fresher and more stable for longer. Sugar also eats bacteria, stabilising products. Ragus actually makes a lot of sugar products that go into the dietary industry where sugar is used as a bulking component to replace fat”.

There has been a fair amount of negative press coverage on sugar in recent times, but Eastick believes that this is nothing new, as the same had also occurred in the 70s and 80s. He explains: “Despite criticism, there is a lot of misinformation about sugar in the press, particularly in relation to fructose. Fructose derived from wheat or maize easily converts to fat, and also suppresses the action of a hormone called lecithin. This hormone tells the brain when the fat cells have had enough carbohydrate, so it is better to have sugar as the lecithin is not suppressed with sucrose”. He adds: “If you take sugar out of food products and replace it with a sweetener like stevia, you need to add polyols for bulk, and the recipe ends up being less natural and more expensive. The future is about moderation in our intake, and educating people the true facts. Eventually, the consumer will wise up, just as they did with the butter versus margarine debate”.

A recent report states that sugar does not cause a ‘sugar rush’ in children after all, and Eastick concludes that a teaspoon of sugar contains only 16 calories-which is actually less than a carrot.

Kennedy's Confection

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