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Brands Britannia Race Report

Marcus Pye has kindly put together this comprehensive report for us. If you were there, but not mentioned, then do have a look through the live stream and arty highlights videos, you are sure to have your 5 seconds of fame.

Four weeks after the big top was packed away at Thruxton, the CSCC circus rocked up at Brands Hatch on 3rd/4th June, for its fourth main event of the club's 20th anniversary season. The topography of the 1.207-mile Indy Circuit - renamed for the USAC Champ Car teams’ 1978 visit with methanol-burning Indycars for a 100-lap feature, won by Rick Mears for Roger Penske’s equipe - naturally generates great racing, particularly on busier grids when lappery constantly comes into play, adding a further frisson of excitement for competitors and spectators.

Sunday’s Brands Britannia element of our 14-race weekend, the initiative of circuit owner MotorSport Vision, entertained regular die-hard enthusiasts, boosted by car club members whose diverse British steeds were parked in marque enclaves the length of the Brabham Straight, from the venue’s A20 entrance to the hallowed Paddock Hill Bend. Indeed, the atmosphere in the amphitheatre was buzzing when visitors packed a grid walkabout before the Swinging Sixties’ Group 1 stanza, which provided a surprise result.

 

We tried a 'live stream lite' experiment for this event, to keep costs lower for the members; thank you to Digitex for working with us on the initiative. We think it worked rather well, what do you think?

Saturday 3rd Part 1 (Liqui Moly Slicks and Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens Race 1): https://www.youtube.com/live/P4YgWQcUIbI?feature=share&t=4787

Saturday 3rd Part 2 (Remainder of modern day races):

Sunday 4th (Classic races including grid walk): https://www.youtube.com/live/4wGBTKQF9-4?feature=share&t=4905


In addition, Marc Peters has put together his own video highlights for each race day, these should be considered a must-see, whether you were there or not.

 

Our official photographer, David Stallard continues to deliver a variety of shots for you, taken from new, sun-beaten vantage points in qualifying and the race. Check out his galleries in time order here.

 

Full results, including the all important pit stop times (click on 'pdf book') are here.

 

We'll hand back over to Marcus Pye.

First out on Saturday were Liqui Moly Slicks Series competitors, headed in qualifying by Christian Douglas, fresh from his TVR Griffith outing at Silverstone, in his extraordinary Ariel Atom 3.5R. With a supercharged Honda engine developing just shy of 400bhp bellowing over his shoulders, Douglas piloted the bewinged 780kg bolide to a 48.229s (90.106mph) best, having previously recorded three successive sub-49 second laps. The 450bhp Porsche 991.1 GT3 Carrera Cup cars of well-tested Australians David Harrison/Nathan Luckey (48.494s) and Charlie and Kevin Bird - who arrived on raceday having effected repairs since Kevin’s off at Thruxton - were both within a second, but at 1250kg took some wrestling.


Nigel Jenkins’ Ferrari 458 Challenge, Tim Davies’ 3.7-litre Ginetta G55 and Bryan Bransom’s BMW M3 E36 also lapped inside 50 seconds, but sadly a slipping clutch sidelined the orange Beemer. Mark Lee (G55), Jasver Sapra (M3 E46) out for a test session - but later to share his turquoise car with teammate Bransom - the Petch brothers’ 3.5-litre Ginetta G50 sat in the thick of the pack, ahead of Dylan Popovic’s G50 with two more cylinders and double the factory original Ford V6’s capacity in the form of a Chevrolet power plant filling its snout.

Ashley Muldoon’s colourful Frankton M3 E36, wet Thruxton winner Warren Tattersall’s SEAT Leon Cupra TCR and Steve Griffiths’ Ligier-Ford J2R were next up, tightly packed. West Suffolk Racing’s Wes Butcher entrusted his imposing M3 E46 GTR - resplendent in an IMSA tribute livery - to BMW veteran Peter Seldon, who shared the left-hooker with son Matt. Ross Irvine’s olive green VW Golf GTi turbo, John Cockerton’s first generation SEAT Leon Cupra TCR and the transmission-hobbled M3 E36 Evo of Mark Smith/Arran Moulton-Smith completed the 15 starters.


Douglas led away from the 40-minute race’s start, but after five laps the tenacious Harrison grunted past and enjoyed a similar spell ahead, with Jenkins initially leading the chase, ahead of Bird Jr. “I couldn’t see anything when the Ferrari dumped oil over my screen,” said Charlie. First of the leaders to stop had been Harrison, who relayed Luckey from second place after 23 laps. Bird inherited P2, but peeled in two laps later, sending father Kevin back into the fray. Douglas stayed out until he’d done 28 circuits, returning in what looked to be a comfortable advantage.

Not so, for Luckey reeled in Bird Sr. in the course of nine laps, shot past Kevin and continued to erode what had been a seven second deficit to Douglas. Nathan meant business, setting the car’s best lap of 49.199s (88.38mph) having closed it to barely 0.3s, but Christian - super consistent - had something in reserve. His peak of 48.983s (88.77mph) two laps later enabled him to eke a 2.403s buffer at the chequer. “That was a lot of fun,” said Douglas. “It was good to come back and do the car justice.”

A lap down, Muldoon finished a class-winning fourth, one tour clear of the Ginettas of Lee and team Petch. Griffiths recovered from a second lap excursion to claim seventh ahead of the Seldons. Tattersall survived an early contretemps with Davies at Druids, which dropped them behind Cockerton in the last healthy car. The SEATS briefly ran together before Warren clambered back to ninth.


Popovic retired his purple Ginetta with a split power steering line after four laps. Smith’s normally reliable BMW, treated to a new Drenth gearbox since Thruxton, managed eight. Something appeared to be lost in the translation between the Dutch ’box and the car’s wiring loom, thus it continually glitched. Son Arran’s Amspeed team technicians had tried everything feasible in situ to rectify it, including disconnecting the paddle-shift system, to no avail, so it went back in the truck pending re-mapping.

Others to fall were Irvine’s Golf, to head gasket failure, the oily Ferrari - after Jenkins was penalised for exceeding the 60kph (37mph) pitlane speed limit - and Davies’ wayward Ginetta after one adventure too many

 

Christian Pittard sizzled to Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens pole in his now Racing Team VDS striped 350bhp Team Leos missile, recording 47.724s (91.11mph), 0.872s beyond fellow invitee Colin Watson in the quickest BOSS entry. Classes G and H leaders Tim Davis (48.763s) and Andrew Grant (49.038s) shadowed Watson, with G men Richard Carter and Simon Lancashire and Class F standout Jeremy Adams (49.726s) also well in contention. Luke Tzourou’s 50.588s in a 1600cc Supersport humbled more than a few more potent cars, netting P9 and more importantly pole in Group 1, with Class D’s Stephen Boyles/Ashley Haigh-Boyles 12th on 52.157s and Gavin Crawford’s 53.176s heading class E rival Richard Green by 0.437s.

From a 15 place grid drop for his previous win, Pittard took 14 laps to regain the lead from Watson in the opener which he won by two seconds. Watson fended off Davis - from a 10 place drop - who beat Bishop by 15 seconds for class honours. Fast starter Grant also completed 15 laps in winning his division. Tzourou did a tremendous job in finishing seventh overall and 1st in Group 1, between Carter and Robert Forsdike. Matthew Starbuck beat Jonathan Constable [driving Historic F1-bound brother Jamie’s original car] by 1.345s in class F after Adams retired, being joined by Lancashire whose mechanics toiled in the engine bay. Haigh-Boyles took D, finishing ahead of Crawford who prevailed over Green in E.

Davis and Watson disputed race two as Pittard hurtled through the field again from P16 to join them. Neither Christian, who went ahead on lap 19, nor Watson would finish though, suffering identical and unprecedented fuel injector rail bracket failures on their Duratec engines, 10 laps apart. Amazed at his good fortune, Davis thus took the chequer, heading Bishop and the resurgent Lancashire in a resounding BOSS podium lockout. Grant added to the team’s tally with a class-winning fourth, from Carter and class F victor Adams. Tzourou bagged another seventh and 1st overall in Group 1, clear of Chris Biglin in C (and 2nd in Group 1), while Crawford and Boyles claimed E and D respectively.

 

Minus Snetterton victor Andrew Windmill, only Silverstone and Thruxton winner Danny Cassar needed to serve a penalty - a whopping 60 seconds’ worth - in the Co-ordSport Tin Tops & Puma Cup race. He achieved his first aim of qualifying Nigel Ainge’s turquoise-topped Hillwood Autos Honda Integra Type-R on pole, giving himself a clear track on which to craft his response to a tall order. Cassar’s 52.603s (82.66mph) effort was a convincing 1.279s swifter than regular sparring partner Adam Brown (Ford Fiesta ST150), the class C leader, who in turn was 0.720s quicker than Garry Barlow in another Integra DC5, despite losing his best lap time for crossing the kerbs.


The Civic Type-Rs of Dave Hutchins, Steve Papworth and Alfie Jones were next up, ahead of Richard and Richard Jason Field’s faithful Proton Persona. Behind the Malaysian machine, Mark and Lewis Alexander-Williams were also division leaders in their Citroen Saxo, with Adrian Matthews’ Volvo C30 - a Ford Focus in a different party frock - and the Civic of Stephen Reynolds/John Ridgeon sitting 10th. Then came a trio of Peugeots, Nick Mellor, Miles Moseley and class E topper David Bellamy separated by 0.8s, shadowed by Gareth Knopp/Jamie Wickenden’s Fiesta ST150 and the Civic Type-R of Steve Davey/Lee Craddock, both also inside 58 seconds.

Best of five Mazda RX-8s was Daniel Barber, whose 58.067s (74.88mph) was 0.164s better than Jack Hordley’s mark. Stuart Eardley and David Raeburn [who spun and shunted on the descent from Druids, damaging one flank of the car shared by Davie Man] were just inside a minute, which the top 25 breached. James Clare headed the Pumas on 58.689s (74.09mph) on his last lap, Luke Johnson failing to match him by 0.024s. When Gareth Cotgrove’s car broke, Martin Smithson kindly offered him a double-drive, such is the camaraderie within the CSCC paddock, although sadly it would last but one lap come the afternoon.


Revisited by early-season mechanical woes - after a more representative run at Thruxton had given cause for optimism - poor Manoj Patel’s road-driven Civic was sidelined after two laps. MG veteran Ray Kershberg and Daniel Goldberg overcame fire extinguisher issues to get their Computervision MG Metro into the race. Also in the field, incidentally, was Brands Hatch Formula Ford and FF2000 favourite of the 1970s Wil Arif, the local hardy perennial and instructor sharing Sam Haywood’s Fiesta ST150.


Thirty cars thus formed the grid and Cassar - determined to clear as much of his penalty while his pursuers were squabbling - bolted out of the blocks like a man possessed. Three quarters of a second clear of Brown at the end of the opening circuit, Danny stretched his lead to almost 18 seconds in 14 laps, with only Brown and Barlow on the same lap and the pit window open. But his hard work looked like it had been annulled in an instant when Code 60 flags went out, Paul Anderton’s Renault Clio 172 having ducked in and out of the gravel. Cassar was reprieved by the caution’s brevity, however, and stopped with a handy advantage after 20 laps.

Hutchins, Jones, Field Sr. and Papworth had chased the top three initially, but as the pit stagger unwound and the extra time Cassar had to sit stationary bit, Barlow worked his way ahead of Brown. Cassar was about 30 seconds down on the leader after 25 laps, but pared it down to 19 within the next five. Brown was catching Barlow meanwhile, and when Garry steered his ‘purple peril’ forlornly off, to retire on the inside of Graham Hill Bend on lap 33, Brown picked up the cudgels. The three-lap caution’s timing saw Cassar’s deficit grow to 24.5s, then reduce dramatically to 4.6s as the crocodile was united and freed onto lap 36.


With TSL’s clocks showing time for five laps remaining, thoughts of a scrap between the Midlanders were dispelled within a lap and a half when Brown’s Ford stuttered at Graham Hill Bend. It picked up again, by which time Cassar had pounced and Jones had gone second. With power restored, Adam repassed Alfie at Paddock to salvage second to add to his class win, but the day belonged to Danny who thus made it three victories from four this term. Cassar’s 52.795s (82.36mph) fastest lap was 1.6s quicker than anybody else’s and 0.192s shy of his pole time.


As the top pair dashed off to saddle Ainge’s more powerful Integra in the Turbo Tin Tops race, the TT finishers continued to file in. Class D winners the Fields were fourth ahead of Papworth - more comfortable with his Japanese steed after many years in Fords - and Hutchins. Three seconds down on his home track, Matthews fought hard for seventh in the Volvo, the last car to complete the full 40 laps. Jonathan and Tom Dee did well to battle their Integra DC3 through from P21 on the grid to eighth, ahead of Davey/Craddock and Reynolds/Ridgeon.

Eleventh overall, Moseley was first Peugeot, in a 305-206-106 reverse chronology result over Mellor and Bellamy. Behind the Pugs, Barber claimed the Mazda prize from Hordley by eight seconds, the rotarians split by Puma winner Clare who beat Mark Jackson and Johnson by a lap. The chasers were three seconds apart at the chequer, clear of Eardley and Lee Powell in the other Mazdas.

 

The WOSP New Millennium race was nothing if not drama-laced. Lee was on pole with a 50.321s (86.41mph) second shot in his Ford V6-motivated Ginetta, his best effort having been expunged for a track limits infringement. Class leader Michael Vitulli (BMW M3 E46) shared the front row on a stout 50.403s (86.27mph), with Tim Davies (G55) a buffer to BMW rivals Jasver Sapra/Bryan Bransom and Ashley Muldoon (M3 E36s) and Harry Petch (G50) rounding out the top half dozen. Muldoon forfeited his top two lap times for more kerb-hopping.

Class C pacemakers Danny Cassar/ Adam Brown (2.4 Honda Integra Type-R) gridded seventh, with pursuer Warren Tattersall’s turbocharged two-litre TCR SEAT on the mid-point, a scant tenth ahead of Warren Allen’s 3.4-litre Porsche Cayman S. Steve Williams (Ginetta GTA), the BMW M3s of Alex Heynes (E36) and Jonathan Strickland (E46), Martyn


Scott/Paul Watson (VW Golf GTi turbo) and John Wyatt’s turbocharged MINI Cooper S R56) completed the runners and riders with the indisposition of Mark Smith’s M3 E36 Evo.


Vitulli charged ahead as the lights changed to start the race, taking Bransom and Lee with him. The fast-starting

Tattersall, Davies, Muldoon and Cassar formed a train behind the leaders, but Petch lost six places with a trip through the gravel from the foot of paddock from which he escaped.


Lee went autocrossing on the outside of Graham Hill Bend, regaining the track on Cooper Straight after a wide arc, but Bransom stayed out, as Vitulli and Lee made their stops a lap apart. A safety car was deployed when Petch dropped the green Ginetta and spun to the infield, clonking the barrier on the ascent to Druids. As Bransom, Tattersall, Cassar and Allen dived for the pits red flags were flown at 46 per cent of the race’s duration, to allow the MSV circuit crew to inspect the wall.


The rolling restart from the backdated grid helped Lee, for he immediately blasted up to third behind Sapra and Tattersall, with Allen, Vitulli, Muldoon, Davies and Williams next through. The Cassar/Brown Honda did not continue, incidentally, nor did the Petch Ginetta which had caused the hiatus. Fifth at the end of the first lap, Vitulli was right back in the mix in three. Having ousted Lee, who had been probing Sapra, Vitulli annexed second on lap seven and rounded Jas audaciously at Paddock two laps later, oblivious that he’d planed the right corner of his front valance and splitter off in the grass previously attempting to wrest the lead.

Once there, the delighted Vitulli was immovable, however and he zoomed on to the chequered flag 4.5 seconds to the good with a sonorous straight-six rasp. “In the end it worked out lovely,” he said. Sapra was all smiles too. “I tried to put it into the apex to defend, but Michael passed me. It’s all about trying to keep’em at bay innit!” Lee was third over the timing line, on Sapra’s tail, but five and 10 second penalties for exceeding track limits saw him bumped to fifth behind Davies who thus took class A gold. Tim finished on Muldoon’s bumper in what became a BMW M3 podium lockout. Tattersall was left rueing identical forfeits to Lee’s, which had similar consequences, rewarding the battling Warren Allen with class B honours. Lee’s consolation was fastest lap at 51.375s (84.64mph).

 

The Lohen Turbo Tin Tops race not only delivered the fourth winner in as many races this season, but also the fourth vehicle marque as Josh Brooks (Toyota Starlet GT) joined Phiroze Bilimoria (VW Scirocco, Silverstone GP), Carl Chambers (Peugeot 208 GTi, Snetterton) and Andrew Marson (Abarth Assetto Corse) on the series roll of honour. Brooks, 32, has owned the potent Japanese machine - a 1993 model weighing around 900kg with a 1368cc engine developing 220bhp - since he was 17, but debuted it at Oulton Park last August and won at Silverstone in October. Third time out the Bath powder coater/fabricator had a further incentive to excel in his JB Worx/MRM Racing entry. With supportive fiancée Hollie looking after 12-week-old daughter Alana at home, Josh was grateful for the pass out and made the most of it!

Bilimoria planted the limeade green two-litre VW on pole with a 53.432s (81.38mph) best lap, but class leaders Brooks (53.836s) and Keith Issatt (MINI Clubman, 53.967s), plus Phill Briggs (SEAT Leon) and John Wyatt (MINI Cooper S R56) circuited within 0.831s of him which augured well for the afternoon’s race. Chambers, whose Pugsport car was hobbled by random problems at Silverstone and in qualifying at Snetterton, had his patience tested again. Having qualified sixth in just seven laps, Carl withdrew and headed back to his Suffolk workshop with further toil required. His 55.091s mark headed the Lisa Selby/Toby Harris’ Ford Fiesta ST180, Andy Thompson’s SEAT Toledo, the Renault Clios of Tom Oatley and James Joannou - separated by Chris Earle’s Pugsport 308 GTi - and Matthew Jackson’s Fiesta all in the 55 second bracket, so the TTT field boasted quality in depth.

Delightfully, the entire 19 car entry - minus the three Marson cousins in their Abarths - lapped inside a minute during the preliminaries. Cliff Pellin (Fiesta ST180) and the MINI Cooper Ss of Matthew Shears, Clive Seagers/Andrew Grimm, Stephen Warner/Martin Tyte, Paul Clothier/Kev Smith, Kevin Neville and Gareth and Kieron Lehane - all but the exhaust-blown Seagers/Grimm John Cooper Works car supercharged R53s - completed the subscribers.


Issatt shot past Bilimoria into an early lead at the start, but Brooks followed him through before the heavier VW, starting from the cambered pole, found its equilibrium and retook the initiative on lap three. Wyatt and Briggs quickly joined the breakaway and progressively shuffled Issatt’s blue estate car down the quintet’s order. Oatley and Joannou soon paired-up, with Earle, Selby, Jackson and Shears the chasers until Pellin began to make progress up the lap charts.

Bilimoria and Briggs stopped after 13 laps, early in the window, Phiroze obliged to remain stationary for 30 seconds longer than everybody else as the only previous 2023 winner running. Brooks chose the opposite strategy, charging round with great gusto for 25 laps before diving in. When Josh accelerated up the exit slope to rejoin the fray, 20 seconds blanketed the top four, with Briggs (6.4s adrift), Issatt and Bilimoria attempting to hound him down. Briggs pushed as hard as he dared, reducing the gap to under two seconds, but Brooks’ pace through Surtees/Clark Curve and neat unflustered style made an accomplished victory look deceptively easy, even with a bit more smoke from his exhaust in the closing stages.


“That was seriously hard work, but a mega result. I’m over the moon, the car’s amazing,” enthused Brooks, who was careful not to overcook his engine or brakes and managed his Nankang AR1 tyres perfectly. Briggs was also happy. “There was very little grip, but second was a good result. Well done to Josh.” Bilimoria set fastest lap of 53.901s as he endeavoured to neutralise his ‘success ballast,’ thus third place, 7.971s behind the winner was an excellent effort. Issatt and Wyatt also finished on the lead lap, the MINI men 17 seconds apart.

A lap adrift, their closest class rival Earle, was sixth, first of the French cars in his Peugeot, pursued by Joannou who pipped fellow Clio driver Oatley by 0.278s in the dash to the line. It had taken Joannou eight laps to pass Oatley early in the proceedings, but Tom made his pit stop later, came out just behind James and chased him all the way to the chequer. Selby/Harris finished an encouraging ninth, with Shears a class C-winning 10th, despite attracting a 32.62 second penalty for a short stop.

 

A 15-minute Verum Builders Open Series sprint race concluded Saturday’s seven-race schedule. Ginettas bookended the eclectic 18-car miscellany, Popovic’s big banger on pole with a 51.340s (84.70mph) effort, Snetterton winner Lee’s at the back without cutting a time due to a driveshaft failure. Jonathan Strickland claimed P2 with his blue BMW M3 E46, despite having his best two laps erased for exceeding track limits.

Fellow class leader Darren Clayden (Porsche 944 S2) sat third, ahead of Strickland’s rivals Irvine (Golf turbo), Adrian Clark’s 5.4-litre Porsche 928 GTS Cup, Chris Boon’s supercharged Cov Cats Jaguar XK8, Mike Holt’s attractively decorated Eden Interiors XJ6 X300 and Ryan Charters in the blue Ashgood team Boxster S, split by 2.2 seconds. Steve Thompson (944 S2), Kevin Neville’s supercharged MINI Coopers S R53 and Colin Philpott’s Jaguar S Type were Clayden’s challengers. Tom Hendrie (BMW 320i E30) and John Bevan (Morgan Plus 4 Clubsport) comprised Class B.


Popovic made the running, but the Sarajevo speedster was surprised to see Lee’s white G55 looming large in his mirrors by two-thirds’ distance.. Ninth inside a lap, having carved his way cleanly through the pack, Mark had “just pushed forward,” ousting second placed Strickland on lap six. “The Ginetta battle was about handling versus power, I just had to find a moment to surprise him.”


The pivotal move unfolded at Druids on lap 12, Lee having charged up the outside of Popovic into the braking area. They traversed the hairpin side by side and, when Dylan found himself trapped behind Ashgood Porsche boss Mike Curtler (Boxster S) and Thompson, abreast in their own duel, Mark sneaked past imperiously, doubtless with a glow of pride. Popovic lost towards two seconds as a result, thus the outcome was settled, with fastest lap of 51.117s (85.07mph) also on Lee’s slate.

Strickland and the Porsches of Clark and Clayden also covered the full 17 laps for the minor places. One circuit behind, Charters completed the top six. He had scrambled ahead of Boon and Holt, who drove his squarer-cut Jag splendidly to finish a tenth behind and scooped Driver of the Day plaudits. Behind them, Thompson pipped Curtler to ninth. Of the retirements, poor Irvine’s Golf’s recalcitrance continued. It failed to last a lap.

 

Sunday’s programme kicked-off in front of a larger audience, bolstered by hundreds of car club members, with the Adams & Page Swinging Sixties group 1 race, for which James Hughes annexed pole in his ‘de-frogged’ Sprite Mk1 with a 55.920s (77.76mph) effort. That was half a second better than his closest rival, Jack Smith in the MGA father Steve has owned since 1977. Seven competitors were within a second of the British Racing Green car, in the order: Connor Kay (MG Midget), Tom Pead (two-litre BMW 1600Ti), Ian Staines (Midget), Sam Polley (Mini Marcos), Ian Burgin and Richard Perry (Sprites) and Nick Watling/Shaun Haddrell (Turner Mk1 with 1216cc Climax FWE power). Alas gearbox failure forced Polley to withdraw, taking away Hughes’ anticipated opponent.

Tim Cairns in his trusty Sprite and Lewis Salmon - piloting the immaculate VTK Motorsport Mini Cooper S which started life as a rare 850 Automatic - were also in the 57 second bracket. Salmon effectively became the class C target with Polley gone, but Marc Kniese was only half a second shy, with Mike Henney’s open Alexander Turner-BMC Mk1 and Ian Hulett’s Sprite between him and Lewis’ Tweed Grey mount.

Flying the flag of the wonderful Ooni pizza ovens, Richard Merrell commuted from Edinburgh to race his sonorous Alfa Romeo Giulia GT, which had father-and-daughter Ian and Abigail Whitt’s Midget for company in the 58s. The other dad-and-lass combo in the mix was Rob and Fran Roodhouse in their Cooper S, split from the Whitts by Andrew Tidmarsh’s Sprite and the very pretty Sebring version of Mark Cloutman. James Mackie/John Faux and Chris Winchester (Sprites), Ian and John Fraser’s Lotus Cortina - prepped by 1989 British Formula Ford champion Bernard Dolan - Jason Potter/Simon Stowe (Sprite) and Paul Linfield/Richard Watt (MGB) were the last to break the ‘magic’ minute.


After some demo laps by former FIA F2 champion Luciano Bacheta who chauffeured a ‘lucky’ marshal round in a new McLaren Elva - with a seven figure price tag - and an interesting grid walkabout, which saw hundreds of interested spectators from the Brands Britannia Classic Car areas take up the opportunity to see the cars up close and speak to their drivers, a couple of laps behind a safety car presaged the race. In trouble immediately was Steve Smith’s MGA, running on three cylinders as its number one plug lead had popped off. He thus dived into the pits, effected a quick remedy and rejoined at the back. Unfortunately, Steve’s run was over after two laps when a tag amidships from Tony Hunting’s Mini spun him into the gravel at Paddock, necessitating a four lap caution while the car was extricated.

Hughes still led Staines, Pead and Kay after the interlude, but Pead was flying. Second by lap 11, when he demoted Staines, Tom was one of the first frontrunners to make his stop on lap 15. Staines pitted a lap later, promoting Haddrell to second, then the lead for a lap in the blue Turner when Hughes took his break 18 laps in. It proved his undoing, for the engine refused to restart after he’d alighted and leapt back in, necessitating a bump start. The rigmarole cost him 48 seconds to Pead, whose orange Niki Lauda tribute-liveried touring car was almost seven ahead of Perry when the pit phase was complete. With Pead uncatchable in the Fargus Racing BMW, all eyes were on the Spridgets.


Kay, oblivious to his position, was broadly matching Perry ahead in second, with time running out. But Connor, experiencing worsening understeer, was handed silver two laps from one when Richard spun at Graham Hill Bend. “I threw it away; lack of talent I think,” was his assessment after taking the chequer a chastened third. Staines finished fourth, having demoted Watling’s Turner early in Nick’s stint, while Hughes salvaged sixth, setting fastest lap of 56.009s (77.64mph) last time round, albeit ruing another race which had slipped away. Kniese was a class-winning seventh, on the lead lap, which the Whitts also completed. Merrell and Burgin completed the top 10.

 

The JMC Racing Special Saloons & Modsports stalwarts had licked their wounds and regrouped since Thruxton and welcomed new blood. Former short oval and Ginetta racer Andy Willis’ remarkable self-built Austin ‘A302’ - a tubular space frame chassis powered by a five-litre Ford V8 engine - was the talk of the paddock, having run for the first time in anger in Friday testing. Also making his CSCC debut was veteran Dr David Enderby (80), the multiple SS and Special GT champion of yore, whose Tiga Sports 2000-based VW Karmann Ghia with a 1700cc Ford BDA sting in its tail last raced 30 years ago.

Norfolk Aston Martin V8 racer Arthur “Boysie” Thurtle was out in the ex-Wayne Crabtree RSR Escort turbo for the first time, despite having owned it for three years, and Martin Reynolds reverted to his Ford Escort-Millington Mk2 having had problems with the Sierra V8 in Hampshire. Local legend Rod Birley cajoled the Bradley brothers, Adrian and Ronan, to run their similar BMW M3 E36 and Gavin Thomson to enter his attractive Peugeot 205 ‘wide boy,’ motivated by a two-litre Mi-16 engine from a 405, making an impressive field of 18, including Jerry Burgoyne with a new engine in his Davrian Stiletto.

Sam Wilson planted Rikki Cann’s ‘Gulf’ blue and orange Aston Martin V8 Vantage on pole with 50.590s (85.95mph), with Thurtle closest until his car broke and was trailered. Birley, Jack Gadd (2.8 Escort-Millington Mk1), Ian Hall (6.0 Darrian Wildcat T98 GTR) led the chase, with the Bradleys and Thomson also inside 53 seconds. Willis recorded 56.691s in the A302 and Enderby 57.439s in the VW clone - 11th and 13th respectively - but Neil Duke’s Vauxhall Carlton and Tom Carey’s Honda CRX (back with its BDG engine) refused to run properly.


Wilson and Birley led the opening race from start to finish, but Gadd spun away third, gifting it to Ronan Bradley who had Hall’s Darrian behind. Reynolds and Thomson rounded out the top six having covered the full distance. A lap down, Robert Frost’s big Dax Tojeiro, Willis and hard-trying David Claxton’s Triumph Dolomite turbo were next of the 13 who took the chequered flag.


Birley welcomed new sponsor Amusetime’s support by controlling the sequel, pursued by Adrian Bradley once Hall had backed off and fell to seventh, protecting his increasingly hot V8 engine. Cann rumbled through to third ahead of Reynolds, Gadd and Thomson. Frost was chased hard by Willis who improved his best lap to 55.168 and for a glorious circuit gave fans a photo opportunity lapping Craig Percy’s Morris Minor-Chevrolet in a BMC caricature slugfest.

 

On pole by a second and a half with his splendid 54.831s (79.30mph) best lap in the University of Wolverhampton CX Plus 4, former Club F3 ace Shane Kelly found himself the only previous 2023 round winner in a Morgan Challenge pack minus Will Pratt and Tony Kiss, who scored at Snetterton, or Thruxton second race topper John Emberson. Kelly won both as he pleased, by a combined total of 50 seconds.

The opening stanza was restarted after Greg Parnell beached his Plus 8 Aero at Paddock and Doctors Kathy and Simon Sherry - now known as “Sweet” and “Dry” - had ‘a domestic’ at Surtees, the married couple clattering off into the grass in Plus 4 and Plus 8 respectively. Louis Ruff was Kelly’s closest rival in both races, while Jim Mountain (4/4) and reigning champion Steve Lockett (Plus 8) shared thirds and fourths. Tagged at Paddock in the opener’s first start, Lockett’s ultimate effort earned his first overall podium.

 

The Swinging Sixties Group 2 set went out, concurrently with the Advantage Motorsport Future Classics. Needless to say the younger machinery populated the first four places on the 32-car grid, showcasing 16 marques, but the ‘swingers’ gave a good account of themselves in the overall rankings and enjoyed themselves over 40 busy minutes in the afternoon. Matthew Ellis snared pole with a 53.034s (81.99mph) charge in the raucous Talbot Sunbeam Lotus shared with dad Martyn, heading off Andy Woods-Dean in Martin Johnston’s Audi V8 Quattro on 53.898s and the Porsches of David Burke (Parr Motorsport ’74 Carrera RSR) and Darren Clayden (944 S2).


Top ‘Historic’ runner Steve Hodges (two-litre Lotus 7 S2) was fifth on 55.207s, ahead of Geoff Taylor’s bellicose five-litre TVR Griffith (55.449s). Nick King’s Chris Woodgate-run Aston Martin DB4 and Roy Chamberlain’s Triumph TR250 sat eighth and 10th overall, with the 944s of Michael and Liam Wright (Turbo) and Steve Thompson (S2) in their midst. Jonathan Crayston’s Elan - reunited with its bonnet post-Silverstone qualified 12th, in the wake of David Newnes’ BMW E30 325i. Dean Halsey’s three-litre BRE Datsun 240Z looked hungry to move forward, while lurking down the order were Alex Elbrow’s thunderous 8.3-litre Plymouth Belvedere GTX and Richard Hall-Griffin’s ex-Neil Dangerfield Triumph SLR aerodyne.

Martyn Ellis sowed the seeds of victory from the start, shaking off Woods-Dean and Burke as Taylor found his equilibrium and blasted his TVR through the chasers to second, with the diverse cars of AWD, Burke and Hodges squabbling in his mirrors. After a short Code 60, Ellis put his lad into bat and the result was quickly cemented as the pristine Phil Seaman-prepared car did not miss a beat and Matt cut a 53.079s (81.92mph) best lap just before he passed Hodges, then Taylor to go top. Martyn Ellis was both thrilled and relieved. “We’ve been really good at mucking up our pitstops this season, so were on a mission today,” he said.

There was drama in the pits though, for Hodges’ 7 had an engine bay fire after a carburettor ingested its air filter. Earlier, marshals had extinguished the overworked brakes of Elbrow’s Plymouth, which ended its outing. Once the muscular Audi retired fourth and fifth places were settled, Clayden beating Burke by 3.278s. King finished sixth overall, third of the SS runners, a lap down on Taylor and Hodges. Halsey improved to seventh, with Chamberlain and Crayston next back, then Thompson and Rob Hardy (VW Golf GTi) and Tom Hendrie (BMW 323i E30) from the Futures.

 

Modern Classics brought the weekend to a close with a strong field which showcased power and handling in qualifying. Australian Dave Griffin took pole by 1.630s with a solid 52.504s (82.82mph) in the West Suffolk Racing Diet Coke BMW E36 M3). The Hamilton brothers’ zippy 1800cc Ford Zetec engined Ginettas sat second (Roger) and fifth (Nick), divided by Tom Mensley (E36 M3 Evo) and Aaron Moyce’s immaculate TVR Tuscan Challenge - the unique factory-built two-seater built for Jonathan Ellis, so the intrepid and loquacious Ian Flux could tutor him on track days! Adrian Clark’s burly red 5.4-litre Porsche 928 was sixth, 0.810s from the quicker Hamilton. Out after qualifying incidentally was regular pacesetter Alex Taylor, whose Tuscan proved recalcitrant and was trailered.


From the start of the race, Griffin, Mensley and Moyce grunted ahead before a safety car was called for the removal of John Robinson’s Jaguar XK8 which had ground to a halt on the approach to Druids. Griffin’s car subsequently cut out, but he limped back to the pits and got going again, while Mensley made hay out front. There was no catching Tom who was “absolutely ecstatic” to take the chequer. “I’ve not raced at Brands for years and it’s my first time here with rear-wheel-drive,” he gushed.

Roger Hamilton negotiated constant traffic to finish second, mirroring his qualifying ranking, finishing 14.819s adrift, clear of Clark, Tom Barley (BMW 328i E36) and Moyce. Ryan Charters narrowly won the Porsche Boxster battle, beating Ashgood team mates Ian Harris/Lucas Hutchings to seventh by 1.728s. Nick Hamilton finished fifth on the road but was bumped to eighth by a 30.23s [marginally] short stop penalty.


Race reports written by Marcus Pye.

Next stop on the CSCC tour is the Anglesey 24 Hour event, 1st/2nd July 2023. https://www.classicsportscarclub.co.uk/2023-anglesey

 


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