American Speedfest race report – Intermarque Silhouette

Meeting report by Lee Sutton whom we thank warmly. Great job.

One of the biggest events of the year at Brands Hatch is the American Speedfest. Obviously the lure of this meant we had 27 cars turn up for our Avon Tyres/Image Wheels intermarque silhouette races.

The weekend was dry and sunny on both days, which led to some excellent racing. Qualifying had a familiar look about it as Malcolm Blackman topped the timing screen, with Steve Burrows second quickest. The Smith brothers (Lewis and Daniel) occupied third and fourth positions with their Mercedes. Fifth quickest was Colin Smith in his newly acquired Ginetta, followed by Dave York, quickest senior Paul Knight then Danny Smith. Phil Spinks was an impressive 9th overall (second quickest senior) with Mark Sear rounding out the top ten in his immaculate Ginetta. The full set of qualifying results can be seen here:

Sadly there were a few casualties following qualifying. Dave York had a damaged engine in his Tigra, so he withdrew. Volker Timm had a broken gearbox in his Audi, so he missed race one, although Ricky Hunn kindly loaned  him a replacement for race two. Likewise Philip Blackford non-started race one as his Peugeot had an electrical gremlin, whilst Danny Russell had a bent rear suspension arm on his Tigra.

Race one saw a very orderly start, as everyone completed the rolling lap in tight formation. Blackman led from Burrows, Lewis Smith, Daniel Smith and Paul Knight, until the safety car appeared on lap 3. Simon Smith had gyrated exiting Paddock Bend and was facing the wrong way. After two laps racing resumed with Blackman maintaining a narrow margin over Burrows. Lewis Smith retired on lap 7 with more engine maladies to continue his run of bad luck. Meanwhile Colin Smith and Keith White moved up towards Knight, to create a battle for 4th position. Just behind them Spinks was involved in a tussle with Danny Smith, soon joined by Mike Thurley making good progress from 15th. As usual there were plenty of battles throughout the field and it was difficult where to look next. At the front Daniel Smith started to put pressure on Burrows, as they both slipstreamed Blackman. In the end Malcolm held on by just two tenths of a second, as Steve had Daniel right on his boot lid. Colin Smith made a good overtake on Knight, Paul taking the senior honours from a fast closing Thurley. Mike actually set the fastest lap of the race. Eric Boulton also made good progress to take 7th, with Sear in 8th. Keith White dropped back a bit, but was the third senior home in 9th just holding off Spinks. Warren Farazmand had a good run to take 11th, and he was also rewarded with a special bouquet of chocolates for his effort. Mick Robertson headed home a close group comprising Scott Aprigliano, Brian Loram and Philip Young, whilst John Steward completed the finishers. Colin Smith was awarded the driver of the race trophy.


For race two we had Timm, Russell and Blackford joining in, whilst we were missing Lewis Smith, Beardsmore and Colin Smith all with various maladies. Ricky Hunn gave up his car to Simon Smith, so we still had 22 starters. The grid saw the top nine finishers from race one reversed, which meant Keith White was on pole position. Again the rolling start was very well controlled, as Sear just got the jump on White. Like the previous day there was a spinner at Paddock Bend, as Aprigliano went into the gravel. Again the safety car appeared, as the stricken Peugeot was pulled to safety. The re-start saw Sear and White scamper off, as Thurley in third was a bit slow away. Mike then came under threat from Burrows and Blackman and they soon swept by. White hit the front on lap 7 and a lap later Sear fell behind Burrows. On the next lap the red BMW suddenly slowed exiting Clearways, as White’s good run came to a premature end with an engine issue. This left Burrows in the lead, with Blackman now in second as Sear was defending third from a fast moving pack containing Boulton, Daniel Smith, Thurley and Knight. Then there was another close group headed by Spinks from Robertson, Danny Smith and Young.

With all eyes on the big TV screen on Southbank, it was building up to be a close finish. As the last lap board appeared Burrows was under huge pressure from Blackman. At the Druids hairpin it all got very close and somehow the red Tigra emerged in front to take a dramatic win. Meanwhile the third place squabble was just as exciting. Sear was third at the start of the last lap, but he lost out firstly to Boulton who squeezed the door open, which allowed Daniel Smith and Thurley to also sneak through. Knight had a grandstand view of all this in 7th, as this group had less than 2 seconds covering them. Young did really well to take 8th, as he got the better of Robertson with a fast closing Ricky Hunn junior in 10th. Loram went well to take 11th, setting his best lap time around Brands. Steward got his Mercedes up to 12th in a good race with Simon Smith. Timm moved up to 14th, chased home by Jon Price. Spinks sadly dropped back towards the end finishing up in 16th followed by Russell and a misfiring Blackford.

Sear was awarded the driver of the race trophy, whilst Ricky Hunn’s Scrapco team in conjunction with Volker Timm received the special chocolate prize for their generosity in helping the German driver.

All in all it was a terrific weekend, with both races providing plenty of excitement for the large crowd. It was a really good advert for this series, which is now showing it’s true potential. The incident in the vehicle tunnel after race two, when Boulton’s air filter caught fire, was a bit alarming but fortunately the driver was OK and the car was not too badly damaged.

Lee Sutton

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