Brands Hatch GP report, with thanks to Lee

The much anticipated Brands Hatch GP meeting is a focal point for our super saloon and tin top series. Again we were joined by the classic VWs who always enjoy racing with us, plus it helps keep the entry fees down.

The day dawned bright and sunny with rising temperatures, hitting 36 degrees by mid-afternoon. This would take its toll on both drivers and cars. Qualifying saw Alex Sidwell stamp his authority on proceedings by posting a lap time 4 seconds quicker than anyone else. Nick Sutton occupied the outside of the front row in his Mitsubishi. Quickest class B runner was Adrian Bradley, who lined up third in his BMW with Peter Seldon alongside. Peter was not in his usual red BMW but instead was trying a much modified white E46. Fifth quickest was Ronan Bradley who had Rod Birley for company, back out in his Escort after the issues he had at Lydden. Andy Woods-Dean in a V8 Chevrolet Corvette was 7th followed by Peter Osborne’s class D leading Vauxhall Astra. Completing the top ten were Martin Reynolds in his indecently quick Ford Anglia and Steve Everson in Marcus Bicknell’s V8 Ford Taurus.

Quickest of the VWs was Chris Adams in his Golf which took 11th spot, Jacques Whitehead (BMW) would be next to him. Then came the quickest tin top, namely Neal Gardiner in his Honda Civic, closely pursued by Adrian Matthews in his Volvo C30. Dave Hutchins was next up in his Honda with Jeremy Sutton alongside in his Sierra Cosworth. Simon Tomlinson was the next VW on the grid, with Ken Angell’s BMW 18th. Liam Pauling was the leading class T3 runner with Alex Baldwin the best of the TP group. Late withdrawals included Mark Cripps (brake issues) and Paul Restall.

32 cars took the first rolling start and it was not surprising to see Sidwell scamper off into an early lead. Nick Sutton settled into second, whilst Adrian Bradley only lasted until lap 2, when a gear lever issue forced him to pull off. This momentarily elevated Birley to third, but then Woods-Dean swept past as the Escort started to falter again. Neal Gardiner was the leading tin top until he came off at Stirlings Bend on lap 3, this promoted Dave Hutchins to the front as Matthews was slipping back with a braking problem. Chris Adams was comfortably leading the VW group.

With a lead of just over 10 seconds Sidwell backed off, as he navigated his way past the back markers. Sutton closed it down to seven seconds as the laps ticked by, then it suddenly went down to 1.8 seconds as Alex cruised to the chequered flag. Woods-Dean was safe in third, but Ronan Bradley found a way past Birley on lap 8, then the Escort almost came to a halt on the run to the chequered flag which enabled Reynolds (class C winner) and Everson to nip past. Peter Seldon came home 8th closely pursued by Osborne. Whitehead had a good run to take 10th, keeping Adams at bay. 12th (and first tin top) was Hutchins, then came Tomlinson (second in the VW class) Angell (T1 class winner), Simon Worth (Seat Ibiza) and Jeremy Sutton. First of the lapped runners was Nick Sanderson (Seat) chased by Liam Pauling (winning T3 in his Saxo) then the hampered Matthews. It was large and little next as Kevin Borland’s mighty Chevrolet Monte Carlo dwarfed Ian Seale’s TP class winning Ford Fiesta. The remaining finishers were Steven Watson (Scirocco), James Seale (Fiesta), Alex Martin (Saxo), Alex Baldwin (Honda), Russell Bradley (Golf) and Richard Skelsey (Honda Civic). There were three other retirements, the Golfs of Martyn Scott and Donald Dewar plus Eddie O’Kane’s Hyundai.

With the clock ticking past 6PM and the circuit curfew looming, it was the quickest rolling start we have seen this year. Nevertheless everyone got away safely at it meant that everyone got a full race distance. Sidwell again blasted away from pole position, with Woods-Dean getting past Sutton into second. Birley quickly moved from 7th into 4th, but Adrian Bradley was scything through from the back of the grid. The green BMW was third by lap 3, which was very impressive and earnt Adrian the driver of the race award. Lap 3 saw a bit of a shake up as Nick Sutton dropped back to sixth and Ronan Bradley got past Birley into what was now 4th.  Birley re-took the position on lap five as Ronan ran very wide through Sheene curve. Seldon was making progress after a slow start and he squeezed past Ronan on lap 6. By now Nick Sutton had retired the Mitsubishi and he was joined by the two same two VWs of Scott and Dewar.

Sidwell stroked it home to a comfortable 26 seconds win over Woods-Dean. Despite a 10 second track limits penalty Adrian Bradley hung onto third (first in class B) with Birley fourth (winning class A) in front of a fast closing Seldon. Ronan Bradley slipped back, but took sixth from Everson. Osborne chased the big V8 all the way to the finish to claim class D honours again. Reynolds had been as high as sixth early on but the Anglia wilted a bit and ended up ninth. Whitehead again drove well to take 10th. Leading the tin tops throughout the race and finishing 11th overall was Hutchins. In the VWs it was Tomlinson who got the better of Adams, these two being closely matched throughout the race and only finishing 1.9 seconds apart. Jeremy Sutton was a lap down in 14th, as Borland battled his way past Angell (who won T1). Nick Sanderson had a good race with Ken, with Pauling having a perfect view of the battle (winning T3 again). Worth came home 19th with Ian Seale next up (class TP victor). Watson, Martin, Russell Bradley and James Seale completed the finishers.

The Caesar electrical super saloon driver of race one went to Kevin Borland, who toiled to get his big V8 below the noise limit. Adrian Bradley winning it in race two. The AFR Media tin tops driver of the race awards went to Ken Angell in race one, while in race to it went to James Seale. James had to pull off at one stage, but kept out of everyone’s way, fixed his car and re-joined safely. It was noted how both our races had no safety car intervention, as everyone drove really well in the very hot conditions. It was a real credit to all the drivers.

Next week sees our tin tops back at Brands for a 30 minute pit stop race, whilst the intermarques headline the Vauxhall valves event on Sunday.

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