Brands Hatch: race reports 7/8 August 2021

Brands Hatch: race reports by Lee Sutton, thank you…

With the tragic events of the previous weekend still in many people’s minds, it was good to see universal support from all our racers present on Saturday in support of the orange army. A fitting tribute at lunchtime was very respectful.

Qualifying saw 23 cars take to the rather slippery track, the one absentee being Steve Dann who was trying to fix an alternator problem. As the track slowly dried out, it became obvious that whoever stayed out longest and preserved their wet weather tyres would reap the reward. At one stage Rod Birley stopped and considered switching to slick tyres, but in the end he set the fastest time on grooved wet tyres. Chris Bassett hustled his tin top Peugeot onto the front row, benefitting from a tow from Birley plus having some good tyres. Next up was Paul Watson in his BMW, which seems to excel in slippery conditions, followed by Nick Sutton’s Mitsubishi. Warren Johnson was an impressive fifth in his tin top Peugeot with Andrew MacKenzie’s V8 BMW alongside. Circuit instructor Colin Tester showed his experience by taking Gideon September’s Honda Civic into 7th with Dave Charlton’s Seat next up. The top ten was completed by Jeremy Sutton, going well in his Ford Sierra Cosworth and Ronan Bradley in his BMW. The rest of the grid was as shown by TSL and included Steve Dann: CMMC Grid (

Race one took place on Saturday afternoon and as the cars formed up it was a dry track which greeted them. However, the forecast predicted a light shower within the next ten minutes. Unsurprisingly Birley took the lead from the rolling start, but Bassett hung on gamely, even having a cheeky look up the inside at Clearways. Power told on the Brabham straight as the black Escort soon stretched out a lead of 7 seconds. It took until lap 4 for Bassett to lose second place, as the queue of more powerful cars gradually got into their stride. Mark De’Ath prised the door open first with his Subaru, quickly followed by Watson and Alex Sidwell in the Holden Commodore V8. A quick spin on lap six further relegated Bassett, but a couple of laps later the safety car appeared as Angelo Massonetto ground to a halt in the Citroen Saxo approaching Graham Hill bend. By now Sidwell was up to second, but there were two slower cars between him and Birley.

Swift work by the recovery crew saw the action resume on lap 11, just as the rain shower arrived. The slippery track made everyone a bit cautious, as the lap times increased by 3 or 4 seconds. Birley maintained his advantage over Sidwell as De’Ath crossed the line in third closely followed by Nick Sutton. A 5 second time penalty issued by the race clerk for a yellow flag penalty dropped De’Ath to sixth. Watson claimed class B honours just from Bradley. Bassett impressed by claiming 7th and winning the tin top section from Johnson and Charlton (although these two swapped positions when Johnson got a time penalty for a yellow flag misdemeanour). Whilst Tester completed the top ten, Dann drove well to take 11th pursued by Trevor Collar (Honda Civic), as Jeremy Sutton was dropped a place for another yellow flag infringement. MacKenzie was going well early on, but the slippery conditions saw him drop back to 14th. Ken Hunt (VW Golf) won class C and  had the measure of Ken Angell (BMW) as Mark Cripps (BMW) completed the unlapped runners. Former rallycrosser Jason Stone brought his Fiesta home in 18th to also claim class D honours. Martyn Scott survived a quick spin and finished in front of Ian Seale (class TP Fiesta) and Jacques Whitehead (BMW).

For Sunday’s race we were missing Andy Woods-Dean, whose Honda had retired with engine maladies, but the rest were all present. Birley again led the pack away as Sidwell looked for an outside run into Paddock bend which unfortunately lost him a few positions, as Watson jumped up into second closely pursued by Bassett. These two were undeterred by the slippery track which had seen a few competitors choose wet weather tyres, most notably both the Sutton brothers and Dann. Meanwhile Birley made his escape again, as the pack jostled for second place. Bradley upped his pace to get past Watson as Sidwell and De’Ath appeared in 4th and 5th. On lap six the caution flags appeared as Cripps spun at Paddock bend (possibly after contact from another competitor) and was collected by the hapless Johnson. The safety car quickly picked up Birley who again saw his advantage shrink, with Bradley closing the 3 second gap. On the re-start Birley timed it well, but Bradley hung on closing in the corners. Despite a slow puncture and vibration the Escort driver held on to take the win by 1.1 seconds. Bradley was delighted to take the runner up spot, also winning class B. Sidwell set the fastest lap en route to completing the podium. De’Ath was slightly subdued in 4th but had enough pace to beat Watson. Nick Sutton almost got past the orange BMW on the last lap. Bassett completed his giant killing day by taking 7th and winning the tin tops, with Tester showing his class in 8th.

Scott drove well from the back of the grid to take 9th after sparring with Angell for a few laps. Ken could not quite catch Charlton, as the Seat driver took T1 honours again. Graham Richardson (Honda Civic) moved through to 12th at the expense of Collar who picked up a ten second penalty. This also dropped him behind Dann. Stone won class D, cheekily getting ahead of Jeremy Sutton who was on unsuitable rubber. Seale, Whitehead, Hunt and Massonetto completed the finishers as MacKenzie retired his BMW.

The live TV coverage, courtesy of the BRSCC, was well received and now the teams have just two weeks before it all happens again this time at Silverstone.

Thank you Martin Stitchener for the photos.

May be an image of car and outdoors


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