Brands Hatch Report – 12/13 November 2022 by Lee

The final rounds of all three series were at Brands Hatch at the weekend. It was unseasonably mild weather that greeted the full grid of super saloons and tin tops on Saturday. The qualifying session was only ten minutes, as the timetable had to be concluded before darkness arrived. This meant it was a fairly frantic period and it was not until the last minute that Rod Birley emerged quickest in his Ford Escort WRC. Second quickest was Michael Eustace in his BMW, followed by three more BMWs in the hands of Ronan Bradley (fastest in class B), Peter Seldon (fastest in class D) and Paul Watson. Next up was the quickest tin top in the hands of Chris Bassett (Peugeot 306) followed by the series most successful driver this year Martin Reynolds (Mk.2 Ford Escort). Dave Hutchins lined up 8th in his T2 Honda Civic, then came four Volkswagens in the hands of Martyn Scott, Adrian Bradley (not in his usual BMW), Chris Adams and Steve Dann. The rest of the qualifiers are here: Saloon Tin Tops Classification (

Race one saw Birley take the initial lead, but a forceful lunge by Eustace going into Clearways saw him emerge in front. Birley clung on and looked for a run on the outside of Brabham straight, but the gap was not there. These two soon pulled away from Ronan Bradley who had Bassett cheekily snapping at his heels. Watson moved into fourth on lap two and then Seldon got past the white Peugeot. Just as things started to settle down the safety car appeared after Callum Perfect had a major off at Clearways. On lap 9 the track was clear and the two leaders were quickly into their stride pulling out a 5 second gap to Bradley. Ronan had Watson close on his heels and on lap 13 Paul got by. On the next lap Ronan got it all wrong at Graham Hill bend and beached his BMW in the gravel. Luckily he was far enough away from the track, so the race continued. With Seldon now fourth and Bassett fifth this is how the top five finished.

Further back there were battles galore and plenty of place changing and movers. Chris Whiteman climbed from 14th to take sixth. Jacques Whitehead went from 13th to 7th and Dann went from 12th to 8th. Hutchins came home 9th from a fast closing Dave Cowan (BMW) who went from 24th to 10th and took the Caesar electrical driver of the race award. Chris Adams was 11th overall and first of the classic VWs, as Graham Richardson (T1 Honda Civic) just held off fellow T1 driver Ken Angell who had started back in 33rd. Donald Dewar was second in the VW class with Mason Parker winning TH. Alex Baldwin got the measure of James and Ian Seale in class TP, with Alex Martin (Citroen Saxo) just beating Jon Wild (Fiesta XR2) to T3 honours. Notable retirements were Martin Reynolds, Martyn Scott, Peter Osborne and the unfortunate Bradley and Perfect.

Race two followed a similar pattern to race one, with Birley trying to out drag Eustace at the start. Again the silver BMW was soon ahead and that was it really. Birley clung onto second from a fast closing Watson, although it transpired that Rod had a slow puncture on the left rear tyre. Bassett made his usual quick start, but once the slick tyred cars got into their stride he fell back to fifth. Seldon had a fairly lonely run in fourth, as all eyes focused on Ronan Bradley’s charge through the field. He made it up to sixth which earnt him the driver of the race award. Seventh place went to Whiteman getting into his stride as the day progressed, whilst Cowan,  Whitehead and Dann had an entertaining battle over 8th finishing in that order. Hutchins was the first lapped runner in 11th  as Adams again took the classic VW class.

Martyn Scott and Adrian Bradley made good progress in their VW Golf’s, whilst the battle for T1 honours got a little bit too close according to the marshals. Subsequently Richardson was dropped behind Angell by the addition of a small time penalty. Baldwin had James Seale push him all the way in class TP, with Mason Parker again taking the TH class. The rest of the finishers comprised Steven Watson (VW Scirocco), Ian Seale, T3 winner Alex Martin, Chris Burley (Fiesta) and newcomer Alex Quach-Tea (Saxo). Heroic work by Callum Perfect’s team saw him start race two, but sadly he did not finish, whilst Dewar and Wild also joined him on the side-lines.

A rather unsavoury post-race incident in the paddock resulted in two drivers being disqualified from the meeting. Suffice to say that we are unable to comment pending further investigations.

On Sunday it was the turn of the Avon Tyres/Image Wheels intermarque silhouettes to conclude their season. Watching the action was Daniel Smith, who has been the series most successful driver this year. Ironically his brother Lewis, driving a similar Mercedes SLK took pole position, with Steve Burrows just edging out fellow Vauxhall driver Malcolm Blackman for second. Lining up next to the red No.91 car would be the white version of Ian Hales. Eric Boulton put his Tigra into fifth with Colin Smith alongside, this time driving his Ginetta. Paul Knight was quickest senior runner in 7th followed by Dave York, Phil Spinks and Philip Young. The rest of the grid is here:  suffice to say it was pleasing to see some new drivers, notably Russell Humphrey, Gavin Bristow (all the way from the USA), Joe Jackson and a returning Paul Cocksedge.

With Fabio Luffarelli electing to start his motorcycle engine Corrado from the back of the grid, it was the usual race one charge to the first corner. Burrows bravely went around the outside of Lewis to emerge in front. It all looked good for the blue Tigra, until Steve slid wide going through Clearways on lap two. In an instant he fell back to 7th place. This left Blackman in the lead, but with Lewis Smith in close pursuit. These two edged away from Hales, who was reasonably safe in third. Boulton had York for company and they were soon joined by the recovering Burrows. In the end Steve found a way past both of them, but he had to settle for fourth. Colin Smith was going well in 7th, then the safety car appeared in order for Bristow’s car to be removed, as it had stopped on the approach to Druids.

Just prior to the safety car intervention Lewis Smith had snatched he lead going into Paddock Bend, whilst Mick Robertson had just got past Knight to take the lead in the senior class. The re-start saw Lewis nearly pass the safety car, such was his keenness to get away. Blackman got his head down and slowly closed the gap, setting the fastest lap in his pursuit. It was to no avail as the white Mercedes took the chequered flag. Hales was good for third, followed by Burrows, Boulton and York. Colin Smith retired on lap 11, but everyone else (except Bristow) made it to the finish. Robertson came home 7th winning the senior class from Knight, then came Young, Spinks and Humphrey all in close coming with Russell receiving the driver of the race award. Aprigliano impressively moved up to 12th from last on the grid, with Jon Price just getting the better of Kurt Russell. Luffarelli sneaked in 15th after getting past John Steward, who was going well in Ricky Hunn’s Ford Fiesta (instead of his usual Mercedes). Jackson and Cocksedge completed the finishers.

Race two saw Robertson on pole position, after the partially reversed grid draw. The first lap was slightly chaotic as approaching the start Hales went wide at Clearways and slid into the gravel. The safety car reappeared momentarily as Ian extricated himself and joined  in at the back. The re-start still saw Robertson in the lead, but the fast starting Lewis Smith was ahead by lap 3. Blackman took a lap longer to reach second place and the gap to Lewis was now three seconds. However, the chase was on and gradually the gap came down to just over a second at the end of lap 11. Then the red Tigra slowed at Paddock bend and pulled off with suspected gearbox issues. This left Lewis with a ten second gap back to Boulton, who nevertheless was going well and holding off an in form York. Also missing was Burrows, who sadly had collided with Robertson at Graham Hill bend. Burrows retired whilst Mick re-joined back at the tail of the field. This handed the senior class lead to Knight and this result proved crucial in the final tally.

So the race ran out with a comfortable win for Lewis Smith. Both Boulton and York seemed very pleased with second and third. Knight came home fourth holding off an impressive charge from Young, which gave Philip alias Mr. Cheese (driving the oldest car on grid) a well-deserved driver of the race award. Spinks, Humphrey and Hales finished in close formation, with Aprigliano going well again in 9th. Robertson recovered to tenth, still smiling despite the spin, followed by Steward, Jackson and Price.

Hopefully we will all get to see the drivers, mechanics and helpers at the awards night on January 21st, when some impressive prizes are due to be dished out. Next year’s calendar is taking shape, with all three series due to visit at least one new circuit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *