Brands Hatch report

It was back to Brands Hatch for the super saloons and tin tops, but this time on the Indy circuit. It was disappointing to see a low entry for both series, especially as the Tin Tops were having a stand-alone pit stop race. An idea for a time handicap in the pit stops was dismissed, so a compulsory two minute stop was employed for everyone.
Qualifying for the super saloons saw 14 cars take to the track with Adrian Bradley (not Andrew as on TSL) setting the pace in his BMW E46. Initially Rod Birley was second in his E36, but then Alex Sidwell got his Holden Commodore into its stride and ended up just 0.183 of a second behind Adrian. Next to Birley in third would be Clive Haynesford with his Mazda RX8 running as a guest entry. Fifth quickest was Martin Reynolds in his Mk.2 Ford Escort and Mark Cripps (BMW M3) should have been alongside, except a misfire meant he was a non-starter. Next up were a trio of BMWs headed by Peter Seldon in his class D E36 (not Sheldon), Andrew McKenzie in his class A E46 V8 and Ronan Bradley class B E36. Dave Avis was tenth in his VW Golf followed by Martyn Scott (VW Golf), Jacques Whitehead (BMW M3) and Lee Cleugh (Audi TT). Andy Woods-Dean had another troubled time with his Holden Commodore managing just one lap. He also withdrew, whilst Whitehead missed the first race.
The rolling start saw Bradley head the field into Paddock Bend, with Birley sneaking past Sidwell into second. At the end of the first lap Sidwell used the V8 power to regain second place. On lap two Sidwell did the same to Bradley and took the lead. From there on the big Aussie V8 gapped the red BMW by nearly five seconds after nine laps. This shrunk a bit over the closing laps, but it was still 2.5 seconds at the chequered flag. Birley was holding onto third spot, but coming under pressure from Reynolds who really had his Escort on song. It was only in the last 3 laps that the black BMW edged clear. Haynesford was fourth for the first 5 laps, but once Reynolds got past he slipped back towards the battling duo of Seldon and Ronan Bradley. Again these two were initially behind McKenzie, but he retired on lap 5. The two BMWs caught the Mazda on lap 12. Seldon got by on lap 14, whilst Ronan did the pair of them on lap 17. So behind Reynolds (who won class C) the order was Ronan Bradley, Seldon (winning class D) and then Haynesford. A terrific scrap between Scott and Avis just went in Martyn’s favour, although Dave got the Caesar electrical driver of the race award. Cleugh completed the ten finishers.
Race two saw Sidwell lead away with Adrian Bradley slipping into second and Birley in third. The two leaders quickly drew away, whilst Birley had Reynolds for company again. Initially it looked like Sidwell was in control as he opened up a 2.5 second gap, but then Adrian started to close up, By lap 8 it was less than a second and the next five laps saw the two cars nose to tail. On lap 14 the decisive move was made at Clearways and the E46 took the lead. It stayed close right to the end, but Adrian took the win with Alex a very close second. Birley was hounded by Reynolds for the whole race and it was equally close, as just 0.7 of a second separated them. The next battle was for fifth as Ronan Bradley and Seldon renewed their tussle, with Seldon getting the upper hand this time. Haynesford found his Mazda losing power , but carried on to take 7th and the driver of the race award. Avis got past Scott on lap 3 and steadily pulled clear to take second in class D. Behind Scott it was Whitehead, with Cleugh again completing the finishers. McKenzie dropped out as his misfire returned. Despite the small numbers it was an entertaining pair of races.
The tin tops sadly did not have many cars for their annual pit stop race. The duo of Chris Bassett and Tom Burgess easily out qualified everyone with their rapid Peugeot, posting a time nearly two seconds quicker than Bob Hosier in his Seat. Steve Everson and Adam Harding (Citroen Saxo) just pipped Ken Angell and Rod Birley (BMW 328) for third, but at least these three cars were close together on time. Next up were Graham Richardson and Steve Dann in a Honda Civic followed by Alex Baldwin and Sam Heywood who were the leading TP runners in a Ford Fiesta. Rick Skelsey qualified his BMW Compact in 7th, with returnee Alex Quach-Tea (Citroen Saxo) in 8th . Then came Ian Seale, newcomer Reeve Robinson and James Seale (all three in TP class Fiestas). Sadly James became a non-starter as the clutch gave up, but fortunately Terry Waller joined in as he qualified out of session with his Fiesta.
The rolling start saw the Peugeot 308 scurry off, as it edged clear from a close battle for second between Hosier, Birley and Everson. This trio put on a good display of close racing, which continued after the pit stops. With Burgess and Bassett serenely on their way to victory, Angell emerged in second place, with Harding and Hosier in pursuit. Gradually the white Saxo reeled in the BMW, taking second place on lap 25. Hosier then closed in, grabbing third place at Clearways on lap 29 (this was also the lead in T1). A lap down in fifth were Richardson and Dann after a fairly lonely race, although they did receive the AFR media driver of the race award. This was for their near perfect pit stop, taking just 0.3 of a second over the two minutes. Sixth place, and TP winners, went to Haywood and Baldwin followed by Waller (who was second in T2). Ian Seale got the better of Quach-Tea for 8th, whilst Skelsey was a retirement and Robinson was not classified after a very long pit stop.
Sadly it is unlikely that the pit stop will be repeated again, but both categories return to Brands Hatch on September 16th when they will be running on a combined grid.

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