Brands Hatch GP – 18 August 2018 Race Report

Posted on: August 21st 2018    •    Posted in: Race Results

Brands Hatch – the GP circuit. Excellent for spectators, who can stand in the trees right by the track walls, and fantastic for drivers. This is why Sports 2000 picks its own tracks. A 23 car entry list saw the return of familiar faces including Nick Bacon, Olivier Kirten and Chris Snowdon – old friends bringing their toys out to play on a rare opportunity to enjoy this drivers’ favourite.

Another standout on the entry list was John Owen in an MCR. The former Fox/Lola racer spent the weekend getting used to his new car, this weekend being Part One of some shuffling that’ll eventually see Our Dear Leader back in Duratec – comments coming from him saying something along the lines of “needing the extra horsepower to escape my wife” as age slows him down. Ask around and someone might give you odds on Mira chasing him down in a Gunn next season.

Other changes since Castle Combe included the return of John Deane-Bowers, back in the paddock but nursing mechanical problems with both his car and his knee. Agi’s suspect bottom end troubles – stop laughing – was cured by adding less oil. His stepped sump meant his Castle Combe oil levels under-read dramatically, but he was back in the paddock brandishing a huge photo of his Royale at Oulton Park and looking very proud of himself. He managed to get it home without anyone resting a cup of tea on it as well – a genuine feat.

Qualifying gave us a 2018 first. Other than Agi – as usual – ending up “on Pole for happiness”, the Duratec pole went to someone other than Tom Stoten for the first time this year. Fresh from facing disqualification from Formula Student Germany at Hockenheim, Michael Gibbins stuck the blue #76 MCR on pole by almost a second. Stoten put his Gunn second ahead of Josh Law – who had his silencer fall off early on but somehow managed to avoid the double threat of being black flagged and underweight. For once, local residents who knowingly bought a house near a racing circuit might have legitimate reasons to make noise complaints.

Once again, the Pintos were left chasing Paul Streat. He’s clearly managed to make a Duratec fit in a Pinto’s block, but nobody’s been able to work out how yet. One for the end of year dinner speech, that… Chris Snowdon’s return to the paddock paid off as he inherited Jonathan Loader’s title of fastest Historic, putting his Tiga SC80 second in Pinto.

Post-qualifying, the drivers had their eyes on the skies – not just because the nearby Biggin Hill airshow gave us fly-bys from a Chinook and the Red Arrows, but because the clouds were getting lower and greyer. Colin was convinced he could already see rain through the trees, but Roger Donnan was more hopeful, the wettest thing around being the copious amount of tea going down in the hospitality tent.

 

RACE

Thankfully, the gloomy skies held their water for the green flag lap. Even so, Tom Stoten spun his rear wheels up off the line and letting Row 2’s Josh Law and Dominic Lesniewski past him on the run through Paddock Hill bend in a spectacular three-wide moment. In his defence, the start/finish straight at Brands combines a curve, a gradient and some serious camber, but still, Stoten had given himself work to do.

Lap 1’s standout move happened further back – a stunning move right around the outside of Pinto poleman Paul Streat saw Chris Snowdon stick his Historic Tiga SC80 inside for Graham Hill Bend and into the class lead. After the race, Paul admitted even he was impressed by the effort.

As the field fired their way into the woods right by the spectator areas on Brands’ stunning GP loop, Gibbins held the overall lead and Snowdon was still in front of Streat, who had another Historic Tiga with Clive Steeper at the wheel right behind him. Stoten worked his way past Law at the tail end of Lap 1 and was immediately right up onto Lesniewski for second overall – a position he took with a ballsy move around the outside at Paddock Hill, which kept the crowd happy. Further back, David Houghton got his MCR past Nick Bacon’s Gunn and tried to hang onto the back of the leading pack.

Snowdon’s lead survived the second lap, but Pinto action further back saw Agi put his Royale ahead of Mira Feyerabend’s Tiga for bragging rights – and, knowing Agi, a huge grin. It wouldn’t last though – Mira managed to find a way past on Lap 3 and set about defending by going faster, building herself a cushion. By this point, Gibbins was 3.2 seconds clear of Stoten, both men setting almost identical times on Lap 3.

As the first lap battles bled into the race’s rhythm, Mike Fry had his Lola T86/90 parked right under the gearbox of Richard Cooke’s similar car in what would become the closest gap of the race. Now clear of Bacon’s Gunn, David Houghton was pushing very hard, almost on terms with the Lesniewski and Law, a good few tenths a lap faster but bringing Tim Tudor with him.

The frontrunners were working their way through the Pintos by Lap 6, but clean moves and Brands’ width kept both the Duratec and Pinto battles relatively unaffected. In fact, the top three Pintos (with Snowdon now second to Streat’s Lola but holding off Mike Dodd’s Historic Tiga SC79) were still ahead of John Owen’s new MCR overall, the former Fox/Lola racer conservatively getting used to his new car.

Less conservative were Tudor and Bacon – contact at Druids spun Tudor round in front of the Duratec pack. A sensible wait and a three point turn later, the university-run MCR was facing the right way and back on the pace, albeit down in tenth. Both cars nursed cosmetic damage but the stewards declared it a racing incident and no action was taken.

Mike Fry, Richard Cooke and Clive Steeper were keeping the crowd’s attention as they lapped seemingly as one, Steeper looking like the fastest and intent on passing both men in front.  Lesniewski’s promising race ended early on Lap 12 – the MCR racer retiring from third with clutch issues and scattering Law, Houghton, Tudor and Bacon as all four passed him every which way coming out of Graham Hill Bend. Behind them in Duratec, Peter Williams was eyeing up a move on Peter Brouwer’s Lola and Clive Steeper had threaded his way through the Pinto pack.

Historics once again proved themselves more than a match for Pinto overall honours; Chris Snowdon ran his nose inside Streat up the hill into Druids but couldn’t hold the position, and Streat led the pair as they exited Graham Hill. With the race now past half distance, Gibbins was managing an overall lead of around 3 seconds through traffic and closing in on the much closer Pinto lead battle – Snowdon still within striking distance of Streat but unable to pass. The crowd were also treated to a genuine Duratec/Pinto race, as Streat’s pace was good enough to keep John Owen honest in his MCR with eight minutes remaining.

With seven minutes left, Bacon’s quiet recovery drive from the incident with Tudor had him within striking distance of Law and Houghton, who were slowing each other down fighting for third overall. Law was clearly struggling in the faster corners and lost out to Houghton across the start/finish line – the two men now mired in traffic, splitting the battle as both had to pick their way through squabbling Pinto runners.

The final laps saw Owen, Streat and Dodd all put in their personal fastest times – no point in saving it all for a big finish but finishing before you use it. Stoten also clocked a 1:29.790 – the only driver to get under 1:30 and slashing Gibbins’ lead from 3.2 seconds to under 2. Gibbins had clearly read the racing rulebooks as he later used some excuse about tyres – not bad, but not as good as Snowdon and Our Leader Colin blaming fuel starvation for their fading efforts late on – Snowdon luckily holding second in Pinto overall and first in Historic by 0.86 seconds across the line.

And that was that – the strict 18:30 noise curfew at Brands bringing the day to an end. Full results for qualifying and the race are here thanks to TSL Timing, and galleries of the day’s action will be up courtesy of our official photographer Kevin Gibson. The next round for Pinto runners will be the annual trip abroad – this time it’s a Pinto-only run to our French neighbours for a historic festival at Le Mans from 7-9 September – before the whole championship returns to Silverstone for the next enduro round on 22-23 September. Thanks to everyone involved, and see you next time.

View the lap times and results here

As usual the very best of the racing was captured by the camera of Kevin Gibson. Don’t forget to visit his website kjgphotography.co.uk to see even more action shots!

 


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