BRANDS HATCH THIS WEEKEND
The BRSCC South Eastern Centre returns to Brands Hatch this weekend for only the second time this season. The ‘Saab City’ sponsored race meeting features a total of 19 races over the two days including six different Caterham championships, the Competition Car Insurance/Dunlop Ford Fiesta Championship, the Alfashop Alfa Romeo Championship and Formula Ford 1600’s
Topping the Caterham bill is the Bookatrack.com Superlight R300 Championship. Trevor Fowell heads the points table and is consistently the fastest man on the track with three lap records from four circuits already this year. But it doesn’t mean his distinctive red and yellow Fauldsport car is always at the front, having won only two of the eight encounters. Behind him in the points is McMillan Motorsport’s Andy McMillan. McMillan is more often than not in the runner-up spot, pushing the victor, whoever that may be, to the line. It’s a surprise he hasn’t graced the top step more frequently this year.
In the Avon Tyres backed Caterham Supersport Championship James MacLachlan is a permanent feature of the podium’s top step this year, until the last race when Rob Smith finally overhauled the immaculate blue DPR Motorsport car to take a well deserved victory. However, with second-place and a point for fastest lap, it was hardly a disaster for MacLachlan who has a strong lead over the PIM Racing driver. Nathan Lindop is neck-a-neck with Smith on points, but without the tie-breaking advantage of the win, has to make do with third in the table.
Both of Caterham’s Roadsport A and Roadsport B championships are also backed by Avon Tyres and both will turn-out impressive grids this weekend. It’s tight at the top of Roadsport-A table, very tight. Taking the dropped scores into account, and the chief protagonists all have poor results to drop, just a single point separates the top three, with the lead pair level. Graham Johnson has the advantage, heading the total point tally and with two wins to his name, the tie-break advantage over Fauldsport’s Jamie Orton. The bright orange wheels of Johnson’s white car and the lime-green and black machine of Orton makes the pair unmistakeable.
Amazingly, just four points separate the top four drivers in Roadsport B, yet in some ways this weekend’s results are will be almost secondary to what happens with the lap record here at Brands, as this is the first visit to a circuit that the current specification of Roadsport-B (powered by the Ford Sigma engine) also raced at in 2009. At that time, Trevor Fowell and Paul Brannan took the wins, but Gordon Sawyer set the lap record (and missed out on the title at the end of the year by the narrowest of margins). The trio have since moved up into R300 and continue to be rapid amongst the very best competition Caterham has to offer, with Fowell leading the title chase. This makes Brands, although more than halfway through the season, the first benchmark for this year’s contenders to judge themselves against.
Rounding off the Caterham portfolio is the Pistonheads.com Caterham Academy Championship which is a unique series exclusively for novice drivers. So successful has the formula been that in the last fifteen years, nearly 750 ordinary people have become racing drivers through the Caterham Academy and each year, two identical Academy championships (Gp1 and Gp2) are run in parallel to cater for the demand.
On the subject of excellent grids the Competition Car Insurance/Dunlop Ford Fiesta Championship is a welcome addition to the meeting, especially with the large number of drivers they bring to the party. Such is the popularity of the ST class that they have been allocated their own races, with the Si & Zetec classes running together. Jeremy Gumbley leads the ST’s closely pursued by the Scalextric sponsored Mark Tilbury. It’s a family affair in the Si and Zetec classes – Ed Cockill leads the former while brother Harry is a top the former.
More tin-top action can be found in the Alfashop Alfa Romeo Championship where dropped scores are coming into play. This is to the advantage of Chris Healey who leads the championship by 7 points in his GTV from Andy Inman’s 156. This weekend should see the return of Tim Lewis with his supercharged Alfasud Sprint and, if all goes well, there will the long awaited contest between Tim and Neil Smith's ex WTCC 156. Tim and Neil were both winners here in 2009, so are well accustomed to racing on the Brands Indy circuit.
Single-seater racing this weekend is provided by Formula Ford with two different series out on the track. In the Avon Tyres Southern Formula Ford Championship Jordan Skinner is proving the man to beat in but Thomas Barrow, Joe Walton and Adam Quartermaine are looking to take the top spot for themselves and ensure the young Australian will not have it all his own way.
Regular Formula Ford 1600 action has returned to Brands Hatch this season by way of the four-round Champion of Brands series. The popular series will see its final race of the season take place this weekend, before the focus of FF1600 activity at Brands Hatch prepares to switch towards October's BRSCC Formula Ford Festival. As a series, no championship points are awarded to competitors. Emphasis is on victory, with the race winner becoming known as the 'Champion of Brands'.