BRANDS HATCH WEEKEND BRINGS SEVENS HEAVEN


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Chris Hutchinson's first win in 4 years came on Saturday – before misfortune befell him on Sunday – Photo: SnappyRacers

The BRSCC South Eastern Centre’s second race meeting of the season took place over the weekend of June 3-4 with a 15-race programme (reduced from 16) billed as the BRSCC Caterham Race Weekend, as usual over Brands Hatch’s 1.208 mile Indy Circuit. Both mornings dawned overcast, but we had two rain-free days.

It was Caterhams that kicked off the weekend’s race action with a 30-minute race for the ALACO Motorsport Logistics Caterham Seven 270Rs. Columbian driver, but London resident Daniel Quintero adding to his points tally ahead of Londoner Alan Cooper and fellow title protagonist Russ Olivant from Rickmansworth. Sunday’s programme-opening race saw the top two placings reversed, with Olivant once again third.

Thirty minutes was the scheduled duration of the ITC Compliance Caterham Supersport Championship race, but a Red Flag saw a 15-minute rerun. Pulborough’s Chris Hutchinson took a comfortable victory from London’s Christian Szaruta, with erstwhile championship leader Mike Evans a mere 24 thousandths adrift. A late clash in the second race on Sunday between Hutchinson and Leeds’ Henry Heaton saw the pair in the Paddock Hill Bend kitty litter and a Code 60 neutralisation, which went Green Flag to allow a dash to the flag, won by Tim Dickens from Szaruta and Londoner Dan Gore.

The ITC Compliance Caterham Seven 310Rs was another race scheduled for 30 minutes, but a first lap Red Flag saw a rerun over 20 minutes. Local man Lee Bristow from Aylesford finished a fair way ahead of Billingshurst’s Alistair Calvert, with a five-second track limits penalty adding to Leicester’s Alexander Koeberle’s race time, but not affecting his race position. Late on Sunday evening, however, Calvert was excluded from the second race.

Sunday’s second outing ran for its full 30 minutes, with Bristow claiming another win. McCulley and Koeberle swapped their eventual earlier race placings. Sir Chris Hoy looked set to finish well up the order but tangled with Twickenham’s Donald Henshaw, with Henshaw subsequently excluded from the results for his part in the incident.

The first of three scheduled 20-minute Avon Tyres Caterham Roadsports races was another that failed to run to its full duration, with a Red Flag thrown following heavy impact along Brabham Straight and barrier damage. Another local man, Pete Walters from Orpington, was well clear of Dublin’s Jay McCormack and Maidenhead’s Tom John.

With final entry numbers not requiring a third race to ensure all cars had two races, Sunday’s second outing was scheduled to be the last race before lunch. Contact along Cooper Straight saw further barrier damage, with Clerk of the Course Peter Daly declaring an early lunch break, placing the cars in parc fermé on the grid. A 15-minute rerun saw Walters claim another comfortable victory from Hinkley’s Ben Gillias, with John taking another third place.

The need for Rescue Unit intervention and barrier repairs meant that the traditional FunCup Grid Walk had to be cancelled, with the need to complete the work resulting in the four-hour race being trimmed by a handful of minutes to ensure it finished before the 18.30 ‘curfew’. With two cars off on the opening lap and a resultant Safety Car intervention, it looked as though the event would be littered with such interruptions, but thankfully there were only three more, with the final one, with some 40 minutes to run, ensuring an exciting run to the flag and pit stop tactics.

The #251 Marcus Clutton entry (Peter Belshaw/Clutton) showed blistering race pace, despite a splitter-damaging off along Brabham Straight and proved impossible to catch in the closing stages. Behind the lead car, the experienced Anthony Reid tried hard to get the #101 Paul Wighton car (Reid/Wighton/Harry Mailer/Jake Rattenbury) ahead of the #1 JPR Uvio entry (Graham Roberts/Farquini Deott), but didn’t get the rub of the green lapping back markers.

Just racing on Sunday were the Track Attack Race Club categories, with a mix of MR2 Classic, Nippon Challenge, Tricolore Trophy and Multi Marques runners. Basildon’s Lee Gillard took overall victory in the first 15-minute race, despite running the last handful of laps some five seconds of early race pace. Portsmouth’s Adam Lockwood was leading MR2 entrant, ahead of Arron Pullan.

A Code 60 slowed the Track Attack field’s second outing, with Gillard managing to run the non-neutralised laps at a more respectable pace than earlier in the day. Pullan improved to second, with Basingstoke’s Sam Maher-Loughran’s MR2 third.

London’s Tim Davis looked set to romp away with the first 20-minute Dunlop TVR encounter, having qualified his Tuscan well clear of the field, but pitted at the end of the Green Flag lap to emerge late in the race. In his absence, Henley On Thames’ Jason Clegg’s Tuscan Speed Six was the best part of a lap clear of Swinton’s Darren Smith, with Saffron Walden’s Alan Jones’ Sagaris in third. Despite starting at the rear of the field, Davis had managed to get to the front by the time the cars reached Paddock Hill Bend on lap two of the second outing, all but lapping the field. Clegg took second with Smith third.

Joining the Caterham ‘circus’ for the Sunday were the CAR Magazine Caterham Academy Championship entrants, facing their first-ever race meeting, following sprints at Aintree and Curborough. Split into ‘Green’ and ‘White’ Groups, both grids had 15-minute outings. In the Green corner, Stevenage’s Daniel French won the Aintree Sprint, and claimed the race win ahead of local man Graham Macdonald from Birling and Londoner James Murphy. Macdonald was having a break from his day job as CEO of Caterham Cars!

The White Group’s sprint outings had seen a pair of victories for Ash Vale’s Andy Morgan and he made it a hat trick with an assured win following a Code 60 intervention, ahead of Northwich’s Tom Grensinger and Medstead’s Oli Pratt.

Saturday’s marshalling numbers were boosted by a several Academy runners who were taking advantage of the facility to gain a licence upgrade signature by spending a day on post. Among those was Green Race podium man James Murphy, following in the footsteps of father Robin, a regular marshalling volunteer a couple of decades or more ago before taking on circuit commentary duties and spending some time managing motor sport activities at Brands Hatch. It was good to welcome Robin back to the track to witness James’ exploits.

The BRSCC SE Centre returns to Brands Hatch together with HQ over the weekend of October 21-22 for the Formula Ford Festival.

Click here for the BRANDS HATCH RESULTS (http://www.tsl-timing.com/event/172231)

COLIN MANN