EXAM TIME FOR ACADEMISTS
This weekend has been a long time coming for the Caterham Academy class of 2011. Having gone through all the tuition, theory, tests and sprints, the 52 students of this season’s intake will finally get their chance to take part in their first ever race – and there’s no better place to make your debut than Brands Hatch!
The two Autosport backed Academy races, for groups 1 & 2, are part of a 20 race programme over Saturday & Sunday. In Group 1 Elliott Norris was the ‘King of the Sprints’ but previous holders of this prestigious moniker have not always fared so well when it comers to circuit racing. In Group 2, local man Andy Welch leads the points table but he didn’t have it all his own way in the sprint discipline. Brad Smith and David Robinson both beat him in the final sprint and are his closest challengers.
Saturday’s race schedule gets underway after lunch with a 20 minute race for the BRSCC Euro Saloon & Sports Car Championship. The eclectic mixture of cars competing in the championship always make for an interesting race and with another strong grid of 26 cars tomorrow should be no different. Richard Hawken’s Nissan Primera Super Tourer leads the way and Richard will be out to impress his sponsors, Charles Trent Ltd, who are coming to support him.
The season started for the Dunlop TVR Challenge two weeks ago at Snetterton but all didn’t go according to plan with several cars having gearbox problems. This weekend’s double header will be a re-match between Class A protagonists Hugh Marshall and Jamie Golby, who enjoyed a Battle Royal at Snett with a win a piece.
The Academy isn’t the only Caterham representation at Brands this weekend as there are also races for the Avon Tyres backed Supersport and Roadsport championships. The Supersports will enjoy more track time than any other championship with three 30 minutes races. However, to accommodate all 37 entries they will be split into three groups with each one racing twice. Lee Wiggins comes to his local and favourite circuit with a slim lead and will be cheered on by a hospitality suite full of friends and sponsors.
The Caterham Roadsports employ a similar group system and the three races will have something of an orange hue with nine drivers from the Holland Supersports series joining the fray. Mike Hart will be determined to make amends for last year’s Brands disappointment when he lost out to current leader Wes Fox in the Steward’s room after having taken the chequered flag in the Academy season decider.
The close racing that is the hallmark of Mighty Minis makes them popular wherever they go and there is no better place to watch their door-to-door dicing than Brands Hatch. The points leader is Ade Tuckley but he is being stiffly challenged by 2010 champion Louise Inch and Scottish duo Michael Dryden and Peter Tervet. In the Supers, Elliot Stafford has been the star of the show so far with two wins from four but Pat Ford put an end to Elliot’s ‘Vettel’ like charge with a win at Snett.
The BRSCC OSS Championship arrives at Brands for rounds 5 & 6 of the 2011 championship, with all last season’s class winners back for more. 2010 overall champion Tony Sinclair is again leading the table in his Jade 3, but Graham Cole’s Jade Trackstar is making him fight every inch of the way. Andy Kimpton completes a trio of Jades occupying the first three positions.
Another 2010 champion who has started the season where they left off is Mel Healey in the BRSCC Alfashop Alfa Romeo Championship. Mel has a class win and three second places to her name so far giving the Sutton racer a 14 point lead over Steve Dymoke’s 156.
Putting in a guest performance at this weekends meeting, from the BARC South East stable, is the Dunlop Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship, which will have a double header on Sunday. Brands Hatch legend Rod Birley will be determined to put an end to the 100% record of Wickford racer Darren Bly, who has won all four races in his dramatically fast Nissan Skyline.
The Academy, Alfa, Mighty Minis, TVR and Dunlop MN Saloons races are being filmed on Sunday and will feature in Sky Sports’ ‘Racemax’ show next month, as well as on You Tube and Motors TV.