FUN IN THE SUN!


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Team Racelogic's Nigel Greensall (#1) makes a move on the Global Racing car #188. Photo: Gary Hawkins

The BRSCC South Eastern Centre's first race meeting of the season took place June 20 with a slim, five-race programme featuring three categories, as usual over Brands Hatch's 1.199 mile Indy Circuit. A week of warm muggy weather suggested that the weekend might see the chance of rain, which pretty much held off until early evening.

The annual visit of the FunCup was at the heart of the meeting, with an hour-long qualifying session preceded by sessions for the Avon Tyres Formula Ford 1600 National & Triple Crown Championship and the Pirelli Ferrari formula classic series.

The former got the morning's racing underway, with a pleasingly healthy grid of 18 cars battling over 20 minutes for the first of the Avon Tyres & Triple Crown double-headers. This was FF1600 at its best, with wheel-to-wheel action and a multi-car train at the head of the field. Belfast's Jonny McMullan's Van Diemen LA10 took the flag ahead of Sowerby man Luke Williams' Ray GR13 and Rixton's David McArthur's Van Diemen LA10. The results were finalised in the third amended bulletin, following a series of exclusions, appeals and reinstatements involving erstwhile championship leader Patrick Dussault and Chris Middlehurst.

Pole-sitter Gary Culver's 328 GTB took a comfortable victory in the first Pirelli Ferrari formula classic race, the East Chinnock man's cause being aided when James Cartwright's 328 GTB slid off at Paddock Hill Bend in the closing stages. Morton's Tim Walker and Newark man Darren Wilson completed the podium in their similar cars.

The second FF1600 qualifier kicked of the afternoon proceedings, and was a relatively tame affair in comparison. McMullan made it two from two, with St Helens' Middlehurst, a DNF in race one, fighting through from the back in his Mygale GV15K to take second, with Dinslaughlin's Stephen Daly, who had finished down the order in the earlier race following a Clearways excursion, keeping it on the grey stuff to claim third in his Ray GR11. Quebec man Dussault's weekend of woe included a 10s out of position time penalty. All in all, a nice appetiser for the Formula Ford Festival in October.

The second Ferrari race saw the same top two, with Kings Lynn's Peter Everingham taking third in his 328 GTB. Cartwright and Wilson's race ended rather abruptly on lap 2.

And so to the meat of the meeting, the four-hour FunCup mini-enduro. Although the hour-long qualification session had established the likely front-runners, the grid draw format means that there are always likely to be faster cars seeking to move up the order at an early stage. This indeed proved to be the case as early as lap 3, when the #99 Geometric car at the hands of Stephen Johansen tried an over-ambitious manoeuvre on the #61 Eco Racing Hubris entry, bringing out the first Safety Car of the afternoon, and destined not to be the last!

The first opening of the Pit Stop window coincided with the second Safety Car to retrieve the # 92 MCAC car from Clark Curve, with the track magically emptying and the pits filling up. As the race went Green, the #262 Track Focused car – yet to pit – led from #1 Racelogic.

Starring at an early stage was multiple Brands Mazda winner Tom Roche at the wheel of the #125 JPR – Isla car, with the team set to benefit from Stop-Go penalties for the #1 and #262 cars.

The race's third Safety Car was called when the #207 Mark Burton car spun at Paddock Hill Bend, collecting Anthony Reid in the #195 PW Racing entry, which made its way back to the pits for extensive repairs.

With Nigel Greensall at the wheel of the # 1 Racelogic car, it was climbing its way through the order, literally making up for lost time. The team had considered the engine used in qualifying was down on power, and changed it in time for the race.

The middle stages of the race seemed relatively uneventful until a spin at Paddock Hill Bend for the #61 car involved #170 and #41, necessitating another caution period.

As the race entered its final hour, the #225, #1 and #209 cars looked best placed to battle for top honours, but the FunCup usually throws up some last-minute surprises, with a brief caution period being almost immediately followed by a second, lengthier spell, giving the contenders little chance to do battle.

Following a further Safety Car intervention, some 15 minutes remained, with Greensall moving ahead in the #1 car and opening up a gap, but wait! What's that? Rain! Indeed, the final moments of the race were to see the track conditions become extremely dicey, with Greensall having to be wary of the pursuing pack with a handful of laps to go. However, with a host of cars stranded at either end of the circuit having been caught out, FunCup Clerk of the Course Julian Floyd wisely decided to bring an early (around two minutes) halt to proceedings. The countback saw #1 retain the victory, ahead of #225 and #107, which put in a strong showing in the latter stages.

Before the start of the afternoon's FF1600 race, a minute's silence was held in memory of Mike Hibbins, the Club and Centre's Chief Scrutineer, who passed away last month. Mike's widow Judith and daughter Fran joined Centre officials on the grid for the commemoration. Judith, our regular Secretary of the Meeting, carried out the role for this event, ably assisted by Fran.

The BRSCC SE Centre returns to Brands Hatch over the weekend of August 22-23 for a Club Car Championship meeting, featuring assorted Caterhams, GTis, Honda VTECs, 4Twos, Porsches, Alfas, Formula Jedis and OSS Sports Cars.

Click here for the BRANDS HATCH RESULTS

COLIN MANN