SEASONS IN THE SUN AT BRANDS HATCH


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Tom Roche leads the Mazda pack at Brands Hatch. Photo: Jon Elsey

In what was possibly the first-ever BRSCC South Eastern Centre race meeting to begin in one season and finish in another, the BRSCC Race Weekend 31 August/1 September on Brands Hatch's 1.199 mile Indy Circuit straddled meteorological summer and autumn! A nippy autumnal start gave way to a pleasant afternoon on both days.

Sunday's action saw two 20-minute qualifying sessions and 13 20-minute races, with the bulk of Saturday's non-practice and qualifying activity centring on a four-hour FunCup race. The balloted grid and multi-driver, multi-pitstop format, ensured many a twist and turn, with a handful of Safety Car interventions also adding to the unpredictable outcome, in particular when it stayed out for the duration of an open Pit Window to allow a large oil spill to be dressed.

A good handful of the 25-car field showed the pace to lead at various stages, with a broken driveshaft blunting the #107 Team Honeywell's challenge, and a late Stop-Go penalty for the #263 Nimbus Racing entry dropping the car out of contention. As the Chequered Flag dropped, the #61 Eco Solutions pairing of Paul Abraham and Tom Mills were 5.644s clear of the #262 Track Focused squad of Sean Cooper, Michael McCollum and Neil Smith, with the #214 Team Tiger trio of Benjamin Beighton, Chloe Noyce and Olly Bryant a lap behind in third.

Kicking off Sunday's 13 races was the first of two events for the Vortex Motorsport News Ford Fiesta Juniors. Erstwhile series leader JJ Ross endured a torrid time, leaving the lead battle to be fought between Newport's Rory Collingbourne and Flamstead's Robert Cox. Collingbourne took the win, with Alex Reed taking third behind Cox. Cox reversed the positions in the second race, with Ben Wilcox close behind in third

The 38-car strong BRSCC Mazda MX5 Championship field was split into 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B races. In the first outing, a great start from the outside of the front row gave Blackwood's Tom Roche an early advantage, and he fought off the attentions of Farnham's James Blake-Baldwin to claim victory, with Brett Smith completing the podium positions.

Local man Josh Jackson from Bexley won his scrap with Abbots Langley's Dan O'Connor for 1B honours, their pace pulling them clear of Simon Woods in third. Roche's 2A qualifier saw him double up, once again ahead of Blake-Baldwin, with Alan Henderson improving on his earlier fourth.

Maidenhead's Jade Edwards was a delighted winner of the 2B race in her first race weekend for nearly a year, a slow puncture causing a DNF in her morning race. Silverstone's Jordan Albert was left trailing, but in turn was comfortably clear of Alex Roberts.

Further Fiesta action pitched the Vortex Dunlop Ford Fiesta Class A, B and D runners together. A race-long duel between Harrogate man James Appleby's Zetec S and Godstone's David Abbott's similar car went the way of the former, with Andrew Mitchell's Si further adrift. Abbott turned the tables in the second race, with Mitchell taking a brace of thirds.

A Red Flag brought an early end to the first Fiesta Class outing. On countback, Lingfield's Lee Napolitano won in his ST from Leicester's David Grady, and David Ellesley. The second race ran its scheduled duration, with the identical lead pair, and Nicholas Bowers third.

The usual eclectic mix of Arrowpak Euro Saloon and Sportcar Championship runners emerged for their rolling start. Rudyard's Paul Rose was barely troubled in his Saker Sportscar, finishing a street ahead of Steve Harris's similar car, with Gary Prebble's Mitsubishi Evo RS nipping at his heels in third. The day's finale saw exactly the same outcome.

The BRSCC Alfashop Alfa Romeo Championship cars had a single outing, with Hope Valley's Roger Evans a comfortable winner in his 147 GTA, from Hillsborough's Robin Eyre-Maunsell's 75 trailing in his wake, and John Griffiths' 156 third.

The second of the Vortex Motorsport News Ford Fiesta Junior Championship races was named in the memory of Tom Bourne, who died in 2007 at the age of 34, to mark what would have been his 40thyear. Family members were at the circuit to present the podium awards, which will ensure his name is remembered at the event on an annual basis, reflecting his passion for motorsport and the efforts of drivers as they strive towards a career in motorsport.

Click here for the BRANDS HATCH RESULTS

The BRSCC SE Centre returns to Brands Hatch October 26-27 where it joins forces with HQ for the Formula Ford Festival.

COLIN MANN