TCR UK ROCKS BRANDS HATCH
The BRSCC South Eastern Centre’s second race meeting of the season took place over the weekend of June 2-3, with a 19-race programme featuring the first visit if the TCR UK series, as usual over Brands Hatch’s 1.208 mile Indy Circuit. Saturday dawned a little overcast, but the early summer sun soon burned the clouds away with Sunday a close, sticky day throughout.
Although TCR UK headlined the event, Caterhams dominated the entry and race count, with a 30m encounter for the ALACO Motorsport Logistics 270Rs kicking off the competitive track action. Newark’s Jamie Falvey led almost every inch of the way in a fierce battle with Orpington’s Pete Walters, who nosed ahead at the line in a photo-finish. However, Walters was deemed to have made contact with Falvey as the cars exited Clark Curve and had a 10s penalty added to his race time, relegating him to second. Northampton’s James Wingfield was a distant third.
Sunday’s race was trimmed to 25m, with Falvey and Walters once again the cream of the field, finishing in that order on the road. Dubliner Jay McCormack lagged behind in third.
Two Safety Car interventions failed to deter Bognor Regis’s Luke Herbert in the first 20m BRSCC Mazda MX5 Supercup, who took an eventually comfortable win from Wakefield’s Jack Harding and Farnham’s James Blake-Baldwin.
Sunday’s second race finished slightly early, with race officials deeming a car to be in an unsafe position. The top three remained the same, with Blake-Baldwin and Harding changing positions.
Faced with the daunting prospect next up on Saturday’s bill were the ‘White Group’ runners in the Car Throttle Caterham Academy Championship, the 20m qualifier representing their first-ever race following earlier sprints at Aintree and Rockingham. Bristol’s Greg Monk’s showed impressive race craft in holding off Woodford Green’s Chris Moore and Caterham resident Dan Piper.
Adding single-seater variety to the programme were the Avon Tyres National Formula Ford Championship competitors, an extremely healthy 30-car entry afforded three 15m races over the weekend. Double Festival winner Niall Murray (Van Diemen RF99) continued his dominance of the category, the Dubliner finishing well clear of Truro’s Joey Foster (Ray GR08) and Southampton’s Michael Eastwell (Spectrum 011C) despite a Safety Car bunching the field up early in the race, which was extended by five minutes following the intervention.
Sunday’s second race experienced two Safety Car caution periods, which left a 4m dash to the flag after the second. The top three remained the same, but much closer at the flag.
The third of three races features a partially-reversed grid, meaning Murray would have to battle from eight on the grid if he were to complete a hat-trick of wins over the weekend. Muir of Ord’s Neil MacLennan – out of luck in the first two races in his Ray GR16 – started from pole and managed to hold the lead to the Chequered Flag, ahead of Wimborne’s Hugo Bentley-Ellis (Spectrum 011C) and Murray.
The Draper Tools Caterham Roadsports had two 20m races over the weekend, the first being cut short following a Red Flag. Stevenage’s Daniel French took victory from Cobham’s Daniel Halstead and Londoner James Halstead.
The following day’s race saw Londoner James Murphy fend off Caterham Cars CEO Graham Macdonald and French in another frantic battle, interrupted by a Safety Car around half distance.
And so to the headline category, the first of two 30m TCR UK races. Series leader Dan Lloyd made it five out of five in his VW Golf GTI TCR, ahead of Bury St Edmunds’ Ollie Taylor’s Honda Civic Type R TCR and Witham’s Lewis Kent’s Hyundai i30n TCR.
Saturday’s penultimate race saw the Academy ‘Green Group’ runners make their race debut. Northwich’s Justin Heap was comfortably clear at the end of the 20m, Morden’s Andrew Murgatroyd and Calne’s Will Rosetti enjoying a much closer battle to take second and third respectively.
Closing Saturday’s track action was the first of three 30m encounters for the Santander Caterham Seven 310Rs, the bumper entry spit into A, B and C groups, with each competitor taking part twice over the weekend. In the A & B Londoner Alan Cooper fought off the close attentions of Aylesford’s Lee Bristow and Pulborough’s Chris Hutchinson to emerge victorious.
Sunday’s opening race action saw As and Cs on track. Harlington’s Chris Rankin took the honours this time, from Londoners Christian Szaruta and Alan Cooper. The B &C race was trimmed to 25m, but in the event, only ran for some 17m with a Red Flag curtailing proceedings with deposited oil having made the circuit treacherous. Szaruta won from Bristow and Rankin.
And so to the headline category, the first of two 30m TCR UK races. Series leader Dan Lloyd made it five out of five in his VW Golf GTi TCR, ahead of Bury St Edmunds’ Ollie Taylor’s Honda Civic Type R TCR and Witham’s Lewis Kent’s Hyundai i30 N TCR.
A reversed grid format meant that Lloyd would have to fight his way through the field to make it six out of six in Race 2. Carl Swift’s Cupra TCR started from pole and it only took Lloyd a handful of laps to close on Swift’s tail, taking the lead on lap 10. A suspected suspension failure saw Swift retire from the race, confirming Sweden’s Jessica Blackman’s Golf GTi TCR in second, and Worcester’s Howard Fuller (Civic Type R TCR) in third.
The cars certainly looked and sounded the part, and with numbers growing, the category looks set to become a great addition to the UK racing scene.
A welcome addition to Sunday’s race action was a scheduled 30m race for the HRDC Allstars, effectively pre-1966 Sports, GT and Touring Cars. Polesitter Charles Rainford failed to get away from the grid, but miraculously the field managed to avoid the stricken Marcos 1800 GT. Unfortunately, nine laps into the race, a fellow competitor’s blown engine deposited oil around a fair stretch of the track causing a Red Flag, and with scheduling constraints in mind, a rerun wasn’t possible. Pete Chambers’ Ford Lotus Cortina Mk 1 was leading on countback, ahead of Ben Colburn’s Lenham Sprite GT and Andrew Edward’s Ford Falcon.
A second HRDC category closed the weekend’s action, a 45m, pit stop race for the Touring Greats. James Colburn’s Austin A40 Speedwell headed home Ding Boston’s Riley 1.5 OUMF and engine preparer Neil Brown’s Austin A35 Speedwell.
The BRSCC SE Centre returns to Brands Hatch over the weekend of September 8-9, with a Club Car Championships meeting featuring the Fun Cup, Civic Cup, Toyo Tires Porsche Championship, Teekay Couplings Production GTi and the Speed Group OSS Championship.
Click here for the BRANDS HATCH RESULTS.