TIME FOR TCR UK & CO TO TACKLE BRANDS HATCH
From Silverstone in the Midlands to Knockhill north of the border in Scotland, TCR UK and its band of incredible support races now returns south to a circuit where touring car racing is always spectacular every time it appears and, not to be too biased, one which we rather like ourselves seeing as it’s our local venue! The mighty Brands Hatch plays host to the third TCR UK meeting of the season, with the Indy circuit the chosen battleground for the next chapter in the latest British tin-top story.
The first ever TCR races to be held at Brands Hatch could see the continuation of the dominance currently displayed by points leader Dan Lloyd, after a perfect score of four wins out of four so far in 2018 at Silverstone and Knockhill. He and his WestCoast Racing teammates Andreas and Jessica Backman are back for more, as will be local hero Lewis Kent, Ollie Taylor, Finlay Crocker, Darelle Wilson and Knockhill debutant Josh Price. Plus the two CUPRAS of Stewart Lines and Carl Swift are both set to make a return with brand new gearboxes as should SWR’s Howard Fuller too, while the two DPE Motorsport Alfa Romeos see Derek Palmer Jr now partnered by newcomer Robert Gilmour, who is now set to contest the remainder of the season. On the short and fast Indy layout, the spectacle these cars will put on should be sensational.
As usual, the two main support acts are here in their numbers to put on an equally entertaining show for the spectators here in Kent. The Avon Tyres National Formula Ford Championship comes home to the place where it all started for the category just over 50 years ago, as well as the venue for the traditional and much loved Formula Ford Festival that takes place every October. All of the usual frontrunners are here including 2016 champion Niall Murray, 3-time Festival winner Joey Foster, Matt Round-Garrido, Luke Cooper and Michael Eastwell, plus look out for one-off appearances from Roger Orgee and Chris Middlehurst, along with former Renault Clio Junior racer and Formula Ford debutant Max Marzorati.
The other mainstay on the package is the awesome Mazda MX-5 SuperCup, which so far has been more than living up to its ultra-competitive nature. Five different winners from the first 6 races and a top 3 separated by just 6 points means that any dropped or lost points here could prove critical later on down the line. Former champion James Blake-Baldwin leads the way from Jack Harding and defending title holder Luke Herbert, but with an armada of talented and competitive drivers all snapping at their heels, the possibility of increasing the number of different winners is all too real. Could names such as Aidan Hills, Jonathan Greensmith, Carl Garnett, Jack Sycamore and Simon Baldwin all throw themselves into the mix?
Once again for the second consecutive TCR UK meeting, Caterham Motorsport bring almost the full armada of championships from their roster out to play on the Indy circuit. This weekend is a rather special point in the year as it marks the first circuit race of the careers of the latest batch of “students” competing in this year’s Car Throttle Caterham Academy. Having completed their sprints at Aintree and Rockingham, Paddock Hill Bend will be the first racing corner this year’s class will face. You can probably already picture their faces as they tackle it! Nevertheless, both the Green and White Groups will feature in a 15 minute race each on Saturday – best of luck, everyone!
A group of drivers who know exactly what that experience felt like is this year’s Draper Tools Caterham Roadsport Championship, which is full of competitors who graduated from last year’s Academy. Eventual Green Group champion Daniel French set the early benchmark at this very circuit in 2017, although so far this year he’s only taken one win from four races. The other 3 have been picked up in fine fashion by James Murphy, whose red hot form looks to be marking him out as an early title favourite. Also keep an eye on Oli Pratt, Daniel Halstead, Matt Sheppard and Caterham’s very own CEO Graham MacDonald, who would dearly love to take his first podium of the season this weekend.
Moving up another step, the ALACO Motorsport Logistics Caterham Seven 270R Championship is already seeing a fierce contest between reigning Roadsport champion Pete Walters and Snetterton race winners Jay McCormack and Jamie Falvey of Team BRIT. Walters picked up the double at Knockhill despite heavy pressure all weekend from McCormack and Falvey and even at this early stage the trio are only separated by four points. All three of them will be out for more race wins, but if just one of them slips up then the likes of James Wingfield, Gary Smith, Paul Vernon and more will be waiting in the wings.
The fastest and biggest grid of Caterhams you’ll see all weekend will come from the ultra-popular Santander Caterham Seven 310R Championship, where more than 30 cars will be packed into Brands Hatch’s 1.2 mile Indy layout. This is sure to mean plenty of searching for clear track in qualifying, as well as a busy pack jostling for position come race time. With at least a dozen drivers all capable of at least a podium, the race win could go the way of either Christian Szaruta, Gordon Sawyer, defending champion Lee Bristow, Chris Hutchinson, Chris Rankin, Alan Cooper, James Beardwell and more. This has all the makings of being one of the most frantic pairs of races all weekend.
Alongside the more contemporary championships, there’s also some spectacular historic racing from our good friends at HRDC. Julius Thurgood’s masterful collection of classic cars and their drivers will be out in force for two superb races on Sunday. The Allstars race will feature a wide variety of marques and models from the glory days of GT and touring car, while the Touring Greats accommodates an excellent selection of machines that populated grids during tin-top racing’s heyday back in the 1950s and 1960s. Expect cars such as Austins, Lotus Ford Cortinas, Alfa Romeos, Mini Coopers, Rileys, MGs and even the odd Jaguar or two to make an appearance throughout both entry lists.