Race report Brands Hatch 4th May 2014
Sunday morning dawned warm and sunny with the prospect of a great days racing for the MGCC ’s second meeting of the season.
A packed race programme saw the Peter Best Insurance MG Cup combined with the Thoroughbred Sports cars and for qualifying a large grid of 34 cars took to the track consisting of a good Peter Best entry of 6 Class C cars, 5 class B and 9 class A cars
A few minutes into the session, Class C contender Alan Brooke was a spectator as his MG Metro exited the track at Mclaren amidst clouds of steam, causing the session to be red flagged whilst his car was recovered.
When qualifying resumed for the final minutes of a reduced session it was mayhem on the track with everyone trying to find some space for a quick lap and at the end of 7 laps it was class C championship leader Andrew Young in his MGC GTS who set the pace ending up on pole with Barry Holmes B GT nearly 2 seconds back in second.
The class C ZR 190 of Tom Diment was only a tenth back whilst Robert Campbell was a further half second adrift with novice Shaun Holmes completing the class C grid in his immaculately presented MGC GT.
In third on the grid and taking pole in class B was the midget of Chris Dear, starting his first race this season, showing his intentions by splitting the Class C cars.
The V8 BGT machine of Paul Khouri was second on the class B grid but 10th overall with veteran racer Steve Dowler, a struggling James Darby in the new for this year GT and Niall Campbell winding up the class B grid.
The battle for class A positions was very close with the top 6 on the grid separated by less than a second finally ending up with Paul Eales snatching pole, 6th overall, from Richard Wilson (who was supposedly ‘running in’his newly rebuilt engine following a pre season blow up at Silverstone, ) with David Strike in 3rd, James Walpole 4th, the Maestro of Nick Arden 5th with Clive Jones rounding out the top 6.
Class A novice Aaron Ross in the pink MG Maestro headed Frank Thompson and Michael Piggott who completed the Peter Best grid.
And so to race 1 which was the second race of the day just before lunch. With the sun shining it was with great anticipation that the 19 Peter Best cars took to the track with a sprinkling of Thoroughbred Sports cars to spice up the event.
A clean start was made by all with James Walpole, Clive Jones and fast starting Nick Arden coming through to leave a slow off the line, David Strike, looking at their rear spoilers going into Paddock Hill bend.
Meanwhile at the front, the Class C car of Andrew Young was showing everyone a clean pair of heels.
It was close at the front of the class A cars with car 36, Nick Arden harrying Paul Eales for the top slot in the early laps. However just at the start of lap 2 Clive Jone’s roadster and an out of position Peter Barnard, in his Elva Courier, came together at Paddock Hill entry causing both cars to slew off on to the grass before re joining the track locked together on their way to the gravel. This clash almost collected David Strike’s GT and Paul Khouri who wasn’t far behind. Fortunately Jones and the Elva driver were both unhurt.
The resulting safety car and subsequent red flag put all the cars back onto the grid and after a lengthy wait the race was restarted, with a reduced race time of 6 minutes.
At the restart Young once again made a good start and put some distance between himself and the rest of the field but Barry Holmes lost places to Dear and Diment. Holmes though gradually recovered and eventually finished the race in 2nd behind Young. Chris Dear took 3rd overall and first in class B whilst Tom Diment placed third in class C and 4th overall. Robert Campbell held position to finish 4th in class. Paul Khouri made some good progress through the field from 10th on the grid to finish second in class B, 7th overall. The rest of the class B and C cars finished some distance back with a cautious Shaun Holmes guiding the number 193 machine to 5th in class c.
James Darby however, struggled to get maximum potential out of his newly tweaked engine finishing close behind Steve Dowler. Niall Campbell completed the race 5th in class.B
Meanwhile the class A cars of Eales, Arden and Walpole were battling it out for the podium places. 2013 champion James Walpole got the jump on Arden to snatch 2nd by lap 2. After the restart, Ross and Thompson made good progress and were running 5th and 6th during the first tour, whilst David Strikes GT had slipped back to 7th. By lap 2 Strike had recovered to claim back 5th place and was gradually closing in on the Chastead supported roadster of Richard Wilson.
Nick Arden gradually became a little detached in 3rd with a fast closing Wilson and Strike trying to take the position. The last lap arrived all too soon with Walpole claiming the top spot from Eales on the last lap by 3 tenths of a second at the line. Holding on for 3rd was the blue Maestro of Nick Arden whilst Wilson and Strike were having a tussle with a Thoroughbred MGA twin cam resulting in Strike getting a run up the inside at Clark curve to take 4th spot from Wilson by a mere tenth of a second, Ross, Piggott and Thompson rounded out the rest off the finishers.
Race 2 was the final race of the day and nervous tension abounded in the paddock as the drivers questioned whether they would get a full race this time out. There had been many issues on track during the previous races and the organisers were running out of time.
Thankfully however, an announcement just before the start, confirmed that the race was to be for the full 15 minutes.
So the line up on the grid was similar to the first race being based on competitors second fastest time in qualifying.
Clive Jones had managed to get his severely damaged roadster back together for race 2 and took his place on the grid behind the other class A cars of Walpole, Strike, Wilson and pole man Eales. Alan Brooke failed to get the Metro repaired so 9 class A cars, 5 class B and 5 class c cars lined up for the start.
Young once again headed the class c field off the line and by the end of lap1 had put some distance between himself and Chris Dear who had got past Barry Holmes but by lap 4 Holmes had regained the position which he held until he was forced to retire on lap 7.
Tom Diment in the ZR 190 put in some consistent fast lap times gradually reeling in the class B midget of Dear and finishing second in class c and second overall but not before seeing the fast disappearing Young spin out on lap 6, which relegated him down the field only to complete a great recovery drive just nicking the victory from Diment on the penultimate lap by 3 seconds, earning him the driver of the race award.
Class C newcomer Shaun Holmes suffered a major off at Paddock on lap 5. The incident would have warranted a red flag earlier in the day or at least a safety car but the marshalls handled it with waved yellows and everyone carried on racing safely without further interruption. Shaun was unhurt but the car may need some new bits to bring it back to its former glory. This meant only three class c cars completed the race with Robert Campbell picking up the 3rd spot after a steady drive.
Class B honours went to peerless Chris Dear and another good drive from Paul Khouri earned him 2nd place with Steve Dowler in a distant 3rd. James Darby will be hoping for improvements next time out after finishing 5th in class behind Niall Campbell.
Class A provided some classic close racing from the off. The yellow GT of Paul Eales made a great start and eased away at the front closely followed by Wilson, Walpole and Arden who had both got past Strike at the start but by lap 2 Strike had regained the place from Arden. Jones was working his way up to the back of the front runners and by the end of lap 5 the order was Eales followed by Wilson, Walpole, Strike and Jones all separated by less than a second.
Lap 7 saw Jones make a move up the inside at Druids to take the position from Strike and the bruised and battered roadster of Jones then continued to hustle Walpole for the rest of the race but was unable to take the position.
The order remained unchanged for a further 6 laps, Eales putting in some quick consistent lap times which saw him increase his lead over the chasing four cars with Wilson just managing to hold off the close attentions of Walpole and Jones with Strike holding a watching brief just behind. Then on lap 14, two laps before the end of the race, Eales inexplicably slowed and stopped, handing the lead to Wilson. Two further frantic nose to tail laps followed resulting in Richard Wilson taking his first ever class win from James Walpole, with Clive Jones a deserved 3rd. David Strike was a close fourth in class with a much improved car this year. Nick Arden came in 5th followed by Aaron Ross.
Michael Piggott and Frank Thompson battled it out for 7th and 8th with the grey GT of Piggott finally overhauling Thomsons roadster.
So, a thrilling race for the class A honours much enjoyed by competitors and those spectators who stayed until the end of a long day.
See you at Silverstone for MG 90 live.