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“Why have you got a massive American flag on the bonnet?”
Because it’s the American Speedfest meeting at Brands Hatch! That’s why!

The European Nascar series were kind enough to support our Quaife Intermarque championship at our last meeting at Brands Hatch – although some people think it may have been the other way around! The one thing that wasn’t in doubt however was the enormous crowd (even larger than the BTCC and DTM crowd!) who’d all been lured along to Brands Hatch for a slice of American entertainment from the European Nascars (sorry, i’m going to say it now, they were rubbish) Bernies V8’s (these were epic!) as well as the Pickup Truck Championship, Legends and our own Quaife Intermarques fielding a very strong 24 car grid. All this would be backed up by more American muscle cars than you could shake a stick at, hot dog eating contests, monster trucks and we kid you not, Elvis impersonators. What a meeting.

(Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Normality resumed and out on track for qualifying the drivers only completed a couple laps before the safety car was out on track to enable Malcolm Hardings Tigra to be recovered. It seemed to take quite a long time to persuade the stricken Tigra onto the recovery truck so there wasn’t much of the session left by the time the green flags flew. Ross set a mid 52 on his first flying lap (some 2 seconds off our times here from the last meeting), swore at himself to get on with it and was heading for a much faster lap next time round. Unfortunately Baz Johnsons diff chose that precise moment to blow itself to pieces just in front of Ross. Despite having to dodge past Baz’ slowing car and the oil flowing out of it the 51.6 Ross set on that lap would be his fastest in the session as there was just too much oil down to go any faster in the few minutes remaining.

(Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Not ideal then but everybody was in the same boat and 10th on the 24 car grid wasn’t a terrible result. 10th on the grid that would infact become 8th as polesitter Matt Moore was uanble to race after damaging his engine in qualifying and 9th place qualifier Richard Smith kindly lent his Tigra to son Lewis Smith who suffered engine problems with his 205 in qualifying. Well, it was Lewis’ birthday just before Brands!

Rod Birley introduces Jack Sears, first ever Touring Car Champion, nice chap….does go on a little bit…. (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Race 1 and it was great to see the whole Quaife Intermarque field being completely filled with over 20 hotrods, this championship is really going places! Speaking of going places Ross was in the right place at the right time on lap 1 as Luke Arminger spun on the exit of Paddock. Ross was able to speed through on the inside while Luke spun across the track collecting Keith White in his ‘sort of a BMW Z4’ and Chris Ayling while the rest of the pack managed to avoid the chaos. Up ahead Ross just managed to nip past Daniel Smith on the exit of Clearways before the safety car came out, Daniel seeming to suffer from some sort of pickup problem under acceleration which caused him to retire.

How did Neil Jessop avoid this lot? lol (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

So, with the safety car out on track again Ross was upto a very pleasing 5th place behind the Simpsons, Chris Brockhurst and Malcolm Blackman. Remember when Brands was our bogey track?!?

From the restart the field stayed fairly bunched together for several laps as everyone from the leaders back squabbled for position. Ross nearly managed to take advantage of the Simpson / Blackman squabble to take 4th place from Blackman at Clearways but wasn’t quite able to. Still, we’re racing some quality here aren’t we!

(Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Behind Ross’ 206 Mark Fuller was having a good day and began looking for a way through, particularly on the long run upto Paddock bend but after a few laps the fight behind had his attention and Ross was able to clear off up the road a little, no longer with the leading 4 but on his own in 5th. On his own that was until the very rapid Lewis Smith came charging up in his Dads Tigra. Such was Lewis’ pace and top end speed Ross didn’t put up too much fight when he pulled alongside at the end of the main straight, in a similar way not putting up a massive fight when Simon Smith (who seems to be becoming a bit of a Brands specialist!) thundered up along the main straight several laps later! That was about it for action in this race though with Ross crossing the line after 15 minutes in a clear 7th place, 15 seconds behind race winner Chris Brockhurst who just edged out Matt Simpson up at the front. Jeff Simpson retook 3rd from Lewis Smith after Lewis broke his clutch cable late in the race. Simon Smith made it as far as 5th with Malcolm Blackman 6th. Finishing 5 seconds behind Ross in 8th was impressive newcomer Ben Taylor (who’s a website reader / Youtube watcher of ours, hey Ben!) Russell Humphrey took 9th with Neil Jessop rounding out the top 10.

You can watch race 1 on Youtube by clicking here

(Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

With the top 9 drivers from race 1 being reversed for race 2, Ross found himself 3rd on the grid. We’re almost getting accustomed to being up near the front these days! Unfortunately Ross made a terrible job of the opening lap as he seemed to struggle with a real lack of grip, perhaps a consequence of the very slow warm-up lap (that’ll teach them for using a Camaro for a pace car!) Whatever the reason Ross had a sideways moment coming out of Paddock which let a few cars past on the run upto Druids hairpin, and then as he got stuck on the outside on the run down to Graham Hill bend a few more came through! 9th at the end of lap 1, bugger! Still, head down and carry on, on the bright side a few of those really fast guys were probably going to come through at some point anyway!

Left, right, left, right, LEFT! (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

The early laps were very busy with the cars running very close together. Ross ran behind Jeff Simpson for a few laps before Jeff spun in front of Ross on the entry to Clearways. Ross made the right shout to go to the left of the spinning Tigra to move back upto 8th before closing in on Russell Humphrey. Ross’ 206 was lurking behind Russells Tigra for a couple laps (in which time the pair passed a retiring Lewis Smith) before eventually getting a great exit at Paddock bend and diving for the inside at Druids. 6th. Ross was rather hoping Russell might hold up the chasing Daniel Smith and Chris Ayling but alas no luck and they were still with Ross who was now trying to close down Ben Taylor for 5th. No, make that 4th as Simon Smith retired with gearbox woes (he was on for his first podium too! Bad luck Simon!) Hang on a minute, we’re not far from a podium ourselves here!

(Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Ross should have known better than to think that however as our run of splendid reliability this season came to an end on lap 12. At first Ross thought the car had jumped out of 3rd gear as it stepped sideways into Clearways but no amount of gear changes or frustrated jabs at the throttle would gain any real forward drive so that was it. (A strip down revealing a broken halfshaft) A good finish and an outside shot at the podium gone but we’ve still got to be pleased about the much improved pace we’ve shown this season…..even if it would be nice to bring a trophy home just once at least!

You can watch race 2 on Youtube by clicking here

Yes that’s broken

Up at the sharp end Matt Simpson took the win with Chris Brockhurst second this time with Malcolm Blackman rounding out the podium. Daniel Smith took 4th , then Jeff Simpson, Mark Fuller, Russell Humphrey, Luke Arminger, Malcolm Harding and Baz Johnson completing the top 10.

That was it for the Brands Hatch American Speedfest then but there’s been no rest since for the team. Arriving home at 1am on Monday morning there’s been boring ‘real life stuff’ like work to take care of as well as fixing the car, changing the diff (and you can’t forget the website!) and generally getting everything ready to go again at Lydden Hill just a few days later. Infact we’ll need to leave Torquay on Friday afternoon so expect to see some tired faces around the orange gazebo at Lydden, and forgive us if the website update doesn’t happen too quickly either! 😉

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