Short start to the season

“And the 2016 Intermarque Championship is underway here at Brands Hatch!”
“Shame our car is sat in the pits isn’t it?”

After an obligatory off season of changes and improvements to the Loram Tigra, it was unfortunately a very short start to the season for us at Brands Hatch. We arrived full of hope, and delighted to be part of a very healthy 21 car entry as Brian looked to continue his learning curve on the circuits after many years racing on the short ovals.

Loading up back at base

The weather forecast for raceday had been looking ‘dodgy at best’ all week, but despite some very strong winds during the previous night that finished off a number of gazebos, raceday morning dawned looking much better than expected. We finished off those last few jobs on the car that always seem to be required on raceday morning, before Brian headed off to signing on and Ross jumped in the car to take it up to scrutineering. That was the plan anyway but after several crunches, pulled faces and a few choice words, Ross was back out of the car to announce that it had no clutch. We had a problem before we’d left the gazebo!

Some say Ross has spent a lot of time looking at Legends recently… Brian seemed to want to tempt Ross further by finding a Legend to fix shortly after arriving! Best of luck to #88 Matt Allen for the rest of the season, we’re glad we managed to help get you back out on track even if we couldn’t manage it with our car 😉

Somehow despite running the car up several times in the garage since refitting the engine, we had neglected to run through the gears whilst the car was actually running. Even worse we had then pushed the car out of the garage to load it up for the journey to Brands, and then pushed it off the trailer and into the gazebo when we arrived. Incredibly frustrating as had we driven the car at any of those times we would have discovered the problem then! Still, as we were due at scrutineering we crunched the car into a gear and got that taken care of before heading back to the pits to investigate the problem further. Not that we had a great deal of time even then with qualifying starting at 9:30am. All we could do was adjust the clutch cable, resulting in a very high and awkward clutch pedal which did just about allow Brian to change gear….which was a plus.

Brian on track in quali. Thanks to Keith Duke for catching us while we were out there!

With track conditions damp and a few light drops of rain in the air, Brian, and most of the grid to be fair, opted for wets (despite Ross’ plea to chuck slicks at it.) With the cars out on track it was clear to see that conditions were pretty slippery, especially for those on slicks, but as the cars continued to circulate the grip levels increased and it was the slick shod cars that shot to the top of the timings. Malcolm Blackman took pole (after a good shout to switch to slicks mid-session) with Lewis Smith joining him on the front row. Brian and the vast majority of the other cars on wet tyres had bailed for the pits long before the end of the session and we were pleased to see car 62 in 16th on the timing sheet, just ahead of newcomer Ian Hales in the ex-Matt Simpson Tigra.

Brian flatly refused to put down his burger despite the problems…

Despite our best efforts that was the only track action we would take part in all weekend, with Brian calling an early end to the session as it had been getting increasingly difficult to select a gear. We did remove the gearbox after qualifying trying to find the source of the problem but were unable to fix it. Closer inspection back at the garage revealed the clutch (different to the one we used last year) was to blame and we are very grateful to Sean Porter of the Exeter Gearbox Centre for ordering us a brand new clutch which will be in the car for the next meeting which is at Silverstone on 23rd April.

Glamorous business this motorsport

With us out for the day we took to the stands for the two very entertaining races. Race one saw Malcolm Blackman take the win despite Lewis Smiths best efforts during the first few laps. Keith White held off a fast moving Chris Brockhurst by any means necessary to hang onto his spot on the podium. The whole midfield was incredibly closely matched and featured great racing throughout…if only we’d been involved!

Race two had all the makings of an absolute crash fest as the heavens well and truly opened after the cars had all left the paddock on slick tyres. There were a couple spins but everyone did incredibly well to stay in control in what were properly impossible conditions for slick tyres. Can’t quite believe they didn’t stop it to be honest but well done drivers! Chris Brockhurst took a close win from Lewis Smith and Malcolm Blackman, the top three clearly set to embark on a year long tussle for the title. Also a notable mention to Malcolm Harding who was never far behind in fourth place in a car that looked properly sorted all day.

That was it for the Intermarques at Brands then, but just a quick commiserations to our fellow south west friend Lee Rogers in the Pickup championship. Lee has ‘pushed the boat out’ this year with a new top spec engine and allocation of tyres but didn’t quite have the rub of the green in the races despite a great 4th place in qualifying. Impressive though, we wish him luck for the rest of the season.

Next up for us is the Silverstone International Circuit on 23rd April, a new layout for us after only ever previously racing the much unloved National layout at Silverstone, so we’re looking forward to that. See you there!

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