Brands season finale

Missed a few meetings, rebuilt the engine, back again …. you know the drill by this point!  With our engine receiving some much needed, but thankfully not too expensive attention since its problems last time out at Donington Park, we were back out with the Avon Intermarque Championship for the final meeting of the year at Brands Hatch on the first weekend on November.

We travelled up to Brands Hatch on the Friday night in preparation for our qualifying and races which would all be held on the Saturday.  Annoyingly the weather forecast which had looked so promising at the start of the week had only deteriorated as race weekend loomed and we woke to rain on race day.  Still, on the plus side Brian had fitted the wets before we left the garage so one less job to do there then!  Lined up next to us in the pits we were happy to have Simon Smith who was making his first appearance of the year driving Ricky Hunn’s Corrado.  It was like old times, although a little strange not to see him in his usual green Z4.

Qualifying was wet! (Thanks to Keith Duke for the photo)

With the normal race morning regularities of signing on, scrutineering and the noise test taken care of, it was time for qualifying!  Wet qualifying!  Wet qualifying with 22 cars!  Considering the very wet conditions everyone did very well and there weren’t too many problems, just the one red flag near the end of the session to retrieve a car stuck in the gravel at Paddock.  Brian always goes well in the wet and looked comfortable throughout, setting a best lap of 1:04.7 which would be good enough for 14th place on the grid between Chris Ayling and Simon.  You can watch the session on Youtube here.

Back in the pits we were pleased to hear that the rebuilt engine was performing well and didn’t seem to be displaying any issues.  Good news!  With a clean bill of health the car was sent out for race one where Brian got rather hard done by at turn one as he got knocked into the gravel by Chris Ayling who was having his own moment on the slippery surface.  There was no difficult decision to be made on the tyres in this one, it was definitely wets all round!  Fortunately the gravel was pretty firm and Brian carried on although did drop to the back of the field, whilst also collecting a fair amount of said gravel!

Rallycross time!  Thanks to Rafal Biniszewski for the photo!

Not too much ground had been lost so 62 was able to benefit when Ray Harris slid wide at the final corner before passing Volker Timm along the start finish straight into lap 2.  Lap 3 and Brian got a good run out of Graham Hill Bend to pass Simon for 18th place but it all went wrong a few corners later as Brian spun out coming onto the main straight as he tried to accelerate underneath Toby Homewood.  Ending up backwards into the pitlane, Brian decided to call it a day at that point!  Things were about to go much worse for Simon though as an issue on the entry to Paddock on the next lap had him entering the corner backwards before sliding through the gravel trap and making fairly substantial contact with the barrier.  Luckily Simon was okay but the borrowed car certainly wasn’t…you can almost guarantee something happens when you borrow a car!

When the race resumed several laps later it was Lewis Smith leading from Malcolm Blackman, the pair of them disappearing up the road all the way until the chequered flag in that order.  Matt Simpson was best of the rest 6 seconds back, just holding off Steve Burrows in fourth.  Daniel Smith took fifth with Jason Hunn giving the 205 a great run to sixth.  You can watch our race on Youtube here.  (Well all except the last 30 seconds as annoyingly the memory card filled up on the camera!)

Back in the pits and we had quite a long wait until race 2, a wait made even longer by several stoppages in the other races.  When race time did draw near it was beginning to look like slicks could possibly be worth a gamble but in the end most driver opted for wets with the exception of Philip Young and Ray Harris, with one or two others on a mix of wet and slick tyres.

As the drivers set off on their warm up lap the circuit looked dry enough for slicks and hopes for Philip were high!  As it turned out the surface was just a little too greasy still though and although the slicks didn’t look horrendously off the pace, nobody was marching to the front on them either. 

Our race ended rather early as Brian had a front lock up as he braked for Druids hairpin.  This was followed by another lock up after releasing the brakes, then another, then another, then a gravel trap.  With a helpful shove from the marshals the car was back underway again but straight into retirement with a question mark hanging over the brakes.  After some investigation back at the garage we think the front left tyre picked up a flat spot during the race one spin.  The first time the brakes were used meaningfully since then had been up to the hairpin and the wheel effectively just found the flat spot and kept locking on it.  That’s the theory anyway, if you see the car fly off at the next meeting then we were wrong with that one. 

Back in the race and there was some frantic dicing going on as the drivers tried to make their way to the front after the top 9 from race one were reversed in the grid draw.  As so often is the case, Lewis Smith emerged in front after some very close hotrod racing with Matt Simpson and Malcolm Blackman, but Malcolm had more pace and once through into second he reeled Lewis in and passed him before Lewis slid into retirement as he attempted to stick to him.  With Lewis out, Malcolm cruised to an easy win and with it the 2017 Title, although he may have wrapped that up in race one, not too sure on that one.  He’s the champion anyway, congratulations, and well done to Lewis Smith on keeping the pressure up and just missing out.  Bad luck but always great to watch mate.

Behind Malcolm, Matt Simpson took second, just holding off Daniel Smith and Steve Burrows in a great race.  Ben Taylor took fifth with Jason Hunn again showing well in sixth.  You can watch our race on Youtube here.

Visiting the Rogers Racing Garage on Sunday

With our racing over on the Saturday we did stay over at Brands to support our friend Lee Rogers who was racing in the Pickup Truck Championship on Sunday.  Lee has been showing great pace this year which has been great to see, he’s been near the front all year, on the podium several times, and he was great again at Brands.  Running up in the front mix all day he finished his season by taking to the podium with touring Car driver Andrew Jordan who was making a guest appearance for the weekend, and former touring car driver Lea Wood, not bad company to be in!  Well done Lee, more of the same next season please!

Great podium

That’s all for this season then, we don’t have too much planned for the Tigra over the winter at present but there is still that A40 sat alongside it in the garage waiting to be turned into a classic hotrod, and if we get really bored there’s an Anglia behind that too!  I’m sure we’ll keep busy anyway, updates to follow, take care all!

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