Storming start to 2018!

The 2018 Scrapco Avon Intermarque Championship is go!  After some amazingly last minute revisions to the meeting timetable, the teams found themselves kicking off the season a day earlier than planned on Easter Sunday.  26 cars had booked in for what looks like being a strong season for the Intermarques, with plenty of new cars and drivers waiting in the wings, poised to join us over the coming meetings.  After a few disasters in testing on Saturday for those who took part, and the inevitable couple of cancellations, we were still pleased to see over 20 cars out in qualifying on Sunday morning, a good start.

Look at that, we’re 262 again this season!

What wasn’t so good however was the track conditions!  Overnight rain had left the circuit very greasy and it was a toss up whether to go with wets or slicks.  A look at the times afterwards made it pretty clear that there wasn’t much to be gained either way, although the wet shod cars must have had an easier time of it during the earlier laps.  Brian wasn’t on wets and wasn’t enjoying his first outing in the car at all this season with its slick tyres, as he lacked confidence as the car moved around and left him some distance off at the back of the grid.

A quick gasket change to solve a slight oil leak after quali

With no rain falling, the circuit was much improved by the time race one came around a few hours later, with all cars now on slick tyres and posting full dry laptimes.  It wasn’t the start to the season that Richard Smith was after though, as he ended up in the gravel at Druids on lap one which brought out the first safety car of the season as his Mercedes SLK was recovered. 

Lap 4 and with the safety car back in Lewis Smith led the way from Malcolm Blackman, after the pair of them had gotten the jump on poleman Steve Burrows in his new car on lap one.  From the rear of the grid Brian was looking much more comfortable in the dry conditions and began moving forwards, neatly switching under Danny Hunns 205 coming off Graham Hill bend on lap 6 before moving down the inside of Tony Homewood into Druids hairpin on the next lap.  Several 52.4 second laps were a step forwards in laptimes over last season as Brian looked to close on Volker Timm and the next group of battling cars ahead.  Unfortunately John Steward was to retire on lap 9, putting oil down as he did so.  Brian mistook the oil and thus slippery surface to be a car problem or puncture, so retired the car which was a shame after a good first half to the race.  On the positive side all was well with the car and things were looking much better than after qualifying.

Up at the front Malcolm Blackman found a way past Lewis Smith a couple laps after the restart and would go on to take the win, despite the very close attentions of Lewis for the rest of the race who was rarely more than a few tenths away, and on several occasions mere millimetres away!  Steve Burrows completed the podium in a good debut for his new car, although at 15 seconds back it looks like nobody will be joining the Blackman / Smith battles at Brands anytime soon.

Let’s go racing!

Race two and it was certainly a busy first lap as 3 cars went spinning onto the grass on the exit of turn one, front row starters Mike Thurley and Ricky Hunn being joined by Toby Homewood.  From 18th on the grid Brian avoided all that drama, only to have to again dodge more spinning cars at Surtees, in the shape of Paul Knight and Volker Timm.  As well as dodging the spinning cars Brian was able to pass Philip Young in the process and complete the end of a frantic lap one in 10th place!  Nicely done!

With the cars of Ricky Hunn and Mike Thurley stuck on the grass, the safety car was seen for the second time as they were towed out of harms way before the race resumed on lap 4.  262 lost a little ground on the restart but remained in 10th place and began to pull away from Phillip and the other cars behind.  Things were to get even better however as Brian, clearly enjoying the dry conditions and feeling the car was working well, began to lap faster and faster the longer the race went on, soon getting into the low 52’s as he caught up with Daniel Smith and began to look for a way through. 

With Lewis Smith retiring from 2nd place after being involved in a collision while lapping Volker Timm, Brian was now up to 9th, right behind the squabble for 6th which was being headed by Jason Hunn with Ray Harris and Daniel Smith behind.  As the drivers completed their final few laps Brian wasn’t able to make any more positions but stuck with the cars in front and just kept getting faster, first getting into the 51’s for the first time before going even faster with a 51.583 on lap 14.  Incredible!  You can watch race 2 on Youtube here.  Malcolm Blackman took his second win of the season up at the front with Steve Burrows again on the podium with second place this time.  Huge congrats too to Chris Ayling on a hard charge through to complete the podium.

So then, what had started off as looking like being a terrible day after qualifying had well and truly been turned around with Brians most competitive showing so far by a long way.  He was even rewarded with a trophy for finishing 3rd in the seniors!  Doubly good news is that the next meeting is also at Brands Hatch so we look forward to another good outing next time, see you there, no doubt Brian will still be smiling!

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