Season underway at scorching Brands Hatch

2019 is go!  Brands Hatch, beautiful weather and a Bank holiday weekend, what a perfect way to kick off the 2019 Super Silhouette Championship!  Lots of familiar faces were joined by some new faces as the teams and drivers met for the first time this year with an air of optimism at what lays ahead for the championship.  From our side we’re very happy to be involved with the new championship and turned up at Brands with our Tigra fighting fit for a new challenge.  Qualifying went well with Brian clocking a 52.369 on lap 11 to line up 17th on the 21 car grid.  Up at the front Malcolm Blackman took pole with a 48.857, and with last years champion Lewis Smith absent (we wish him the best of luck in the VW Championship he’s contesting this year) it was left to Chris Brockhurst to take the challenge to Malcolm which he did so, narrowly missing out on pole by less than a tenth of a second.

Here she is ready for another season after just passing scrutineering

With the racing spread across Sunday and Monday this weekend, we had plenty of time after qualifying to check the car over and try to solve the mild overheating we were seeing on such a hot day.  Ross had also arrived during the end of qualifying (poor show Ross but better later than never) and was able to relieve Ayrton of crew chief duties for the Loram Tigra, something we’re sure he was glad of as he was performing the same role for his Dad Lee Rogers Pick-Up Truck!  Thanks very much for stepping in Ayrton.  As well as the requirement to have a designated ‘crew chief’ (or paperwork / person responsible for making sure Brian is where he’s supposed to be when he’s supposed to be there) another change for this season is partially reversed grids based on qualifying times.  Now we’ve had partially reversed grids for race 2 based on race 1 results for a number of years but we’ve always at least started race 1 from wherever we’ve qualified.  For this year the top 8 qualifiers are reversed on the grid for race 1, with the 9th fastest on down lining up in qualification order.  For race 2, each drivers second fastest lap from qualifying is used to determine a new sort of qualifying classification.  Using this classification the top 8 drivers are then reversed for the race 2 grid, with the 9th fastest on down again lining up in that order.  Right, got that?  Good.  It seems a number of us had forgotten this new rule and were stood in the assembly area prior to race 1 wondering why Joe Russell was on pole while Malcolm Blackman was 8th…  and that’s why 😉

Race 1 Assembly Area

Anyway, on with race 1 and Brian would line up 17th, unaffected by the new system.  Laptimes were again good with a best lap of 52.6 with Brian spending most of the race in pursuit of Philip Young.  After dropping back a little a few laps in, 262 was again back with the number 21 Colt of Philip by lap 9 as the pair were catching Jason Hunn.  Unfortunately the car started suffering from fuel starvation and after persevering for a few slightly stuttering laps Brian had to retire 4 laps from the end.

Early laps of race 1  (Thanks to Graham Holbon Photography)

Up at the front the reverse grid was causing all sorts of dramas as the faster drivers tried to get through, though Blackman managed it easier than most in this one, taking the lead on lap 3 which he’d keep until the end.  Behind him Ray Harris had come through nicely after being the third fastest qualifier in the morning and he was running in second place until he suffered damage on lap 12 after contact from Steve Burrows who retired on the spot.  This promoted Chris Brockhurst into a clear second place while Danny Hunn eventually got the better of pole sitter Joe Russell for third place by a mere tenth of a second.  You can watch our race 1 on Youtube here.

She needs some TLC overnight…

The benefit of this being a two day meeting was that there was plenty of time to fix the car for race 2!  Overnight (and after Simon Smith of Autoxross had collected one for us, thanks!) the car gained a new fuel pump, although we suspect the problem was caused by the one way valve in the breather pipe sticking.  Still, better to be safe than sorry and we were all ready for Mondays racing in another glorious day of sunshine.

His eyes are out on stalks! 😉

Brian nearly had the best start we’ve ever seen to a rolling start race as he dived out from behind Simon Smith and began charging down the outside of the two by two grid formation on the run upto Paddock…. that was until he remembered the new rule for this year that you can’t overtake until you pass the start finish line!  Whereas in previous years once the lights went out the race was on and you could overtake.  Not really sure why that rule changed, always liked the old way personally.  Anyway, remembering in time, Brian had a quick stab at the brakes and dropped back in line in time to avoid any penalties!  The car was again handling well and Brian was pleased with the power as he spent the first 4 laps chasing John Steward and Toby Homewood with Mick Robertson, Philip Blackford and Philip Young behind.  Then a water blank blew out the side of the engine on the entrance to Paddock on lap 5 which sent Brian spinning on his own water.  Frustrating!  Another early retirement but at least there was no lasting damage or expensive repairs needed.  You can watch our race 2 on Youtube here.

(Thanks to Graham Holbon Photography)

Malcolm Blackman took another win although Chris Brockhurst was right with him in this one but couldn’t quite find a way past.  Steve Burrows completed the podium to get his season underway after being in contention for last years title right up until the final meeting.

That’s it for the first meeting of the year then, not the results we were after but we’ll go again at the next round which is a new challenge for us as we take on the Pembrey circuit in South Wales on May 11th and 12th.  We’ve been there once for a test day with Ross driving the 206 many years ago, but the circuit has changed somewhat since then and Brian nor the Tigra have ever been around there. On the plus side we will have a practice session as well as our usual qualifying session, and 3 races!  Quite a busy weekend then, wish us luck!

Happy Racing everyone.

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