Trackday Trophy – Brands Hatch race report

Race 3, Brands Hatch – Kent.

After a double race weekend at Cadwell Park, the Trackday Trophy guys and girls headed south to Brands Hatch in Kent, for the third Trackday Trophy event of the year. The Trophy was part of the ‘MSVR Indy Weekend’ which included an eclectic mix of championships.

Some Trackday Trophy entrants took part in testing at the Kent circuit on Friday. Unfortunately, D&S Motorsport suffered crash damage and had to pull out of the weekend. While there wasn’t a Trophy race on the Saturday, the day experienced bad weather and as a consequence a number of crashes.

Sunday arrived and after the drivers had signed on and attended scrutineering, they made their way to the Hailwoods restaurant for the drivers briefing. At the briefing, the drivers were told of the bad weather and cases of bad driving of the previous day. The briefing was delivered in a stern (but fair) tone, the emphasis on safe driving. One driver, clearly anxious, left most of his full English. Neil Newstead was absent from the briefing as his wife had gone into labour. A man possibly taken by surprise, a nice shiny BMW was left in the Hailwood paddock. It was a debut Trackday Trophy for Ben and Graham Newman. Their team, Dadson Racing, have entered a Caterham 7 Roadsport and will be classified in the guest class.

The first session of the day was Trackday Trophy’s 30 minute qualifying session. As drivers headed to the pitlane, it began to drizzle but it stopped once the drivers hit the track. Qualifying saw 35 cars (including reserve entries) drive around the 1.2 mile Indy circuit. With so many cars, it would prove difficult for drivers to get a good ‘clean’ lap in the bag. The track itself was dry and the early pace setters were Goff & Capstick in their Elise S1 along with John Hamilton in his Smart Van Clio Cup Racer. The marshals soon waved the yellow flags after an off for a couple of drivers at Paddock Hill Bend. This would have implications later on… . The Ginetta G20 of H G Motorsport duelled with Pink Express Racing for fastest Class D qualifier honours. Despite limited running (13 laps, compared to 24/25 laps of some rivals), H G Motorsport ended up as the highest Class D qualifer with a lap of 58.434s. This was good for 11th on the grid. Cliff Jordan of Pink Express Racing was just 0.285s slower. The father and son entry of Tom and Jamie McHugh, relative ‘veterans’ of Brands Hatch, were the highest qualifiers in Class C. They went round the 1.2 mile circuit in a time of 56.079s (5th on the grid). In Classes A & B, James Britton did a banzai last flying lap to grab 2nd on the grid away from John Hamilton. Hamilton’s Class A Clio seemed destined to start 2nd on the grid until the Class B BMW M3 of Britton made its mark (laptime – 55.522s). Pole position went to Phill Capstick and Jack Goff in their Class A Lotus Elise, with a time of 54.882s.

Post qualifying, and race control enforced the rules after a number of infringements in the session. Four teams were disqualified from the session for overtaking under yellows more than once. One of the teams affected were Cadwell Park winners Team Tactics. This meant they had to start the race on the last row of the grid.

Brands Hatch resembled a weekend in April, with the weather providing sunshine one moment, and sharp heavy showers the next. With the race scheduled at 5pm, the drivers had time to make changes to their cars and have a hard long think about their tyre choice.

The call came from the officials for competitors to leave the lower paddock and move up to the pit lane for the race. The cars assembled and waited for the Mini Challenge racers to finish. Realising he left his immobiliser key back at the lower paddock, James Britton sprinted back and returned just in time.

Due to wet track conditions, the officials allowed the Trophy drivers to have a green flag lap. The Capstick/Goff Elise led the pack around, enabling the drivers to judge how wet the track was and decide on what wet lines they would take. The cars got into their grid positions and the revs began to rise.

The lights went out, and it was a good start by polesetters K.O.K Support in the Elise. T.F.L Racing in their #88 Impreza started 8th on the grid, and they went left at the start, and went round the outside, surprising their rivals, and overtaking Team Cream Slice for 4th, all before the first corner! John Hamilton snatched 2nd place from James Britton at Graham Hill Bend. The man who had the best first lap was Nigel White in his Class C VW Golf. The W W Racing driver started 19th on the grid and got up to 8th! Clearly motivated, both Team Cream Slice and McQ Motorsport took back forth and fifth, sending T.F.L Racing down to sixth. At the end of lap 1, K.O.K Support’s Elise was in the lead, with Britton the highest Class B, the McHughs the highest Class C entry and H G Motorsport the highest Class D runner.

H G Motorsport who were in 10th, spun their Ginetta G20 on lap 2 at Graham Hill Bend and rejoined back down in 24th. Apple Car Centre took the Class D mantle in their Renault Clio. Upfront and the Capstick/Goff Elise was building a lead over John Hamilton. There was a close interclass battle for sixth place between T.F.L Racing, Littlewood Racing and the pumped up Nigel White in the Golf. On lap four, White got past Littlewood and then got past T.F.L Racing at Clearways. With so many cars in the race, the leaders began lapping backmarkers on lap five. Chav Motorsport outbraked themselves in their Porsche 924 at Graham Hill bend while K.O.K Support extended their lead over Hamilton. On lap 6, the Apple Car Centre team did a classic textbook outbraking manoeuvre at Paddock Hill on the BUC Racing Impreza.

Nigel White’s next target in his VW Golf was the Porsche 944 of McQ Motorsport, but while he had his sights on fifth place, T.F.L Racing were the quickest of the three and were soon hassling the Golf to regain sixth place. The trio had a close battle and after four laps of close lapping, T.F.L took sixth place and then fifth place from McQ Motorsport. As they did so, the Capstick & Goff Elise came to lap them. At Graham Hill Bend, Team Tactics made a rare error and spun, but rejoined without losing much time. Nigel White also went off the track and lost positions, undoing some of his fine work.

The drying track conditions made it interesting to see who was able to cope the best. Some teams started on a deeper treaded tyre, which, while served them well on the track early on, was now beginning to become a hinderance as a dry line started to appear.

J P Racing’s James Britton began to close the gap to Hamilton in the Clio Cup Racer and then on lap 16, 2 B Monkey’s Clio 172 went off in the gravel trap at Paddock Hill/Hailwoods, causing the yellow flags to be waved. It was the end of the race for the Class C entry. Soon after, the marshals stopped waving the yellows, the Caterham of Ben and Graham Newman encountered a quick off at Hailwood, running off onto the grass but rejoined unscathed.

First of the leaders to pit were Team Cream Slice on lap 21 who were running in forth. As the teams took their mandatory pitstops, the racing calmed down for a while but not for long. On lap 28 James Britton took second place from John Hamilton, passing him at Paddock Hill. Going well in their Saab were WMSS Motorsport and with just over ten minutes of the race to go, fought the McHugh Porsche for fifth place. Lingering with content in the background were T.F.L Racing. On lap 32, WMSS moved upto fifth place, leaving McHugh to fend off the intentions of the #88 Impreza.

A quick glance at the lap times of the drivers showed that James Britton was driving four seconds a lap faster than that of the leader, K.O.K Support Elise. Lap after lap, the gap between the pair was coming down, but would Britton be able to catch the leader in the little time that remained? It was all happening at Hailwoods as John Hamilton lost control of his Clio Cup Racer, spinning at the bottom of the hill, and forfeiting his third place to rival Clio Cup team, Team Cream Slice. Two laps of the race left and the leader had traffic to contend with in his bid to keep position. On the beginning of the last lap, Britton had caught up with the Elise and powered past in his M3 on the hill up to Druids. The spectators had seen great clean racing between the pair and Britton held his nerve to take an amazing victory.

The race was a showcase of what motorsport is all about, close racing, changeable conditions, small mistakes, and last lap lead changes. The thing is, it could of been quite different had Britton had been without his key for a little bit longer.

Post-race thirty second time penalties were dished to Team Cream Slice and John Hamilton for overtaking under yellow flags but this did not affect their finishing positions.

Bring on Donington!

Class A

1st – Capstick/Goff | K.O.K Support, Lotus Elise
2nd – Thomas/Croft | Team Cream Slice, Clio Cup Racer
3rd – John Hamilton | Smart Van, Clio Cup Racer

Class B

1st – James Britton | J P Racing, BMW M3
2nd – Drummond/Green | WMSS Motorsport, Saab CS Aero
3rd – Wright/Cameron | Team Tactics, Porsche 993 C4

Class C

1st – McHugh/McHugh | McQ Motorsport, Porsche 944 S2
2nd – Compaan/Marais | Windgat Racing, Seat Leon Cupra R
3rd – Nigel White | W W Racing, VW Golf GTi Mk2

Class D

1st – Honeybone/Brown | Apple Car Centre, Clio 172
2nd – Baker/Bridgway | RedMoon Racing, Toyota MR2
3rd – Bird/Platt | H G Motorsport, Ginetta G20

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