Trackday Trophy Round 1 Brands Hatch
A sun kissed Brands Hatch welcomed drivers and spectators for the first race weekend of the Trackday Trophy. For many drivers taking part it was their first ever race, keeping true with the series’ philosophy. The drivers’ briefing took place in the hospitality of Bubble & Kick Racing, with Trackday Trophy series co-ordinator Nick Rice taking the microphone and welcoming the drivers.
Shortly afterwards the drivers made their way to the assembly area for qualifying. With the track nice and dry, 32 cars took to the circuit for the first session of the year. Setting the early pace were team 2 B Monkeys in their Clio 182 with a lap of 58.229. Shortly after, the Honda Integra of Team SaM went quicker still with the Peugeot 205 pocket rocket of Raw Motorsport popping into second.
At the half way mark, the top three were Team SaM 56.934, Raw Motorsport 57.340 and Mark Nenadic (15 Degrees North) 57.407. With seven minutes of the session left, Raw Motorsport topped the timesheets with a laptime of 55.765. Team SaM responded immediately with a time of 55.798, before coming into the pits and into the garages. That effectively ended the battle for pole and a few minutes later, Raw Motorsport grabbed the pole, just 0.033s ahead of 2nd on the grid Team SaM.
Top class C qualifier was Simon Barnard in his BMW M3 with a laptime of 57.709, good enough for 6th on the grid overall. Top class D qualifier honours went to the pairing of Paul Sheard/Anthony Nield in their Mk3 Mazda MX5, setting a time of 57.756 – 7th overall. Geoff Gouriet was the quickest of the Class E runners in qualy, Gouriet taking his MX5 around the Indy circuit in a time of 1:01.760 – 24th overall.
As the Monoposto race came to its final stages, there were some anxious faces in the assembly area as the Trackday Trophy drivers sat and waited for the call to race. Conditions remained the same as the qualifying session – dry but now warmer. The drivers received the call and began placing on the grid. The lights went out and the first race of the year was underway, and there was a great start by Barnard in the M3, although Robin Welsh for Raw Motorsport got a good start from pole and held position into Paddock Hill. Mark Nenadic got bogged down at the start losing a couple of places but recovered well. On the first lap there was a battle of the Integras as Steve Smee (Team SaM) came under attack by the Honda of WG Motorworks Racing, with Smee able to defend his position successfully. Welsh converted his good start to complete the first lap 2.5s ahead of second placed Smee, the pace of the 205 looking ominous for the rest of the field. 2 B Monkeys fought for position with the Peak Revs Racing Ginetta, trying to get past at Druids and then again at Graham Hill Bend before setting in behind near bumper to bumper. Also locked in an early race battle were Team Tactics (this year racing a Porsche 944 S2 in the Trophy) and the Clio of Mowser.
The yellow flags came out and the safety car was deployed on lap 3 due to the Nenadic Clio going off circuit at Clearways, a disappointment to Mark after the promise shown in qualifying. Fortunately the car was able to rejoin the track and Nenadic made his way into the pits, where the Bubble & Kick staff checked his car over. After the all clear, he exited the pits and joined the queue behind the safety car.
On lap 6 the safety car pulled in and Welsh led the field over the start/finish straight. Smee made a good restart in second place, and was determined not to let Welsh drive off into the distance. 2 B Monkeys were in a fight for fifth position with Paul Sheard in the Mazda MX5. This was a good clean duel, and a good example of interclass competition – 2 B Monkeys driving a Class B spec Clio, Sheard/Nield driving a Class D MX5. By lap 8 the leaders had caught the backmarkers, and with first and second placed cars so close to each other it would be crucial to handle the traffic well and display race craft.
Geoff Gouriet joined the race long battle between the Pixel8Racing Clio and Corbey in the MG, each driving a different class of car. The Ginetta of HG Motorsport received a drive-through penalty for an infringement under safety car conditions, dropping them a number of places down the order. Up front and the top two were locked together, a great battle with each driver giving the other enough space but holding their own. Steve Smee managed to take the lead from Welsh on Brabham Straight, with Welsh retaking the lead a couple of corners later at Druids. Despite handling backmarkers, the two stayed close to each other and for a couple of laps Smee would take the lead on the Brabham Straight, but because Welsh placed his car on the right hand side, he had the line for Paddock Hill Bend and as a result, was able to regain first place.
With the pit window open, the first teams to come into the pits were D&S Racing 2 and Frost Racing on lap 18. The sister entry of D&S Racing received a five second time penalty for exceeding track limits. With twenty minutes left of the fourty-five minute race, leader Welsh headed into the pitlane for team mate Jason Dzenis to take over. A couple of laps later, Steve Smee in the Team SaM Integra came in, relinquishing the lead to Barnard in the M3, who himself had not pitted yet.
Dzenis and Schofield (Team SaM) carried on the battle for the win, Dzenis with a bit of a gap over second placed Schofield after the pitstops. Shortly after, Team SaM took the lead and Schofield was able to create a bit of space between himself and Dzenis in the 205. Spectators attention then moved to the battle for third position. 2 B Monkeys had raced well and were upto third (started 8th) but the Integra of WG Motorworks were right behind them, hassling and looking racy – wanting to taste the champagne on the podium.
Contact between the Frank Frostick Sierra and Vine Elise at Hailwoods on lap 31 brought out the safety car for its second appearance. Unfortunately for both team this spelt the end of the race. On lap 36, and with 4 minutes of the race remaining, the safety car came in. The battle for third resumed until the lapped RKC Mini Cooper got between them. Unfortunately this meant the end for WG Motorwork’s podium aspirations.
On lap 41, the chequered flag waved and the Team SaM Integra took the win, with Raw Motorsport’s Dzenis in the 205, coming close behind in second.
Post-race, Team SaM were disqualified from the race for a breach of driving standards during the safety car period, thereby handing victory of the race to Raw Motorsport’s Robin Welsh and Jason Dzenis. In second place came 2 B Monkeys with WG Motorwork’s on the final step of the podium.
With Class B won by Raw Motorsport, Class C winner was Simon Barnard in his BMW M3 – Barnard finishing 4th overall. Class D winners were Sheard/Nield in their MX5 – finishing an impressive 5th overall but also mention must go to fellow Class D runners, Staghead Racing who finished a second behind them to finish 6th overall. Class E honours were awarded to D&S Racing – who finished 20th.
B – Dzenis/Welsh, Raw Motorsport, 55.706s
C – Simon Barnard, LimaAlpha Racing, 57.395s
D – Sheard/Nield, Paul Sheard Autos Ltd, 57.570s
E – Geoff Gouriet, D&S Racing 2, 1:01.401
Attention now moves to the second Trackday Trophy race at Silverstone on 13th May. See you there.