Brands Full Report

Brands Hatch 11th and 12th June 2011.

You wait all winter for a TVR Challenge race and then two come along within two weeks of each other. With rounds one and two at Snetterton completed during the late May Bank holiday there was little time to prepare before the show moved to the historic Brands Hatch circuit in Kent.

Snetterton had been hard on the gearboxes and with such a sort gap it was likely that a few drivers would have been missing, in fact the commitment to the series is such that pretty much all those out in rounds 1 and 2 were ready. We knew that Dave Stewart and the glorious red Griffith were never intending to make the long trip down and Turbo Tim had other commitments that prevented him racing. With budgets tight as well as time, a repair to the Blue Tuscan of Kevan Gore was also most unlikely but we did have the pleasure of his company as racer became proud and supportive Dad to son Alex in only his second race after a late and tentative first outing at the end of last season. The Gore Tasmin had been ?Tangoed? over the winter and was now in a slightly more conspicuous Orange from the ?You aint seen me right!? Black livery of 2010.

The entry sheets also identified two new entrants to the series. Martin Crass and John Seery. Sadly John had an altercation with a crash barrier in testing so was a late withdrawal as the car couldn?t be repaired in time. Martin was there though and although coming back after a long lay off he was no stranger to the series having competed in the Glory Days.

The other good news was that we had pit garage allocation for the weekend, now most wouldn?t appreciate the importance of this but when a wet weekend is anticipated as was the forecast, the prospect of working on cars under wind ravaged gazebos is not nice and then having to pack the things away while they are wet is even worse. As with all things TVR though, it wasn?t all straightforward. We had nine garages and 12 cars and also needed to find space for the hospitality area. So an early arrival on circuit Friday afternoon saw me patrolling the pits sizing up space and in the best traditions of Baldric coming up with a ?Plan so Cunning? that we could all fit in. The hospitality area would be set up in Garage three and there was sufficient space in each pair of garages to take three cars so problem solved ?Simples?.

Friday is generally a test day at Brands and this was no exception but the late 18.40 finish meant that there were a few crews almost clawing the ground to get in. Charlie Francis and Iain Jones of Intracar had made the long trip down and across country to support again but their priority would be setting up their accommodation for the weekend as would Archbishop Chant and the whole family who had taken 8.5 hours to get down from Glossop.

So it was a huge thanks to TVR gent and 2009 Champ Tim Davis and local RO Nick Smith for helping set things up. Joining up with Keith Vaughan Williams they even had the good grace to take yours truly out for a curry and a blast in Nick?s superbly looked after Griffith. Anyone who has spent an evening with these guys ends up with jaw ache from laughing so much and Nick even went out of his way to take me back to the circuit.

Qualifying

The downside of a good curry night and the ubiquitous beers that are needed to cool it down is a foggy head in the morning and through slightly bleary eyes I got the urn on for a brew just as life was beginning to emerge around the pit garages. Now at this point I will let you in on a master plan, the light at Brands is such that there are limited places to take pictures from early in the morning and one of these is Druids. George Carter must have thought it was his birthday when I offered it to him first thing, the plan was that my generosity would be rewarded with the classic pack shot on the Sunday as the cars come up to the bridge, but more of the plan later. I wandered over to the outside of Clark Curve to catch the cars as they got ?light? over the humps at Clearways.

With the exception of Perry Waddams having a bit of an unassisted moment at Clearways they all behaved themselves and the grid positions settled and were very different from Snetterton. On pole we had veteran of 108 Tuscan Challenge qualifying sessions Hugh Marshall with an impressive 51.9 and alongside him on the front row separated by just 0.193 was the RV8 Tuscan of Andy Race. To give you some sort of perspective on these times, Time Attack cars with 4 wheel drive, more aero than a DTM car and 700 + bhp on a warm dry track manage around 52 seconds.

The second row had Perry Waddams in an impressive third out this time in Dean Cook?s old car instead of the LS powered red one and alongside him was local man Keith Vaughan Williams; just 0.614 seconds separated the top four.

On row three we had Jason Clegg in the S3Erbera with Cliff Jobson and the speed 6 T350R alongside him. On row 4 we had two class A cars with Jamie Golby just ahead of Darren Smith. In a world of race driver excuses it is refreshing to get the truth, Jamie just can?t seem to get his head around Brands Hatch, with such a short circuit one corner can make a huge difference and if that corner is Paddock Hill a huge amount of time can be lost. For Darren it was a case of just being far too far South, first time out on the Brands Hatch Indy with 450 bhp under the right foot is a fast learning curve. There were just 1.8 seconds covering the top eight cars.

On row 5 we had series newcomer Martin Crass in a class A Tuscan just alongside the Class Tasmin of 2010 Champion Dave Chant. Now to say Martin is a newcomer is not completely true, he has form as they say. He raced in the Challenge series from 1989 to 2003 and his profile reads very impressively. First time out in this car though and set up issues meant that mechanic Matt Smith would be in for a busy lead up to the race.

Row 6 had Leigh Jones ahead of rookie Alex Gore. Leigh was trying to get over to his mechanic brother that the car just seemed all wrong and Alex was just trying to stay out of every ones way this being only his second race meeting.

Race 1

Now I could be accused of over sharing here but with the race due to start at 2:15 I was beginning to contemplate where I would go to get shots of the first race, the toilet was not originally high on my list for good angles and light but it soon became my priority. What at first seemed to be the ?normal? post curry gripes became the Winter Vomiting bug and the toilet was set to become my home. I did manage to get one of the cameras out of the van and positioned myself strategically by the ambulance gate with a reasonable view of the track and more importantly within running distance of the loo.

A terrible start for Hugh Marshall allowed three cars through and the assembled pack headed to druids led by Andy Race, with Perry Waddams hot on his rear end, the big gains were made by Jamie Golby making up five places to grab second ahead of Perry Waddams by the end of lap one. Now Andy has a theory that the lower powered class B cars don?t have such a great disadvantage over the class A cars on such a short track and this may be true but the mutterings of a very fired up Hugh Marshall must have been audible over the top of the thundering AJP V8 as he put on a charge through and had taken third away from Perry Waddams by the end of lap 4.

Behind them there was a good tussle for sixth place between Darren Smith and Cliff Jobson with a bit more track familiarity Cliff held off the Class A car until lap 4 but there was another man on the move, Martin Crass was beginning to get the feelings back from the old days and had moved up to eighth place ahead of Jason Clegg. Behind them Dave Chant continued his game plan to keep ahead of the class C cars and not get tangled up with the front runners. Alex Gore continued to find his feet in only his second race and Leigh Jones was struggling with his class B Tasmin that just didn?t want to play ball.

By the end of lap 6 Hugh had moved up to third and the gap to Andy was down to less than a second by the end of lap 7. It was obviously not going to be if Hugh caught him but when and then if Hugh could get past. He did both by the end of lap nine and Perry and Jamie continued to swap places behind them. By the end of lap 10 Martin Crass had moved ahead of Cliff in the T350R the extra grunt of the V8 besting the sweet noise of the straight six. By lap 12 local driver Keith Vaughan Williams had caught and passed Jamie Golby so maybe Andy?s theory was true but maybe it was that Jamie just can?t seem to feel at home at Brands Hatch and was loosing valuable time each lap into Paddock. Martin Crass moved ahead of Darren Smith on lap 14 and the race settled a bit for 5 or so laps. We lost Leigh Jones on lap 18 to mechanical issues. Perhaps sensing the chequered flag Cliff Jobson moved ahead of Darren to take 7th on lap 20 and Keith moved ahead of Perry on lap 21.

Back on lap 12 the gap between Hugh in first back to Andy was 4.1 seconds by lap 20 that gap was just 0.7 seconds and four seconds covered the front four cars.
Results Race 1

Overall

1st ?Hugh Marshall
2nd ?Andy Race
3rd ?Keith Vaughan Williams
4th ?Perry Waddams

Class A

1st ?Hugh Marshall
2nd ?Perry Waddams
3rd ?Jamie Golby
4th?Martin Crass

Fastest Lap: Hugh Marshall on lap 8 with a time of 51.94 and an average speed of 83.71 mph

Class B

1st ?Andy Race
2nd ?Keith Vaughan Williams
3rd ?Cliff Jobson

Fastest Lap: Keith Vaughan Williams on lap 15 in a time of 52.04 and an average speed of 83.55 mph

Class C

1st ?Dave Chant
2nd ?Alex Gore

Fastest Lap: Dave Chant on lap 15 in a time of 56.56 and an average speed of 76.89.

A post race barbecue had been organised and I am told everyone had a great time, the only damper being a Jobsworth who tried to stop proceedings despite the fact we had permission from the circuit management. He was informed of the facts in no uncertain terms by Mr P who not only shares an outward look of a Bulldog but also has the same resolute approach and needless to say the party continued. I spent the evening between the van and the toilet and didn?t participate at all, my misery continued throughout the night and into the next morning. This is where the cunning plan went to pieces, by the time came for race two on Sunday morning, I couldn?t even pick one of my cameras up let alone attempt the long walk to Druids to try get some shots, so I left it to George to venture out into the drizzle and I settled for a vantage point where I could see the race and still have a loo in sight.

Race 2

The finishing positions from Saturday?s race determined the grid for race two, so we had Hugh on pole and alongside him the Class B Tuscan of Andy Race. Row two had Keith alongside Perry and on row three Jamie lined up alongside Martin Crass. Row four saw Cliff paired with Darren and row five had Jason Clegg with Class C leader Dave Chant. Alex claimed the next position with the DNF forcing Leigh Jones to the back of the field.

Again the start saw Hugh bog down and Andy move into the lead hotly pursued through Paddock Hill Bend by Keith Vaughan Williams with Perry and Jamie tight to their tails for company. Jamie just edged into third place at Druids and Keith overdid the power on the exit on the greasy track and spun off on the inside to drop back into a firm last place. Into Paddock Hill for the second time and Andy, Perry and Jamie were all tight together but Hugh made a move on the outside of the bend to take third place away from Jamie, and further back Darren had gained three places and was leading Martin by a half car length into Graham Hill bend. Hugh continued his pressure on Jamie and again took him on the outside at Paddock Hill in a repeat of race one. This put Jamie into the sights of Darren and Martin down the pit straight were they ran three abreast until it came to the entry to Paddock Hill when it is a case of who is braver and later on the brakes, this time it was Martin that emerged at the bottom of Paddock Hill ahead. While the fight for 4th 5th and 6th raged on Andy was building a bit of a gap on Perry and Hugh while further back Keith was driving with all his heart and had forced his way from the back of the field through to 7th place. Jason Clegg and Cliff Jobson didn?t like to be left out and Cliff used the superior grip of the T350R to make a clean but close move into 8th place at Graham Hill Bend.

At Druids for the 8th time Perry was defending hard against Hugh and took to the inside of the bend, four wheels on wet grass gains speed in the wrong direction and he stalled the engine, took two attempts to restart it and lost 2nd to Hugh and 3rd to Martin while he sorted himself out.

Now clear of Perry, Hugh set aim for Andy and over the next three laps ate away at the gap until he could use the superior power of the AJP V8 over the Rover V8 to pull past him on the Brabham Straight. Keith continued his charge and by lap twelve had fought his way to 5th place. Jamie was obviously struggling for grip and he slowly slipped back into the pack. At the rear of the field Dave Chant was doing exactly what he needed to do, keep it on the black bit and not try to race cars in higher classes and young Alex was beginning to find his way and was becoming more and more familiar with the car and was getting quicker lap by lap. For Leigh Jones though the car was suffering more and more vibration and became nearly un-driveable and he pulled in on lap 15 to not rejoin. Post race investigation showed a snapped chassis member ? no wonder it was a bit of a struggle keeping it in a straight line!

Once ahead of Andy, Hugh led the race imperiously from the front with the chasing pack remaining mostly in order. Cliff was then the man on a mission, either he had more commitment or more grip but by lap 19 he was up to an impressive 6th and a great dice for the final 4 laps where he and Keith traded a bit of paint and position a number of times with Keith eventually heading him out into 6th on the line. A trip to the grass on the Cooper Straight as he entered Surtees saw Jamie into a full spin to drop back a further two spots for a race result he would sooner like to forget.

Not to be outdone Dave Chant decided for some indefinable reason that it might be fun to cross the finishing line backwards but changed his mind at the pit entrance and rejoined facing the right way to take the flag.

You know that the racing is good when you have spent all night in the toilet, feel like rubbish and look like a warmed corpse and you still cheer and applaud as the cars cross the line. Donington in a month or so and I can?t wait!
Results Race 2

Overall

1st ?Hugh Marshall
2nd ?Andy Race
3rd ?Martin Crass
4th ?Perry Waddams

Class A

1st ?Hugh Marshall
2nd ?Martin Crass
3rd ?Perry Waddams
4th?Darren Smith

Fastest Lap: Martin Crass on lap 19 with a time of 53.14 and an average speed of 81.40 mph

Class B

1st ?Andy Race
2nd ?Keith Vaughan Williams
3rd ?Cliff Jobson

Fastest Lap: Cliff Jobson on lap 6 in a time of 53.63 and an average speed of 81.07 mph

Class C

1st ?Dave Chant
2nd ?Alex Gore

Fastest Lap: Dave Chant on lap 15 in a time of 58.50 and an average speed of 74.33.

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