Brands Hatch Indy – 26/27 September 2015
ByBox Historic Touring Car Championship
We were treated to a touch of the Indian Summers, which all made the most of on a weekend with a nice ‘clubby’ feel to it.
A fine 26 cars took to the track for qualifying and most took several laps to set their best times. Just as well they didn’t wait too late because just over half way through Joe Gomm’s Lotus Cortina ventilated it’s block on the downhill blast from Druids. The resultant oil slick pirouetted Joe off track, fortunately without other damage, and frightened those behind. The red flags were out very quickly and that was the session over. Before all this drama, Warren Briggs’ Mustang had taken pole from the Lotus Cortinas of Tim Davies and Mike Gardiner. Less than a tenth covered these three. The Lotus Cortinas of Mark Davies and the unfortunate Joe were next up with Pete Hallford’s Mustang and Bob Bullen’s Anglia close behind. A gap of eight tenths then took us back to a very close group finishing off the top ten – Ian Curley’s Cooper S, championship leader Simon Benoy’s Imp and John Spiers’ Lotus Cortina.
Race 1 all away well and Warren just managed to hold the inside line into Paddock from Tim and Mike with Pete’s Mustang edging out Mark for fourth. This was the order across the line for the first lap but on lap two Mike slipped past Tim and set after Warren. It takes Mark until lap four to usurp Pete’s Mustang and then it’s three Lotus Cortinas chasing Warren’s Mustang. The gap to the leader is rarely more than a second over the line, and much less elsewhere. Warren’s driving a canny race, using V8 power in all the right places, knowing one slide too much and they’ll pounce. Mike’s pursuit of course is tempered by keeping Tim and Mark behind and on lap ten Tim sees a gap on the inside at Paddock. Like the proverbial he’s alongside and robustly edges Mike out. As Mike recovers, Mark takes advantage of him regrouping and snatches third. To add insult to injury, a couple of laps later Mike’s engine starts smoking and he pulls off on the pits straight. Tim can make no more impression on Warren than Mike had and now has an eager Mark on his tail, who gets very close on many occasions but can’t quite pull it off. As it turns out, it wouldn’t have made any difference if he had as he was slapped a 5 second penalty for exceeding track limits. So, Warren wins, from Tim, then Mark. Bob Bullen drops as low as eighth for the first few laps and puts in a great drive, passing the fast starting Simon and Ian Curley then gradually reeling in Pete’s Mustang, finally getting past on lap twelve for a strong fourth place. Pete held fifth comfortably with a ten second gap back to Robyn Slater, who also had to overcome the pesky Imp and Mark Watts’ Mustang (8th), running very well in the top ten. Ian Curley unfortunately retired on lap seven, leaving Jonathan Milicevic’s Cooper S in ninth and John Spiers’ Lotus Cortina tenth. Although they spread out by the finish, John Spiers/Andy Harrison (Cooper S)/Steve Platts (Chamois)/Nick Paddy (Cooper S)/Nigel Cox (Lotus Cortina)/Adrian Oliver (Imp)/David Alexander (Alfa) had a lively mid field tussle and for a while, until his exhaust fell off, Tim Stanbridge was well in the mix too. The finishers were rounded out by the Lotus Cortinas of David Moran and Claire Hedley.
Race 2 and Warren again manages to hold that vital inside line into Paddock. Tim slots into second with Mark third and this group pull away. Just as in race 1, Tim is doing all he can to get to grips with Warren, but with his mirrors full of Mark. Lap seven though and Tim gets a rest – Mark tries to be just too late on the brakes into Paddock and he’s in the gravel. But he maintains forward momentum and extricates himself, losing about 5 seconds in doing so. With Mark apparently less of a threat, Tim pursues Warren with even more vigour, but although the gap is sometimes less than a second, V8 power and wily driving keep the Mustang in the lead to the flag. But behind, Mark definitely has second wind and as soon as he’s shaken the gravel from his tyres he’s driving like a man possessed, whittling down the gap to the leaders and setting fastest lap along the way. By lap seventeen he’s back within a second of Tim, just about alongside on Bottom straight several times but cannot force a way past. Another cracking race and a double win for Warren. The next three spots are just as in race one as well, but this time Bob holds fourth, Pete fifth and Robyn sixth throughout. Mark Watts does a place better finishing seventh, then a gap back to John Spiers, Simon and Jon Milicevic. Steve Platts, Nick Paddy and Andy Harrison had tremendous fun tussling over eleventh, finishing in that order. Steve returned with a big smile declaring this was just what he went racing for, Andy similarly, and Nick (who shares his car with Miglia legend Bill Sollis) had already said earlier in the day that we offered the sort of good racing he’s looking for. The remaining finishers were a bit strung out – Keith Padmore’s Cooper S (15th), Adrian Oliver’s Imp, and the Alfas of David Alexander and Neil Merry.
Congratulations to Simon, who takes the championship overall for the second time. Whilst that may be settled though, there are class positions that can still be influenced at the Silverstone Finals. Let’s hope the weather continues fine – see you there on October 17th.Peter Hore
We were THERE!
Report and Photos to follow soon