Round Four - Brands Hatch, 19/20th May 2001

Qualifying

The Brands weekend was a two day event, with qualifying on Saturday and racing on Sunday. Both days were warm and sunny, which was a pity for me - I was hoping for rain. My car doesn't seem to suit Brands Hatch that well, I only change gear twice each lap.

I'm sure there is potential to do a good lap of Brands in the Golf, but I couldn't find it. I was usually too fast into Druids, getting massive understeer as I tried to get round - and worse still, I could never get out of Clearways properly without the front of the car sliding too wide and losing all momentum for the long start finish straight. I managed a 1.00.8 and 5th in class, quicker than last year but well off the pace.

The Race

The good weather and CSMA support of the race day (complete with Battle of Britain fly overs, Red Arrows, Monster trucks and parachute jumps) brought out a crowd of some 23,000 - so approaching the grid was rather nerve racking, today was not the day to stall on the line.

I didn't make a good start, and by Paddock Hill bend a Dolomite Sprint and the Lukin's SD1 Rover had both passed. I had however managed to get close behind Sean Cockerill in his Sunbeam. The next few laps I had a titanic battle with Young in his Mini, eventually I got by exiting Paddock Hill bend on the approach to Druids, by which time Andrew Guy and Rick Kerry in the other class D cars were some way ahead.

There then followed an epic battle with Sean in the Sunbeam - he squeezed by on the entry to Clearways, but I immediately retook the place coming out of the corner. He then went the outside of me at Druids (where I still had terrible understeer) and he kept the outside line for Graham Hill bend, taking me again. But I got alongside on the following straight, Sean pushed me across onto the grass but I held my nerve and edged ahead again.

On the last lap (with the Jaguar taking the chequered flag just behind me) Peter Holton stormed past in his big Rover just before Paddock Hill, then held me up through that corner and Druids, allowing Sean to catch right up again. I managed to keep him behind at Graham Hill bend, but entering Clearways for the last time I had the option of taking the Rover on the outside (allowing Sean the inside line) or following the Rover round, hoping to get enough speed out of the corner to stay ahead of Sean. I didn't - Sean got alongside me then got the power down earlier to race to the line 2 hundredths of a second before me.

For the first time I'd been passed on the last corner of the last lap, and it didn't feel good. But the battle had been for 4th and 5th in class, so it wasn't so important. I now need to combat my understeer to get a better result at Snetterton on 2/3 June.