Brands Hatch, 14th May 2005

The CSMA Classic meeting (http://www.classicfestival.co.uk/) at Brands Hatch is the biggest event all year at the Kent circuit and in terms of spectators is the third biggest motorsport event in the UK, only behind the Silverstone Grand Prix and the Goodwood Festival of speed. Club competitors like myself rarely get to drive in front of 250 people, never mind 25,000 so full grids and exciting racing was guaranteed. 

Qualifying - Classic Thunder

A rolling road session at Road'nTrack (thanks Steve) had found another 7 BHP and a much better power curve compared to Thruxton so I was looking forward to Brands. Classic Thunder qualifying was stopped after 1 lap with a Alfa Sprint parked on the exit point of Paddock Hill bend with all four wheel nuts missing on one wheel. We were just getting up to speed again when an Anglia and a BMW 2002 had a massive coming together so we ended up with another wait in the pit lane then 5 minutes to set a time. I finally managed to find some space and posted a 60.910 equaling my quickest time around the Indy circuit. This left me 23rd out of 31 starters and 3rd in class F. 

Qualifying - Classic Group One

One of the busiest qualifying sessions I have ever taken part in, again interrupted by a red flag just as a gap appeared. The Golf seemed to be driving well but suffering badly from understeer as it always does around Brands. On the very last lap the laptimer showed a time of 60.509 - a new personal best. This was enough to be third in class, 15th out of 34 qualifiers and within reach of the cars ahead of me and in front of Thruxton class D winner Andy Hayne.

Race - Classic Thunder

A massive grid rolled slowly around Clearways for the race start, this gave us all a chance to note the size of the crowd before preparing for the red lights. Fortunately there were no delays and a clean start, I got away OK but the Langeveld Capri came past on the run to Paddock. For several laps I followed him and the slick-shod Howell in another Golf, they were both slightly quicker than me but I was just about keeping up until the front runners started to lap. Now I had to watch both the cars ahead of me and my mirrors for the race leaders fast approaching behind. Brands is a small circuit to be racing in with such a big grid and spread of potential laptimes.

Exiting Graham Hill bend on lap 5 or so I noticed 3 quicker cars behind me, I lost the back end in a lurid slide but caught it in time to get to the right hand side of the track, indicate right and point with my left hand for the cars to pass on the inside. They did - but not without a Sierra Cosworth whacking into the side of me pushing me across the grass and towards the tyre wall! Gulp - managed to get back on track and the car seemed OK but the Capri and the Golf were well ahead by now. I concentrated on trying to set a good lap time but was getting slower and slower, I reckoned the front geometry had been put out by the altercation with the Cossie. So I ended the race in 20th position out of 25 finishers, 3rd in class. My best lap was a 60.921.

 

 

Talking to the Sierra driver afterwards it seemed he had moved to pass me but then another car was trying to pass him at the same time, the gap that appeared to be there had disappeared so he was left to use me as a crash barrier. Oh well - the door and wing pushed back out anyway, another battle scar on the SPN Golf.

Race - Classic Group One

So - the last race of the day and generally my biggest race of the year - Classic Group One at Brands Hatch. There was a full grid and several reserves so the track felt like the M25 in rush hour as we did the green flag lap, at least I was up in the front half of the pack for the dash into Paddock on lap 1.

So - 5 second board, adrenalin kicks in - and the lights go out. I make a great start and catch High Poston's Fiesta easily on the run to Paddock, I then make a move down the inside but he firmly closes the door and I end up following him around, blocked in by the Hayne Golf on the outside of me. We go up the hill to Druids in formation and I'm still boxed in, this allows Hayne to go around the outside of the hairpin and take the place - bollocks! The next few laps are a mad dash as the pack starts to spread out, I have a BMW 323i behind me pushing to get past and I'm not really quick enough to have a go at the Hayne Golf ahead. Lap 5 and the BMW gets the run on me up the start/finish straight and dives down the inside, another place gone. Then it gets worse - exiting Graham Hill bend I can't find any gears at all and by the time I do a Lotus Cortina and Alan Roper's SD1 Rover are also passed. At this stage I'm thinking I might as well have selected reverse gear on the start line and just let them all past!

Anyway - gears start selecting normally again, suggesting another driver error, at least the car ain't broke. I start pushing the Lotus Cortina and attack at Druids, he doesn't defend his line and I've got a place back. But the Rover is harder work - I'm quicker through the tight corners but can't get passed, he pulls out a gap down the main straight so I'm not close enough to have a try at Paddock. 

Once again my Golf chases a Rover around Brands Hatch for lap after lap and just can't get by - so I end up finishing in 13th place overall, 4th in class. I'm happy enough but the lap times are disappointing. I haven't managed to break 61 secs, Don Hughes has done a 59.0 and Hugh Poston a 59.3. Jesus.

I checked the lap charts (http://www.msttiming.com/barc/2005/51921.pdf) hoping that Don's time was a one off, in fact most of his laps were in the low 59s and his slowest lap was quicker than my quickest!! I've never been that good around Brands but the extent to which other competitors have improved over me was an eye opener, I've got a lot of work to do to get back to competing for class wins.

 

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Hugh Poston and his Fiesta
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There are lots of Capris in Group One these days, this is Adrian Fullers.
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Dave Howard's V12 Jaguar
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The class D area of the paddock
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The CTCRC bus
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There was a classic motorbike race on the Saturday
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Richard Langeveld's Capri
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The Golf looking relatively smart
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Poor Gary Cole had more engine woes
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This BMW had a big accident
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A nice looking Alfa Sprint
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The rapid Don Hughes Golf
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I had my own little fan club
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Matthew and Zara became best friends!
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Steve, usual CT driver but helping out today
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The trailer proved to be a popular play area