11th November 2006 - Brands Hatch
The decision to take part in the “end of season” sports and saloon race at Brands Hatch, gave us the opportunity to continue experimenting with our new suspension set up. Thanks to Graham Bahr we were loaned some 700 lbs springs to try. With a good turnout of 27 cars (including 15 running to “tin top” specification) it made for a good try out.
Saturday dawned overcast after overnight rain, but a stiff breeze soon dried the track although it was slippery off the racing line. Rod obtained pole quite easily from the normally rapid Caterham Superlite of Graham Booth, and the similar car of Nick Starkey. Fourth was the welcome sight of Tommy Carey in his neat Vauxhall Chevette followed by John Willcocks in his smart BMW M3.
The rolling start saw Rod slot into the lead foll0wed by the two Caterhams, but further back Eric Falce had a spin going into Paddock Bend and was unfortunately collected by Ronnie Fielding in his Ford Anglia. Both cars were immobilised so the safety car was deployed. However, there was an interesting situation as the leaders approached the incident. Rod slowed and Graham nipped past but then realised his error and duly pulled over. When they passed the sticken cars a green flag was showing and both Nick Starkey and Francis Butcher shot past before the safety car boards were deployed at Druids. So the order behind the safety car was Starkey, Butcher, Birley, Booth, Willcocks and Dave Thomas. Next up was Jason Watkins having worked feverishly to replace a broken wheel bearing after practice.
Once the pace car pulled off there was a lot of place swapping at the front and eventually Rod was back in the lead followed by the red Caterham. Graham hung on well despite worsening understeer which eventually caused him to crash at Clearways on lap 14. Rod then cruised home 3.554 seconds in front of the black Caterham of Starkey. Butcher drove his Ford Capri well and took third spot from Willcocks, Thomas and Watkins. Mark Steward won the Tiger class from Gordon Streeter who took second in class E. Further back we had FOUR lady racers all enjoying a good scrap together. 2 were in BMW Minis whilst Gemma Morris relied on her older BL example, and Verity Banks had her familiar Proton. They finished in the order of Tina Smith, Sarah Parsons, Verity and Gemma.
For the second race Rod lined up on pole again but somewhere around the “rolling lap” he ended up at the tail of the field. It later transpired that an old radiator header tank cap had been fitted after the other one fell apart. Steam had misted up the drivers side of the windscreen and Rod had stopped to wipe it!! Anyway it meant that the race would be quite interesting. The leaders stormed off trying to make a break, whilst Rod had to find a way past the slower runners. Within three laps he was up to fourth place and watching the antics of Butcher and Thomas. Dave tried to sneak inside Francis at Druids but the two clashed, Rod backed off but then saw an opportunity going along Cooper Straight and shot past the pair of them. Three laps later Jason Watkins thought he could drive around the Capris at Clearways only to find the grip level just was not there. Result one Fiesta in the gravel trap!
By now Rod was hunting down the erstwhile leader Mr.Starkey. On lap eight Rod took the lead only to be repassed by the enthusiastic Caterham driver. At this stage the leaders were starting to lap the back markers, so it became a lottery as to who would gain the upper hand. Eventually Rod emerged with a slight advantage, which he held to the chequered flag. The margin was 0.319 seconds. Butcher again took third spot with Guy Blumer capturing fourth after missing the first race with a wheel bearing problem. Stewart Fenton won the Tiger class, with Gordon Streeter winning class E after Jason’s demise.. Jamie Smith won the standard BMW battle and Verity triumphed in the ladies quartet.
A good end of season fun event, which kept Rod’s winning tally moving closer towards 450.