Brands Hatch  -  23rd July 2006

The sixth round of the championship saw a return to Brands Hatch but this time on the shorter Indy circuit. This in itself posed a problem due to the fact that our championship is very popular competitor wise. The BARC committee decided that, provided they entered and paid in time before the closing date, entries would be seeded according to the number of rounds supported. The net result was a very long reserve list, but by the time race day arrived it had shortened to just five.

37 cars therefore took to the track for practice. With a clear lap being virtually impossible everyone had the same excuse… TRAFFIC !     In the end Rod took pole from David Oates, with Kris Waite and Peter Wilkinson occupying row 2. Although Greg Rose set the fourth best time he was still second reserve, but by race time he was allowed to join in at the back after both Graham Bahr and Ashley Hargreaves withdrew with engine problems. Verity Banks just scraped in when Ray Barrow discovered his water pump leaking in the collecting area. The rest of the grid line up appears on the results page.

The start of the first race saw an even break from the front row, although Rod edged ahead by Paddock Bend. Storming up Hailwood Hill, Kris Waite tried an optimistic out breaking manoeuvre, somewhat reminiscent of David Lees a few years ago. Net result, one yellow Sapphire in the Druids gravel trap. Nick Williamson was harassing the white Tigra, but then performed an uncharacteristic spin. Nick later retired when the throttle linkage broke. Peter Wilkinson then took up the cudgels and closed in, only for his power steering belt to break.

He managed to finish with brute strength and plenty of sweat. Meanwhile Greg Rose was storming through from the back of the grid, a charge which earnt him “driver of the meeting award” from News Shopper. He struggled to get past John Cross, the grey Focus performing much better than of late. It came down to a last minute lunge at the finish line, which went in Greg’s favour, just. Needless to say there were numerous battles throughout the field, one of which involved Tim Dodwell, Russell Bradley, Alan Cherry and Andrew Gatfield. Tim led the group at the chequered flag and earnt himself the driver of the race award.

Ray Barrow fixed his waterpump, courtesy of Sam Weatherley for race two, and he joined the other back of the grid starters (namely Kris Waite, Nick Williamson and Barry Barnes, who finally got his long awaited run). Missing were Jason Watkins, with a mysterious misfire, and David Coleman, ventilated block. The rolling start was conducted perfectly and everyone set off in neat formation with Rod leading the pack into Paddock bend. David slotted into second with Greg third. Unfortunately John Cross and Peter Wilkinson had a disagreement over space coming out of Druids on the second lap. The incident saw them both hit the tyre wall quite severely, which was a great shame. Luckily neither driver was injured, thank goodness.

The “back of the grid starters” were all making good progress, Kris commenting that he felt like a fox in a chicken house. Kris’s progress came to a premature halt when his gearbox exploded on Brabham Straight, its contents being liberally strewn on the racing line. Nick Williamson just managed to get up to fourth, passing Richard Brent on the final lap. Richard still managed a remarkable fifth overall, with Andrew Mitchell not far behind. Richard Gane took his second class win of the day, narrowly holding off a charging Ray Barrow. Ray secured the second Quaife Engineering “driver of the day” award, which he kindly passed on to Sam Weatherley for his help during the day. Nigel Craig just managed to get to the front of his battle with class rivals Steve Weatherley and David Smart. Nigel’s success took him back into the class B points lead.

Bill Richards had a good run to third in class E and 12th overall, a mere 0.3 of a second in front of fireman Mark Hosken and his pretty Audi TT. Ray Adams took 14th slot and the “best prepared car of the day” award. Gary Cole was 15th and second in class C, beating off a strong group which included Greg Pye and Alex Ribbens (battling for class D honours), Andy Woods-Dean, Andy Pipe and Anthony Ahmed. Barry Barnes raised a cheer by successfully gaining 11 places. Barry has fought hard against cancer this year, and his determination to race is a lesson to us all.

The rest of the finishers are shown on the results page, the only other non-finisher was Peter Taylor who retired his Sierra Cosworth. In the words of the commentator, David Addison: “It is always good to see something different, the last time I saw this series was two years ago at the Brands F3/GT meeting, but it has got even better. Any championship with that level of variety must be doing something right. I haven’t done a count yet, but I reckon it must have more different makes of car than any national or tin top championship. The level of preparation was really impressive, and it was good to see Barry Barnes back on the circuit. Long may you all continue to entertain us.”

Good words and praise well deserved. Roll on Brands on Saturday August 19th.