Brands Race Report

Brands Hatch season finale 7th November 2009


Well, it’s down to the wire again in terms of the class and overall championships, we have a realistic chance of the former, but the latter may now be just out of reach. The final race of the season was an “Into the night “ race and as such, the qualifying session which started just before 1600hrs was split into two sections, half being daylight qualifying and the other night qualifying, 3 laps in each section required by all drivers. Not many of us realised this so there was something of a panic when it was pointed out, god knows how many teams actually complied with it, and we did, but only just. The race start was planned for 1655hrs and would run for 90 odd minuets in order to finish by the circuit cut off time of 1830hrs so we had little time between qualifying and the grid form up to complete all the things we had to do. We had not been over fussed about our grid position as we were content to start somewhere in the late midfield as from experience, night races at Brands have a habit of starting off with everyone trying to get to paddock bend first and often ended up with contact of one form or another. We all agreed that we should have 2 green flag laps so that we could attempt to get some heat in our tyres and brakes. We decided that Jay should take the opening stint and do his best to carefully bring us into contention for a class 3 win, and that after he had achieved this or if 50 odds minuets’ of the race had elapsed, with ever was the sooner, Rod would take over and try and maintain position.  Well like all plans, this didn’t quite go to plan for on the first lap of the race, on the first corner (Paddock), all hell broke loose with cars going off all over the place. Our main opposition for a class/championship win, the Marcos no; 35 car run by Topcats was right in the middle of it and their race was over. This was not the way we would have liked things to go as we felt that at Brands we had a very good chance of out racing them on the track partially with the tyre degrading that would prove vital to finishing the race. They accepted their bad luck with dignity and even came to our garage to congratulate us for a 2009 class win for they were the only team that could have taken it from us, gentlemen to a man. Whilst all of this was going on the race itself had been continuing behind a safety car while the debris from the first corner incident was removed and this took quite a while to resolve. The race re-started in earnest after about 20 laps or so and Jay got on with the task in hand for we knew now that we had secured the class championship, but honour demanded that we should do our best to win the race and for all we knew at the time, maybe the overall championship.

 Jay took us forward to 3rd in class behind the Jordan Ginetta and our Spanish stable mates in their 996 GT3 and around 12th overall have made up about 10 places and when another safety car came into play, we took advantage of the fact and decided to change drivers, it was near as damn it on our timetable anyway so Jay pitted and handed the car over to Rod. The safety car period was still in session when Rod joined the circuit so he did what he could to keep the tyres up to temperature which in the cold night conditions was not as easy as it sounded. During this final stint there were yet more safety car periods which do after a time disrupt the drivers attempts to gain position for one can achieve some success only to see it evaporate when a safety car comes into play and the entire field is again bunched up. On the other hand, if you are some distance behind your quarry, he too suffers as now you have him in your sights. The Jordon Ginetta, had been running strongly and had also benefited from the safety car pit stops for somehow they were now a whole lap ahead and still leading the class. Our Spanish team mates were in 2nd place but Rod was now closing rapidly as he was confident of taking the 2nd place from them. For 3 or 4 laps, the two  996’s battled nose to tail but the Spanish Car went very wide at clearways and that was all that Rod needed to bag the position. So this was really how the race finished, 2nd in class, and an amazing 8th Overall, 19 points was our total which when added to our championship haul gave us a very credible 116 total, The championship went to the leading class 2 MJC Ferrari 360 le mans special of Witt Gamski and Keith Robinson with 119 points and second place overall went to the class 1 winners, Sumpter and Slater in the magnificent Paragon motorsport  997 RSR, we came third so considering the fact that our car is a bog standard 996 cup car, not a bad result in such exalted company.

So that’s 2009 taken care of, time to take a break and consider 2010. We have now won the class 3 title 2009, the class 2 title 2008, and the overall Britcar GT title 2008, so the only thing we haven’t yet bagged is the class 1 title so maybe we should change our car and have a crack at that which may of course lead to another overall title if we a successful next season assuming for the moment that we can both find and afford the right kind of class 1 car for it is going to have to be something a bit special if we are to take on the Moslers and the RSR Porsches etc, Do we have a plan? Of course we do !!!!

We can’t end this report without reference to the brilliance and outstanding professionalism of our support and preparation team, Neil garner Performance Engineering, for they for the second season running provided us with a faultless car, thank you boys, we owe you many many beers !!! Finally, to our drivers, Rod, Jan and Jay for some quite outstanding individual and team work performances, there’s life in the old boy’s yet, and to the Hawthorns team manager Diane Barrett, Rod’s wife, who along with the countless other duties she is responsible for, manage to keep all the drivers and team in line during pit stops. We didn’t get a single time penalty throughout the season as she took it upon herself to stand in front of the car until it was deemed by her to be the right time to go, woe betide the driver who ignored her, which of course none did. !!  

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