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Wood-Scott Racing – ProductionS1 – Brands Hatch, June 17-18
The Return Of The Golf

Buoyed by their recent successful weekend in the Britcar V8 Supercars series at Snetterton last month, Stuart Scott and Steve Wood decided to dust-off the trusty VW Golf, for the pair of ProductionS1 races on the glorious Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.

The yellow Golf, still bearing its Gulf Air livery, had not been used since 2003, and its controversial campaign in the British GT Championship, and is now run by Neil Bainbridges’s BS Motorsport team: Stuart and Steve were delighted to be reunited with the car.

Saturday’s 30-minute qualifying session saw Stuart Scott, who hadn’t tried the car in testing, dial himself in steadily, posting a provisional 15th in the 38-car field, before handing over to Steve Wood halfway through the session. Steve joined the fray at a point when lap times became tumbling down, Mark Lemmer’s Honda, Peter Seldon’s BMW, and most significantly, Calum Lockie’s BMW all lowering the bar, the vastly experienced Lockie punching in a 1:37.135 to claim provisional pole. Through this, though, Steve was getting progressively faster, climbing to fourth, then second quickest, and with just five minutes of the session left, Steve set 1:38.003, confirming that the Golf would share the front row of the grid with the Paul White / Calum Lockie BMW M3 for the afternoon’s 60-minute sprint race.

Steve was to take the first stint of the race, and, when the lights went green, he was off into the lead, with BMWs of Nigel Stephens and Peter Seldon on his tail, but a spinning Mini at the back of the field brought out the safety car after just one lap, and he was unable to capitalise on the clear track ahead.

Once the caution was lifted, Steve still had Peter Seldon hard on his tail, but five laps in, there was drama behind as Paul White’s BMW clashed with Lemmer’s Honda across the start/finish line, the massive accident once again initiating the deployment of the safety car. Once clear again, there was precious little time – just three racing laps, in fact – before the EERC’s silver Saab had its orange roof-lights flashing yet again, a beached MG at Druids needing recovery.

Many competitors chose this point to make their mandatory pit stops, but Steve adhered to the plan, and stayed out on track, in the lead, in front of fellow non-stopper Ian White in the body-kitted BMW M3.

With just 20 minutes of the race left to run, the pit stop window was rapidly closing, but the persistent safety car periods had only allowed Steve to build a lead of around eight seconds, not enough to maintain the lead, or even guarantee a good finish.

The agonisingly long 105-second pit-stop dropped the Golf, Stuart now installed behind the wheel, to 10th position, and a lap adrift of the leading BMW of Kevin Clarke, and with traffic now an issue too, there was precious little opportunity to improve in the remaining time left. Stuart finished the race 12th, leaving the team a little disappointed, as Steve explained; “We stuck to our game plan……”

“Which is called help the aged,” interrupted Stuart, in good humour…….
“………….and it cost us the lead. The safety car was a bit slow, and I had to keep weaving to maintain the heat in the tyres, and keep an eye on the temperature, but we really lost it in the pits, stationary for 105 seconds.”

That said, both Stuart and Steve were pleased with the car, and their performances. “It’s a joy to drive, great torque and acceleration, and very understated to look at,” said Stuart, Steve adding “The car is fantastic, and really suits this circuit. It fills you with lots of confidence. and inspires you to go faster.”

With the grid for Sunday’s two-hour race being set by Saturday’s result, and John George’s second-placed Honda withdrawing, Steve faced a battle through traffic from 11th on the grid, as the field got the green light for Race two. Despite the frantic place of the five BMWs at the front, Steve was very soon splitting the lead pack, and by lap five slipped past Michael Symons’ M3 on the inside at Paddock Hill Bend, and into the lead. This time, with a few less cars on the track, and the BMWs entangled in their own squabbles, Steve was able to build a comfortable lead, but then the dreaded safety car appeared on lap 22, Michael McInerney having landed his Honda in the gravel, and whilst the majority of the field elected to take their mandatory stops, Steve once again stuck to the plan, staying out on track.

Second-placed Fergus Campbell, in the Metcalf Motorsport BMW E30, had similar ideas, and when, after five laps, the safety car let the pack loose again, Steve’s lead had shrunk to little over four seconds.

The BMW, though, had been bugged by a misfire throughout the race, and Steve was able to draw back his advantage, which was up to 25 seconds when he suddenly pitted, with 50 minutes of the race to go. This, it transpires, was a little earlier than expected, and whilst fuel was taken on, tyres changed, and Stuart was belted in the driver’s seat, investigations under the bonnet determined that it was prudent to call it a day. A sad end to what was building to a good result.

“ I felt the engine getting fluffy, all of a sudden, just as I came off the long circuit, and I came in straightaway, about six laps earlier than we meant to,” explained Steve, adding. “we refuelled, put on new fronts, and Stuart was ready to go. We think the problem was a cracked valve guide.”

So, no results to speak of, but an impressive performance from Stuart and Steve, and the fastest ProductionS1 lap of the weekend, 1:37.807, set as Steve consolidated his lead in Race two. “It ‘s been a great weekend,” summarised Steve Wood, undaunted, “really nice people, old faces, and it was a good race with Peter Seldon. The circuit is in excellent condition, too, a pleasure to drive on, especially out the back, where you can enjoy the scenery.”

Enjoy the scenery, and fastest lap?
(the other) Steve Wood

 

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