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.
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
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
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.
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……”
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.
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