Britcar – Round 2 – Brands Hatch April 3

“The line it is drawn, the die it is cast,
and the slower ones now, will later be fast”

(from “The Times They are a’Changing” by Bob Dylan)

What’s this all about, then?

It’s strange, even spooky, that the music of choice on an in-car CD player will reflect, in part, the story of last Saturday’s 160-minute Britcar race on the Brands Hatch GP circuit.

Qualifying was damp and drizzly, and it caught a few people out, notably Julian Rouse, who slid off at Druids after only seven laps. He would start an atypical seventh on the grid.

It was a BMW lock-out at the front, however, with Eugene O’Brien claiming pole in Peter Seldon’s M3 with a time of 1:43.919. Calum Lockie was next, just under two-tenths shy of pole, with Andy Allen and David Leslie close behind.

Mark Lemmer was an impressive fifth in the Barwell BTCC Production Honda Civic, but the engine threw a rod shortly after, and the team packed-up for the day. Porsche refugee David Cuff was an unexpected sixth in yet another M3, followed by the Rouses, then the star attraction – Touring car ace Anthony Reid, sharing the works MG ZR-Judd, with rising star Fiona Leggate.

The consistent McInerneys were next, the father and son duo sharing the Mardi Gras Honda Integra R as usual, with the Mini of Bill Sollis and Alastair Davidson rounding off the top ten.

dailysportscar.comSome of the more powerful cars found it difficult to get the power down in the tricky conditions, and singleton-driver Witt Gamski could only manage 11th in his Ferrari 355 (right), and the difficult Porsche RSR of John Clonis and David Streather was 14th. The Topcats Marcos Mantis, being shared by Martin Parsons and Jon Harrison, scraped in at 19th, just ahead of the Linus Ridge / Paul Dishman Porsche 993. Ridge was mindful that assistance was needed, and an 11am phone call to Piers Masarati had him at the paddock gates “as fast as he could chuck a quid at the Dartford Crossing toll”.

Jeff Wyatt, sharing a Geoff Steel Racing BMW M3 with BTCC aspirant John George, dismissed any suggestion that the timesheets had been published in alphabetical order (he was 24th). “We had the wrong tyres on,” explained Milton Keynes’ finest, “but we’re sorted for the race”.

A proposal to run the Britcar and Britsports races together was disliked by the Britcar contingent, and rejected by the Britsports drivers, so the grid lined up as arranged, minus, initially, the Mini, which had mistakenly joined the closing stages of the Britsports race instead of waiting in the collection area! This was just the mid-point of a best-forgotten meeting for the Beechdean team. The Mini had fallen foul of the noise test official early on, and was called-in during the early stages of the race for further silencing. Packed with wire wool in the exhaust box, it would surface mid-race to tour round.

dailysportscar.comIt was still damp when the pace car let the field go, and Leslie blasted into the lead from the second row in the more powerful of the two GTS Motorsport BMWs. David Smith, in the second GTS car that Lockie had qualified, was comprehensively swamped by the pack as they cascaded through Paddock and up the hill to Druids.

Leslie emerged into clearways in the lead as they completed the first lap, followed by a squabbling Peter Seldon and Julian Rouse, then the rapid Anthony Reid, and the BMW trio of Andy Allen, David Cuff, and Chris Wilson in the Beechdean car. Reid overdid at Graham Hill Bend on lap two, sliding onto the grass as he tried to take the big white Mercedes in front, and recovering in eighth place.

Rouse then passed Seldon, and began to worry Leslie at the front. The pair traded places for several laps, fairly and cleanly, even when they caught the back markers as early as lap six. David Smith had by now disappeared from the top 20, requiring Calum Lockie to pull some tricks from the bag later on.

Seldon crawled into the pits, smoking, on lap seven:.”I slid and got slightly onto the grass at Westfield. It ripped off the pipe that feeds the gearbox oil cooler,” explained the Kentish businessman. Once repaired, and with Eugene O’Brien installed, the car ran faultlessly, and on the pace, but would finish 15 laps down in 18th place.

The improving track conditions meant that the more powerful cars were coming into their own, and David Streather in the big Porsche, and Gamski’s Ferrari 355, were picking their way through the field together, both taking Kempton’s slipping BMW, and Streather passing Reid for fourth on lap 15.

Two laps later, Paul Fenton’s M3 got out of shape exiting Graham Hill Bend, collected Chris Wilson’s similar car, and threw them both into the Armco. The safety car was deployed while the cars were made safe, and since this was performed in double-quick time, the field was still being waved-through and sorted when the green was given two laps later, causing Julian Rouse to be caught in the middle of the melee, and a minute down on Leslie as the race re-commenced.

Several teams had elected for an impromptu pit-stop during the safety-car period, the most significant of these being Kempton and Reid. Andy Allen relieved Kempton for the rest of the race, but it was expected that Fiona Leggate would hand the MG back to Reid later in the race. Witt Gamski sadly retired his Ferrari at this point, ending a fine run.

Julian Rouse now had the bit between his teeth, and was taking massive chunks out of Leslie’s lead, and a clear three seconds a lap faster than anybody else.

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Martin Parsons had been making steady progress in the Marcos (above), and was now up to seventh, behind Michael McInerney’s Integra.

With 30 laps on the board, Leslie pitted the leading BMW, not to change drivers, but to retire, with a misfire, leaving the Rouse Mercedes in a lead that it would never relinquish. David Smith pitted the second GTS M3 five laps later, and Calum Lockie climbed aboard to execute a serious recovery programme, rejoining in 17th place. Linus Ridge had relieved Paul Dishman in the Foudroyant Porsche some time earlier, and the time was now approaching for Piers Masarati to show his mettle.

The McInerney’s pitstop was a disaster, the wheelstuds breaking during the tyre change, and the Honda having to be retired once more after an impressive performance. Parsons handed the Marcos over to Jon Harrison around the same time, and Fiona Leggate brought in the MG for Anthony Reid to finish the race.

David Cuff, hitherto unknown in Britcar, had proved a revelation, and whilst the rest had pitted, had moved the Metcalf Motorsport BMW into second place. This was temporary, unfortunately, since the engine expired on lap 52, and the car was retired.

dailysportscar.comJust over an hour to go, and Julian Rouse handed the Mercedes to Andy, and David Streather gave the Porsche RSR to owner John Clonis. Piers Masarati (right) relieved Linus Ridge, and, with 60 minutes to go, all the significant driver changes were complete, and it was a level playing field to the flag.

Lockie was now sixth, and rapidly catching Reid ahead of him. It took ten laps of gap-whittling, but Reid was powerless to resist, and let the blue BMW past at Graham Hill Bend on lap 69. Similarly, Masarati was taking no prisoners, unlapping himself from everybody except Rouse, and hauling the Porsche up from 15th position.

Meanwhile, down in the pit lane, veteran commentator Brian Jones was getting hot under the collar. Well wrapped-up for the spring chill, as a man of his age should be, he was surprised to find Jo Kraemer rapidly disrobing after handing the family Ford Focus over to dad Rick. “It’s fast, and it’s hot, and I just feel like getting naked as soon as I get out of it,” she exclaimed. What, completely? Ed.

With just half-an-hour to go, Lockie eased past Harrison’s Mantis into fourth, and shortly afterwards the big silver Marcos crept into the pits with a right rear puncture, rejoining in sixth place. Harrison, however, got on some slippy stuff out at Westfield, and was stuck in the gravel. Race over for the Topcats team.

Reid took a splash and dash with about ten minutes to go, and Allen picked up a puncture shortly after, losing one place while pitting for new rubber.

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And so Andy Rouse crossed the line after two hours and 40 minutes for another victory. “Julian had the hard part, and he set me up. The car is so reliable, and we can push hard,” said the ex-BTCC champion.

The jubilant Clonis / Streather combination was delighted with its second place. “The car was running exceptionally well, and it felt comfortable to keep pushing,” said veteran Streather. “I took it easy, because we were running out of fuel towards the end,” added Clonis.

“……..and the slower ones now, will later be fast”.

Over to Calum Lockie; “David did everything we wanted, and everything he was supposed to do,” explained the Scot, “and I was driving just as fast as I could without crashing”.

“The Porsche is just brilliant,” said Piers Masarati, “Mike Jordan has done some brilliant work on it, and we’ve learnt a lot today about fuel mileage and tyre wear. This is a great little series”.

Jeff Wyatt and John George had converted 24th on the grid to sixth position, but it wasn’t without problems. ”The rev limiter was kicking in at 6000 rpm, and we had to short-shift all around the circuit,“ said Wyatt.

The EERC goes “abroad” to Pembrey next, for a double-header of Britcar races on May 8th/9th.
Steve Wood

Results
1 1 1 Rouse/Rouse Mercedes DTM 96 laps
2 54 2 Clonis/Streather Porsche 911 RSR 92
3 31 2 Lockie/Smith BMW M3 E36 92
4 40 2 Allen/Kempton BMW M3 E46 91
5 80 3 Leggate/Reid MG ZR Judd 90
6 38 2 Wyatt/George BMW M3 E36 89
7 7 1 Dishman/Ridge/Masarati Porsche 993 GT3 89
8 67 3 Stephens/Caine BMW M3 E30 88
9 69 3 Kraemer/Kraemer Ford Focus Cup 87
10 68 3 Frick/Flatt VW Beetle 86.

 

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