Britcar – Round 2 – Brands Hatch April 3
line it is drawn, the die it is cast,
and the slower ones now, will later be fast”
Times They are a’Changing” by Bob Dylan)
What’s this all
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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,”
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
The EERC goes “abroad”
to Pembrey next, for a double-header of Britcar races on May 8th/9th.
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.