Britsports / Gold Arts 100 – Silverstone – October 10
With increasing grids for the combined Britsports / Gold Arts 100 series, the challenge was made tougher at Silverstone, for there were to be three 45-minute races, instead of the customary two. Aggregated results meant that consistency was even more of the essence than usual.

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On their return to the series, Peter Hobday and Alex Buncombe made an immediate impression, Buncombe placing the Chiron (#18, above) on pole, just ahead of Andreas Halkiopoulos and Adrian Holley in the Juno SSV6, and the ever quick Jades of Mike Roberts / Marcus Pye and Tony Sinclair / Sam Alpass, although the latter of the two suffered a sheared stub axle at the end of the qualifying session, putting the pair out of race one, and out of contention for overall victory. Fastest in the Britsports 2 class was the Radical SR4 of Brendon Deschamps and Nick Dudfield, although they were under pressure from a cluster of similar machines, notably Chris Dredge and Stuart Brodman, just two-tenths behind, and Radical ace Juan Barazi (he of Porsche 917 fame), sharing driving duties with his brother Sinan. Bruce White’s Caterham R400 lined up 14th overall, heading up the Gold Arts 100 field.

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Race one began shortly after qualifying, and Andreas Halkiopoulos regained the advantage with a stunning start, to lead Alex Buncombe into Copse. Another fine starter was Juan Barazi, taking the Britsports 2 class lead, and succeeding in getting past Mike Roberts in the Jade. Brendon Deschamps gave chase, and was soon attempting to fend off Alex Buncombe, who, after a first lap “moment”, was strongly fighting back into the race for the top positions.

An early casualty was the supercharged Radical SR3 of Simon Heaps, which limped past the pitlane on only the fifth lap, an early indicator of what was to be a trying day for Heaps and his team.

The faster Britsports 1 cars soon overpowered the Radicals, and Buncombe found himself back in second place, while Mike Roberts got around Barazi and followed Halkiopoulos and Buncombe, but in an increasingly distant third position.

Early stoppers included Brendon Deschamps, handing over to Nick Dudfield, and series debutant Jonathan Hawkins, handing over his Westfield to Richard Kershaw. Oddly, many of the leaders followed suit, and with fifteen minutes elapsed, Marcus Pye had taken over from Mike Roberts in the Jade, and Bruce White, comfortably leading Gold Arts, had also stopped. One reason for this early wave of stops could have been desperation; Halkiopoulos and Buncombe were setting a ferocious pace, and had soon lapped the entire field up to third place. Joining them in staying out late was Richard Gomes, who had slowly but surely moved his SR3 into fourth overall, and Juan Barazi, running third before pitting to allow his brother a chance at the wheel.

Things began to go wrong for the Buncombe / Hobday Chiron when Alex, having chipped away at Halkiopoulos’s lead, brought the red and blue machine in for its stop. Peter Hobday could not successfully fire up the car’s Vauxhall engine, and when it eventually did rasp back into life, the initiative was lost.

Marcus Pye was clearly beginning to enjoy himself, and set about reeling in Nick Dudfield. With ten minutes remaining, he passed the Radical for second place. “I know we’re in a different class, but the car is handling so well,” Pye enthused, “it was a pleasure to be able to be so comfortably quick.” Deschamps and Dudfield were safe with their class lead, however, although Chris Dredge, in the #4 Radical, was able to liberate Sinan Barazi of second in class and fifth overall.

It was Andreas Halkiopoulos and Adrian Holley, however, who cruised home in the Juno to win race one. The pit stop problems suffered by the Chiron meant that the Juno team could handle their own stop in a relaxed manner, as Holley took over for the final six minutes. As if to confirm this, Hobday neatly spun the Chiron at Luffield, but recovered quickly to finish fourth. Bruce White improved on his initial grid slot to finish 11th overall, although only just ahead of Graham Booth in his similar, but less powerful machine.

Wisely, no one was resting on their laurels, and the outlooks of the class leaders were remarkably similar: “More of the same!” - Bruce White appeared to be the most confident, noting that he was disappointed by the lack of competition, citing the Brands Hatch Caterham Festival as the reason. Marcus Pye was eager to point out the great job his Jade team had done, having only just managed to arrive on time following a (highly successful) previous day at Hockenheim.

dailysportscar.comAfter a lengthy gap, which allowed the newly repaired Jade Trackstar of Sam Alpass to take to the track, race two kicked off in the same blustery-but-dry conditions as the first. Andreas Halkiopoulos again took the lead, from Roberts and Buncombe. Juan Barazi, back in the Radical, pushed past Brendon Deschamps to take back the class lead, and fourth overall. Observant eyes, however, were on Sam Alpass. Having missed race one, Alpass had nothing to lose and stormed through the field from the back of the grid. By the end of lap one he was up to seventh, and soon found a way past first Chris Dredge and then Brendon Deschamps, before dealing with Barazi and Buncombe on the following lap.

Following Alpass up the grid was Chris Setters, who’d also had problems with his Jade at the start of race one. Unfortunately for Chris, and his co-driver and father Doug, the car developed further problems during its pitstop, and failed to impact on the rest of the day’s racing. Bad luck was also to strike Alpass – during his charge up the field the tyres on his car became overheated and he was forced to watch the battle for the lead without the grip to participate. The battle in question, however, was heating up. Halkiopoulos, slowed by traffic, began to fall inexorably into the clutches of Buncombe, but the ex-FRenault man couldn’t get past, try as he might. For ten minutes the cars ran within a second of each other, neither man giving an inch, until Halkiopoulos came in for his pitstop, rejoining in sixth place.

In Gold Arts, Bruce White had been running comfortably in the lead, and was up to ninth overall, when disaster struck during his stop. Unable to restart the Caterham, White could only watch as his crew worked on the car and the laps rolled on by. Unfortunately, the problem was deemed terminal, and White pushed his car into the garage. Promoted to the class lead was another series newcomer, Rachid Bazouba, also in a Caterham. Bazouba had to deal with the attentions of rivals Graham Booth and Mike Jones, and after an entertaining three-way scrap it was Jones that led the three cars past the chequered flag, just a second ahead of Bazouba.

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Meanwhile, Juan Barazi had established a reasonable lead over Deschamps, but when the cars pitted, it was Nick Dudfield, in the #70 car (above) who proved faster than Juan’s brother Sinan, and Dudfield was able to get by with just three laps remaining, and hold station in fifth overall. Having had a quick pitstop, Alex Buncombe, electing to stay in the car, emerged in the lead, and kept his nose clean, leading Adrian Holley home with 13 seconds to spare.

Race three, then, and the battle for overall victory was finely balanced. Unfortunately for the race, the scales were tipped substantially in the favour of the Juno team when Peter Hobday spun the Chiron after an audacious move on Halkiopoulos, who had managed once again to get the jump at the start. Also swift in their getaways were Marcus Pye, and Richard Gomes, who’d been enjoying a consistent day sharing with Simon Hopkins, briefly running in fourth overall, behind current class leader Juan Barazi, when the Safety Car joined the track, whilst a car was removed from the gravel at Luffield.

Quick to dash into the pits were leaders Halkiopoulos and Pye, leaving Barazi to follow the Safety Car around, leading the race for the first time. Surprisingly, few cars followed suit, as many teams were not prepared for early stops. The Deschamps / Dudfield crew, and Graham Booth’s Caterham were caught out when they stopped, only to find themselves following the Safety Car into the pit lane!

In the dash to Copse that followed, chaos reigned; “I spun trying to avoid a couple of SR3s that had hit each other,” recalled Marcus Pye, “and they both hit me anyway – it knocked the tracking out a bit but didn’t affect the performance too much.” As if to prove this, both Pye and Halkiopoulos set fastest laps on their charge through the field. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out so well for the Barazi brothers, as Juan returned the nose-free Radical to the pit lane, his afternoon’s racing done.

dailysportscar.comIn the absence of Bruce White, and the retired Rachid Bazouba, the Gold Arts 100 battle was now between Mike Jones (in #5) and Graham Booth. They battled hard, and it was Jones who took the chequered flag in seventh overall, just ahead of Booth. It was Booth however, who’d completed more laps when the scores were added up, and he took his first Gold Arts 100 class win of the season.

Another battle on track and for aggregate position was that for second place overall. Nick Dudfield tried manfully to keep the flying Marcus Pye behind him, but Pye soon found a way past, and began to chase Andreas Halkiopoulos in the Juno. Despite spending the final five minutes of the shortened (due to the Silverstone curfew) race under the rear wing of the SSV6, Pye could not find a way past, and was happy with second, both in class, and overall, thanks to the demise of the Hobday / Buncombe Chiron. After an animated “discussion” with a few drivers on the subject of driving standards, Halkiopoulos seemed happy with another victory – his and Holley’s third of the season. “It’s another good result – well done to the team,” he smiled. “See you at the next race.”

Unfortunately, the Croft event two weeks later has since been cancelled, so the next race will be at Donington Park on November 6, where Andreas Halkiopoulos will be partnered by fellow Greek Stamatis Katsimis, in the victorious Juno.
Mark Dishman

Results:
Britsports 1:

1. Halkiopoulos / Holley – Juno SSV6 – 115 laps
2. Roberts / Pye – Jade Sports Prototype – 113 laps
3. Hobday / Buncombe – Chiron LMP3-04 – 81 laps

Britsports 2:
1. Deschamps / Dudfield – Radical SR4 – 113 laps
2. Gomes / Hopkins – Radical Prosport – 107 laps
3. Keith McKenzie – Radical Prosport – 107 laps

Gold Arts 100:
1. Graham Booth – Caterham 7 – 103 laps
2. Mike Jones – Caterham 7 – 102 laps
3. Hawkins / Kershaw – Westfield SE1 – 99 laps

Fastest Laps:
B1: Halkiopoulos / Holley – 55.296
B2: Deschamps / Dudfield – 57.439
GA100: Bruce White – 1:03.237

 

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