Britcar – Britsports / Gold Arts – Brands GP – November 20
© Mark Dishman

The traditional high winter turn-out again greeted the Britsports and Gold Arts 100 field at Brands Hatch, with a percentage of competitors keen for some track time before winter closed in on their 2004 seasons. These included GT racer Dominic Lesniewski, in his Global GT Light, and the busy Nigel Greensall, concluding a hectic year in a Radical Prosport, alongside Rene Brugmans (below).

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In spite of this, it was the ever-present Jade Two of Sam Allpass and Tony Sinclair that claimed pole position, ahead of Andy Demetriou and Doug Newman in the Trackstar. Doug Hart and Alex Buncombe lined up fourth, the latter having swapped Chirons in order that Peter Hobday might enjoy a solo drive, starting from ninth on the grid. Class Two pole was taken by the trio of John Williams, Martin Pluck and Steve Cooper, in their Radical Prosport, and the Gold Arts 100 front spot (18th overall) was occupied by winners last time out, Peter Studer and John Edwards, despite alternator problems in their Westfield SC.

Race one on an overcast Saturday morning began cleanly, with Allpass taking the lead into Paddock Hill Bend, followed by Demetriou, Andreas Halkiopoulos in the Juno SSV6, Doug Hart and John Williams. However, Allpass had to relinquish the lead at Sterlings, after failing to stop a tidal wave of attacks from Demetriou. Together with Halkiopoulos, they pulled out a lead over the other cars.

John Williams was carefully maintaining his Class Two lead over James Richardson’s turbocharged SR3, and John Edwards led Keith Wood’s Ariel Atom. The closest on-track action was for the lead, however, and Sam Allpass was not prepared to let Andy Demetriou escape. With five minutes elapsed, the pair crossed the line separated by 0.4s, and they continued to circulate with a similar gap for six laps, when Allpass made a dive for the inside line at Paddock Hill Bend, seconds before the Safety Car board was displayed. Allpass made the move stick and was able to maintain his lead after the inevitable dash to the pit lane.

Also changing places were Keith Wood, who successfully alleviated John Edwards of the Gold Arts 100 class lead, and Dom Lesniewski, who optimistically sat in a cloud of smoke in the pit lane before deciding to retire the Global Light. Another retirement was Rachid Bazouba – the reason for the Safety Car becoming apparent when his wrecked Caterham was towed back from Westfield corner.

After a prolonged period of tyre-warming behind the EERC’s MG Safety Car, the only non-stoppers were John Williams in the Radical, who was staying out to ensure all three of his team’s drivers got a fair crack at driving, and Peter Hobday in the Chiron, who eventually stopped just as the Safety Car did, leaving the pitlane somewhat mystified.

The restart was chaotic. Andy Demetriou and Sam Allpass, both with slower cars in front of them by virtue of the many pitstops during the Safety Car period, were fastest away and found themselves caught behind a slower car just as they began the descent of Paddock Hill. Trapped on the inside, Allpass attempted to go past the backmarker this way, only to find Demetriou looking down the same gap. The pair touched wheels, and Demetriou quickly decided to go for the outside, passing the slower Radical and using his momentum to pass Allpass around the outside of Druids. Having recovered from his initial shock, Allpass began to relish the challenge, and more than halved the gap between the pair in a single lap. The battle intensified, with Allpass trying every move he could think of, until suddenly he slowed at Clearways. Andreas Halkiopoulos, who had been paying close attention since the Safety Car period, nipped through to claim second place, but Allpass’s undiagnosed (but “probably electrical”, according to the Jade team) problem, was only temporary, and soon he had the hammer down again and began to reel Halkiopoulos in. Unfortunately the mystery problem struck again and Allpass was unable to maintain the momentum to pass Halkiopoulos, despite some stunning final laps, which saw him finish just 0.2s behind the Greek driver (below).

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Class Two was also being hard-fought, and James Richardson, having passed the Williams / Pluck / Cooper Radical, was hunted down and passed by Doug Hart’s Chiron with five minutes remaining. Although Richardson came home ahead of Phil Quaife’s SR3, he would later find himself bumped up to Class One in accordance with the EERC’s rules, promoting Quaife and Alex Mortimer.

Crossing the line first in the Gold Arts battle were Peter Studer and John Edwards, though not far ahead of Keith Wood’s Ariel Atom, or the Caterham of Mike Jones.

With the weather remaining dry (the drivers would escape the changeable conditions later faced by the Britcar field); race two began after a ten minute break.

It was Adrian Holey in the Juno who made the most impressive start, followed closely by Alex Buncombe in the Chiron and Tony Sinclair’s Jade Two. The trio swapped positions at Druids and Stirlings, and eventually emerged back onto the Indy section of the track in the order: Sinclair-Buncombe-Holey. Once again the Jade slowed, but this time the fault was terminal – a driveshaft had broken – and Tony Sinclair had to stop after only five laps.

Alex Buncombe took the opportunity to extend his lead, while the battles raged throughout the midfield. Doug Newman, having relieved Andy Demetriou in their Jade, was staying in touch with Holey while fighting off the attentions of James Richardson. In turn Alex Mortimer had Richardson’s yellow car in his sights. Although there was much squabbling over position, no one actually changed places, with the exception of Nigel Greensall, scything through the field after a poor start, and catching Peter Hobday’s more powerful Chiron with apparent ease.

Meanwhile Keith Wood had overpowered John Edwards in the Westfield, and was stretching his lead in the Gold Arts Class. Wood also enjoyed an on track battle with Jules Martin’s Class One Palmer-Jaguar, and was lucky not to be clobbered by Adrian Holey as he left the pit lane, which helped Doug Newman – putting in a series of hot laps – no end. Newman was unable to pass Holey, however, but enjoyed five laps of pressuring the Juno before seeming to lose pace again.

Without an early Safety Car period for the first time in several Britsports / Gold Arts 100 races, the pit stops began to be made with approximately 20 minutes remaining. Unfortunately for many teams, this proved to be slightly premature, as Peter Hobday spun his Chiron into the Paddock Hill Bend gravel. This was of great advantage to Alex Buncombe (leading by 35s anyway), Doug Newman, and Keith Wood. Once the cars had re-arranged themselves following the Safety Car’s return to the pits, Buncombe led from Newman, James Richardson, Nick Dudfield, Alex Mortimer and Adrian Holey. Buncombe revelled in the clear track and set about adding yet more time to his lead, whilst Holey reeled in and passed Mortimer and Dudfield.

After 90 minutes of racing, the aggregate scores were totted up, and it was declared a victory for Doug Hart and Alex Buncombe, only 0.6s ahead of the Demetriou / Newman Jade. “I didn’t really think too much about the aggregate scores,” admitted a jubilant Buncombe, “I just wanted to win by as much as possible. I was also worried that I might make a mistake if I slowed down.” Co-driver Doug Hart praised his team-mate; “To stretch a lead to 25 seconds in 12 minutes is incredible,” he pointed out, “and it was a shame the Jade had problems.”

dailysportscar.comAndy Demetriou was pleased to do so well in his first drive in the Jade, and James Richardson equally so for his performance, although Class Two honours went to Phil Quaife and Alex Mortimer. Keith Wood’s Gold Arts 100 win was confirmed, and the Ariel Atom (right) returned home for a well-deserved rebuild after a season of being driven by journalists. Less pleased was Adrian Holey, who could still look back over a successful year: “It’s been good, so it’s a shame to not finish with a win – we had a faulty sensor in the first race which cost us some time. I’ll be back next year though – provided I find a new team-mate!”

Notice the excellent finishing position of Liz Halliday, first time out in a Radical.

Britsports will indeed return next year, as will the Gold Arts 100 series. Should entries continue to rise, both will have their own individual races once again, and will feature alongside Britcar on the EERC calendar.

RESULTS
Britsports One

1. Hart/Buncombe – Chiron LMP3-04 – 58 laps
2. Demetriou/Newman – Jade Trackstar – 58 laps
3. James Richardson – Radical SR3 – 58 laps

Britsports Two
1. Quaife/Mortimer – Radical SR3 – 57 laps
2. Morgan/Dudfield – Radical SR3 – 57 laps
3. Liz Halliday – Radical RSR – 57 laps

Gold Arts 100
1. Keith Wood – Ariel Atom – 54 laps
2. Studer/Edwards – Westfield SC – 53 laps
3. Mike Jones – Caterham Hayabusa – 52 laps

FASTEST LAPS
B1: Demetriou/Newman – 1:24.394
B2: Morgan/Dudfield – 1:27.388
GA100: Studer/Edwards – 1:34.822

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