McLurg by a mile (or at least, 20 seconds)St Cross Electronics Monoposto Championship Round 5 Brands Hatch 2000 and Classic. 1 June 2013
The tightness of Brands Indy usually gives an exciting race. Saturday for the 2 litres was no exception – for some it was perhaps too exciting. Kevin Mason provided some pre-event tension when his loom caught fire. (surely not? Ed) Kevin always solves these things. He has a maintenance contract for the Large Hadron Collider, he’s always sorting that out too. Phil Slate’s Reynard 893 had the unusual problem of the splines disappearing from the clutch – really neatly as if they’d been machined. Frantic activity in sourcing new plates and fitting them on Saturday morning followed by a drive round the paddock to confirm operation indicated all was well. The only snag was, practice was about to start and they hadn’t been scrutineered. Fortunately, and I quote “the scrutineers were great.” They hurried round to get the car passed and Phil got out. Thank you gentlemen
Most people are over the minute on the first flying lap, at least in the late 50’s. Not our 2 grid leaders. Robbie Watts kicked off with a 48, which he edged down to 46.53 for pole. A 48 is impressive – but how about 46 on your first flyer? That’s what Kevan McLurg did, and it was 11 laps before Robbie beat it. In fact, Kevan - a man known for having a scrutineer’s seal on his wallet from the 1998 season - could have actually saved all of the session but that one lap, as his best was only 0.15 faster and that first lap was still good enough for 2nd.
Returning to normality, albeit highly talented normality, Steve Patania and Kevin Mason were next up, just over a tenth apart whilst Tony Bishop and Russ Giles were similarly close. Sounded like a good race in prospect.
Watching on the Cooper straight I at first wondered if Malcolm Scott was having problems as he went very slowly several times. In fact he was trying hard to get clear air but found himself in the unusually low position of seventh. Another unusual omission from the top places was Adrian Holey. He and Mark Smith touched - one of those things - at Graham Hill Bend resulting in his front wing coming off. He did 2 laps and then went in. Unfortunately the wing was collected by Kevin Mason, which severely damaged it and did Kevin's wing not much good either.
Ben Cater led the Classics followed by Daryl Jones in the newly rebuilt FVL. Much credit to Dan Fox for the work which made use of a composite of the old car and a damaged hillclimb/sprint car. So effective was the work that the car won the Cartek Trophy. Ollie Sirrell did a time identical to Ben, but it was disallowed when the car was weighed leaving Ollie with a lot of work to do.
There were waved yellows at Paddock Hill bend for about 8 laps, according to reports received, though the greens were a little less clearly seen, which meant that many competitiors adopted a prudent approach.
The only other notable event was that the Tim Tudor Swansea Tatuus had a noticeable misfire, traced on Saturday night to a munched up rubber intake ring.
Mark Smith: "I had a coming together with Adrian Holey (no blame, just one of those things) that left me with a cut rear tyre. Managed to get into pits, thinking session was over, and hardly stopped before Nick Harrison and his sons descended on the car and fitted one of their F3 Cup wheels that Nick had grabbed from their truck. I don’t think I lost more than a couple of laps. This, I think, really demonstrates what Mono is all about.
I should also thank my son/mechanic, Robert, for fixing the crank bolt problem. He spent 2 hours wedging his hand into a 30mm gap to get everything lined up and tightened with an adjustable spanner ! Crossed-fingers doesn’t begin to describe the rest of the weekend, but it held together."
Nick Harrison: "My reputation is destroyed..."
Adrian Holey "I'm feeling as mean as a junkyard dog with distemper"
David Gambling: "I was pleased with qualifying but it was busy - like going to Tescos" [SLOL commented that a Dallara is an unusual car for a novice cross] "I intend to have the cross on the car as long as possible. It scares people. Can I have on on the front too?"
Terry Clark: "We're getting there"
Tony Bishop: "The weather's nice"
The lead was a repeat of the smaller capacity race with one exception. The 2 second lead at the end of lap one was established by 2nd place man Kevan McLurg, whilst poleman Robbie Watts sank to fourth from the grid. Kevan maintained the lead to the end of the race, winning by 20 seconds, an immensley impressive performance. Kevan was talking of finishing his season with us after Sunday - what a shame if that happens. Robbie was alongside 3rd place man Steve Patania by lap 2 into Druids, and challenging Kevin Mason for second. A touch in Graham Hill bend left Robbie half spun and dropped to near last. The issue wasn't the spin, it was the density of traffic trying to get going. He made his way back to 6th. Steve Patania started off welded to 2nd place man Kevin Mason's gearbox, dropped back a bit and then caught up again. Then disaster struck when he spun following contact at Druids on lap 9, dropping down the order. He would eventually finish 7th in class.
Meanwhile, Malcolm Scott began by losing a place to Daryl Jones, who had obviously retained the good parts of his Grand Prix circuit start without the downsides. Patiently, he worked his way up the field until finally on lap 12 he passed Russ Giles who he'd stalked closely for the previous 5 laps for 3rd. Russ adopted a similar attitude to Malcolm of keeping out of trouble and driving quickly, and finished 4th, Tony Bishop likewise for fifth, Mark Smith eighth.
David Gambling's speed has been increasing race by race, and he had an excellent dice with no less than Tony Bishop, leading him at one point. Sadly it all came to nought at Clearways on lap 12 with the car in the gravel. Adrian Holey had been pressing on from the lower part of the grid due to his practice woes , and had made up places until he joined the Tony and David Roadshow. David and Adrian touched at Clearways and, with Dave Gillett also there from earlier in the race, the red flags came out.
Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to speak to Jared Wood and Ben Cater, so I can't say what it was that meant Ben led the Classic class for 13 laps, but was slowed on lap 14, resulting in the win for Jared. Mike Hatton followed the pair for the race to finish 3rd. Ollie Sirrell gained no less than 7 places on the first lap, and it was no surprise that by working through the field he finished fourth in class and won the Modense Driver of the Day award.
Alistair Bell continues to get to grips with the ex-Lee Bennett Reynard, and was fifth, a little ahead of Jim Timms and Lou Watts, both VDFX/FIreland mounted. Charles Adrian was a very welcome newcomer to the class in a different sort of Van Diemen, the pretty USFF2000/F4 style RF93. Last runner was Daryl Jones. Having made the 2000's sweat early in the race, he had a minor delay on lap 5, dropping him behind Mike Hatton. It was presumably a mechanical issue as his lap times were 5 seconds behind his normal pace, to which he returned on Sunday.
Kevin Otway had a similar issue to Jason Timms in the MotoMono race; a trip over the kerbing (Surtees?) broke a weld and he ground to a halt at Druids. Terry Clark's lovely 913 broke a throttle cable, Tim Tudor succumbed to the misfire already mentioned and I would guess that despite the team's best efforts, Phil Slate' clutch woes returned.
Like the Monaco F1 race a week before, there was a lot of action in this race; unlike Monaco there was a lot of entertaining racing too.
Tony Cotton (words, pics, captions)