Brands Hatch: 13
There was a bit of a delay when one car wouldn't start in the assembly area, and the grid was a little late away. When they retruned and reformed, the reds went out – and so did poleman Robbie Wattts and 5th man Malcolm Scott's engines. Fortunately they were on the same side and so avoiding action was easier. There were another 3 slow starters, all the more surprising as they included some highly experienced operators.
Daryl Jones took advantage of Robbie's problems from 3rd and sneaked round him without a problem, to take a substantial initial lead. He was rapidly followed by Ben Cater from 2nd. By the next lap they were side by side through Druids hairpin and Graham Hill bend, using all of the circuit, bits of grass, and having a nice friendly banter, Lewis and Nico style. It was superb stuff. This continued throughout the race. Ben took the lead on lap 6, only for Daryl to regain it on lap 9 and hold it to the end. Absolutely gripping, clean and exciting racing. And ironic that even in Dallarae the cost of these cars was probably 1/10 that of the tremendous looking and sounding Dutch GT's that had what looked like a pursuit sprint rather than a race.
If first and second was exciting, so was the next batch of 2. Richard Purcell initially led, followed by Neil Harrison and Kevan McLurg side by side. Kevan not only passed Neil but also passed Richard who has changed cars and inherited the reliability he so richly deserves. Richard obviously wasn't keen on being passed as he spent some time along Cooper Straight trying to rub the serial number off Kevan's gearbox. (Yes, I know they don't have visible serial numbers, it's florid reporting.) Kevan ruled the pairing until Robbie Watts intervened on lap 6, passing Richard on lap 7 and then nadging past Kevan on lap 8 ...except so had Richard, so Kevan was a bit delayed (we'll hopefully find out the story unless he unfriends me on Facebook) to 5th, and then dropped back with a spin on lap 10 to 8th. Meanwhile Richard kept his place to take a popular third step of the podium. Robbie made a brilliant recovery drive to fourth, from 10th at the end of the first lap and VERY late away from the grid.
Wil Arif was reasonably competitive against the Dallaras – and then we remembered that he was in a tube frame Mygale US FF2000, so he had no right at all to be up with the sophisticated carbon cars. He was an overall ninth in Lou Watts beautiful car (and we hear Lou has acquired something even nicer...and even sexier), having some great racing with Martin Daly who ended up 10th in his Formula Renault.
Overall 11th, Russ Giles started in 16th, and initially fought with Classic champion elect and recent Dallara owner Daniel Hands. He moved up after a couple of laps and spent some time hassling Martin Daly. I saw Russ afterwards and he looked “happy but **ackered”! A good race.
Daniel Hands has sold his VD RF01, so nobody could blame him if he was a little less pressing than normal. He drove a hugely intelligent race (ever heard those words together in current F1 apart from Alonso and Button?) to 12th, second Classic, and all 4 wheels on the car. Next car up was Bryn Tootell. Alistair Bell, in the Classic 883, started behind Bryn but led by lap 1, Bryn won the place back on lap 4, while Alister faced a challenge from Kevin Otway and Cian Carey. Cian had lined up 6th on the grid and started well but suffered a disaster on lap 6 with a big spin on Paddock Hill (it's not possible to have a small one there...) and another problem on lap 8, and was fighting up when the flag dropped. Kevin was slightly separated from Alister for most of the race, catching him but not passing him at the end.
Robin Dawe, former champion and 2000 stalwart, continues his return in a Classic FVL, and had a very unusual race givenm the closeness of this event – he spent most of the race a few seconds away from both the car in front and the car behind, having little actual dicing, which is a pity as he's rather good at it. Following him in, in a Steve Mole Racing run Van Diemen bearing the legendary 27 (he must be a Giles Villeneuve fan) was Mono first-timer software architect (its says here on LinkedIn) Matt Tighe. Matt started from 15th on the grid but was 25th at the end of lap 1. His laps got quicker and he moved steadily through the field, a place at a time on laps 3,4,5,6 and 7, pausing on lap 8 for a quick chat with Mark Smith, before ending behind Robin. Sunday would be a different story, for the even better.
Mark Smith's place looked fairly safe for most of the race, until lap 8 when the closing Matt Tighe caused a momentary slowing as they raced. This allowed James Rimmer to catch Mark, and give him a worrying last couple of laps, but at the flag the Hinckley man Triumphed. (Hinckley – Triumph – geddit?) (No-ed). James in turn had ended the quickest of a mighty 3-way struggle of Adrian Holey, Peter Whitmore and James. The order started as Adrian/Peter/James, James passed both on lap 4, while 2 laps later the battle of the Reynard 913's moved in Peter's favour. Mark Schofield had a few good laps fighting alongside Matt Tighe, moving up with him, and he joined the group of 3 on lap 6, getting past Adrian on lap 7. It only occurred to me today that this is, of course, the ex-Jeremy Timms as well as ex-Tristan Cliffe and ex-Tony Bishop 397, so is possibly one of the winningest Dallaras around?
Jennifer Sirrell had a good start and moved up a couple of places on lap 1. Quite quickly, she and Mark Schofield were “an item” (best not tell Ollie...), spending most of the race circulating closely. In the end, Adrian Holey broke up the beautiful friendship. It was good to see the talented Jennifer back in a Mono championship race. Since her last Mono points, she's had a major car- (but not Jen-) damaging accident, got married, had a beautiful child, and done Spa. I was responsible for one of those, and it wasn't fun, so you can guess which one.
One of the start slow-aways was Ian Hughes. Ian loves the rain, unfortunately Brands was Very English Pleasant, so he wasn't as far up as in the wet. Behind him “Gentleman Jim” Timms drove the lovely ex-Monaco RT1 Toyota, while Kevin Couling completed the finishers to assure himself of second in the prestigious and remunerative (tell your non-racing friends) SUNBAC Nova championship which encourages new drivers.
And so we move to the non-finishers. Unfortunately I have no stories as to why (if you're one, email me here and I'll explain), but former winner Dave Gillett dropped out on lap 3, Shane Kelly, who was one of the folk who didn't leave the grid in a timely manner, dropped out on lap 4, Mat Jordan on lap 5, and Terry Clark, who it seems the fates have a thing against, dropped out on lap 7 whilst sandwiched between Jennifer Sirrell and Jim Timms.
Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsover. Subheadlines and captions are not originated from the named author. We are unable to reproduce results due to copyright reasons. If any pictures are copyright and the owner wishes them removed please email us.
The grid sets off - Daryl Jones has a good leadKevan McLurg and Richard PurcellJames Rimmer, Mat Jordan, Adrian HoleyDaryl leads Ben at Surtees......and at DruidsNeil HarrisonMatthew Tighe.Cian Carey waits to rejoin at Paddock HillRuss GilesWil Arif
Pics: Nigel Bland (Surtees and Clearways), Tony Cotton (Paddock Hill & Druids)