Classic & Modern Motorsport Club Southern. Brands Hatch Weekend 26-27 September 2020 report by Adam Grant.
After the warm weather of the previous weekend, it was quite a shock to have a cold northerly wind blowing throughout the BRSCC meeting at Brands Hatch.
The Amusetime Tin Tops were given their own race on Saturday, a 30 minute pit stop event. Qualifying had barely started when Perry Darling (Seat) performed a spectacular roll over at Paddock Bend. The red flags appeared and by the time the session re-started it commenced drizzling. This was intermittent and it became a lottery as to who would be on track at the best time. As it turned out Warren Johnson secured pole position from returnee Bradley Lane. Another returning driver, Graham Richardson, lined his Honda up third from the Bevan/Birley duo, then the Hutchins father and son team (David and Tom). Ken Angell was sixth in his BMW from Nick Lunn, Ian Seale and Gideon September. Steve Dann had electrical issues in the VW Polo, but was determined to start the race. Amazingly Colin Tester’s crew somehow fixed the Seat to enable Perry to start the race, albeit minus front and rear screens.
The rolling start, on a now dry track, so Johnson and Lane go side by side in Paddock with Bevan easing into third. These three quickly dropped Richardson, who lost out to Angell before the end of the first lap. On lap four Lane squeezed by the Peugeot as Bevan looked for a way past as well. Meanwhile Angell still headed the next trio with Richardson and Dave Hutchins in close pursuit. The first pitstop came courtesy of Bevan who handed over to Birley, but it seemed to take a bit longer than expected. By now we had already lost Dann with a small oil fire, as the Polo pulled off at Paddock Bend. Next to stop was Hutchins, followed on the next lap by Richardson, Seale and September. Angell and Lunn came him on the same lap, as did the two leaders Lane and Johnson. When it all shook out Lane led by just over 3 seconds from Johnson with Birley a further 7 seconds back, then another 10 seconds to Hutchins. The race stagnated for a while until Birley made a late charge. He reeled in Johnson who took a little while to lap Angell. Birley pounced and was up to second. Johnson tried to fight back, as Tom Hutchins appeared on the scene. When the chequered flag appeared Lane was still nearly 7 seconds in front, as Birley took second from Johnson and Hutchins. Angell was a lap down in fifth, winning T1 from the well ventilated Perry Darling. Seale got the better of September for TP honours. Richardson retired with a sick sounding engine. The H&G driver of the day award went to Perry Darling for the team’s efforts in fixing his car.
Sunday saw a busy combined grid of super saloons and intermarque. Qualifying saw the unusual sight of Rod Birley driving a BMW E36 instead of his normal Escort WRC. Indeed for a while the car looked like being first overall, but eventually Rod took third quickest time, although it did put him on pole position for the super saloons. Quickest intermarque was Malcolm Blackman in his familiar Vauxhall Tigra, but he left it until his last lap to duck below 50 seconds. Ray Harris was second quickest, then came Steve Burrows, Mike Thurley and Richard Smith. The second quickest super saloon was 2018 champion Adrian Bradley, from Gavin Dunn and Ronan Bradley.
For the rolling start there was a split grid, with the saloons going off first. However, the intermarques had an issue at Paddock Bend as Volker Timm beached to Audi TT in the gravel. The red flags appeared immediately and a re-start ensued. This time Birley made a better start, but Adrian Bradley snatched the lead exiting Clearways and soon opened a small advantage. Ronan Bradley and Gavin Dunn squabbled over third, with Mark De’Ath in close pursuit. The first intermarque was Blackman who was scything his way through the field. By lap five he was up to sixth, two laps later he was third and only 10 seconds behind the leaders. On lap 11 the gap was still just over seven seconds when the red Tigra suddenly stopped with a broken rear axle. As Adrian Bradley took the win with Birley in second, it was the battling intermarque duo of Burrows and Harris who were next up. Richard Smith narrowly took fifth overall (also winning the senior cup) from Mike Thurley. Ronan Bradley took class B saloon honours from Dunn as Sean Fairweather triumphed in class D.
Race two in rather gloomy conditions saw Birley burst into the lead at Paddock Bend. Adrian Bradley had slowed with a recalcitrant clutch, which inadvertently held up his brother and several other saloons. Birley made his escape, but it only took six laps for the fast starting intermarque duo of Burrows and Harris to catch him. As they blasted past the BMW, this pair diced all the way to the end, which culminated in a thrilling last lap where Harris snatched the win. Birley dominated the saloons section, maintaining third overall. Thurley came home fourth, also claiming senior honours, followed by Colin Smith. In fact the next four places also went to intermarque drivers as Dave York drove well to take sixth from Philip Young, Mick Robertson and Joe Russell. Ronan Bradley was the next saloon (winning class B), from Paul Watson (BMW) and Dave Cowan (class C winner). Mark De’Ath was next up in his Subaru, followed by class D winner Fairweather. The finishers were completed by Martyn Scott (BMW), Daniel Smith (Ginetta), Paul Cocksedge (Tigra), Todd Garner (Renault Clio) and Nick Wall (Fiesta). An unfortunate clash between Richard Smith and Dunn saw the BMW retire with bodywork rubbing, whilst Smith pulled off on the second to last lap near the pit entrance.
The super saloons and tin tops will be back in action on October 25th at Brands Hatch, whilst all three groups have been promised their own races at Lydden Hill in November. This meeting may be moving to the 14th but confirmation is expected soon.