Brands GP – HSCC Superprix; 10th July 2022

Brands Hatch the Super Prix Historic Formula Junior Race

FJHRA/HSCC “Silverline” Championship Round 6

Brands Hatch combined with a summer heatwave, does that seem familiar? Well, it has been known for the two-day event on the Grand Prix circuit in the fabulous Kent countryside, but 2022 will go down as an exceptional event. Previously only those who race in Europe regularly have experienced such high temperatures within a race car.

26 cars were entered for the single Sunday race, this being a little break from tradition as Formula Junior normally has the single race slot on the Saturday. It does still leave room for a Saturday evening get together at the pub and a convenient lie in with qualifying not being able to start until 10.00 a.m. at Brands Hatch.

Among the special guests in the paddock were Howden Ganley and Tony Goodwin, having one of his rare post Covid outings. Also returning to Brands Hatch after what he thought was a three-year interval was Grant, with wife Penny.

Missing from the original entry were David Kent in his Lynx Mk3 lowline and Kim Shearn Lotus 20/22, however following a discussion with Duncan, Kim was able to substitute the Lotus for his one litre Formula 3 Penny Ford, but this, unfortunately, seized its engine during the Historic Formula 3 race so we will wait to look forward to Kim joining the grid later in the year. One late entry was Hans Ciers in Adam Bruzas’ Lotus 18.

Sunday morning began with a revised timetable following the loss of the final race on Saturday due to some incidents during the  day’s racing. Qualifying was a mixture of attrition for some and careful timing for others to get in a decent qualifying lap, as the Lotus 18 of Simon Hewes had a spin at the bottom of Paddock Hill bend, parking on the circuit whilst encouraging the car to restart. During this period the safety car was called as Peter Fenichel had spun into a gravel trap leaving his Cooper beached and requiring a lift to remove the car from its resting place.

The laps clicked by with many cars having to settle for their fastest qualifying time clocked prior to the safety car. Those who did were Michael O’Brien in the Brabham BT6 and Clive Richards in the Lotus 22 who were separated by a mere three tenths of a second. This was a great effort from Clive against the young rising star. Rounding out the top three with an early quick lap was James Murray. The truncated qualifying made for an interesting starting line-up with some faster runners being further down than would be expected.

It was good to welcome back into the U.K. Philipp Buhofer with his Lotus 27 whilst completing the international line up were Rudolf Ernst having a strong showing in his Lotus 22 qualifying in 10th place and Martin Aubert’s Lotus 20 in 17th place. It is always good to mention a new face on the grid too, and whilst he has raced with us once before at Castle Combe in 2017, Dave Wall is having a run out in Keith Roach’s Gemini MkII this season while he finds a suitable car to join us full time.

I mentioned qualifying was full of mixed fortunes. Crispian Besley’s Elva 100, along with Simon Hewes (engine) and Stuart Tizzard all retired suffering from mechanical woes. Crispian’s Elva had a suspension breakage and resulting “off” so back in the paddock it was sprouting tufts of grass from places where grass should not be. Stuart was sporting a fine awning purporting to have some involvement with polo. I did ask where he had stabled the horse, but he said his only involvement with polo was the mint with the hole in the centre.

Hans Ciers had to retire to get back to Belgium and Benn Simms, after a fine Formula Ford 2000 win the day before and a solid qualifying in the Formula Junior, had to withdraw with discomfort from an existing shoulder injury.  The departure of Hans Ciers did however signal good news for Crispian Besley, as Adam handed over the Lotus 18 to his safe keeping as a substitude drive for the race.

For Row one of the grid, with an advantage of over 4 seconds per lap against their closest rival in qualifying, barring incident or mechanical failure, it was plain that it would be either Michael O’Brien or Clive Richards who would win this race.

Both drivers made a good start, with Michael leading by almost a second at the end of lap 1, but Clive kept with him in the early stages and during the lappery near the end came back to within 8 seconds before slipping back to 11 seconds on the final lap. On his way to winning Michael established a new lap record for Historic Formula Junior with a lap of 1 min 38.8, a lap time that may take some time to equal or better.

Following the two leaders, there was an exciting race taking place with battles all the way down the order. Philipp Buhofer (Lotus 27), having had to make the tricky uphill start behind the pole man, missed a gear and made a poor start leaving the door open for Stuart Roach (Alexis Mk 3) and Robin Longdon (Lola Mk 5A) to make flying starts, coming over the line in third and fourth respectively. Philipp recovered to cross the line in 7th place behind Rudolf Ernst, who was driving like a man possessed. His racing was certainly inspired at Brands Hatch.  

By lap 3 we had a train of seven cars headed by Robin Longdon, followed by James Murray, Rudolf Ernst, Tim Child, Stuart Roach, Philipp Buhofer and John Chisholm.

On lap 2 the luckless Peter Fenichel was posted as the first retirement. The close pack fighting for third place started to break up on lap 4, when Tim Child tried a braking manoeuvre at Graham Hill bend that saw him spin without contact, the ensuing confusion enabled Philipp to re-establish his position passing both Rudolf and Stuart to move back to 5th place. Back in 10th place Tim started his progress back through the field gaining 9th from Nic Carlton-Smith on the following lap and closing in on Sir John the following lap.

Back at the head of the pursuing pack, James Murray had passed Robin Longdon and was now sitting in 3rd place but over 26 seconds behind second man Clive Richards. Sadly this was to be the pinnacle of James’ performance at this race as he retired at the end of lap 5 when his engine cut out, handing back the third place to Robin Longdon. Robin held the position for one more lap before Philipp Buhofer overtook him to take the final podium position for the day.

Tim Child in his recovery drive to 5th overall set the 4th fastest lap of the race on the very last lap. The best scrap of the day though was reserved for Duncan Rabagliati, Keith Roach and Syd Fraser resulting in a photo finish for 15th place, it going to Duncan just ahead of Syd.  

After his superb start Stuart Roach finished 7th winning class D2, Nic Carlton-Smith claimed the Class C2 win with Justin Fleming heading up the front-engined race with a lonely B2 win. After the spills and drama of some of the other races over the weekend, the Historic Formula Juniors produced another great race with action throughout the field and no safety cars.


By Alan Jones