Brands Hatch Superprix; 11th July 2020
Silverline Tools Championship Rounds 1 & 2;
Well the pessimists said it wouldn’t happen – MSUK wouldn’t allow IT, HSCC wouldn’t be brave enough, Drivers (especially our older ones) wouldn’t enter – well, we had 34 entries – including three from Europe; Stephan Joebstl from Switzerland [Lotus 22], Martin Aubert from Spain [Lotus 20] and Guy Verhofstadt from Belgium with his immaculate Elva 100. The front runners had the well-known Brabham aces Cameron Jackson, Martin Shaw and Richard Wilson while the Lotus brigade were joined by newcomer to FJ, Clive Richards in the ex-Johannes Kistler 20/22, and Mike Hibberd’s superbly restored Lotus 22 which recently featured in Motor Sport being the ex-Monza Arundel wager car. Front engines too had Chris Drake and Andrew Hibberd who were expected to be in close competition.
The arrangements for virtual scrutineering and signing on were taken seriously and conducted correctly by competitors – there was general satisfaction with this arrangement, most feeling that it removed a source of aggravation and stress which the queues often present. Interestingly in German National Racing, this is what happens with scrutineering – the cars being thoroughly inspected at the beginning of the season and issued with an official “Wagenpass” – a system which seems to work well.
No disasters in qualifying – Cameron Jackson curtailed his practice with a misfire ending over a second adrift of poleman Mark Shaw. Nick Fennel ran third – slightly disappointed at not matching his previous times after testing on Friday. Close racing looked to be on the cards between the Lotus runners – Lee Mowle, Clive Richards, Michael Hibberd.
Front engine B2s looked like also being close with Drake, Hibberd Minor and Morton Senior running together on the grid.
It was good to see Jim Blockley back driving quickly and smoothly with the Caravelle having obviously recovered from his medical issues.
Stuart Tizzard defected from the Cooper T56 Cartel for the weekend thus risking the ire of the Cooper Gand (never mind Peter Jackson) by racing David Walker’s Lotus 18.
All races over the weekend had rolling starts – from pole Mark Shaw made a great run to Paddock where Jackson bravely held the outside line and eased ahead towards Druids. Robin Longdon a leading contender in D2 stopped at the exit of Paddock with ignition problems. At the front Jackson eased steadily away from Shaw – interestingly while both were neat and extremely fast through Paddock, they had distinctly differing lines – Shaw on an earlier apex and Jackson a later turn in – each using every millimetre of Dr Palmer’s precious track limit. Meanwhile a crowded entry into Surtees resulted in Adrian Russell clouting the rear of Richard Wilson’s Brabham – “minor flesh wound” for both cars – Wilson continued but Russell stopped with his nosecone pointing skywards. Behind the leading trio, a splendid set to between the Loti of Mowle, Richards and Hibberd were joined by Andrew Hibberd and Drake and Wilson’s wounded Brabham – a wonderful six car battle which kept the sparse crowd enthralled. Andrew Hibberd passed Chris Drake and looked like drawing gradually away – Drake gained a second wind and closed the gap, regaining the class lead on the approach to Druids on the last lap after both spent half a lap side by side in the best safe traditions of Formula Junior – Drake winning class B2 by three tenths with Alex Morton in 3rd place with his superb Condor. Sir John Chisholm had a lonely class winning race despite coping with seriously binding brakes.
Up front, Lee Mowle looked like heading the six car train but negotiating lapped cars dropped him back with Clive Richards lapping increasingly quickly to finish under a second behind 3rd place Nick Fennell in his delectable Lotus 27.
Crispian Besley was another who enjoyed a lonely race to win Class C2 from Trevor Griffiths’ Emeryson.
Towards the end, the wonderful six car dice had reduced to four – Mike Hibberd leading after a superb move to overtake Richard Wilson’s Brabham through Paddock Bend. The order within less than two seconds covering all being Hibberd Senior, Wilson, Drake and Hibberd Minor – a great race in the best traditions.
Another incident free rolling start – Nonstarters included Stuart Tizzard with gearbox trouble and Guy Verhofstadt.
The race may have seemed like a rerun of the first with the same three in the same order, well-spaced, but the real story of this race was the very close but safe driving and enthusiastic competition going on further down the field – Robin Longdon’s revived Lola Mk3 held off repeated attacks from Alex Morton’s Condor – Keith Pickering’s nicely (self) prepared Britannia just inches ahead of Griffiths’ Emeryson throughout the race – very close, no quarter given – especially good to see both warmly congratulating the other on the slowing down lap, in the paddock and on the social media afterwards. James Owen, having his first race for 21 months sandwiched between Nic Carlton-Smith’s Kieft and Ian Simmonds’ Envoy. Such obvious enjoyment throughout the field is what Formula Junior has always been about. It is exactly why we attach ourselves to these cars. The Cars themselves are very special – but of even greater significance, so are the people and the Organisation.
It certainly felt odd to have no prizegiving – there were no prizes presented in situ, but winners were sent HSCC merchandise vouchers –but overall, from the Formula Junior view, the entire meeting was a success – greatly enjoyed by all competitors, families and friends.
Roll on Mallory Park, Oulton Gold Cup, Spa and Dijon et al.
by Bob Birrell
Charlie Wooding’s photo gallery can be viewed here;