UK “Silverline” Championship Round 6; Brands Hatch – 1st July 2018

A capacity thirty eight cars out for qualifying on a beautifully sunny day on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit – what more could you want? Although, in truth, perhaps it was a little too hot for the cars.

Newcomers in the entry list were Richard Ferris in the Australian built Donford, Peter Edbrooke in the ex-Michaela Axelsson Lotus 18 not raced since 2004, David Walker having his first ever race in Lotus 18-J-752 ex-Simon Durling and Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian Prime Minister and current MEP and Brexit “big cheese”, in the yellow Elva 100/66DKW (but with BMC engine). Adrian Russell was also out with his immaculate Denty-prepared French racing-blue Lotus 22. Adrian had taken a fifth at Cadwell but was still getting used to the car after previously racing Caterhams and an Elan 26R – he was to feature further in the story of the race….. Absent was Championship leader Cameron Jackson although he was racing in Formula Ford where a pair of second places was the result.

Qualifying was uneventful with Chris Goodwin (Lotus 22) securing pole by 1.11″ from Pete Morton (Lightning Envoyette) with the second row being Stuart Roach (Alexis Mk4) and Chris Drake (Class D Elva 300). Alex Morton (Condor) was quickest of the front-engines and Andrew Taylor (T56) set the best time for Class C.

Chris Wilks (Deep Sanderson) missed qualifying: “I arrived in the assembly area for qualifying and the marshals noticed an oil leak…  The oil cooler had split (very strange – I’ve never known anything like that – an effect of the baking hot day? More likely a stone perhaps from the last event).  Anyway, a chat with the Clerk of the Course, a very quick bypassing of the oil cooler and I was allowed to go out for two laps behind the safety car just before lunch. That allowed me to start the race from the back of the grid.  During the afternoon a friend from HGPCA had a spare oil cooler and we fitted it and went racing…  I ended up in a pleasing 19th position and had fun getting there.” Your reporter observed Chris start – when the lights went green he was off like a shot with tyres screeching, whilst most of the back-of-the-grid cars had yet to move!

With its strict 18.30 curfew, last slot of the day is always a risky proposition at Brands but the HSCC ran through the programme very efficiently and the race started bang on time at 17.30. Chris Goodwin led away and was leading Morton and Roach as the colourful train of cars headed out of sight on to the GP loop. On reappearing at Clearways these three were well clear of Peter de la Roche (Pat Barford’s Lola 3), Drake and Greg Thornton and Andrew Beaumont’s Lotus 22s. Nick Taylor’s Elva 100’s rear bodywork could be seen to be hanging off and inevitablly a pit-stop was required to re-fix it.

The order at the front did not change on lap two but Greg Thornton pulled in to the pits: In qualifying one of my new tyres had been fitted incorrectly (valve) so deflated down to 9 psi! Then in the race I had gearbox issues when selecting gears. The lead battle became two as Stuart Roach pulled to the side – driveshaft failure. At the end of lap four Goodwin was 3.4″ clear of Morton, then an 8.2″ gap to de la Roche – sliding spectacularly through Clearways/Clark Curve in his efforts to keep ahead of Chris Drake, with Beaumont on the Elva’s tail. Sadly the safety car then came out as Adrian Russell had beached the blue Lotus at Westfield when the car in front slowed more than expected. Happily there was no damage and the car returned to the Paddock under its own steam after the race.

But then things got messy. Two of the lapped cars did not circulate nearly fast enough to catch the “train” behind the safety car so there were, in effect, three separate groups circulating about 30″ apart. When the safety car pulled in and the green flags were shown spreading back from the startline the second & third groups were a LONG way from the restart line. The MSA rules say no overtaking before the start line regardless of green flags but you could sense the huge frustration of those stuck in the second and third groups but themselves on the lead lap on seeing others gifted an advantage. Inevitably by the time “group 3” hove into view round the final bend they were well and truly racing. A study of the lap chart shows some remarkable ups and downs!

Anyway, back to the race. Two lapped cars prevented Peter Morton making an attack on the leader and Goodwin cruised to a 4.3″ win over the Lightning/Envoyette. Chris Drake nipped past de la Roche on the restart but the Lola was soon back in front to claim an excellent third overall with Drake being overtaken by Andrew Beaumont for fifth. Laine Martin slipped by Rudolf Ernst on the last lap to complete the top six.

Class C was led throughout by Andrew Taylor and the Condor of Alex Morton was eighth overall and 5″ ahead of Andrew Tart (Bond) for Class B. Mike Walker was third, one of the big losers in the restart.Clinton McCarthy (Lotus 18) won the two car Class C1, setting a class lap record on the way. There were no entries in Class A.

The only retirements not so far mentioned were Peter Fenichel, whose Cooper T56 developed a misfire in qualifying and was also running hot. He said “I had the engine out after a blown head gasket at Donington so didn’t want to risk it… turned out the immediate problem was loose wiring at the coil. Never got a good lap, obviously. In the race I was going well (save for starting on row 17) but after the safety car period the car was again running too hot and it cut out / stalled at the top of Druids… I pulled off but restarted and was intending to retire.  Must have crossed the finish line in the pit lane as I was classified 31st” and Robin Longdon who had the gear selector rod on the Lola Mk3 break after one lap and Jason Williams, who pulled in to the pits at the end of the green flag lap. He had not set a time in qualifying due to electrical problems.

Richard Page