Brands Hatch – 2013 – Round 6 – John Owen
October means Brands Hatch and one of my favourite race meetings at the Formula Ford Festival. The racing is always fantastic and I love the circuit – only 1.2 miles but a great mix of corners and the roller coaster ride through Paddock Hill bend. My turn to drive but work means I have to rely on Mike to deliver the car on the Friday and meet me at Swanley station in the evening. Saturday morning and the weather is not good even if the met office do say there is only a 20% chance of rain. With scrutineering done we accept the inevitable and go for wet settings and as qualifying starts it’s wet and getting wetter. A few tentative laps as I re-learn the circuit and then try to pick up the pace. It’s proving tough and I get very close to disaster at Druids – the on board camera later confirms how close it was but thanks to a bit of run off I escape and then just as I’m hoping to set a quick time the red flags come out so it’s back to the garage.
I sit in the car looking out at the rain as it gets harder and wonder if there is any point going back out but a long delay means sunshine just before we go out for seven minutes on a track with streams flowing across. A few steady laps and then a quicker one that grabs three places up the grid to put me ninth before another red flag brings qualifying to a close. Time to dry off and think about tomorrow. Will it be dry like the weather men say?
Sunday morning and it looks promising and we put a dry set up on the car. Sitting in the assembly area there’s a brief rain squall but it goes as fast as it came and we head to the grid for a dry race.
Lights out and we are away and Paddock Hill bend is busy and I drop a couple of places but as I settle in I’m quickly back on the pace and over the next few laps I make the places back and set off after the sixth place car. I’m making progress but somewhat shocked to find only half the race has gone and then the car begins to understeer, especially at Clearways. Slowly the two cars I’d passed reel me back in and inevitably come past. I’m still leading the class so try to focus on the positive but what’s wrong? The race is red flagged with only two minutes to go so I finish where I started, ninth and a class win and I’m well happy as I head back to the garage. Even better is the news that Patrick has dominated the race in the works car to take another great win. We soon discover a broken rear anti-roll bar was the cause of the understeer a legacy of one too many trips over the kerbs but it’s been on the car for three seasons so we can’t complain.
It’s a great end to a great season with the car finally showing the reliability and performance we need although I’m still not convinced that it’s really due to Mike’s lucky heather. I am, as always, hugely indebted to Mike for his support and encouragement but also to all the MCR family. The number of cars keeps increasing but everyone that joins us contributes to a convivial and supportive culture. It’s going to be a long winter but I’m already looking forward to next season and more great Sports 2000 racing with MCR.
Round 6 Brands Hatch Race Report. Win, Fastest Lap
Qualifying was wet with the rain increasing throughout the session. I struggled to find a good balance and didn’t want to risk the car in the atrocious conditions so settled for fourth behind Justin Everitt, Craig Mitchell and Rob Oldershaw