Brands Hatch – October 2009

Matt and myself had given the car an inspection after Mallory as it was quite soul destroying watching the cars scamper away after the hairpin and we’d decided that the standard anti roll bars just had to go. We’d also look at lowering the car as well. On closer inspection, it was found that the “race” springs were in fact standard new springs and had been coil binding and the KYB shockers which were supposed to be fitted all round were actually KYBs on the front and knackered standard shockers on the back. A pair o Whiteline ARBs and some stiffer springs were fitted and we were good to go and quite looking forward to Brands if I’m honest.

Another track to learn as I qualified so I was more than pleased with 9th on the grid. The wet weather must have helped me as I slithered my way round trying to find the grip on the corners.

Race 1. I’m not sure where the customary good start went? Car 70 went before all the reds had come on and I sort of expected them to hold the start and bring him back into place but the lights went out and everyone else set off so I thought I may as well go as well. I spun the wheels and then spent that much time wondering where the grip was that I’d banged it against the limiter and wasn’t even thinking about where second was. I managed to get rolling and found myself at the back of some much slower cars which I managed to pick off one by one and then I found myself at the back of Jason Jesse. He had the legs on me on the straights but seemed much more cautious than usual. I had a look up the inside of Druids but know better than to get half way past so declined the gap, I had another look up the inside at Graham Hill Bend and got right alongside on Cooper straight but he chopped me out as we entered Surtees. I kept wide on the approach to McLaren and cut tight around clearways and had a look up the inside but could see Sarah Wherry was embarking upon a rotation on the outside of the bend so backed right out of it and headed for the grass on the infield and left enough room for everyone to get through. Unfortunately, Jason didn’t have the grip and hit Sarah on the front right corner and before long the red flags were out.

The re-start was pretty much the same as the first start. Car 70 set off way before the lights went out but this time I went at the same time as the rest. But that did no good as a steady stream of cars came flooding past as I pootled away from the line and into Paddock Hill Bend.

Notably, I had Mark Scott and Simon Lockey in front of me by now so I took a few corners to settle myself in, get my temper down and started watching what they were doing. What I did notice was that they were both lifting as the cars started to slide so they were losing speed mid corner. So I simply backed away from them, let them get a twitch in Graham Hill Bend and powered past down Cooper Straight. Simon kindly gave way tome at Surtees and I carried the speed up the inside of Mark as we braked into Clearways. Simples. I now had a clear track in front of me and set about catching the five seconds or so to Shane Wright and Mark Thomas who were now well ahead of me. Shane managed to get past Mark but was forced to retire on lap 8 but I managed to close the gap in front to under 2 seconds and open up a comfortable 10 second gap over the beying pack to finish 6th.

Race 2 and I was on the third row of the grid. I never thought I’d see that in my third race meeting. But, as I’d now become accustomed at Brands Hatch, a bad start had me down to 10th place before Druids but I managed to squeeze back past Chris Shackle by the end of lap 1. Chasing hard to make up the deficit to Lockey, I carried loads of speed through Druids power-sliding all the way but the left rear touched the grass on the exit. A massive tank slapper ensued to which Matt commented to all around “Dave’s a rally driver, any other driver would have spun it there” onward and upward, I decided I could get away with more speed at Druids next time. More grass ensued and an even bigger tank slapper which went one way, then the next, then back again which eventually developed into a massive 180 which I followed neatly with a J turn which had me sitting a couple of seconds behind Chris Shackle. Funny old thing. The next lap was the fastest to date so I hadn’t been put off by the spin but I was careful not to go on the grass again. As I had regained the track behind Chris, we were joined by Mark Scott who was quite insistent about being in front of me. I was looking in front to Simon in the Gulf car who by now was some 9 seconds in front so decided to concentrate my efforts on holding off Mark instead. By lap 10, I’d managed to eek out a whole second lead over Mark but by lap 12 the lead was down to nothing as he looked up the left and then the right into each consecutive corner, never more than a couple of feet from my back bumper. As we exited Clark Curve for the last time, I could see the chequered flag waving as Mark weaved from left to right trying to decide which side to pass me on but we passed the flag line astern separated by just a tenth of a second. And with Mark Thomas sitting in the gravel at Clearways and Ross Stoner leaning on the Armco at Druids, that left me with another 6th place.

Can’t wait for next season 🙂

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