Porsche Club Race Report Brands Hatch 18/19th September 2004
Car - 924 Carrera GT
An immediate return to Brands Hatch following the Porsche Festival meant that very few competitors were bothering to test on the Friday, though the GVR cars were there along with Class 2 newcomer Stephen Morris in Patrick Pearce's old car. During morning testing I refined the suspension settings and found a better compromise, better through Graham Hill and Clearways, but not as good through Druids. Lap times seemed to be better, but as the day wore on it became more difficult to make further progress due to a couple of rain showers.so I scrubbed in a new tyre in the final session which was mainly dry. The lap times did seem to have dropped off a little. Maybe I was tired.
Next morning was dry, with a slight autumn nip in the air, ideal conditions for the car. I was quite fortunate in practice the following day and was able to find some space on track. Initially following Tom Segrue who had set such good times two weeks earlier I found I was almost matching his pace, but lost out a little on the exit of Clearways and then down the rest of the pit straight. Derek Gregorys car was abandoned at the bottom of Graham Hill bend, the result of contact with Ian White who was rewarded with an endorsement and 4 points on his licence for the privilege plus he had a 10 second penalty at the start of the race. The session was also red flagged as Craig Rapp spun on the exit of the same bend and stalled, being unable to restart the car. This gave me an opportunity to come into the pits and tweak the mixture a little to try and gain some power which I seemed to be a little short of. It seemed to be marginally beneficial though I failed to improve my times and qualified 5th in class. The best news was that the next four cars on the grid were all class 2 cars and with a good start I would have the chance of a good result.
Lining up in tenth place overall with the dip of the Brands Hatch pit straight I had a good view of the front of the field, though I was also aware of the Class 1 cars of Andy Purdie and Richard Harrison behind. The red lights were extinguished and I got a good start, not losing any places from the start. On the run to Paddock Hill I was swarmed by 911's who seemed to have much more pace as everyone except Chris Stewart, Mark Lillington and Andy Morris swept past. I was behind Colin Ingram on the run to Druids when the usual smoke from locked up wheels signalled that someone was nearly off circuit. Lee Birkett just recovered and stayed on the inside ahead of Colin. For the next lap we continued in close formation with Adam Egar what seems to be his usual line completely off circuit on the exit of Graham Hill bend. Lillington in his 968 was close behind on the exit and I judged it best to allow him past rather than get held up defending against him. This was what falls into the category of a good decision for on the exit of Clearways he and Andy Purdie (3.2 carrera) were within inches of each other on the inside while Colin Ingram was on the outside, on the marbles. The back end of his car slid onto the grass, but instead of harmlessly spinning into the gravel he came back on circuit, the car snapped to the right and he headed for pit entry. Mark Lillington was in the way however so Colin first collected Mark, and shoved him sideways into the start of the pitwall. As I passed Colin I could see the underside of his car as he was speared up into the air and began to roll. Both came out of their cars unharmed, but Colin couldn't say how many times his car rolled over. It was over a minute before the decision to red flag the race was made, after which we were to return to the grid and wait for repairs to be made to the barriers before the race was resumed.
At the restart we were placed in our race positions so even with the eliminated cars I was already two places further back than my qualifying position which was going to make it more difficult for the race. I had a poor start and got jumped by Fraser Robertson and Ian Oliver. Fraser was on new tyres and almost succeeded in throwing the car off at Druids and Paddock on the first lap. I followed Oliver for one more lap before passing him at Paddock and pulling away. Next time around Graham Hill yellow flags were waving for Tom Segrue and Lee Birkett. Apparently Segrue had carried too much speed through the bend, went onto the grass, and spun back onto the circuit just in the right place for poor Lee Birkett to T-bone him. Both cars were removed safely and there was no safety car.
Their elimination put me up into 3rd in class, but from that point forward the race was lonely and uneventful. The cars in front had gone into the distance and no-one behind me was catching me. The car did seem to be reverting to form and losing power as the race wore on, so more fiddling in the paddock next morning.
This was a pretty horrific race with 4 cars being severely damaged, if not written off as a result of the two accidents, to which could be added the loss of Derek Gregorys car in qualifying. The result of this is going to be depleted grids for the remainder of the season.
An early start on the Sunday morning was in order so that I could check out the fuelling system and change the metering head in an attempt to get the car back on song. The spark plugs didn't look too good, but I was unable to source any more so had to go with what I had.
Lining up behind Ragdan El Akabi and Richard Harrison I knew that there was no way I would get in front of these two fast starters. I was not wrong, they opened up a large gap when the lights went out which Ian Oliver and Chris Stewart neatly slipped into. I had the inside line and used it to retake Stewart under braking. Now it was hammer down paddock before slamming the anchors on at the top of the hill at Druids. I reckon there's a 50/50 chance of an incident happening on the first lap at Druids, and today there was to be no disappointment. When the tyre smoke cleared Ragdan el Akabi, Andy Purdie and Adam Egar were all stationary at strange angles. Having missed them I rounded the corner to find Pete Morris facing the wrong way up the hill. It seems Ian White had given him a little kiss and spun him round. The clerk of the course was later to fine White and give him some more points on his licence for this incident, but gave no other penalty, though it certainly affected Pete's race.
Now promoted to second in class I tried to extend a lead, but within three laps Adam Egar had caught up to me. The difference in our pace was about two seconds a lap and there was little I could do to defend against him. My lap times were down in the high 58 second mark, around class three times, which is where I spent the rest of the race either just in front or behind Fraser Robertson. I think Fraser thought I was racing him. In reality I tried to pull away, couldn't make much headway and decided it was better to follow than lead. As the race boringly went it's full 25 minute distance my times became worse, but with the reduced field I still finished third in class and took home a pot. The car needed some serious rolling road time though before the next round at the very fast Castle Combe
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