HISTORIC FF1600 RIVALS BATTLE HARD
Two memorable Historic FF1600 races highlighted an otherwise low-key second visit of the year to a dry but chilly Brands Hatch by the HSCC.
Rob Wainwright and Callum Grant, having taken a victory each in Kent, will take their title duel to the season finale at Silverstone next month.
Seven times winner Grant (Merlyn) shadowed Wainwright’s Elden from the early stages of the first race, regularly showing that he could slipstream into the lead between Clearways and the finish line even if the Elden was better on the brakes a few seconds later at Paddock.
If that was Grant’s intended strategy for the last lap, it was not to be. He braked a fraction too late at Graham Hill Bend for the penultimate time, allowing Benn Tilley (Merlyn) to snatch second place on Cooper Straight. That settled the finishing order, with less than 0.5s covering the three cars at the flag. James Buckton (Elden), Mark Shaw (Merlyn), Benn Simms (Jomo) and Simon Toyne (Lola) were next, finishing almost as close together as the top three.
Race two followed a similar pattern, but this time Grant’s plans were successful while Tilley, going well after a crash-interrupted season, took second by half a length from Wainwright in another blanket finish. Buckton and Shaw went missing on the last lap, leaving Simms and Toyne to follow the leaders home. Tilley made an obvious jump-start from the front row (“the lights seemed to stay on for ever,” he said) but escaped sanction by letting Wainwright and Grant past.
Simon Jackson (Chevron) won both Classic F3 races, but never had a comfortable advantage with Pat Gormley in the Safir giving chase. Ian Pearson’s class-winning Van Diemen was third both times after Gaius Ghinn (Ralt) lost a challenging second place with a couple of spins in the first race. Ghinn was classified sixth, and finished fourth at the second attempt.
Andrew Park’s domination of the Historic FF2000 season continued with another double victory. Race one looked like a struggle for Park, and it transpired afterwards that he’d been forced to drive using the engine’s on/ off switch after the Reynard’s throttle stuck open. The race ended early when third man Graham Ridgway’s daughter Jennifer (Royale) clashed with Greg Robertson (Reynard) at Mclaren corner.
Race two was a much more routine affair for the leader with a 14s winning margin. Tom White (Osella) was runner-up for the second time and Ridgway in the Royale was pipped to third place by Andrew Storer (Reynard). Storer grabbed the podium spot at the final corner after recovering from a grassy moment at Graham Hill Bend early on.
Unbeaten all year, Mark Charteris maintained his 100 per cent Classic Clubmans record, easily beating Spencer Mccarthy in both their races. The quick-starting Mike Lane and Alan Cook followed, and Clive Wood was a double class winner, all in Mallock variants.
Rod Birley (Ford Escort) won the first Quaife Saloon race after the chasing Dale Gent (Subaru) retired with a detached intercooler pipe. Tony Skelton (Renault Clio) held second under heavy pressure until Malcolm Wise in the Escort eventually found a gap and blasted past in the final yards. The BMWS of points leader Laurie Grant and Graham Crowhurst were nearly a lap behind in fourth and fifth.
Gent started 17th in race two but caught and passed Birley for the lead with laps to spare. Race one retirement Dan Cowan (Sierra) was a distant third also from the back of the grid, and Wise fourth. Crowhurst and Andy Banham (Subaru) completed the top six, but Skelton was delayed by a first lap adventure, finishing 16th. Grant was seventh, recovering from a spin at Graham Hill Bend, and still won his class to keep the points ticking over.
A misfire plagued Chris Bassett’s Peugeot, restricting him to third and 14th in two Tin Tops outings after qualifying fastest. Two excursions in race two while coping with the engine problem didn’t help his cause. Chris Whiteman and the much-improved Daniel Fisher took full advantage, occupying the top two places in their Honda Civics. Daniel Adams’ Proton was fourth behind the struggling Bassett and later took third, despite a collision with Graham Richardson’s Civic on the last lap. Ken Angell (BMW), defending champion Mikey Day (Saxo) and Cliff Pellin (Fiesta) were all double class winners.
The Caterhams of Tony Bennett and Shaun Elwell dominated both Allcomers races, even though they opted to start at the back with an additional 10s delay in race two.
First race third man Ian Burford (Ginetta) rather wasted his inherited pole position by spinning twice in the second encounter. He recovered to finish fifth.
Bill Sollis (Mini Cooper S) had fun fighting with two Ford Mustangs, which were mysteriously running in the same class, but Sollis unsurprisingly couldn’t match the V8 cars’ power despite his best efforts on the corners.