MG Trophy – Brands Hatch
4th May 2016
Brands Hatch 30th April/1st May 2016
Brands has always been a favourite, last year we maxed the grid with 32 entries, soon after MSV increased this to 34 so I was sure we could fill the grid once again. With a week to go we had 34 entries :0), everybody who wanted to race had a place, however Andrew Fraser-Burns got a quick sale secured for his 170 and Paul Savage had to withdraw with engine problems. To say I was disappointed was an understatement :0( however many championships would be happy with grids half our size. Three times Trophy champion Chris Bray was once again supporting us and the races were run as “The Finishline (UK) MG Trophy” many thanks to Chris and wife Amy who run the Finishline bodyshop in Hitchin, Herts.
As usual there was a test day on the Friday where many Trophy drivers took advantage of re-aquainting themselves with the circuit. I counted 12 with some doing the whole day and some just the two afternoon sessions. The unluckiest driver had to be Jason Burgess who only managed a few morning session laps before the bolt came out of the pulley with the inevitable consequences, his team worked until late and fitted a new head. The Preptech team had earlier replaced the engine on the Jack Roberts car and Patrick Booth’s windscreen was smashed when the bonnet pins worked loose.
New drivers and those joining us for their first races of the season were, in class A, returnee Jason Burgess, in class B George Streather, younger brother of ex Trophy champ and current Clio star Paul. Multi MGOC race winner Andrew Rogerson and returnees Mike Harris and Andrew Martin were in class B and in class C, and new to the Trophy, ex Metro racer Dave Heasman. Tim Martin also joined us for his first races of the season having missed Donington. We wish all our new drivers the best of luck.
The 32 entries were further reduced to 30 when novices Tony Jones and Paul Croker were unable to start, Jones’s licence hadn’t materialised and Croker’s car wasn’t ready in time. More bad luck meant Burgess also had to sit the races out as a cracked liner was discovered on the Saturday morning.
29 cars made their way out onto the track at 09.26 for the second qualifying session of the day, early pace setters after 3 laps were Bray, Sullivan, Roberts, Campbell and Marsh. In class C it was Payne from Picone, Gil and Bryson. After 7 tours the order was in class A, Bray, Cole and then a big gap to Walker who pulled in after 5 laps with problems. In class B the order was Marsh, Sullivan, Kennon, Campbell and Roberts. Class C order remained the same. Bray made a quick visit to the pits to have the front suspension adjusted but recorded his pole time of 55.382 on lap 9, Cole less than 0.6s. behind. The class B pole went to Sullivan with a 56.7s. with Luti close behind on 56.828, Marsh claimed 3rd. Payne took the class C pole with an excellent 58.535s. followed by Piccone on 59.855s. Walker’s poor qualifying performance was due to a closed up plug gap which was rectified prior to the race.
The race programme was running slightly ahead of time which saw our first race start early at 13.16.
Bray lead with Cole in close contention gradually pulling out an ever increasing lead. Walker’s car was now performing as expected and he gradually drove through the pack from 21st on the grid, picking off places every lap. Bray finished the 20 minute race almost 18 seconds ahead of 2nd place man Cole, Walker eventually finishing 3rd in class and an excellent 4th overall.
Kennon stalled on the line and those behind had to take avoiding action, Campbell took the initial class lead followed by Sullivan, Fraser-Burns and Rogerson. Coles pulled off after 2 laps with a buzzed engine.The leading cars kept in close formation with Sullivan taking over the lead on lap 4 with Fraser-Burns, Campbell and Luti bumper to bumper, Luti moved into 2nd spot on lap 8 but despite trying every trick in the book just couldn’t find a way past Sullivan trailing him by 0.3s.at the flag. Campbell took 3rd with Fraser-Burns 4th 0.44s. adrift. Byrne was out after 11 laps having run as high as 6th in class, Kennon was out a lap later with a recurring intermittent engine problem. Elsewhere in this popular class various close fought battles kept the commentators busy.
The class C race was dominated by Payne who was initially running with several of the class B cars, Picone held 2nd throughout the race with 2015 champ Gil finishing 3rd.
Fastest laps Class A was Bray with a 55.091 on lap 6. Class B was Fraser-Burns with a 56.556 (n/r) on lap 5 and Class C, Payne on lap 7 with 58.644 (n/r).
Driver of the Race and overall Driver of the Day Lee Sullivan
Andrew Martin’s race problems were down to gear selection difficulties and despite several offers of help he decided to call it a day. Simon Byrne’s retirement was due to a head gasket failure causing water to be thrown onto the rear tyres. Dan Jones had a broken throttle potentiometer wire after a few laps which slowed his progress. Rogerson’s team replaced the head gasket in an attempt to redress his race 1 pace.
With the day’s programme still ahead of schedule our race, the first of the day, was brought forward and started at 11.29. Due to the still cool conditions 2 green flag laps were given to allow drivers to warm up their tyres.
A dramatic opening lap saw pole man Bray contacted from behind as he entered Paddock Hill bend which put him into a lurid slide, Luti who had made an impressive start from the outside of row 2 also slid wide in tandem. Bray contacted Byrne and came to a brief standstill in the middle of the track as the following pack took avoiding action, luckily everyone missed the stricken Bray but Kennon, who ran wide, made contact with a barrier and damaged his car. Bray and Byrne managed to get their cars back to the pits to retire.
This left Cole to take up the class A lead albeit behind two Class B cars at the end of lap 1.Cole was into the lead of the race by lap 3 a position he held to the flag. Walker, the only other class A car running, started down in 21st again but worked his way through the class B battles to take 2nd overall and fastest lap at the finish.
Following the frenetic start the mass of class B cars put on a very exciting race, Sullivan lead with Luti in hot pursuit, however, Luti had to make a pit stop on lap 4 but rejoined well down the field. This left the runner up spot initially being closely fought for by Rogerson, who had started in P12, Fraser-Burns and Marsh. Streather retired on lap 7 with a broken front strut, Kennon and Booth joining him on lap 10 after a coming together at Graham Hill bend. Sullivan drew away from the chasing group leaving Marsh, Rogerson, Fraser-Burns and now Campbell and Roberts all fighting over P2. Unfortunately, with this number of cars all competing closely, some contact occured and Marsh and Roberts were the main losers after contact coming out of Clark Curve. At the flag, Sullivan took the win by 5.9s. from Rogerson with Campbell 0.2s. behind, Fraser-Burns taking 4th in class, and after a composed drive Cole took 5th.
Once again Payne dominated, leading the class from start to finish, Picone was a distant 2nd, Gill 3rd.
Fastest laps Class A was Walker 56.299 on lap 17, Class B, Sullivan 56.547 on lap 5 (n/r), Class C, Payne 58.574 on lap 19 (n/r).
Driver of the Race Andrew Rogerson
Track Days / Test Days / MotorsportDays.com