Brett Smith Extends Lead at Brands Hatch as Rob Smith Claims Win


Credit: Dave Young Photography / MINI CHALLENGE UK

It was another weekend to remember for Brett Smith, leaving Brands Hatch with two more pieces of silverware, including a win in the MINI CHALLENGE – JCW event. The EuroTech Racing driver has been virtually untouchable this weekend and knows the title is within sight as the season approaches its conclusion.

He won’t be the only Smith to come away with points though, as Rob Smith took a win in race one, only to be involved in an incident on the opening lap, knocking him out. Elsewhere, two second places from Lawrence Davey, who was easily the driver of the weekend, proved his potential towards the sharp end as Charlie Butler-Henderson collected a third place in race two.

Of the guest drivers, it looked like a whitewash would be on the cards for Sarah Moore, but the incident in race two gave Luke Caudle reason to celebrate with a fourth overall.

Qualifying

Pole – Rob Smith – MINI UK VIP

During the thirty minute lunch break that had preceded the qualifying session, the circuit had been drenched after a freak storm passed over Brands Hatch. With the rain still falling the JCW headed on to the circuit, with only 20 minutes to set a time.

Championship leader Brett Smith was the first to set the pace as red flags came out early due to Max Blaldon and Will Neal crashing at Druids. A later safety car for a seperate incident saw all the drivers on a final lap dash for pole.

Rob Smith would be the biggest beneficiary of this pushing down Brett, despite his improvement. Behind them a surprising time from Lawrence Davey and Sarah Moore saw them fill the second row, pushing down Charlie Butler-Henderson and Reece Barr.

Despite the soaked conditions on Saturday, Rob Smith was still able to grab pole (Credit: Dave Young Photography / MINI CHALLENGE UK)

Race One

Winner – Rob Smith – MINI UK VIP

The shock flood of Saturday had shaken up the grid, but Rob Smith was determined to make the most of the start, and did break away, but it would be futile as a red flag was quickly called.

Sarah Moore had made the best start, but was edged out and fell down to sixth, though further drama was seen further back as Will Neal was spun by Ryan Dignan at the blind Surtees corner. Scott Jeffs and a four other drivers were involved in the chaos behind, with many spinning into the gravel.

The race was restarted with the original grid allowing R.Smith to maintain his lead from Lawrence Davey. A strong start from Moore saw her jump up to third, pushing down Brett Smith who had a championship to think of. Smith was quick to regain the place, as a safety car was called for Rebecca Jackson.

This meant that a heavily interrupted session ended under neutral conditions with Rob Smith taking victory from Davey and B. Smith.

Behind them, Moore took a fourth on her JCW debut, with Charlie Butler-Henderson and Mark Wakefield rounding out the top six in class and an uneventful race for many of the leaders.

Race Two

Winner – Brett Smith – EuroTech Racing

With the top four reversed it was Sarah Moore at the head of the order as the lights went out. She maintained the lead through a fairly clean first half a lap, but after letting the top two through, made contact with Rob Smith on the exit of Clearways.

Moore dropped back as Smith retired after damage picked up from hitting the pit wall. The incident sent the cars behind into a frenzy, as David Grady took the gravel and got beached after clipping the outside tyre wall.

No safety car was called and the action continued with Brett Smith and Lawrence Davey breaking away as a result. The pair would exchange fastest laps but Brett held on for his second podium of the weekend. The podium was rounded out by Charlie Butler-Henderson who had made a strong start only to be initially held up by Moore.

In fourth, Luke Caudle had made strong progress from the lower top ten and managed to hold off Reece Barr who had provided a late race challenge. Moore would eventually recover to win her inter-team battle for sixth.