With the Historic Sports Car Championship having visited the famous Brands Hatch GP circuit last weekend, you would have been forgiven for thinking time travel was possible. Many of the 400 plus entries for the action packed timetable would have visited the Kent circuit in its heyday of years gone by and they were resplendent in their presence under the July sunshine. The main attraction of the FIA Historic Formula One and Group C races were added to by a host of other support races such as the Derek Bell Trophy, the E-Type Challenge, Historic Touring Cars and Historic Formula 2 to name just a few that kept the crowd entertained.
Despite a slightly reduced Historic F1 field, which meant the McLaren MP4/1B of Bobby Verdon Roe was not able to take part along with a few others, the racing was no less exciting. Japanese F3 driver Hideki Yamauchi was making his debut in the series set the pace in the first qualifying session behind the wheel of fellow countryman Katsu Kubota's March 761. Yamauchi, who was in attendance to join Kubota in the Group C race was not expecting to be participating in the F1 race but took to it like a duck to water. The first qualifying session saw Yamauchi set a time of 1:19.786, a full 3.2 seconds ahead of the second quickest Williams FW08 of Richard Eyre. The afternoons second qualifying session gave the drivers a chance to improve on their times but the March 761 sat the session out with the team suitably impressed with the time already set. John Wilson in a Tyrrell 11 had suffered a few technical issues in the morning and managed to improve on his time to take him to second place on Sundays grid ahead of Eyre, but still a full 2.5 seconds off pole.
Nine cars lined up for the 18 lap race on Sunday and it was Yamauchi who unsurprisingly capitalised on his pole position. Early retirements from Ian Simmonds on lap two in the wonderful Benetton liveried Tyrell 12 and Laurent Fort on lap 4 in an Ensign MN180 was disappointing but there was some great action still on track. John Wilson kept Yamauchi within sight out front whilst both pulled away from Richard Eyre's Williams in third. But all eyes were on the close battle for fourth place between Peter Wuensch in a Wolf WR1 and Richard Barber's Fittipaldi F5 A2. The two fought tooth and nail throughout with Barber all over the back of Wuensch a number of times forcing some very defensive driving. Back at the front it was the Yamauchi March that took the flag nearly seven seconds ahead of Wilson's Tyrell. Richard Eyre who took his Williams to a relatively lonely third place 23 seconds further back and a similar distance ahead of the captivating battle for fourth which saw Wuensch take the honours, just 0.341 seconds over rival Barber. This left John Delane and the immaculate ex Jackie Stewart Tyrrell 2 to finish sixth, a lap down and Terry Sayles with his Osella FA1 seventh a further lap back.
An entertaining one hour Group C race was on the bill too for race goers and despite the withdrawals between qualifying and the race of Jonathan Fay's Tiga GT287, due to slight put un-repairable damage and Don Miles' Jaguar XJR 5B with engine trouble, 13 further cars were to take to the grid on Sunday. Pole position was filled by Katsu Kubota and Hideki Yamauchi in their Nissan R90C ahead of the C2 class Spice SE89C of Peter and Andy Meyick who had set a time of just 0.449 seconds slower than the C1 class Nissan. Third spot was filled by another Spice, a C1 class SE89P of Stefano Rosina stating alongside a fan favourite Mercedes C11 of Gareth Evans and Bob Berridge. The top five on the grid was rounded out by Steve Tandy at the wheel of the Yellow Nissan RC90.
From the start the pole position Nissan with Yamauchi behind the wheel stretched out a comfortable lead ahead of the chasing pack which was lead by the Rosina Spice which had its hands full keeping the Mercedes at Bay. After the initial laps, the yellow Nissan of Steve Tandy and Martin Stretton latched on to the battle for second place making it a three way encounter but a spin later on dropped them back down the order. Before the compulsory pit stops, there was another three car tussle for fifth place involving the Spice SE89C with Peter Meyrick at the wheel, David Mercer's Spice SE90C and the Kent Abrahamson Nissan R90C.
As Yamauchi bought the Nissan in at the half way point to hand over Kubota, the lead was a comfortable one of nearly a minute. However, Kubota was unable to match his team mates lap times as the chasing pack had swapped to their quicker drivers. It was the Mercedes that showed its worth after the stops as Bob Berridge who was strangling every ounce of power from the Silver beast and it wasn't long before he had dispatched the cars in front giving him a clear run at the leading Nissan. Cutting huge chunks out of the initial minutes gap, time was not quite on his side as Kubota was relieved to see the chequered flag drop with Berridge, who would have been hoping for just a couple more laps, eight seconds behind. Andy Meyrick was another driver to get maximum performance from his car after the pit stops as he took the Spice up to third place and first in the C2 category setting the fastest lap time in the process. Aaron Scott took C2 second place in a Spice SE86 he shared with Tommy Dreelan with Duncan McKay and Robin Ward with their Spice SE88C third.
Elsewhere, British GT driver Michael Lyons gave a dominant display in the Derek Bell Trophy. He put the Lola T400 on pole for both races which also featured his father Frank in a Gurney Eagle FA74 and Mother Judy behind the wheel of a Lola T332. Michael lead from start to finish in both races with sizeable margins of 1m04s and 52s over Andrew Higgins, also in a T400 Lola. Gregory Thornton completed the top three in race one having kept Frank Lyons behind his Chevron B24, but Frank was to reverse this result in the second race after a superb battle with Thornton and taking the flag just 0.400s ahead to join his son on the podium.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type, the E-Type Challenge boasted a field of 34 classic machines which provided fascinating action and battles throughout both races. All eyes were on the number 48 green car which was being driven by the only female Formula One race winner Desire Spencer who was to start race one down in 23rd place. A battle for the lead throughout the 15 laps saw Graeme Dodd take the spoils despite Jon Minshaw keeping him on his toes just behind. Problems for Desire Wilson's car saw her retire after just two laps which would see her start race two well down on the 15th row. However Wilson showed her experience and picked through the pack to reach eighth place on the seventh lap before mechanical gremlins struck again forcing retirement on lap 11. Out at the front Jon Minshaw took a comfortable win ahead of second placed John Pearson and Mark Clubb in third.
Benn Simms took his Alexis Mk14 to victory in the Formula Ford race whilst in the Formula Ford 2000 race, Russell Love in a Reynard SF79 just held off James Murray's SF77 Reynard in a close affair. A 36 car field lined up for the two race Lurani Trophy which saw a win apiece for Stuart Roach in an Alexis Mk4 James Murray with a Lola MK5A who also claimed the combined race result. Both Historic Formula 2 race victories were claimed by the March 742 of Martin Stretton whilst in the Classic Formula 3 race saw another March, a 793 driven by Jamie Brashaw take the top step of the podium. The open wheel race line up was rounded off with the Classic Racing Cars and a race which saw Martin Anslow and his Brabham BT21 take the honours.
Classic road and GT cars were also well represented over weekend too providing bumper to bumper action with the Historic Roadsports first up which saw Paul Tooms in his 1963Lotus Elan take the win. There was a close finish in the 70's Roadsports race with the top three finishing within a second of each other. Paul Anderson took the narrow victory in a Porsche 928 ahead of two TVR 300M's of Peter Shaw and Julian Barter. The Martini Trophy saw two victories for John Burton behind the wheel of a Chevron B26 whilst it was a lights to flag victory for the Ford Falcon of Leo Voyazides in the Historic Touring Car's despite Dan Cox kept him under pressure just behind in his Yellow Lotus Cortina. Finally, a 40 car line up in the Guards trophy completed the Spectacle with a slightly shortened 35 minute race on Saturday Evening due to the curfew where Nick Fleming took the win in a 1968 Chevron B8.
You can see the full classified results from a great weekends racing here: http://www.mstworld.com/msportevent.aspx?eventid=11206&circuitid=3&series=UK&venue=HSCC&circuit=Brands%20Hatch%20GP