Brands Hatch - 12th September

Brands Hatch – a crucial Championship race meeting...

As predicted, Sunday 12th September at Brands Hatch was the meeting that determined (almost) the 2010 BRSCC Porsche Championship!

As this was a one day meeting, the day began hectically with signing on starting at 07:25, straight to scrutineering, noise testing then on to qualifying.....all followed by four hours of tension building inactivity before the business of the day started - two scheduled 15 minute races using the 1.198 mile Indy Circuit.

Race 1 – Porsche 924

This race was going to be critical for Kirkham, Hannington and Brown, the three drivers in close contention for the Class championship. Andrew Hannington started in pole position ahead of Richard Styrin, Alfred Piesinger, Steve Brown and Adam Croft. Next on the 924 grid were Mark Marshall with Alistair Kirkham in an uncharacteristic eighth place, suggesting that the gremlins that had dogged him at Rockingham were still with him. The rest of the field were Geoff Hanson, Marc MacKenzie, Hugh Peart, Sean Siddall, Richard Jones (fresh, or maybe not, from just winning the Taekwondo World Championship!) The grid was completed by Jayson Flegg who had only managed to complete three qualifying laps before losing power.

From the lights, Styrin got the jump on Hannington to establish a lead that he was never to relinquish, despite a close fought duel that has come to characterise the pair. Midway through the race they had established a considerable lead over the rest of the 924 field which was led by third man, Piesinger. Behind these three, Adam Croft had a great start, going into 4th place ahead of Steve Brown with Alistair Kirkham in 6th place but still struggling with car problems that would eventually cause him to retire from the race.

With Kirkham gone, Marshall was soon chasing Brown and Croft who were having their own private war; contact between these two at Druids planted Brown onto the kerbs and Marshall took immediate advantage - only to re-open the door to Brown a couple of laps later by running wide at the exit from Graham Hill bend. Meanwhile, his power problems clearly solved, Jayson Flegg was flying through the field and was soon up into 7th place behind Marshall.

An unavoidable but disastrous racing incident struck on the 13th lap when, turning into Paddock Hill bend, Croft’s car pirouetted and violently shunted Brown into the gravel trap and although Croft was able to pull it together and continue, the damage to Brown’s car was terminal, ending his race. Behind them, Marshall had also spun at Surtees allowing Flegg to dive into 6th place and then overtake the recovering Croft car but, as the race was red flagged due to the dangerous position of Brown's car, and with the results being wound back one lap he remained in 6th place behind Marshall. The race finished with Richard Styrin taking the 25 points and Andy Hannington taking the 23 plus a fastest lap point which promoted him to overall, but not unassailable, points leader in the 924 Class. Hugh Peart made up three places from his grid position to finish in 7th place ahead of Geoff Hanson, Marc Mackenzie, Sean Siddal and Richard Jones. The battle for 924 supremacy would now move on to the second race.

Race 1 – Porsche Boxster

Occupying the grid position that he has made his own in this series, Dave Clark once again started on pole with Gerry Taylor by his side, behind them were Richard Sykes and Nick Hull, with Matt Upchurch and Martin Braybrook making up the third row. Dave Hughes started on row 5, behind the 924's of Hannington and Styrin.

From the off, Clark and Taylor blitzed ahead of the field, maintaining the 1 - 2 positions to the chequered flag with six of the last nine laps recording a miniscule sub 0.25 seconds between them. The leading two were hotly pursued to the finish by Sykes who clocked the fastest lap of the race.

Drama was unfolding further down the field when in lap 7, Braybrook spun at high speed approaching Graham Hill bend and the momentum carried him across the gravel and into a violent collision with the tyre wall, thus ending his race. Until Braybrook's exit, he had been running in 5th place behind Hull and Upchurch, with Hughes following. With both Hull and Upchurch reportedly suffering with clutch problems, Hughes first wound in Upchurch and a lap later moved into 4th place ahead of Hull, losing it back to Hull shortly afterwards but only momentarily, Hughes lead them both home to finish in 4th place.

Dave Clark's win earned him 25 points, increasing his marginal lead over Hannington in the overall Championship tally by one point.

Race 2 – Porsche 924

Despite their best efforts, neither Alistair Kirkham nor Steve Brown were able to put their cars back together to start the second race. Coupled with their non-finishes in the previous race, they would finish the penultimate meeting with a disastrous zero points each. It would now depend on where Andy Hannington finished in this race to determine whether their aspirations would continue at Snetterton in October.

Nick Hull's Boxster having finished race 1 behind the four fastest 924's promoted Richard Styrin to row 3 on the grid, ahead of Hannington and Piesinger on row 4 with Nick and Adam Croft sharing row 5. Behind them were Marshall and Flegg, Peart and Hanson, MacKenzie and Siddal with Jones bringing up the rear alongside the battered Boxster of Martin Braybrook.

As the lights went out, Styrin immediately moved to close the door on Hannington but in doing so left a gap that allowed the flying Alfred Piesinger to jump from third place to take the lead. In the ensuing scramble Hannington lost ground having been separated from the leading two 924's by Hull's Boxster which was underperforming due to a clutch problem. Styrin soon retook the lead and took off with Piesinger and Hannington still separated by Hull. Adam Croft's car had suffered some mechanical damage in the first race collision which caused him some handling problems and he was quickly passed by a fired up Jayson Flegg. Mark Marshall's start was mired by assuming that the grid would be reset due to a car creeping forward and got left behind as the lights went out. However, within a couple of laps he had pulled back from last to 6th behind Croft and remained there for the rest of the race.

Back at the front, Richard Styrin had been forced into retirement with a fuel problem and Hull had forged ahead of Piesinger. What followed next was possibly some of the most exciting, certainly the closest racing of the series. For several laps it would have been difficult to insert a head gasket between the bumpers of Piesinger, Hannington and Flegg's cars!

That was the order in which the race finished, Alfred Piesinger had driven a brilliant race to achieve his first win of the series and Jay Flegg showed just how good he can be when his car performs. Adam Croft, despite his handling problems, finished in a credible 4th place with Mark Marshall in 5th, followed by Hugh Peart, Geoff Hanson, Sean Siddall, Marc Mackenzie and Richard Jones.

And so the Porsche 924 Championship was sealed. Andy Hannington had secured two second places and two fastest laps giving him 48 points on the day and a total score that could not now be matched. The result also confirmed that Andy cannot achieve lower than second place in the overall Championship, the result of which will be decided when Andy and David Clark go head-to-head at the final meeting at Snetterton next month - definitely one not to miss!

Race 2 – Porsche Boxster

The grid for race 2 saw the Clark, Taylor, Sykes trio again occupying the first three slots but with Hughes now alongside Sykes. Upchurch maintained his position on row 3, sharing it with Styrin's 924. Hull had now changed grid places with Hughes and started on row 5 behind Hannington and Piesinger.

With the exception of unfortunate retiree, Matt Upchurch, the Boxsters maintained their starting positions from lights to chequered flag. Once again, Richard Sykes put in a searing lap 3 to gain the point, finishing a very close 3rd behind Clark and Taylor.

David Clark's win saw him increase his overall championship lead by a further 1 point, and on his current form, David would be the bookies favourite to win the title....but many a gambler has lost the farm betting on the favourite!

So let's all turn up at Snetterton next month to support not just the title contenders, but every one of the guys who have given so much to help each other, and even more to those of us spectating – this Championship just keeps getting better and better!

Next race

Oulton Park - 24th March 2018

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