Brands Hatch Race Report - Red Flags In Abundance
It was a brighter Sunday sky than the previous day that welcomed the Brands Hatch early morning risers. Although the Bastards lived local to the circuit which allowed a reasonable lay-in, a late finishing 19th birthday house party meant some sleep deprivation for Chief Bastard Saturday evening, but that’s another story. Nonetheless, the ‘Oi Bastards’ cry was used on more than one occasion to those pesky Sunday morning early hour revellers in an attempt to get some Bastard sleep!
Although the Sunday skies were in brilliant Autumnal light, the previous day and evening rain was still very much in evidence on the track. As qualification was our first challenge out on the track, there were several jovial discussions over coffee as to how long it would be before a red flag would be thrown that morning. Joking aside, even the most pessimistic of punters would have lost money on the result of just seven seconds!
Feeling relatively brave (as already having discovered where the grip is and isn’t in the Caterham Academy race of 2011), it was Chief Bastard’s receding grey matter that mandated he was nominated to start qualification. Soon discovering a clear circuit ahead, he managed to find a relatively easy opening couple of laps of 1m17s without taking too much of a gamble. He was soon ready to start improving on these times, but then a plethora of red flashing lights and flags descended on the track which scuttled any further progress! Despite Fast Bastard having plenty of time in the car for the last 25 minutes of the session, it was either on a red flag lap, in the pits or behind the safety car. Unfortunately, therefore, the 1m17s was the best achieved time, which was enough for 8th position on the grid of 41 entries.
Something of a record we were led to believe in the post mortem (interpret as “bollocking”) given, masquerading as a drivers briefing. For us Bastards, the qualifying session consisted of four flying laps and five red flags in 25 minutes, finishing with the safety car leading the remainder of the 40-minute session. This was much to the disappointment of Small Cars R Us as potential cash deposits into their bank did light up their eyes.
The five teams responsible for each of the red flags during qualification were kept behind after the briefing, no doubt they had all put their exercise books down the back their race suits to try to diminish the spanking they would be getting from the organisers.
Following the debacle of the qualifying session, it was inferred (just like in Animal House) that the C1 fraternity was on double-secret probation for the rest of the day. This meant that the Brands officials weren’t going to take any chances with a bunch of novices who hadn’t bothered to learn how to drive on a slippery ex-Grand Prix circuit! The danger being the circuit could become defaced prior to their main event of a Brabham super-car, giving the now definitely club racer’s Dr Palmer circuit a bit of much-needed PR.
Our Gentleman’s qualification agreement of quickest time starts the race, mandated that by default, it was Chief Bastard who started the race.
The general distrust by the Brands management towards the C1 fraternity meant that even though the track had dried out, the traditional rolling start was now behind the safety car for 2 laps! And like an accordion, the 41 car grid concertinaed around the Indy track for two laps without any mishap. The real racing then got underway and much to the credit of the French car’s pedallers, there were no red flags for at least the first 15 minutes, at which time there seemed to be a clusterfuck of an argument between a few cars on the main Brabham Straight. The safety car was thus duly deployed which gave the Bastards the opportunity to complete one of their 3 mandatory pit stops. The Bastard C1 team was at this stage, reasonably consistent but slowly losing positions. A good tradesman never blames his tools, but both drivers put the descending position down to the longer ratio gearbox for the tight Brands circuit. Indeed, a fair amount of blame apportionment was attempted between the Bastard pair too, but with a characteristic shrug of the shoulders, it went no further.
After 40 minutes the second red flag was thrown and that gave an opportunity where Chief Bastard could hand over to Fast Bastard to finally unleash the car in a manner in which it had been conceived for the remaining 80 race minutes. Unfortunately due to the position of the incident and the pit timing, Fast Bastard wasn’t quite fast enough to exit the pit and had to wait until the entire snaked grid had passed. Thus the advantage they had sought to gain was lost. Fast Bastard rejoined the race in 22nd place. Although Chief Bastard had been keen to avoid yet more position demises, his early pit conservatism unfortunately translated into even lost positions. Stupid Bastard perhaps?
Fast Bastard then went about trying to restore the Bastard reputation and was helped by some excellent racing all round. The circuit didn’t witness another red flag moment for a whole hour, something of another record perhaps?
The C1 drivers as a whole felt rather persecuted as the drivers from the Mini series were only marginally better than the C1s, especially as the Minis had managed to damage the hallowed Dr Palmer turf just as much ‘per race minute’ as the C1’s. Fast Bastard dragged the team up to 16th position and it was at this point that another driver change was required, Chief Bastard donning his peddling boots for the remaining twenty race minutes.
Whereupon and after just five minutes, two cars seemed to aimlessly leave the circuit at Clearways for no apparent reason whatsoever! After a few safety car led laps, the green lights came on again for the final 15 minutes of excitement. Only for the red lights to appear almost instantaneously as yet another two drivers clashed on Paddock Hill Bend and deposited their stricken chariots at the bottom of said Paddock Hill among the kitty litter. At this point, the Brands management (having realised that their gravel was being strewn and moved from where it should be to where it shouldn’t be in increasing quantities akin to Storm Freya casting her wrath on Brighton Beach earlier this year) realised that with over 75% of the race completed, it was time to throw the towel in and breathe a sigh of relief with the decision to finish the race early.
Race Finish P11
Lowe – Total 37 laps (44m16s)
Abbott – Total 37 laps (43m29s)
Lowe – Fastest Lap 1m06.988s at 64.91mph
Abbott – Fastest Lap 1m06.722s at 65.17mph
This race will be another memorable experience. Again, the standard of driving as always (in what must be the cheapest motorsport (apart from Club 100)) was variable and with multiple drivers in each car, you’re never quite sure who to trust and who to avoid. Thankfully the rain held off for the race which meant that most cars finished intact.
Ready to do it all again in 2020.