Brands Hatch Indy 27th April 2019
The Maidstone MG MGCC MG Trophy Championship
With a gap of seven months since last year’s final championship race the 2019 season opening rounds on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit could not come soon enough. Two changes for 2019, as agreed at the Driver’s Meeting, both driven by the aspiration of avoiding first lap incidents between classes; Grids will be formed in Classes, and Class A have the option to use either Dunlop CM720 or Yokohama N2614 specified tyres. At the start of the 2018 season there were 40 driver registrations, this year there were 26, which will have an obvious impact on grid sizes throughout the year. After a little post closing date activity there were 20 entries, the Class breakdown being 8 Class A, 10 Class B and 2 Class C.
Two drivers move up to Class A, Patrick Booth (No.33) having finished 2018 6th in Class B, and Paul Savage (No.23) after a year out since competing also in Class B. Three drivers have made the switch from Class C to Class B; last year’s Standard Power Champion John Booth (No.50), runner up Tylor Ballard (No.80) and fourth place Joe Dalgarno (No.93.) Also making a welcome return after a year out besides Paul Savage was Paul Croker (No.96) in Class C.
Round Sponsor – Maidstone MG
Rounds one and two of the 2019 Championship were sponsored by Maidstone MG. Supporting the Championship for the first time, Maidstone MG are part of the F G Barnes group. As wind conditions allowed the MG Motor UK dome was inflated in the spectator area beside the back of the grid and the current range of MG vehicles was showcased. Maidstone MG are to found at Sutton Road on the Parkwood Industrial Estate in Maidstone. Our thanks go to FG Barnes Sales Manager Dan Brann and MG dealer principal Sam Jennings.
Nearly three quarters of the grid took advantage of the Friday MSV testing option. I noted only positive comment from those Class A drivers using the Yokohama tyre.
In Remembrance of David Heasman
Through the use of black armbands, the MG Trophy Championship demonstrated its respect to David Heasman who sadly passed away earlier this year. Dave, who finished third in the 2018 Standard Power Class always thought of Brands Hatch as his favourite circuit. His partner Sue thanked the Championship for this mark of respect, wishing all drivers the best of luck.
Having both races scheduled for the first day of the MGCC two-day meeting inevitably resulted in the Trophy being the first qualifying session of the day. As all 20 cars took to the circuit at 09:00 with the track conditions damp, the session would prove to be one dictated by tyre choice. Half way through the session the leaders were Makar(A), Bray(A), Cole (A), Savage (A), Luti(B), Kirkpatrick(B), and ninth Butler(B). In class C the order was 17th Bacon, and 20th Croker. With 2 and a half minutes remaining it was Bray(A), Makar(A), Cole(A), Luti(B), Kirkpatrick(B), and eighth Johnston(B). Class C still Bacon & Croker.
With Cole off in the gravel at the top of paddock hill the chequered flag fell early with the final order Kirkpatrick(B), Luti(B), Bray(A), Makar(A), Cole(A), Booth(A), Savage(A), Walker(A), Johnston(B), 19th Bacon(C) and 20th Croker(C).
Grids for the races were however formed in Class order, race 2 being based on second best time, giving pole positions to Bray, Kirkpatrick and Bacon in Race 1 and Cole, Kirkpatrick and Bacon in Race 2.
Race Reports by Graham Keilloh
The common theme of the Maidstone MG Trophy season-opener was recovering from adversity. Reigning champion Graham Ross won race one after starting seventh following “a gamble that didn’t really pay off” of running slicks in wet-but-drying qualifying. Ross was aided to victory by Doug Cole spinning on fluid at Clearways – one of several to spin there – then by Ross Makar retiring from the lead when throttle body screws got loose and were sucked into his engine.
Ross was chased home by returning three-time champion Chris Bray, who wasn’t letting Ross relax despite Ross’s self-admitted desire to cruise to the flag! “It was more to do with the attrition of a couple of others,” said a modest Ross of his win.
Sam Kirkpatrick looked on for Class B victory but retired with a clutch failure on his ZR 170 – “it gradually got worse,” Kirkpatrick said, “first it wouldn’t go into second and then it wouldn’t go into anything”. Paul Luti competing in that class also hit problems with his 170, with a water pipe for his coolant detaching and leaking fluid onto his tyres. Further, Luti didn’t realise this was amiss until the race finished; he also didn’t realise what was happening to his engine temperatures without coolant, as his temperature sensor was in fresh air! It meant a frantic engine repair for race two due to the overheating.
The Class B win was instead taken by Richard Marsh (no. 19) who after starting at the back of the class grid headed a fine scrap with Samuel Johnston and Adam Jackson. This also got Marsh Driver of the Race.
Cole (no. 99) later in the race was hit in the side by Tylor Ballard’s 170 who was out of shape in avoidance of another car losing it, and had to visit the pit lane for a frantic door lock repair.
In Class C Croker (no. 96) got the better start and lead for 14 laps before Bacon (no. 136) took over the lead which he held to the line, finishing 0.24 seconds ahead of Croker.
Fastest Laps – A: Bray 55.012 on lap 19, B: Johnston 57.231 on lap 21, C: Bacon 59.401 on lap 12
Millers Oil Driver of the Race – Richard Marsh
After Cole’s (no. 99) eventful race 1 and starting race 2 from pole, he was determined to make amends. “I had to do something about it; I had to win,” said Cole of the second race, and he did just that by leading home a four-car battle and resisting enormous pressure from Makar, Bray – who discovered after the race he’d picked up a left-rear puncture after running over debris – and Ross. It also earned Cole Driver of the Race and Driver of the Day for Saturday.
“I’ve had a few races like that in terms of pressure, but nothing like for 18 laps,” said Cole, who had the added challenge of not having timing and therefore having no idea how many laps remained. “It was just like keep putting the car in a safe place. We’ve been racing for 10 years together so we know each other really well; we don’t knock each other off.”
“It was just nose-to-tail for lap after lap,” added Ross. “It was just awesome, and pretty clean from where I was sitting. It’s one of those ones you come off with a big grin on your face.”
Kirkpatrick got “a bit of a redemption” by winning Class B in race two, passing Luti partway through when Luti got stuck behind a 190; Kirkpatrick started the move at Clearways and completed it at Paddock.
In Class C again Croker had the better start, but this time only led for a single lap before Bacon took over the class lead which he held for a further 18 laps till the flag. Commenting on his two wins afterwards 19-year-old Bacon dedicated the second win to David Heasman who he had enjoyed some close racing with last year.
Fastest Laps – A: Bray 55.376 on lap 19, B: Luti 56.719 on lap 16, C: Croker 59.062 on lap 15
Millers Oil Driver of the Race – Doug Cole
Driver of the Day – Doug Cole
MG Trophy Championship Co-ordinator
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