Brands Results 130909

Brands Hatch 13th September 2009

On a busy weekend, with Richard Bishop-Miller representing the 500s at Bo’ness, John Potts & Hakan Sandberg doing likewise at Brighton, and several others preparing for Goodwood the next weekend, a little arm-twisting turned out a dozen cars for the season’s second outing at Brands Hatch.

Nigel Ashman asked Mike Fowler to blow the cobwebs out of the Dick Irish Kieft, whilst Mark Palmer was a late addition in the Wishart, and George Shackleton made his second appearance in his Cooper Mk VI. Neil Hodges was trying out different gearing but with the clutch bearing collapsing on the return from scrutineering he faced a rapid strip down that was completed just in time for the final call for practice, although as there was no first call he was hardly the last arrival.

Despite somewhat cool temperatures, the circuit was giving plenty of grip, and unsurprisingly Nigel Ashman took the Cooper Mk XI to pole, though the gap was less than usual at under half a second to Neil who was trying and had a couple of grassy moments, not least on finding Mike Gilbert occupying the apex to Surtees, he took route 1 to the apex for McLaren). Richard Ellingworth and Mike Fowler made up the second row, both well within a second of Neil, before a gap to Darrell Woods, still learning how to make best use of the Norton in his Mk VIII and an impressive JB in the Cousy, finding reliability from an engine made up from the bits that haven’t broken on the previous Triumph units. George also looked rather more handy than his 1’ 09” best suggested and Kerry Horan seems to have re-found so reliability from the Trenberth.

Richard Ellingworth clinging on around Druids. Photo Callum Golding.


For a change no car suffered major maladies, and there followed a very long wait for the 6.00pm race start. Handy marshalling got most cars out on track despite a severe shortage of pushers- only Paul Hewes struggling, and he probably set a personal best to reach the grid just in time for the red lights. Less lucky was Richard Ellingworth, whose master switch fell apart at the start, killing the engine and sending into immediate retirement.

The front two both made good starts with Nigel on the inside from the right side pole and Neil slightly quicker due to the slightly better line through Paddock. As they came up the hill to Druids, Neil had a look up the inside but decided to call it a dress rehearsal and followed Nigel down to Graham Hill Bend. They had already put a small gap to Mike (still acclimatising to the Kieft) and Darrell, and Neil decided to have make Nigel work for the win so they were nose to tail through Surtees. Ashman was quite aggressive on the throttle through Clearways, getting side ways and leaving the door open on the inside. With better exit speed, Hodges began to draw alongside at the pit entry but two wheels on the grass persuaded him to tuck back in behind Nigel, he was as surprised as anyone to still be nose-to-tail across the line finishing the first lap. A better exit from Clearways produced the opportunity and some late braking at Druids took Neil through to lead at the end of lap two. Returning to the top straight, Nigel seemed poised to use the Norton power to retake the lead. But forced to take the tighter line, his Cooper twitched in annoyance and Neil was safe for another few hundred yards.

The pace was mighty, and too much for Mike Fowler who showed a rare attribute in racing drivers, in an unfamiliar car and with his main title rival already out, he concluded that a steady race for points made sense. After a quick start Darrell dropped a few seconds back, while John Jones kept both in sight - no mean feat for the little blue car. Mike Gilbert came through next, followed by Kerry Horan with George in tow. Paul Hewes followed, with Mark Palmer (after a dreadful start) as tail-end Charlie when Richard Utley’s JBS went sick and he retired to the pits after two laps.

Mark showed grit we haven’t seen before. By lap 3 he had caught and passed Paul, lap 4 on the heels of Kerry and George, and lap 5 ahead of both. Mike Gilbert was five seconds up the road, but he got a surprise when Mark bridged the gap by lap 7, and ahead within the lap. John Jones was too far ahead in fifth place, but Mark’s 66-second best lap stood well compared to all the cars ahead.

A study of George Shackleton by Callum Golding.

Most eyes were on the great battle at the front. Surely the Ashman/Norton package would overhaul Neil’s JAP, but Neil was doing everything he could to prevent it. This was a classic Norton/JAP battle, Neil looser through the direction changes and using the low-end oomph of the JAP to punch out of the corners, only for the Norton to open up on the upper and lower straights to close back in. On lap 3 both dropped a couple of wheels into the dirt out of Graham Hill Bend, next time around Nigel going for the full four, never more than half a second from the yellow & blue car, but never quite alongside. Fifth time through Paddock, the silver car carried slightly more speed forcing Neil to take the defensive inside line up to Druids. Nigel went to the outside for a braking duel but his Cooper ran out of grip and spun. Once back up to speed, the gap was up to six seconds.

Believing he was finally clear, Neil eased a fraction, only to find Nigel halve the gap within two laps and hove back into his mirrors. Before half distance Neil began lapping cars, and the game moved to one of who would get caught at the wrong place. Lap 12, Neil again found Mike Gilbert on the apex at Surtees, this time just about keeping to the black stuff. Before he could capitalise, Nigel caught Mike through the rest of the complex. These would be repeated over the remaining seven laps, Neil throwing his car past anyone in his way fearing Nigel getting the slipstream, Nigel never quite getting the break he needed, and the gap oscillated between two and four seconds. Such was the pace they nearly caught third and fourth places, Neil desperately looking for a final lap board that never appeared, and overjoyed to come round one more time to be greeted by the chequered flag.

A full minute later, Mike came in for third, with Darrell closing. Darrell had spotted a yellow car ahead (it was Paul rather than Neil) and pressed on in hope of a podium - once he realised his mistake it was worth putting pressure on Mike, but he was never quite close enough to challenge (and in truth Mike’s “look after a friend’s car” rule would undoubtedly have quickly been forgotten). Fifth and sixth were the other two stars of the race, John Jones and Mark Palmer. Mike Gilbert ran a lonely seventh, then Kerry and George (lopping another couple of seconds off his personal best), and Paul completing the field.

Classified Finishers

Pos Name Car Class Time Laps Best

Fastest Lap: Nigel Ashman - Cooper Mk XI - 1:01.955

DNF: Richard Utley - JBS, Richard Ellingworth - Martin

Championship Standings

Report by Richard Hodges.

Our thanks to Callum Golding (aged 12) for the photos.

Our thanks to the HSCC

1 Neil Hodges Cooper Mk VIII C 20:02 19 1:02.336
2 Nigel Ashman Cooper Mk XI C 20:04 19 1:01.955
3 Mike Fowler Kieft CK52 B 21:02 19 1:04.918
4 Darrell Woods Cooper Mk VIII C 21:03 19 1:05.114
5 JB Jones Cousy C 20:20 18 1:06.138
6 Mark Palmer Wishart Mk II C 20:32 18 1:06.460
7 Mike Gilbert Cooper Mk IX C 20:52 18 1:07.197
8 Kerry Horan Trenberth B 21:01 18 1:08.710
9 George Shackleton Cooper Mk VI B 21:02 18 1:07.944
10 Paul Hewes Cooper Mk VII C 20:37 17 1:10.294

Nigel Ashman cannot be beaten in Class C (post '54) but Neil's win promotes him to second. Gordon Russell will need a second place in the last event to retake the place. Class B ('50-'53) is still undecided but Mike Fowler now leads, courtesy of his win and Richard Ellingworth's retirement. Mike, Richard and Roy Hunt can all still take the class with a good final weekend. Class A ('45-'49) has already gone to Richard Bishop-Miller in his Cooper Mk II. Neil Hodges leads the JAP engine category for the Turner Trophy.

Mark Palmer in the Wishart. Photo Callum Golding

The Cooper Mk VIII of Darrell Woods. Photo Callum Golding.