Brands Hatch Night Race - Sunday 1st November 2015.


This is one weekend Carl had been looking forward to for a long while, if a little scared at the same time! As round 9 would be in the dark! Yes fully dark! As it was Halloween weekend and the clocks had changed meaning it would be fully dark at 5pm so as a treat the CSCC were letting us out racing!
We had prepared the cars with extra lights to be able to see where we are going as the whole track was going to be fully dark with only the start straight and the pits getting flood lights!

Qualifying for both races was early in the morning, it was a bit foggy and damp all round the track. Richard Woods was once again flying in his Focus and took pole from the new comer Richard Wheeler who had put his Fiesta into 2nd just ahead of Kester Cooks Fiesta! Carl managed 5th just behind Russel Hird in his rebuild (again) Integra. Paul Mensley was just behind in his Focus. Richard Wheeler must have pushed a bit too hard as his gearbox had cried enough so he would not make the race. David Cox was back with his 306, but was again struggling with a driveshaft problem. After we lent him a spare shaft he was able to make the start with minutes to spare.

On the rolling start the Richard Woods and Kester Cook went early leaving Carl and Paul sleeping a little bit! Trouble was Richard braked hard at the top of Paddock Hill bend and Kester just seemed to not brake at all and hit him hard! This sent them both sideways! Carl and Paul were trying to play catch up after their great start and we arrived to find 2 cars sideways! This resulted in Carl going even more sideways than them, and Paul went straight on into the gravel! He managed to catch the slide somehow (and it made a great picture!) and Paul made it through the gravel but we had both lots places. Kesters Fiesta made it no further than Graham hill bend after loosing its bonnet, headlight and holing its radiator! The bonnet was very airbourn at one point but landed safely out of everyones way!
Russell just seemed to slip through all the troubles and was gone in the lead, never to been seen or caught by anyone! That new engine was work really well this time!
After all the pitstops and winners penalties were served, we were back out in 2nd place! Paul Mensley retired with a jumped cambelt after his trip through the gravel, and was crying a little as he had sold the car before the race, so was hoping not to damage it!
Carl tried for a few laps to fight off the charging Focus of Richard Woods, but that thing flies and corners like its on rails! Despite his efforts he got past, as did the Petch brothers in Richards old Focus! So he had to settle for 4th trying to keep with them both. But the Petch brothers were using more than just the track and got several warnings for track limits! They had done the same thing at Oulton park and gained themselves a 2 minute penalty! Well they seemed to have not learned at all, because after ignoring the warnings they got a stop go penalty as well as 15 second penalty! This gave us back 3rd place! David Cox 2nd driver Paul Moss sadly put his 306 into the gravel on the second lap after the pitstops!

Sadly just after our race the fog moved in with all the other races being stopped, we waited for hours to see if it would clear and to see if our night race would be able to go ahead. But the fog just got worse and our night race was just not going to happen. After all that preperation its was very disappointing, but safety first and you could not see to the end of the pit lane, the fog had got that bad!

We took some pictures in the pit-lane of the 3 306s together with their lights on in the mist but or first time at night racing would have to wait a while!

Dave & Nick Mellor

Report wrote by Nick Mellor "Racing at brands hatch Indy, one of my favourite tracks. We qualified p17 with a 58.1, but the track was greasy and I felt I could have gone faster.

The rolling start was not perfect as I found myself staring at the white focus rather than the lights. As it turned out the slight delay may have aided me staying out of trouble into paddock as various cars crashed, spun, went into the gravel and slowed far more than you would expect! The next 4 laps were fraught with action!

I found myself on the inside tight up behind Lisa Selby in the puma, she braked to what felt like a standstill on the apex and I lost some ground. Got past up the hill into Druids, but ran through the debris of Kester cooks bonnet which had flown up in the air and landed mid track up the hill. Pushing the "please don't get a puncture" thoughts from my mind I pressed on round Druids and was on the back of the William hardy nova and the civic. I had a good run through Surtees and took a wider line round clear ways putting me on the outside down the straight, I held my nerve and waited for the boys to brake! Count to 1, brake, turn in, I went past both the nova and civic and took the apex of paddock gaining 2 places and by far my biggest smile and best move of the race!

I then saw Paul Mensley in the focus for 2 corners, he took me into Druids and spun off in front of me on the exit of graham hill! My hesitation on the exit gave the nova the run past into Surtees.... I got him back with a brave move on the inside into paddock this time, you couldn't get much between the cars, I turned tighter and as I accelerated the back end came round on me..... After some "oh sh*t" moments I hit the gas and got her back in line pointing the right way. Side by side with the nova into Druids, I had the inside, the nova held position round the outside and had the inside line going into graham hill.... I braked a little early and managed a lovely switchback taking the nova on the inside along the back straight. On the next lap we were side by side into graham hill again, but i was on the outside and got a little love tap onto the grass.... This gave the Simpson 206 a run on me and he took me into Surtees, but was off line and took a spin right in front of me.... Just missed him and got back on it.

After a couple of quiet laps, I caught back up the boot lid of the nova and some of the closest and most fun racing I have had behind the wheel continued for the rest of my stint.

The video is worth a watch

I pitted from about p12, having set my fastest ever brands Indy lap of 56.8. "

This was Daves track that gave him fear of Paddock Hill bend after going backwards down it several times before in previous visits, with some guidance from Nick and Carl, Dave got over his fear in qualifying and set a very good time 58.2 which was .1 of a second behind Nick. Nick and Dave discussed who would start Day and Night race, so Dave decided he would start the Night and Nick would start the day.

After Nicks start to the race which was brilliant to watch from the Pitwall, Nick came in and after a reasonable pitstop Dave took over and even managed a 57 second lap. Dave held the pace and finished in P11 but because of Tom Mensley's penalty we finished in P10 which was outstanding. Sadly our night race did not go ahead due to poor visibility because of the fog and mist, it was sad after the amount of work which was put into the car, but still we had a great day racing!

This put Carl on Row 3 and Nick on Row 9.