We hope that you enjoyed our Brands Hatch memories item last week. Now it is time to return to the present as the BRSCC Alfa Romeo Championship will be racing this coming Sunday, August 14, as part of Festival Italia organised by MSVR.
It is going to be a packed programme with Alfa, Ferrari and allcomers Italian races plus demonstrations and club displays on track, and much else in the paddock to keep you entertained. And all crammed into one day. We have a practice session at the start of the programme, followed by qualifying and two twenty minute races. I hear tell that some of our drivers also planning to risk the reliability of their cars to the limit by contesting the Italian allcomers race as well!
For the first time this season, the split grid/delayed start idea is going to be put to a proper test with four Modified and four Power Trophy cars taking part. They will leave the grid when the red lights to go out, to be followed approximately 5 seconds later at the drop of the Union flag. In terms of results, Andy Robinson has been the most successful Modified driver this year with four wins from six starts and, last time out at Castle Combe, he was showing the kind of form that could well give him more wins at Brands. However, he will have to face up to the extremely rapid 156 Turbo of Vincent Dubois which should have the latest version of its front suspension in place which is designed to avoid the kind of driveshaft failure that affected him at Silverstone in May. Chris Snowdon will be hoping that his 75 3 litre will gain from a new set of Yokohama tyres and some other developments since it last ran so impressively at Donington at the end of last season. And we know that Chris is no stranger to Brands whether it be in an Alfa or Historic Sports 2000. The fourth Modified entry is the 75 3.2 of George Osborne. George has benefitted from a lot of advice and help from Chris Snowdon in building and setting up this car which again made its last appearance at Donington where it finished 5th overall, the driver still on a steep learning curve with it.
The four Power Trophy cars entered have all competed at one time or another this year, but not all together! Hopefully Brands will change that. Also, each of the drivers has long standing associations with the Alfa Championship. Ron Davidson, who leads the class points table, is back in his “first love” a 164, repeating his orange colour scheme of the 1990s. Sadly, though, it won’t yet have its long-planned 3.2 motor. The quickest car in the class is probably Ray Foley’s 3.2 147 GTA but Ray has been having a wretched season with fuel pump and ECU problems. In the hope of bringing some reliability to the situation, Roger Evans at Peak Alfa has fitted a proper engine management system, so we shall all be wishing Ray a change of fortune. Keith Waite and John Griffiths were both at Castle Combe, Keith finishing second overall in both races while John suffered from the pretty well Twin Spark spec’ of his 147, although in the first race there he did run on slicks. Looking for the likely class winner my guess would probably be either Ray or Keith and many will remember many successful previous outings at Brands for his 75.
Fourteen, maybe fifteen on the day, highly competitive drivers will compete for the Twin Spark Cup which continues to give us such excellent racing right through the field. Tom Hill comes to Brands with a massive 69 point lead in the class and the overall championship over his nearest pursuer, Simon Cresswell. If Tom is able to increase this to 88 over the course of Sunday’s two races, then the title for 2016 is done and dusted as we have only four rounds (4 x 22 points available) and he also has more wins than anybody else. However, there will be several drivers anxious to rob in him of a full points tally particularly, of course, Simon Cresswell. Simon should have been closer but a non finish at Castle Combe and a non start at Oulton have robbed him of valuable points after his great weekend at Zolder. Dave Messenger, after disasters earlier in the season, took two third places at Oulton and two seconds at Combe after being oh-so-near to a win there, so surely the next progression is a couple of firsts! If James Browning can qualify well, he is certainly a driver who could take on the fight for a top podium place with his 147. And then, of course, there is Andy Hancock.
Andy took pole at Silverstone in May and then suffered clutch failure on the grid and this has been a gremlin for him ever since. He didn’t race at Brands last year and will therefore be needing all the track time he can get in practice and qualifying. The group only just behind should be equally entertaining to watch – Andrew Bourke (GTV) was outstanding at Combe and took the “Driver of the Weekend” award, Stacey Dennis (147) has tested often at Brands and knows the track well , Joshua Lambert has had his car repaired after Oulton Park and Mike Tydeman showed better form last time out. Andy Inman will be coming all the way down from Newcastle to drive his 156 which is now looked after by Peak Alfa and as long as he doesn’t have “jet lag” his performances at Brands are usually strong. Jeremy Chilton and Paul Webster may well resume the excellent battle they had at Combe and could well be joined by the 145 of Mark Hope who raced at Brands in preparation a couple of weeks ago. And where we slot Gethin Llewellyn (156) and Andrew Fulcher (147) into all this remains to be seen – Gethin has not had enough track time in his car but on past history can be quick if he settles into a race while Andrew did just that in the Bianco renta’ at Silverstone but now has a second new car to cope with. Finally, the mystery fifteenth car could be the 147 on Jon Billingsley who took such a good win at Zolder and has tested it at Brands recently. All we need now is James Ford to come and liven things up!
We are in the main paddock on Sunday, so do make sure that you come and find us for a chat if you coming as a spectator for the day – we should be delighted to see you. To all competitors, have a successful and safe day.