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A Packed Grid for Brands GP - August 2020

We filled the grid for our Brands Hatch GP race this season, despite the complications arising from the COVID-19 virus. Once again we shared the track with Bernie’s V8s, so with the considerable differences in performance, it was always going to be an interesting race.

The event attracted drivers from the BRSCC Porsche Championship that closed at the end of 2019, some of whom had not raced their car in many seasons. Ben Demetriou arrived with series sponsor Unique Porsche’s new-build 987 having not raced for some years. Steve Cheetham brought their distinctive 987 Cayman, his dad Ernie along to assist, both of whom featured prominently in the 924 Series’ past. And returning to a 924 after many years was historics races Dave Jones and Steve Potts. Chris Valentine again shared his 924 with glamorous and successful drift racer Michelle Westby.

The morning qualifying session was dry after heavy rain, cool and overcast and therefore ideal for racing. There were a couple of non-starters: Andy Pritchard had to withdraw his entry while still recovering from a problem with his leg, and car 19 Chris Campbell who had a technical problem with his 944S2.

A very crowded 20-minute session and the appearance of the Safety Car meant that some of the 2-car teams struggled to complete sufficient laps for both drivers to qualify, particularly Karl Rossin/Sam Callahan whose 924 suffered a had head gasket failure after 3 laps meaning Rossin didn’t qualify and had to miss the race. Those others who didn’t get to complete qualifying were able to do so during the lunchtime interval, including Chris Campbell who had his car running well again.

Overall though a good showing from the CALM contingent saw 2 Boxsters in the top 10 overall, despite significantly slower straight line speed than some of the V8s who were doing almost 130mph over the start finish line, compared with the quickest Porsche at under 120. A mega effort by Rossin, Chris ‘Fudge’ Coates and a chap from 924 OC, plus others, got the head gasket changed on Sam’s car and he was able to take the start.

For the race – the last of the day – all 43 entries took the start, including 20 CALM Porsches. With a field of so many, a rolling start was chosen and it was very impressive and spectacular sight, with lots of noisy cars fighting their way into Paddock Hill Bend. There were good standards of driving though, and everyone got round lap 1!

There were lots of changes of position throughout the field as cars that had limited chance to go well in qualifying made their way through the field. Over the first few laps we had 3 CALM cars in the top 10, with Ben Demetriou going well as was James Gunn-Carter. who was up to 4th by lap 2 before the heavier metal’s power began to tell. Also going well were Steve Cheetham who had maintained his top 10 starting position, and Chris Bialan just outside the op 10 in his 944 Turbo.

Further back Rob Hardy was also going well in his Boxster as well as the Egar Birkett 968. Chris Campbell made rapid progress to the midfield too from his back of grid starting position.

In the 924s, David Jones was in a class of his own, ahead of the rapid Dan Gick. As the race entered it’s middle phase and pit window opening, the lap chart became very confused. Everyone managed their pit stops within the designated window except for the unfortunate Chris Bialan, who stopped outside the window, with the resulting penalty dropping him down the finishing order, while Jonathan Evans had a time penalty added for a short stop.

After the pit stops, Steve Cheetham made spectacular progress through the field moving up from 9th to an amazing 2nd overall at the finish. Two more Porsches made it to the top 10 despite longer stops than the V8s, with James Gunn-Carter in 6th overall and class winner Ben Demetriou 8th. Gary Goodwin won the SPDA class and David Jones was a comfortable winner of the SP4 class.

Full results of this race are available from TSL.

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