Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Last weekend we headed to back to Brands Hatch for the final race of the season. Our last outing there in October yielded a 6th place finish so we headed into this weekend with a positive attitude and the hope of coming in the top 5.
However, the build-up to the weekend didn’t go to plan with a poor weather forecast, a faulty gearbox sensor playing up in the test run and, to top it off, Danny having to withdraw from the race due to a friend of the family testing positive for COVID-19. This meant Patrick would drive the full race for the first time.
Before qualifying Patrick told us “I’m gutted to not have Danny here with me for the final race of the season but he’s doing the right thing to protect the team and the other competitors. We don’t have the ideal weather `conditions for the race either but I’ll do my best and see what that gets us”
The championship fight was a three-way battle headed by the team from NJM Racing who held a 5-point lead over Seriously Motorsport who in turn had a 5-point lead to Mangoes Racing. So, this race was always going to be a hotly contested battle not to be missed.
Qualifying – The weather report showed dry conditions until the last 10 minutes, so the track was busy right from the off with everyone trying to bank their best lap early. It took Patrick a while to get up to speed as he struggled to fight through a bad vibration on the brakes but once the temperatures came up and the vibration disappeared, Patrick’s pace started to come through and posted his fastest lap just as the rain began to fall, qualifying 6th.
In the battle up front, Seriously Motorsport took pole from Mangoes Racing with the
Championship leader, NJM, only managing 4th. The race was on.
Before the race Patrick was given a wonderful surprise from fans of the team, Albie Smith and his Dad, Rick, who braved the weather to present the team with this fantastic hand-drawn image of Tango (right) which they had commissioned by their local Postman. Rick explained "I'd noticed that our Postman had started drawing cars during the lockdown period and thought they were great so asked him to do Tango for the team". The whole team love the picture and our thanks again to Albie, Rick and their talented Postie for this awesome present.
The Race – The rain was firmly in and to say it was monsoon like is no exaggeration, this always favours the front wheel drive cars, certainly in the early laps as they warm their front tyre much quicker.
Off the line, the BMW’s all had a good start, but Patrick was boxed in by the cars in front and stayed in 6th as they entered the nerve-racking first corner of Paddock Hill (left). Forced wide on the exit and having to reduce the power Patrick fell to 8th by Druids. Struggling for grip and with very limited visibility, Patrick managed to hold position for the next few laps before starting to gain on those in front but before he get up to the back of them, the safety car was out, swiftly followed a red flag.
Up front, NJM had made a good start and was right on the back of the leader, Steve Gales of Seriously Motorsport, by the end of the 9th lap. As the leaders went in to turn 1, Steve Gales’ Seat Leon Cup failed to slow to make the turn, ended up through the gravel and hit the tyre wall, hard. Whilst Steve is probably a little sore today, thankfully he was uninjured and walked away from the car unaided.
This led to a reforming of the grid and a 30-minute wait until the restart whilst the marshals repaired the barrier. Thankfully a very kind marshal also helped Patrick wipe his windows so he could see where he was going. Always helpful!
At the restart, Patrick got off the line well once again, managed to get to the inside, defend his position and by turn 3 had made his way up to 5th. Unfortunately, the grip never came and so Patrick spent much of the race practicing his drifting skills. Despite a valiant effort to hold on to 7th, 8th was the best result we could manage.
Up front, NJM came under some pressure from AB Motorsport in the last 10 minutes but as the rain picked up again and the back markers played their part, NJM came over the line with a comfortable lead to take the title.
Following the race, Patrick had this to say “that was tough! Definitely the most difficult conditions I’ve faced. Whilst we didn’t get the setup quite right, I really struggled to find the lines offering any grip so spent a lot of time trying to control the slides. I’m disappointed by the result but I’ve learnt a lot today which will serve me well next year. And if nothing else, the onboard footage should be entertaining.”
Our congratulations to the drivers and team of NJM Racing on their title win.
We’ll be doing a season round-up soon but for now we want to say a big thank you to ADS Financial Planning and Racing Pride for their support. To Competition Classics for all the hard work that goes in to preparing the cars and getting us on track. To NE Sports Photography for capturing our time on track and creating our fabulous media.
We’d also like to thank the MSVT SuperCup team for organising the events in such a difficult year and all of mighty Orange Army (the marshals) without who, none of us would make the track at all. Thank you.
Stay tuned in the off-season as there’s lots of exciting news to come and maybe even the odd competition!