Brands hatch

The Track Torque 2 Rent Domino’s pair of Chris Hart and Henry Dawes took the narrowest of victories at Brands Hatch, as the 2016 Fun Cup opened for business. It was particularly pleasing for Dawes having broken a family holiday to make a transatlantic return trip for the race.

23 crews made the journey to Kent, with many familiar faces and a number of newcomers. It was the youngest crew of Harry Mailer/Zoe Wenham/Guy Wenham setting the pace in qualifying for Apollo Motorsport, but when the grid positions were drawn it was the Jones families MCAC Racing car that was handed pole.

The wet morning qualifying had given all the crews their first taste of the new tyres in rainy conditions, but as they lined up for the start the track was dry.

Sean Cooper took the lead for Track Focused, but there were concerns over their cars engine. “When it rolled in qualifying we think the engine stopped and might be damaged,” said team mate Neil Smith. Their worries were confirmed when they retired to the pits after 10 laps. Mailer was left at the head from Rory Brown’s Eco car and Morgan Jones for MCAC, but they were all being reeled in by Tom Mills’ Eco Racing car. “I picked a few per lap and was super careful. Each move had to be decisive as the cars are so equal,” he explained.

As the first 30 minutes was completed Mills was in front from Eco team mate Brown, with Anthony Reid for PW Racing and Mailer completing the top four as the first pitstop window approached. “We seemed down on power a bit after I lost the lead, especially on the straights,” said Mailer.

Turner had the second stint in the lead car and after the first hour had pulled out a healthy lead over PW’s Paul Wighton, while Team Honeywell and Apollo were still on the lead lap too. Lap after lap Zoe Wenham had seemed poised to pass Honeywell’s Neil Plimmer, but seemed content to follow. “Neil is perfect for me to follow, he creates gaps but is slow through Graham Hill bend,” she reckons.

The Brown’s were fifth, from MCAC, DFDC, debutants Kinetix, Racelogic and JPR Uvio, while Track Torque 2 Rent Domino’s were only 11th after Hart served a stop go penalty for starting out of position.

During the second hour Graham Roberts became the star. He carved his way through the order and had put his JPR UVio car over seven seconds clear, but was first to admit luck was on their side. “It was fraught but we timed our second stop to perfection, just as the safety car appeared,” he said.

The Eco crews were still fighting for the other podium places, but Paul Abrahams had the edge over Rory and Alan Brown, while Tim Wheeldon was still keeping Honeywell on the lead lap in fourth.

But the safety car was soon in action after a heavy crash at Paddock Hill exit. “I had been patient at the start and held back a bit, but we were now making progress and were beginning to challenge. We had made ground and were into a fight for third when I was chasing Farquini. We caught a backmarker, he went one side and the backmarker spun. I had nowhere to go and hit him hard,” Julian Thomas explained.

The Brown’s were also in trouble, “we had damage to the carburettor, but as I was coming into Clearways I made it to the pits,” Rory explained.

But the excitement was only just beginning and it was back to eight cars on the lead lap as the three hour mark approached.

Although JPR UVio were still in the frame, it was Eco and Apollo that reached three hours only 0.763 secs apart, but Hart was also closing in, with the PW car close by. Honeywell, Team Lane Roofing and MCAC all had a say too, as the final hour commenced.

Zoe Wenham seemed to lose some pace again and was rapidly caught by Roberts, taking second into Paddock, before Reid (PW) and Hart (Track Torque) went by too at Paddock and Druids respectively a lap later.

Turner was still out in front for ECO, but the three way fight for second had him in their sights and with 45 minutes left only 0.903 secs covered the top four.

Roberts and Reid both ousted Turner before Hart followed, with Reid continuing to push for the lead. He eventually got a run on the exit of Paddock to hit the front but it was still four in line for the lead.

All four leaders left their final stops to the end of the window and as they all came in Abraham took the Eco car, Dawes the Track Torque 2 Rent Dominos, Deott the JPR UVio, while Reid went for a questionable double stint for PW.

Deott had the lead but Reid was all over him, side by side but the defence held, as Reid was forced wide in his numerous attempts. Abraham and Dawes were duelling for third too, but had Brown caught up in the mix too as he was being lapped.

Reid finally made it through on the inside at Paddock, having tried lap after lap on the outside, which left Dawes challenging for second immediately.

20 minutes to go and it was still four for the lead, covered by 0.452 secs.

Dawes made it into second but couldn’t shake off Abraham, while Guy Wenham closed on fourth placed Deott, who was showing his battle scars.

Abraham managed to retake Dawes, but with the rejoined Racelogic car off at Paddock, the safety car was out again, just after Wenham had taken fourth into Paddock.

The green flag was waived with seven minutes left on the clock, but Reid headed for the pits and a stop go penalty for overdoing his permitted time in the car.

“They had told me on the radio that Anthony would get a penalty, so I didn’t know if I had to try and pass him or wait,” said Dawes.

But Dawes was out in front from Abraham, with Deott trying to retake Wenham and both Wheeldon and Griffiths looking on for Honeywell and Lane Roofing.

“I had all four wheels locked up into Paddock over the last laps, I couldn’t have tried harder,” said Abraham. He had to settle for second however, 0.187secs behind. Wenham held on for third for Apollo, while Deott had to settle for fourth for JPR UVio. “I struggled a bit and the car didn’t handle out of Clearways, so disappointed,” said Deott.

Honeywell and Team Lane Roofing completed the top six, from PW Racing, while MCAC were a lap down in eighth, with Kinetix and Trumans 2 laps down to round off the top ten.


1 Track Torque 2 Rent Domino’s (Chris Hart/Henry Dawes) 238 laps in 4h00m08.609s (71.82mph); 2 Eco Racing (Paul Abraham/Tom Mills/Paul Turner) +0.187s; 3 Apollo Motorsport (Zoe Wenham/Guy Wenham/Harry Mailer); 4 JPR –Uvio (Graham Roberts/Farquini Deott); 5 Team Honeywell (Neil Plimmer/Tim Wheeldon); 6 Team Lane Roofing (Nigel Griffiths/Christopher Weatherill); 7 PW Racing (Anthony Reid/Paul Wighton/Antonio Armelin); 8 MCAC Racing (Morgan Jones/Matthew Jones/ Philip Jones/Gareth Jones); 9 Kinetix Racing (Chris Webster/James Harrison/Michelle Hayward); 10 Trumans (Colin Kingsnorth/Julian Bricknell/Richard Webb). Fastest lap Racelogic (Julian Thomas) 56.013s (77.63mph).

Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup, April 11th 2016