My last Newsletter covered Classic Formula 3 up to the Brands Legends meeting on the Grand Prix circuit with the French. Classic Formula 3, then had a nice lay-off until the Brands Hatch Indy meeting on the 25th September. My brother, Jonathan and I took advantage of the rest period to go testing on the Brands Indy circuit at the beginning of September and met up with Andy Langridge, who was testing his newly acquired ex-Batty March 733, raced by Peter Dunn. Another car for the 1600cc category with Andy’s son Adrian taking over his Dastle MK10. After the heady number of 24 UK CF3 entrants for the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit meeting, we expected great things for the Indy meeting and were duly rewarded with a field of 22, being 15 CF3 cars and 7 URS. The HSCC were delighted with this, as this was the biggest grid of the day! It was a 1-day meeting with qualifying and 2 races keeping everyone busy on what turned out to be an extremely warm and sunny Saturday.
Simon Jackson dominated the day qualifying on pole almost half a second ahead of Pat Gormley and the going on the win both races and duly being crowned Classic Formula 3 Champion 2016. In qualifying Gaius Ghinn, Richard Trott and David Shaw were 3rd, 4th and 5th and separated by a two or three hundredth of a second.
Ian Pearson, as usual, was the first of the FF2000 runners, splitting the first 8 CF3 cars in 6th place. Adrian Langridge outperformed dad Andy in the newly acquired March 733, but unfortunately Class B was missing Glenn Eagling in his Ensign. Louis Hanjoul was making his first appearance of the year in his Argo JM1 and John De Ritter in an Argo JM10 was making his debut appearance in CF3. The close proximity of the front runners promised an eventful Race 1 and that was duly to be the case. A cracking race took place between Simon, Pat Gormley, Ian Pearson, Gaius Ghinn and Richard Trott, until Richard had to pull off after 8 laps with a suspected loose wheel, though later inspection proved nothing serious was wrong. Gaius Ghinn unfortunately spun, but clawed his way back to 6th place behind David Shaw and Hugh Price. Adrian Langridge had Class B to himself, as Andy had to pull out with problems.
Simon Jackson led all the way in race 2, with Pat Gormley finishing only 1.5 seconds behind. Richard Trott stormed up from the back to join in with the battle with Gaius Ghinn and David Shaw for 4th place. The 3 of them crossing the line only 0.6 seconds apart. Hugh Price was 7th and Paul Dibden, who had also started at the back in David Pickering’s Argo JM6 had a stormer finishing in 8th place. Andy Langridge got going after dropping out in race 1, but was still beaten by Adrian for Class B Honours.
It was great to have Matthew Sturmer back for this race, giving his Ralt RT3 an outing and Paul Smith was in his RT3 again, though experiencing misfire problems, which we hope he can rectify shortly. Ian Pearson won the FF2000 race, finishing in 3rd place, ahead of Chris Lord in 10th. Wally Lyles prepares both Simon Jackson and Pat Gormley’s very nice Safir, which finished 1st and 2nd in both races, so a good day for Wally as well!
The good entry at Brands bode well for the Silverstone Finals on the 18th October. For the first time the Silverstone meeting had been extended to 2 days, though Classic Formula 3 and URS were given qualifying and 2 races on the second day, the Sunday. Amazingly, the HSCC could accept no more entries a week before the race, as we had a grid of 36, the maximum permitted. 24 CF3 cars and 12 URS. Apart from the regulars, Cameron Jackson was making a second appearance in his Euro March 813 and Andy Jones, who had not been seen since Cadwell Park in 2015, was out again in his Dallara 382. Débutee Paul Tompkin in a Brabham BT41 was a welcome débutee in a 1600cc car. Costas Michael was entered in the ex-Chris Drake Hippocampus March 743. Marcus Mussa was making an appearance in his 763 and Graham Kiddy was out for the first time in his Argo. Paul Smith had abandoned his misfiring RT3 in favour of his Martini and Rudolph Ernst was in his RT1. We had not seen former Champion Keith White since the Silverstone International meeting, but he was a welcome addition in his RT1.
The forecast for Sunday morning was rain and boy did it rain! We should never have actually been sent out to qualify, the conditions were simply atrocious. Whilst not much can be done with regard to what happened at this meeting, I will be taking the situation up with the HSCC and MSA, because a better assessment of whether track conditions are suitable for single seaters needs to be implemented. Qualifying, however, was stopped after 2 laps to retrieve someone from the gravel and then 4 laps after the restart, Marcus Mussa aquaplaned off the main straight at high speed under the bridge and hit the barriers. Marcus was taken to hospital with a broken ankle, (which he has had to have pinned) and treatment for a sore back. Whilst that in itself is bad enough we were pleased the situation was not far worse and the injuries more severe. We wish Marcus a speedy recovery.
We had already lost 3 cars from qualifying, Paul Tompkin, Costas Michael and Graham Kiddy who all had problems in testing on the previous Friday and withdrawals from Jonathan Price, Colin Painter and David Pickering. Ian Rowley had joined the grid after a win in Zandvoort the week before in a Dutch Mona Posta race. Ian Pearson and Mark Mercer, both in RF2000 cars headed qualifying with Andy Jones in the Dallara leading Keith White, Gaius Ghinn and Hugh Price in Classic Formula 3. The conditions didn’t help people such as David Shaw, Richard Trott and Simon Jackson, who made the best of it, but qualified well down.
After our qualifying all activity on the track was curtailed until 11 o’clock, when it stopped raining and the sun came out. By the time our race was due to start at 12:45 pm, it was a toss-up between slicks or wets. The majority of the field went on wets, which as soon as we got on the track, was discovered to be the wrong choice. Ian Pearson, David Shaw, Mark Mercer and Andy Jones all went on slicks and duly finished in the first 4 places. After that it was just a question of who could make their wets last longest. Adrian Langridge was also on slicks and finished a fine 8th overall in the Dastle and winner of the 1600 class. Cameron Jackson who qualified 8th stripped a gear in the March on lap 1, which was unfortunate, as he felt he had real pace in the car in the dry. David Shaw’s late call to go on slicks meant that whilst it took him a few laps to get the tyres warmed up, he was then able to storm to the front, though couldn’t quite overhaul Ian Pearson in the FF2000 Van Diemen. It was all to be different however, when race 2 came around at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, it was totally dry and the sun was out. Simon Jackson and Keith White put on a storming chase at the front, finishing only 2.5 seconds apart, just behind David Shaw, whilst Richard Trott made up 6 places with a demon start and finished 4th, a second or two back. The Classic Formula 3’s had prevailed and Ian Pearson, winner of race 1, was 5th overall and winner of the FF2000. Andy Jones had pick up problems and was unable to finish in the Dallara and Adrian Langridge finished 12th overall in his Dastle. Dad, Andy, pulling out after 10 laps, with mechanical problems.
A few drinks after the race, put on by Richard Ranson and Colin Painter, saw out the season in fine style! The two Brands races and the Silverstone Finals showed very healthy grids from Classic Formula 3, does this bode well for 2017? I sincerely hope so. There are already new cars and owners in the pipeline and providing our regulars compete again, we should have some exciting races and with some very capable drivers as front runners.
We look forward to seeing you in 2017.