Brands Hatch GP – 10th / 11th october 2020 Race Report, Images and ResultsPosted on: October 19th 2020 • Posted in: Race Results
Records come tumbling down!
Tom Stoten breaks the Duratec Lap Record in race one, then Michael Gibbins beats Tom’s record in race 2!
Also new Class lap records for Chris Snowdon in Historic Derek Bell and Giles Billingsley in Duratec Derek Bell
Round 6 & 7 – Brands GP
With the championship still close despite Michael Gibbins’ impressive 100% run this season, the drivers were all very excited to be returning to Brands Hatch and its legendary Grand Prix circuit to complete the year. The aforementioned Gibbins was only a couple of points clear of nearest rivals Josh Law and Tom Stoten – the pair remaining to be hot on his heels as they had been all season. In the Pintos, Pete Needham was looking for a clean weekend to take the title in his Van Diemen with Richard Cooke his nearest challenger.
Qualifying wasn’t a straightforward affair with changeable conditions putting the drivers on edge. The session was only Green for a handful of laps as the number 10 Lola of Paul Cope had pulled over, before Mike Fry ended up in the end of the pit wall in his Lola. The car would need a lot of repair work done, but luckily Mike was fine. This brought the session to an end though, giving Michael Gibbins another pole position ahead of Josh Law, after stealing it right near the very end. They would line up ahead of Tom Stoten, Dominic Lesniewski, Paul Trayhurn and Giles Billingsley.
The shortened session meant that a group of the Duratec cars were mixed amongst the Pintos – Ash Law, Grant Gibson, Andrew Butler, Paul Cope and David Gorst all behind the Top 3 cars in class of Paul Streat, Ross Hyett and Pete Needham. It would be interesting to see if the inevitable progress from the Duratecs on the opening laps would hinder any of the Pinto front-runners.
Sunday came around and conditions were much more pleasant – the sun was out and despite quite a strong wind, it was a lot warmer considering it was mid-October. Gibbins already had one hand on the trophy, need a clean getaway and another race win to pretty much guarantee the top spot. Off the line it was Josh Law who gained the advantage and after running side-by-side down Paddock Hill Bend, the Creative Funding Solutions-liveried car was out in front. Stoten managed to hold on to third, but only just after a lightning-quick Giles Billingsley had stormed through from the third row.
The Pintos kept it nice and clean through the opening corners too, with Streat leading Hyett and Needham, who was another driver in need (no pun intended) of a clean day’s racing to take the 2020 title in his class. It was great to see Mike Fry’s car back up to full pace after a sterling effort from him and numerous others in the paddock, getting the Lola repaired on Saturday afternoon.
At the front, Gibbins made sure that Josh Law had to check his mirrors, piling on the pressure lap after lap to regain the lead, but Law was able to soak it up, knowing that Stoten wasn’t too far behind, either. For 4th, Billingsley was coming under increasing pressure from his 2020 sparring partners Lesniewski and Trayhurn, the former trying to have a go into Surtees. On the exit though, he got out of shape and lost time to the 41 machine.
A lap later and Paul Trayhurn did the same thing – this time having a “bigger” spin and making small contact with the barrier. He eventually got back on circuit but lost almost a lap in his recovery. The commentary team joked that Billingsley was throwing Banana skins out of his car to sabotage his opponents’ progress. Giles wouldn’t have minded though as he now had some clear air back to Roger Donnan and Peter Williams, who were both having a great showing, being promoted to 5th and 6th respectively.
Paul Streat still lead in the Pintos, extending his lead to over five seconds from Ross Hyett, who was overall ahead of Ash Law’s Duratec MCR S2. Andrew Butler was getting involved in some great battles with the Pintos in his Duratec, keeping them on their toes and fighting for overall position – the different characteristics of the two separately-classed cars was a very interesting watch. It was at this point we lost Peter Needham from the race – Chris Snowdon’s car had shed the back section of its exhaust and in avoiding it and taking to the grass, Pete’s car broke something underneath and the engine came to a halt – a big shake-up in his championship chances ahead of the final race.
With a handful of laps left, Gibbins pounced for the race lead, getting alongside Josh Law down the straight, he hung it around the outside of Paddock Hill Bend then managed to outbrake Law into Druids – from there he carried some great speed on the outside line and then had the inside for Graham Hill Bend, completing the move at the apex. It was a wonderfully-executed move and showed why he would deserve to be Champion.
Grant Gibson had been on a real mission, starting from 16th overall and making his way past John Owen up to 8th – he would stay there until the end but undoubtedly had a big smile on his face after a fantastic push through the field. Andy Chittenden’s first run out in his MCR S2 ended on the sidelines after a broken fuel pump fuse – a real shame as he was in amongst it. On the same lap, we also lost Paul Cope’s Lola, pulling into the pitlane with mechanical issues.
No such issues for Michael Gibbins though – taking his 15th win in succession meant that he would claim the 2020 Creative Funding Solutions Sports 2000 Championship Title with one race to go – a phenomenal achievement. Josh Law would finish just over 3 seconds back with Stoten 3rd and Billingsley in 4th, over 42 seconds back. This would pretty much confirm Giles as the 2020 Derek Bell Trophy winner, unless he had a terrible final round.
Roger Donnan got 5th place ahead of Peter Williams who was catching right until the end, with Lesniewski recovering to 7th. Paul Trayhurn’s spin earlier in the race eventually saw him finish a lap down on the leaders in 12th overall. Paul Streat took the Pinto class win in his Lola with Ross Hyett 2nd and Chris Snowdon in 3rd, “sans exhaust”.
Unfortunately a fire broke out in the engine bay of Pat Egan’s car in the paddock, just after Race 1. He was near to other competitors so fire extinguishers were on hand, stopping the fire causing more damage than it eventually did, but sadly Pat’s car would not be back out for the final race of the season.
Josh Law would be looking for another good Start in Race 2 from 2nd on the grid, as would Billingsley, now taking 4th spot instead of the 6th he had for Race 1. Roger Donnan would line up 5th with Peter Williams alongside him with Dominic Lesniewski starting 7th with Grant Gibson joining him on Row 4. It was going to be an interesting race watching Paul Trayhurn come back through the pack and keeping an eye on Pete Needham’s progress with a title on the line.
Unfortunately it wasn’t the start that Josh Law wanted and Gibbins held on to his lead with Stoten taking 2nd from him! The whole field kept it nice and clean through the first few corners with Paul Streat once again leading in the Pinto class. He would have Chris Snowdon and Ross Hyett chasing him down as in Race 1!
From the off we saw some great battles developing in the mid-field between two Duratecs – Andrew Butler and Paul Cope – and two Pintos – Charlie Besley and Clive Steeper. Mike Turner, Andy Chittenden and John Owen were all battling away as well. Dominic Lesniewski started putting the pace he showed in Race 1 to full effect, climbing up the order early on and getting past Donnan and Williams. He would then set off after Giles Billingsley.
Gibbins continued to stretch his legs at the front while Stoten managed to get past Law for 2nd place. The two would continue battling throughout the opening laps with no position changes being set in stone. Paul Streat was holding on to his Pinto lead as well – going for 2 out of 2 from Brands GP and setting the Fastest Lap in his class on the way! After 6 Laps, we lost Peter Williams’ car from the race – a suspected technical issue putting him on the sidelines after a very impressive Race 1.
Lesniewski found his way past Billingsley after a great battle while their season-long rival Paul Trayhurn had managed to work his way up the order and would soon have his sights set on the pair of them. A little bit further back, it was a very brightly-coloured affair with Chittenden and Owen going at it for 8th and 9th overall in their MCR S2s – the former seemingly loving being in the thick of it in the Duratec class after switching from his Pinto last time out.
Stoten and Law closed back up again through the traffic and Josh even got the odd chance of making a move but having so many cars around meant it wasn’t really possible. He would still continue to pile the pressure on until the very end, though. At the back of the field, Pete Needham’s car was sounding very unhealthy as it circulated, but he pushed on, knowing that he just needed to finish to take the Pinto Championship.
With two laps to go, Paul Trayhurn’s climb up the field – and his race – came to a premature end. It was a real shame as he’d been picking up places consistently over the course of the race. This meant he would lose out to rivals Billingsley and Lesniewski in the championship.
At the very top though, was Michael Gibbins. On the day that he took delivery of a new(er) MCR S2000 for next year, he saw his current car out in the best way possible – 100% win record in 2020 and a championship title to go with it! After a bit of a scuffle at the final corner while lapping traffic, resulting in Grant Gibson being pushed off at the final corner, Tom Stoten would finish 3.7 seconds back with Josh Law another 6.4 behind. Lesniewski made it back up to 4th in the end with Billingsley 5th and Roger Donnan rounded out a great weekend with a 6th.
Andy Chittenden finished ahead of John Owen in their little battle, with Paul Streat taking two wins this weekend in the Pintos and getting a Top 10 Overall finish. Ash Law was 11th, separating Streat from the Pintos of Snowdon and Hyett with barely half a second between them. Andrew Butler followed with Mike Fry’s Lola over 5 seconds back, with Grant Gibson eventually finishing 16th.
Pete Needham would eventually cross the line 2 Laps down in 22nd place, 24 seconds off the car ahead, but with that result would still take the 2020 Pinto Championship in his Van Diemen. With a class win in every round until the last meeting, it was a very strong performance all year after what seemed like an eternity since the first round of 2020 at Snetterton in July.
So Michael Gibbins took back-to-back championships with Tom Stoten in 2nd after taking drop scores into consideration, with Josh Law in 3rd. The Earl of Medway, Giles Billingsley would win the Derek Bell Trophy in the Duratecs with the aforementioned Pete Needham clinching the Pinto title by 9 points from Richard Cooke and his Lola. In the Historic Championship, Clive Steeper took the honours with Mike Fry in 2nd.
The series now gets ready for winter and a long old break until next year, but it’s been a fantastic season’s racing despite the compressed calendar. There are provisional dates in place but please do keep an eye out for any updates as they’re subject to change.
We would like to thank everyone who took part and got involved in 2020 – it wasn’t the easiest of seasons by any stretch of the imagination but the combined efforts of organisers, competitors and team members made it all an absolute joy. Here’s to 2021!
Many thanks to Chaz Draycott for this report.
Below are some images credit to KJG Photograpy. To view the full set or purchase copies visit https://www.kjgphotography.co.uk
Our Podium Finishers…
Race 1 Duratec Podium
Race 1 Pinto Podium
Race 2 Duratec Podium
Race 2 Pinto Podium