Brands Hatch Indy – 18/19 September 2021 Race Report, Images and ResultsPosted on: September 23rd 2021 • Posted in: Race Results
Three races – three different winners!
Rounds 8, 9 &10 – Brands Indy
After a busy old time at Cadwell Park, the Creative Funding Solutions Sports 2000 Championships moved to another undulating, narrow and exhilarating track – Brands Hatch’s legendary Indy circuit. Here, lapped traffic would be a certainty, with drivers in all classes having to be on their toes throughout the duration of all three races that would make up the first triple-header of the year.
Tom Stoten came into the meeting as clear championship leader after an excellent run of consistency this year. Josh Law, Dominic Lesniewski and Michael Gibbins were nipping at his heels though in a hope to close the gap. As is often the case though, it was anybody’s guess in the Pintos, as we’d seen six different race winners overall this year from the 11 cars that had entered race meetings. They’d all be working very hard to set themselves up for a strong final meeting at Snetterton in two weeks.
Neil Burroughs would set the pace in Qualifying, putting his Gunn TS12 on pole position by just under two tenths of a second from Tom Stoten. Josh Law would start on the second row with Michael Gibbins alongside him. It was a very busy top 10 behind them though, with Billingsley, Tudor, Johnson, Houghton, Lesniewski and Barwell all chomping at the bit to get some action up front.
Jon Harmer was at the head of the Pinto field, just less than four tenths clear of fellow Tiga driver Chris Snowdon. Mike Fry and Mike Dodd’s second row lock-out made it four Tigas in the Top 5, with Nick Hyett and Trevor Welsh responding with an all-Lola row three.
The start of the first race would prove to be the most dramatic of the season so far – a poor getaway from Neil Burroughs would see Stoten bolt off with a healthy gap before Turn 1. Gibbins got a great launch from the second row of the grid and made it up to 2nd place, before Burroughs put his nose back down the inside at Paddock Hill to try and regain at least one spot and there was contact between the two. Neil was put into a spin, with most cars avoiding him as they spilled down the hill.
Some cars went left into the gravel – one of which being Josh Law who got collected and suffered a damaged rear wing, while others went off to the right – Richard Johnson spinning off in avoidance after it all checked up in front of him. Unfortunately though, Tim Tudor was just behind and with cars darting left and right, he was left with no time to avoid Burroughs’ stationary car and the two made heavy contact on the edge of the gravel trap. Both drivers were perfectly okay but the cars would need some extensive repairs.
The Safety Car came out and it would be Lap 10 before things got back up to speed, with Stoten leading Gibbins, Billingsley, Lesniewski and Bates. Josh Law had dropped to the back after having to get his wing straightened (by hand I must add!) in the pits. He would begin to make his way back through the pack, firstly overtaking the Pintos before gaining ground on the some of the lower-placed Duratecs. John Iley would unfortunately drop a few places in the remaining laps after being 10th when the Safety Car came in. There was a lot of jostling for position as drivers knew that they didn’t have long left to get the job done.
Going into the final couple of laps, Richard Johnson was running just outside of the Top 10 but managed to overtake Andy Chittenden and then Ash Law to end up 9th at the flag. Just ahead of him, Roger Donnan had also managed to make his way up to 8th place. Up at the sharp end though, Tom Stoten held on against consistent pressure from Michael Gibbins to take another win in what has been a very solid season.
Giles Billingsley crossed the line third for a great podium result ahead of Dominic Lesniewski, Nick Bates, John Owen, Tony Barwell, Roger Donnan, Richard Johnson and Ash Law. The overall Pinto win would go to Jon Harmer and his bright green Tiga, with Mike Fry just about holding on to second place over Peter Needham – just 0.038 of a second covering them at the line. Trevor Welsh and Nick Hyett would round out the Top 5 Pintos after recovering from a bad start, with Chris Snowdon dropping out with 5 Laps to go.
With the grid being based on second-fastest laps from Qualifying, we would’ve seen Neil Burroughs on pole position, but due to damage from the first race and fallout after the incident, his weekend – and season – was unfortunately over, after showing fantastic pace all year. Due to this, Tom Stoten inherited the top spot alongside Josh Law. Michael Gibbins and Giles Billingsley would make up row two ahead of Richard Johnson. Jon Harmer would start at the front of the Pinto field alongside Chris Snowdon, with an all-Mike second row – Dodd leading Fry, but the latter unfortunately wouldn’t take the start.
Josh Law got a cracking getaway, managing to grab first position from Stoten at the earliest opportunity, but Tom was able to maintain 2nd ahead of Gibbins. Roger Donnan stalled off the line and dropped down the pack, leaving himself with plenty of work to do, while Tony Barwell bogged down as well after a near jump start – everyone doing a good job to make their way around them safely without contact or further incident while they shuffled around trying to make places early on.
The Top 5 stayed as they were on the opening laps, as Donnan came back through, overtaking Andrew Butler and David Gorst early on. On Lap 4, Lesniewski managed to get past Johnson into 5th place, with David Houghton and Nick Bates hot on their heels. John Owen was running just outside the Top 10 with some serious pressure from Tony Barwell, who would spend the majority of the race tucked right up behind.
Pinto-wise it was Harmer that maintained an early lead between 3 and 4 seconds from Snowdon who had to keep his eyes on his mirrors – Trevor Welsh’s Lola was a definite threat, going well around Brands Indy this weekend. Behind them, Mike Dodd and Nick Hyett were getting friendly in another great battle, as the latter fought his way back up the field after a poor start, and at the tail of the field Joshua Needham was working hard to scrap with Nick Bailey who was not only on some fresh rubber, but back racing at Brands Hatch for the first time in 18 years.
The only retirement of the race would come just before Lap 13, with Chris Snowdon falling by the wayside and bringing out the Safety Car – his second DNF of the day. This inevitably bunched everybody up and decimated the 4-second lead that Josh Law had built up in the Duratecs, and the 5-second lead that Harmer was enjoying in the Pintos.
The race would get back to green flag conditions on Lap 18 with a 3 lap dash to the end. As they crossed the line to get going it was Law leading Stoten, Gibbins, Billingsley, Lesniewski and Johnson. David Houghton, Nick Bates, Andy Chittenden and Ash Law rounded out the Top 10. All of the Duratecs now well amongst the Pinto traffic, working very hard on every single circulation to stay out of trouble, while not compromising themselves or one another.
Josh Law would bolt off into the distance though, taking his second win of the season by just under 2 seconds from Tom Stoten and Michael Gibbins – a podium trio that was very familiar in 2020, albeit in a different order this time around. Billingsley crossed the line in 4th but would be demoted to 5th after a 2-second penalty for gaining an unfair advantage, meaning Dominic Lesniewski got promoted to 4th, securing more important points in his ongoing championship battle with Michael Gibbins.
Richard Johnson, David Houghton, Nick Bates, Ash Law and Andy Chittenden would complete your Top 10, with John Owen taking Duratec B honours once again with his 11th place finish overall. Jon Harmer took his Tiga SC80 to its second victory of the day, 2.4 seconds clear of Trevor Welsh, Nick Hyett and Mike Dodd. Clive Steeper would grab 5th place in the Pintos ahead of the battling Needham and Bailey.
The third race grid was based off the finishing result of Race 2, meaning the drivers got chance to carry on where they left off, albeit from a standing start again. Would Stoten use the favoured left hand side of the track to get the lead or would Josh Law get another good start? Could anybody stop Jon Harmer from taking a trio of wins in the Pintos? It was anybody’s guess.
It was Tom Stoten who grabbed the lead after going around the outside of Law at Paddock Hill Bend, with Gibbins coming through as they came out of Druids and down the hill. Giles Billingsley had managed one of his usual super-quick starts, overtaking Lesniewski for 4th, while Johnson worked hard to hold off the rest of the Top 10. Trevor Welsh managed to keep Jon Harmer honest in the Pinto class, but ultimately couldn’t get through early on.
It was Snowdon that was making hay though – overtaking Needham, Bailey, Steeper, Fry, Hyett and Dodd in the first lap! After two DNFs he was looking to get some serious points on the board in the final race and making those intentions crystal clear.
Quite remarkably, there were then no position swaps until Lap 5, as the Pinto traffic was enveloped by the Duratecs leading the way. Michael Gibbins was trying to stick with Tom Stoten as best he could, knowing that his prime opportunity would come if they met some traffic at a tricky spot. Over the entire race, the gap between them would never be more than 1.2 seconds. Outside of the Top 10, Roger Donnan had started to gain places after another less-than-ideal start, overtaking John Iley for 15th.
On Lap 8, Richard Johnson would make his way past Dominic Lesniewski as they both tried to stay with Giles Billingsley – if anything were to happen ahead, they’d be in with a definite shout of a podium finish. Another duo battling inside the Top 10 was Houghton and Bates – the two were joined at the hip it seemed, as they were never separated by more than half a second over the first 10 laps.
Harmer still led the Pintos from Snowdon and Hyett, who had both managed to overtake Welsh’s Lola by Lap 11. Trevor was right with them though, and Mike Fry wasn’t took far back either. The traffic situation definitely works both ways at Brands Hatch’s short Indy circuit – the Pintos need to be just as careful about making moves on their rivals with the presence of the Duratecs remaining pretty constant after a few laps.
Into the latter stages, Gibbins was still within half a second of race leader Tom Stoten – the pair carving their way through traffic elegantly and without delay. Josh Law was now around 4 second back so Michael wouldn’t have to worry about losing out too much if he made a move, and then, on Lap 20, his patience was rewarded. Stoten went wide into Clearways to go around Mike Dodd’s Royale, so Gibbins got his nose down the inside and managed to pull in front.
From there, he started to open up a gap which would be over 2 seconds when they crossed the line to complete Lap 25 – a well-deserved win in what has been a tough season for the reigning champion. Stoten’s 2nd place helped him put one hand on the trophy in terms of the title race, but Josh Law pulled off some great damage limitation with another podium.
Giles Billingsley had been running in 4th place for most of the race but fuel pressure issues meant that he slowed to eventually finish 2 Laps down, handing 4th to Richard Johnson. Lesniewski was 5th despite a penalty for track limits, with Nick Bates in 6th. John Owen took another Duratec B win with 7th ahead of David Houghton, Andy Chittenden and Tony Barwell.
Roger Donnan recovered to 11th and won the Duratec Derek Bell Trophy after Peter Williams rounded out a very under-the-radar weekend with his departure on Lap 3. Jon Harmer made it three out of three wins in the Pinto category – a stunning weekend for him and his Tiga. Chris Snowdon was next up with Nick Hyett rounding out the podium. Trevor Welsh kept him honest in the points with Mike Fry completing the Top 5.
As mentioned, Tom Stoten looks very comfortable for the overall championship now, needing to just secure a handful of points at Snetterton to clinch the title. Josh Law, Dominic Lesniewski and Michael Gibbins will certainly keep him on his toes though, so it’s going to be great to watch.
Also, for the overall Pinto crown, Ross Hyett and Nick Hyett – who are sharing the Lola 88/90 this season – are now tied on points with fellow Lola competitor Trevor Welsh. It could go either way at Snetterton in two weeks time with the other multitude of classes to wrap up on top of that – we have Duratec B, Duratec Derek Bell, Pinto and Pinto Historic! We’ll hope to see you there!
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
Round 8 Images
Round 9 Images
Round 10 Images