Brands Hatch GP – 21/22nd May 2022 Race Report, Images and ResultsPosted on: May 25th 2022 • Posted in: Race Results
Rounds 5 and 6 – Brands Hatch GP
Coming to Brands Hatch, everyone felt excitement in the air – the grand prix circuit was always a driver favourite, with its legendary corners providing plenty of opportunity. The undulation and narrow nature of the venue gives an incredible sense of speed to drivers and the racing it produces is always top dollar.
Qualifying would prove to be a very close run thing, with lots of traffic and a number of drivers putting in their best times half-way through the session. Championship leader Josh Law would set the early pace, putting a 1:28.595 on the board with his third circulation. It would only be two laps later but, on his fifth lap, Michael Gibbins looked back on form with pole position – his lap of 1:28.521 would just put him ahead by 74 thousandths, then wouldn’t be beaten for the remainder of the session.
Tom Stoten would go third on his last lap of the session, 1.3 seconds off of the lead pair, with Paul Trayhurn and Richard Johnson next up – both doing their best times on Lap 5. Tim Tudor, James Barwell, Dominic Lesniewski, Peter Brouwer and Andy Chittenden would round out the Top 10.
In the Pinto field, it was Jon Harmer who would put an awesome time on the board in his Tiga, going just over 6 seconds slower than the fastest Duratec. He was 1.2 seconds clear (with a few Durateces in between) of Paul Streat’s Lola, who beat a couple of Duratecs himself as well. Trevor Welsh was next up in third, ahead of Nick and Ross Hyett – four Lolas in the top five!
Chris Snowdon was back into the thick of it, just behind the father-and-son duo, with Mike Fry, Peter Needham, Charlie Hyett and Olivier Kirten – who it was great to see on the grid in the awesome Apache 86S – completed the Top 10. Seeing Tim Jacobsen’s beautiful Shrike outside of the Top 10 came as a surprise, but a number of people expected to see him carve through the pack during the races.
After a bunched up start on Brands Hatch’s famously slanted grid, the whole field would jostle in the early stages. Importantly at the front, Michael Gibbins wouldn’t make a clean getaway and Josh Law would inherit the lead into Turn 1. Another few slow launches down the order would mean that some real squeezing would go on – John Iley ending up on the grass at one point.
Jon Harmer lead the Pintos away with Paul Streat losing a couple of seconds in the opening lap, but holding onto 2nd ahead of Trevor Welsh and Chris Snowdon, who had jumped both the Hyetts ahead of him. Unfortunately though, this was where the race would take a turn, as Charlie Hyett’s steering column would break at Dingle Dell. His father Ross explained that he’d have to wait a lap to come round again and see whether he avoided the wall or not, as they were soon behind the Safety Car. On top of this, Tim Tudor had ended up in the gravel trap at Paddock Hill Bend and out of the race as well.
Dominic Lesniewski had lost a lot of time getting caught up in things as well, and the field was behind the safety car almost immediately to clean up the mess. There would be four laps at a reduced pace until everyone was let loose again to do battle, only for another excursion to occur at Paddock Hill Bend – this time David Gorst’s orange MCR getting beached.
This caused another three laps of Safety Car interruption, but we would get back under way at full chat for Lap 10. Josh Law managed to keep Gibbins behind with Stoten third. A little bit more spreading out occurred from 4th back, as Johnson stayed ahead of Trayhurn, Barwell, Brouwer and Chittenden.
John Iley and Josh Needham were getting friendly in the mid-pack, at one point going side-by-side through Sheene Curve – the former trying to gain more and more confidence on the infamously difficult and demanding GP loop. Dominic Lesniewski was making strong progress back through the field as well, moving ahead of at least one driver per lap.
In the Pintos, Jon Harmer had his mirrors full of Paul Streat’s Lola for the lead, while Trevor Welsh was working hard to keep Chris Snowon at bay – Nick Hyett was just behind with a front-row seat – Mike Fry and Peter Needham battling too. Unfortunately due to an underpowered engine, Ross Hyett’s car wouldn’t be as competitive on race pace as it had looked in Qualifying. Nick Bailey had a good old scrap a bit further back with Olivier Kirten and Andreas Floth, as he enjoyed the Grand Prix loop in his Royale.
Unfortunately though, two more drivers wouldn’t make it to the chequered flag – John Owen and Mike Turner both getting beached at what seemed to be an extra-tough Paddock Hill Bend, potentially down to the resurfacing works.
At the sharp end though, Josh Law would hold on to take his fourth race win of the season. Michael Gibbins didn’t quite have long enough to launch an attack but would come home in 2nd for some good championship points, with Tom Stoten securing a podium finish. The reigning champion would be hoping to have more time to have a stab at the race lead on Sunday.
Richard Johnson was just behind in fourth place, while Paul Trayhurn managed to hold off a charging James Barwell – the number 77 car running the new MCR S2n bodywork for the first time this weekend. Peter Brouwer made sure P6 went to car 6, ahead of Andy Chittenden, Tom Mills – who was racing the Gunn TS11 run by Neil Burroughs in 2021 – Nick Bates and Grant Gibson.
Jon Harmer took a clean race victory in the Pinto field, with Paul Streat 2nd, helping his championship campaign, and Trevor Welsh completing the podium finishers. Chris Snowdon wasn’t far behind, with Nick Hyett next up. Peter Needham finished 6th, ahead of Tim Jacobsen, Ross Hyett, Olivier Kirten and Nick Bailey.
As always, Race 2’s grid would be formed up in the order that drivers crossed the start/finish line in Race 1. The casualties from the first encounter would start at the back of the grid, meaning the Mike Turner, John Owen, Tim Tudor and David Gorst would all be looking for redemption, and of course, championship points.
It would be Gibbins vs Law Round 2 from the front row, with Tom Stoten and Richard Johnson right behind, hoping to pick up the pieces. Jon Harmer and Paul Streat would continue their battle from the front row of the Pintos, with Trevor Welsh and Chris Snowdon also hoping to benefit from any squabbling that went on.
Michael Gibbins would double up on making a poor initial launch from the start, allowing Josh Law to get into first for the second time in two races. Richard Johnson managed to jump Tom Stoten on the opening lap as well, moving up into third place. Dominic Lesniewski had a great first lap, starting 13th and jumping up to 7th by the time they crossed the line!
As expected, Paul Streat would spend his race glued to the back of Jon Harmer’s Tiga – the two of them working very hard not to crack under the extreme pressure. They’d both made a clean start and started to gap the rest of the Pinto field, being nearly nine seconds clear of Trevor Welsh in third at the end of Lap 3! Nick and Ross Hyett were next ahead of Chris Snowdon, who was working hard to keep Mike Fry and Charlie Hyett at bay.
Ashley Law would become the first retirement of the race, pulling over at the end of Lap 2, after running just outside the Top 10, amongst the likes of Bates, Williams, Donnan and Peach. Roger Donnan would enjoy a great race chasing down Peter Williams’ number 88 MCR, with Colin Peach and Clive Hayes not far behind. In fact, during the opening few laps, there wasn’t much separating the entire pack, all the way down to around 18th position.
The big drama would come at the front as Josh Law’s car developed a misfire and dropped him down the pack. Gibbins took the lead on Lap 3, while others started to stream past the stricken MCR, before Josh would eventually retire. His retirement came just after the Safety Car was deployed – Andrew Butler retiring from the race, requiring some assistance to get the car recovered.
With just a couple of circulations left to go by the time the Safety Car came back in, it was Gibbins from Johnson and Stoten, with Barwell and Mills completing the Top 5. Paul Trayhurn made it three Gunns inside the Top 6 – great news for Gary himself, who was watching his cars go well around the Kent countryside.
Before the Safety Car had emerged, Jon Harmer and Paul Streat had managed to streak away from the chasing pack by an amazing 22 seconds, despite their nose-to-tail battling throughout. Jon explained that Paul didn’t give him a single moment’s rest, and the safety car was a bit of a God send due to an ever-lengthening brake pedal. Another driver (and team) that were thankful of a slight break in the action was James Barwell’s squad. The team worked incredibly hard to fit an oil cooler to the car after battling temperature issues on Saturday, and the car went well on Sunday, but it was cutting it fine on the numbers. Unfortunately there would be one more retirement in the dying moments of the race – Grant Gibson’s Van Diemen not quite making it to the flag.
With the help of a bit of Pinto traffic, Michael Gibbins was able to maintain a comfortable lead at the front of the pack from the charging Richard Johnson to take his first win of the season – a long overdue visit to the top step for the popular multiple champion. Tom Stoten completed the podium after a strong day, but would understandably want more to defend his title as the season progresses.
Barwell finished 4th with Mills next up, showing great promise on his first outing in the championship. Paul Trayhurn, Dominic Lesniewski, Peter Brouwer, Tim Tudor and Andy Chittenden rounded out the Top 10. A special mention must go to Tim who finished in 9th, after starting right at the back of the grid, he made amazing, consistent progress to reward the team’s hard work with some valuable points.
Jon Harmer would make it two from two at Brands Hatch – another incredibly impressive weekend for the number 27 Tiga, with Paul Streat showing incredible determination once again, and displaying some top-notch damage limitation in the championship standings. Nick Hyett got himself a Pinto Podium ahead of Trevor Welsh, whom he overtook on Lap 6, with Ross Hyett dragging an underperforming car home in 5th. Chris Snowdon, Tim Jacobsen, Charlie Hyett, Peter Needham and Mike Fry completing the Top 10.
Despite a devastating DNF for Josh Law, he would still come away as championship leader with Richard Johnson and Michael Gibbins not too far behind. Tom Stoten and “The Barwells” would be hot on their heels too.
Jon Harmer and Marc Noaro would lead the incredibly close Pinto Overall Championship ahead of Paul Streat and Trevor Welsh, with Paul at the head of the Pinto/Historic A Championship.
Another great action-packed weekend was quickly gone as soon as it arrived, but would soon be time to turn our attentions to Snetterton. Running on the long, 300 layout, drivers could expect lap times around the 2-minute mark, and the need for extreme patience when dealing with traffic. It’s a circuit that doesn’t always appear at the top of many people’s lists, but provides stunning racing when it comes down to it.
Many thanks to Chaz Draycott for these reports.
Results are available via the Results Page. Here
Below are some images credit to KJG Photograpy. To view the full set or purchase copies visit https://www.kjgphotography.co.uk
Round 5 Images
Round 6 images