Mon, Jul 16, 2018 4:02 PM
Brands Hatch race report in the Oakmere Motor Group Academy car by Tom Brown.
After an exciting couple of timed sprints at Aintree and Rockingham where I managed to bring the car up into 6th and then 5th, I was feeling apprehensive about my first circuit race due to never having done any track days before, or had any race driving tuition.
Brands Hatch is somewhere I had never been so I had little idea what to expect. All I had seen was various bits of footage from videos on youtube, it looked like fun! All the horror stories of ending up in the gravel at turn one soon went to the back of my mind in first practice, just concentrating on the job in hand.
Turn one, innocently named “Old Paddock Hill”, is a fast 4th gear right hander that seems to fall off the edge of the world as you turn in unaware of what is to be unravelled on the other side. If everyone has made it around with no drama and it’s clear, it really feels like a rollercoaster. But more often than not in practice you are faced with other cars scrambling slowly back onto the track, or worse, stopped in the middle of the racing line. Avoiding these is a whole different kind of ride, but fun.
Race day was Saturday the 2nd of June and it was a hot one. Temperatures of 27 degrees are fabulous for tyre grip and spectators, but less than ideal for a driver with two layers of fire proofing and a matt black crash helmet. Qualifying was a 15 minute session where you battle to find space on the short lap to set your best timed run. On learning my grid position was 5th place, myself and Ben Buckley on pole were approached by Channel 4 who wanted a camera in both of our cars. At the time I thought this could be a huge boost to our bragging rights in the paddock party later, but could also backfire heavily as I had visions of being shown up on TV for not even completing a lap 1, either way it was pretty cool!
Before I knew it I was sat on the grid waiting for the lights to go out, somewhat less nervous than I thought I would be. As soon as we set off my mission was to stay out of trouble. The first lap was a blur. By the end of lap 3 I had lost a couple of places, it seemed to take a couple of laps to warm up to the environment, after all it was my first race. After a safety car incident to clear up an accident at turn one the close racing built up a huge amount of adrenalin and I had completely forgotten the fact it was boiling in the car. I managed to make my places back to finish 5th by the end of the race. I even pulled off a crazy overtake at the fast turn one without damaging my car or anyone else. With a 5th place finish out of 29 other cars and 3rd fastest lap of 56.869 it is safe to say I have a new favourite hobby for now.