Brands Hatch, Kent
The late loss of the FIA Historic Formula One Championship was, on paper, a blow to the prestige of the annual HSCC Historic Superprix on the Grand Prix circuit at Brands Hatch.
However, the defection of the HFO championship to a British Grand Prix support slot was admirably countered by the Historic Formula 2 and Martini Trophy series. While the Fl feature would have struggled to make double figures, the F2 and sports car classes showed that they are two of the current hot tickets. Strong grids, great-looking cars and quality drivers delivered in spades, and for those seeking a period Fl fix, five Fl cars ran in the Derek Bell Trophy, including John Delane’s ex-Stewart Tyrrell 006.
The Brands Hatch paddock was as full as the timetable and that’s where the event nearly came unstitched. A nasty Historic FF1600 accident on Sunday that ended with John Crowell being helicoptered to hospital wreaked scheduling havoc and the HSCC ran flat out to try to beat the circuit curfew. Crowell’s Elden Mk8 flipped on the run to Hawthorns, but thankfully his injuries were far less severe than initially feared.
In both F2 and the Martini Trophy, rain showers on Sunday put a premium on knife-edge driving ability. Making light of a wet track and slick tyres, Martin Shelton powered home to complete an F2 double in his ex-Laffite March 742. Irishman Darwin Smith (March 722) went with Streffon on Saturday and on Sunday Martin O’Connell gave chase in his Chevron B40. The Martini Trophy delivered a fine grid of 2-litre sports cars and two absorbing races. Silvio Kalb and John Burton baffled mightily in the opener and only when Burton had to dive through the gravel at Paddock to avoid a slower car was the matter resolved in favour of Kalb’s March 76S. Once again, a rain shower made it tough at the start of the second race and Nick Fleming, racing his dad’s Chevron B36 for the first time, drove beautifully to take the lead. Sadly, a misfire set in and David Gathercole took over for victory in his Lola T212 as Kalb worked back to second on a fast-drying track.
Michael Lyons, fresh from a double Grand Prix Masters win at Dijon a week earlier blitzed the Derek Bell Trophy pack for a brace of wins in his ex-Keegan Hesketh 308E. The valiant Andrew Smith gave bold chase in the ex-Gabriel Serblin March 742, which last raced 30 years ago as the underpinnings of Jim McGaughey’s Renault 5 special saloon.
Paolo BariIla, a Le Mans winner in 1985, graced the Classic F3 grid, but it was Jamie Brashaw who capitalised when Benn Simms’ March had a stub axle fail with half a lap to run. Meanwhile David Methley took a resounding Lurani Trophy Formula Junior double in his Brabham BT6.