Brands Hatch 22/23 November 2014
The idea of racing in November never appealed to me, so travelling all the way to Brands Hatch was not on my agenda until Brendan O'Brien and Stephen Morrin decided to run in the Formula Vee Festival. As MSV were running a non-championship Monoposto race, I decided to throw the 1000 in the trailer and have a little race (or 3) myself.
Robbie Allen had told me that he was thinking of doing the UK Vee Festival but when I told him about the Mono race he decided to bring his Sheane Rover. Upholding tradition, we had a £20 bet on who beats who! On arrival at the track we had a walkaround the track with Stephen and Brendan. We were in the process of setting up camp when Mick Sammon and Robbie arrived. Mick was racing in the Vee having been away from the class for a few seasons and was joined by Adam Macualay, Jimmy Furlong and Gavin Buckley who along with Stephen and Brendan made up the rest of the Irish Vee contingent.
We all parked together in what was a quiet empty paddock, had food together with a few beers and turned in early to be fresh for testing on Friday morning. As I wasn't testing, I gave the lads a hand, Stephen's car ran faultlessly but Brendan's car had a gearbox problem which Kevin Gillespie any myself changed that evening.
Saturday dawned wet and the Vees were on track at 9am, thankfully everyone got through qualifying without damage. The rain got progressively worse and for my qualifying at 10.30am I decided to try some wets that I had for a few years but had never used. This was a mistake, I couldn't put the power down and was spinning the rear wheels in fifth gear, not good!
I qualified 16th out of 18 for the first race and for the race I put on my normal Dunlop wets, I progressed up to 4th place before being hit up the rear at Graham Hill bend after the safety car had bunched us up. I recovered but spun at the same corner later on in the race and finished 10th.
In race 2 I started from 10th position, got up to 4th by the start of the second lap when the engine cut coming out of Paddock, it turned out to be a broken wire in the loom at the dash and that was disappointing to say the least. When I got back to the Paddock, I duly handed over the £20 to Robbie (again!!) and set about finding the fault.
Sunday dawns and it's raining heavily, the Vee Final is on first, Stephen drives well and picks off cars with ease finishing in an excellent 3rd place, first of the Irish cars home. Brendan stalled on the line and is last away but climbs his way back up through the field to finish an impressive 10th in atrocious weather conditions.
A nice touch by Adam Macaulay, he waited in the Pit Lane for Stephen to get out of his car and went over to congratulate him. I know Adam was disappointed with his own result as he had the pace to win outright but a mistake in the heat on Saturday put him on the back foot for the rest of the weekend. It just goes to show the sportsmanship and friendliness that exists in Vees at the moment, long may it continue.
My last race starts in heavy rain, starting 12th on the grid the spray is crazy, I managed to pick my way up to 5th before with either bad vision or total brainfade I outbraked myself into Druids to have yet another chat with the Marshalls, so ended a disappointing performance by me.
Later it was pointed out to me that in one race I was 1.7 seconds quicker than the next Irish driver which around Brands is a lot, maybe if I was small minded this might mean something but to me in the grand scheme of things it was a great disappointment, I should have had a win or at least a few podiums.
It was great to see Facebook awash with updates from the weekend but I was surprised to see people claiming that there were F3 cars racing with us. I eventually twigged that these phantom Formula 3’s were actually the 'Mono 2000' spec cars. An easy mistake for the casual supporter to make. Unless they had access to a race programme over the weekend that is. Indeed one of them, Robbie Watts won the Mono 2000 Championship this year, but why let facts get in the way of a bit of back-slapping. Then again, this is what Facebook encourages; inept, ill informed individuals running wild on keyboards! smile emoticon
Luckily, the rain stopped long enough to allow us load up. Christy and Stephen had big happy heads on them along with a pot and a podium interview! I have to say the good results from both Stephen & Brendan made the long drive home a lot easier. As for me, I will just need to remember to pack the brain in the kit bag next time!
Roll on 2015