The Leastone team rounded out their 2016 season with a mixed bag of results at Brands Hatch last weekend. It was the season closing non-championship event for the Monoposto class and the team fielded two of the Leastone 1000’s. Team regular Mark Reade was joined by Finol Star of Tomorrow winner Joe Power, who had a brief shakedown in the 1000 at Mondello two weeks previous. Both drivers had a productive days testing on the Friday, with Joe instantly impressing with his consistent and smooth driving.
The drivers had the luxury of having Saturday off, teeing up a hectic timetable for Sunday, with early qualifying followed up by the two races in quick succession. Mark and Joe had to deal with damp conditions in the early laps as heavy fog was lifting. Both drivers carried over their impressive pace from testing, setting times that would see Mark line up 4th and Joe 6th overall.
Reade made a good initial start, jumping to 3rd despite being boxed in, and he had Joe in close proximity behind. This then became 2nd and 3rd for the two Leastones when the lead car spun at Graham Hill on the opening lap. Mark then jumped to the lead at the start of lap 2 with a tidy move at Druids and Power set about trying to follow his team mate through. The pressure paid off, as the second place car dropped it exiting Clearways but Joe managed to select neutral while he was deciding which way the spinning car would go and he lost a bagful of places while he found an appropriate gear.
The safety car was deployed, eradicating the lead that Mark had built up and once the safety car peeled off after a handful of laps, he set about employing a stout defence, to keep the more powerful competitors behind. While this was going on, Joe was making progress through the field, eventually making his way back to the 5th place. While he had the pace to challenge for the podium, the lead group were too far up the road and he settled for a lonely run to 5th at the flag.
At the head of the field, Reade was able to use his superior corner speed to keep out of arms reach of the 2nd place runner on the main straight but his strategy was thrown when he caught a backmarker towards the end of the penultimate lap. This allowed second place to enter the main straight right on Reades gearbox, which meant he was a sitting duck and had to settle for 2nd place at the flag.
The highs of the early race were countered with disappointment in race 2. Joe suffered some contact during the opening lap, which dislodged the front wing which eventually ended up underneath the car and ending his day. Mark had a cracking start, jumping from 4th to 1st by the time the field entered Paddock Hill bend. He set about pulling a gap on the pack, pushing the 1000 to the limit on cold tyres.
All was going to plan and Reade was able to pull a useful gap but was caught out on lap 4, when he turned in early and caught the kerb at Graham Hill bend awkwardly, launching the car a terminally damaging the rear suspension. Despite the difficulties of race 2, both drivers were delighted with their weekend and the pace they showed, despite limited experience with both car and track.
The team now have a long winter ahead, preparing the cars for next year. The team are currently hoping to field 2 cars in the Monoposto championship next year, and further hoping that the cars performance over the Brands Hatch weekend has generated some interest across the pond.
Onboard footage of Joe Power in Race 1:
Onboard from Mark Reade's opening laps in Race 2: