Monoposto Rd 4 & 5 - Brands Hatch GP - May 21/22nd
The team suffered a trying time at Brands Hatch for Rounds 4 and 5 of the Monomoto championship last weekend. Friday testing was mostly a washout, apart from the last session and this put Karl O’Brien on the backfoot, as he had never visited the daunting Kent circuit before.
David Heavey brought out the red flags on the first lap of qualifying, when a front suspension problem pitched him into the gravel at Clearways. When the session got back underway, Karl managed to secure a second row starting slot, with Morgan McCourt posting a time good enough for 5th overall.
The team faced a race against time, with just over 2 hours between qualifying and the race to repair Heaveys car, and they put in a herculean effort that saw him rolling up to the end of pit lane with seconds to spare. A delayed start and subsequent 2nd formation lap even allowed Heavey to take up his grid slot right at the back of the pack.
Karl got a good launch to stick himself among the leaders for the opening laps but it was soon clear that all was not well with his 1000. A fuel issue was seeing him gradually lose power before causing him to grind to a halt on lap 3.
Morgan held station in 5th for the opening lap, which then became 4th at Karl’s expense. The latter stages of the race would see him lose some ground while navigating traffic and he eventually would slip to 6th overall and 5th in class. This result would be short lived however, when his car failed a post-race technical check, which resulted in his disqualification.
Heavey was making good progress through the field in the early stages – despite him stalling off the line – and was looking set for a top 6 finish when he suffered another suspension issue, likely tied to the compromised repairs from qualifying. This time he left the track at Druids with just 2 laps to go and the resultant damage meant the team would not be able to repair the car for Sundays event.
With the Race 2 grid set by Race 1 fastest laps, Karl would line up 7th. As punishment for his technical infringement, Morgan would start at the back of the field, with a 10 second penalty to boot. Karl got another good launch, immediately latching onto the top 3 lead train. Coming onto lap 2, he was sizing up a move for 3rd, when a driveshaft failed exiting Druids, compounding a miserable weekend for the team.
Morgan was driving angry from the get-go, scything his way through some of the slower traffic in the early laps, despite being held for 10 secs at the start. He benefitted from a 2-lap safety car to recover Karl’s stricken 1000, which allowed him to recover the remainder of the gap to the field and he got right back to work when the green flag was shown. He would continue to make great progress over the remaining laps, securing 6th overall and 4th in class. His storming drive would see him awarded Driver of the Day for Sunday.
The team packed up and faced the long journey back to port, which was made all the longer by the weekend’s challenges. They now have 4 weeks to dust themselves off and prepare for Rounds 6 and 7 at Donington Park, where the championship will make the first of two visits for 2022. The team will tackle the National circuit on June 18/19th, with testing on Thursday the 16th.