All the action during rounds 3 & 4 of the Time Attack was certainly not confined to the Pro and Club Pro cars, with 16 drivers battling it out over 3 classes the Club Challenge class is equally as competitive and through out the 2 days provided us with many twists and turns to talk over during our long trip home!

The Brands Hatch rounds didn’t see Knockhill winner; Alan Freeland in action but did welcome the return of Ronnie Amis, Jonny Fletcher and Eric Holmes who missed out on the trip north of the border. We would also welcome some new competitors in the form of ‘One Hit Wonders’ or ‘OHW’ including the first Mini to make an appearance in the 2011 championship driven by ?Dave Ward, and an ex endurance race Honda Civic with Iain Gibson behind the wheel on the Saturday and Neil Armstrong for Round 4 on the Sunday. Another driver, who if I’m not mistaken attended a few rounds last season, was ? in his white, fiery, Nissan Skyline R33, who would be joining the trio of existing drivers in the rear wheel drive class.

Barbour

With the same schedule as the Pro drivers, the Club class would head out 4 times in Round 3 and 3 times in Round 4, it was Monster Mitsubishi Evo driver; ?Marc Kemp who set the early pace during warm-up leading Bo Neilsen, who was topping the FWD class and third quickest was also the quickest RWD car; Jimmy White in the Vauxhall VX220, not his usual car however, he appears to have a pair with this one fast becoming a fan favourite as it wears the livery found on Disney Pixar film; Cars star ‘Lightning McQueen’.

Practice saw the return of Jon Mathers in the Cross Roads Garage backed Pro R Subaru Impreza, who fired his car straight to the top of the pile ahead of Round 1 winner; Andy Barbour and the feisty Honda CRX third overall and first in the FWD class driven by Romain Levesque. Other challengers in the FWD class included Bo Neilsen, Civic driver Dave Thorpe, Jonny Fletcher, Gerry Atkinson in the Seat Supacopa and OHW drivers Gibson and Ward. The session was red flagged for a short while as Ian Lawson’s Evo’s Engine let go around Clearways leaving a trail of oil and coolant right into the pitlane!

It wasn’t all plain sailing for others either, the damp conditions made it tricky for some of the drivers, with Fletcher and Aldis both visiting the gravel and RWD class drivers Umar Masood, who now wears a Garage Awesome Sticker on the doors of the RX7 after a bit of banter on our facebook page (www.facebook.com/garageawesome) and Ronnie Amis attempting a little bit of drift action on various corners leaving Jimmy White topping the class for the second session running.

In qualifying, and remember points are scored based on your qualifying position, Levesque topped the entire leaderboard, not something I have witnessed before or expected but proving you don’t need all 4 wheels to be driven to be fast round the circuit! Mathers followed with both Barbour and Kemp close behind and Neilsen and Atkinson doing their very best to get anywhere near the flying CRX! As the track had dried out considerably it allowed Amis and Masood to leapfrog White in the RWD Class, with Aldis improving steadily each session.

Kemp

It was Jon Mathers who returned to the top in the final, matching his practice performance taking the class win, narrowly beating Andy Barbour and Dave Coe, whose Impreza was looking faster and faster as the day went on and was rewarded with the podium spot. Levesque held his nerve to fight off the tough battling Bo who by this time had made some dramatic Aerodynamical changes to the Astra by removing the rear wing, leaving the car looking very loose, especially going into Surtees and Clearways. Another car a little loose was Jonny Fletcher’s Astra, who was really pushing hard and made his second visit into the gravel, this time up at Druids. Jimmy White clawed his way to the top step with Ronnie Amis’ Sierra Cosworth beating the RX7 of Masood in the battle for the other podium spots.

With Sunday bringing Round 4 and a fresh start, we saw White return to his normal Lime Green VX220, Neil Armstrong took control of the Cartek Civic and Jonny Fletcher would sit Round 4 out. Apart from those changes and a dramatic rise in track temperature, the top of the leaderboard looked almost identical to Saturday’s Round 3 final, with Mathers on the top in the #333 Impreza, Levesque second overall and topping the FWD class and Kemp and Barbour running third and fourth respectively.

With only 3 sessions in Round 4 we moved straight onto qualifying, again with almost no change to the top, just Barbour swapping places with Kemp. Amis lead the way in the rear wheel drive class after Umar Masood took a visit into the gravel on the exit to Druids. Neilsen, Atkinson and Thorpe were all struggling to match Levesque with Armstrong and Ward a little further off the pace.

Levesque

Final time and with the lead being swapped a few times in the early stages and a red flag caused by an uncharacteristic stint in the gravel at Clearways by Romain Levesque, it really could have been anybody’s, the times were so close and the lead time kept tumbling until eventually, taking his second top step of the campaign was Evo driver; Andy Barbour, demoting Jon Mathers to second in class and despite Kemp pushing hard and being incredibly consistent throughout the day, Eric Holmes was to pinch the third podium spot.

Levesque proved truly unstoppable, taking his second win of the weekend and making it 3 out of 4 round wins in the front wheel drive class, Bo Neilsen took a second, second with Atkinson’s Seat beating the Honda Civic of Thorpe by 0.112 seconds! The rear wheel drive class provided some of the closest action, this time Amis came out fastest ahead of Masood and White, although all the drivers could only be separated by 0.8 seconds!

With Round 5 ahead of us at Cadwell park, a circuit suited to the nimble, lightweight cars, we could see the whole championship turned on its head, although I’m struggling to see anyone get past Levesque at this moment and as we understand popular event Ten of The Best is running on the same weekend, we might not see all the regular cars in attendance, that said we might get some new ones to mix it up even further!

Words – Ollie // Pictures – Ollie & Rich

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