I know, I know, it seems like ages ago, but after a mentally hectic couple of weeks for all kinds of reasons, I finally get to sit down and recall my timing sheets, my notes and dig into my memory and ditch the bad excuses to bring you the final part of the action from Time Attack as the Club Challenge guys fought it out in round 3 over the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent.

As usual, each round throws up a nice variety of new cars in the form of One Hit Wonders, unfortunately we also seemingly loose a couple as the distance, broken cars and other worldly issues stop them from being able to make it. Some names down as a OHW you may recognise, some like Richard O’Dwyer have been involved in the action at a previous round and Lee Broadhurst has been involved, but in a totally different year (09 if I remember correctly). Lee was driving one of the most interesting cars in the field, in a series littered with Evo’s, Skylines & Imprezas his KTM X-Bow really struck a chord with the crowds, even if he was getting a bit wet behind the wheel of the car with no roof! It’s great to see the variety, and it’s one of the reasons we keep coming back to Time Attack, and even more so that we often see Lee driving it around on the roads as he is about as local as you can get to us here at Garage Awesome.

paddock

At the other end of the scale; the first Vauxhall Corsa I can recall in Time Attack, Neil Bamford’s ‘B’ was immaculately presented and was really prepared to find out what the N/A 2ltr lump could produce! As we keep saying, you don’t need 1000bhp to have a go at Time Attack, it’s nice… but you don’t need it! Joining O’Dwyer in the Mini would be Lee Proctor, who kindly made our lives a tad easier by choosing a red one compared to the dark ones we have mostly seen compete. Stephen Moore brought his Evo 6 along and although it looked fairly stock from the outside, Tony Hume has already proved that doesn’t make it any less capable and co-incidentally, Tony would be missing out of this round.

Fords made an interesting presence in Time Attack in Kent with Tom Whiddett showcasing his fabulous Mk7 Ford Fiesta Cosworth, packing a YB lump, 4WD running gear and Ultimate Green paint. Airtec sponsored driver; Alan Shepherd was behind the wheel of a turbocharged Mk3 Fiesta and would be battling out in the FWD class. They say things come in threes, and after a bit of a late start, full season entrant Jonathan Morris finally debuted his Focus ST170 and would take his place in amongst the N/A drivers for the rest of the season. Finally, we get to see the long awaited Evo of Gary Searl, following his progress on Facebook has been fantastic and the car looks stunning so hopes were high he would be able to have the pace to match the effort, but as with any new build, would teething troubles come into play?

The action begins with, surprise, surprise, a nice hearty rain shower, leaving everyone unsure on how to tackle a circuit that involves corners such as Paddock Hill bend, Druids and Clearways, especially those who have only driven the track a handfull of times, and for some; not at all! The only place for me to stand would be Paddock Hill, bound to catch a few drivers caught out by the conditions as the session went on and the confidence grew. Plenty of drivers kept me entertained, Chris Hamer, Alan Shepherd, Ronnie Amis, Mike Cantello and Tom Whiddett all getting a little crossed up as they exited the top of the bend but amazingly every single driver kept it out of the kitty litter, ok so there were a few infield excursions, but the session stayed Green throughout.

fiesta

The conditions seemed to favour the guys in the front wheel drive cars over all the others, with Simon Smail’s Focus, O’Dwyer’s Mini & Bo Nielsen’s Astra being topped only by the flying Marc Kemp in the Evo. Steve Fitzpatrick continued his domination of the N/A class with an early session-topping time, and Simon Deaton’s Porsche lead the field of rear wheel drive contenders. Practice saw no real let-up in the weather, with intermittent showers throughout the morning leaving the circuit greasy but leaving the competitors no choice but to throw on the wets, suck it up and try and find that little bit of extra grip over your rivals!

It was Marc Kemp who once again topped the sheets, a few seconds down on his warm-up time, but that goes to show how tricky the conditions were to drive fast in. The rivals in his class stepped up with Pro-R Driver Ben Shimmin finishing the session 2nd overall with Richard Marshall in the Milltek GTR 3rd. Dave Coe was 4th in class but pipped by an incredible drive once again from Cantello in the VX220, showing his light and nimble RWD Vauxhall isn’t necessarily a nightmare to handle in the soggy conditions. Simon Smail did a great job as the top FWD time putting the Focus RS 6th overall just ahead of the top N/A car which of course was Fitzpatrick in the BMW.

Qualifying, and the Sun shone on the competition, quite literally! The drier track saw some huge gains in performance and the times tumbled. The lunch break action, truck demos and Civic cup racing had all helped to provide everyone with a nice, dry line, allowing cars to be pushed that little bit harder. Gary Searl fell victim to pushing a little too hard, with his freshly painted Evo taking a trip off at Paddock Hill causing a total smashing of his front bumper. Chris Hamer & Neil Bamford provided some nice slidey moments for the crowds to watch as the deceiving grip levels caught them out but managed to use some great driving skills to hold the slides!

fire

The 4WD class dominated the session with 6 of them residing in the top 7, allowing only Ronnie Amis to split them up in his Sierra Cosworth. Cantello, who had lead the first 2 sessions, qualified in second with Lee Broadhurst 3rd, although his OHW status meant as far as the championship was concerned, it would be Umar Masood in the final podium spot. It’s worth noting at this point that after the warm-up session, the other contender for this class; Simon Deaton, had damaged his Porsche beyond repair in the earlier sessions and was now continuing in his Mazda MX5 race car that he uses in one of the support series, amazing dedication!

Kemp once again topped the list, totally dominant at Brands, although his margin of dominance had been closed down to within 3 tenths as Welshman; Dave Coe was hot on his heels! Marshall remained in third overall, Shmmin picked up 4th in class, Hamer pulled of a great drive despite a slightly troubled car to find 5th and Searl, who was now minus a front bumper, claimed 6th overall. Fitzpatrick continued his flawless attack on the N/A class whilst the scrap between the civics of Holden & Proctor was split by Bamford’s Vauxhall Corsa and Morris was learning really fast all about Time Attack in the Focus.

Coe

Bo Nielsen hasn’t had the greatest luck so far this season, but managed to put his Astra as the fastest qualifier around the Indy circuit in the FWD class, followed by another Astra in the shape of the Mk4 GSI driven by Jonny Fletcher. Alan Shepherd did a great job in the Fiesta for a OHW, but the Minis of Ward, O’Dwyer and Lee Proctor were all a little off the pace in the session and Smail didn’t make a fast lap with some problems under the bonnet of his Focus.

The final was the time that all the drama would happen, and it didn’t let us down! It’s no surprise that the weather had a huge part to play too! As the cars rolled out the track was dry and the sighting lap was a quick one with the drivers desperate to get their first flying laps in. Cantello was first out the blocks and lead overall for a brief time before some quicker laps came in from Coe & Marshall, but at the end of the first lap the man who had topped the sheet all day long; Kemp, dived into the pits without posting a lap time. His issue appeared to be a loose fuel tank, so whilst the team were correcting his issue in the pit lane the cars continued to bring the lap times down. Hamer joined Coe & Marshall at the top, Amis topped the RWD class, Neilsen, Fitzpatrick, Shimmin, Fletcher, Masood & Smail all dived under the minute mark and then it happened, just as Kemp was ready to go, the heavens opened, instantly turning the dark tarmac into a skating rink and ruining all chances of anybody going quicker in the remaining part of the session. This must have been a total devastation for the Panic Link team, who not only had been fastest all day, but were battling with a family grievance just a few days before, the emotion inside Marc’s car must have been intense.

evo

Marshall’s 53.8 would be enough to see him top the podium for another good result for the GTR and the Milltek team & despite Coe being a tenth behind there was no chance of an improvement. Kemp fought his way through the rain and after an epic spin coming out of clearways, 14th overall would be his highest position. Whilst the 4WD cars seemed to have all the action, Smail had put in a great time early on but then came past with the underneath of his Focus RS on fire, causing a pit lane incident, but his fastest was enough to pip Ward & Shepherd to third, but not enough to stop Fletcher claiming his second podium finish, this time a place higher than Knockhill. Bo was the man to take the class win however, his run of rotten luck seemed to have come to an end and once again was stood on the top step of the FWD Podium.

Fitzpatrick’s scorecard remains perfect, winning every round in the N/A class and although Holden has consistently finished second, it’s almost impossible to see anyone matching his championship charge. The RWD class is a fierce battle, Ronnie Amis once again drove out of his skin to get the win, but Cantello is pushing him all the way at every round. Unfortunately the day didn’t end so well for Umar Masood, his podium position came at a price as he had a nasty shunt in the final on the exit of Graham Hill bend, backing his RX7 into the wall and causing a fair amount of damage, fingers crossed that Umar and the team can get it ready for the double header at Anglesey!

Crash

All in all, another fantastic Time Attack weekend, the weather was pants again but that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit and with the addition of some fantastic OHW entrants we saw some of the best of the best that Time Attack has to offer. The whole show moves to Wales next and the Anglesey circuit for a double header, and dare I say it… we’re starting to close in on the end of the season, so every point there is going to count! Remember to follow all the official action and get involved at www.timeattack.co.uk

Words – Ollie // Pictures – Ollie

 K’Waun Williams Jersey