Britcar Production Cup Brands Hatch “Into The Night”, November 23rd


Brands Hatch Night Race – The Final Round


This was the race in which the Intersport BMW E46 of Adam Hayes and Mark Radcliffe dominated, in the dark, taking the win nearly half a minute clear of the completion, and in which the ING Sport team of Ian Lawson , Anthony Wilds and Mike Wilds took their Britcar Production title.


With the Bubble &Kick BMW M3 coming to grief during Friday testing, the field was further depleted during the 30-minute daytime qualifying session (the one that set the grid), when the Hayes/Thompson SEAT Toledo threw a rod at Graham Hill Bend (bringing out the red flags), and the Synchro Honda Civic suffered a driveshaft failure.

Tom Howard had placed Mike Moss’s Class 2 BMW M3 at the head of the pack, but after Mark Radcliffe, nursing an injury from a two-wheeled accident, dialled himself in, Adam Hayes served notice of intent, bagging pole in the Intersport BMW E46, just under half a second ahead of erstwhile pole-grabber Michael Symons, in the Geoff Steel-run “Tango” E36.

Howard headed the Class 2 contingent, ahead of the two invitation-entry RJN Nissans, the #22 Stanislav Aksenov/Florian Strauss 370z just 0.300 in front of the Lee Cunningham/Miguel Faisca machine, while Class 3 saw the erstwhile Production Sports runners to the fore, which Richard Bennett’s Porsche 993 pipping the Paul Moraviec/Mike Wilds Boxster to class pole, and the ING Sport BMW, which Wilds senior was also taking a stint in, playing it safe in third. The lone Class 4 runner, the Intersport Mini Cooper of Danny Russell and Chris Knox had earlier enjoyed a brief spell at the top of the timing screens, but by the time the session finished, was a creditable ninth overall.

Night qualifying was held to gain mandatory night-time acclimatisation. Tom Howard set the bar here, with Michael Symons second, and the two Nissans next up, but the grid was set by the earlier session, and after a brief respite, they formed-up for the 90-minute race.


Two pace laps were taken, the second one being part of the race, and Tom Howard took the black and green BMW into the lead, pursued by lone-driver Symons, and Mark Radcliffe, taking the opening stint in the Intersport BMW, all three keeping a respectable gap in the dark. Radcliffe, though nursing that injury, got the bit between his teeth, passed Symons, and began a pursuit of Howard, and by lap 24 had taken the lead, and the #9 car would never be headed again, not even during the mandatory pit stop, taken well past the halfway point of the race, leaving Adam Hayes to take the flag after a 36-minute stint.

Early race drama saw Tim Adams pit the Damax-run BMW with a puncture after 20 minutes, and an inter necine battle between the two GT Academy Nissans of Aksenov and Faisca being resolved in the Portugese driver’s favour, though the Russian got fourth place back off his stablemate as the first half-hour elapsed. By this time Mike Wilds had already pitted the ING Sport BMW 320i, handing over to son Anthony, and killing time before taking over Paul Moraviec’s Boxster.

Michael Symons, atypically, could do nothing about closing the gap to Howard ahead, and it was only after the pit stops, which they both took just after the halfway point, that the Bath entrepreneur came alive. The black BMW E46 needed a front right tyre change, and Mike Moss rejoined in third place, which he would keep to the finish, but the orange Geoff Steel-run E36 started to take two seconds a lap out of the Intersport machine ahead. Adam Hayes, though, was having a good day, and responded, the two BMWs eventually finishing nearly 30 seconds apart.

The two RJN Nissans had hunted a pair through the race, and swapped positions more than once, but towards the end were split by the Porsche 993 of lone driver Rich Bennett, who had put on a spurt in the final 15 minutes. Nevertheless, the Playstation/GT Academy quartet had shown their gaming-to-racing transferable skills once again, with the Aksenov/Strauss 370z finishing ahead of the similar Faisca/Cunningham machine.

Simon Roche had planned to take no chances in his first race, electing to start the Fauldsport SEAT Supercopa from the pit lane to avoid any potential mid-field carnage in the opening laps. He diced with Perry Winch’s stunning Ford Focus RS, before Simon Mason performed his usual sterling second stint in the SEAT, coming home seventh overall (finishing half a car’s length alongside Class 2 rival Mike Moss, but several laps adrift), and claiming the Class 2 title in the process, a fitting tribute to the two drivers, and to the Fauldsport team, who are sadly shutting up shop for good now that the season is over.

Anthony Wilds had taken over the ING Sport BMW from dad Mike at one-third distance, and though it wasn’t logistically necessary, stopped again 30 minutes later to let car owner Ian Lawson take it to the flag. They had driven a cautious race, with no histrionics, and second in Class 3 was enough to give the trio their second Britcar Production overall title.

Bubble & Kick team boss Nico Ferrari had taken over the Focus from Perry Winch, and gave the debuting machine creditable fifth in class finish, whilst Guillaume Gruchet filled the final Class 3 podium position in his Newbridge-run Porsche Boxster, ahead of father and son duo Nick and Tim Adams, who were on the back foot after that early puncture in the Damax BMW.

Chris Knox had punched above his weight in the early stages, trading places in the Intersport Mini Cooper with Bennett’s Porsche, and car owner Danny Russell finished 12th overall, the lone Class 4 contender, and wrapped up not only the Class title, but second in the overall standings, a massive feat for him and regular fellow-novice Duncan Rogers, who missed the race due to prior commitments.

Mike Wilds came to a premature halt 10 minutes from the end, Paul Moraviec’s Boxster experiencing fuel pressure problems; this was the race’s only retirement, though they’d done enough to be classified 13th.

Adam Hayes was subdued in his response to his first win of the season; “It’s been a long time coming – it’s so, frustrating that the car wasn’t as good as this at the start of the season”, but there was unmitigated joy with the ING Sport team, claiming their second overall crown, and Ian Lawson paid tribute to his team; “I’m just a small part of this team, but the car has been very consistent, and that is due to the preparation, by one truly remarkable man, Rick Johnson, who has had a very tough year. I’m very proud of ING Sport.”



Results (Timing Solutions Ltd)

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