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Brands Hatch part 2

Kutuka North


Time to incinerate sausages, and assault the Kentagon. The only thing it seems that is more resolutely closed at Brands than the bar of an evening are the expressions of the two ladies who staff it. That the patrons don’t turn to stone is a wonder.















































Day 5 of this epic stay is busy. Thank God. We have two Jags in the outer paddock, and one in the inner paddock with her own garage and everything. That space is at such a premium here means that people with Porsche-liveried vans will keep trying to block your accessway, and they find themselves blocked in by the Kutuka crew bus, which looks a lot like an old Volvo. An old Volvo that apparently we are not converting into a mobile toolbox, or racing. Aw.


Vanessa has been taken off the 888s she’s on, and put on borrowed R1Rs. It’s not what I’d have done, the 888s were well worn, but we had the advantage of running them at Cadwell and seeing no noticeable wear on them at all in 30 min, we reckon they’d last the distance, and the advantage to them is significant. Not my race, not my call to make.


















































There will be a magic moment today when Vanessa comes back from her race, because at that instant, with all other cars readied, fuelled and checked over, there is nothing more we can possibly have to do, and we can pack away. It is key to a swift and slick departure that you load the truck in advance, so that the cars can go in the back, and we can get the hell out of here, chances are we’ll be gone before they have awarded driver of the day to the wrong person again. So determined are we to pack away that anyone getting out of their chair for more than ten seconds will find that it has gone. By the time the drivers are taking their PRP (Pre-Race P…) everyone will be standing.


But first, the white lady has to race, and that means firstly trial-fitting and briefing the single seat hero. He does fit it, because he’s been in it before. That part is easy. He has new front brakes though, so he has to be warned of that, and all the controls explained. Then, the question of whether his seating position suits the second driver. The fatter driver always starts the car, and in this installation there is little real issue with who that is to be. The seat is on runners, so height not an issue, but girth is. A practice driver swap confirms, as ever, that more practice is needed.

















































Off to qualify she goes. On his first flying lap we watch Mr Formula Ford go underneath 5 cars into Paddock in one glorious move. This is encouraging. A hectic session, curtailed by a burning Porker that was dead before it ever left the pitlane, did raise a few issues, however. Signalling was a problem.


We do have a pitboard, and oddly despite the small lettering, the Kutuka Motorsport does lend itself to being seen well, so long as you recall roughly where it is going to be. At the Birkett as you run along the pitwall, there are over forty teams lined up, and you must see half a dozen boards per lap. Not such a woe here, however, it isn’t that busy, and to remind him we have Dermott hanging over the pit wall waving it. Sadly when it is time to summon him, no joy, clearly it cannot be seen.

















































Expectations are rather higher amongst the pilots than the pit crew here. Everyone else is on 888s or similar. The R1R cannot compete in the dry, not a hope, and despite her handling and new brakes, you only have to watch the Esprit, or the leading 911, to know she can’t do that with 260 horsies in the front, so the disappointed face of the open-wheeled specialist when he finds a timing screen is the only one here, the car is actually doing pretty well for what it is.

17th I think she eventually qualifies, which on this grid is pretty decent.


The race was less impressive. What we learned from this is that if you take a lot of years off from racing, and return to drive a completely alien car, you have to expect a few minor issues. The outside move at Paddock on cold rubber off the startline, not usually a good plan, and parking in the gravel on lap 1 is frowned upon.


Patiently sitting there and being towed out is fine, we approve of that, but the near-slaying of 4 marshalls as you chase down the safety car is rather less amusing. Parking in the wrong garage, however, is hilarious.















































A fast driver swap is essential. The Future Classics rules appear to hamper anyone running two drivers anyway, because there is a relay system available for people running two cars. One car comes in, and for those teams their second car can leave just 30 seconds later. So pitlane time plus thirty is what we have to beat. To get a car to come to a stop, turn it off, swap pilot, turn it on and set off again, in thirty seconds, is pretty tough.


To combat this, we use six people. There is the driver extraction system, which is Bear and Roger. To put yourself in the place of the driver coming in for a Kutuka pitstop, imagine that you’re on the last lap of the Jag race, you’re 20 minutes into a really busy race, working hard, when you dive into the pitlane at full speed, and as you’re trundling down it, sweaty and full of the joys of adrenaline, you stop dead, and then get carjacked. Your door flies open, your belts come off, and a large man grabs you under the armpits, pulls you out of the seat with your feet flailing wildly, and throws you at another large man. Before you can stand up properly, your car drives off.


















































Whilst the outgoing pilot is still airborne, another man leaps into the hole and moves the belts, seizes the new pilot and encourages him into the car, trying to shield his helmet from any contact with the rain gutter on the way in, then follows him into the car to start plugging belts in. With yet another eager Kutukan in from the passenger door the lap belts are pulled tight, the doors slam and the car away. It’s simple, slick, and we can get it done pretty fast. We timed Snetterton at under 50 seconds from car entering pitlane to leaving again, which is good.


But it depends on a few things going right. One is the car coming in when called. Nope. Second is the car coming to the right garage. Nope. We see her come in, we assemble the human garage, and then nothing. Confused looks are exchanged. Heads rotate to look up the pits, to see a static Jag a hundred yards distant. The CSCC’s Hugo Holder looked fit to die laughing as team Kutuka ran past him, a herd of less than skinny Jag drivers moving like they just called last orders, a scurrying Lyddall in full gear looking almost like a cartoon interpretation of a racing driver who intends to contest the race on foot.















































Good fun to watch, but we were never likely to have any hope of winning the class today. Two laps down after this comedy of errors. But amusing to watch Stew schooling a Porsche in the art of defending, at least one Porker pilot knows what it looks like for the flanks of a big white whale to slash across the nose at Surtees.


Almost undamaged, but not quite. The berk in the Astra in the next pit thinks it’s Touring Cars, and a scuff to the front skirt shows his version of “close but clean” needs work.

But, they had fun. There will be tales of joy and woe, and a red face tomorrow at Mercedes World, as Stew grasses up his co-pilot, but it’s all in good humour.


With Nessie loaded and stashed away, time for the Jaaaag race. A goodly number of drivers aren’t contesting today’s race so a smaller grid, but the rain has vanished. We’re a bit baffled, the yellow thing in the sky is hot and offends our northern eyes.










































The Jag race today is a much more traditional affair, and with the expected result. Palmer got his great start, took the lead, and legged it to take his first Brands Hatch win. The real race was Ramm v Davis, and the right man won this, because Ramm drove very nicely to hold off that V12. Brands is tight and technical in many ways, but it does reward a big lump of power too, but Ramm’s ability to get it out of the corner outclassed the V12 in pursuit and after what must have been 20 minutes of real pressure he didn’t crack, and deservedly held on to p2.


For the saloons, the man on the move is Howard. Now that it’s dry, he is a different man today, chops through into 4th very quickly, but then stays there, his pace looks as if he ought to have caught the leaders, but didn’t bother. He is a class G car though, so Davis ahead is in the same category and it’s not as if holding station gains him maximum points here, not clear what the strategy was to this.


The odd shower enlivens proceedings. Sadly for some it enlivened them all the way off the track. Morrant put the S type into the tyres at Clearways, but had the car moving again within seconds, sadly retiring it to the pits moments later. More grasscutting went off at Maclaren, the sun might be out but the cars still struggled to get off the sodden grass.  The occasional squalls of rain that interfered in this race every four minutes didn’t help, there were sufficient rainbows to summon Zippy.
















































Jeffery was still powersliding the big 40 around the place, and it was really only a matter of time til the abused rears cried enough, and his big off at Graham Hill didn’t surprise us, the car is simply more powerful than it can cope with, and the driver needs time to learn it.

Comer has a decent race, scrapping with everyone and his dog, and with normal running restored he’s just out of sight of Drage ahead, it’s a game of hide and seek, but they are on a similar pace, and if we could only have told Philip that the car ahead that was always just disappearing round the next corner was his target he would have been instantly quicker, that’s just how it works. Encouraging uplift in pace though, and it did look like good fun out there.


There was a long, long duel between Jeffery and Connew. So many times he looked like he’d passed it, and did, then gave it back. A little rude from Connew at Druids, closing a door that had the nose well inside left a dented front corner on the XJ40, but that’s racing for you. Shouting our frustration at him for not making the lunge at Clearways that was clearly on the cards didn’t seem to do the job, oddly.


We’re not good at being sideline drivers. Lots of action this time out, dry (ish) track and lots of potent cars now able to use the grunt made for cats on the move, and that’s always worth a look.


Decent race to watch though, which is welcome after Snetterton’s snorefest, and a great showing from Ramm.

















































Cars recovered, drivers debriefed, Comer’s car is now liking the diff repair, and the nose now needs more grip, but it’s progress. Jefferys needs more grip everywhere full stop.


A quick inspection of Matt’s damage, a swift debrief of Philip’s handling and the timesheets, we’re packed and loaded before they can hand out the pots. We are liking this fast getaway thing. 5 days at Brands is hard going. But we rather like it when life is tough. Kutuka embarked on the 4 hour trog home, back to civilisation. Oddly, the sun came out as we headed north. Now there’s symbolism for you.


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Plastic wine glasses.

Luxury knows no bounds here.


We are still very big fans of Vanessa's rear end.


It's the windows that do it you know.


Flaming Porker. And we thought the barbie was last night.


This moment was coming from the second that cat set off.


Some frack with painted-on eyes scuffed the much-repaired bumper.


We don't approve.


Slightly-camp Darth Vader meets middle-aged Skywalker.


Post-race debrief.


"It went wrong."



Dry today.


Druids is always a choice to make. Inside, outside, or middle of the road.


Some manage all three at once.


Another photo stolen from the various lenses of the magnificent Gages.


Jeffery fails to find a way past Connew.


Oh Jesus, please don't hit each other.


Webster, seen in the background, revelled in the dry conditions and molested half the field.


A lousy end to the afternoon for Lil, but she wasn't alone in the plug lead leaping off department today.


The hole at Druids disappeared.


Guess I'll be reaching for the paint gun again.

Jaguar XJS Racing

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