Mini thrills at Brands Hatch, while VSCC puts on a show at Mallory Park

The Mini Festival made a return to Brands Hatch last weekend after a year's break and the action was as close as ever, while the Vintage Sports-Car Club put on a show for its final circuit racing event of the year at Mallory Park

Mini thrills at Brands Hatch, while VSCC puts on a show at Mallory Park

Mixed weather failed to dampen the enthusiasm of drivers and spectators alike at Brands Hatch as the Mini Festival made a welcome return following a year’s hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Two typically thrilling Mini Miglia encounters were among the highlights of the event. Former champion Endaf Owens won both races, but not before indulging in a fabulous three-way lead tussle with defending champion Aaron Smith and current leader Andrew Jordan in race one.

After a restart was called following a first-lap incident, Jordan powered into the lead from the outside of the front row to head Smith and Owens into Paddock before, a lap later, Owens relegated Smith to third. An audacious move for the lead around the outside of Paddock on lap six failed to come off for Owens and would drop him back behind Smith, but the duo never allowed 2013 British Touring Car champion Jordan any relaxation.

After getting back ahead of Smith, Owens finally passed Jordan for the lead at Paddock on lap 12 of 19, with Smith following by on the run into Druids. All eyes continued to focus on the battle as the race neared its climax. Jordan got back ahead of Smith at Surtees on lap 15, but he was unable to deny Owens the win after a memorable contest.

Owens made light work of his fourth-row grid spot in race two, powering into the lead by Druids on the opening lap and never being headed thereafter. Behind, title rivals Jordan and Smith entertained with another exciting battle for second. Jordan held the advantage initially, but Smith was able to muscle his way ahead. Jordan pressured hard to the flag, but Smith held on.

Jordan’s former BTCC team-mate Jeff Smith cantered to a dominant win from pole in a dry Mini Se7en opener, strengthening his hopes of a third successive title. Former category champion Jonathan Lewis saw off the challenge of Nick Croydon-Fowler and Connor O’Brien to claim the runner-up spot.

Race two included plenty of drama. After S Class runner Arnold Duncan spun and was collected by the unfortunate Damien Harrington at Clearways, the race was stopped. A heavy shower at the restart made track conditions treacherous and Lewis and Smith were both caught out, understeering off at Clearways. Croydon-Fowler came through to win on the road after passing both Joe Thompson and Mike Jordan on the last lap, but a penalty for a yellow flag infringement relegated him to sixth.

Jeff Smith won the opening Mini Se7en contest in dominant fashion

Jeff Smith won the opening Mini Se7en contest in dominant fashion

Photo by: Gary Hawkins

Smith was able to survive a lurid sideways moment at Clearways on the opening lap of the first Pre-’66 Mini race to claim third behind Joel Wren and the victorious Ian Curley. Miglia double winner Owens won race two from Smith, as Curley came out on top in a tight battle with Wren over third.

The prize of ‘Fastest Mini in the World’ was claimed by Harvey Death in his V8-powered Austin Mini Cooper S after two dominant drives. Bill Richards claimed second in his Maguire Clubman in race one, while Fabio Luffarelli (Classic Saloon) was runner-up in the second event.

Aside from the host of Mini races, other MotorSport Vision categories were in action and were also affected by the unpredictable weather. Rain at the start of the opening Champion of Brands contest caused both front-row starters Max Esterson (Low Dempsey Racing Ray GR18) and Alex Walker (Kevin Mills Racing Spectrum 011c) to spin off at Paddock in separate incidents.

Their misfortune allowed Oliver White to take victory in his Medina Sport JL17, having got ahead of both Esterson’s team-mate Colin Queen and Walker’s fellow KMR driver Thomas Mills at Clearways on the penultimate lap. White won race two from Mills, as Esterson charged through from the back of the grid to claim third.

Simon Hill and Simon Vercoe shared the spoils in two sodden Production GTI races, as reigning champion Martyn Walsh endured a troubled weekend that included a race-stopping shunt in the second encounter as track conditions worsened.

Stefano Leaney was denied a clean sweep of F3 Cup victories in his Dallara F317 after excessive track limits offences in race two earned him a post-race time penalty. George Line, champion in the category in 2016, was the grateful beneficiary in his Dallara F308.

Mallory Park VSCC: Alvis centenary celebrated in style

Alex Simpson's Goodwin Special won the Alvis Centenary race

Alex Simpson's Goodwin Special won the Alvis Centenary race

Photo by: Mick Walker

From a powerful and photogenic lead duel in the Alvis centenary opener to a surprise winner and scintillating third-place battle in the horribly wet Boulogne Trophy race – the Vintage Sports-Car Club’s 2021 circuit season closer – Sunday’s Mallory Park event showcased the spirit of the club’s offering superbly.

A subdued Mallory was the VSCC’s COVID-torn 2020 season, but an air of optimism pervaded the lakeside paddock this time as it filled with everything from spindly cyclecars to thudding leviathans. Thirty years after the club’s inaugural visit, the event was back on full song, evidenced by strong grids across an 11-race card.

One hundred years after the now fabled marque’s name refocused TG John’s engineering company in Coventry, Alvis stalwarts chatted with spectators on a sunny grid walkabout prior to their celebration. Alex Simpson’s Goodwin Special and Rod Jolley’s Giron Alvis formed an imposing front row in a field that included Antony Powys-Lybbe’s period 12/60 Brooklands racer, with Tom Hardman up.

The mighty monopostos made the running. After a cautious start, Jolley sizzled past Simpson into the Esses, but Alex retaliated when Rod ran wide at Shaw’s hairpin. A stout tussle ensued before the Giron – like German Rudi Friedrichs’ rapid Firefly – got hot and retired. Julian Grimwade (Alvis-engined Frazer Nash Norris Special) and William Irving (Silver Eagle) chased Simpson home.

Christopher Batty’s magnificent Locomobile and William Twelvetrees (Buick D45) led much of the Edwardian Handicap, but Andrew Howe-Davies trumped the Americana, surging his SCAT through to a 0.11-second victory over Jeremy Flann’s Curtiss Le Zebre, with Twelvetrees third. Earlier, Mike James dug deep in his Riley to beat Dougal Cawley (GN Piglet) in the VSCC Specials race.

Trick tricyclist Sandford Andrews’ superb Boulogne Trophy win in Stuart Harper’s Morgan Aero was a talking point, beating the deftest of drifters Patrick Blakeney-Edwards (FN Super Sports) by 20s says it all! But the race-long GN scrap for third between Justin Maeers (Parker Special) and James Edwards (Spider) will be talked about for years.

Barry Foster's MG Montlhery was a popular winner at Mallory Park

Barry Foster's MG Montlhery was a popular winner at Mallory Park

Photo by: Mick Walker

To satisfy demand, two Owner-Driver-Mechanic grids allowed ‘slower’ cars their own glory. Barry Foster, 76, in the diminutive MG Montlhery he has raced since 1980, was a popular winner of this one having shaken off Tim Sharp (PB).

“That was great fun – a couple of times I came upon three skyscrapers and wondered if their drivers had seen me,” said Foster.

Morgan Aero ace Sue Darbyshire led the ‘fast’ race until she pitted with black smoke issuing from its exhaust. Adam Moody (Riley 12/4 TT Sprite) was also disappointed. Until steam began to blow from his radiator, he squabbled with Max Sowerby, whose gruff Talbot Lago narrowly outgunned Iain Stewart’s Morgan to the line.

Having modified the silencer that stifled his Cooper T53’s 2.5-litre Climax FPF engine in qualifying – “it wouldn’t pull over 3500rpm” – Will Nuthall won the Bob Gerard Memorial Pre-’65 racing cars showpiece from the back. Runaway early leader Mark Daniell (ex-Alec Mildren Cooper T45) spun at Gerards but recovered quickly. A huge moment at the hairpin dropped him behind the T53s of buddies and team-mates Justin Maeers and Charlie Martin (in Paul Waine’s car), running wheel-to-wheel as if Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren in 1960. Daniell made it back to second ahead of Martin, Maeers’ driveshaft having snapped on the last lap.

Pat Blakeney-Edwards jostled his Frazer-Nash to allcomers’ handicap victory. Harry Painter (MG PA) towed brother James (MG Kayne) through the Under 30s’ field, in which they sandwiched long-time leader Henry Lees (Austin 7 Ulster TT) at the chequer. The versatile Simon Jackson in his blown MG PB hounded down the determined Wilf Cawley (A7 Special) and sizzled past last time down the Stebbe Straight for a soggy Burghley Trophy win.

Andrew Hibberd won the annual John Taylor Memorial Formula Junior race, pursued initially by Nick Taylor (Elva-BMC 100), then Iain Rowley. The latter’s Lola 1-2 aspirations were torpedoed when he arrived at the hairpin on the penultimate lap with only one rear brake, a wheel cylinder having exploded, handing Taylor the place back.

Anglesey 750MC: Bove pounces as rivals retire

Reigning champion Peter Bove took a double 750 Formula win

Reigning champion Peter Bove took a double 750 Formula win

Photo by: Steve Jones

Peter Bove moved to the top of the 750 Formula standings with two victories at Anglesey, but not without rapid competitors being sidelined in a chaotic first race.

Dave Hodkin qualified first in his HRD Mk2 but was down to fifth position by the second corner. As the 2013 champion sought to climb through the field, he clattered into the side of 2017 title winner Bill Cowley’s eponymous Mk4 at Target, with Raymond Barley’s Racekits Falcon caught up in the aftermath.

Half a lap later, Mark Glover – who was leading in his Falcon – retired with a cylinder-head failure. The two-time champion had been running with a replacement engine after his normal unit expired at Cadwell Park last month. Bove inherited the lead and took both wins in his Darvi 88P from Steve Boother’s Darvi Mk5 and Chris Gough’s CGR2 Evo, respectively, enhancing the chances of retaining his crown in the process.

Richard Prior broke Anthony Reid’s Historic 750 Formula lap record on his way to his fifth victory of the season in race one, with Tim Sage’s Ford-engined Mallock U2 a distant second. The second encounter was building to a thrilling climax with Martin Depper’s Centaur Mk14 chasing down Prior, only for the Reliant engine on the leading JGS III to expire with less than half a lap to go, allowing Depper to take the spoils.

Jack Dwane (l) and Jack Kingsbury battled for Clio 182 honours

Jack Dwane (l) and Jack Kingsbury battled for Clio 182 honours

Photo by: Steve Jones

Elsewhere, there were two new Clio 182 winners. Points leader Jack Kingsbury made a slightly tardy getaway in race one to hand Jack Dwane a big lead, which he converted to a 6.6-second maiden victory to add to his four previous podium finishes.

The Lincoln driver was pushed harder by Kingsbury – who led for a third of a lap – in the second race, with Deranged Motorsport team-mates Jason Pelosi and Josh Larkin third and fourth.

Larkin’s fastest lap gave him pole for the final bout, but a mistake at Rocket on lap two almost cost him. He got back ahead of Dwane there to lead from lap seven of 11, with Dwane becoming ever more erratic as he dropped to fifth, while Kingsbury salvaged second after dipping to eighth on the opening tour.

Luke Rosewell scored his maiden tin-top victory in the Type R Trophy, with Adam Shepherd’s second-placed car becoming ever more ill-handling. The second race was a happier one for Shepherd, with victory sealing the championship.

A thrilling final four Sports Specials rounds are in prospect, with the top three in the standings separated by only two points. Top class runners Anton Landon and reigning champion Andy Hiley took a win apiece in their Cyana and Chronos respectively, to edge marginally ahead of class B man Warren Vessey, who took a fifth and second in his Fisher Fury. Andrew Grant’s Caterham and Brendan Dudley’s Procomp topped the second division.

James Harridge edged further ahead in the Formula Vee title race with a couple of victories. Championship rivals Danny Hands and Craig Pollard homed in on the Maverick in the first race but Hands’ AHS retired from the second contest, while Pollard was penalised for ignoring a mechanical warning flag for his smoky GAC. The addition of 5s to his time meant that he was classified behind Harridge, who had a 10s start penalty of his own.

Locost championship pacesetters Martin West and Andrew Tait moved further clear of their rivals with a win apiece, the former surging from row five to do so.

Reports by Mark Libbeter, Marcus Pye and Ian Sowman. Pictures by Gary Hawkins, Mick Walker and Steve Jones. Want more reports from the world of national motorsport? Subscribe to Autosport magazine to never miss your weekly fix of motorsport

Andrew Tait was one of the Locost winners at Anglesey

Andrew Tait was one of the Locost winners at Anglesey

Photo by: Steve Jones

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