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Beauty and Drama aplenty at the Brands Hatch Superprix

Sunday, July 13 2014

Brands Hatch has played host to two terrific days of historic motor racing at the HSCC Superprix, concluding with thrilling battles on the Grand Prix circuit today (Sunday).

Historic Formula Fords kicked the day off, with a dramatic contest which wasn't settled until the closing stages. Sam Mitchell and Callum Grant's Merlyn Mk20s entertained in the early stages, as they traded positions several times in the opening laps. By the third lap, Michael O'Brien had gained on them, also in a Merlyn, creating a three-way scrap for the lead with Benn Simms and Tiff Needell close behind. Mitchell did eventually build a lead over the chasing duo, with O'Brien stealing second from Grant on the sixth tour. Disaster struck for Mitchell on lap 12 as he was clipped whilst attempting to lap Nicholas Arden, the spin forcing him into retirement. O'Brien inherited the lead to win, with Grant second and Simms completing the podium in his Jomo JMR7.

Next on track were the powerful historic F5000 and F2 single-seaters in the Derek Bell Trophy.  Andrew Smith beat pole-sitter Michael Lyons into the first corner in his March 742 to lead through the opening few corners before eventually succumbing to the superior pace of Lyons' Gurney Eagle in the latter half of the lap. Behind them Neil Glover, Ian Flux and contemporary F5000 frontrunner Ian Ashley engaged in a highly entertaining battle for third spot, with Ashley flying through the pack from the fourth row when the race was red-flagged on lap four for an incident at Paddock Hill Bend.

Lyons led the restarted race, with Ian Flux the biggest mover in his F2 March as he attempted to pass both Ashley and Glover with an audacious manoeuvre around the outside at Druids. Ashley's race would end just one corner later as he slid is Lola T300 into the barriers at the exit of Graham Hill Bend.  Glover retired shortly afterwards with mechanical issues, leaving Greg Thornton to claim third on the road, utilising his Chevron's speed advantage to supplant Flux. Lyons remained untroubled to the end with Smith seven seconds behind.

Lyons repeated his success in the second Derek Bell Trophy contest, this time much more comfortably after Andrew Smith retired with damage suffered whilst making his way through lapped traffic. Ian Flux was the highest placed F2 car, finishing second overall, with Greg Thornton completing the rostrum once again.

Arguably the standout scrap of the day was that for the lead in the Historic Touring Cars race. Former Formula 3 racer Tim Davies led in the early stages from Mike Gardiner's similar and renowned engine-tuner Neil Brown's Ford Mustang. Brown found his way past Gardiner midway through the race, allowing him to hunt down Davies and set up a scintillating duel. The Mustang enjoyed a power advantage on some parts of the circuit, but the twisting first sector of the lap allowed the Cortina to fight back. They repeatedly crossed the line side-by-side being separated by as little as a thousandth of a second on occasion with the race lead frequently changing hands multiple times through the first three corners. Brown finally found a gap on the inside at Paddock on the final lap of the race, holding his narrow advantage to claim a brilliant win. Gardiner came home third behind Davies to complete the podium.

Ian Flux continued his domination in the Martini Trophy to claim his second win the Osella on what has been a fantastic weekend for the former TVR Tuscan champion.

Another dominant driver this weekend has been Martin Stretton who claimed his second win in the Historic Formula 2 International Series this afternoon. Stretton controlled the race from the front in his March 742 and was followed home by Richard Evans' March 79B and James Claridge's Brabham BT38.

We were treated to a close all-Honda battle for the lead in the Super Touring Trophy, with little to choose between yesterday's winner Stewart Whyte and regular front-runner James Dodd. It was Dodd's turn to shine today, withstanding constant pressure from Whyte to claim his third win of the season. Dodd's father Graham joined them on the podium in his Nissan Primera.

The event finished with a trio of single-seater contests, the first of which was for Historic Formula Junior. John Milicevic claimed top honours in his Cooper T59, ahead of Michael Hibberd's Lotus 27 and the Lightning Envoyette of Peter Morton. Nick Padmore guided his March 783 to victory in the penultimate contest of the day for Classic Formula 3 cars before Graham Fennymore came through the field to win the John Taylor Memorial Trophy for Historic Formula Ford 2000.

The next major event at Brands Hatch is the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship on 18-20 July. Raceday tickets are available online from £26 with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information please call 0843 453 9000 or click here.