|RACES 3&4 : BRANDS HATCH : 13&14 JUNE 2009
the view from No.5 by Chris Butler
Having qualified in fourth place for race 1, I got a terrific start from the outside of row 2 and got past both Tomlin and Culver into Paddock Hill bend. My lead was very short lived though as Tomlin got past on the run up to Druids and I then settled into a rhythm to keep ahead of the chasing pack.
I managed to defend my position from Gary Culver for a lap or so before he easily got by along the main straight and under braking into Paddock Hill. For the next half dozen laps my mirrors were filled with the light blue colours of Chris Goddard’s modified 308. His obvious power advantage meant it was very difficult for me to stay ahead of him but at the Brands Indy circuit if you keep to the racing line it can prove difficult for a quicker car to pass. Once or twice Chris dived out to have a look into Paddock Hill but I held the line and there was no way past for him.
It was a big relief to me when he spun at Clearways and his challenge faded and I found myself several seconds ahead of the chasing pack of Jim and Ben Cartwright and Chris Rea. This comfortable position soon became under threat when Jim Cartwright’s sump plug fell out and he unwittingly dropped oil all around the racing line on the circuit.
The marshals were fairly quick in bringing out their oil flags but not before everybody had big moments sliding out of control sticking to their usual lines and braking areas. It took me around 3 laps to find a line I was confident with to avoid the oil but others were like Peter Everingham were not so lucky and spun off!
Over the last few laps self preservation set in with most drivers keen to just make the finish line pointing the right way round! Ben Cartwright and Chris Rea had a terrific battle overtaking each other right through the race with many bends being taken side by side. I could see in my mirrors their positions changing but Chris held out in the end and you could tell by their smiles afterwards how much they both really enjoyed the race.
In Qualifying for race 2 I managed to get a couple of good flying laps in before I had the first mechanical failure with the 328. At the previous races at Spa I had noticed that changing from 4th gear down to 3rd was getting more difficult and this happened again at Brands. Entering Druids Bend the gearbox didn’t want to change down and when it eventually went in I was left with very floppy gearlever and no drive!
The race was around 4 hours later in the day so there was plenty of time to diagnose the problem although a broken gear selector bracket was not something that we expected to find. None of my more experienced competitors had ever seen this part broken before and of course as nobody carries it as a spare part I was resigned to an early drive home. However, in the true spirit of the series I was handed a lifeline by Jim Cartwright who had still not found an oil sump plug for his 328 or been able to test his car after losing all the oil out in race 1.
With 20 minutes to spare before the race and after a lot of help from Dave Tomlin’s mechanic Kevin, Team Cartwright, Fred Honnor, Richard from Foskers and of course my own mechanic Simon, I was able to make the grid. It was a tremendous gesture from Jim and entirely typical of the enthusiastic and supportive manner that the Cartwright family go racing with.
From fourth on the grid I got another good start and tucked into 2nd place behind Tomlin at the first bend before Gary Culver passed me later in the lap and I dropped to 3rd ahead of Ben Cartwright, Chris Rea and Chris Goddard.
These three drivers were really all on the limit and I could see them in my mirrors just a couple of seconds behind me for the first half of the race. As we started to catch up and lap the hard-charging 308GT4 drivers I was too hesitant in getting past them and Ben caught right up with me. Every time we all got to Paddock Hill bend it was a case of who was going to brake later than the others to try and overtake or just get that bit closer to try and overtake into Druids.
I think we were all on the limit as we drifted and slid through the apex at Paddock Hill determined to stay ahead of each other. Unfortunately with just a couple of laps to go, Ben and Chris Goddard collided under braking into Graham Hill bend resulting in Ben spinning and losing a couple of places.
Overall, it was a fantastic weekend's racing at a sun drenched Brands Hatch with the racing very close and competitive.
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