PIRELLI FERRARI formula classic


RACES 3&4 : BRANDS HATCH : 13&14 JUNE 2009
by Nicky Paul-Barron, with in-car from Gary Culver & Chris Butler

Unlike the struggling 'Open' series, our 'formula classic' is going great guns, with new cars, drivers, and lots of interest. Brands Hatch, with races on Saturday and Sunday attracted highly respectable entries in the 20s.

Race One (Saturday)
The qualifying session was interrupted due to a stranded car, but nevertheless everyone had lots of laps to try and get a good time. Top of the time sheets was again Gary Culver from David Tomlin. Gary had a nasty spin near the end of the session, due we think to a deflating near side rear tyre.

Chris Compton–Goddard was next up. This class 2 modified 308 will be a feature of this season. It is potentially the fastest car out there and Chris has the challenge of releasing that potential.  Chris Butler continued his excellent form to qualify next from James Cartwright, Fred Honnor, Chris Rea and John Day. The pace was hot generally with second to 14th being covered by only two seconds.

Race time was late at 17.40, but there were still quite a few in the grandstand to watch the fun. Culver had a miserable start due to excessive wheelspin and it was Tomlin who, as in the 'Open' race, led away. Gary's view "It seemed like an eternity - rear wheels spinning, new tyres searching for grip. The lights had gone out moments before and my competitors were taking advantage and duly filing past. Having gone from pole to fourth or fifth in those moments gave me some work to do in the race".

Compton-Goddard, Butler and Honnor were all showing well, but after only a few laps Culver had worked his way to second and was on Tomlin’s bumper. Brands is not an easy track to pass on. Although clearly being help up, it was not going to be an easy win for Gary.

Fred Honnor retired on lap 4 with a misfire, which was a shame as he was going really well. Chris C-G spun on lap 9 and the 308 was hard to re-start. Un-burnt fuel ignited in the exhaust and for a moment it looked like we had a fire. Fortunately the engine finally burst into life, but Chris had by then lost a lot of ground and sensibly returned to the pits and retired. Richard Moseley managed to park his 308 in the Druids gravel on lap 10.

Apart from all that the race was going well with lots of close dices through the field. Gary did finally squeeze through to lead and then pulled away from Tomlin with some ease. They are, of course, in different classes. Gary has a modified 328 in class 4, whereas David’s is a (more) standard 328 in class 3.

Then on lap 13 James Cartwright’s class 4 328  let all it’s oil onto the track!  (later found to be a sump plug falling out) He was a little slow realising the problem and the oil trail continued all the way from Paddock to Clearways. First to find the problem was our own Peter Everingham. His high speed double spin on the entry to Paddock was the first of several incidents caused by the oil. As often happens in these circumstances drivers react differently to adverse conditions. It was no surprise to see Culver adapting the fastest. Experience counts.

At the flag the top ten were Culver, Tomlin, Butler, Rea, Ben Cartwright, Peter Moseley, Day, Allen, Neal and Ward.

The lap times were very good. Gary did a 56.252 and David Tomlin a terrific 56.860. Chris Butler and Chris C-G were both the in the 57’s, and Chris Rea, Ben Cartwright and James Cartwright were all in the 58’s. On Sunday they got to do it all again.  

Race Two (Sunday)
It was clear that we were witnessing a challenge to the order of things at Brands, Tomlin vs Culver, three races down, two-one to Gary. I have worn the “can’t start” T shirt myself in the past, the inability comes on you like a cold, and can be just as hard to get rid of. Surely Gary would get one good start out of four attempts?

Lights off and away, and it’s Tomlin away again from Butler and Culver. It’s a long story but Chris Butler was racing with part of James Cartwright’s gearbox casing (see below). “Smooth as Butter Butler” had managed to break his in the morning, making him a possible non starter. The Cartwright engine was suspect after Saturday’s oil incident, and would not race anyway, so the parts needed to get Chris going were offered and gratefully accepted.

You can forget a blow-by-blow account of this race, I was far too busy enjoying the racing to make enough notes! I can tell you that it was real edge of seat stuff.

Gary chased hard and passed Tomlin into the lead around lap 8. It was amazing to watch. Gary just got inside Tommo on the entry to Clearways, but there was a backmarker lurking. This made it three wide around the fast right hander for a while.

Clear of the backmarkers, the leaders then stayed side-by-side all the way down the start finish straight and around Paddock. Only when they got into Druids did Gary make a clear pass. Great racing, and only the smallest of tyre marks to show for it.

Others were having a busy time too. The foursome of Ben Cartwright, Chris Rea, Chris Compton-Goddard and Fred Honnor were really having some fun. Moorwood and Fenny in 308 GT4s were enjoying themselves too, and there were lots of dices through the field. 
There has to be a winner though, and this time it was Culver from Tomlin. Butler, Chris Compton-Goddard, Chris Rea and Ben Cartwright. There was a super atmosphere at the end of race prize giving in the paddock. The Hackwood Group classic driver of the meeting went to the ever-popular Chris Rea, who drove really well all week-end.

Editor's Note

Chris Butler supplied us with his account of both races which was just too good to mess about with, so we've posted it in its entirety.


Next up: Snetterton July 19th.

[roll mouse over pic for caption, click to enlarge]

Click here for the results.

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All pics from Race Two

Plunging through Paddock for the first time
Diving into Druids with Tomlin in an early lead
Culver closes in
Cartwright B finished sixth
The duelling GT4s of Fenny and Moorwood, positions were reversed at the flag
Geoff Neal was 15th
Tomlin (leading) and Culver hard at it
Is this a Trulli Train building up behind Swifty? Best lap times say not
Great racing throughout the field
John Day went well before slipping off
Stuart Anderson won Gp.1 in his 250GTE/TR
Chris Rea was "Driver of the Day"
Cartwright N leads this gaggle
Richard Moseley leads the quick GT4 of David Ward

pics by Simon Cooke, go to his website to buy high quality prints

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