Race Report 2019 Brands Hatch (30th August).

Round 3 of the 2019 Sports 2000 championship took place at Brands Hatch on the famous GP circuit. This round would mark the middle point of our 2019 with only two more rounds to follow for the team. After our success in the endurance round at Donnington Park last time out we were keen to follow our form and once again push towards the sharp end of the grid.

Friday Testing

Friday testing came about as a bit of a shock to the team as the opportunity to test on the smaller Indy layout at brands hatch was announced last minute. Naturally, not wanting to miss an opportunity to give Tim and the car a shakedown we decided to partake in the afternoon sessions giving us all time to arrive and set up in the morning. For the testing we were bundled into a mixed group of fellow Sports 2000 competitors and a group of drivers from the Magnificent Sevens championship. While all testing is useful it became clear after the first session that it would be a struggle to get any clear laps in with the tiny Indy layout being packed with mobile chicanes in the form of Caterham Sevens. Nevertheless Tim pressed on setting some impressive lap times in the process and giving the team great feedback to help set up the car for qualifying and the race. For the second practice session we decided to experiment with the cars aero package by spraying Flow Vis on the rear of the car. Flow Vis is a florescent liquid that is used to give a visual representation of how the air flowing over the car is reacting with the bodywork. By analysing the patterns left behind we can see how well the aero package is working and look at ways in which we can improve it going forward. While spraying the Flow Vis on the car during a pit stop we all learnt a valuable lesson, that its best to check the direction of the wind before covering the rear wing (and Tim) in florescent green liquid. At least we got some good data on the aerodynamic performance of Tim’s Helmet though. For the rest of the day both Tim and the car performed well despite constant interruptions to the sessions due to spins and crashes from the other drivers. We once again made sure to check the fuel system at the end of the day and prepared for Saturday by fitting a fresh set of slick tyres to the car.

Saturday Qualifying

Our qualifying session on Saturday was set to take place right at the end of the day giving the team plenty of time to prep the car and enjoy some racing from the other championships. For the most part the weather on Saturday was fantastic with high temperatures and clear skies. But as the day went on the chance of a wet qualifying became greater and greater. As we sent Tim out on slick tyres to the assembly area the heavens opened and confirmed that our qualifying session would be rain affected. The team did a fantastic job to get the car turned around as quickly as possible in the pits fitting wet tyres and making a few minor changes to the setup to help the car manage the conditions. Tim went out for his first laps of the weekend on the GP circuit and instantly set some competitive laptimes before the session was put under the safety car by a number of incidents on track. Once the safety car had pulled in the session turned into a mad dash to get in as many laps as possible before the time ran out. When the dust settled we found ourselves sitting in a very respectable 3rd place which everyone in the team was happy with.

The engine data confirmed Tim’s feedback that a drop in fuel pressure consistently through the last 5 minutes of the race had jeopardised the pace. The students only had a few hours to find and rectify the fault, so they set about gaining access to the fuel pumps and filters. A short while later the fuel system had been fully cleaned after a partially clogged filter had been found.



Sunday Raceday

Raceday dawned on Brands Hatch and the team were ready to turn our successful qualifying into a good result in the race. Once again our race was scheduled for the latter half of the day which gave us another chance to check the fuel system in preparation for the race and perform one final spanner check of the car to help ensure we make it to the end of the 1 hour endurance race. Today it was dry for our race which meant we finally got to use our fresh slick tyres.

The lights went out and Tim made one of his classic brilliant starts. As the field headed into turn one Tim was boxed in on the inside line allowing another driver to capitalise round the outside and take 3rd place away. As the race went on Tim pushed hard to keep up with the top 3 setting a good pace but unable to mount a challenge at this stage in the race. As the race went on the safety car was brought out after another crashed out of the race. Unfortunately for us the safety car period didn’t fall within the pit window meaning we weren’t able to capitalise on the reduced time loss from stopping under the safety car.  The race resumed and then moments later we spotted the safety car board out once again, this time it did fall within the pit window and we didn’t hesitate to bring Tim in for his mandatory 2 minute stop. As our car entered the pits we started our stopwatches to time the stop and get Tim back on track as quick as possible. If the time between entering and leaving the pits was less than 2 minutes we would face a penalty and have to make another pit stop as punishment for our mistake. Thanks to some brilliant timing we got Tim through the mandatory stop in a time of 2:01.44 which ended up being the second quickest pit stop of anyone in the field, a big improvement over the last round at Donnington. After the pit stops it was a simply a case of Tim pounding in the laps to bring the car home in a respectable 4th place. All in all it was a good result for the team as the top 2 seemed almost untouchable on the day setting an incredible pace that we were unable to match on this occasion.

As always the weekend taught us all a lot for the rest of the season and we will be looking to once again carry out current momentum forward to Silverstone for the next two rounds of the sprint championship. On behalf of the team I would like to thank all of our sponsors for their support as well as thanking the organisers and track staff at the circuit for all they have done over the weekend because without you we couldn’t go racing. Finally, I must thank all of the team who attended the meeting who did a fantastic job running the car and making the weekend enjoyable for everyone.

Photos Courtesy of KJG Photography – www.kjgphotography.co.uk