Race Report: Bassett Reflects on Brands Hatch Double
Well, what a week that was! After a last minute test session at Brands Hatch just two days before our comeback race, I am feeling pretty rung out, but, unlike last year, I have reason to smile.
Following the test on Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on the Thursday before Saturday’s action, the Peugeot needed some last minute adjustments – a broken clutch cable and a crack in the oil sump which needed to be welded up. Come Saturday’s qualifying session, the new engine still wasn’t fully run in but to end up qualifying 8th out of 27 cars (3rd in class) was pretty pleasing as it felt as though I wasn’t really pushing that hard – we still need more time in the car to set it up properly.
So, with spirits lifted and finally having some confidence in the car and engine; we were optimistic for a good points-scoring weekend. I made a good start going into Paddock Hill Bend and up to Druids passing three cars and up into 5th before I lost my brakes and pulled over to the side and slowly making my way back to the pits. Team mechanic Tom Burgess had a quick look at the car, but couldn’t find anything wrong so we headed back out onto the circuit. By the time I reached the same corner (Druids) the brakes had gone again; so I slowly made my way back to the pits where it turned out to be a broken brake master cylinder and the end of the race.
The time between races allowed us to fit a new brake master cylinder, but we knew we were in for a tough second race as we would be starting 25th on the grid because of the non-finish in race one. It seems to be a regular occurrence starting from the back of the grid, but it certainly makes it an interesting and entertaining race trying to make our way through the field!
And so it began – trying to make our way through the field and to the finish for the first time this season. By the end of the first lap, I had overtaken six cars. The next lap another two and set off in pursuit of Dominic Ryan and his Ford Fiesta. It was another lap before I was able to close up to the rear bumper of the Fiesta and able to pass Dominc going along Cooper Straight and into Surtees.
We seemed to be slightly down on power (more on that later). I spent the next four laps chasing the battle of Andy Baker (Peugeot 205) and Daniel Adams (Proton Satria). With us now starting to lap back markers, Daniel made a mistake going into Surtees, which slowed him down coming out of Clark and along Brabham Straight. I made my move down the inside under braking going into Paddock Hill Bend and into 7th place overall / 3rd in class behind Baker. The car became slower still along the straights but we began the chase to the other Peugeot 205.
Another lap, but this time going into Surtees the rear seemed ‘loose’ and the off-side wheel seemed to be loose. We limped back to the pits where we found out the problem behind our lack of speed – a broken rear brake caliper, possibly caused by the earlier broken brake master cylinder. The heat caused by the brake caliper being stuck on had caused the spigot ring inside the off-side rear wheel to melt and the wheel nuts to become loose. After some quick work by team mechanic Tom, we went back out on circuit and limped to a finish – we were determined to get our first points of the season, but effectively our race was over from the moment I pulled into the pits.
And so we ended the race weekend with our first points of the season and plenty of optimism going into the next round – a triple header at Brands Hatch on the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August – again at Brands Hatch.