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Race Report: Bassett Reflects on Brands Triple Header

29/30 August Brands Hatch Race Report

As this BARC Cannons Tin Tops season progresses, I am increasingly reminded of the development curve with the Peugeot. Last season we were new to the series and had an uphill struggle against other more established drivers, so, in a way, it’s a very similar position to that we now face with cars and drivers getting quicker.

By going through the processes and developing the car; patience has been key. That’s the approach needed to build to a competitive car over the course of a season.

So after a pretty woeful start to the season, where the engine let go in the very first race, we’ve been building and developing the car even further with a view to getting closer to the front of the grid and with it – reliability.

10330420_959328884125517_744250770978451403_nThe really good thing is that I believe the Peugeot package is a quick one when it runs; sometimes too much too soon can create an atmosphere of expectation before it is really due.

Brands hatch is a great place for a race, not just because it’s my local track, but also because all of the history. So what did happen at the triple header? The weekend didn’t start well that’s for sure. Getting the car off the trailer, I broke three of my toes! Badly swollen, qualifying started dry for the first two laps, but because I had a new set of tyres and new braking system, we were scrubbing everything in. After the first two laps, rain started to fall, so it meant a time had to be set on dry tyres (like everyone else). The car felt well balanced, and as the session developed, I was able to push harder with each lap which saw us qualify in fifth position overall (and third in class). It actually turned out that I was second fastest in the rain which was pretty pleasing.

11949423_959332654125140_3774741593532400248_nAnd so we headed into the first race full of optimism. We finished the first lap in fifth looking for a way past the rapid Ford Fiesta of Cliff Pellin. Four laps were then spent behind the safety car following a spin into the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend from Carey Lewis in his Honda Civic Type R. When racing resumed, I was still looking for a way past the Fiesta, which took two laps. By then the front running cars had built up a lead over me which took the rest of the race to close down, but with two laps to go I was on the rear bumper of Rod Birley’s Honda Integra. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to make a move, and so it finished – a decent showing with the car getting quicker throughout the race – finishing in fifth overall (third in class) and setting a personal best lap time.

Race two came and I was feeling confident of another strong showing after starting from fifth place on the grid following the fifth place finish in the first race. A good start meant that I was up into fourth, passing the Honda of Rod Birley on the outside of Druids.

Going into lap two and Birley’s Honda and the rapid turbo-charged Seat Leon of Bob Hosier used the straight line speed of their cars to pass on the start finish line, but going into Druids, Hosier out-braked himself which allowed both Birley and myself to pass once more. The next four laps were spent chasing the Honda and trying to find a way past – we were quicker under braking and through the corners, but couldn’t live with the straight line speed. After carrying more speed coming out of Paddock Hill Bend, it gave me a better run up to Druids, where I broke later and was able to go around the outside of the Honda at the hairpin which then gave me the inside line for Graham Hill bend. I then set about chasing down the Honda of Chris Whiteman which was the next car in my sights with Birley still closely following me.

11960149_959334297458309_8440676768491889122_nWe then started lapping the slower cars, which is where I got held up coming out of Graham Hill bend which allowed the Honda of Birley to come back past. I then spent the next three laps glued to the bumper of the Honda (at times it was close and paint was exchanged). I was continually faster through the corners, but unable to find a way past, until a fast run out of Paddock Hill and up to Druids, I went wide to feign going around the outside, but cut under to go through on the inside and push the Honda wide. I then set personal best lap times lap after lap for the remainder of the race to get close to Chris Whiteman but time ran out. The chequered flag came out too early – but by far our best race to date in the Peugeot finishing third overall, second in class and fastest lap time of the class.

And so we headed into the third race of the weekend. The grid was partially reversed (just the top eight), which meant that I started sixth, but after the second race, I was optimistic of another strong points scoring race. Going into the Paddock Hill bend for the first time, I went round the outside and into second behind the Seat Leon of Bob Hosier. Tom Bridger (race two winner) in his turbo charged Rover Tomcat passed me along the straight and then set off in pursuit of the Seat. Going into Paddock Hill on the third lap, Hosier ran wide and into the gravel, which allowed me into second overall and first in class. The next lap I allowed Barnaby Davies in his Turbo charged Toyota Starlet to pass along the straight (there was no point in slowing us both down when we race in different classes) to chase Bridger for class win in T1 for the turbo cars. This allowed me to settle down and concentrate on maintaining the gap to forth – which by the end of the race was nearly ten seconds. And so it ended with a first win in class and third overall.

Not as exciting as the first two races, but I’ll take a boring race on my own and a class win any day!

Once again, a massive thanks to mechanic Tom Burgess and also my sponsors Complete Weed Control, Complete Ice Control and Fusion Media.

The next stop is Brands Hatch, but this time on the Grand Prix circuit on 12/13 September.

SPOOX TOM MOTORSPORTS Fusion Media
Chris Bassett