Three wins as racing heads for summer break
Two tracks, two different championships, a fourth, third & second overall and three class wins capped a fantastic weekend of racing for Chris Bassett before the summer break.
As well as competing in rounds seven and eight of the Tricolore Championship at Rockingham Speedway in Northamptonshire on the Saturday, the team packed up and headed back to local track Brands Hatch for round three of the Time Attack Event on the Sunday.
Both days proved to be a scorcher in more ways than one. Having never visited Rockingham before, Chris was pleased to have qualified in fifth position overall and first in class, albeit slightly further behind time wise with the front runners than he would have liked.
After a great start off the line, Chris briefly moved up into 4th place before the Super charged Renault Clio of James Breeze powered past. Following the retirements of Will De Claudio and Nick Gwinett – both to broken driveshafts, Chris moved up into third place overall, albeit around 3 seconds behind Tony Hunter (Clio) and Breeze. Don Hughes then moved ahead of Chris and started to chase down Hunter, until the two tripped up while lapping back markers, which dropped Hughes down the pecking order and Hunter back into the clutches of Breeze and Bassett. And that’s how race one finished, with all three cars never being more than four seconds apart. Another podium finish overall and first in class for the Peugeot 205 GTi.
“Unfortunately, Rockingham has one of the longest straights of the season and that really isn’t our strong point. We are around 70-100bhp down on the front running cars so need to make the most of the twisty section. Unfortunately for us, there aren’t enough twisty bits at Rockingham and cars just power past us on the straights each lap. It’s a game of cat and mouse to then try and pass them in the corners, but that’s been the story of the season.”
Race two began in similar fashion starting third overall, until lap two when Don Hughes drove past as the cars crossed the start finish line. Nick Gwinett had a storming race and move up to third overall with a train of 6 cars never more than a few seconds apart for the whole race. Bassett was battling with Bob Buckland (Renault Clio) for the whole race for fourth overall and first in class.
A fantastic race, with many spectators commenting that it was the best race of the year to watch, ended with Chris in fourth overall and first in class behind Tony Hunter, Don Hughes and Nick Gwinett. The team now packed up and headed South to Brands Hatch the following day.
“It’s always nice to return to Brands Hatch with it being our local track and one that I only get to race at once a year these days. However, we wasn’t going racing in the normal sense. It’s Time Attack, which sees drivers competing against each other to try and set the fastest lap time of the session. We competed at this event last year, but unfortunately, we had reliability issues so didn’t really do ourselves justice.”
Introduced in 2006, the UK Time Attack Championship has grown into the largest and most professional Time Attack events in the world. Multiple classes are employed to give relevance and purpose to a wide variety of cars and drivers, from entry level street classes to Pro classes. Events take place at major race circuits in the UK with official timing supplied by TSL Timing, the race industry standard.
“I enjoyed the event last year and it is something different to what I am used to. We were competing against, on paper, much faster and more powerful cars than the 205, but I know Brands Hatch well so we thought we would put on a good show.”
Warm-up went well with Chris heading the times overall and by nearly nine tenths of a second from his nearest class competitor. However, times were expected to be quicker once the business side of things got underway.
Final practice was next up before Qualifying and the final. To everyone’s surprise, Chris also ended this session in first place. When you look at the other cars in this event, it puts it into perspective what a good drive it was – with some other cars nearly 200 BHP up on the Peugeot 205 GTI. A glance at the split section times and speeds made the overall position even more impressive – the Spoox Motorsport Peugeot was 20mph down on the quickest car in that section across the start finish line.
The qualifying session was next up and people were starting to take notice of the ‘little blue car’ which was outperforming Mitsubishi Evo’s! Unfortunately, this session ended with Chris coming in third position overall, but still first in class.
As the cars headed out to the final, Chris and the team were optimistic of another strong showing. The car had attracted some interest over the course of the day and lots of TV coverage – which always goes down well with sponsors. The session was a tight battle between Chris and the white Mitsubishi with just two tenths of a second ever between them as the times tumbled.
And so the weekend of racing finished, with a second position overall and a first in class – by almost two seconds.
“It was a fantastic weekend of racing. I was disappointed with my overall lap time at Brands Hatch, as it was around a second slower than my lap record. However, we have to run a controlled Pirelli tyre in the Time Attack Championship whereas we normally run with Kumho and it was the hottest day of the year with track temperatures over 30 degrees. At the end of the day, everyone was struggling with temperatures and I guess the most important thing is where you finish, so to get another class win rounded off the weekend in a great way. The car round faultlessly all weekend and a massive thank you to Tom Burgess and Ian Deasy for keeping the car running.”
Chris’ next race is at Silverstone – another new track on 29 July.
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Weekend of Motorsport for Chris Bassett
Weekend of Motorsport for Chris Bassett. As well as competing in rounds seven and eight of the Tricolore Championship which heads to Rockingham in Northamptonshire on 23 June, Chris will be competing in round three of the Time Attack Event at Brands Hatch on 24 June.
Following four class wins and three overall podiums in the Track Attack Tricolore Championship, Chris is looking forward to learning another new track and getting back out racing in what seems a long break since the April event at Pembrey.
“I’m really looking forward to get out racing again and to try a new track. Rockingham is famous for the banking so it will certainly be interesting. I’ll be hoping for another strong showing from the Peugeot and hopefully some more podiums, although it’s always a tough ask at somewhere new.
“It is all about learning more about the car and what it’s capabilities are. We’ve had a decent start to the season which is pleasing. Now I want to really push on and continue those results.”
Tunerfest South celebrates high-end performance and style, when extreme styling, tuning and modification will be the stars of the show. On-track entertainment is headlined by the spectacular Time Attack Championship, where competitors battle to set the fastest lap of the day.
Other on-track entertainment includes drifting and a Formula One demonstration. Off track there is the PAAA Performance Tuning Event, trade stands, karting and a huge range of car clubs where you will be able to see the best in modified machinery. You will also be able to take your own car on to the circuit during public track sessions.
Chris will be competing along with 2017 UK Time Attack Classic & Retro Champion and fellow Team Spoox Motorsport driver Andy York in the Classic & Retro class. Also competing at the Brands Hatch will be Spoox Motorsport owner Darren Spooner in his very special Peugeot 205.
It promises to be a fantastic weekend of motorsport!
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A Win to End the Year on a High
A win to End the Year on a High. As the Track Attack Tricolore Trophy Championship ended at the end of September and with the car running well, we decided that we didn’t want the season to end and so entered the final round of the Classic Sports Car Club Open Championship at Brands Hatch in early November and a new race format – a one off 30 minute pitstop race.
We know the track so well, living less than two miles away, so we always class any race at Brands Hatch as out ‘home’ track. The car went into Tom Motorsport after the last race at Mallory Park for a ‘spanner and fluid check’ ahead of the race along with a set of new tyres.
The Saturday race morning began with a downpour which meant that qualifying would be wet along with the likelyhood of the race also being wet. Tom Motorsport set about making set-up changes to the car from a dry setup to wet setup and we headed out for qualifying.
I’ve always enjoyed racing in the wet since my karting days and I certainly know Brands Hatch well, so it was great to end the qualifying session in third place overall and first in class, ahead of some very quick cars, which in dry conditions we wouldn’t stand a chance against.
When we arrived back in parc ferme it turned out that three competitors had complained about the tyres we were using. We use Kuhmo tyres, following the recommendation to switch from Toyo by Spoox Motorsport last year. We have different compounds that we use depending on track conditions from medium, soft and super soft in very wet conditions. All this meant that we had to start the race on our dry tyres, which hadn’t been ‘scrubbed in’ and at the back of the grid in 24th position – yet more racing politics to deal with!
We’ve become accustomed to politics since we’ve been winning races and it’s all part of the fun – turning up in our ‘little old Peugeot’, ruffling some feathers and beating some much quicker cars (on paper) and this was no different. While it wasn’t ideal starting on brand new tyres which hadn’t gone through a heat cycle or weren’t ideal for wet weather, I was still confident on having a strong finish in the race, having seen how much quicker we were in qualifying than the other cars in our class.
I was looking forward to a new race format in the one off 30 minute pitstop race and so we started the ‘rolling grid’ in 24th and last position. By the end of the second lap, we had managed to get up to 14th place and first in class, without really pushing too hard. By the time the race had reached the half way mark, we had managed to progress through the field and into 10th place overall before the mandatory pitstop. As it was only me driving the car, this involved driving into the pits, getting out of the car, closing the door and getting back into the car and strapped back in before being able to leave for the track.
A slick pitstop by Tom and Terry enabled me to make up another place in the pits. Over the remaining ten minutes of the race, we managed to get up to 6th place overall while maintaining class lead – in fact I managed to lap everyone else in class by at least two laps!
And so the racing season finished on a high with a win. After all the problems we suffered throughout this year, it’s always nice to return ‘home’ with another win which gives everyone a lift going into the winter ahead of the 2018 season.
A massive thanks to my race sponsors and in particular to Tom Burgess of Tom Motorsport, who without help and assitance from, racing would not be possible along with Spoox Motorsport.
2018 will once again see us complete in the Tricolore Trophy along with some appearances in the CSCC Open Series.
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More podiums the target
Two podium finishes in the first two rounds of the BARC South East Quaife Cannons Tin Top Championship has given us confidence as we head into the next double-header at Brands Hatch on 30th April.
A third and second place finish last time out sees us in third position in the highly fought T2 class with just eight points covering the top three drivers. After some more set-up updates which include a new peddle box arrangement and corner weights, we are confident of another strong showing.
Brands Hatch is a track we know well with it being only a few miles from our base which also saw our first victory in the Peugeot last season.
There is a strong entry list for this weekend with twenty one drivers all competing for overall and class wins, and of course, our target remains to finish ahead of the two front-running Hondas. Do this and we should be there or thereabouts for more outright wins come the chequered flag.
The Brands Hatch Indy circuit is one I enjoy and I’ve had good results in the past. I plan to add to that tally, as the short circuit and range of corners should emphasise the stability of the car’s chassis and its strength under traction. We need to exploit the fact that the Honda’s carry around 60kgs of ballast, albeit with almost 100BHP extra, but the competition is going to be tough. To remain in the top three of the Drivers’ standings will be the goal.
Qualifying beings at 11:10 with race one at 15:40 and race two at 18:10. Once again, coverage of the race will be shown on Motors TV.
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.
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.
And 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.
We 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!
The next stop is Brands Hatch, but this time on the Grand Prix circuit on 12/13 September.
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.
Bassett Eager to Shine
Following an unexpected break from racing due to engine issues on the Peugeot 205 GTi from the first round, Chris Bassett is back up and running for Brands Hatch on 25th July.
A great deal of work has been going on behind the scenes to find out the problems behind the engine seizure at the season opening earlier this year and the team are now confident that the problems will be a thing of the past and that they can concentrate on getting proper track time to further develop and fine-tune the car – something which just hasn’t been possible with the reliability issues to date.
“We’ve had a lot of heart ache with the car so far, but the most frustrating thing is that when the car is going, it’s competitive,” said Chris. “We know that there is more time to come from the car; which will come once we get laps out on the track. I’m confident that we have finally put the bad times behind us and can concentrate on finishing races and fine-tuning the car.”
Chris has missed the last three rounds while the team have researched and developed the engine even further, which he concedes has been extremely frustrating: “As a competitor, there’s nothing worse than going to the race meeting s you should have been competing in and just watching others race wondering where you would have been finishing. I just can’t wait to get out there again.”
The next rounds are on the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on 25th July – a home race for Chris who lives just two miles away from the track.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @chris_bassett to keep up-to-date with all his news.