Bassett returns to where it all began
Spoox Motorsport driver Chris Bassett heads to his home circuit Brands Hatch, for rounds 13 and 14 of the BARC SE Tin Tops on 27 October.
It’s been three seasons since Chris competed in the Tin Top Championship following his switch to the Track Attack Tricolore Trophy – a championship dedicated to French cars, but as the championship ended at the end of September, the opportunity to race at the end of the season Tin Top races was too good to turn down.
“I’m looking forward to returning to the championship where it all began for us nearly seven years ago. The biggest challenge will again be the Honda Civic’s we were competing against three years ago – who are still the front runners in the championship. We know the circuit well and are still hopeful of mixing it at the sharp end and are targeting some strong podium finishes,” said Chris.
Over the past three seasons, the blue Peugeot 205 GTi has undergone an extensive development programme which has seen some impressive results. “The balance and power seems strong and we appear to be capable of mixing it with most cars so we are hopeful, with some reliability, we should achieve some good results this weekend.
“One thing is for certain – the team and I will be going flat out to do the best job we can and I’m looking forward to returning to where it all began.”
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Bassett hopes to carry on podium winning momentum
The Quaife Cannons Tin Top Championship rolls into Brands Hatch for rounds five and six on the Bank Holiday weekend and Chris Bassett will be hoping to stand on the podium once again in his Peugeot 205 GTi (30 May).
Round three and four saw Chris reward the Fusion Racing team’s relentless hard work and unwavering dedication by producing an accomplished drive to take two pole positions and two outright wins.
Taking two outright wins for the first time was a special occasion and Chris has hopes of carrying that momentum forward this weekend, while quietly confident and hopeful that the Peugeot will possess the performance necessary to once again challenge.
Chris said: “Hopefully we can build on our last performance, as it showed that the car is developing as we had hoped. The car felt great all weekend and was particularly good on the low-grip surface of the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in the changing conditions of race two, so I expect to compete towards the sharp end once again.
“We have some new developments for the car which aren’t yet ready for this round, but hopefully they will be ready for the next race weekend, which will push us on again. As a team, we have set a target of reaching the podium in each round this season, and so far so good. We had a great race with Chris Whiteman in his Honda Civic Type R last time out and will be hoping for much of the same this time out.”
Qualifying for Round five of the BARC SE Quaife Cannons Tin Top Championship at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit is scheduled for 09:15 on Monday (30 May), with the two races at 11:40 and 14.45 respectively. Each race will be aired on MotorsTV.
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Bassett continues podium winning momentum
The BARC SE Cannons Tin Tops rolled in to Brands Hatch for the first double-header races of the season on 26th March which saw Peugeot 205 GTi driver Chris Bassett achieve a double podium.
Over the winter, we began to make some changes to the Peugeot to try and eek a bit more time out of the car while making a few adjustments to the set-up and removing some weight only for the rule makers to change the weights of the different car classes. This meant we had to add around 25kgs of weight to make the minimum weight limit. We also planned a pretty extensive test series, which unfortunately didn’t materialise.
The racing weekend started in chaos. We turned up at Brands Hatch to get the car scrutineered (where officials check the car before you can race), only to discover that the battery was completely flat. We ‘jumped’ the car to make scrutineering and then straight out for qualifying. When the scruiteeners checked the ‘kill switch’ (where race marshalls can turn the engine off in the event of a crash) we were left in the paddock as the other cars went out on track. Following some frantic work by Tom Motorsport we made it out on track, but without being able to set the car up or even check tyre pressures!
We managed just a few laps in qualifying, which was wet, but was surprised to see us in third position come the end of the session – not a bad effort when you consider than one of the tyres had just 15psi in it!
We managed to change the battery (with the kind loan of a spare one from Daniel Adams who races a Proton Satria and was unable to race following gearbox issues) and set about trying to achieve our first podium of 2016. Going into the first corner (Paddock Hill Bend) we were up to second and in hot pursuit of Rod Birley’s pace-setting Honda Integra. Going into Surtees we made our move only for the brake lights to suddenly appear on the back of the Honda, which in turn made me brake mid-corner and un-settle the Peugeot on the slippery track, which was beginning to dry out, and spin across the grass – not the type of advertising our new sponsor Etesia UK (a lawn mower manufacturer) was hoping for!
After re-joining the race back in 15th position, we set about chasing the pack down to try and limit the damage to our points. By this time, Chris Whiteman in his Honda Civic Type R had passed Birley and began to disappear. Over the remaining 15 laps we were able to finish in 3rd position and the objective of a podium finish was achieved in the first race. We finished just two tenths of a second behind Birley and another lap could’ve seen us get second, but it wasn’t meant to be. The top three cars (Whiteman and Birley – both in Honda’s and us in the Peugeot) fastest laps were just two tenths of a second apart meaning that the season has the promise of being tightly contested.
So, race two saw us starting in third position again – behind race one winner Chris Whiteman and Rod Birley. Going into Paddock Hill bend Birley opted for the outside of Whiteman and made it stick while we followed him through and into second position. Lap two saw the power of the Honda Civic of Whiteman pass on the main straight and then on the next lap he was able to pass Birley going round the outside of him going into Paddock Hill bend. The next lap saw Whiteman go out slightly wide and spin across the grass going through Surtees which promoted us up into a solid second and in pursuit of Birley. We were nose-to-tail, despite being well down on straight-line speed due to the Honda’s vast power difference, but able to make up the time going in-to and out of the corners. I was starting to think about making a move, only for the safety car to come out for a nasty looking crash for Bob Hossier in his Seat Leon at Paddock Hill Bend.
A long safety car period followed while the marshalls recovered the seat, which only left around four minutes of race time left when the safety car peeled off for the racing to resume. As we were trying to tuck ourselves under the Honda of Birley and up to race speed, I went from second to fifth gear, which allowed Birley to get a two second gap over the start finish line.
With only four laps remaining, we were going to find it tough to achieve our first win of the season. We did manage to close the gap to the Integra but again the sheer power of the straight-line speed ensured that he was able to keep ahead to win the race.
So, all-in-all with no pre-season testing, it was an encouraging first race weekend of the 2016 season. Two outright podium finishes – a third in race one and second in race two has left us in third position (in class) in the championship, just eight points of the leader Rod Birley. See the BARC SE website for full championship standings.
We certainly have the pace over a full lap compared to the Honda’s who both have a lot more power (over 100bhp) compared to our Peugeot which looks good for the remainder of the season. With a few updates due later this season, we hope to bridge the gap and go for more outright wins.
We won’t be racing at the Brands Hatch GP meeting as it’s a non-championship event on 16th and 17th April and sees the Tin Tops combine grids with the quicker MN Saloons, which seems a little strange as it was a points scoring race last season, but we will be back at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit on the 30th April when the championship resumes.
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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.
2014 Season Ends Early for Bassett
With the annual trip to Brands Hatch on the famous Grand Prix circuit; Chris was certainly looking forward to his first outing on the extended track at his home event.
However, after just one lap of qualifying and starting his first flying lap, the engine let go in the biggest possible way, which meant that Chris was unable to compete in rest of the weekend’s races.
When back at the teams garages it actually turned out to be far worse than first feared and the engine failure suffered at the circuit, along with parts for the Peugeot 205 GTi becoming harder to find, was going to mean an end to the 2014.
“I’ve enjoyed the season back racing after almost ten years away,” said Chris. “Although the reliability issues we’ve had this season have been extremely frustrating, it was very encouraging when the car was running.
“The hard work starts now to get the car ready for the 2015 season where I will once again be competing in the BARC Cannon Tin Tops Championship. We’ve already got lots of modifications to the car planned, so I’m relatively optimistic ahead of 2015. I’d like to thank my sponsors Complete Weed Control, Complete Ice Control and Fusion Media for all their help throughout 2014.”
More Podiums and Points for Chris Bassett
Another new track to learn and yet another podium and more points for Chris Bassett as he continues in his first season competing in the BARC Cannons Tin Tops Championship.
The popular Norfolk circuit’s ‘200’ layout is one of the quickest on the Tin Tops Championship racing calendar, and as the qualifying session progressed, and Chris got to know the circuit more, his times began to drop. By the end of the session he managed to better his time by nearly two seconds from he start of the session. Having qualified a respectable 6th on his first visit to the Norfolk track, and as the cars went out on their warming-up lap, yet more distributor problems caused Chris’ car to stall demoting him to last place.
As the cars came round to start the race, Bassett was able to get his car going again with the help of a ‘bump start’ from nearby marshalls. Chris then began his battle through the field and up to fourth. Next up for Chris to pass was Russell Turner in his Ford Escort MK1, which proved to be alot harder than the previous opposition. Turner, who was in turn chasing Vic Hope in a Honda Civic Type R and Cliff Pelin in a Ford Fiesta ST, was able to hold off Chris up until he hit a kerb too hard which forced his gear linkage to come unconnected with the gearbox.
After a quick pit stop to get the gear linkage fixed, Chris came out directly behind Turner but this time one lap behind and in last place, which is wear he finished.
Having learnt the new track by the time that the cars turned out for the second race, Chris was feeling confident of another strong showing as long as the reliability that had so far this season deserted him held out.
Starting from last position, Chris made his way through the field – lap by lap another car being passed and another fastest lap being set, until he was able to close on Turner for yet another battle, but this time Bassett got the better of him and began his pursuit of Hope, who was by this time ten seconds ahead. When leader Barnaby Davies in his turbo charged Toyota Starlet crashed into the barrier Chris moved up to third.
By the time that the cars crossed the finish line; Chris had managed to close the gap to just one second – another one lap and surely he would have passed Hope to finish in second place, but it was not meant to be.
“After yet more disappointing mechanical failures and having made a mistake which might of cost me another podium, we had a great second race,” said Chris. “It certainly makes for a great race having to start at the back, but it’s now becoming frustrating; as when the car is running as it should, it’s competitive.
“I’m getting more time in the car so I’m getting used to it more and more race by race and by the time we get to the next round at Brands Hatch on the famous Grand Prix circuit we will hopefully have yet more developments on the car in an aid to improve our reliability.”
Bitter Sweet for Bassett at Lydden Hill
Chris Bassett propelled himself back up to sixth in the overall BARC Cannons Tin Tops Championship standings with two strong showings in the previous round at Brands Hatch before heading to Lydden Hill, near Dover for the very first time.
After getting to know the circuit in qualifying, which saw him getting quicker and quicker as the session developed, Chris started race one from 8th.
After a quick truck festival demonstration the Tin Top drivers were unleashed into a plume of cement dust and on lap three, the rapidly quickening track surface came into Bassett’s favour.
A storming drive from Chris saw him finish fourth in in first ever race at the track with the feeling that finally the car had the reliability and pace that the early season promised. With further developments on the car promised after this round, hopes were high that both Chris and the car would soon be challenging at the front of the grid on a regular basis.
From a partial reverse grid for race two Chris started 6th, but by the time that the cars exited the first bend, he was leading and enjoying leading from the front for the first time in 2014. However his enjoyment didn’t last for long when a broken distributor forced his retirement and yet more disappointment.
“It had been a fantastic weekend at Lydden at a new track up until our retirement,” said Chris. “We are optimistic that we are heading in the right way with the development of the car – which was seen when we were leading the race. It was a shame that we had yet more reliability issues but I’m already looking forward to another new track when we visit Snetterton next month.”