As the SBD Motorsport British Sprint Championship restarted competition after its summer break, it ventured to pastures new. The Championship had never before been to Brands Hatch. It was clear that the competitors were all overjoyed that it had at last done so, judging by their reactions to the visit.
Although the event was concluded by early afternoon, it consisted of the same content as any other Sprint event, but with a smaller Sprint entry than is customary (to enable the race meeting, with which it was "twinned", to get underway) it was possible for competitors to make their way home early in the afternoon and be back home much earlier than is usual. It also provided a dual advantage in that, it was wet the day before, dry throughout the Sprint competition, and then most competitors "enjoyed" rain all the way home.
There were a few changes made in the summer break. Most notably the Terry Holmes/Graham Porrett partnership had introduced a sequential gearbox into their car. They were trialling the modification, but retaining a stick shift, to ensure the modification settled well....it did so what will have changed by Anglesey? As Heather Calder was unable to get timne off work, the Calder family didn't venture south. Terry Graves had returned after "grandfatherly duties" had kept him away from both Northern Ireland and Scotland weekends. Tony Jarvis & Martin Webb missed the trip to Scotland, but were glad to be back with "the family". One driver venturing into a single seater for the first time was Colin Metcalfe, sharing with Peter Howgate in Brian Woffenden's absence.
Practice consisted of the oft-used format, in multi lap events, of two and a half laps (timing being conducted over the comparable one and half laps). One car on the pace from the outset was Keith Murray in his Audi 80 being quicker than a whole host of folk, racing cars included. But everyone made a sensible use of practive learning this new course.
As timed runs got started it was clear that everyone was making giant strides and the Mark Smith/Craig Sampson comcluded with 1st and 3rd places, straddling Terry Holmes. Then just afterwards there were 4 competitors bunched together in the 77s plus one more in 78 flat. So it was highly competitive, because most of the remainder were bunched together in the 79-82 second range. This one was going to be tight.
As preparations got underway it was clear that Glyn Sketchley would not be joining in the Run Off, despite qualifying, as he had suffered the failure of a brake pipe, so was replaced by Peter Howgate (who at least was able to join compatriot Colin Metcalfe who had qualified at his first attempt). Just before he was due to run, Mike Musson discovered a radiator leak, so was unable to run.
As is customary, almost everyone improved on their qualification time. One exception was Graham Porrett who seemed strangely out of sorts in this Run Off. Peter Howgate put in his banker a few tenths better than his single qualifier, he spun on his second, then found another quarter of a second on his second Top 12 Run. His co-driver, Colin Metcalfe, found four tenths on his banker and then discovered another seven tenths from somewhere to finish his day like a kid with a new toy! Then came the Martin Webb/Tony Jarvis partnership. Webb was a few hundredths slower on his first Top 12 run but then lost a few tenths on his second. Jarvis however went in the other direction, finding nearly a second on his first banker run and then another eight tenths on his final run. Steve Miles performed his customary Top 12 role, finding almost a second and a half on his first run, and then almost another second on his second. Gary Thomas took, his now almost customary, single run, but found almost half a second to make it worthwhile. Terry Graves followed Smiles' example to discover a second and a half on his first attempt, but was unable to improve on that on his second. Craig Sampson discovered seven tenths on his first attempt and then another half a second to conclude in 3rd spot. Mark Smith also found seven tenths on his first attyempt, but only another few hundredths second time around. Terry Holmes however took the biscuit. Improving over his best qualifier by two and a quarter seconds and then, to add salt to any wounds, found nearly another half a second to finish in top spot.
It was clear. post-event, this event had been an absolute cracker, enjoyed by everyone, at a typical MSV venue (immaculate), run by a terribly well organised club and with all the British Sprint Championship competitors housed in garages together. There will be a lot of folk who will be looking forward to this one in 2014!