Championship Class Race Report - Round 15: Weather: Sunny, dry. Races at Brands Hatch tend to go one of two ways. They are either slightly less exciting than watching paint dry or they are so exciting that heart failure among the spectators...
Championship Class Race Report - Round 15:
Weather: Sunny, dry.
Races at Brands Hatch tend to go one of two ways. They are either slightly less exciting than watching paint dry or they are so exciting that heart failure among the spectators seems likely. Apart from the start, this was pretty much one of the drying paint variety. There were one or two incidents, but they were mostly before the race started. The first victim was Heikki Kovalainen (Fortec Motorsport), who tried to go out to join the rest of the field but was hampered by a car that simply did not want to start. After frantic activity on the part of the team, the Fortec car was eventually able to start and the Finn would get to start the race, admittedly from the pitlane and after everyone else had set off. Still, it was better than nothing. To add to the confusion, Stefan Hodgetts (Motaworld Racing) managed to spin off on the warm up lap. It was rather embarrassing but at least he was able to rejoin ahead of the pace car, which meant he could take his place on the grid before the start.
Finally everyone was ready and lined up on the starting grid (apart from Kovalainen of course). At the green light, Michael Keohane (Carlin Motorsport) made a good start, but Robbie Kerr (Alan Docking Racing) made a better one, and simply drove around the outside of Keohane and into the lead. As this was happening, Rob Austin (Menu Motorsport) and Alan van der Merwe (Carlin Motorsport) were fighting for 3rd, Austin finally getting ahead. Further back, Tor Graves (Alan Docking Racing) lost control, and was pitched into a spin by Hodgetts. As a result, Kovalainen nearly tripped over both of them and had a bit of a moment before he could get it all together. Just to add to the confusion, James Courtney (Carlin Motorsport), starting from an unaccustomed 6th place, lost a place at the start and was now 7th.
And so, at the end of the first lap, Kerr was leading from Keohane, while Austin was ahead of van der Merwe, and Fabio Carbone (Fortec Motorsport) was ahead of Bruce Jouanny (Promatecme International). Kovalainen, meanwhile, was on the move as he tried to make his way from the back of the field. He was also, it was quite plain to see, mad as hell about it. It was just as well because his pursuit of positions was now about the only thing of any interest going on out there. His pursuit of Hodgetts was highly entertaining (for anyone except Hodgetts) and he soon hacked past him around the back of the track, passing the Englishman without any hesitation whatsoever and settling in to 15th behind Mark Mayall (Alan Docking Racing). He then set about looking for a way to pass Mayall, though it would clearly not be easy.
At the front of the field, Kerr was pulling away from Keohane, who was also opening a gap to Austin and van der Merwe. The two of them were locked into a fight over third place, while Carbone tried to catch them up and Jouanny was 6th. Courtney now looked as if 7th was the best he could hope for. In 8th was James Andanson (Team Avanti), ahead of Shinya Hosokawa (Formula Dream Team Carlin), while the top ten was rounded out by Matthew Gilmore (Promatecme International). Behind Gilmore, the Manor Motorsport trio of Mark Taylor, Ronnie Bremer and Richard Antinucci were just ahead of Mayall, who was still trying to hold off Kovalainen. 16th was Hodgetts, while the last two runners were Giandomenico Brusatin (Team Avanti) and Graves. And apart from Kovalainen's efforts, that was pretty much the way it would stay for the remainder of the race.
That isn't to say no one was trying, because they were. Taylor was pushing so hard he was going through the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend on almost every lap, coating the spectators with gravel dust repeatedly. In addition, Kovalainen was frantically trying to find his way round Mayall, trying every line known to humankind. Elsewhere Courtney was looking to find a way past Jouanny. The trouble was, he couldn't quite get close enough and Jouanny was not going to make it easy for him if he could help it. Finally, as the race reached the halfway stage, Kovalainen dived up the inside of Mayall as they went up to Druids. To the surprise of many, he came out ahead, and then started catching up with Antinucci. The American was a much harder nut to crack, and so despite catching the American, the Finn couldn't get by him. 14th was as high as he would get. And that was really all the excitement this race could generate, apart from Bremer making a last gasp attempt to make a move on Taylor. It didn't quite work and his teammate came home just ahead of him and just out of the points.