At Brands Hatch this afternoon Jack Harvey (Carlin) claimed his fourth victory of the year and closed the gap to series leader Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) by leading the Malaysian home to narrow the margin to 7 points. Third place went to Harry Tincknell to make it an all Carlin podium, while the National Class win – for the third time this weekend – went to returnee Adderly Fong (CF Racing) ahead of Duvashen Padayachee (Double R Racing).
At the start Harvey was away like a rocket and there was nothing Jaafar could do to stop him. In the pack, however, it was all going a bit pear-shaped after Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsport) was attacked by both Carlos Sainz Jr (Carlin) and his own team-mate Felix Serralles. You simply cannot get three cars in line abreast going into Paddock, and if you do try it, it’s pretty good odds you won’t get them all back out again. And so it proved.
Serralles picked up a right rear puncture in the mayhem and Sainz Jr was pitched into a spin. He skittered off deep into the gravel, taking Pipo Derani (Fortec Motorsport) with him, while Serralles limped round to the pits and Lynn continued unscathed. With two cars in a dangerous place, and one otherwise hors de combat, the Safety Car was called into action.
That didn’t go as smoothly as might have been hoped either, as it took some time for them to pick up the correct car. Once the field was in the correct order and being led around it became clear that Harvey was still in front, from Jaafar, Tincknell, Lynn, Pietro Fantin (Carlin), Nick McBride (Three Bond with T-Sport), Hannes van Asseldonk (Fortec Motorsport), Geoff Uhrhane (Double R Racing), Fahmi Ilyas (Double R Racing) who had started from last and National Class leader Fong, despite stalling on the grid at the start. 11th was Richard “Spike” Goddard (T-Sport) from Padaychee while Serralles would be 12th if the team were to send him back out again.
While all this was going on, the race was of course not “live” which did explain why Padayachee was in possession of the fastest lap at this point, because he had been forced to chase after the end of the pack when the Safety Car was scrambled. He soon found them though, which was as well as we were about to go to green again.
Harvey controlled the restart beautifully, and again there was nothing that Jaafar could do to shake the Lincolnshire man loose. Someone else looking for a way past and not finding it was van Asseldonk, who certainly seemed to think he should be 6th, not McBride. McBride, on the other hand, had very different ideas and wasn’t letting go of another good finish for anyone.
The aftershocks of the first lap shunt were still reverberating and it was no surprise when the announcement was made that Derani, Sainz Jr and Serralles would all be investigated afterwards with regard to their part in events. At least Serralles was still running though he had a wild moment at Clark on lap 5 that looked as if it might be his undoing. He ran wide, bounced through the gravel and was still able to get back onto the track and continue, apparently unscathed.
At the front it didn’t take long for Harvey to open up quite a gap and this time Jaafar either didn’t have the wherewithal to take the fight to Harvey or he was choosing not to in an effort to maintain his 100% scoring record this season. Either way, although he set a new fastest lap, he could only close the gap to around 5 seconds. Would it be enough? Only time would tell. Certainly Jaafar wasn’t entirely without weapons as a fastest race lap proved, but that just prompted Harvey to pull away again.
Much the same thing was happening in the National Class too as Fong kept pulling away from Goddard and Padayachee. Whatever they could think of, he seemed to have the answer to hand. When they started fighting each other, he must have been delighted, always assuming he could even see Goddard all over Padayachee in his mirrors by now. Once Goddard got back ahead he was soon lapping faster than Fong though, so that was a battle that might provide some interest in the later stages of the race.
At the front there wasn’t much to see, with Harvey going ever faster to set another fastest lap of the race. At least there was a little entertainment for the sizeable crowd in the shape of McBride battling to keep van Asseldonk at bay. Without that, the afternoon wasn’t exactly delivering value for money to the rain-dampened masses.
Otherwise it was all getting very processional and it didn’t much help that the cars are all very much evenly matched these days. The one ray of hope was that Serralles was now about to start getting back on the same lap – or at least passing the National Class men as he reeled in Padayachee, while Goddard was steadily catching Fong now too.
Serralles was quickly through and was able to start after Goddard, while Goddard was now half a second back from Fong and gaining – Fong ran wide and Goddard was able to catch up but then missed the apex of Graham Hill Bend and fell back again. A lap later and he was again 0.4 seconds behind. That was enough for him to take another swing at Fong around the outside at Druids. That worked about as well as you might expect and he ran wide and had to rethink. He wasn’t done yet though, next failing to make it through on Fong at Surtees. This had the potential to end badly.
At the front Harvey was now a good three seconds clear of Jaafar, who was a long way from Tincknell. Lynn was also alone as was Fantin, while McBride had finally managed to put some space, even it was only half a second, between himself and van Asseldonk. Uhrhane and Ilyas were also running lonely races while Serralles was closing in on Fong and Goddard. He passed Goddard easily and then set about getting on the tail of Fong, who might prove a bit more problematical.
As we moved into the closing stages of the race, McBride was shown the driving standards flag, as was Goddard. Actually, that was bit late because at the same time it was being hung out, Goddard had lost control and gone through the gravel at Westfield, finally coming to rest against the barriers. That gave the marshals a bit of work to do and it was impressive just how quickly they were able to get the track safe and fully working again.
With eight minutes of the race left to run, Harvey was about to lap Padayachee though he probably didn’t need to, given that he had a 6 second lead now. There appeared to be no chance of anyone catching him, and so it proved. 40 minutes after he started, Harvey came home the winner, adding to his mother’s birthday celebrations very nicely. Jaafar was 9 seconds adrift in 2nd, and Tincknell was even further back in 3rd. Lynn finished 4th, from Fantin, McBride, van Asseldonk (who was another to be shown the driving standards), Uhrhane, Serralles (who was able to get past Ilyas in the closing stages to claim 9th when Ilyas went seriously wide on the last corner, went through the gravel and nearly ended up in the pitwall) and Ilyas. Fong won the National Class and was 11th overall and Padayachee was 12th and last.
The fastest laps of the race were set by Harvey and Goddard.
Weather: Fine, dry, sunny.
Next Races: Rounds 15, 16 & 17, Norisring, Nuremberg, Germany, 29th June/1st July.