Rounds 7 & 8 2021 Kumho BMWRDC Championship
For Rounds 7 & 8 of the 2021 Kumho BMWRDC Championship it was a return to the iconic Brands Hatch, with the sweeping bends of varying severity and the addition of the climbs and descents which characterize this circuit.
The timetable for this particular meeting was not great, with qualifying scheduled for Saturday afternoon, race 1 on Sunday morning & race 2 late in the afternoon, but most of the previous timetables this season have favoured us so we cannot complain.
The timetable went out the window early on Saturday afternoon when the harsh realities of the danger involved in motorsport reared its ugly head during a CTCRC race. Suffice to say that a horrific crash on the Pits straight resulted in the tragic death of a marshal, and injuries to another marshal and a driver.
Racing stopped as the emergency services & authorities stepped in to do everything necessary at such a desperately sad time for everyone involved, organizers, drivers and especially the close-knit community of marshals, without whom we would have no motor racing whatsoever.
Unpaid, uncomplaining volunteers in varying layers of orange clothing, present whatever the weather throws at them, quietly keeping everyone on track safe. An appeal has been set up to raise money for the family of the marshal who died so please give generously to show how much we all appreciate the efforts of the “orange army”.
After consulting all concerned, BARC the organizing club issued an amended timetable for Sunday with minimal loss of racing & most drivers chose to race whilst a few decided otherwise, including our own Russell Dack who was involved in the race that was stopped.
The Kumho BMW’s were first out to qualify on Sunday in an abbreviated 10 minute dash, and invitation driver Niall Bradley took pole alongside Class A driver James Card.
Brad Sheehan & Jason West occupied the 2nd row with Mike Vitulli and Darren Morgan-Owen behind them. Bryan Brandom & Paul Wood were on the 4th row while Max Walton & invitation driver Ronan Bradley completed the top ten.
The Class B cars of Kevin Denwood & Trevor Ford filled the 6th row ahead of Alan Lee in his BMW mini, Cav Grainger and Peter Miller who had his best time disallowed.
Niall took a dominant win, leading from start to finish but there was plenty of action behind his with Class A leader Brad Sheehan spinning spectacularly at Clearways and then retiring after another “off” damaged his radiator & front end.
Peter Miller also retired with a damaged oil cooler after leaving the track while the mini of Alan Lee also failed to finish after an accident involving 2nd place Michael Vitulli. The race was red flagged which meant Mike retained his 2nd place from James Card & Jason West. Paul Wood, Darren Morgan-Owen and Bryan Bransom completed the Class A finishers ahead of Ronan Bradley, Kevin & Trevor in Class B and Cav the last finisher, with Max Walton ending up in the gravel after running out of road due to various fluids on the track?
By the time of the second of the races for the Kumho BMW racers the threatened rain had left a wet track with rain clouds still present.
Most drivers opted for “wets” anticipating more rain but as the lights turned green the rain held off & Niall again took a lead he was to hold to the chequered flag whilst behind him the Class A boys were all changing positions on a regular basis apart from Darren Morgan Owen who had made the brave decision to go with “slicks” a decision that looked foolhardy as he struggled to control the power on a track that could best be described as a little slippery.
As the laps unwound it looked like Mike Vitulli was on for another win but by Lap 14 Darren was getting some much needed grip from his slicks & started to pick up places. As he reached the flag he was leading Class A while Brad Sheehan who had started from the back of the grid after his non-finish in Race 1 took 3rd overall & 2nd in Class A. Bryan Bransom, James Card, Jason West, Mike Vitulli & Max Walton completed the Class A runners, while Ronan Bradley was 9th with Trevor Ford winning Class B & rounding out the top ten.
Trophies were handed out to muted applause and everyone started loading up their cars & setting off home, most thinking of the volunteer marshal who had lost his life and would not be returning to his loved ones. A thought we should perhaps all take to heart.
Words / pictures by Mike Gibbon MVG Photographic