Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge

Round 2 Brands Hatch 30th April 2016

Words and Pictures by : Phil (Scoop) Broster.
‘e’ mail : phil_scoop@hotmail.co.uk phone : 07912537640

It was the Spring Bank Holiday weekend and with it came the annual M.G. Car Club two day meeting at Brands Hatch. There were to be two rounds in The Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge over the weekend and there was a good entry in place with 23 cars. We had qualifying on Saturday, with a race on the same day and the second race on the Sunday. As is usual the second fastest qualifying time decided the grid for the second race.

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Brands always seems to be a place where people gather whether racing or not and it was nice to see Sprite racer Brian Bedford who hasn’t raced since the accident here last year, Pat Harris and his lovely wife. Pat hasn’t been seen for a while but he was racing this weekend, Paul Baker the Healey web master was here and one or two other faces were around including Martin Morris who had entered but due to work pressures just didn’t have the time to finish his car. Someone who was racing was Dave Weston who had Richard Wildman on hand for support and spannering!

The rest of the entry had James Dunkley, Graeme Adams, Nick Day, Ed Reeve and Stephen Pegram in Class A. Carl Chadwick, Andy Southcott, Stephen Collier, Phil Attwood in Class B, Nigel Lackford, Tom Walker, Edward Easton, David Jenkins and Dean Stanton in a lovely new blue Frogeye in Class D and finally, Richard Perry, Pippa Cow, Pat Harris, Paul Campfield, Robin Lackford, Ian Burgin, Richard Homer and John Hilberry in Class E.

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Qualifying was mid morning and with a dry and warm track times soon started tumbling. The Class A cars looked fast and with lap times well under a minute for most and with 23 cars on track the action was constant. Weston and Dunkley were quickest and swapping times constantly, pole going to one and then the other as each went faster, this appeared be setting the tone for the weekend.

Indeed, pole went to Weston just two hundredths of a second ahead of Dunkley, Adams, Day and Reeve weren’t far behind. Perry was fastest Class E ahead of Pegram, Cow, Southcott and Campfield, all these less than a second apart. Chadwick, Lackford R., Collier and Stanton came next from Harris, Burgin, Hilberry, Lackford N., Walker, Attwood, Homer, Easton and Jenkins.

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It hadn’t gone well for some. Pegram was out with the recurrence of the gearbox issue from Donington despite having fitted a new box. Adams had pulled off with the temperature gauge in the red, turned out to be a thrown fan belt which would create more problems during the weekend. Lackford N had experienced a clutch issue but bleeding the system in the interval cured that problem. Perry had stopped short on petrol, that caused some hilarity around the paddock, but on top of that he had a differential seal leak which required attention. Collier was busy unmodifying some alterations he had made to the cars suspension since Donington which he felt hadn’t worked. Attwood was generally unhappy with his cars performance but suspected something was not right with the ignition timing. Otherwise just the usual fettling taking place all round, but interesting information from Gil Duffy about the car daughter Pippa races in that some suspension mods and a different rear brake material made the car handle much better than previously.

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On to the race and drama before it even started, with Weston out on the warm up lap with a broken battery terminal Dave later commented that had his issue occurred on the first lap around Paddock or up to Druids there would have been carnage with everyone following.

The rest of the grid formed and as the lights went out Dunkley made best use of the empty space beside him and shot into the lead. Perry made a superb start and followed into Paddock challenging Adams for second place. Day was fourth. As the pack streamed through the first corner Lackford R pulled onto the infield with what turned out to be a broken crank, fortunately the damage was confined internally without the often compulsory venting through the block that goes with this event.

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Meanwhile at the end of the first lap it was Dunkley out front from Adams, Perry, Day and Reeve next. Then Campfield, Cow, Southcott, Chadwick, Collier, Stanton, Burgin, Hilbery all together then Walker, Harris, Lackford N., Attwood, Easton, Homer and Jenkins.

Next lap through and we had lost Adams, later found to be the same issue as in qualifying, and Attwood succumbed a lap later. Dunkley was pulling clear but Reeve was catching Day, Southcott had got ahead of Cow, but Pippa would get back ahead around the outside at Paddock and stay there to the frustration of Southcott. Their fight was the entertainment of the race. There was another great battle going on between Burgin, Stanton and Hilbery with Harris and Walker close behind.

Around half distance we lost Day to a gearbox issue and Stanton fell out of that fight with a broken clutch. So Reeve was now chasing down Perry and would move into second spot once his tyres came on song, meanwhile Perry came under attack from Campfield and these two would hammer it out to the flag.

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In his efforts to get ahead of Cow Southcott had his car break away with a quick spin at Paddock, followed by it understeering straight on at the same corner a few laps later, the gravel did little to halt progress with the car hitting the foam barrier fortunately with no real damage. The fight further back had Walker now ahead of Harris with Burgin also having a quick spin at Paddock.

Cow could relax a little although Chadwick wasn’t far down the road and Perry and Campfield were pulling back up to Reeve.

As the clock wound down with twenty two laps run out came the flag. Dunkley won by an eight second margin from the steady Reeve. Perry wasn’t far behind with Campfield in tow, before Cow took the flag ahead of Chadwick and Collier. Walker finished ahead of Harris, Burgin, a lonely Lackford N., Hilbery, Easton, Homer and Jenkins.

An exciting race right down the order, Perry given driver of the race and we had more to come next day.

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