Rounds 9 & 10 of the Monoposto Championship see the first visit for Monoposto to the challenging Brands Hatch GP circuit since 1987 – that’s nearly quarter of a century! Lack of available “noisy days” for the GP circuit means that there has been no opportunity for testing and since the circuit has changed even the older hands with elephantine memories will need to re-learn it. The current Monoposto outright lap record is held by David Cox, at 1.32.80 and it will be interesting to see what times can now be achieved around the admittedly altered track.
Further spice is added to the meeting because Saturday's round has been chosen as the Ray Dackombe Memorial Trophy event for 2011, and performance in both qualifying and the race counts towards this prestigious award. Current Trophy holder Ian Hughes (and who can forget his win last year!) will be back, this time in Ewen Sergison’s quick Mono 1800, to defend the Trophy, but it’s anyone’s guess as to who will carry it away this year.
The Mono 2000/Mono Classic 2000 classes will share the track with the F3 Cup cars (with a split-grid start), and so the whole entry currently stands at over 80 cars, probably the largest ever entry for the Club. With both races oversubscribed, qualifying is likely to be very busy and will certainly favour those with cool heads and the ability to get up a learning curve really quickly.
Tristan Cliffe heads the Mono 2000 field, and he faces a tough challenge to restore his winning form after a traumatic outing at Oulton. Malcolm Scott must be the main threat, having taken the win at Oulton he has certainly got to grips with the black Dallara. It’s possible Robbie Watts’ new F3 Lola will also provide real opposition. It’s still a new car for Robbie, but went extremely well in the Mono 2000 Guest class at the last F3 Cup races at Brands Indy. This race also sees the welcome return of the widely experienced Ray Rowan, who may actually know his way round the Brands GP circuit…and be very hard to beat. Talking of welcome returns, Nick Anstruther is another such, bringing out a Dallara alongside brother Chris in the Mono Classic Bowman. The very strong Mono 2000 entry is impressively rounded off by Tony Bishop in the second Omicron car, and Toni Impieri in the Woodhouse-tended Renault, both of these drivers being contenders for Championship podium positions. In fact Tony B plans to forsake his recently commissioned F3 Cup car specifically to pursue his Mono title aspirations – choices, choices…
In a packed Mono Classic 2000 field the key players are likely to be Peter Venn in the lovely Yale Anson, and the slightly less lovely, but also very quick, Jim Blockley Ralt. Any one of a dozen drivers could also challenge for the win, including Russ Giles who couldn’t miss out on a Brands GP run. There is also an interesting new face ontrack – Toyota MR2 front runner James Cross is using Andy Waters Tatuus to explore single seater racing, and was impressively quick in the recent F4 round at Snetterton. However he faces a very steep learning curve when faced with experienced competitors like Julian Cutler, Francis Phillips and all the other Mono Classic regulars – this one will be breathless…
Moving on from the 2 litre cars there is a very big 17 car Mono 1800 entry which, despite the absence of class points leader Peter Bragg, is packed full of interest. Favourite to take the win could well be Olly Thorpe after his stunning Mono debut run at Oulton, but there is no doubt that Ian Hughes will deploy the Sergison Swift to good effect and very strong bids will also come from seasoned campaigners John Whitbourn and Mark Edwards in FF Zetecs, as well as Malcolm “The Quiet Man” Cook’s very quick FF2000. There are several new faces as well: Ryan Hayes (who is Matt Hayes son and just past his 16th birthday), Mary Whittaker, William Tiejen, and Peter Marston: all of whom are very welcome to Monoposto Racing. This class also includes two established Mono Nova SUNBAC points scorers, leader Marcus Sheard and challenger Prajesh Shah, both of whom will be looking to add to their points totals at this crucial moment in the season…and on top of all that the in-depth field includes proven winners like Michael Dale, Jim Timms, Matt Hayes and several others, none of whom are a push-over once the heat is on.
Jeremy Timms has bounced back from his Oulton disappointment to be the leading Mono 1600 contender, and he may well embarrass many cars in faster classes. Waiting to pounce at any opportunity is Nigel Davers in the Team Fern Racing Van Diemen, and the evergreen David Parkinson in his trusty Reynard. Michael Wilkinson resumes his campaign in the Milton Keynes College Renault, and Richard Evans similar car comes out for the first time this year. Joe Venor will be running his ex Mark Blundell Lola, having survived a startline fright at Cadwell and Mono Nova SUNBAC contenders Dane Catanzaro and Mat Jordan will be confronting the many challenges of the mighty Brands GP circuit.
There are no less than 19 bike-engined cars in the entry – promising a really fantastic race, with the very strong possibility that a new Mono circuit record may go to this class. It will be power and nimbleness of the super quick bike engined cars versus the power and aero of the Dallaras for lap record honours. Geoff Fern (who has very generously sponsored the Baking Grand Prix) is the sole Mono 1400 runner, and heading the Mono 1000 field we have Adrian Wright’s superb new AW3, right alongside the OFARC team of Marc Fortune and Dax Ward, plus Jason Timms in his ever-quicker new Speads However this is a gross over simplification of the intensity of the competition. Major challenges could come from Mono newcomer Scott Stevens Jedi or from Stuart Digby’s similar and very effective car, plus any of six more competitors including a pair of Az 1000 entries. If further interest is needed it comes from Christian Parker’s debut with the technically fascinating Seward F1010.
If anyone has any nerves left after all that, in the paddock we hope to see a further stomach churningly exciting competition with the Monoposto Baking Grand Prix on Saturday afternoon, so make sure you do fully prepare your entries for this one! The winners will receive their awards during the Mono BBQ at the Kentagon on Saturday evening.
Let’s hope the weather is kind: what a weekend to look forward to!
Ian Hughes at last year's Ray Dackombe trophy
Tristan Cliffe had work to do after Oulton. Facebook followers know it is proceeding
The Gem AW3 of Adrian Wright
The "slightly less lovely Jim Blockley's RT3".
Marcus Sheard leads the SUNBAC trophy