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JD Classics Challenge at Brands Hatch GP Circuit 26-27 May 2012

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In what turned out to be a closely-knit race from the very start, the pole-sitting Ford Escort RS1800 of Mark Wright and David Coyne was overtaken on the first lap by the invitation-class Datsun 240Z of Giordanelli/Watts – but the Escort hung on, less than a second behind – until lap 6, when it ran out of brakes, crossed the gravel at Hawthorns, hit the tyre wall… and that was the end of its race.

But if the 240Z expected an easy time of it after that, there was a surprise to come – in the form of the TWR Jaguar XJS of Gary Pearson and Chris Ward. The JD Classics-prepared TWR XJS had started the race down in 8th on the grid, but the drivers had no intention of staying there. By lap 6 they were up to 4th, and by lap 5 had taken the lead before coming in for the pit stop, where disaster nearly struck. Failing to stop for the mandatory 60 seconds, the XJS incurred a drive-through penalty which very nearly robbed them of race victory. The unstoppable pairing, however, managed to take the chequered flag and win the race, despite the penalty.

On the third step of the podium (and second in the genuine JDCC category) was the Ford Escort RS1600 of Mike Bell, who had qualified 11th; while Bert Smeets did brilliantly to take 4th overall (and 3rd in JDCC) in his genuine TWR Bastos Rover SD1.

Mention must also be made of Chris Scragg, whose Broadspeed Jaguar wasn’t ready in time for Brands, so he went out and bought a race-ready XJS to drive instead. No matter that there was no time for testing, and that the JDCC qualifying was his first time in the car – he still managed to qualify 12th on the grid and finish 10th overall (7th in JDCC). He would no doubt have done even better but for “very heavy steering, and a lot of work still needing to be done” on the car.

In all, the race welcomed no fewer than five Group A cars, of which four took the start – including the new-to-JDCC Mitsubishi Starion of Ed Simpson, who finished an impressive 6th overall (4th in JDCC). Do come again…