A much warmer start for day two of the meeting was a pleasant change from the chilly conditions 24 hours earlier, with Elise Trophy heading out first thing at 10am with perfect track conditions to play with.
Yesterday’s Lotus Cup victor Jason Baker, now having to adapt back to a slightly slower S1 Elise, had a bad start to the day with exclusion from the 20-minute session after failing scrutineering due to being underweight, which also gave him a 10-second penalty for the opening encounter of the day.
It was mainly a battle between Alex Ball, who just missed out on Production class honours in Saturday’s Lotus Cup race, and retiree from the same race- Freddie Hetherington- for pole. The pair traded P1 multiple times before Ball put his Applecado.co.uk S1 Elise to the top with first a 54.091s, and then a big improvement to 53.543s.
Hetherington managed to break the 53s barrier right at the end, but his 53.943s put him exactly 0.4s down on Ball. A late flyer from Stuart Ratcliff, driving on his own in Elise Trophy, put him third but amazingly on the exact same time as Hetherington!
A notable addition to the grid is Jon Bryant- of the championship’s official photography supplier Snappyracers- making his race debut in a www.track-club.com Elise 111R. He managed fifth- despite having ‘no idea’ how- which quickly became fourth when Baker was excluded.
Seth Walpole (www.plant-tech.co.uk Elise 111R) was just 0.032s away from Bryant in fifth ahead of David Alexander, who had one lap disallowed for exceeding track limits in his Densy Developments Ltd S1 Elise. Danny Holland takes over the Mission Motorsport Elise 111R- raced (and rallied) by Mike Courts and Matt Noakes on Saturday - for Elise Trophy and qualified seventh.
Simon Oakley also had some off-track excursions in Lotus Cup but managed an incident-free session to eighth ahead of Simon McFedries in the ES Motorsport Elise 111R. Paul Baker’s cow-liveried Cakes By Appointment S1 Elise rounds out the top ten. Mark Richardson (Hangar 111 S1 Elise) was 11th and Mike Perkins 12th in a session interrupted by mechanical gremlins for the Yabe Trading Co S2 Elise.
Sunshine and clear skies set the scene for the opening 20-minute race of the day at Brands…
Hetherington nailed the start when the lights went out, launching ahead of polesitter Ball as the pack headed towards Paddock for the first time. Everybody was cleanly through but a very wide line from Bryant- in his first ever race start- saw him drop to the bottom of the top ten, whilst further back McFedries ended his race in the Clearways gravel trap at the end of the opening tour.
Up front it was always going to be close with Ball, having been much quicker in qualifying, setting his sights on the blue Hetherington Elise ahead of him. With Ratcliff closely behind the lead duo, a fantastic race was in store, and it certainly delivered.
Ball seemed quicker exiting Paddock and up Hailwood Hill, leading towards a good passing opportunity at the right-hander of Druids. Multiple times Ball had a tentative look into the hairpin but Hetherington was always on the brakes just late enough to fend off the yellow Elise.
This became a constant theme lap by lap, especially towards the end, with Ball quicker in the first few corners but Hetherington having enough pace to hang on elsewhere. A side-by-side moment along the Cooper Straight on lap 17 was about as close as it got, but ultimately Hetherington was able to hang on and take the flag five laps later with an advantage of just 0.212s over Ball.
Ratcliff had a front row seat of the action, and nearly got involved a few times, but in the end couldn’t quite match the lead duo. It was a fantastic recovery drive from Baker to finish fourth from the back of the grid, but being over 11 seconds behind the leaders showed the true pace of the trio ahead of him.
Holland rounded out the top five after a great drive from seventh, coming home a few seconds clear of the battling Alexander and Walpole. Oakley was ninth ahead of Bryant, who passed Baker (Paul) in his recovery drive after his first corner issue. Baker’s cow Elise rounded out the top ten ahead of Richardson and Perkins, who was still showing signs of mechanical gremlins in his car.
The top-ten reverse grid for the second and final race of the day put Paul Baker on pole ahead of Bryant, Oakley, Walpole and Alexander. A beautiful afternoon at Brands was the perfect end to the weekend’s Lotus racing.
Bryant- who got off the line well in race one- did the same from second on the grid and took the lead from Baker up the inside heading towards the right-hander at Paddock.
From here he went on to lead the opening two laps before the closely-following Alexander finally found a way through at Surtees, and a flying Baker- from seventh- was already challenging for second and promptly took it up the inside at Paddock. Baker soon set his sights on the leader, and with a much better exit speed through Paddock on lap five he was able to move past Alexander at Druids into a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
The main action now was for second, with Alexander doing well to hold off a pack of four cars for the majority of the race. With Bryant losing places and tumbling down the order, in part thanks to earlier light contact which subsequently led to his retirement, the front-running drivers were coming through at speed.
Race one winner Hetherington quickly dispatched Walpole, who was having a great race in third, whilst Ball finally begun to make progress after a slow start and joined the battling pack. Hetherington was soon right behind Alexander as Walpole lost another place to Ball and dropped from second to fourth, with Ratcliff now in his mirrors.
Unfortunately, a collision between Hetherington and Alexander at Clearways saw both loop round, with Alexander taking to the gravel and rejoining with a significantly dusty Elise. This of course promoted Ball and Walpole onto the final two steps of the podium with Ratcliff fourth, but the Lotus Cup Production winner’s Elise Cup R was struggling to select 4th gear and he lost out to Oakley when the flag well after 22 laps of racing.
Hetherington recovered to seventh in the end while Alexander struggled down in 11th after a late pit visit ahead of the smoky S2 Elise of Mike Perkins.
Danny Holland couldn’t match his top five from race one but still did well to finish sixth ahead of the aforementioned Hetherington, Paul Baker, McFedries and Richardson.
The next stop for Lotus Cup & Elise Trophy is Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, the only non-UK round of the championship, coming up in June.