Two tracks, two different championships, a fourth, third & second overall and three class wins capped a fantastic weekend of racing for Chris Bassett before the summer break.
As well as competing in rounds seven and eight of the Tricolore Championship at Rockingham Speedway in Northamptonshire on the Saturday, the team packed up and headed back to local track Brands Hatch for round three of the Time Attack Event on the Sunday.
Both days proved to be a scorcher in more ways than one. Having never visited Rockingham before, Chris was pleased to have qualified in fifth position overall and first in class, albeit slightly further behind time wise with the front runners than he would have liked.
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After a great start off the line, Chris briefly moved up into 4th place before the Super charged Renault Clio of James Breeze powered past. Following the retirements of Will De Claudio and Nick Gwinett – both to broken driveshafts, Chris moved up into third place overall, albeit around 3 seconds behind Tony Hunter (Clio) and Breeze. Don Hughes then moved ahead of Chris and started to chase down Hunter, until the two tripped up while lapping back markers, which dropped Hughes down the pecking order and Hunter back into the clutches of Breeze and Bassett. And that’s how race one finished, with all three cars never being more than four seconds apart. Another podium finish overall and first in class for the Peugeot 205 GTi.
“Unfortunately, Rockingham has one of the longest straights of the season and that really isn’t our strong point. We are around 70-100bhp down on the front running cars so need to make the most of the twisty section. Unfortunately for us, there aren’t enough twisty bits at Rockingham and cars just power past us on the straights each lap. It’s a game of cat and mouse to then try and pass them in the corners, but that’s been the story of the season.”
Race two began in similar fashion starting third overall, until lap two when Don Hughes drove past as the cars crossed the start finish line. Nick Gwinett had a storming race and move up to third overall with a train of 6 cars never more than a few seconds apart for the whole race. Bassett was battling with Bob Buckland (Renault Clio) for the whole race for fourth overall and first in class.
A fantastic race, with many spectators commenting that it was the best race of the year to watch, ended with Chris in fourth overall and first in class behind Tony Hunter, Don Hughes and Nick Gwinett. The team now packed up and headed South to Brands Hatch the following day.
“It’s always nice to return to Brands Hatch with it being our local track and one that I only get to race at once a year these days. However, we wasn’t going racing in the normal sense. It’s Time Attack, which sees drivers competing against each other to try and set the fastest lap time of the session. We competed at this event last year, but unfortunately, we had reliability issues so didn’t really do ourselves justice.”
Introduced in 2006, the UK Time Attack Championship has grown into the largest and most professional Time Attack events in the world. Multiple classes are employed to give relevance and purpose to a wide variety of cars and drivers, from entry level street classes to Pro classes. Events take place at major race circuits in the UK with official timing supplied by TSL Timing, the race industry standard.
“I enjoyed the event last year and it is something different to what I am used to. We were competing against, on paper, much faster and more powerful cars than the 205, but I know Brands Hatch well so we thought we would put on a good show.”
Warm-up went well with Chris heading the times overall and by nearly nine tenths of a second from his nearest class competitor. However, times were expected to be quicker once the business side of things got underway.
Final practice was next up before Qualifying and the final. To everyone’s surprise, Chris also ended this session in first place. When you look at the other cars in this event, it puts it into perspective what a good drive it was – with some other cars nearly 200 BHP up on the Peugeot 205 GTI. A glance at the split section times and speeds made the overall position even more impressive – the Spoox Motorsport Peugeot was 20mph down on the quickest car in that section across the start finish line.
The qualifying session was next up and people were starting to take notice of the ‘little blue car’ which was outperforming Mitsubishi Evo’s! Unfortunately, this session ended with Chris coming in third position overall, but still first in class.
As the cars headed out to the final, Chris and the team were optimistic of another strong showing. The car had attracted some interest over the course of the day and lots of TV coverage – which always goes down well with sponsors. The session was a tight battle between Chris and the white Mitsubishi with just two tenths of a second ever between them as the times tumbled.
And so the weekend of racing finished, with a second position overall and a first in class – by almost two seconds.
“It was a fantastic weekend of racing. I was disappointed with my overall lap time at Brands Hatch, as it was around a second slower than my lap record. However, we have to run a controlled Pirelli tyre in the Time Attack Championship whereas we normally run with Kumho and it was the hottest day of the year with track temperatures over 30 degrees. At the end of the day, everyone was struggling with temperatures and I guess the most important thing is where you finish, so to get another class win rounded off the weekend in a great way. The car round faultlessly all weekend and a massive thank you to Tom Burgess and Ian Deasy for keeping the car running.”
Chris’ next race is at Silverstone – another new track on 29 July.
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