Bryant family affair at Brands Hatch

Father and son pairing Graeme and Oliver Bryant bagged both race wins in their Morgan Plus 8 as the Heritage GT Car Challenge played a significant part on the support race bill to the prestigious A1GP finale on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit over the weekend (May 3/4).QualifyingWith a chunk of qualifying on Friday run under safety car conditions thanks to a car beached in a gravel trap, getting a time became even more significant. The Bryants topped the timesheets ahead of Donington Park winners Jackie Cochrane/Andy Rouse who were just 0.335s shy of pole, but major engine problems prompted Irishman Cochrane to pack up and head home early.

There were several other tales of woe, but with repairs effected, a near capacity grid of 42 cars lined up for race one on Saturday.Race OneWith the grid moved up one place following Cochrane’s withdrawal, Chris Beighton (Sunbeam Tiger) took advantage of his promotion to a front row spot to out-drag Graeme Bryant into Paddock Hill Bend. There were several near misses as Adrian Willmott spun the Howard Spooner-owned Aston Martin out of third spot as they swept down the hill.

Despite only qualifying eighth fastest, the Rick Lloyd/Matthew Wurr Morgan was on the charge with start driver Lloyd up to fourth inside a lap; third a lap later and then second on lap three. Lloyd caught Beighton on a memorable lap five.

Lloyd ousted the leader at Surtees, only to lose out on the run up to Hawthorns. But Lloyd reasserted himself on Brabham Straight as they completed the lap. Sadly, it was game over for Beighton when he spun into retirement at Paddock on lap eight.  

A safety car period to retrieve the stricken Tiger prompted the start of the pit stops. Confusion arose as the safety car failed to pick up race leader Lloyd who circulated alone. When the round of pit stops was completed and with the race underway again, Lloyd’s co-driver Matthew Wurr held a handy 30 seconds advantage over a charging Oliver Bryant.

With Bryant lapping quicker than Wurr, a close finish seemed likely. But Bryant had other ideas and, in a monumental drive, he turned a half-minute deficit into the race lead in the space of just seven laps! Wurr was a breathless 19.75s behind at flag fall. "I knew that Matthew wouldn’t be as quick as Rick, so I kept at it. I enjoyed going through the pack and they were very well behaved," said Bryant Jnr. "There should be an age limit on drivers," joked Lloyd who rued the botched safety car period.

Chris Scragg (Aston Martin V8) filled third spot. "I’m pleased with that, third in two Heritage races, that’s a result," said Scragg, who had just over two seconds in hand over Alec Hammond and Graham Hathaway in the former’s Camaro, Hathaway relishing the big V8 machine.The Bob Searles/Tony Jardine Aston Martin DBS V8 took fifth, Jardine slotting in driving duties alongside his Sky TV commitments which were so tight that Searles drove the car onto the grid for Sunday’s race and then waited to see if Jardine would do the starting stint. He made it with less than a minute to spare!

They were one spot ahead of the beautifully presented Class C winning Jaguar E Type of Andy Jenkinson and John Young. Two places back, Pete Foster was a solo driver in the Class E winning Aston Martin DB4.

The Death brothers, Clive and Harvey, humbled a lot of more powerful cars with an incredible Class A winning run to 13th overall, having been as high as eleventh at one point. It was all smiles there, but local man and Class A rival Gordon Streeter was left stranded when his Ford Anglia suffered a misfire and then cut out completely with a broken rotor arm.

The rare Daimler SP250 of Piers Townsend and Chris Conoley was the winner of Class B exactly one second ahead of rivals Tim Glover and Rikki Cann (Ford Escort).Results – 40 minutes1 Graeme Bryant/Oliver Bryant (Morgan +8) 23 laps in 41m 31.882s (76.88mph); 2 Rick Lloyd/Matthew Wurr (Morgan +8) +19.756s; 3 Chris Scragg (Aston Martin DBS V8); 4 Alec Hammond/Graham Hathaway (Chevrolet Camaro); 5 Bob Searles/Tony Jardine (Aston Martin DBS V8); 6 Andy Jenkinson/John Young (Jaguar E Type); 7 Simon Lane (Chevrolet Camaro); 8 Pete Foster (Aston Martin DB4); 9 John Shoesmith/Ray Barrow (Chevrolet Camaro); 10 Steven Byrne/Peter Snowdon (Aston Martin DB4). Class winners: Bryant/Bryant; Jenkinson; Foster; Clive Death/Harvey Death (Mini Cooper S); Piers Townsend/Chris Conoley (Daimler SP250). Fastest lap: Bryant/Bryant 1m 38.779s (84.38mph).Race TwoA very healthy 36-car field lined up for Sunday's race in front of a bumper crowd. Oliver Bryant started the family Morgan and gradually edged away from Lloyd, building up a lead that father Grahame would maintain to the flag. "Oliver really set it up for me," said Bryant Snr.But behind him, the contest for second would go all the way down to the final lap. Starting from 32nd grid spot, Finnemore had passed rival after rival to lay 11th at the end of lap one. Further progress obviously got tougher, but by the time he handed over to Beighton at around mid-race, the Tiger was up to third place.

Finnemore's cause had been aided by retirement for Scragg and a smoky spin at Graham Hill Bend by Jardine. With Beighton now in full flight, he gradually eroded the gap to Wurr, catching him on the final lap. They touched as they swooped down Paddock Hill Bend, where Wurr spun down to third place.

Wurr recovered for third, over half a minute clear of Hathaway who had cheekily passed Class C winner Young around the outside at the same spot a few laps earlier. The top six was rounded out by the Peter Wheeler/Ben Samuelson Aston Martin DB4, which took Class E honours.

The Death brothers again took Class A honours, this time in a top twelve spot and three places ahead of Streeter who put his race one frustrations behind him. Rounding out the class winners, the Glover/Cann pairing turned form around with their first race conquerors Townsend/Conoley to prevail by 2.6 seconds.Results – 30 minutes1 Bryant/Bryant 17 laps in 30m 07.351s (78.38mph); 2 Chris Beighton/Jon Finnemore (Sunbeam Tiger) + 12.454s; 3 Lloyd/Wurr; 4 Hammond/Hathaway; 5 Jenkinson/Young; 6 Peter Wheeler/Ben Samuelson (Aston Martin DB4); 7 Searles/Jardine; 8 Robin North/Zoe North (Ford Mustang); 9 Lane; 10 Robert Rawe (Aston Martin DB4). Class winners Bryant/Bryant; Jenkinson/Young; Wheeler/Samuelson; Death/Death; Tim Glover/Rikki Cann (Ford Escort). Fastest lap: Bryant/Bryant 1m38.969s (84.19mph).Next rounds: Silverstone, 31 May.