Race Report: Brands Hatch - TOP STEP TO NAUGHTY STEP

Hello and welcome to my first race report as part of the Red & Gold Revival. My name is Henry Mann and as well as running the company with my brother Tom, I'm lead driver for Alan Mann Racing.

AMR had two cars to run at Brands Hatch over the bank holiday weekend: A 1964 Ford Fairlane owned by Martin Adams of Commonwealth Racing motorcycle fame, and the our own 1965 Mustang.

Martin's Mighty Fairlane

Martin's Mighty Fairlane

After testing on Friday, the weekend began with Saturday morning qualifying on the GP circuit for the Mustang. A good first flying lap stood as provisional pole for most of the session, but slipped to third fastest by the end.

There were two half hour races for the Masters Touring cars, with the result declared on aggregate. After a lunchtime rain shower, a drying line was appearing on the track as 37 cars assembled for the first race. Mike Whitaker’s Mustang led the field followed by the ever-competitive Ford Falcon of Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield. Whitaker pulled an early lead as a four way battle for second developed, including the AMR Mustang and the Mercury Comet of Roger Wills. Everything was shaping up nicely until our hapless driver, yours truly, put a wheel on the wet grass at the exit of Sheene Curve and spun. After laboriously restarting the engine, I managed to pull the red and gold Mustang past the pits in 19th place. Fortunately a few laps were left and the car rallied to 8th, setting the grid position for the Sunday race. Mike Whitaker won in fine style, after resisting a late challenge from Wills’ Comet Cyclone. Leo Voyazides had an uncharacteristic retirement following brake failure.

Race two started in good dry conditions, and I made a good start and was up to third on the first lap. The start was obviously a bit too good, because in race control they weren’t happy with it. Video was replayed and a drive through penalty was issued, to which I was totally unaware. Back on the track, I'd passed Roger Wills for second and was pursuing Mike Whitaker and the lead. A few laps later and I was alongside Mike's Mustang going through Druids jostling for position until the exit of Surtees, when I managed to settle matter, taking the lead and opening up a respectable gap.

Blissfully ignorant of the stop and go penalty issued earlier I took the chequered flag and drove back to parc ferme where officials were waiting with stern words. My protestations were useless and I was advised to go to Specsavers, having missed the black flags that were apparently issued. The car was disqualified and I had my collar felt. Despite the obvious disappointment, it was great to know that the car is on the pace.

GREETED BY MY BROTHER TOM AFTER THE RACE

GREETED BY MY BROTHER TOM AFTER THE RACE

NOT SUCH A WARM WELCOME - SUMMONED TO THE STEWARDS OFFICE

NOT SUCH A WARM WELCOME - SUMMONED TO THE STEWARDS OFFICE

Monday saw the first outing for the Fairlane. More of a shakedown than anything else, we were looking to iron out any issues and generally see how she ran in competition. Built by Holman & Moody, this car came to us after terrorizing the European circuits in the hands of a German team. It was to be returned to its original racing specification, as raced by Alan Mann in 1965. It is a big powerful car not ideally suited to the Brands Indy circuit, but qualifying went smoothly and a respectable 57.0s time was posted. The car behaved well over the 40 minute race distance, confirming that the mechanical changes would stand up in competition.

THE FAIRLANE IN ACTION

THE FAIRLANE IN ACTION

Next up, Donington on the 4th of July when we will also be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the AMR/Shelby/Ford Dayton Cobra GT World Championship win.

As always a big thank you to our mechanics who did a great job all weekend!

Sunday: Full Gallery

Monday: Full Gallery