RaceDepartment Historic Grand Prix Season 8 Round 5 Welcome back to Round 5 of the RDHGP S8, and our final event before the mid season break. Round 4 at Jerez was a good contrast to the preceding race, wide, lots of run-off areas, long-ish track, more a true GP/GT track than one of the shorter style tracks. That style of track allowed for a slightly different style of passing, where you can set the move up as much by altering lines through multiple corners to achieve a different strategy at the passing point. On the smaller tracks, there are fewer workable lines, and so it tends to be a slightly more opportunist passing proposition, but the racing is always nice and tense. Round 5 stays with the longer, more GP/GT style of track, and is one of the most famous names in world Motorsport. We go 1,000 miles North Northeast from Jerez to West Kingsdown in Kent, England, and the Brands Hatch GP Circuit – “Early” Layout. Circuit Notes West Kingsdown is located in North Kent, in the South East of England. It is located about 8 miles south of the River Thames Crossing between Dartford in Kent & Thurrock in Essex. Brands Hatch is most definitely my “Home” circuit, as I live less than 15 miles away from it in real life (across the Thames in Essex), and (on a good day) can drive there in 20-25 minutes. The name of the circuit is derived from the Gaelic “Bron” (wooded slope) & “Hach” (forest entrance), which, as anyone who has ever been there can testify, described the setting pretty much perfectly. The circuit was first used as a dirt track motorcycling circuit on some farmland, around a naturally formed amphitheatre. This dirt track was tarmaced and became the first layout of Brands, and still exists as the “Indy” circuit. In 1960, the track was extended from its 1.25mile (2km) to a 2.6mile (4.2km) layout. There was a slight layout change in 1976, and some events prompting renaming of corners to the ones that are still familiar and in use today. This is the layout the RDHGP will be using for this race. Brands has hosted virtually every class of British motorsport over the years including 12 British F1 GP’s, 2 F1 European GP’s. It has also participated in overseas Championships as an “away” event for WTCC & DTM. It even set James Garner on fire in the film Grand Prix. For any motor racing fan, and indeed any simracer, Brands Hatch should be a very familiar location. It is essentially a rather simple layout, just 9 turns over 4.2km, but the natural bowl of the Indy sections and the high speeds and tricky cambers of the GP section mean that it is one of the best driving circuits around anywhere. A lap of Brands Hatch starts on the gently uphill sloping Grid, where all you can see ahead is the sky and the top of the old standings board. After a very short run, as you reach the top of the crest just past the S/F line, you need to brake and then start to get the nose in for T1R – Paddock Hill Bend. Paddock is a monstrous corner to start a lap, it starts by being blind, then approached downhill, and as the corner turns, that gradient means that the corner is actually negatively cambered, meaning that your car will be sliding wide even more than normal. Exiting the turn, you will be drifting wide left, flat out under acceleration onto the short downhill- and then sharply uphill, Pilgrim’s rise. As this is the early version, there is no green concrete run off area that is commonly used today. We will be using the 2 wheels on track at all times rule exiting Paddock along Pilgrim’s Rise. The tracks starts to flatten out as you go under the banner, but it at that point where it’s hard, hard on the brakes for T2R – Druids. A tight hairpin, falling away downhill on exit, it’s a corner where trying to go too fast will cost you way more time than being steady through the turn. The kerbs on the left are not too slippery on exit, but be warned that there is a very strict (but not unfair) cut warning at the end of them. You have all been warned (and will be warned again lower down) about this cut, so any complaints will not be given much consideration, as everyone drives to the same rules. Accelerating downhill out of Druids, stay right and dab the brakes as little as you dare and sweep the nose through the inside edge of T3L – Graham Hill. This is a corner that invites you to attack, but is protected by an adverse camber, and a long exit radius with very bumpy and slippery dirt & grass waiting if you go too wide on exit. Getting this corner right feels glorious, and the reward is the speed you carry onto the gentle curve of the Cooper Straight. At the end of Cooper is the approach for T4L – Surtees. This is another tricky approach, as the bend turns left and uphill, past the Indy circuit join, and tightens ever so slightly, which can cause a problem if you are running wide, as the tightening is to accommodate the outer wall of the Indy circuit confines, and the footings of the bridge that spans the circuit at this point. Again, you will save more time being safer and prudent through here than having to reverse out of the wall. Surtees opens onto the longest straight on the circuit, leaving the Indy amphitheatre, passing under the bridge, it crests and then falls away into the long and shallow Pilgrim’s Drop, where you hill hit your top speed. The track flattens and then starts to climb slightly as you just dab the brakes and throw the car into T5R – Hawthorn. Hawthorn is a devilishly fast corner, carry as much speed as possible through here and onto the Derek Minter straight, and then it’s time to step on brakes again as you approach T6R – Westfield. Another corner that drops down away from you, again the altitude making it off-camber, so care is required on the left hand exit kerbs. You bottom and then climb sharply out of Westfield, accelerating hard uphill before feathering the throttle and turning in blind into T7R – Dingle Dell. Dingle Dell is another fast corner, carry speed through here and then stand hard or the brakes for T8L – Stirling’s. A fairly tight 90, grip is fairly good through here, so you can be fairly assertive standing on the loud pedal out of here. Stirling’s exits onto the downhill straight Clearways, under the footbridge before you dab the brakes and turn into T9R – Clark. A fairly shallow turn, but again the camber makes it difficult to get the nose in if you drift too wide, and the dusty sand on the outside will slow you right down. Accelerate hard out of Clark, onto the Brabham Straight, past the pits, climbing again past that grid and over the S/F line for another lap of Brands Hatch GP.