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Brands Hatch 12th/13th May, Peter Scherer

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TWO OUT OF THREE FOR CHARTERIS AT BRANDS HATCH
Despite starting from the back of the grid in the first race of the weekend Mark Charteris's Mallock was second, but from pole in the following days races he was unbeatable.

A dry qualifying turned into a wet race for the first of the weekend's triple headers.

Front row qualifiers Clive Wood and Peter Richings led into Paddock Hill Bend, but Steve Dickens scythed around the outside of them both and led as they climbed the hill to Druids Hairpin. "I was aiming for third and then the gaps opened," said Dickens.

Barry Webb had been caught out with a spin on the Cooper Straight, which left Michelle Hayward's class 2 Mallock chasing the three Protos ahead. By the end of the opening lap Wood was already 2.946 secs down on Dickens lead, with Richings, Hayward, Morris Hart and Rodney Player's GEM the initial top six.

Mark Charteris had started at the back after missing qualifying, but by the end of lap two he was already into fourth and threatening Hayward, after Wood had dropped back to fifth.

Richings managed to hold onto his second place until lap four, when Charteris breached his defence and set off to close the eight second gap to Dickens.

The gap came down consistently but time ran out, leaving Dickens 3.211 secs clear for a dominant victory. "I didn't think I was that quick, but I started to feel the pressure with Mark closing," Dickens explained.

The gap could have been a lot less, but Charteris had a late spin. "I was taking the outside line at Clearways in third gear, but got some backmarkers, took it in second, spun and rejoined after a complete 360. So I don't really know if I would have caught Steve," Charteris added.

Hayward got ahead of Richings on lap six and escaped to secure third overall and a class win, leaving Richings, Ian Crombie and Hart to complete the top six, after Wood had crashed out into Paddock.

Initially Charteris got away from Wood in race two, but having built up a 1.7 secs lead after three laps, Wood began to pull it back. Dickens and Richings soon settled in a fairly solitary third and fourth, after the latter demoted Crombie on lap three.

Wood's charge had reduced the lead to only 0.167 secs after eight laps, before the leader responded again. But Wood threw everything at the last couple of laps, just missing out by 5/100ths in the dash for the line.

As Dickens began to struggle, Richings held onto third from lap eight, but had Alan Cook closing at the end. Dickens pulled off at 10 laps, which left class winner Hayward in fifth from Webb.

Charteris was in charge again in the third and final race, with Wood unable to match his pace.

Despite a five lap safety car intervention after Ian Mitchell had collected John Drinkwater's spinning Gem, Charteris took charge again from the green flag and was over nine seconds clear at the flag.

"I nearly lost it at the start, but then Mark got away and I couldn't make the restart either," said Wood. "I did think Clive might have got me that time," Charteris replied. Richings was third throughout, but the fight for fourth lasted for most of the race as Cook just held off Crombie and Dickens.

Hayward collected her third class win of the weekend in seventh.

Published by Peter Scherer for Clubmans Register, May 14th 2018.
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