Storey & Proietti take maiden wins in Brands thrillers

Storey & Proietti take maiden wins in Brands thrillers

Mick Storey‘s 22 year wait for a win in the Championship came to an end with a dominant victory at Brands Hatch.

He had qualified his Rose Rosie 2 car on pole for the first of the weekend’s races, with 0.400s in hand over Nick Crispin.

But the next five qualifiers could hardly be separated, with Nick Clarke, heading Julie Walford, Alec Graham, Matthew Hollis and Sandro Proietti.

Ash Carter was next up, with Chris Yates ninth, despite losing his rear wing. The top 10 was completed by Rebellion WEC mechanic Tom Burgess, usually found tending Nicolas Prost and Bruno Senna’s car, but at Brands Hatch for his seasonal debut.

Storey made an excellent start but there was chaos behind, before Hollis took up the chase. “I went from sixth to second through Paddock, great start,” start Hollis.

He had Proietti chasing too but contact with Clarke and Alec Graham soon had him sidelined. “Alec was on my inside and Sandro on my left, there was contact and I ran over my own wing and didn’t realise,” said Clarke.

“I got hit at the back by Nick and it turned me round as Alec caught me. I tried to continue but went straight on at Druids as there was no air in one of my front tyres,” Proietti added.

With Storey’s lead growing the second place battle intensified. Graham briefly escaped in second, before being hauled back as Hollis slipped down the order. “I messed up through Cascades, but still managed to stay in the group,” said Hollis.

Crispin took charge of the chasing group on lap five, but Chris Yates, Graham, Clarke and Hollis were all covered by inches.

With Proietti’s car still parked at Druids, Clarke pulled off too and brought out the safety car. “I had a good start, it was brilliant and thought I was home and dry until my team mate brought the safety car out. Then I spent the rest of the race watching my mirrors. Fantastic, 22 years of trying and I finally get my first sprint race win,” said Storey.

From the green flag Crispin and Hollis worked together and were poised to challenge Storey’s lead when the flag came out. Crispin had dived into second at Druids ahead of Yates on lap 10, but it was still a five car scrap.

Graham ousted Yates from third, but Hollis’ fightback had brought him back into contention for a podium finish. “I got a great run and took two cars on the straight. I was back to second and then braked too late at Paddock, ran wide and gave Nick the run up to Druids where he got me back, on the last lap,” Hollis explained.

“We were four wide up to Surtees on one lap, but couldn’t get anywhere near Mick until the end as there were challengers on both sides of you. I lost out a bit after the safety car, but got it back at Druids on the last lap,” said Crispin.

Graham’s charge for the podium ended over the last three laps after contact, taking the flag fifth after losing out to the recovering Yates with a lap to go.

Defending Champion Lien Davies had started at the back after plug problems in qualifying, but had climbed to sixth, before contact with Graham. “It was going well but after the safety car I seemed to have a blocked injector, so just poodled around to the end,” he explained after taking the flag ninth.

Burgess completed the top six, with Julie Walford seventh with inches to spare over Ash Carter. “I started the race in fourth gear, not good but at least it was better than neutral,” said Julie.

Marc Grasby finally secured his first top 10 finish, “I had a worse start than Julie but better than James Dartiailh,” he said. Despite running as high as eighth, he was both delighted and relieved with 10th. “It may be just 10th but it was like a win for me,” he added.

After just losing outing in his duel with Grasby, Dartiailh was still full of praise. “That was a great scrap with Marc and I was almost alongside him at the flag,” he said after losing out by 0.107 secs.

Simon Crook was 12th, with Nigel Hollis 13th after being caught up in a first lap incident with team mate Jon Widdowson and Chris Hall, when the latter spun and was t-boned.

Christine Savage was 14th on her seasonal debut, with Hall next home and Widdowson completing the finishers, despite having broken the chassis in his first lap incident with Hall.

Luca Proietti was on pole for most of the wet session for race two, but was pipped in the closing minutes by both Ainslie Bousefield and Burgess. Less than 0.5 secs covered the top five, with Steve Walford fourth and Graham fifth.

There was little to split the next group too, with Carter just edging Matthew Hollis. Mick Storey had taken over from Clarke and was eighth best, with Dartiailh and Crispin completing the top 10.

Having just missed out on pole, Proietti Jnr started his race in determined fashion and headed the charge through Paddock Hill Bend, after initially entering side by side with Bousefield.

As the lead began to grow Graham was through into second at Clearways on lap two and quickly reeled in Proietti, as Crispin then ousted Bousefield from third, to head the pursuing group. “I made a fabulous start but didn’t know Alec was getting that close.” Proietti admitted.

But exiting Graham Hill Bend for the fourth time Graham was on the grass, just holding on without a spin, but rejoining down in eighth. “After the damage in the first race we used an old wheel on that rear corner and it just didn’t like that corner, so maybe it was a mistake,” said Graham.

Crispin was the new second man but couldn’t break the tow. “I just had to draft and not fight,” he said, as Hollis, Bousefield and Storey were in there too.

The pressure then began to build on the leader. With Hollis taking charge and Crispin following, through Surtees while Proietti fought back from third.

While Bousefield and Storey were just holding on in fourth and fifth, Carter held onto sixth, while the recovering Graham ousted Walford. But Walford continued to have his hands full with Grasby and Burgess for eighth and Dartiailh ran wheel to wheel with Katy Storey for 12th, which allowed Crook to get away.

Proietti managed to wrest the lead back on lap 12th, but Crispin and Hollis wouldn’t surrender. They began to work together and edged away to continue their three way battle, but with four laps to go it was back to a five car train.

Crispin was looking for his first win of the year and Proietti for his first ever. “I had it all planned, Luca got by into Druids with a lap to go and I planned to sit behind and challenge on the last lap, but then Matthew got between us,” he explained.

“I was happier with Nick behind me as we seemed to work together. So when Matthew got through I had to be defensive over that last lap. Tremendous though,” said Proietti after heading Hollis to the flag by 0.226s.

Crispin retained a comfortable if disappointing third, while Bousefield fell away in the closing laps, taking sixth from the closing Carter, having lost out earlier to the Storey and the recovering Graham whose duel went right to the flag. “That was close enough, but I had been relying on others mistakes,” said Storey.

Walford kept Grasby at bay to take eighth, with Crook completing the top10 after Burgess lost power in the closing stages.
Katy Storey came out on top of her duel with Dartiailh for 12th, while Nigel Hollis, Hall, Savage and Argentinian guest Nestor Marcote completed the finishers.

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