Brands Hatch Indy Circuit provided the venue for a truly unforgettable second event of the Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres season over the weekend, 5th/6th June, with superb race action and an incredibly emotional tribute to late racer Gerard McCosh.
In terms of the racing, Will Gibson (Camberley) and John Mickel (Horsham) enjoyed most success with two victories apiece while Steve Whitelegg (Bury) claimed his second victory of the year in the round three Final – after an unfortunate exclusion for on-the-road winner Paul Simmons (Lingfield). Simmons duly hit-back in the round four Final on Sunday afternoon, taking his first win of 2021.
Others to grace the podium were reigning champion Daniel Clark (Darras Hall), Miles Rudman (Sutton Coldfield), who retains the championship lead, Nathan Anthony (Horley), Steve McGill (Bo’ness), star Rookie driver Scott Bourne (Worthing) and Dan Budd (Didcot).
Ahead of Sunday’s action, the whole 34-car grid paid tribute to late competitor Gerard McCosh. His No.69 car, with mascot Napoleon the Pig onboard as always, was piloted by friend Andrew Donald and led the field for two laps. In memory of Gerard, each car also had a ‘piglet’ cuddly toy mascot.
Mickel, Gibson and Whitelegg share the Rd3 wins
Clark started on pole for Heat One following the grid draw, and looked odds-on for his first win of the season after leading all the way until three corners from home. Heading into Surtees for the final time, Mickel was able to squeeze past to grab the win. Post-race Clark was elevated to first after a time penalty for Mickel, but the latter appealed successfully to be reinstated.
The battle at the front was outstanding, with Marcus Pett (Boston), Sean Smith (Marlow) and McGill the early challengers. After a mid-race Safety Car, Rudman came through to complete the podium with Gibson fourth. Due to a penalty for Rudman, though, Gibson was elevated to third.
Legends Cars newcomer Bourne produced a superb drive in Heat Two to lead the first four laps, before Gibson hit the front with a sensational move into Paddock Hill Bend at the start of the fifth tour – as Bourne tried to defend from Jack Parker (Wolverhampton). When a couple of cars became stranded at Druids on lap six, though, the race was red flagged.
At the re-start, over three laps, Gibson led from Bourne and Parker but Rudman quickly made his way into second as Parker dropped to fifth. At the end of lap two Anthony moved past Bourne for third and the Se-Van driver went on to seal a deserved podium. Gibson chalked-up his first win of the year from Rudman, with Parker, Mickel and Connor Hughes (Hullbridge) completing the top six.
Saturday’s round three Final began well for front-row starter Whitelegg as he rocketed into an early lead, but the action was red flagged on lap two after a multi-car tangle on the opening tour. Lap one wasn’t so good for Rudman who, after being put through the gravel, rejoined in 30th and last place.
When the race re-started, in original order, it was over a reduced distance of nine laps – rather than the scheduled 12 – and a Bridgeman Motorsport one-two completed the first tour, Whitelegg ahead of Tom Brown (Stevenage). Simmons took the lead into lap three and controlled the action, before the Safety Car appeared on lap six when Anthony was tipped out of fourth place.
At the resumption a lap later Simmons led away again, but within seconds the red flags were shown once more due to a car stranded in the gravel at Paddock. The result was declared from lap six with Simmons winning, but he was later excluded for a technical infringement and so Whitelegg took the victory from first time podium finisher Bourne – the top Rookie – and Budd.
Simmons hits back as Mickel and Gibson also win again
Following the emotional early afternoon tribute on Sunday to Gerard McCosh, the Legends Cars field headed straight into Heat One of the day and Mickel quickly took the lead from the front-row to usurp pole starter Pett. Edging away from the pack as the laps ticked by, Mickel was almost a second clear on lap five but a dramatic tangle involving Parker and McGill caused a stoppage.
At the resumption, over just three laps, Mickel led away and although coming under major pressure from Rudman he held on for his second win of the weekend by 0.2 seconds. McGill completed the podium ahead of Pett, Mike Schlup (Cuckfield) and Gibson – the latter having started 26th.
Heat Two of the day was all about Gibson who, after quickly storming past pole-starter Charlie Budd (Henley-on-Thames) and champion Clark, led each of the 10 laps on his way to a fabulous second win of the weekend. Gibson led Clark, Nick Bridgeman (Baldock), Bourne, Hughes and Rudman early on before a mid-pack tangle brought out the Safety Car on lap four.
Racing re-started on lap six and Gibson and Clark started to edge away slightly, but the advancing Rudman was soon into third and he closed down the lead duo. Pushing hard, Rudman was a mere 0.038 seconds shy of Gibson at the chequered flag after passing Clark at the beginning of the last lap. Bourne was a terrific fourth ahead of Mickel, who starred from 27th on the grid, and Bridgeman.
Dan Budd led away at the start of the round four Final, but Simmons wasted no time in moving ahead before opening a very healthy advantage of nearly two seconds by the end of lap four. Parker, Rudman and Gibson began to make their presence felt around that time, the latter pair storming through from 28th and 26th on the grid respectively.
While Simmons’ lead did reduce to under a second by lap seven, the appearance of the Safety Car totally erased any advantage. Racing resumed on lap nine and a sensational battle over the podium raged, with Parker, Rudman, Gibson, and now Mickel too – from 27th on the grid – fighting tooth and nail. Simmons, though, maintained the lead and took the flag just 0.069 seconds clear.
Rudman finished second, his fourth podium of the weekend, a fraction ahead of Mickel who just shaded Parker on the line. Gibson took fifth place ahead of Hughes. Just 0.8 seconds covered the top five finishers.
John Mickel – Rd3 Heat One Winner and Rd4 Heat One Winner:
“It’s nice to win for Gerard, I’ve known Gerard for a lot of years and done a lot of laps with him – he’ll be very sadly missed. Our Quicksteel car was quick, Miles [Rudman] was very quick behind us in that one [Rd4 Heat One] but it’s great to get the win. That one is for Gerard.”
Will Gibson – Rd3 Heat Two and Rd4 Heat Two Winner:
“I don’t like the front starts, it’s much nicer starting in the middle or nearer the back – you feel like a sitting duck. I could see them getting closer and closer, you always know Miles [Rudman] is rapid and on the last lap he was right there. We spent a lot of time over the winter working on the car, I think there’s three of us a bit quicker than the rest at the moment – ourselves, Miles and [John] Mickel.”
Steve Whitelegg – Rd3 Final Winner:
“In Heat One I was caught in a collision and Heat Two I had to start near the back but didn’t have the handling – afterwards we saw the rear axle was bent. Colin Smart and the team changed it for the Final but we struggled again with handling as we hadn’t had time to set the car up. I hoped to get away and win but I got passed by the No.51. It would appear there was a technical issue with the 51 though, so I picked up the win. Thanks to Bridgeman Motorsport, Colin, Nick, Dougie and the team.”
Paul Simmons – Rd4 Final Winner:
“It was a rollercoaster of a weekend and I was obviously annoyed with the Saturday Final, but we made amends on Sunday. In the first race on Sunday we did an engine, then in Heat Two some contact bent the axle so we repaired that for the Final which went well for us. It was a good race and it was obviously nice to end the weekend on a high with the win.”
Provisional 2021 Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres Points:
1st Miles Rudman, 2080pts; 2nd John Mickel, 1985pts; 3rd Will Gibson, 1760pts; 4th Sean Smith, 1485pts; 5th Marcus Pett, 1320pts; 6th Jack Parker, 1280pts