It was all cheers in the Essex & Kent Motorsport camp as Bradley Kent, younger brother of defending TCR UK champion Lewis, led home his brother for a memorable maiden win in Goodyear Touring Car Trophy / TCR UK. For Lewis as well, the second place ensures he extends his gap atop the standings to 23 points over Max Hart, who rounded out the podium after having his exclusion overturned by the stewards.
Prior to the start of the event, it was announced that Hart had been excluded from the first race, stripping him of the 26 points he got for victory and fastest lap. A disaster for the former-points leader, who would now be starting from the back of the TCT / TCR UK grid. Though he was not the only driver as, after his 10 second penalty in race one, Jac Constable was further demoted 5 places for the start of this race, ensuring he started from sixth instead of the pole position to he would have had. Sadly for Constable he would not get a chance to redeem himself and was only able to complete 12 laps after a technical problem brought his Bank Holiday to an abrupt end.
The opening lap saw a frantic battle between promoted polesitter Darron Lewis and the charging Bruce Winfield. The Area Motorsport driver knew he’d be given only one chance to challenge for the lead and so it would be as the Cupra DSG was quickly swamped by the Essex & Kent Motorsport drivers after only two laps of racing.
Being shuffled back, Winfield encountered Dan Kirby who was hoping to take advantage of the Civic Cup champions misfortune with his fellow Hyundai i30’s. It would not work though as contact was made and Kirby broke his suspension, pulling off at Camp corner after limping through Westway.
Leading in the TCT and overall field, Darron Lewis’ Mercedes A Class was simply a sitting duck as the Kent brothers, now led by the defending champion in the #38. It wouldn’t just be two Hyundai’s making their way past though as Max Hart ensured it three only a few laps later. Hart had started last, but was hardly deterred as he made his way to third by half race distance.
His progress would be interrupted after a slide through Camp Corner was made all the more spectacular as he narrowly missed the pit barrier. He would lose a position temporarily to the Mercedes again, but was immediately back on the attack for the final five minutes, catching the Kent’s. He had only gained third back though after contact with the Team HARD. driver at the Bobbies, relieving the Mercedes of its rear bumper. The damage proved terminal for Darron Lewis who was forced to retire as a result. After the race, the clerks initially decided to excluded Hart from the results for this maneuver, though it was later overturned when appealed to the stewards.
Having remained behind for much of proceedings, Bradley clearly had the speed throughout the second half as ballast started to come into effect. The #44 bravely made a move on his older brother into Quarry, not looking back as he set about taking his first ever Goodyear Touring Car Trophy / TCR UK victory.
Crossing the line only 0.752 seconds ahead of his brother, the 19-year-old was delighted to start his title fight off with a bang around one of Britain’s fastest circuits. In the end, Lewis Kent would hang onto second as Hart had closed in to under a 0.8sec by the time the flag fell. For Hart, he’ll be kicking himself after his mistake earlier cost him a chance at the end of the race to challenge his key rival on the road and will have his work cut out to reduce the deficit in future events.
Crossing the line as best of the rest was Bruce Winfield. The Area Motorsport driver putting in a sublime performance to leave Combe fourth in drivers standings. Behind him, the conclusion of the race was highlighted by Combe regular Alex Kite, William Butler and Darelle Wilson. Wilson, fresh off the news of his promoted victory was back where he felt comfortable, bickering intensely to hold on to a coveted fifth place. Having not put a foot wrong all afternoon, a small overcorrection at Quarry allowed Kite and Butler to slip by on either side on the run up to the Esses, with Kite taking the fifth place honours.
Losing tyres in the final few laps, the Vauxhall Astra TCR DW Racing driver found himself dropping back, though managed to secure a respectable seventh. One of two new winners this weekend, Wilson will be pleased to have recorded a strong finish in the final race, as the paddock heads to Brands Hatch.
Speaking delightfully on the podium, Bradley Kent said;
“Really pleased to get my maiden win today, we worked together and we’re hoping to keep doing that until the end. There’s quite a few places where you can easily run off line and pick up dirt, but we kept it clean and did what we needed to do. I was 100% going for the win because as soon as I saw Max behind, I thought he would catch us. Fair play to Lewis, he got out of the way slightly down the straight, but we won’t talk about that,” he says laughing. “I won fair and square.”
Championship leader Lewis Kent followed him up with;
“For a moment I didn’t think I would hold on to bring the 1-2 back, but it’s really good. The team have done fantastically this weekend and we’ve ended with comfortable points lead, so now it’s just about preparing for Brands Hatch. If anyone was going to beat me today, let the little brother do it.
I could see he had a bit more pace, so I thought it would be easier to let him go and try to follow. Brad was on my tail the whole time so we needed to get him past and get going.”
Rounding out the podium was a bittersweet result for Max Hart who knew a potential victory could have been on the cards from the rear of the grid.
“I was always going to have fun coming from the back. We struggled with the grip in his heat and I far too aggressive as well. I certainly had the pace to win and I think the fastest lap showed that. I was catching the lads in front, but one mistake and I wasn’t able to do it.”
Next round, the circus heads to Brands Hatch for the only triple header of the season, taking place on 19-20th June 2021.