RE: Go watch racing at Brands GP - now: PH Footnote

RE: Go watch racing at Brands GP - now: PH Footnote

Thursday 9th May

Go watch racing at Brands GP - now: PH Footnote

The Grand Prix layout at Brands isn't raced on all that often, but it's more than worth making the effort



It's easy to be a little despondent about the state of four-wheeled motorsport sometimes; if it's not a predictable series, it's one using less interesting powertrains and chassis than a few years ago. And historic motorsport only takes place at prohibitively expensive venues - or so it seems.

Solace can be found, however, in two forms: watching motorsport at Brands Hatch GP, and watching the Blancpain GT Series. In isolation each would be brilliant; together they're extraordinary. And I know what you're thinking: Brands Hatch GP barely hosts any racing, and the Blancpain GT will go to all sorts of far-flung locations. Well, not true. Brands GP will play host to a Masters Historic Festival, DTM, BTCC, British Superbikes, a 'Legends of Brands Hatch Superprix', British GT and two MSVR race days between now and October. The Blancpain series is at Silverstone this weekend, and tickets are still available for £20. It's not in the UK any more this year after then, and can't be recommended highly enough.

Why? Variety. As motorsport seems to become ever more homogenous, to see such an array of layouts and shapes in one grid is a proper treat. At Brands Hatch the Blancpain GT World Challenge was supported by the GT4 European Series, which featured everything from turbocharged four-cylinder sports cars (Alpine A110) to V10 supercars (Audi R8), with KTM X-Bows, Porsche Caymans, Aston Vantages and BMW M4s in between. They're all competitive, too, with the first race at Brands featuring five different cars (AMG GT4, McLaren 570S GT4, Vantage, M4 and X-Bow) in the top six. Well worth seeing.


GT3 surpasses it, though, for then putting those sports cars in fast forward. For 2019 the Blancpain GT Series is split between sprint and endurance events, the Brands Hatch schedule seeing each team of two drivers take on a pair of hour-long races. So that's AMG GT3 against Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huracan against Ferrari 488 GT3 (amongst other duels) in 60-minute sprints, using the engines that actually power the road cars and not some boring control unit. Well, apart from the AMG that is, which still uses the old 6.2. And sounds suitably outrageous as a result.

Point being that the spectacle is great because there are cars with different layouts and engines - managed by Balance of Performance to all be broadly competitive - that all look fantastic (but not too far removed from the road cars) and sound even better. They could race at Bruntingthorpe and it would be worth watching.

But at Brands Hatch GP? It's spectacular. Honestly, you could watch a power walking race there and it would probably be entertaining, with the cambers, gradient changes and views. Plus there's a nice woodland walk to do. For a layout that only adds five corners, it completely transforms the track into something far quicker, more intimidating and better to watch.


Hawthorns and Westfield are both really quick right handers that spectators can get a great view of, including one or two risky overtaking attempts if you're lucky. The latter has a really awkward, bumpy exit, too, so the cars can be seen squirming on the way out as they plunge down the hill. Dingle Dell might not be the corner it once was, though you'll struggle to care much with cars flying across the kerb - a few picking up an inside front wheel - within a few tenths of each other. The camber at Stirlings means huge speed is thrown at it, and even Clearways is made more interesting with a faster approach. It's a superb track to spectate at, with the kind of up-close access a more modern circuit probably wouldn't permit. Get there.

And it was £25. Twenty five pounds to watch that mad man Marco Mapelli - who set Lamborghini's Nurburgring records - drive the doors off a Huracan GT3; to see flames come out of the back of a V8 Ferrari; to hear Audi R8 V10s thunder through 8,000rpm gear after gear. To those familiar with Brands GP, modern GT racers or indeed both, this may come across as condescendingly obvious, but the two really are a match made in heaven for the motorsport fan weary of other offerings. I suspect Silverstone will be nearly as good; if that's a bit too modern and polished, then the Blancpain GT Challenge also goes to Spa, the Nurburgring, Barcelona and the Hungaroring. Get to one, be it this year or next - you'll absolutely love it.

Disclaimer: This story is not sponsored by either the Blancpain GT or Brands Hatch circuit, they're both just really bloody good!













[Images: Dan Bathie]

 

Author
Discussion

HumanSteamroller

Original Poster:

61 posts

18 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
I'd also add that British Superbikes at Brands GP is a cracking weekend/day out.

ukaskew

4,885 posts

162 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
Whilst it's clearly not on the same level, places like Castle Combe are still going as strong as ever and are a fantastic day out for a bit of motorsport. Massive grids, packed schedule, unrestricted access to the entire circuit perimeter, no corporate shenanigans, just good honest club racing.

You can buy a season pass for less than an F1 ticket and under 16s are completely free.

Turbobanana

1,337 posts

142 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
PH said:
...this will comcondescending...
PH said:
Disclaimer: This story is not sponsored or proof-read.
Do agree that Brands GP is the place to be though - I've spent many happy years watching fast stuff through there. For a REAL experience watch (and listen to) CanAm cars go through there. cloud9

RacerMike

2,265 posts

152 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
I've been lucky enough to race a GT4 car around there twice. Once in British GT and once in European GT4. It's honestly right up there with my favourite circuits. As ludicrous as it sounds, it has shades of the Nurburgring and Spa about it. Heavily wooded, narrow, oddly cambered and with every corner on the GP Loop being blind.

I also love spectating there. There's something that's so evocative about hearing a race engine power through a wood/forest. The sound echo's in a really specific way that just so evocative.

Here's the first lap of the Euro GT4 race there 2 years ago in an Aston. Had to breath in a few times:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_19HefF7zE

Mr.Jimbo

1,698 posts

124 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
Brands GP is awesome, I love it when the BTCC use the longer circuit

The real mystery is why on earth the DTM only use the indy circuit - turns into one 1hr long chain of cars which is crap. DTM at Silverstone would be far better and not really that much further to go surely?
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mcdjl

3,784 posts

136 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
Turbobanana said:
PH said:
...this will comcondescending...
PH said:
Disclaimer: This story is not sponsored or proof-read.
It might as well be.
British GT is on at donington and other places. Featuring the same mix of cars, £27.
Historic racing, the formula vintage series is about £20 to watch. Or the masters weekend the same. Ok the Silverstone classic is a bit more. Historic racing is dirt cheap to watch. Unless you go to Goodwood.

Matt Bird

1,063 posts

146 months

PH Reportery Lad

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
mcdjl said:
Turbobanana said:
PH said:
...this will comcondescending...
PH said:
Disclaimer: This story is not sponsored or proof-read.
It might as well be.
British GT is on at donington and other places. Featuring the same mix of cars, £27.
Historic racing, the formula vintage series is about £20 to watch. Or the masters weekend the same. Ok the Silverstone classic is a bit more. Historic racing is dirt cheap to watch. Unless you go to Goodwood.
It was proof read, honest! Then Naughty Nic has been meddling post-proofing. I'll make it correct (again) now...


Matt

n3il123

1,586 posts

154 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
Chunder27 your thread has arrived....

Scourge151

98 posts

88 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
I very much agree, my family, friends and I have loved Brands for years, and the GP circuit is a great layout. Masters, Blancpain, Brit GT and the BTCC are regular visits for us, and great weekends of racing on the GP layout.

generationx

2,180 posts

46 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
A serial Brands Hatch attendee here, only more recently rare due to working away. Some highlights over the (god I didn't realise how long) last 30 years have included Group C, BTCC including Sierra Cosworth vs M3, the heights of the SuperTouring etc, truck racing in the rain, Group B rallycross and Schanche vs Gollop, epic historic racing, British and World Superbikes, F3000, FF1600 Festival, A1GP, grass-roots club racing. The list goes on and on.

Long may it continue. Certainly when the Palmer empire arrived a lot of the facilities really improved, and breakfast in the Pentagon is now a great pleasure rather than an ordeal.

The biggest bugbear, and this happens more and more, is the power given to fk-wits who move close to an active racetrack, complain about the noise, then succeed in getting the track limited in its activities. Utter bks.

Turbobanana

1,337 posts

142 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
generationx said:
A serial Brands Hatch attendee here, only more recently rare due to working away. Some highlights over the (god I didn't realise how long) last 30 years have included Group C, BTCC including Sierra Cosworth vs M3, the heights of the SuperTouring etc, truck racing in the rain, Group B rallycross and Schanche vs Gollop, epic historic racing, British and World Superbikes, F3000, FF1600 Festival, A1GP, grass-roots club racing. The list goes on and on.

Long may it continue. Certainly when the Palmer empire arrived a lot of the facilities really improved, and breakfast in the Pentagon is now a great pleasure rather than an ordeal.

The biggest bugbear, and this happens more and more, is the power given to fk-wits who move close to an active racetrack, complain about the noise, then succeed in getting the track limited in its activities. Utter bks.
Same, with the exception of the bikes (always promised myself I'd go to a bike meeting one day - still never have).

This year will be my 31st Formula Ford Festival - another event not to be missed.

Welshman Adam

67 posts

153 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
generationx said:
Long may it continue. Certainly when the Palmer empire arrived a lot of the facilities really improved, and breakfast in the Pentagon is now a great pleasure rather than an ordeal.
Please, it's the Kentagon! Don't deny it's comedy name! hehe

I'm a huge fan of Brands, feel fortunate to have it as my local circuit. Saw one of the scariest crashes whilst there once, GP circuit and a Leon Cupra went off, cleared the armco and sent marshalls running for safety. Fortunately nobody was injured.

And it hasn't put me off becoming a marshall later in life when my little ones let me have my weekends back!

generationx

2,180 posts

46 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
Welshman Adam said:
Please, it's the Kentagon! Don't deny it's comedy name! hehe
D'Oh! Finger trouble, sorry!

Craikeybaby

8,949 posts

166 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
Either of these would be a great venue for a PH Sunday Service!

I really enjoyed the British GT one at Silverstone a few years ago. At these events the racing is great, but the stands are usually empty.

dibblecorse

4,775 posts

133 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
Awesome place Brands GP, have ridden round it many times on the bike and passengered in a couple of cars but never driven it, its on my list.

As a ribbon of tarmac its up there with Oulton, Portimao and Laguna, it really is impressive ....

Its a great spectator circuit as has been mentioned, always somewhere I have had a great day out at, needs more garages though as the paddock is a little tight when the big boys are in ....

spikyone

308 posts

41 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
Mr.Jimbo said:
Brands GP is awesome, I love it when the BTCC use the longer circuit

The real mystery is why on earth the DTM only use the indy circuit - turns into one 1hr long chain of cars which is crap. DTM at Silverstone would be far better and not really that much further to go surely?
If you think DTM on the Indy is bad, you should've been there when Champ Car visited. The pit stop windows turned it into a fuel economy run. Such a wasted opportunity...

nicholasm

138 posts

126 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
Mr.Jimbo said:
Brands GP is awesome, I love it when the BTCC use the longer circuit

The real mystery is why on earth the DTM only use the indy circuit - turns into one 1hr long chain of cars which is crap. DTM at Silverstone would be far better and not really that much further to go surely?
DTM switched to the GP circuit when it returned to Brands Hatch last year. There's still an earsplitting noise when they're on the opposite part of the track!

turbo-ww

1,754 posts

157 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
Mr.Jimbo said:
Brands GP is awesome, I love it when the BTCC use the longer circuit

The real mystery is why on earth the DTM only use the indy circuit - turns into one 1hr long chain of cars which is crap. DTM at Silverstone would be far better and not really that much further to go surely?
I spent both days as Post Chief in the outside of the circuit at Dingle Dell (Sorry, Sheene Curve)


DTM's used the GP circuit last year and will use it again this year.



gazza5

509 posts

46 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
Seen a few events - actually seeing British GT racing at Spa again this year, which is free except parking of 6 euros! (GT european series I don't think is there this year which is a shame), next year we are going to the 24 hours of Spa.

Didn't make Brands hatch for this one, watched it on my phone which is not the same, but hoping to be there next year.

Only seeing BTCC at Brands this year

stew-STR160

7,264 posts

179 months

Thursday 9th May
quotequote all
Racing at Brands Hatch beats watching. But watching is quite good too. smile