BRANDS HATCH JCW RACE 2 REPORT
Round: 11 Laps: 16 Weather: Sunny, warm
Charlie Butler-Henderson landed his second JCW victory of the season in a tempestuous second race at Brands, but only after a post-race penalty for championship leader Brett Smith.
Race one winner Rob Smith got away well from pole when the lights went out, but Brett’s start from second was compromised by wheelspin, allowing Butler-Henderson the chance to dive past on the inside into Paddock Hill Bend.
Henry Neal then slipped by at Druids before trying a move on the inside of CB-H at Clearways, but a rub between Neal and CB-H elbowed CB-H wide and down to sixth by the end of lap one.
Up ahead the two Smiths gradually toured clear as things got tight behind them. Neal was running third on the road before the stewards decided that his flying start was a bit too good and handed him a 10-second penalty for a jumped start. That left Neal third on the road, but way down the order on the corrected times.
Mark Wakefield got past Neal on lap four, but when Neal tried to fight back a few laps later he locked up on the brakes, got sideways and clattered into the side of Wakefield. Wakefield’s car survived the contact, but Neal’s race sadly ended in the gravel.
That summoned the first safety car, which was soon followed by a second when Ray MacDowall rolled at Paddock on the restart.
When the race did go green Brett Smith got away brilliantly to close on Rob to set up the flashpoint of the race. Brett made a lunge on the brakes at Paddock on lap 17 but Rob closed the door. There was then contact mid-corner and Rob’s car was spat into the barriers.
“I was attacking and holding the inside and Rob came across on me, I was still steering right,” said Brett of the clash. “I never intended for any contact, but he moved into me.”
Rob felt differently, saying: “He drove into me, plain and simple. I was ahead and had the line. He could have backed off, but he didn’t and next thing I know I’m in the barriers and have a lot of damage to repair.”
Regardless, Rob’s stranded car summoned the red flags, with Brett declared the winner initially.
The chaos up front helped Butler-Henderson climb the order. He made one place when Wakefield’s gearbox gave up, and then another with a fine pass on David Grady at Druids. Rob’s retirement helped him into second behind Brett, and that then became the win when Brett was penalised back to second for the contact with Rob.
CB-H said: “It was a mad race. I got a great start but then got smashed wide at the end of the first lap and I was having to work so hard after that. I had a great fight with David and then just saw cars dropping out ahead of me. I’ll take this though!”
Grady took third place in the amended result, behind Brett Smith. He added: “My start was brilliant, far better than recently. Then it was a good fight with Charlie and basically everything kicked off in front of me so I just stayed out of it. This is a good result.”
Reece Barr came home fourth ahead of George Sutton, Neil Newstead and Stuart Gough. Scott Jeffs was eighth ahead of Keenan Dole, Dean Brace and Will Neal.
It was a disappointing race for Max Bladon, who retired after a driveshaft failure. It had looked promising after a turbo boost issue was found overnight and his car finally enjoyed some power before the failure.