RAC British Saloon Car Championship 1984
Round 9 Brands Hatch
Win's sper Supra
oyota Supra's maiden win.
A month after looking like taking the Toyota Supra to its Group A win at Brands Hatch, Win Percy actually did it, beating off the challenge of series leader Andy Rouse to take the flag 16 secs clear of the ICS Rover driver.
There were 22 entrants for Monday's ninth round of the Trimoco series and, without the works Rovers, the series has taken on a more open feel. Yes, Andy Rouse is still there keeping the Rover flags flying, but it isn't a whitewash.
Win Percy had given warning that the Toyota Supra is fast becoming a car to beat at the Grand Prix meeting in July. and in the course of practice he underlined that potential, his time 0.01 sec quicker than four weeks ago. "It's fantastique!" he declared, obviously showing off some of the lingo he has used with TWR in Europe this year. "No problems at all. We were using the practice as a tyre test, really, Dunlop has a lot to play about with at the moment." With Percy showing well in the recent rounds of the British series, and Gordon Spice doing well at Spa, Toyota's interest in the series can only increase and it will be interesting to see if the Japanese decide to pursue the project more next year - the potential is certainly there.
All in all, it was a strangely unworried paddock. Everywhere people smiled and declared that they didn't really have anything major to report. Andy Rouse mused that the Toyota was so much lighter than his Rover that at a circuit like Brands it was likely to go better, but above all else he was looking to the championship. He has to beat the class A runners, but his biggest problem is going to he `beating' the other classes. He could not afford to get tangled up with the backmarkers and that thought seemed to lurk in his mind. After all, Win Percy did it last time .. .
Third on the grid was Dave Brodie, who is looking better and better by the race in his Colt Starion turbo. In the week prior to the race, he had done 110 laps of the Kent circuit, working on both speed and reliability. It seems as if that work has paid off. All was not, however, according to plan. His practice was disrupted with an electrical problem somewhere in the engine management system, and he wasn't entirely satisfied with the handling. But his times were good enough for third on the grid "and I could keep up those times all day long."
Brodie was not the only driver to find himself the slave of the engine management system the BMWs seemed to be having more than their fair share of problems. David Kennedy's Grundig car appeared briefly, did the necessary number of laps to qualify for the race, and retired to pits to be puzzled over - it sounded terrible. James Weaver and Vince Woodman in the BMW GB cars also suffered from electronic gremlins.
James spent his time in practice evaluating Avons against Goodyears and, at the end of it, still could not make up his mind: "The Avons give one thing, the Goodyears another." The decision was not an easy one and James decided to stick with Goodyears as he knew more about them. Weave', was not his usual sprightly' self, suffering from food poisoning and not feeling at all well.
While Weaver played with tyres, Woodman concentrated on his suspension and, at the end of practice, decided that it needed hardening.
The two Bee Ems were fourth and sixth, sandwiching the Rover of Neil McGrath who had all kinds of excitement on the track in practice, curiously all of it at Surtees- first he had a big spin there, going too fast on fresh rubber, and then in the company of Woodman and Sytner found himself colliding with the latter's BMW when he was taking avoiding action after Woodman missed a gear. The damage was `cosmetic' on both cars and Sytner was able to put his car in behind Woodman's BMW on the grid. "We're not really expecting much from this car," he admitted. "It did the whole of last year and then Spa, so it's not a superfast sprint car any more! I was hoping to get a new one for this weekend, but it wasn't ready in time." Frank, interestingly, was out on Goodyears: the reason? "Honestly, the Goodyears are a hit wider and they go better with the gearing round here."
Class A was completed by Mike Newman, just behind the Rover of Charles Sawyer-Hoare, who had problems with a tyre moving on a rim. And way back in 20th (yes, twentieth!), poor old David Kennedy.
The weather by now had improved greatly for the spectators, but for the competitors the problem of which tyres to use reared its head. Spice and Percy chose the same compounds, but which of the chassis would demand more from the rubber?
At the green light, it looked as if Rouse had got it all sorted out as he scorched into the lead at Paddock with Percy hard on his heels. Brodie and Weaver were neck and neck as they all piled into the corner, and it was James who got the better of it, and the Colt Starion that found itself in an unexpected seventh place behind McGrath, Woodman and Sytner. Dooley held his practice advantage, with Dowsett right on his tail and, with everything to go for in the championship stakes, Longman made no mistake with his getaway.
Further back, Kennedy made a flying start and looked as though he might be able to live up to the commentator's high expectations of an exciting charge from the back. It was not to be: on the second lap the BMW began to make distinctly strange noises as the engine management system went haywire and, although he battled on calling into the pits every so often, the car failed to behave. It was not his day.
After just two laps, the front three were pulling away from the rest led by Rouse with Percy hanging on, although hardly looking threatening, with Weaver unable to hold on, but still able to keep ahead of the rest. Brodie made short work of those ahead of him before he came upon McGrath, who had no intention of letting the Colt driver by without a fight.
And then, things started to go wrong for Rouse, his Rover clearly not treating the tyres well in the conditions. Percy began to close. While this was keeping everyone happy, as the two cars lapped nose to tail, behind them and the increasingly unwell Weaver (suffering greatly from the bouncing of his BMW) Brodie was really setting about McGrath. And behind them Vince Woodman was under heavy challenge from Sawyer-Hoare. As they headed up to Druids on lap 6, Vince's BMW hesitated for a moment and, in a flash, Sawyer-Hoare was through. Out of Druids, and Woodwan was hack in front, up to Surtees, the cars were together exciting stuff.
In the course of lap 7, several of these problems were solved without incident. Percy' screamed into the lead, Brodie nipped past McGrath, and Sawyer-Hoare's Rover expired out at the back. Next time round, Hodgetts gave notice that his race was all but run when the oil seal on his distributor blew, and the Datapost hordes sailed through.
But it wasn't over yet. Certainly, Percy was beginning to make his getaway: "We decided to pace it carefully at the start and not risk wrecking the tyres." The ploy was clearly paying off. And, yes, Brodie was clear of Mcrath but he was by now in hot pursuit of the nauseous Weaver (nothing personal, James). McGrath was slipping away into the sight of Woodman, as a persistent misfire in lefthand corners left the Rover driver struggling to keep up. Then, of course, there was the Nissan Bluebird homing in on Jon Dooley, not to mention the duelling class C men.
At the front, Percy simply disappeared. Brodie edged closer to Weaver, although James, in true Hans Stuck style, battled on delighting everyone apart from himself. It was, however, bevond doubt that the Brodie would get through, and he did on lap 15.
Woodman like vise ate up the gap to McGrath, who was by now fading fast, and then looked for a while as if he might even catch his team mate.
Special Thanks To: Glyn Parham and Paul Adams.