TCR UK – Rounds 5, 6 & 7
Brands Hatch – 18th & 19th June 2022
TCR UK records broken and history made as Lewis Kent, Jac Constable and Alex Ley take wins at Brands Hatch
The one and only triple-header meeting in this year’s 15-round TCR UK calendar, held over the weekend of 18th and 19th June at Brands Hatch, provided three action-packed 25-minute races that revealed three different winners.
Saturday’s round five was won by Lewis Kent, his first victory of the season giving the Hyundai Veloster N its first win in what marked the UK Championship’s 50th race. Jac Constable also recorded his first win of the year in round six and at 17 years old, Alex Ley became the youngest ever winner of a TCR UK race when he claimed victory in round seven.
Determined to shake off the bad luck that has plagued him this season, Bradley Kent set the pace ahead of the 22 other competitors, when he set the fastest time in Saturday’s qualifying session. But it wasn’t by much, as Ley stopped the clocks just 0.007 seconds adrift and Lewis Kent 0.097 seconds behind him.
Notable by their absence at the sharp end of the grid were current championship leader and twice race winner this season Max Hart, who lined up in 13th, whereas second in the championship and round one-winner Chris Smiley would start from seventh.
With the top 20 drivers separated by less than a second – another record for TCR UK – the qualifying times highlighted the parity of machinery and the competitiveness of the championship for these globally regulated touring cars.
Round 5 – Race Report
With the lap times so close in qualifying, the first race of the weekend was always going to be a frantic affair – but the first lap was more frantic than anticipated, as rain started to fall almost as the red lights went out. With slick tyres fitted, several cars made contact and slid off the track, resulting in the appearance of the red flag on lap two.
Whilst the circuit was cleared, drivers headed back to the pits and emerged for the restart with wet weather tyres fitted, the grid now missing Steve Gales (Welch Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS), Chris Wallis (Power Maxed Racing Hyundai i30N) and Jamie Tonks (Area Motorsport with FastR CUPRA), who were unable to continue due to the damage sustained during the lap-one antics.
When the lights went out for the second time, Bradley Kent (Essex & Kent Motorsport Hyundai i30 N) maintained his advantage at the front of the field, whilst his brother Lewis (Essex & Kent Hyundai Veloster N) found a way past Ley (Daniel James Motorsport Hyundai i30 N) on the run-up to Druids Hill, with Smiley (Restart Racing Honda Civic Type R FK7) doing likewise at Graham Hill Bend.
Lewis Kent then passed his younger sibling a lap later and as the battle for second intensified, Bradley Kent started to drop down the field. Climbing from ninth on the grid, Isaac Smith (Race Car Consultants VW Golf GTi) continued his charge and passed Ley to take third, only to be passed himself a lap later by Callum Newsham (Power Maxed Racing CUPRA), who went on to score his second podium of the season in third place behind Lewis Kent and Smiley.
Adam Shepherd (JamSport Racing Hyundai i30 N) was another to pass Ley in the closing stages to claim fifth, with Jac Constable (Power Maxed Racing CUPRA) closing him down towards the end in seventh. Hart (JamSport Racing Hyundai i30 N) however, was in damage limitation mode as he salvaged points for eighth place, with Ant Whorton-Eales (JamSport Racing Subaru WRX) making up places in the closing stages to secure ninth, as Bradley Kent held on to take tenth.
Round 6 – Race Report
With the positions of the top ten from race one reversed for the start of Sunday’s race two, Bradley Kent’s tenth place on the previous day provided him with his second pole position of the weekend, ahead of Whorton-Eales and Hart.
When the lights went out, Constable made an impressive start, taking third place into the first corner just behind Whorton-Eales, who then passed Bradley Kent to take the lead at Graham Hill Bend, closely followed by Constable who nudged his way through into second. A lap later Hart and Smith passed Kent but a fightback saw the pole sitter reclaim third place by the end of the next lap.
With Ley and Lewis Kent hot on his heels, Hart stayed with the leading pack, doing his best to mitigate any damage to his championship lead; his case helped further when Smiley’s car came to a halt on the following lap.
Whorton-Eales retained the lead for 13 laps before both he and Constable were overhauled by Bradley Kent, who then retired from the race a few laps later. This handed the lead back to the Subaru driver who then dropped out of contention on the penultimate lap leaving Constable to take victory, followed by Smith and Lewis Kent. Bradley Hutchison (Bond-It with MPH Racing Audi RS3 LMS) took a personal-best of fourth ahead of Hart who crossed the line in fifth.
Newsham finished sixth, with Darelle Wilson (DW Racing Vauxhall Astra) recording his best result of 2022 so far, in seventh place.
Tonks’ choice of setup worked to his advantage as he climbed several places during the race coming home in eighth place ahead of Russell Joyce (Power Maxed Racing CUPRA) and Andy Wilmot (Jamsport Hyundai i30 N) completing the top ten.
Round 7 – Race Report
When it comes to three-race weekends, the grid positions for the third encounter are calculated from the second-fastest time in qualifying. Consequently, it was Ley who lined up ahead of the field to take his first-ever Pole Position start. Bradley and Lewis Kent were next, with Shepherd occupying P4.
Whilst the front of the field enjoyed a clean getaway, the back of it did not, with Neil Trotter (Chameleon Motorsport CUPRA), Joyce and Gales making contact – firstly between themselves and then with the Armco barriers. With three stricken cars having to be removed from the track, it was 20 minutes before racing could resume for a shortened 18-minutes.
Ley aced the start and despite this being only his fifth TCR UK outing and being pursued throughout the race by the Kent brothers, he led from start to finish. However, his progress was punctuated on lap four when the Safety Car was deployed after something appeared to be amiss with the front left corner of Constable’s car causing him to end up in the gravel at Clearways.
Racing resumed with nine minutes left on the clock, Ley eager to execute the restart without losing any ground. He did just that and went on to become the youngest ever TCR UK race winner, crossing the line ahead of Bradley Kent who was later relegated to 15th place after a 15-second penalty was applied for track limit infringements. This promoted Shepherd to second to take his first-ever TCR UK podium result, with Lewis Kent third.
Smith claimed fourth ahead of Hart – who had done enough to retain his championship lead – with Hutchison sixth followed by last year’s runner-up Bruce Winfield (Area Motorsport CUPRA), who would be first to admit that it hadn’t been his best weekend of Motorsport. Smiley finished eighth – relieved to have at least scored points this time around, with Wilmot ninth and round two winner Jessica Hawkins (Area Motorsport with FastR CUPRA) ending a challenging weekend in tenth.
Newsham, who originally went off at Graham Hill Bend before getting back on track, salvaged 11th place; Scott Sumpton (Essex & Kent Hyundai i30 N) was 12th ahead of Matthew Wilson (JWB Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición) in 14th, with Bradley Kent scoring the final point on this occasion.
Winners of the Goodyear Diamond trophy for drivers over 40 years old went to Russell Joyce in races one and two, with Andy Wilmot collecting the award in race three.
The Tom Walker Memorial Trophy for drivers contesting their first season in the championship was awarded to Chris Smiley in race one, Isaac Smith in race two and Alex Ley in race three.
Teams now prepare themselves for rounds eight and nine, which take place at Oulton Park on Saturday 16thJuly.
TCR UK is supported by Goodyear, Maximum Networks, Liqui Moly, Corbeau, MaxiCloud Hosted Telephony, Co-ordSport, Berkshire Turbo, Joyce Design, Shepherd Compello Motorsport Insurance, Sunoco UK and Woya Digital. The Championship is administered by Club Time Attack.
Round 5 winner – Lewis Kent
“Having taken a win and two third places, I’m very happy with the outcome from this weekend and with other drivers experiencing mixed fortunes, it’s been a very productive three races for me in terms of the championship.
“I’m also pleased that we’re getting to grips with the new car and I know there’s even more to come. I’m therefore really looking forward to Oulton Park and seeing if we can continue to improve on performance.”
Round 6 winner – Jac Constable
“It was good to be on the front running pace and great to win race two, although I must admit it was a little unexpected. It was really a case of letting Brad (Kent) do the work in front of me, keep patient and then when he had a problem, I was able to make the most of the opportunity.
I really enjoyed the racing. It was clean and fair and I’m very pleased to have scored a win in what is a very competitive season.”
Round 7 winner – Alex Ley
“I can’t believe it! To come into this championship this year and win a race so early on is absolutely amazing. I’m speechless.
“Starting from Pole Position in race three and then having to do it again at the restart – and then again after the safety car – was a lot of pressure. Plus, when you add that to the size of the crowds and the quality of the competition around me, it really was a lot to deal with, so I’m really, really happy to take my first ever win in a TCR race.”