Race Report: Brands Hatch

DigiPlat Racing claimed their first win in Britcar at rounds 3 and 4 of the championship at Brands Hatch. A further podium and the fastest lap in both races lays the disappointment of Croft to rest, and puts the team back in contention for the championship.


A stop-start day of testing on Friday meant that the team were still searching for the optimal set-up heading into Saturday morning's 30 minute qualifying session. An electrical issue (a reoccurance of the problem that caused the retirement in race 2 at Croft) followed by a vibration attributed to a worn propshaft donut meant that running had been sporadic, but the team were boosted by the news that former F2 racer Ollie Hancock would be joining driver/owner Nathan Wells in the car.

Nathan headed out first, quickly on the pace, setting a best lap time of 49'534" around the Brands Indy Circuit layout. Ollie then hopped in, and took a further half a second off Nathan's time, putting the DigiPlat BMW M3 8th on the grid and 2nd in class.

With 11 cars from 6th to 17th separated by a second, and several fast cars out of position at the back of the grid, it was set to be a thrilling, tight race. "We were really happy after qualifying", said Wells. "We missed out on the class pole to Evans and Bradshaw, but we felt confident that the aggregate pace across both drivers would see us really able to fight for the class win".

Race 1

Nathan got proceedings underway in race 1, but a difficult first few laps saw DigiPlat dropping down the order. "I overheated the tyres on lap one, which meant I couldn't get out of the corners as I kept getting wheelspin", said Nathan. "They cooled down eventually, but not before I'd lost several places and a fair chunk of time to some of our Class 4 rivals". 

To further complicate an already difficult stint, the Class 1 Taranis of MacG Racing was making its way up through the order, but had developed a mechanical issue that saw it firing clouds of oil and fluid into the air behind it. Wells had to follow the Taranis for nearly 10 laps, and it didn't take long for his windscreen to get coated.

Despite what Wells described as a "nightmare" stint, DigiPlat emerged from the pits a net 13th, (two cars ahead were yet to stop), and with seasoned pro Ollie Hancock at the wheel. Game on.

But Ollie's stint got off to the worst possible start when he was tagged from behind on the way into Druids by Class 4 rivals Reflex Racing, in their unique Ligier JS2-R, piloted by Marcus Vivian and ex-BTCC racer Luke Davenport. Ollie lost over 30 seconds in the ensuing spin, but set off again with the bit well and truly between his teeth.

A thrilling race ensued, and Ollie dispatched car after car as none of the Class 4 runners (and most of Classes 3 and 2!) could live with his relentless pace and aggressive, yet controlled, overtaking moves. The result was a superb 2nd place in class, and 9th overall.

Race 2

The second 60-minute race of the day got off to the worst possible start for DigiPlat. An ominous knocking sound was heard when the car was fired up to go to the grid, and lead mechanic Ash Bird quickly identified an issue with the valves. Some of the fastest dismantling and reassembly of an engine ever seen in Britcar allowed the team out into the race, albeit 5 laps down on the lead car.

But then a massive stroke of luck. The race-leading Praga of Jem Hepworth came up to lap the Class 2 Moss Motorsport BMW 1M GTR, and the two had a major coming together. BMW pilot Charles Lamb had taken his usual racing line, sweeping in from the outside of the circuit at Clearways to hug the wall along the start/finish straight, but hadn't spotted Hepworth's tiny Praga making a move down the inside. Hepworth caught Lamb's rear, and the mighty Woodrow Motorsport-built 1M speared into the wall. The red flags came out, and the race was restarted.

DigiPlat Racing were allowed to the grid, but at the back. But this was a lot better than being 5 laps down, and gave the team the chance to fight for some points in the championship.

Nathan was in the cockpit first, and made a fantastic start, gaining no fewer than 7 positions on the opening lap as he swept around the outside at Paddock Hill bend while other cars concertinaed up on the tighter inside line. Nathan drove a well-measured stint, and made up several more places to put the DigiPlat Racing machine in the middle of the pack overall and well in contention for class victory. A slick pitstop followed, and Ollie Hancock got in.

Ollie picked up right where he left off in race one, setting a searing pace and showing all of his considerable racecraft and experience as he cut through the traffic and several cars that were still ahead of DigiPlat on the road. The result was emphatic: 4th overall, fastest lap, and DigiPlat Racing's maiden class win in Britcar! A fantastic weekend's racing for the team.

"We had an unbelievable piece of luck with that restart", says Nathan Wells. "But we still had a lot to do from the back of the grid, and a lot of positions to make up. We got a great start, and then Ollie finished the job in his stint. Absolutely fantastic result, and thanks to the team who did some amazing work to get us out into that second race to begin with after the engine issues".