SAUNDERS WINS AGAIN BUT THERE’S A HAND IN THE SHADOWS!
The titanic duels between Lewis Saunders and Charlie Hand were once again the highlight of the Junior Saloon Car Championship visit to Brands Hatch.
Only 0.3 secs covered the top four in qualifying, with Saunders just leading Hand, Alex Solley and Jake Weston. The lead trio got an early break, as Weston began to challenge Matthew Cripps for fourth. But into Druids for the fourth time Hand tried his luck, but Saunders had it covered, while Solley patiently lay in wait.
Weston had managed to work his way to the head of a five car train for fourth, before starting to consolidate until Deagen Fairclough worked his way through too and began to threaten.
Saunders was never able to escape from Hand’s challenge though and they took the flag 0.271 secs apart. “I expected Charlie to make a few lunges, but it was all kept clean. I did get a bit sideways at Graham Hill though,” said the victorious Saunders.
“That was so tight, but I got a run on Lewis at Graham Hill and Clearways, but he just drove away on the exit,” Hand added.
When the lead fight intensified Solley had closed in again, until he ran wide at paddock in the closing laps, but was still a clear third. “I just turned in too early,” he admitted. Rookies Weston and Fairclough battled it out for fourth and had a couple of wild exchanges. “I had started to pull away and had been unaware that Deagen was closing,” said Weston after finally sealing the place.
“I had a bad start, then just put my head down and did my best to catch up again. There was some contact but I lost out in the drag from the final corner,” Fairclough added.
Ben Greenhill was inches behind the fourth placed duel at the flag, while Ruben Hage snatched seventh out of Clark Curve on the last lap from Cripps. Gregory and Harvey Caton completed the top 10.
Battle soon re-commenced in race two, as Hand got the better of Saunders around the outside at Druids on lap one. But Saunders rechallenged through Graham Hill and after taking the Cooper Straight side by side, he was back in front at Surtees. It was close for third too, as Weston went into Clearways side by side with Solley. They made contact but Weston nosed ahead as they started third lap, but had to give the place back as the safety car was out, with Tommy Gilham stranded at Druids.
From the restart Hand was straight on the attack again, but with Weston missing the jump, Solley was on his own and his former rival had Hage challenging for fourth.
“I kept seeing Charlie’s nose appear, which I expected and we had contact once,” said Saunders as he kept his 100 percent record intact. “That was a real battle all the way, I did get in front again at Druids, but gave it back as we had made contact,” Hand admitted.
Solley found his “consistency” was rewarded with another clear third, while Weston just held off Hage for fourth. “He had the pace through Clearways,” Hage admitted. “I knew he was there but just held my line and tried to stay clean,” Weston replied. Fairclough completed the top six after “another rubbish start,” with Greenhill and Gregory next home, while Harry Rice pipped Molly Dodd for ninth a lap from home.
Article & Photos by Peter Scherer, August 3rd 2020.