With the season on the brink of closure for 2014, the UK National Legends entered Brands Hatch on the 02 November 2014 for what was round sixteen of another classic season. With Dean Brace already crowned the 2014 champion, the fight was on for who would finish second between three drivers. Ben Power had entered Brands Hatch in the comfortable position of second, but was massively under threat from team mate James Holman and the 2014 champion’s father, Nick Brace. After Saturday’s action, both Ben and James had taken victories in the heats, but with a packed grid of thirty cars for round sixteen and the finale of the 2014 season, track position would be crucial in securing a decent points total to take second in the championship. Ben held the advantage heading into heat one but expected tough opposition from his rivals, especially as winter weather set in around Brands Hatch and dampen the 1.2 mile Indy circuit with a drizzling shower.
Championship Positions Fall into Place After Wet Heat One
With the draw for the heats made after qualifying, the drivers entered the circuit for heat one, in what was treacherous conditions. The draw had resulted in Henry King lining up on pole position, but alongside was the fast starting Jack Parker. In terms of the drivers challenging for second in the championship, James Holman had drawn third spot, with Ben Power only two rows behind and Nick Brace a further two back, setting up a classic encounter to start the final day of the season. With Dean Brace thrown into the mix on row four, looking for more wins in a successful championship year, the present of the First4Vans sponsored Van of Nathan Anthony meant the spectacular looking Legend was in a good starting spot on row three. The one to watch from the rear of the field was the No.9 Legend of multiple champion Lawrence Davey, who had made a return to the grid after a year in the MINI Challenge. Showing a new livery and a new sponsor, DNA Tuning, Lawrence would be looking for a far more successful day, after picking up two DNFs on Saturday.
As conditions would favour the brave, Jack Parker broke away into an early lead, dragging out an advantage of way over three seconds to James Holman after the opening lap. With Neil Shenton settling into third from row two, the biggest move towards the front started to be Dean Brace, who broke into the top three within minutes. As most drivers started to get caught out on the slippery conditions, Parker mastered a brilliant drive and left James Holman to deal with Dean Brace and a chasing Ben Power. As a few laps ticked by, Holman, Brace and Power were covered by just under two seconds, with Parker out front by a healthy margin of eight. Dean sized up a move on Holman, as the 2014 champion was into second by lap six and allowed Ben Power to chase down his team mate in the battle for second in the standings. The two were tailing each other over the next few laps, before Ben made his move on the final lap and with it, second in the overall championship. As Jack Parker had pulled away to a win of nearly ten seconds, Dean Brace wrapped up another podium for the season, with Ben Power completing the heat one podium for round sixteen.
The front four had created their own mini group throughout the race, whilst the rest of the top ten were all closely matched. As Lawrence Davey tagged himself onto the rear of the group, the double champion quickly moved up the order, overhauling Nick Brace on lap six and then demoting Steve Whitelegg a lap later. In tricky conditions, Lawrence was handling the legend spectacularly, but this wasn’t helped by a grassy moment at Clearways in his quest for a top five finish. After passing Kenneth Jensen’s Coupe on the penultimate lap for fifth, Lawrence had pulled off one of the drives of the race, moving up the order from what was row sixteen on the grid.
Legends Car Championship – Round Sixteen Heat One:
- Jack Parker – Legend 34 Coupe (13) = 11:42.788 = 10 Laps
- Dean Brace – Legend Ford Coupe (1) = +9.576s
- Ben Power – Legend Ford Coupe (55) = +12.341s
- James Holman – Legend Ford Coupe (6) = +12.356s
- Lawrence Davey – Legends Ford Coupe (9) = +18.287s
Paterson Takes Victory as Conditions Worsen
Once the drivers were prepared for heat two and the timetable had been shaken up, the conditions over Brands Hatch had gone from bad to the worse, with parts of the Indy circuit nearly flooded. With conditions yet again favouring the brave, John Paterson came out of Paddock Hill as the race leader, with Glenn Burtenshaw and Jean-Michel Poncelet trying to keep the Scottish regular in their sights, against the spray and the continuing rain. With Rickie Leggatt holding fourth position, the mover in the front pack started to be Dean Brace, as the champion climbed up the order and settled into second by lap four. With a spray causing significant problems for nearly all the drivers, the third lap unfortunately had seen two go missing at Paddock Hill Bend, with heat one winner Jack Parker joining an already stricken Steve Whitelegg in the gravel trap. No safety car was deployed meaning the drivers could continue to race and try hard to survive the conditions.
As Glenn Burtenshaw unfortunately fell back down the order over the next few laps, Dean’s father Nick started to make a move up the order and joined his son within the top three on lap six. As Jean-Michel Poncelet tried to keep the Braces in his tracks and fight for a podium place, he came under pressure from Rickie Leggatt until lap eight. With Leggatt lapping with similar times to Poncelet, a mistake from the No.26 driver dropped him down the order to fifteenth, behind the team mates of Lawrence Davey and Nathan Anthony, who both had their own moments at Surtees, when they forced one another onto the grass fighting over track position, before concluding the race in tenth and twelfth positions.
Back at the front, John Paterson held an advantage of four seconds, over both Dean and Nick Brace. With the Braces running in tandem and following one another’s lines, Nick passed his son on lap eight to claim second spot. Both had a comfortable gap to Poncelet and never had to worry, as the No.65 Legend was defending hard to keep James Holman behind. Targeting another strong finish to claim third in the overall standings saw James snatch fourth on the penultimate lap and hold the position by 2.366 seconds. Come the flag, James had decreased the gap to Dean by 0.333 seconds, as one of the drivers who had mastered the conditions after being seventeenth at the end of lap one. Jean-Michel Poncelet completed the top five, comfortably ahead of Kenneth Jensen, who took sixth for a second time on Sunday.
Legends Car Championship – Round Sixteen Heat Two:
- John Paterson – Legend Coupe (3) = 11:54.447 = 10 Laps
- Nick Brace – Legend Ford Coupe (2) = +4.465s
- Dean Brace – Legend Ford Coupe (1) = +4.759s
- James Holman – Legend Ford Coupe (6) = +5.092s
- Jean-Michel Poncelet – Legend Ford Coupe (65) = +7.458s
Davey and Brace Entertain in Thrilling Final
For the final race of the 2014 UK National Legends, the grid would see most of the faster drivers towards the rear, but this wouldn’t stop Lawrence Davey or Dean Brace from making an impact in damp conditions. Starting on rows ten and eleven, it was Lawrence who got the better start, to claim fourth on the opening lap, whilst others around slipped off at Graham Hill Bend. With Robert King leading away from the lights, drama hit second placed driver Paul Simmons entering Graham Hill Bend, as the No.51 Legend Ford Coupe slid into a spin and nearly collected Nathan Anthony’s Sedan. As Nathan avoided the spinning Simmons, the rest of the field tried to overhaul him, with Steve Whitelegg taking second.
As Whitelegg led at the start of lap two, Lawrence Davey dived for the lead into Graham Hill Bend, pulling off a perfect pass and looked likely to break clear. Once Dean Brace moved into second on the next lap, the gap slowly decreased until the two were side by side. By this time, James Holman had settled into third spot after climbing from row nine of the grid, ahead of Rookie Champion Henry King and John Paterson. As most found the damp conditions tricky to handle, a wide line by Lawrence Davey seemed to help him, but by lap eight, Dean had worked out what to do to overhaul the multiple Legends champion.
In a tussle of champion vs champion, Dean moved into the race lead after a cut-back exiting Graham Hill Bend. As Lawrence tried to defend, Dean had the inside line entering Surtees and slotted into the race lead. Once in the lead, Dean used his pace to make a break away, but as Lawrence fought hard to fight back, after slipping behind Jack Parker, a grassy moment on the exit of Graham Hill Bend cost him multiple positions. As Lawrence fell to fifth on lap ten, John Paterson and James Holman battled over the final podium spot, with the No.3 Legend holding an advantage of just over half a second. With the race being shortened due to a timetable change, Paterson was able to hold on and score a second podium of the day. With Holman fourth to end the season as third in the overall standings, Lawrence Davey ended the weekend with another top five finish, on his return to the series.
Legends Car Championship – Round Sixteen Final:
- Dean Brace – Legend Ford Coupe (1) = 11:50.885 = 10 Laps
- Jack Parker – Legend 34 Coupe (13) = +3.689s
- John Paterson – Legend Coupe (3) = +4.365s
- James Holman – Legend Ford Coupe (6) = +5.223s
- Lawrence Davey – Legend Ford Coupe (9) = +5.956s
With the 2014 season now concluded and the awards given out, the attention now turns to the 2015 season and who will be the championship contenders? With Dean Brace becoming a double champion in 2014 and winning the title back to back, the question will go on until answered on whether he will return to chase a third crown? Rumours will float throughout the Legends paddock over the winter until the final entry list is confirmed, but what has been announced, as provisional, is the 2015 calendar.
We send out our congratulations to the 2014 Champion Dean Brace and the podium finishers, Ben Power and James Holman, as well as Rookie Champion Henry King and Teams Champion, Nick Whitelegg, with the top six in the standings concluding as follows:
- Dean Brace – Legend Ford Coupe (1) = 8500 Pts.
- Ben Power – Legend Ford Coupe (55) = 7185 Pts.
- James Holman – Legend Ford Coupe (6) = 6655 Pts.
- Nick Brace – Legend Ford Coupe (2) = 6310 Pts.
- Stephen Whitelegg – Legend Coupe’ (66) = 5925 Pts.
- Henry King – Legend 1934 Ford Coupe (78) = 5855 Pts.
To see more photos from Round Sixteen at the Brands Hatch finale, please visit our Flickr page album here
Written and Produced by Chris Collier and Cheryl Closs of Collierhousehold.co.uk