1991 Brands Hatch Rallycross Grand Prix Challengers…

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Without doubt Will Gollop is favourite to lift the Autoglass British Rallycross Grand Prix title this weekend and if he does, he'll be the first driver to have won the event on three occassions. Since the penultimate round of the European Champioship at Lydden Hill, Will's car has undergone a complete rebuild following an enormous crash. The Silkolene/Piper Cams/Alpha Metals driver was chasing Schanche in the final after what turned out to be a controversial start to the race. Although the beams did not detect a jump start, many felt that Schanche and Pat Doran had left the grid early, Gollop was left behind and tried hard to make up the lost ground, taking to the outside at the exit of Chessons and ended up clouting the bank. The BiTurbo Metro sprang back into the circuit and collected Gary Baker's RS200E, writing off both cars and Gollop's catching fire. Since that day, September 22nd, Will's Canterbury preparation company, G-Tech, has been a hive of activity and a huge amount of work has gone into the Metro. He explained some of the work involved; "We had to re-shell the Metro and so while it was stripped down, we stiffened the chassis and reduced the weight by 30 kilos, so that it's now much closer to its weight limit. The engine was largely undamaged although part of the wiring loom was burnt but it was thanks to the quick actions of the marshalls that comparatively little fire damaged occured. The engine has been on the dyno and I'm expecting more drivability from it." When Will lines up on the grid this weekend, he will not have driven the car since the accident at Lydden but he's confident that will not be a problem; "It might take me a lap to get back into the swing of it!" He expressed his disappointment that his seaosn-long protagonist Schanche will not be competing at Brands but felt serious opposition could be expected from Holm, Rantanen, Arnesson, Palmer, Welch, Gibson and Doran. "If it's wet, it could be anyone's race", concluded the British Champion. Will Gollop

Will Gollop

The man who must start the event as favourite, Gollop has this year clinched his first ever outright British Championship and fought long and hard against Martin Schanch in the European series too. The letter series of course ended with his big crash at Lydden and the G-Tech team worked hard rebuilding its charger into a spare body shell. In the process Will took the opportunity to make some improvements to the handling. The BiTurbo Metro 6R4 has been the fastest car in the British Championship during 1991 and often set the fastest time in the European Championship , with further improvements made, the rest are going to have to work very hard, although boundless power may not be the best ingredient for success in a wet event. Gollop is a two times winner of the Grand Prix, although he still regards his 1989 sprint through the fog as something of a bizarre victory. In August's British Championship qualifier at Brands the Silkolene/Piper backed driver smashed a huge 2.1s off Schanche's track record, although the time was later penalised for an alleged start line infringement.

Pat Doran

Pat DoranThe Goliath to Carnegie's David in every sense of the word. Doran is a big man with an even bigger character and in the last two years has taken to rallycross like the proverbial duck to water. The Walderslade man's RS200E is among the most powerful cars too; running a Julian Godfrey-prepared BDT 'E' motor Doran can comfortably muster in excess of 650bhp and uses it effectively. This has been a frustating year sorting out mechanical problems on the Ford, followed by a period of chasing weaknesses out of the transmission system once Godfrey had worked his magic on the engine. Now running a prop shaft developed by Martin Schanche, Doran has found a good run of reliability and by the end of the year had become a regular 'S' Finalist in ERC events. We have yet to see the best of Pat in rallycross, a lot will depend on the weather and track conditions but if it stays dry and not too bumpy (both things that work in favour of the Ford), don't be surprised to find Doran amongst the fastest.

Steve Palmer

Steve PalmerAt both Brands rounds of the British Rallycross Championship Palmer was able to run Gollop close, leading the 'A' Final of the August event until the last lap. The March round though provides better evidence of the sort of form we could expect this weekend, for in the first heats - when the track was extremely wet - there was no one to hold a light to Palmer. The big 3.8 litre naturally aspirated V64V engines are low revving and high on torque, in the wet this translates into a package that can find and exploit, all the grip the circuit has to offer. Goodman race engines pioneered the big capacity engines and Palmer today runs its 'development' engine in his Panasonic Batteries-backied 6R4. This engine has been the subject of continuing experimentation by Goodman with power gradually creeping up to the point where the motor is now good for something in excess of 550bhp. Although not essential for it to be wet in order for Palmer to be quickest, he took the fastest time of the day at a very dry Lydden in August - precipitation or a slippery track will help his cause. With a new sponsor for this event, one that sees Palmer running in an unfamiliar black and gold colour scheme, there is no shortage of incentive to do well.

Rob Gibson

Rob GibsonThe little man from Cheshire had had the kind of year he would prefer to forget, two big accidents severely denting his hopes of a top three placing in the European Rallycross Championship. Still, at the end of the year Gibson pipped Rantanen to 5th in the championship and that, having started just eight of the eleven events, is no mean achievement. Running his Metro almost single-handed throughout the year, Gibson is one of what might be termed 'Old school', preparing everything on his car himdelf, carrying out all engine and transmission rebuilds and always managing to turn out one of the most competitive - if not always the prettiest cars in the paddock. Behind the wheel Gibson is just as talented and often puts one across more powerful, or more sophisticated cars, through sheer determination to succeed. Not always a man for the wet weather, Gibson is more likely to excel if the track remains dry, having said that the yellow Metro qualified on the front row of the 'A' Final for the irish ERC round on a very wet day.

Dermot Carnegie

Dermot CarnegieHere is a man of immense talent, a driver who can turn on three minutes of unrestrained, on-the-limit motoring in a 450bhp supercar to succeed at rallycross one week and keep himself in check for the delicacies and precision of top class autotesting in a car with little more than 45bhp the next. Having won the All Ireland Rallycross Championship last winter Dermot treated himself to a couple of European championship events this summer and holidayed around the Belgian and Dutch rounds of the ERC. Having never before seen either track Carnegie acquitted himself admirably, a fine 7th place in Belgium being followed by 14th in the difficult Dutch round. Carnegie excelled too in the British Championship, running right up at the front with the leaders in both of his two outings and using his smooth and deceptively quick style to excellent effect both at the twisty Nutts Corner and at the speedway of Mondello Park. At Brands last year dermot used the same method to progress into the main event and was running well throughout, eventually to be classified 5th overall. Now equipped with a 3.5 litre engine, the Dubliner's 6R4 is not among the most powerful but with its determined and talented driver abroad, is usually among the fastest.

Guy Williams

Guy WilliamsGuy was well and truely 'Murray Walkered' at last year's GP, built up before the event to be one of the men to look for, the young Metro driver endured a terrible time of things with a whole string of problems that eventually kept him completel out of the Finals. This year Williams has concentrated on the British Championship and was a consistent top three runner throughout the early part of the year, this despite uding a very tired engine. At the end of the year though it all went desperately wrong again, tripped up in the wet heats at the penultimate Championship round the Centriplant car was damaged badly enough that Williams non-scored. That badly hurt his hopes and a non-appearance at the final round followed and, dropping out of the top three, Williams eventually finished by 4th. Another driver to have discovered the engineering abilities of Julian Godfrey, Williams and his team of mechanics now workl closely with Pat Doran's team and combine to create one of the liveliest crews to be found in the rallycross paddock. We have seen Williams run with the best and that the ability to score a major result exists is unquestionable. Whether the car stays together for long wenough that Guy can put together a qualifying performance from which to mount his challenge is another matter.

Barry Squibb

Barry SquibbA direct qualifier to the main event here in 1990, Squibb was desparately disappointed to be a non-starter in the race, although with its eventual outcome there was some relief from the Torquay hotelier. Luck is not something Squibb has been over endowed with; certainly his racing over the last few years would have benefitted from a little more of that vital ingredient. Driving the original 'Xtrac Escort', Squibb is nonetheless one of the best British drivers in the sport and was one of only two men other than Gollop to win a British Championship round this year. That win came at Croft and was very nearly repeated at the final round when Squibb led the 'A' Finalunti the last lap. Recently Squibb's Heywood International-backed car has been fitted with larger brakes and, although the test event at Lydden produced problems, Barry now knows hopes that the car will be able to stop as quickly as it can get going, a performance factor which is absolutely critical at a track like Brands where there are many tight corners. The last few GPs have been dominated by talk of double winners and Squibb could well produce one, his car won the 1984 event with Martin Schanche aboard.

Olle Arnesson

Olle ArnessonThe big Swede has been something of a mystery man over the last few years, ducking out of the limelight following an off-road fued with Martin Schanche that lasted for several years and which, for Olle, removed any pleasure from his motorsport. Major outings this year have numbered just four, in which Olle has taken 3rd in the Swedish ERC round on his home Holjesbanan track and a rather disappointing 15th place in the Norwegian round of the same series. In between times however he made a rather more successful crosss border raid into Norway when he was the clear winner of the Norwegian Masters and Momarken Money races staged on consecutive days at the start of September. At home Arnesson has competed in the hotly contested Swedish Championship and featured in a thrilling three way battle for overall honours with Tommy Kristoffersson and Per Ekulnd. Kristofferson eventually won the title but not without a fight and it was Arnesson who emerged second ahead of the multi-talented Ekund. A winner at Brands in 1983, Arnesson seems to have become a man for the big occasions and must be taken seriously.

Thor Holm

Thor Holm3rd in the ERC and at the Brands GP in 1990, Home is an established front runner in top-level rallycross events although he has yet to score a really major success for himself. Holm is very much a man who competes for the enjoyment of the sport, although he us no less serious about his racing for that approach to it. The Norwegian's RS200 has been well used this year, not only has Holm started in nine ERC events but he tackled the classic America Pikes Peak Hill climb as well as the entire Swedish Hillclimb series. The latter is run on gravel hills and is extremely competitive. In the final round of the series Holm was off form, suffering from flu and lost the title to Per Eklund. The trans-atlantic outing wasn't too successful either, Thor's enthusiasm for the mammoth hill being dampened following a practice accident in which he fell off the side of a mountain! At Brands last year Holm finished 3rd but had been very fast during qualifying heats and was always i the hunt for a top placed finish.

Jan Arthur and Martin Iversen

Jan Arthur and Martin IversenThe Iversen is indeed remarkable. There are precious few father and son teams that can claim to be competitive anywhere in motorsport and fewer still that could lay claim to a stable of cars as possessed by the Iversons. Two Metro6R4s, two RS200s and a Porsche are called upon by these two motor sport fanatics. Both are very competitive hillclimbers as well as quick rallycrossers, Martin using the Porsche in the Norwegian Supernational class as well as driving the Group B cars. Jan Arthur runs the family business Glomma Papp, one of the largest independent paper manufacturing companies in Scandinavia and motorsport is purely a leisure activity. In July Iversen esnior arrived at the Swedish round of the ERC with a new engine in his RS200 and proceeded to celebrate his recent 60th birthday by qualifying 4th on the 'A' Final grid! The next event in his calendar though was Belgium and he managed to crash his Ford very heavily. While the car is being repaired Jan Arthur has switched to the RS200E usually rallycrossed by son Martin, who now drives one of the two 6R4s normally reserved for hillclimbs. The metro uses a 3.5 litre engine and is not as highly developed as man yother Metros.

Pekka Rantanen

Pekka RantanenThere has never been a Finnish GP winner and if Pekka can pull off the victory here this weekend it would be a very major boost for the man who is, since the retirement of Matti Alamaki, Finland's leading rallycross driver. "Not very pretty but still alive", is how Rantanen described his Ford after his big accident in France where the car rolled heavily off the track. Eventually placed 6th in the ERC, Rantanen had his best result in Holland, 4th place on what was very much a Ford track. Budget restrictions forced him to miss the Lydden event and this is his first appearance in Britain since last year's GP when he finished 2nd between Schanche and Holm. Among the oldest and hardest worked of the RS200s still running in rallycross, Rantaneb's car is showing its age in handling. The Finn though works hard to overcome any shortcommings in his car and is usually very competitive. If you have any images from this race then please email us at info@classiccarmag.net,.Tags:, ,