Brands Hatch Indy Circuit welcomes the Legends Cars Championship with MRF Tyres for the second of three 2022 visits this coming weekend, 11th/12th June, as part of the immensely popular annual American Speedfest event.
With thousands of spectators expected at the Kent venue across the two days, rounds six and seven of the Legends campaign will be a bittersweet affair for all involved as organisers and competitors take time to remember and honour the late Tick Steward.
Tragically losing a lengthy battle with cancer last month, aged only 52, Tick was a giant of Legends Cars racing – the first ever Champion, the inaugural World Champion and playing a pivotal role in the creation and development of, what has gone on to become, a hugely successful championship.
In terms of the current title battle, reigning and two-time Legends Cars Champion Miles Rudman (Lichfield) holds a very healthy lead of almost 400 points going into this coming weekend’s action and he will be striving to pull even further away from the chasing pack.
His closest challengers are five-time former title winner John Mickel (Horsham) and one of the most consistently quick and competitive drivers never to have – yet – won the championship, Will Gibson (Camberley). Mickel, like Rudman, has four race wins so far this year while Gibson has taken victory on five occasions. Memorably, four of those wins for Gibson came at Brands back in April.
Intriguingly, all of the major championship contenders have experienced misfortune at points this year and so the potential for a change around in the order is certainly possible again over the course of the six races at American Speedfest 9.
Behind the top three, the category’s most senior driver Steve Whitelegg (Bury) is fourth and enjoying a strong season to date. Fifth is youngster Marcus Pett (Boston), who claimed his first win since 2019 last time out at Pembrey, while the consistent Chris Brockhurst (Westgate) rounds out the top six.
Jack Parker (Wolverhampton), who topped the points after the opening event of the season at Oulton Park back in early April, is seventh in the championship heading to Brands having missed the previous visit to the Kent track when partner Lori gave birth to their daughter Starlette.
In the Rookie class battle Oli Schlup (Cuckfield), son of experienced Legends Cars campaigner Mike, leads the way from Mickel Motorsport team-mate Luke Simmons (Lingfield), son of multiple Masters class title winner Paul. Third in the Rookies is Ben Higgins (Powys), who achieved a season-best finish of fifth place overall on home ground at Pembrey – he had led the round five Final for half the race.
Past race winners Simmons Snr, Nick Bridgeman (Baldock), Sean Smith (Marlow) and 2020 Champion Daniel Clark (Darras Hall) are all seeking their first victories of the current season and each is more than capable.
As always in Legends, the action on Saturday will begin with a qualifying session. Rather than the finishing order setting the grid for the first race, it’s more of a practice where drivers complete their minimum required laps to participate with grids then drawn by ballot.
Ensuring the ultimate in race action, with the quickest drivers often starting lower down the order, incredible overtaking is guaranteed lap after lap. For the Finals each day, grid order is determined by the points accrued over the respective day’s action – so the top scorers begin Finals from the back.
“American Speedfest is always a true highlight of the season, the crowds are huge and the on-track and off-track entertainment is fantastic – a real festival atmosphere”, said Phil Cooper, Legends Cars Championship owner, “We’re expecting six superb races and looking forward to seeing some great racing up and down the grid. If the Brands event in April was anything to go by, we’re in for a treat.
“It’ll also be a weekend of reflection and remembrance for everyone associated with Legends Cars, as we pay our respects and celebrate the life and career of our very first champion Tick Steward. It was heartbreaking to receive the news he had lost his battle with cancer a few weeks ago, Tick was a huge part of the early success of Legends Cars so we’re dedicating this weekend to his memory.”
This year, the series is also breaking new ground with the use of SulNOx fuel conditioner. Embracing a greener future, Legends is at the forefront of moves to ensure cleaner and more environmentally conscious racing. Thanks to sponsor Parc Lane Cars, the company owned by racing brothers Mark Beaty (Gosforth) and Kieran Beaty (Hexham), the action will also be filmed for future broadcast.
Qualifying on Saturday, 11th June, will begin at 10.20 with Heat One starting at 12.00, Heat Two at 14.55 and the round six Final at 17.25. On Sunday, 12th June, round seven qualifying begins at 10.00 with Heat One starting at 12.20, Heat Two at 15.10 and the Final at 17.45.
Provisional 2022 Legends Cars Championship Points (after Rd5):
1st Miles Rudman, 2535pts; 2nd John Mickel, 2165pts; 3rd Will Gibson, 2000pts;
4th Steve Whitelegg, 1835pts; 5th Marcus Pett, 1780pts; 6th Chris Brockhurst, 1485pts