Brands Hatch Indy Race Report

SJN Photography 001b

With the damaged engine still in pieces, we put in a last second entry for the second round of the Heritage Parts Centre Formula Vee Championship at Brands Hatch in beautiful sunny conditions.

James Cater would treat the weekend as a test to see how the rebuilt engine in the Primrose Hospice sponsored RTV Sheane would perform, hoping to stay out of trouble and pick up whatever championship points were on offer.

Qualifying was marred by two red flags which cut the session short as James was still running the engine in, leaving him way down in 24th and 23rd place for the races, and having to fix an oil leak to get out for the first race.

A great start thrust James into a seven car battle for 14th place with all the cars swapping positions.

Unfortunately one car dropped it’s oil going into the top gear Paddock Hill bend, making James and Rory Melia ahead of him spin. With the rest of the field narrowly avoiding them, James spent several precious seconds trying to restart his stalled car as he rolled down the other side of Paddock Hill.

spin back view

With lots of oil now down on the track from other leaking cars, James was still able to chase down and pass Vaughn Jones with two laps to go to take 4th in Class B and 19th place overall, but finding the car running rough and down on power.

Graham Gant took the win in his WEV FV01, by 0.2 seconds from Daniel Hands and Craig Pollard picked up third overall. James Harridge won Class B after starting dead last (5th overall) from Andrew Cooper and Jamie Harrison.

Toying with the idea to pack up and go home, Glenn Hay found some valve clearances had slipped – an easy fix that had the engine sounding sweet again before we focused on the second race the next morning.

With the sun burning down yet again, James made up a few places on the start and was immediately in a 9 car scrap for 14th place.

Four laps in, James had a great run down the pit straight and was easing around the outside of Neil Aldridge around Paddock Hill bend when Vaughn Jones spun on the inside of the corner.

Neil moved right to avoid the spinner, still leaving James room on the outside of the track, but then Vaughn clipped Neil, sending him hard into the side of the RTV Sheane on the high speed exit.

crash a

This impact bent a steering arm joint and put a hole through the side panel, and though James tried to continue the damage was too severe and he had to retire from the race.

The restart saw another red flag after three laps, with Ben Miloudi winning fromCraig Pollard with Daniel Hands picking up another podium. Class B went to James Harridge who only made it from last up to 6th place this time, with Andrew Cooper 2nd again and Rory Melia getting an excellent 3rd.

It was a frustrating weekend for RTV, as all we were trying to do was stay out of any trouble to assess the engine, but when the racing is as close as in Formula Vee these incidents will always happen – we just got unlucky this time.

Round 3 of the championship is at Croft in North Yorkshire on May 26th & 27th where we will need to get more from the engine to be competitive.


Before then, James will be focusing his attention on the skies, as he will do his first ever tandem parachute jump raising funds for Primrose Hospice on 5th May. A huge thank you to everyone who has helped to raise £527 so far, and please donate what you can at



MSVR Vee Festival 2016


To end our 2016 campaign, RTV headed down to Brands Hatch for the annual non-championship MSVR Vee Festival at the weekend.

This is always a great event with loads of track time at a great price – qualifying and 3 races – which attracts star drivers from other series alongside a few who only ever do the Festival and no championship rounds. Stephen Morrin brought an Irish spec 1600cc Leastone over, whilst there were a few rather older vintage cars in John Bowles’ Hawk and the even older Appal driven by Erle Minhinnick.  Gavin Buckley was also over from the Irish Championship, but this time in a UK spec Vee hired from Team Carbrooke Racing, and there were a few new faces at the track, too.

James put the Sheane 12th on the grid in qualifying out of 21 cars, but unfortunately had to pull off the track after losing all the gears.


Fearing a very short weekend, Ben Miloudi offered his spare gearbox to us, which would have at lest got us back on track for Sunday – luckily Glenn found that it was just a circlip that had come off. This was fixable, except it was a struggle to get the shaft back out to replace the clip. A little help from John Bowles soon got things back together, and the car was ready about 15 minutes before we were called for the first of the three races.

Knocking a second off his previous best lap times, James fought hard to stay with the leading pack, but dropped back a little not quite able to match the pace until a big crash between Ian Buxton, Ian Jordan, and Charles Merrill stopped the race.

Buxton was taken to hospital after going into the wall backwards at Paddock hard enough to bend his flywheel, but was seen hobbling around the paddock on Sunday morning to spectate. All three cars suffered fairly extensive damage and so were out for the rest of the weekend.

After the restart and a 2 lap sprint, James brought it home 10th – the perfect place to take advantage of a reverse-top-ten grid for the next race.

Sunday morning brought thick fog and ground moisture, testing the confidence that James had built up overnight ready to lead the field into Paddock for the first time.

After a slight delay, it was deemed safe to see a sufficient distance, and the Vee’s gridded up, with the yellow RTV Sheane lining up in the number 1 spot.


Despite his confidence, James bogged down a little at the start on the camber, which was enough for Stephen Morrin to use the 1600cc and lower gearing of his Irish spec car to get ahead into the first turn.

There was never any real hope to storm away from the pack, but some good, clean driving was again displayed as the faster cars came through to regain their natural order, with James back to 6th at the end of the first lap, but still giving his all.

He managed to knock another 0.5 seconds off his best lap times, but again didn’t really have anyone lapping at the same pace to scrap with.

Claiming another 10th place, this race held yet another first experience as James caught a bunch of hard-fighting back-markers and had to lap through them, still carried by the extra pace gained from being up with the front runners for the early part of the race.

Starting 10th again for the 3rd and final race of the Festival veteran racer and Formula Vee legend John Bowles was all over the back of James for the first few laps, forcing him to give it everything until he finally eased clear to safety.

We were again expecting to end up in a somewhat lonely place in the middle of the pack, but James was still working hard despite aiming to bring the car back safe and sound without risking too much.


This paid off as Jamie Harrison went straight on at Druids into the gravel, and then Irish Vee regular Gavin Buckley (on his second visit to the Vee Festival, but this time hiring the British spec Team Carbrooke Racing Sheane) went onto the grass to avoid tangling with Paul Taylor.

Coming down the hill from Druids, James saw Gavin rejoining the track and shot past, just about holding him behind to cross the finish line on the next lap in a best ever 8th place overall.

This also carried with it the unofficial Class B victory (although no classes were officially recognised for the Festival) – something that James will need to find another 2 or 3 seconds a lap to repeat in the regular season!

Massive congratulations to John Hughes who won the 2016 Vee Festival despite barely racing this year, and then failing to make the track for qualifying – everyone will agree that he drove amazingly all weekend, and has re-affirmed that he’s a very fast driver capable of big things next year.

Also congratulations to Craig Pollard and Pete Belsey for 2nd and 3rd respectively, having also barely driven in Vee this year!

Huge thanks again to MSVR for hosting the Festival for us – I know a lot more cars would have been out but had some unfortunate damage to them or the drivers which stopped them racing.


And that will be the last time that RTV will turn a wheel in anger in 2016!

It won’t be the end of the updates, however, so make sure you click to like us on WordPress, Facebook and Twitter. There are big plans for 2017, and lots of work to be done in the off-season.

2017 will also be the 50th year of Formula Vee in the UK, so all eyes should be on what is already a respected and hard-fought championship – with rumours that the Vee Festival will be held on the full Brands GP circuit with some star names jumping back in a Vee.

Please get in touch if you want to help in any way, or if you want to sponsor us.

As ever, all the action from the weekend was captured on the excellent JooVuu X and Mobius action cameras supplied by JooVuu, and you can view them on YouTube: