Race Report by Matthew Overton
BTCC Series Finale
November 19, 2020 – Another bright and sunny day greeted the drivers and their crews as they returned to Brands Hatch for the culminating round of the CMS NARS BTCC series. With tight battles still to be decided in both the PRO and AM classes, spirits were running high for the last two races of the series on the Indy layout, promising fast, wide-open racing for the fans.
Rich Hibbs took top honors in qualifying and it proved to be a race-winning advantage as he led from flag to flag in Race 1. Behind him, Jason Whited, Eduardo Beninca, and a hard-charging Norm Graf battled throughout the race with the four cars separated by less than 4 seconds up to lap 22.
For much of the remainder of the field, however, chaos in the opening seconds meant that much of the race was spent working to recoup positions lost in the melée that developed even before the cars had left the starting area.
At the chequered flag, behind Hibbs, Whited proved to have the staying power in the final laps, with Beninca picking up important 3rd place points.
Race 2 proved that the edginess of the drivers had not been worked out as chaos descended once again, this time with two separate incidents within 300m of the starting grid for Race 2. With most of the drivers sorting themselves quickly, it meant that the reversed starting order was quickly shaken up and the field grouped together with about 10 cars racing within about 8 seconds of each other total.
Ross Smith was the immediate winner of the initial confusion, however, he was overtaken for the lead by Brian Hall in Lap 4, who was himself passed by Eduardo Beninca on Lap 7. The Beninca-Hall-Smith grouping led a slowly-widening field until the final lap, when Smith gave up 3rd to JT Tami, who along with George Angelidis and Brian Hall had been dogging his heels relentlessly.
With the various incidents occurring on both the starts, it would have been surprising if the race results did not see an impact from steward decisions. Race 1 saw Brian Hall penalized 30 seconds at race end for a loss of 3 race positions while in Race 2, race winner Eduardo Beninca lost 25 seconds for 6 race positions, moving Brian Hall and JT Tami up one podium position as well as moving Ross Smith to 3rd.
It was a tremendously exciting end to the NARS BTCC and all the drivers are to be congratulated for their competitive spirit throughout the series.
Race 1 Results
Race 2 Results