VTEC Challenge does Brands Hatch

Jonathan F

Nov 29, 2010
Brands Hatch: August 22nd/23rd 2015

(Rounds 9 and 10 of BRSCC Honda VTEC Challenge)

After a bit of a summer break since our last event at Castle Combe, the series headed to Kent and our regular trip to Brands Hatch.

This popular fast flowing circuit has been the site of some fantastic battles in previous years and this was set to continue with a great turn out of drivers.


04 – Luke Biel – EK4 Civic – Tuner

10 – Matt Walker – EK9 Civic Type R – Super Tuner

20 – Craig Smith - DC2 Integra – Production

31 – Phil Wright – Accord Type R – Production

36 – Chris Adams – DC5 Integra -Tuner

39 – Rob Burkinshaw – DC5 Integra – Tuner

45 – Mark Bennett – S2000 – Tuner

46 – Pete Dunmore – EP3 Civic Type R – Production

66 – Paula Webb - EP3 Civic Type R – Production

67 – Marc Kemp – EP3 Civic Type R – Super Tuner

68 – Martyn Kemp – EP3 Civic Type R – Super Tuner

73 – Stu King - DC2 Integra – Production

85 – Stew Hutchinson – DC2 Integra – Tuner

94 - Adam Twine - DC2 Integra – Tuner

99 – Ryan Focht - DC2 Integra – Production

100 - Will Watkin – EP3 Civic Type R – Tuner

With such a fantastic turn out at Castle Combe, it was great to see the numbers continue to remain strong for our latest event at Brands Hatch, where the paddock was packed. With a wide variety of other series available to our drivers, their continued support is so very much appreciated.

Having missed out on the action last time out, Mark Bennett was back from working overseas and was keen to get back behind the wheel alongside his Honda family in the S2000.

Taking part in his first VTEC Challenge event was Adam Twine in his modified DC2 Integra. This UK version has been fitted with the engine from an Accord Type R in place of the usual B18b. Having raced in the “Armed Forces Challenge” previously, it was good to see another new face accompanying our regulars.

Another debut for 2015, (but not to the series) was Stew Hutchinson in his “Race DNA” prepared DC2 Integra. Having recently undergone some changes to the cars gearing and aero and being a firm favourite of the Brands circuit, this pairing would be one to watch.


Chris Adams was another to return to the series at Brands. Having missed out on the Castle Combe event due to holidays, Chris was raring to get back into his DC5.

Fellow DC5 owner Rob Burkinshaw would be running his new set up for the first time this weekend, having had to replace damaged suspension components and a destroyed clutch.

Following a successful event at Castle Combe, “Tuner” class driver Will Watkin was able to remove the novice cross from the rear of his Civic after picking up his final license signature.

Taking over driving duties for Brands was Production racer Ryan Focht (taking over from Matt Le) who fought tooth and nail in his races at Snetterton and took a class podium for his efforts.


With qualifying taking place mid morning, the VTC entries collected in the assembly area before heading out on track.

The previous qualifying sessions had helped to put down a decent amount of rubber on track, which would help with grip from the off.

With temperatures hitting 30°C, it wouldn’t be long before the tyres were up to temperature and the drivers could begin to press on.

After a couple of laps to familiarise themselves with the circuit, the drivers got down to the task in hand and began to work on setting their quickest times.

With a short circuit and busy with traffic, it would be difficult to get a clear lap, however everyone was in the same situation.

Suffering with smoke caused by an oil drip onto the exhaust, Stu Hutchinson was forced to pit after only a handful of laps, however his intent was clearly shown by qualifying in 5th.

Setting an early pace was Chris Adams, however it was the EP3 Civic of Marc Kemp which pulled out the quickest lap time to take pole.


Fellow “Tuner” class entrants Burkinshaw and Bennett pushed on throughout the session, with both drivers looking purposeful on track.

Having struggled with running issues throughout the season, it was Craig Smith and his DC2 Integra which set the quickest lap time in class and placed 7th overall behind the higher spec’d Tuner and Super Tuner cars.

With his Civic being rebuilt following his off at Combe, Super Tuner entrant Martyn Kemp was back on track and looking resplendent in its new paintwork and sporting a BTCC Civic front end.

With the rest of the grid completing the session, everyone returned safely to the paddock.

Pole: Marc Kemp

2nd: Rob Burkinshaw

3rd: Mark Bennett

Back in the paddock, the source of Stew’s oil leak was investigated, and with the offending culprit identified and all looked to be sorted (more of that later!)

Race 1:

With race time becoming ever closer, the call to the assembly area played out over the tannoy. With the temperatures still in the high 20’s, it would be a real test of the driver’s performance as the heat began to sap their energy.

From the paddock, all drivers made their way under the circuit and into the assembly area.

With the previous session finished and the track declared fit for racing, all cars were released onto the circuit.

Once all of the cars were in place, the flag marshal at the rear of the grid waved the green flag to indicate all was ok and the 5 second board was shown.

Bogging down off the line, Kemp was swallowed up by Burkinshaw, Bennett and around the outside of everyone came Adams.

Swiftly recovering, Kemp fought back to regain the lead from Burkinshaw and took the inside line for Paddock and exited at the head of the pack.

Burkinshaw and Bennett closely followed suit and led the train of cars down the drop of Paddock in readiness to begin the climb up “Hailwoods Hill” and up to “Druids” and the tight hairpin.

With everyone safely through the first sequence of corners, the race began to unfold.

Trouble soon struck Martyn in the Super Tuner Civic when his front suspension collapsed, leaving him to take to the grass and retire at “Graham Hill Bend”, shortly followed by the retirement of Hutchinson who’s Integra started to smoke badly when pushed.

With Burkinshaw in second place Kemp began to extend his lead and proceeded to take control of the race. However, almost total brake failure 5 laps from the end could have resulted in a different podium order, but Kemp managed to drive within the car’s limits to cross the line as race winner.

Although Rob’s and Mark’s race positions remained unchanged throughout the entire race, the pair fought down to the wire, with back markers favouring each driver at different times around the circuit. Using everything to his advantage, Mark was able to close right up at times, but was just unable to find a way past and took the final podium of race 1 with Rob in 2nd.

With the top 3 out in front, the attention turned to the charging pack, which was led for the majority of the race by an untroubled Chris Adams in the second DC5, however gearbox issues in the closing laps meant he was unable to hold onto 4th place.

A couple of laps in and the bonnet pins failed on Ad Twines DC2, resulting in a totally bent bonnet, smashed windscreen and a retirement from the race.

Having dropped considerably down the field at the start of the race, the EK9 Civic of Matthew Walker began a fight back to hook up with the front runners.

Luke Biel had made up fantastic start to the race, making up half a dozen places from the start and was battling with the lead “Production” class car of Wright when Walker joined the party. All 3 cars screamed up towards “Druids”, with Walker making a solid move on the inside to take 6th and begin his epic battle with “Kato”.


Over the next 11 laps, both drivers gave it their all, with mutual respect for each other as the minutes ticked down. It was however an unfortunate end to the race for Wright as the pair exited Druids (as they had done on each previous occasion) only for the gearbox on Wrights Accord to self-destruct in a cloud of smoke. Quick thinking from Wright saw the Accord pulled off the circuit to minimise any fluid on track.

Throughout the field battles ensued, with Smith in his much improved Integra keeping the pressure on the “Tall Chap” King until fuel starvation caused the racer from Droitwich to drop off the pace as the race drew to a close.

Focht and Watkins kept each other honest and traded places as the race unfolded. Focht was another driver to benefit from Smith’s fuel starvation and picked up another place at race end.


Dunmore and Webb brought home the Production class EP3’s after an action filled and equally clean race.

1st Marc Kemp

2nd Rob Burkinshaw

3rd Mark Bennett

Class wins were awarded to:

(P) – Stu King

(T) – Rob Burkinshaw

(ST) – Marc Kemp

Fastest lap: Marc Kemp 53.467 on lap 3 of 17

With all cars recovered to the paddock, each car was inspected to assess the damage. Unfortunately a gaping hole in the gearbox casing of Phil’s Accord meant he would not be able to take any further part in the weekend’s proceedings, neither would Ad Twine due to his smashed screen.

Things looked more promising for Hutchinson and Kemp, with both cars receiving some remedial fixes. The Integra needed a breather pipe attaching and the front suspension was rebuilt on the Civic, meaning both could race on Sunday.

Race 2:

With race two getting underway mid morning on Sunday, there was plenty of time for the drivers to ready themselves in preparation for the off.

With cooler conditions to contend with, the drivers headed to the grid. With the grid set out based on the results of race 1, it was Kemp & Burkinshaw on the front row, with Bennett & Walker on row 2.

Kemp in the ex BTCC Civic struggled to get away cleanly and Burkinshaw pulled his Integra ahead to lead the race. Having the measure of his starts, Bennett launched perfectly and only the boot lid of Burkinshaw’s Integra stopped the S2000 from slipping though into 2nd. As it was and being boxed in, he had to settle for 3rd.

Burkinshaw continued to hold the lead whilst Kemp looked for any opportunity and as the pair rounded “Clark Curve”, Kemp managed to wrestle the lead from Burkinshaw.


In a repeat from race 1, it was Kemp from Burkinshaw and Bennett with Walker having a better start second time around in 4th.

Unfortunately a driveshaft issue massively hampered Martyn Kemp’s progress in race 2, but was able to finish the race.

Having a great battle with Webb, Dunmore was forced to retire with a triggered inertia switch cutting the fuel supply.

Making a storming start from the back of the grid was Hutchinson, who quickly piloted the repaired Integra through the pack before finding himself amongst the more modified Honda’s and was soon chasing Walker when the red flags came out.

With everyone lined up for the restart, it was a case of another green flag lap ahead of the last few laps of the day.

Kemp managed to get away cleanly and proceeded to lead the rest of the grid, with Bennett and Burkinshaw side by side through Paddock, but it was Burkinshaw who emerged in 2nd.

Making a phenomenal re-start was King in his DC2 Integra, who shot through the pack to slot into 4th place ahead of Walker and Hutchinson.

With only 7 minutes on the clock, the action began to come thick and fast, starting with Burkinshaw suffering an uncharacteristic retirement due to clutch failure.


With everyone elevated due to Rob’s retirement, King was on for a 3rd place overall, but with Hutchinson not one to give up, the pair fought hard for the position, with both Integra’s side by side through Paddock and the “whites of their eyes” visible to both drivers!

The extra power of Hutchinson Integra proved its worth and he managed to take the final podium slot, and still chased Bennett to the line. A fantastic result from a back row starting position.

With Hutchinson now in front, King became the target of Walker, but the Civic was to remain in 5th place despite all of Matt’s efforts to overhaul the Integra of King.

In the closing few laps, the rain started to fall, which meant track conditions began to deteriorate, resulting in a spin for Biel.

Over the closing laps, Watkin and Smith battled for position, with Smith crossing the line by a fraction of a second ahead of Will.

1st Marc Kemp

2nd Mark Bennett

3rd Stew Hutchinson

Class wins were awarded to:

(P) – Stu King

(T) – Mark Bennett

(ST) – Marc Kemp

Fastest lap: Marc Kemp 53.138 on lap 2 of 9


A big thanks to everyone that attended the event at Brands, your support continues to drive the series forward.

Thanks to the series sponsors: Toyo Tires, Competition Clutch, Ultra Racing, Performance Autoworks, Eurospec, Honda’s On Track, 6TWO1, Honda Tuner and MOTORV8 MEDIA for their support.

In recognition of his efforts in repairing his car for race 2 and for the results achieved, Stew Hutchinson was awarded the “Spirit of the VTC” award.

The Honda VTEC Challenge now heads to Mallory Park on the 26th September and the penultimate event of the season. We look forward to seeing you there.

Words: Jonathan Fletcher

Pictures: Lindsey Fletcher & Jonathan Fletcher