Race Report – Brands Hatch – 1/2 April 2023

Two-time MG Trophy champion Graham Ross bounced back from a tricky 2022 by winning both of 2023’s season-opening races at Brands Hatch in his left-hand-drive ZR 190. 

Ross dropped to third on the opening lap of race one but by lap four had claimed first place, where he stayed. He finished though just 1.8 seconds clear of Fergus Campbell in his Class B ZR 170, who hung on gamely and won his class, ahead of Tylor Ballard who closed in on him late on. And Lee Sullivan – who at Brands returned to the Trophy for the first time since 2016 when he came second overall and won Class B – led the race overall early on and was leading the Class B charge behind Ross but dropped out with a broken gearbox.

Jack Chapman, Millers Oils Driver of the Race – race 1

Jack Chapman, who rose from the back to finish fifth overall, got driver of the race.

Ross’s race-one win was aided too by that Class A rival Doug Cole got stranded in the collecting area as a broken alternator resulted in a flat battery. He returned for race two and early on climbed from fourth to second, then he closed in on leader Ross and attacked him for the place. 

Cole got alongside Ross several times at Paddock and Druids, though Ross was the stronger at Graham Hill Bend, and he managed to resist Cole for the rest of the way to win.

Sullivan again led the race early on – this time from pole – and was leading Class B when he again retired with a repeat of his technical woes. That left the battle for the class win between Campbell and Ballard, and Ballard got by for victory with a magnificent pass, hanging on around the outside of Druids then getting the inside line for Graham Hill Bend. Ballard also got driver of the race.

Tylor Ballard, Class B winner and Millers Oils Driver of the Race – race 2

“[The weekend was] more successful than I thought,” Ross said. “I was happy to come here [and] not go away with any damage. 

“We’ve tinkered a bit with suspension settings and stuff like that just trying to get an advantage. We’ve got ourselves in a rabbit hole going the wrong direction, I think we’re going the right way now. It still isn’t quite right. Compared to Doug it was really good at Graham Hill, everywhere else it was not as good, so it was a race spent defending. But we’re getting there.

“[Race one] was a bit lonely, good to boost the confidence, but if Doug had been on the track I doubt I would have won it. I didn’t think I would have defended to keep him back for that whole race [in race two], but I managed it.

“Two wins: chuffed to bits. Also it was my first pole at Brands. Couldn’t have gone much better.”

Graham Ross, pole and two wins – a great start to his season.

Report by Graham Keilloh. Photographs by Dickon Siddall.