Mark Davies scored two more wins and the Texaco Havoline Ginetta Championship crown at Brands Hatch yesterday. The Yorkshireman came out on top of a four-way battle in race one and had a slightly easier time in race two to claim the title with two races to spare.

Qualifying

A single qualifying session was held of the cars to determine the grid places for both races. Dominic Pettit had topped the time by seven-tenths of a second in free practice from Mark Davies and Matt Bell making his Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit debut third fastest. George Murrells suffered a hefty off at Westfield but was able to repair the car in time for qualifying.

Davies looked likely to secure two pole positions as he had the top two times under his belt as the chequered flag was prepared. However, a storming last lap from Pettit allowed him to sneak ahead by just 0.283 of a second with Davies’ best time giving him pole for race two. Andrew Smith took a brace of thirds with Bell fourth on the grid for both races. After his damage, Murrells found himself on the back row for both races.

Race one

As the lights went out, Pettit made a slow start from pole position and fell to third place on the run to Paddock Hill Bend, although retaliated to grab second at Surtees as the cars, headed by Davies, plunged down to Hawthorns for the first time. Davies led at the end of the lap from Pettit with bell third from Smith. Behind them, a gap had opened up before David Jackson and Russell McCarthy rounded out the top six.

Smith, needing to outscore Davies to keep his championship hopes alive, was inspired: he battled up from fourth to first on the second lap, securing the lead with a bold move approaching Stirlings to head Pettit, Bell and Davies over the line. With Davies and Bell battling, Smith started to edge away from Pettit for the race lead, while Russell McCarthy took fifth around the outside of David Jackson at Paddock, the pair being pressured by Sean Huyton and Andy Richardson in another fierce four-way fight.

Pettit clawed back the time lost to Smith to challenge again on lap four but ran wide at Druids allowing Smith to extend his lead and to give Davies a chance to challenge for second place with Bell snatching third at Graham Hill Bend. All of that allowed Smith to extend his lead as Davies, Bell and Pettit traded places behind him. Pettit, though, wasn’t done and charged back up to second place on lap six and with clear road ahead of him set the fastest lap of the race to close on Smith.

With the clock ticking towards the end of the 20-minute race, places were changing at almost every corner: Pettit lost second to Bell who made an inspired move to leap from fourth to second exiting Paddock, but Davies regained second place at Surtees. Pettit then made another push and grabbed the lead on lap 10 with Smith falling to third.

It all came to a head on the last lap: Pettit led Davies and the two were side by side approaching Hawthorns. They ran alongside each other through the corner and through Westfield, too, but as Pettit ran wide, forcing Davies to go even wider, Smith made a run up the inside. The three cars overlapped into Sheene Curve …. and only two survived. Smith was off the road (“I got Dominic-ed!” he would say later) and Davies led a battered Pettit and Bell. Matt had the run approaching Clearways but there was more contact as Pettit tried to defend ended up in the tyre wall, Bell being caught up in the melee and spinning into the gravel. That left Davies clear in the lead as Bell dug himself out of the gravel to take second. “I was in a good position after the incident at Stirlings,” said Matt, “but then I just got driven off the track.”

If it had been tight at the top, the fight for the new third place was even more so: Huyton and Richardson emerged from the last corner side by side and Richardson squeaked ahead by 30-thousandths of a second to take the last podium place ahead of Huyton, McCarthy and Jackson.

Other notable drives came from George Murrells who despite his damage fought up to 11th and the battle for penultimate place fell to Ginetta’s Jamie Robinson in his first outing of the season who held off racing rookie Syd Coombes by just a tenth of a second after a race-long place swapping duel. Coombes, on his first visit to the demanding Grand Prix circuit, raced well and equalled his second-best result of the season in 14th place.

Race two

After his driving standards in race one deemed not to have been compatible with general safety, Dominic Pettit was excluded from the event meaning the outside of row one was empty for the second 20-minute race.

Davies, with his eyes on the championship and an eighth race win, grabbed the lead away from the lights to head the pack into turn one. Smith slotted into second place with Matt Bell third from a charging Sean Huyton keen to score his first podium finish of the season.

Bell grabbed the lead at Paddock on lap two but Davies repassed Matt a corner later at Druids as the leading quartet pulled clear of the pack. Bell and Davies continued to argue over the lead but Smith regained his momentum and attacked Bell for second place. That he achieved on lap four and set off in pursuit of Davies, the two scrapping for the lead. Davies always seemed to have the upper hand to hang onto the lead to take his eighth win – and the title – as he crossed the line.

Davies won by just a tenth of a second from Smith with Bell third. Huyton ran on the pace of the leaders to take fourth, although was never quite fast enough to mount a challenge for the podium, but he finished well clear of Freddie Hetherington and Andy Richardson.

Emily Fletcher had a spin exiting Graham Hill Bend mid-race and a second one whilst tussling with Syd Coombes but she still secured 13th place after Coombes lost time in the same incident. However, Syd achieved a better lap time than he had in race one proving that he was becoming more confident with the challenging circuit on his first visit. Ahead of them, a fine fight for ninth went the way of jeweller Mark Wania who had Jamie Robinson and Matt Flowers all over him like a rash as they crossed the line.

Davies, though, can head to Spa pressure-free for the final two races. “That win has sorted the championship for me so I can just go and enjoy Spa now. It has been a great season, really enjoyable.”

Rounds 15 and 16 of the 2009 Texaco Havoline Ginetta Championship will take place over the weekend of October 3/4 at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

After round 14, the top six in the championship are: 1 Davies 451, 2 Smith 361, 3 Pettit 286, 4 Jackson 228, 5 Huyton 210, 6 McCarthy 187.