The Brands experience
Roll into Brands Hatch on a sunny summer morning and it’s hard not to be moved.
After all, this hallowed amphitheatre – which has barely changed in almost a century – is the very same turf upon which Jim Clark diced with Graham Hill; where people power took James Hunt to contentious victory; amd where a young Nigel Mansell established his Lionheart credentials.
It’s a place where even the corner names mean something: the daunting rollercoaster of Paddock Hill, the dive into Graham Hill Bend, the fearsome don’t-get-it-wrong double-threat of Hawthorns and Westfield. Names that conjure up the history and spirit of British motor racing.
When DTM rolls into Brands in August – at a special two-day meeting which will also host the final round of the W Series – it will race on the Grand Prix circuit, the longer, faster version of the track that – like the family silver – only gets brought out for special occasions.
If Brands is a big deal for the fans, it’s no less of a thrill for the drivers, who not only revel in the track’s history, but it’s unique challenge.
“Brands Hatch is a proper historic circuit,” says Audi driver Jamie Green. “It’s cool to drive at a track where people like James Hunt, Niki Lauda and Nigel Mansell have all raced.
“And looking at the track today, it looks pretty much the same as it did back in those days! It’s really cool to bring a modern car to the same venue – and, lap-time wise, I imagine we’ll be a fair bit quicker than the F1 cars were back in the day, too!”
“DTM cars have double the power of BTCC cars. When you stand at the side of the track, you’ll get that wow factor.”
Paul Di Resta, R-Motorsport Aston Martin
R-Motorsport Aston Martin driver Jake Dennis may have only sampled the full circuit in his Vantage road car, but fully appreciates the challenge of the flat-out nature of the longer circuit.
“DTM cars on the full GP circuit will be an incredible sight,” he says. “The downforce these cars produce – through places like Paddock Hill Bend and Dingle Dell – is going to be mind-blowing for the fans – and the drivers too! And if it’s exciting for us, it’s definitely going to be exciting for the fans.”
Dennis’ team-mate Paul Di Resta makes the point that DTM offers a ‘step up’ from Britain’s own domestic touring car series, the BTCC: “DTM’s car have double the power of a BTCC car. When you stand at the side of the track, you’ll get that wow factor. And a track like Brands Hatch, will sort the men from the boys.
“DTM is a unique series: drivers can use it to graduate to Formula 1; they can use it after Formula 1. I genuinely think it’s the best championship in the world – behind only Formula 1.”