The Brands Hatch, Indy KA 500 remains a jewel in the crown of the EnduroKA series. The now-traditional season finale proves extremely popular with both drivers and spectators alike and there was much hype surrounding the 2023 edition on October 28/29.
A large grid of Mk1 Ford KAs again descended on the iconic Brands Hatch Indy circuit for a rare chance to battle into the night. Given the race runs into the darkness, qualifying as usual took place on the Saturday evening to give competitors the chance to hone in and practice their lines in similar conditions to what Sunday’s race would be. MilnAir Racing’s Jack Wright and KM Racing’s Christian Kelly were the first two drivers to top the timing sheet, before the first representative benchmark was set by JTR’s Nick Tandy. Jack Wright was quick to respond, with the #46 driver continuously improving to set a number of personal bests that were faster than his opposition. The high caliber of the field meant the battle for pole was always going to be competitive and this was clear as the session progressed. Burton Power Racing’s Tom Valentine was next to set a purple lap, swiftly followed by Ferguson Motorsport’s Shayne Deegan and then Jack Wright (MilnAir Racing) once more. The sister Ferguson Motorsport #734 KA then looked as if it was going to pip pole position in the hands of Joe Ferguson, before an outstanding 1:10:567secs from KaHoona’s Race Team’s Kosta Kyritis sealed pole position for the #333 KA on just their second outing as a team! Ferguson Motorsport #734 had to settle for second on the grid, ahead of: MilnAir Racing, Ferguson Motorsport #736 and Autotech Motorsport #65. Incredibly, just 0.192secs separated the top five in qualifying.
With the grid set, all eyes turned to Sunday for the epic 500-minute finale.
The first hour of the 2023 Brands Hatch Indy, KA 500 lived up to the high expectations. Brilliant overtaking provided plenty of excitement for everyone in attendance, as the entire field jostled to make as much progress as possible. JTR enjoyed a storming opening period, rising from eleventh on the grid to lead at the one hour classification. MilnAir Racing and KaHoona’s Race Team were in hot pursuit in second and third respectively, with only 0.512secs separating the top three. Other strong starters included: GM Performance, Original Chequers Racing and Lifeline Racing. The race then began reaching the point where pit stop strategy and race management started becoming increasingly important, causing a number of changes to the order. After three hours of racing, MilnAir Racing had returned to the front of proceedings and two-time EnduroKA winners PRO-AM Racing had joined the hunt – only 0.693scs behind the #46 KA in front. KAsh Strapped Racing recorded a first podium last time out at Oulton Park and were clearly keen for a second at Brands Hatch, rising up the rankings to sixth at the three hour mark. Original Chequers Racing continued their strong start to run in seventh, ahead of KA Tastrophy, Autotech Motorsport #64 and KA Lamaty.
With the race heading into its second half, a leading group began to break away from the chasing pack, courtesy of both raw pace and strong strategic calls. PRO-AM Racing had launched themselves into the lead at the five hour classification, but: KaHoona’s Race Team, MilnAir Racing, JTR, Autotech Motorsport #65 and KAsh Strapped Racing all remained in with a shout. All three of 11 Tenths Racing, KAmel Racing and Rowe Rage Motorsport were enjoying excellent races into the top half of the standings, searching for the strongest result possible to end their season in style. Incredibly, as we headed past the six hour classification just 2.538secs separated the top three! PRO-AM Racing continued to lead, with MilnAir Racing and JTR quickly chasing behind. The stage was set for an exceptional final couple of hours of racing.
Heading into the darkness, JTR had retaken the reigns of the race as the team, including Le Mans Winner Nick Tandy, vied for it’s second Indy KA 500 victory. PRO-AM Racing were keeping the #128 KA in front honest, while MilnAir Racing still remained in touch in third. Autotech Motorsport #65 had moved up to fourth and KAsh Strapped Racing were aiming to establish a gap to the chasing KaHoona’s Race Team and KA Tastrophy. Burton Power Racing continued to enjoy a strong race within the top ten and TouringKA Racing were making progress through the field.
Now in the hands of Scott Thompson, the #12 PRO-AM Racing KA continued to hunt down Nick Tandy in the leading JTR KA. By lap 367 (and over eight hours of racing), the gap between the front two KAs was just 0.073secs! However, it wasn’t to be for JTR as a mechanical failure dashed their chances of victory with less than fifteen minutes of the race remaining. This allowed PRO-AM Racing to snatch the lead back right at the death, but the win was still anything but decided. MilnAir Racing began reeling in PRO-AM Racing at a tremendous rate, setting continuously rapid lap times.
Despite the mounting pressure, Thompson remained calm and managed the remaining laps expertly to seal PRO-AM Racing’s third win of their debut season. The hugely impressive achievement was made possible by excellent stints from all of their drivers; Scott Thompson, Nicole Drought, Justin Roberts and Louis Harvey. Congratulations to the entire #12 team! MilnAir Racing narrowly missed out on a second victory of the year, with their lineup of George Wright, Jack Wright and Jonny Milner finishing just 4.344seconds behind the winners. Nonetheless, it was an exceptional drive from the team and they can be proud of their efforts. The final step of the final podium of the year belong to Autotech Motorsport #65 and drivers Taylor Norton, Sam May, Jonathan Ogden and Chris Hilson. It’s been a tremendous year for Autotech Motorsport in the series and each of their drivers likewise put in excellent shifts to seal the final trophies… and milk bottles! KAsh Strapped Racing topped off a strong debut year with a fourth place finish, leading home: KaHoona’s Race Team, KA Tastrophy, Burton Power Racing, Autotech Motorsport #64, Original Chequers Racing and KA Lamaty.
A huge congratulations to all of our top ten and a massive thank you to all those who have helped EnduroKA have another strong year in 2023.
We look forward to seeing you all again in 2024!