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Man jailed for racetrack prank

A labourer from Wadhurst in East Sussex has been jailed for public nuisance after endangering lives at the Brands Hatch race circuit. 22-year-old Jack Cottle drove a VW Polo onto the track in the middle of a race and did a lap while a friend filmed them from the back seat. He's been sentenced to eight months. David Johns reports.

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Owner of Brands Hatch welcomes sentencing

“I am really pleased that Kent Police and the Court have quite rightly taken such a tough stance on this deliberately reckless act, which endangered the lives of the drivers racing on circuit and the volunteer track marshals, not to mention Jack Cottle and his passengers.

His idiotic and selfish behaviour – aggravated by his unrepentant attitude in subsequent media coverage - received much immediate condemnation. His conviction and prison sentence will serve to reinforce the message that this kind of antisocial behaviour is not only stupid, but will lead to prosecution.”

– Jonathan Palmer, Chief Executive of MSV (the owner of Brands Hatch)

Man jailed over race track car dare

Jack Cottle, 22, who appeared on the track in his VW Polo Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A labourer has been jailed for eight months after driving his girlfriend's Volkswagen Polo on to the Brands Hatch circuit during a race.

22 year-old Jack Cottle gatecrashed the Fun Cup endurance race at the track in Kent on June the 14th with his girlfriend and a friend on board as passengers.

Maidstone Crown Court heard that he put the lives of racers at danger after being "egged on" to drive a full circuit after accessing the track via a pit lane.

YouTube footage which has been viewed more than two million times shows Cottle ignoring his hysterical girlfriend as she implores him repeatedly to "stop it".

She then tells him that he is "going the wrong way" before screaming "Jack, oh my God!" as she realises he is taking the car on to the track to laughter from his backseat passenger.

Last month Cottle pleaded guilty to "causing a nuisance to the public by driving on to the race track at Brands Hatch whilst an endurance race was in progress".

At his sentencing hearing, Judge Martin Joy said Cottle, of Durgates in Wadhurst, East Sussex, had "endangered many lives" as he branded his actions "premeditated" and "inexcusable".

The court heard that Cottle, his girlfriend and his friend paid £14 per head to watch the four-hour race as spectators. But Judge Joy said that around three and a half hours into the race, Cottle "saw an opportunity" to get on to the race track.

His girlfriend had to be taken to the on-site medical centre after having a panic attack, while Cottle came off the track laughing, the judge said.

One driver thought the VW Polo was a doctor's vehicle or a safety car but when it emerged it was a prank, other racers who had paid to compete became upset at their day being ruined. In footage shown in court, one driver had to have his release from the pit lane delayed as Cottle drove the white VW Polo on to the track.

Prosecutor Iestyn Morgan said racers were travelling at speeds of 100mph, while Cottle was behind the wheel of an ordinary road car with no roll cage or fire extinguisher.

He said, "It was quite clear that (Cottle) put himself and his passengers in danger, and those of drivers on the track who would not have expected a car going considerably slower."

As he was led away to the cells, Cottle blew kisses to family and friends in the public gallery.

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Brands Hatch has starring role in new film

Video. The fierce rivalry between Formula 1 racing drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda is the subject of a new film, "Rush", which had its premiere last night.

Many of the extras in the movie, set in the 1970s, are Kent motor racing fans. And - as you might expect - the Brands Hatch race circuit has a starring role. Jonathan Marland reports.

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