Dunlop Mototorsport News Saloon Car Championship - 1st and 2nd November 2008 - Brands Hatch
As usual the final rounds the 2008 Championship concluded at the Truck meeting. Saturday dawned damp and overcast with light rain falling. With a full grid of 32 cars it was the usual question of finding a gap to set a decent time. Initially Rod set the pace, but when he came in for a brief check over he had slipped back to third. Luckily he found the gaps he needed and quickly got pole position back with a time of 53.342 seconds, two seconds quicker than Ron Kiddell. The Hayes brotherís occupied row two, with Nick just ahead of Cris, then came Darren Bly and Peter Taylor. The top ten was rounded off by James Lindridge, Ray Barrow, Richard Brent and Steve Dann.
By the time of our first race the rain was absolutely pouring down. Even though it was only 2.20 in the afternoon, it looked more like 6PM. Everyone had their lights on for the two rolling laps. Although Rod judged it perfectly and jumped into the lead, almost immediately the safety car was deployed as David Usher had inverted his Peugeot in the Paddock Bend kitty litter. Once cleared the race was on again, but only for another lap. This time Peter Taylor had pirouetted into the edge of the gravel trap at Druids. After three laps behind the safety car the green flag flew. This time Ron stayed really close to Rodís back bumper and it looked like he had the better equipped car. However, the black Escort was occupying a tight line, so it meant that Ron would have to be very brave. The truncated race ended on lap ten as the allotted time was up. Our winning margin was just 0.445 of a second, as both cars flashed past Gemma Morris. Six seconds further back came Bly, whilst Andy Thompson made good progress from 17th to fourth. 2008 champion Brent was right on Andyís tail in fifth.
Into sixth place came Nick Hayes, but he had been embroiled in a very close battle with his brother Cris. However, it all went horribly wrong when on the final re-start Cris got a wheel on the painted kerb at Graham Hill Bend. In an instant his car careered across the track straight into the path of Nick. The following impact with the Armco put Cris out on the spot, whilst several others had to take avoiding action. On the next lap Peter Wilkinson pulled off on the exit of Druids, but this time he was out of harms way. Through into 7th spot came Bill Richards, with Ray Barrow in tow. Seven seconds further back came Gerald Dale, who headed a four car train led by Steve Dann from Andy Wickens, Barry Vincent (up from 32nd place and earning the Quaife driver of the race award) and James Lindridge. Andy Baker had his Peugeot 205 at the fore of the next group which included Graham Richardson and then the three MK1 Ford Escorts, in the order Pipe, Turner and Goddard. In fact it was quite remarkable that we had 27 finishers given the dreadful conditions, so well done to everyone. For the record the average speed set by the winner was just 50.29 mph.
On Sunday it dawned foggy, but by late afternoon the sun had burst through, in complete contrast to the previous day. With slick tyres being bolted on everywhere it would be interesting to see how the places moved around. Again Rod blasted away at the start, with Ron running alongside all the way to Paddock Bend. From there on it was plain sailing, as Ron dropped back with an overheating engine, which eventually caused his retirement. The battle for second became quite intense when Bly broke his gear lever. Ever the opportunist Brent homed in and nearly snatched the runner up spot, but the Nissanís power (albeit stuck in fourth gear) told on the run to the chequered flag. Nevertheless it highlighted what a brilliant year Richard has had. Guy Blumer made it all the way up to fourth from 20th on the grid. This drive earnt him the Quaife award. Andy Thompson had tried to offer the last bit of resistance but even he could not stop the flyingYorkshireman. Behind the white Seat came Ray Barrow, who turned the tables on Bill Richards. Bill had his usual sparring partner Gerald Dale for company. Steve Dann managed to hold off a recovering Nick Hayes (who had indulged in a quick spin). Barry Vincent only progressed by one position this time, ending up 11th, followed by Peter Wilkinson, Andy Wickens and James Lindridge (all in close company). Alex Ribbens had a better run in the dry and progressed to 15th overall. The best prepared car award went to Andrew Worsley with his very smart Mini. Andrew finished 21st.
Andy Pipe retired when his gear box broke, whilst Russell turner suffered a puncture. A high speed incident on Brabham Straight saw Peter Taylor spinning into retirement after clashing with Andy Bakerís Peugeot. Opinions differ as to what exactly happened, but it was sad to see the immaculate blue RS500 strewn across the circuit.
And so the curtain came down on another highly entertaining season of DMN racing. All the sponsors are staying on board for next year, and several new cars and drivers are scheduled to appear. Rod will be giving the Escort WRC a run in the intermarque race this Saturday and then guesting in a Mk.1 Ford Escort on Sunday.