Brands Hatch - 11th November 2007
Our final race meeting of the year was also the last meeting of the season at Brands Hatch. The morning dawned very cold with a threat of rain. Sure enough, just before practice started, it began to precipitate. Rod chose intermediate tyres, as there was little standing water. With 36 cars on track it wasnít long before something happened. Daniel Whittington visited the Paddock Bend gravel trap in his road tyred Citroen, which brought out the safety car. At this point one of the Tigers pulled off on the outside of Clearways, with a small fire. Once this was all cleared up Rod put his foot down. Luckily he was the first car behind the safety car, so he almost got a clear lap straight away. Pole position was achieved in 55.88 seconds, 2.8 secs in front of Andy Thompson in his faithful Seat.
Nick Swift and Richard Wager planted their Minis on row two, obviously excelling in the slippery conditions. Next up was the first Tiger driven by Stewart Fenton, with Dave Fullerís quick MG Midget alongside. Paul Dudley headed row four from Steve Dann, who was running his Golf in class C of sports/saloons instead of the tin tops. The rest lined up as per the time sheets, with Gary Chappell as the quickest tin top.
The rolling start saw Rod scurry off into the lead, on a track which was now dry. Thompson held second until he performed a lurid spin going into Surtees on lap two. As the rest took avoiding action, the black Escort was handed a nice five second lead, which grew to 21.176 seconds by the time the chequered flag appeared. The battle for the runner up spot initially saw Nick Swift fending off Richard Wager, until the second Mini fell back, possibly stuck in one or two gears. Swift resisted the sports cars for several laps, but eventually Nick Starkey got into his stride and secured second place. Paul Dudley then made it into third place but the little Mini held off Stewart Fentonís advances. Into sixth came the smart looking Honda Civic driven by Paul Collis, with Andy Thompson recovering to seventh. James Dudley was the final unlapped runner in eighth, whilst Tim Falce pedalled uncle Ericís Fiesta to ninth overall and first in class E.
Richard Wager struggled home tenth, narrowly holding off Steve Papworth in the A1 rally spares Ford Focus hire car. David Fuller was almost dwarfed by the mighty Rover P6 of David Tetley, which sounded glorious. Steve Dann had fitted the wrong tyres and struggled to maintain his practice form, but was comfortably in front of his other class C compatriots. James Lindridge headed up the tin top brigade in his Vauxhall Astra from the two Citroens of Gary Cole and Daniel Whittington (minus his gravel ballast). Gary Chappell also rued fitting the wrong tyres as he struggled for adhesion and slipped back down the field. Amongst the retirements was Ray Donner in Andy Pipeís Ford Escort which broke itís gearbox.
The second race lined up in the gloom of impending darkness. Once again Rod judged the rolling start perfectly as he took an early lead. However, Nick Starkey had his gander up and sneaked past coming out of Druids on lap two. Rod quickly redressed the status quo, which was just as well as Paul Collis was on a serious charge. Revelling in the gloomy conditions he made a very audacious move around the outside of Clearways when Rod was baulked behind Alan Cherry, who was involved in a six car battle. This woke Rod up, who then turned in some quick laps and pulled out a safe winning margin of just over ten seconds. Collis easily retained second from Starkey, who came under attack from Paul Dudley. The Caterham driver kept his third position by 1.1 seconds. Stewart Fenton clawed his way past Nick Swift, who still outpaced Andy Thompson. Nickís lap times reflected very well against Bill Richardsí times from the previous week. If Nick chooses to do DMN next year it could be very interesting.
Dudley, Steward and Fuller rounded out the top ten, with Papworth being the first lapped runner from Mr. Dann. Tim Falce had to bow to the more powerful cars, but he still won class E by two laps. Lindridge was again top tin top, although Gary Chappell redeemed himself with a much better run (and his quickest lap time of the year). Gareth Smith split the two tin tops, with his dayglow Toyota Starlet. Francis Butcher took control of the P6 this time (the preparation of the Rover earning its pilots an award), whilst the Citroen battle went Whittingtonís way this time (another exploit which earnt a bonus award).
As darkness descended, the final chequered flag was unfurled. It has been a terrific year for our super reliable Ford. 23 wins from 24 races, the one 2nd place came at Silverstone back in August. Thank you to all our sponsors and helpers for making it such a memorable year. Next stop is the clubís dinner dance and awards night on January 19th, then it all starts again at Brands Hatch over the Easter weekend.