BARC Dunlop Track & Race CarSaloon Championship  -  11th June Lydden Hill


What a scorcher this turned out to be, in more than one sense. Our “weekend” started on Friday with a quick trip to Brands to see if we could run in our rebuilt engine. We managed a grand total of nine laps thanks to a huge number of stoppages mainly caused by Toyota MR2 drivers. Our engine suffered a cracked block at Snetterton, which meant it had to go back to Harvey for refettling. We also had to repair the rear suspension arm, which was damaged when a bolt came loose. So there had been plenty of work to do.

Because of the lack of “running in”, Rod decided to enter the sports/saloon races on Saturday. With several BARC HQ championships present it meant that the practice sessions would be run to the full 15 minutes. Rod stayed out for the full time and achieved the third quickest time behind John Cross (Focus V8) and Bob Rice (Caterham), the rest of the grid being made up of BMWs including John Willcocks in a nice M3. From the start John Cross used his V8 power to good effect to take an early lead whilst Rod nipped past the Caterham. On the second lap John came out of North Bend a little wide and our black Escort was through in a flash. John did retaliate, getting very close at Paddock Bend (see photo on “ten-tenths”) until his gearbox jammed in third. This allowed Bob Rice to take the runner up spot with John having to settle for third from Willcocks.

On the last couple of laps Rod noticed the ignition light had come on, so we set about changing the alternator. This does take a while on our car, so we missed the second race. John Cross broke his diff on the warm up lap and John Willcocks sat it out as well, which left an easy run for the Caterham.

With enthusiastic help from various people such as Bill Richards, Andy Pipe, Andy Woods-Dean we fitted the new part only to find the problem was not cured. Various wires and tests were carried out to no avail so we came home to charge up a couple of batteries. On Sunday Graham (the Guru) Bahr who convinced us that nothing was wrong joined us. Indeed when the engine was started the light went out. Strange, but true. As is now common at Lydden we had too many cars for one grid so A, B and I (saloons) went out first. Fortunately Rod set a good time straight away, as on lap 3 a boost pipe came off. At least this was an easy fix although we couldn’t get out for the rest of the session. The result was that we were second behind David Oates, who achieved his first pole position since joining the DT&R championship.

The second row contained an on form Peter Wilkinson and Nick Williamson followed by birthday boy Bill Richards in his Metro Cosworth. Nigel Craig headed class B, from Graham Bahr, John Willcocks and Steve Weatherley. Tony Gorman brought out a very smart BMW M3 E36 whilst Andy Wickens debuted his class B Ford Sapphire Cosworth. The first six minutes race saw Rod snatch the lead straight away from David at the rolling start. In fact all the four-wheel drive cars “mugged” the white Tigra but all four cars were very close with Bill hanging on as well. In class B Nigel had Graham Bahr snapping at his heels, whilst a little further back a good three way dice had developed between the two M3 variants and Steve Weatherley. David Smart was being chased by Ray Adams, with Peter Reeve making up places after a practice problem.

With Rod edging out a slight gap all eyes focused on the second place battle. The red Mitsubishi looked like it would pass the white Escort but Nick resisted all the pressure. David also looked for a gap but could not match the turbo cars grunt and he also had to worry about a certain blue Metro. At the chequered flag the positions remained the same, although only two seconds covered the runner up scrap. Craig held off Bahr for class B honours, whilst Willcocks got the next place from Weatherley and Gorman. The rest are listed on the results page with Martin Dower taking the invitation class saloons, in his standard Easytrack BMW. Some of these BMWs did seven races over the weekend!!!

The class C, D, E and I (sports) race saw Richard Brent charge into a lead he held throughout although David Fuller’s invitation MG Midget shadowed him all the way. The battle for third was as intense as ever, initially Andy Mitchell and Bill Richards (in his Mini this time) held sway until Richard Gane swept past in his class C Honda. Then Jason Watkins homed in, and a good three way battle ensued. At the finish Bill gained fourth place and Jason dived past Andrew at the hairpin for fifth. Les Beer and Graham Richardson man handled there front wheel drive beasts into seventh and eighth, with “Smiler” Pye taking ninth and class D honours. Gary Cole just held off Andy Woods-Dean for runner up in class C followed by Andy Pipe and Alex Ribbens who suffered a damaged door in a non intentional

The longer races would be over 12 minutes and several drivers were concerned about overheating cars and tyres. From the off Nick tried to stay level with Rod and in fact they took two corners side by side, great stuff. Rod snatched the initiative at North Bend and got stuck into some quick laps to establish a small advantage. The battle for second became a three way tussle after Peter W. retired his rather warm Mitsubishi on lap 12. Gradually the lighter spaceframe cars hauled Nick in until they ran nose to tail. Sterling defence work by Nick just maintained his second place although Bill nipped past David to take third and driver of the race.

Nigel Craig withstood huge pressure and a little bit of contact from Graham to take class B honours again, and with the absence of John Willcocks, Steve Weatherley got the final trophy for third in class. David Smart eased back into eighth and Anthony Ahmed had a good run into ninth passing the other VW of Ray Adams. Andy Wickens completed a learning event with his new toy followed by the class I winning BMW of Tony Doe. Neither of the M3s started, the pretty red version of Tony Gorman had been spectacularly crashed by its co-owner Jim McLoughlin in the Pre.93 race.

At the start of the smaller cars race, Jason Watkins spectacularly launched himself into the lead from row three! Everyone waited to see if he would be penalised but his start was deemed legal albeit short lived. Richard was in no mood to get held up and soon took the lead although it took the MG a little longer to find a way past. Richard Gane smoothly slipped by into third and Jason was then joined by the other Peugeot along with Bill’s Mini. As usual there were battles throughout the field all keenly watched by the class A and B boys. An interesting tussle developed between three generations of Ford Escorts, namely Alex Ribbens Mk.2 version, Andy Pipe’s Mk.1 and Dave Coleman’s Mk.3. When Alex spun exiting Paddock Bend we all thought there would be a big crash, but masterful avoidance meant the other two continued unscathed.

On the last lap Jason was attacked by Andrew Mitchell at the hairpin and Bill Richards on the run to the chequered. Both succeeded, which meant the red Fiesta slipped to sixth from a very hot looking Les Beer, who was happy to keep his oil in his engine for two races. Graham Richardson took a good wheel waving eighth from class D victor Greg Pye. Cole again held off Woods-Dean, this time the Renault driver used different tyres. Coleman beat Pipe in the battle of the Escorts. Harding was pleased that his Fiesta held together and Bradley split the new comers, Gatfield and Goldthorpe. Shed, Ribbens and Farr all failed to finish with various maladies.

Andy Mitchell took the Quaife driver of the race award, the earlier shorter race recipients being Peter Wilkinson and Alex Ribbens.

A really good weekend of non-stop saloon car action. Everyone seemed to enjoy the Saturday evening barbecue and thanks again to our friendly Belgian marshal Eddy Vergeylen for bringing the beers and helping judge the award winners. Roll on Castle Combe.