Dunlop Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship. Brands Hatch - 12th August 2007
Things did not get off to a good start for us, as Rod managed to pick up a bug which made him quite ill all day. Added to this it was going to be quite emotional with the tribute to Barry Barnes. We also had to contend with a new challenger from the X-Sport racing stable, because Martin Johnston has bought the ex-Adam Sharpe Ford Falcon for Greg Rose to drive.
Practice saw our usual full grid of runners take to the circuit, which soon became very busy. The boys had fitted new rear dampers to our Escort since Lydden and were keen to see how these worked. Rod managed to find enough room to put in a couple of reasonably quick laps, which secured pole position by 0.6 of a second from Greg. Lining up third should have been John Cross, but his recent bad luck continued when the V8 engine broke a rod. All alone on the second row would be Rick May with his Ford Sierra, now going a lot better since our engine builder (Harvey Gibb) has worked his usual magic. Ray Barrow and Andy Thompson occupied row three, from Steve Weatherley and Chris Adams.
One of the Castle Combe regulars, Tim Maddocks, brought his very smart Honda Civic and qualified 11th on his first visit to Brands. Eric Falce was back in the driving seat of his Ford Fiesta and he managed 13th overall and quickest class E car. Both Richard Brent and Peter Crewes suffered engine problems, Richard being particularly fed up, as this is the third time he has had to pull out. Both Graham Richardson and Mike Edgell were playing again after their dramas at Castle Combe, and Phil Usher returned with his repaired Ford Focus following his incident at Lydden.
With Barnesís BMW M3 leading the cars out onto the grid, there was then a one minute silence, which was very well observed. Peter French drove the M3 on a parade lap where all the marshals waved their flags as he passed by. The pace car then took our grid off on the rolling start. Just as the red lights went out it started to rain slightly. Shades of Castle Combe again !
Parts of the track were wetter than others, but Rod had his foot down with obvious intentions. Greg tried to hang on but suffered a lurid spin at Graham Hill bend when the damp surface caught him out. This handed Rod a winning margin, which was initially over 14 seconds, but Greg did reduce it to 11 by the end. 24 seconds further back Rick May managed to outpace Steve Weatherley who had Nigel Craig for company when the track was most slippery. Nigel did succeed in holding off Ray Barrow who in turn was being chased hard by the leading class C runners. Ray had got up to third at the start but spun on lap 5. Tim Maddocks soon learnt the undulations of Brands Hatch and swept passed Chris Adams, although there was only 0.2 of a second between them at the chequered flag.
The next little group comprised of Stephen Craig, Andy Woods-Dean and Ashley Hargreaves. All three had an entertaining battle, with just half a second separating them. The next group was much bigger and comprised six cars, four of whom were battling for class E honours. It all got a little fraught when Rod caught them on the last lap. In fairness he did the right thing by lapping them all, and it was interesting to see Andy Thompson use our Escortís slipstream to shake off the smaller engined cars and claim 12th overall and third in class B. Andy had fallen back on lap 5 with a time consuming incident. Lee McNair just won the class E battle (for which he earnt the Quaife driver of the race bubbly) from Bill Richards, Eric Falce and Russell Harding. Ray Adams finished in between Bill and Eric. Andy Pipe seemed to shake off the after effects of his stag night and drove with re-newed vigour to claim class D honours from Graham Richardson. Barry Vincent had shadowed this pair, keeping a watchful eye on things. The rest of the finishers came home in the order of Hayes, Edgell, Usher, Turner, Ahmed, Gatfield, Clarke, Reeve and Morris. Gemma received the best prepared car award. The only non-finisher was Alex Ribbens.
Even though it poured down just as our first race finished, the track was completely dry for our second outing. Greg was in determined mood and he ran Rod hard into Paddock Bend. Barely a couple of inches separated the two leading protagonists, but Rod held his nerve and eeked out a small advantage. Both cars set a blistering pace as they eased away from Rick May. Rick was gradually caught by a very determined Ray Barrow. Ray just gained the initiative at the end, taking a well deserved third place. Rick was fourth and he also won class B. Fifth overall with a steady run, went to Steve Weatherley, who seems to be finding better pace with his Sapphire. Next up was Andy Thompson, who made good progress from tenth. Andy edged past Nigel Craig on the last lap, whilst another last lap move saw Tim Maddocks usurp Chris Adams in an inter Honda battle. Tim had earlier tapped Andy Woods-Dean into a small spin, which dropped Woody to 11th overall. Tim did apologise profusely and Woody accepted the accident. Stephen Craig was untroubled in tenth, but wishing it had stayed wet.
Ray Adams had a damage free day and brought his Seat home 12th, not far in front of a heated battle for class E honours. This time it was Bill and Eric setting the pace, as Lee struggled to hold onto the pair of veterans. Bill just pipped Eric, but the Ford driver noted it was a very wide Mini. Andy Pipe again triumphed in class D, with Graham Richardson a very pleased runner up, grateful that his engine behaved itself.
Incredibly everyone finished the second race, with the usual wonderful battles throughout the field. The big Rover driven by Barry Vincent was a popular winner of the Quaife ďdriver of the raceĒ award. The way that Barry chucks this unwieldy beast around is a joy to behold.
So on a day of some sadness, it was pleasing to see that the DMN boys and girl put on the best races of the day. Unfortunately Richard Brentís engine problem means that he will be joining Graham Bahr on the sidelines. Nevertheless there are 47 drivers booked in for Silverstone... our next round.