Brands Hatch 15th March 2009 - BARCsec Intermarque League and Tin Tops
The Cannonís Tin Tops had the honour of being the first cars on track for the start of the new 2009 racing season. After qualifying it was somewhat of a surprise to see Steve Cassar on pole position, with a time which would be very respectable in Dunlop Saloon Car Championship. Next to Steve was series newcomer Daryl Radford in his glorious sounding VW Vento.
From the rolling start Daryl took the lead and steadily pulled away to take a comfortable win. Unfortunately Steve slipped down the order, eventually coming home ninth with a best time nearly four seconds slower than he was managing in the morning. The battle for second position proved to be very entertaining as David Clark hustled his Renault 5 Turbo down the straights just quick enough to avoid Danny Cassar nipping past in the twisty bits. Jason Cox drove well in his Ford Fiesta to secure fourth, whilst his brother Michael had an off course excursion. Peter Winstone and Nick Proudlock (who won the Intermarque class D and E section) finished fifth and sixth.
The second race again saw Radford motor off into the lead. Likewise Clarkey ran consistently in second, whereas Danny Cassar slipped back to fifth as first Winstone nipped past and then Nick Young wound up his Seat Ibiza to just edge fourth place on the line. Jason Cox was a bit lonely in sixth, but Proudlock and Gary Chappell diced strongly for seventh, with Nick taking the place. From the back of the grid Michael Cox did well to come home ninth, as Tris Barden rounded out the top ten in his Mini. A very entertaining scrap ensued around 13th place, with Ken Angellís mighty Jaguar holding off the attentions of Gary Cole (Citroen), Terry Searles (MG ZR) and Robert Morris (Mini).
At the end of the afternoon Cole got the best prepared car award, whilst Clarkey won the driver of the day prize.
The Chris Knott Intermarque League has seen quite a few technical changes over the winter. All the silhouette specials now fit into class SR, with their own rules; the Tigers have been split into three groups depending upon engine modifications and other specifications, whilst some cars have been re-classified into different classes to allow them to be more competitive.
The net result was still a full grid of assorted cars, with Rod taking Pole position in a time of 49.8 seconds. Malcolm Harding lined up alongside with his rapid Vauxhall Tigra as Steve Hall had to settle for third. From a well judged rolling start Rod took the lead, but the track was slippery in places due to an earlier oil spill. Harding closed right up and even got alongside going into Mclaren, but turbo power told on the straight. From thereon the black Escort edged away to an eight second win. Harding meanwhile had to contend with Hall, and this proved to be a very entertaining dice, especially when Keith White joined in with his brand new BWM Z4. Although they finished in this order, less than two seconds covered the trio. Brockhurst, Robertson and Ayling filled the next three positions in their similar silhouette specials, with Mark Steward leading the Tiger posse in eighth.
The second race saw Hall line up with four brand new tyres on his Audi TT. Obviously keen to take on the challenge he quickly passed Harding and latched onto our tail. On lap three as the leaders charged into Clearways, Steve tried to get inside Rod but unfortunately made contact and Rod had a hairy moment avoiding the gravel trap. The white Audi sped away and set some stunningly fast times of which the quickest was 49.8 seconds. The handling on the Escort was slightly askew which led to some interesting lines through the corners on the remaining laps. Never the less the charge was on and for a while the gap closed, but a proliferation of back markers, just at the wrong time, stymied any further progress. Thus Steve took the chequered flag first with Rod second. Harding pulled off when a bolt came loose and he lost his water; hopefully his engine will be OK. Keith White also retired which meant that Chris Brockhurst took the final position by just 0.7 of a second from Mick Robertson. Chris also won the driver of the day award, whilst Steve Hall got best prepared car.
Mark Steward upped his pace to take a good fifth overall and first Tiger home, with Chris Ayling rounding out the top six. Paul Dudley was the first lapped runner in seventh; Paulís immaculate R6 secured him the best prepared award in the Tiger section. Tenth place for Mick Grant, just holding off the silhouette Peugeot of Mike Thurley, netted him the driver of the race prize
After the lap of honour there was a stewardís enquiry following an observers report on the Clearways incident. The decision was taken to reverse the top two positions so Rod gained the victory. Although disappointed, Steve still won the silhouette class and moves on to round 2 with the rest of the series, which visits Castle Combe next.