|BARCsec Dunlop Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship|
|Brands Hatch - August 15th 2010|
A drama filled last lap brought the crowd to its feet at Brands Hatch on Sunday. The action came about as Darren Bly challenged Rod as the two approached Paddock Bend on the final lap of the Dunlop Motorsport News saloon car race. As Bly’s Nissan hit the offside rear wheel of Rod’s Escort which then spun wildly across the track amidst a cloud of tyre smoke. When the dust settled Birley selected a gear first as Bly’s gear lever broke. Rod struggled away just as third placed Craig Davies arrived on the scene with his Sierra RS500. Despite obvious handling problems somehow Rod got to the chequered flag first just 1.9 seconds in front of Davies as Bly limped home third. Needless to say opinions varied on who did what, but in the eyes of the officials it was termed a racing incident. The remarkable thing was that at one stage our Escort had more than 90 degrees of angle to the direction of travel.
The first race had seen Birley hold off a determined challenge from the other Nissan Skyline of Mark Biggers. For the entire race distance both drivers were only separated by a couple of seconds but Rod seemed to have it all under control. Bly finished a distant third, hampered by blistered tyres. For the second race Darren fitted new tyres. Initially it appeared that Birley had command again but a safety car period, due to an incident when Andy Pipe spun off at Druids, closed the leaders up. Whilst Biggers pulled off when a warning light suggested a mechanical problem, Bly sensed an opportunity and mounted an all out attack. Time and again the two leaders lowered the lap record with Bly setting an incredible time of 48.6 seconds, which is almost a second better than the old record which Rod set earlier this year. Despite the final lap incident Rod was pleased that his car had survived, earlier in the day our team had to change the rear differential in super quick time.
Fifth overall in race one and fourth in race two gave Rick May a pleasant surprise after his nine month lay off. In the second race he was given a hard time by Ray Barrow and the lead changed twice in the final mile. Ashley Hargreaves clung on well in the first encounter but fell behind the duelling Brent and Richards in race two. Bill Richards was in fact dealing with his own demons as this was his first time back at Brands since the horrific smash back in April. Two class wins vaulted him to third in the points table. Meanwhile Richard Brent easily had the measure of class E, as he kept the pressure on with class honours.
In class D it was a surprise to see Andy Woods-Dean wheel out his Renault Megane, which had destroyed its engine at Snetterton. Woody wasn’t beaten by something so trivial and acquired a motor from a scrap car and duly bolted it in. Two very close races against Ricky Coomber’s smart Honda Integra netted them a win and a second place each.
The two wins consolidate Birley’s championship lead as the series takes a six week break. However, Rod will be racing again in two weeks time as he takes up an invitation to compete at an international event in Barbados.