Brands Hatch - April 17th & 18th 2010

Dunlop Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship


Rounds three and four of the DMN at Brands Hatch on April 10/11 were notable for some of the wrong reasons. Outright race winners were Rod in the first race and Darren Bly in the second, whilst Richard Brent twice topped his class. However Rod’s car burst into flames for the second time in a month on Sunday afternoon and poor Bill Richards left the circuit in an ambulance after a massive accident on the top straight.

Rod and Darren both qualified under the 50s mark, but Mark Biggers in the second of the Nissans headed home to Nuneaton after breaking his gearbox. Craig Davies didn’t even make it to Brands even though his Sierra was scrutineered and ready to go. Craig was stranded in Milan, a victim of the commercial flying shut-down across Europe.

Nick Williamson and Malcolm Wise followed the first two at a distance in Saturday’s race and even Bly lost touch when his car started sliding around. Onlookers could see it was also making smoke. Darren still finished second, and a fluid leak from the power steering pump was blamed for the problem. Rod set a new lap record in 49.474 seconds, which equates to 87.21 mph.

Ashley Hargreaves got the better of a titanic battle for fifth overall and Class B, heading Cris Hayes, Ray Barrow and Mark Jenkins plus Greg Rose, who was guest driving Martin Johnston’s Honda Civic and won Class D.

A welcome newcomer was Gareth Smith in tenth place, making his debut in an Audi A4, which formerly cleaned up in saloon races at Castle Combe. Gareth’s drive from near the tail of the grid earned him the driver of the race award. Brent and Richards enjoyed their usual wheel-to-wheel tussle while leading their respective classes until Bill slowed with a detached spark plug lead and soldiered on in 16th place. Stratton Mackay was part of the midfield mix, but slowed on the final lap with a jammed gearbox and played no further part in the weekend.

Ray Barrow stopped with a broken panhard rod after joining the green flag lap for Sunday’s race, as Rod led away from a closely following Bly. A misfire soon indicated problems in store for our Escort and inside the cockpit a sudden loss of boost was the signal to cruise into the pits, but while he was talking to Stewart the car erupted in flames. It looked at first like a repeat of his test session pitlane fire in March, but the cause this time was put down to some sort of internal explosion, which damaged the fuel rail brackets and split the intercooler. At this time the exact cause of the problem is not yet known, but suffice to say another huge clean up is required.

A fire tender was scrambled round the Clearways loop to attend the blaze, bunching up a group of cars which slowed in response to white flags. Through Clark Curve a lap or so afterwards Greg Rose was launched out of the pack into the barriers on the left of the track before bouncing into the path of Richards and Hayes. The Mini took off before crashing down on its side. Although very shaken, Rose and Hayes were cleared by medical staff at the circuit but Richards was detained in hospital overnight with broken ribs, concussion, severe bruising and lacerations.

Bly was declared the winner with seven laps on the board. The final act, long after the race, was a revised result showing that Mark Jenkins had been disqualified from sixth and had four points put on his licence for driving “in a manner incompatible with general safety and/or departing from the standard of a reasonably competent driver”.