Brands Hatch. 24th March 2007     -     BARCse Tin Tips incl Sports / Saloons

Hot on the heels of the local inter club quiz night, where the BARC south east team finished joint fourth with Borough 19 (honestly there was no collusion), we had our first race meeting of the year.  Rod had received several good luck messages for his birthday two days earlier and he was quietly optimistic that the winter re-build would deliver more success.

Saturday dawned overcast with the prospect of light showers later. A bitterly cold northerly wind meant that much time was spent in Hailwoods trying to keep warm. Practice revealed a necessity to tape up the oil cooler in order to achieve sensible temperatures. The large field of 32 cars meant that getting a clear lap was nearly impossible but never the less Rod obtained pole position with a time of 51.355 seconds, which was 2.96 quicker than Mark Steward in a Tiger sports car. The session was prematurely stopped when Trevor Nicosia had a mishap at Druids and Steve Dann also went off in avoidance.

Our first race was just after midday and with a rolling start Rod made perfect use of his pole position. From there on it was a straight forward run to the first victory of the year. The battle for second place, by contrast, was a close fought affair. The evenly matched Tiger sports cars driven by Paul Dudley and Mark Steward had a race long tussle that finally went Paul’s way but only by 0.132 of a second. Another Tiger driven by Mick Grant just managed to stave off the advances of Derek Parker in his Caterham. Behind yet another Tiger (Stewart Fenton) we found the brightest car in the race, namely the Day-Glo orange Toyota Starlet belonging to Gareth Smith which had moved up from tenth to seventh. Mark Steadman followed him home in eighth just in front of an intriguing battle for class B honours between the Lancia Kappa of Trevor Nicosia and Steve Weatherley’s Sapphire Cosworth. The Italian car just triumphed by half a second despite problems with third gear.

The first lapped runner, in eleventh place was Paul Bickers (Tiger R6) closely pursued by the first “tin top” (on treaded tyres), this being Bill Richards in his little Mini. Bill had David Fuller’s immaculate MG Midget close on his bumper, who was recovering from a third lap indiscretion, and they were only just in front of Gareth Cordey’s Tiger and two more tin tops. These were John Strickland in his Alfa Romeo (who took T2 honours) and new boy Steve Dann in his VW Golf, they even swapped places twice on the final lap. Winning the BMW battle was Gravesend’s Dean Spurr in his 320i version from Andrew Partridge and Simon Fox.

Mention must be made of Gary Chappell’s first ever race in his self prepared Toyota Celica. Gary drove sensibly and improved on his practice time to come 24th having started 29th. In contrast poor Tim Creighton had a day to forget in Advent motorsport’s Proton. An off at Paddock Bend severely damaged the front of the Malaysian car.

 

With a three hour gap to our second race, we chose to investigate why our new brake discs were so noisy. Nothing conclusive was found so we told Rod to just get on with it. This rolling start didn’t go quite to plan as Rod followed the safety car into the pit lane! A “technical problem” was quickly diagnosed and Rod returned at the tail of the field. This made for a far more interesting race. By the end of lap one he had already passed ten cars and was 19th. Lap two and he was 15th with six more being overtaken on lap three. Up to sixth on lap four, but the first five had sped away opening up a reasonable gap. The pursuit was now on and it took three more laps to reel them in. Two were passed on lap seven and the final three succumbed on lap 8 whilst in amongst some back markers. The winning margin was 6.66 seconds at the chequered flag at the conclusion of 14 laps.

The rest of the race was also very entertaining. Yet again second place was closely fought but this time Derek Parker brought his slick shod Caterham through to the runner up spot.  Mark Steward (the erstwhile leader for seven laps) fell back to fourth so the leading Tiger became Paul Dudley. All three were covered by just one second at the end. Mick Grant brought his Tiger home fifth from Stewart Fenton’s E1 version in sixth. Steve Weatherley was without the company of Trevor Nicosia this time, but he was nearly caught by Dave Fuller’s Midget. Dave won the best prepared car award. The bright Toyota of Gareth Smith completed the unlapped runners with a steady drive in ninth, having been up to sixth at one point.

Steve Quenby and Mark Steadman rounded out the top eleven in their Tigers, closely pursued by the tenacious Bill Richards who just managed to beat the bigger engined tin top boys. A glitch with MST showed Bill a lap further down initially but this was corrected later. John Strickland and Steve Dann renewed their battle for T2 honours. Steve held the initiative for four laps then John got by. However, on lap 12 the positions were reversed again only for John to snatch it back on the final tour. Steve was unanimously voted the driver of the race and received the Quaife Engineering bottle of bubbly plus Dunlop hat.

Three more Tigers filled the next positions, although Adam Wilkins was being caught by Steve Griffiths and Paul Swonnell. Paul had made good progress from 23rd to 16th. Dean Spurr was pipped by Andrew Partridge to be the leading BMW runner, Andrew taking third place in the T2 class. The BMWs had an interesting time with the Tigers and it was good to see all the drivers enjoying themselves. Likewise Gary Chappell found his Toyota to be the meat in a thick BMW sandwich. Simon Fox, Alan Stuart and Jamie Smith were in front of the Japanese car, with Andrew Cotterill, Tony Smith and Richard Cormode just behind. Brian Daly (BMW 318i) and Christopher Brooks (Tiger R6) completed the runners. Only Paul Bickers failed to finish.

An enjoyable, if very cold day, watched by a reasonable size Saturday crowd. No doubt enticed by the Lotus owners club.

Next stop is Lydden Hill on April 7th for the first championship round.

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