Dunlop Motorsport News Saloons

Snetterton 26th and 27th May ~ A Tale of Two Days

Because of last minute local planning constraints our planned evening race had to be scrapped, so race two would now be run on the Sunday instead. Although this meant an overnight stay it was the only option available for the championship. Saturday dawned overcast and the journey to Snetterton was punctuated by showers. Upon arrival the circuit was damp but by the time practice started it was dry.

Rod secured pole position with a time of 1 minute 15.1 seconds, which was just over 0.7 of a second quicker than (new father) Greg Rose in the brightly painted Ford RS500. On row two Martin Johnston just pipped John Cross, making it an all Mercedes line up. Graham Bahr, with his “hope it all stays together” BMW occupied fifth from class B rival Andy Thompson. Ray Barrow qualified well in 7th from Richard Brent’s Peugeot. The rest of the qualifying times are on the results page, but we lost Nigel Craig from the line up when his Subaru’s gearbox broke.

The standing start unfortunately spelt disaster for Peter Wilkinson as he stalled the Nissan and got hit by Andy Wickens who could not see the stricken car. Neville Moore also damaged his VW Golf, but quick work by other team members meant that he at least got out for the re-start. Peter was taken to hospital for a precautionary check, which luckily revealed no broken bones. He later returned to assess the damage which he reckoned was repairable. Start number 2 saw Greg and Rod run nose to tail out onto the Revett straight, with Rod edging ahead by the Bomb Hole. An optimistic move by Greg at Coram saw contact between the two cars and Rod slewed alarmingly onto the grass, which had seen an MG roll in an earlier race. Fortunately Rod gathered it all together and the chase was on. What followed was 8 laps of on the limit racing, both drivers extracting the maximum from their turbo charged steads. Greg missed the Russell chicane on one lap which allowed Rod to eke out a small lead, but by the chequered flag it was back down to 1.8 seconds. Rod set a new lap record at 1 minute 14.47 seconds an average speed of 94.34 mph.

There was also a good battle for third position between the two vastly differing Mercedes. John’s V8 version certainly had the grunt in a straight, whilst Martin’s 4 cylinder version was more agile through the twisty bits. Grunt proved successful this time. In fifth place came Richard Brent, happy that his latest engine had survived a whole race distance. Ray Barrow finished sixth with his quick Mk.1 turbocharged Escort. Ray fended off the advances of Andy Thompson in his Seat, both of whom benefited from the demise of Graham Bahr who exited at Riches on lap six. We all felt sorry for Graham who seems to be devoid of luck at the moment. Steve Weatherley had a good run to 8th place (and second in class B). Steve was being caught by Tony Ryan until the clutch expired on the RS500. Darren Bly at last had a trouble free run in his Opel Manta and wrapped up class D, from an equally happy Graham Richardson. Darren was also awarded “driver of the race”.

The first of the lapped runners was Chris Adams who cheekily nipped past Mark Hosken as Rod lapped the pair of them exiting Russell chicane. Mark did have the consolation of receiving the Quaife best prepared car award. Peter Crewes took class E honours with a dominant drive, although his sparring partner from the West Country (Mike Edgell) pulled off on lap 3. Behind Woody’s Megane we had Steve Dann (winning the tin top section) and successfully holding off Lee McNair. The rest are listed on the results page, but special mention must go to Neville Moore who debuted his new VW Golf. After getting caught up in the start line incident Neville thought it was all over, but quick work by Andy Pipe’s retro racing team and some 2CV helpers Nev was able to re-start  in 34th and make his way up to 20th.

Our second race was not until Sunday, so we had time to socialise with friends near Norwich. Gary Chappell joined us explaining that the recovery crew had ripped off his oil pipes when they went to move him after the race. Gary had pulled off with a broken clutch just to add to his woes. Rained was forecast but it did not arrive until just before our start. Everyone had time to fit wets, or in Woody’s case fit whatever he could find!!! After two warm up laps, where Rod almost caught the tail of the field (not sure what he was up to, but he did have an off here in the rain once, so perhaps he wanted to know how much grip there was). The start went OK this time and Greg and Rod ran side by side as far as Sear corner. On the back straight Rod edged slightly ahead and appeared first around Coram. Greg kept the pressure on, benefiting from a new set of wet tyres. Eventually his persistence paid off when Rod was wrong footed by a group of back markers going into the bomb Hole (not their fault I hasten to add). Greg slipped by going around Coram. Rod soon struck back and slipped alongside the bright RS500 going into Sear. This was great stuff, and on a treacherous track it made it even more remarkable. Both drivers put in their fastest laps on lap six, but Rod was nearly a second faster and he maintained a small advantage to the chequered flag. 38 seconds back, Richard Brent took a remarkable third overall. His delight at this result was a pleasure to see, plus he also got voted the driver of the race. Andy Thompson completed the unlapped runners in fourth; such had been the pace of the leaders. Fifth went to a very happy Mark Hosken, although he thought his rear differential was not working properly. Ray Barrow was less than a second behind Mark, and just behind Ray was Darren Bly (winning class D again).

Ray Adams had a good run into eighth place with his smart Seat, although the other class B runners had either non-started or retired (most notably Steve Weatherley and Rick May). Lee McNair triumphed in class E from a fast closing Mike Edgell, Peter Crewes having pulled off at the Bomb Hole on lap six. Into 11th place (and first tin top) was Gary Cole with his neat Citroen Xsara. His tyres were much better suited than Martin Johnston’s, which are nearly five years old. Greg Pye finished two laps down in 13th, pursued by Neville Moore. Alan Cherry had a ringside seat of Andy Woods-Dean’s antics in the Renault Megane. Woody’s odd tyres made for a very eventful experience, but at least he netted some more points. Likewise John Cross struggled valiantly with his V8 monster, as did all the drivers really. It must be said that the conditions were very difficult so it was good to see that most survived. Steve Dann suffered a drowned engine and some pulled off with visibility problems, but at least there were no accidents. A quick mention goes to Chris Adams, who set the third fastest lap in the race after an incident. Although Chris finished second to last, he threw his Integra around with great gusto.

There now follows a seven week break before Castle Combe. Expect another full grid at this popular venue, and hopefully the sun will shine like last year. We have a few things to check out, most notable a possible head gasket leak.