Dunlop Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship
Brands Hatch 28th and 29th March '09
The first round of the Dunlop Motorsport News saloon car championship certainly lived up to it’s billing as the “clash of the Cosworths”. Rod was up against Nick Williamson from Southampton and Malcolm Wise from North London. All three are driving Ford Escort Cosworths with around 500 brake horse power each, but they are also racing against several other potential winners in class A.
Saturday’s race saw Rod capitalise on his pole position and ease away from Wise who was soon passed by Williamson. The three cars set a furious pace but were soon joined by Mike Biggers in his 700bhp Nissan Skyline. Although Rod had a small advantage it remained close until Biggers shed a wheel going through Paddock bend. The big Nissan ploughed into the gravel trap which arrested its progress, unfortunately the errant wheel hit Cris Hayes’s abandoned Seat. As the former motorcycle racer climbed out, the safety car was deployed to allow the marshals to remove the stricken vehicles. At the same time it began to rain and the whole field were on slick racing tyres. When the safety car left the circuit Rod knew there would be considerably less grip available on the wet surface, however he still managed to pull away from the pursuing drivers. When the chequered flag appeared he was 5 seconds in front of Williamson with Wise a further 4 seconds adrift.
The other classes were equally hard fought. In class B Duncan Clarke (VW Golf) got the measure of Andy Woods-Dean whilst Gareth Porter inflicted a rare defeat on Richard Brent in class C. Another surprise was to see Alex Ribbens pip Bill Richards to class D honours, Alex earning the Quaife driver of the race award. Meanwhile in class E Stephen King was braver on the slippery track than Ken Welch as both Minis scrabbled for grip.
Sunday dawned bright and sunny with no threat of rain. From the rolling start Williamson snatched the lead and for the next 9 laps the large crowd were treated to an intense battle for the lead. Several times Rod drew alongside only to be thwarted but as the two came up to lap Stephen King’s Mini they decided to go either side of the slower car. In a flash Rod was in the lead and straight away he smashed his existing lap record. For the first time he dipped below the 50 second barrier setting a time of 49.8 seconds. Nick tried hard to retaliate but spun into the gravel trap at Paddock Bend on lap 14. From here on Rod maintained his 19 second advantage over Wise to record his second win of the weekend and his fourth of the year so far.
On the podium Rod commented: “I predicted at the Courier Group awards night that this year would be very tough. It took a record breaking drive to secure today’s win and I suspect it will be even closer next time.”
Yet again the other classes were just as hard fought. Woody took a lunge at Duncan Clarke on the first lap but unfortunately spun, leaving Duncan to claim class B honours. Brenty did a very audacious move around the outside of Druids to pass Gareth Porter and win class C. Bill Richards turned the tables on Ribbens in class D, whilst Welch did the same to King in class E. Nick Williamson won the driver of the race award, and Ray Barrow deservedly got the best prepared car award for his wonderfully refurbished Escort. The Ford RS owners award went to our very own Stewart Bevan for his superb work over the winter to keep our car on top (for now) and help it set a new lap record. Incidentally Richard Brent broke the class C record, so he now holds the best time in C,D and E.
A brilliant couple of races in front of a large crowd, has made sure we kick off the season in fine style. It is a bit of a gap to the next round, which is back at Brands on May 10th.