Brands Hatch - November 3rd and 4th

The final rounds of our popular DMN championship would take place during the Truck Superprix meeting. With a huge crowd expected and several championship positions to be decided there was much anticipation leading up the event.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny, with un-seasonal mild temperatures. A full pack of 33 cars set out for practice, but the first pit visitor was our car. Rod explained that the accelerator cable had stuck open, and that he had to limp back to get it fixed. Nothing obvious was noticed, but a healthy spray of WD40 seemed to do the trick. Undeterred Rod rejoined and serenely set pole position by over a second from Greg Rose in the V8 Ford Falcon. Next up was Rick May (with another Harvey Gibb engine) in his class B Ford Sierra, followed by Darren Bly’s Nissan Skyline, Martin Johnston’s multi coloured RS500 and Andrew Williams in his class C Ford Sapphire. As usual the full set of times are on the results page.

With standing starts for this weekend, it would be interesting to see who this would suit. When the red lights went out, Greg got away superbly with Darren blasting into second and Rod trailing in third. By Druids the black Escort was past the grey Nissan and latching on to the orange Falcon. On lap 3 Rod somehow found a gap coming out of Clearways and edged alongside Greg. Both charged towards Paddock Bend, with the British Ford emerging just in front of the Australian version. There then followed a high speed tussle, with both drivers lowering the lap record until Greg left it at 50.085 seconds (86.15 mph). Rod held on to take the win though, notching up his 20th of the season so far, and he also received the Quaife driver of the race award. The winning margin was only 0.976 of a second. Darren motored hard to take third, although 21.30 seconds further back.

Into a fine fourth overall came Rick May, easily winning class B. Nigel Craig just had the measure of Andrew Williams, who lowered the class C lap record to 53.679 seconds. Peter Taylor was only 0.6 of a second further back in his “best prepared car” winning Ford Sierra Cosworth.  Next up was Ray Barrow, with his new competition clutch, closely pursued by class B champion Andy Thompson, who had his mirrors full of the red Seat driven by Nick Hayes. The first lapped runner was Stephen Craig in his Subaru, and he only just held off a fast closing Martin Johnston. Martin had made a slow start after selecting third gear instead of first. Steve Weatherley brought his misfiring Sapphire home 13th, with a slip steaming Bill Richards hard on his tail. Bill won class E, and with Peter Crewes second and Lee McNair finishing third in this class, it would mean that Sunday’s race would have to decide the class champion.

Ashley Hargreaves had a good run to second in class C, with Mark Hoskin bringing his Skybabe liveried Audi TT home next, holding off Andy Woods-Dean in his Renault Megane. The class D winner was returnee Andy Mitchell in his Peugeot 205, but the championship battle was unfolding further back. Andy Pipe had invested in new tyres and looked to easily have the measure of a subdued Alex Ribbens, but disaster struck for Andy. On lap six a gearbox level plug came loose and started to spew oil out onto the exhaust and Andy gyrated off the track at Surtees. Undettered he dived into the pits to try and solve the problem. Re-joining just as the leaders took the chequered flag, meant that he actually finished the race in the pit lane. Sadly, according to the timekeepers, he had not completed the minimum 80% distance required to be classified. Despite the team’s protestations, Andy had to resign himself to the problem.

Meanwhile Alex cruised in 27th, claiming fourth in class plus valuable championship points. Graham Richardson had claimed second in class D, with Duncan Clarke bringing his neat VW Lupo into third. Duncan had been dicing with fellow VW man Steve Dann, whose Golf had jumped out of gear at a critical moment. Despite this setback Steve claimed fourth in class C. Chris Hayes debuted another class B Seat and had a steady run to 22nd overall and fifth in class B. The similar car of Ray Adams suffered driveshaft problems and retired on lap 9, following some lurid moments. John Cross pulled up the mighty V8 Mercedes when it lunched it’s differential on lap 10. Phil Danbury retired his BMW 325 with an undisclosed problem, leaving the other classified finishers as Mike Edgell (23rd), Andrew Gatfield (26th) and Gemma Morris (28th).

The good weather continued on Sunday, once the early fog had disappeared. A huge crowd filed into the circuit, no doubt encouraged by the trucks but also keen to see the various outcomes in our popular championship! With our race scheduled to start at 13.40 there was much anticipation as to who would emerge victorious in all five classes. The demon start by Darren Bly was repeated again as neither Rod nor Greg could hold the exocet missile back. In fact Rod made a bit of a porridge of his getaway, selecting fifth instead of third as he climbed through the gearbox. Nigel Craig had sprinted into third by Paddock Bend, but son Stephen had ended up on his roof as everyone charged around the first corner. Stephen was Okay, and the red flags were shown.

The good weather continued on Sunday, once the early fog had disappeared. A huge crowd filed into the circuit, no doubt encouraged by the trucks but also keen to see the various outcomes in our popular championship! With our race scheduled to start at 13.40 there was much anticipation as to who would emerge victorious in all five classes. The demon start by Darren Bly was repeated again as neither Rod nor Greg could hold the exocet missile back. In fact Rod made a bit of a porridge of his getaway, selecting fifth instead of third as he climbed through the gearbox. Nigel Craig had sprinted into third by Paddock Bend, but son Stephen had ended up on his roof as everyone charged around the first corner. Stephen was Okay, and the red flags were shown.

At the re-start the Nissan hit the front again, with Rick May somehow blasting into second place with Rod third, although he did sneak through on the inside as Greg tried to go around the outside of the red Sierra. Rod quickly closed in on Darren and shot by on the inside of Graham Hill Bend, although the six cylinder 700 bhp Japanese car drew alongside on Cooper Straight. Rod was in no mood to hang about and flung the Escort over the kerbs into Clearways. Taking advantage of a clear track he put his foot down and reclaimed the lap record on lap two with a time of 50.067 seconds (86.18 mph). The flames from the exhaust showed this was maximum attack. Greg soon emerged in second place and was just over a second back and clearly intent on closing the gap. However, an intermittent fault sent the big V8 engine onto 7 cylinders, which caught the Southampton man out on lap 11 at Graham Hill Bend. A quick spin decided the outcome, as Greg was now 15 seconds adrift of Rod.

Meanwhile Darren had retired the Nissan with an electrical problem, and Rick May pulled off on Cooper Straight when his front hub disintegrated. The wheel bearing cluster somehow got flicked up, straight into the windscreen of Andy Mitchell’s Peugeot. Showing why we all use laminated screens, the impact nevertheless pushed a couple of glass splinters into Andy’s eyes, which necessitated a trip to the medical centre, but not until he won class D again!!

As Rick retired, so did Ray Barrow, whose Mk.1 Escort had been involved in the first lap incident. Andy Thompson now emerged in third place, closely pursued by Nigel Craig and Peter Taylor.

The blue Sierra Cosworth sneaked past the white Subaru, but it was deemed to be whilst yellow flags were flying, so the positions were reversed when the results were later published. Thompson still retained third place, with Craig senior fourth and Taylor fifth. Nick Hayes went very well to secure sixth in his Seat, from Andrew Williams who dominated class C again. The first lapped runner was Steve Weatherley, who went one better and claimed second in class B this time. The points gained meant that Steve just pipped Rick for runner up in the class B championship. Next up was Peter Crewes, just beating Bill Richards, but the class E title went the way of “mad dog” (alias Bill). Spare a thought for Lee though, who fought valiantly all year and ended the day minus his boot lid, following a typical Graham Hill coming together which involved the big Mercedes and others. Various reports and Lee conclude this was a racing incident. Likewise, long distance traveller Peter, had proven the worth of his bio-ethanol Mini, in a really hard contest.

Ray Adams kept his driveshafts intact for a good run into 11th, from the back of the grid. He was followed by a trio of Xsport racing machines, in the order of Johnston, Cross and Woods-Dean. Mitchell was also in this pack, and he was joined by Steve Dann (who won the VAG award) for his tigering drive using slick tyres on a “tin top” spec car. Steve missed the prize giving due to a family member being in hospital, who later succumbed to a brain haemorrhage. Our condolences go to Steve on this tragic and unexpected news. Just behind Steve was Chris Hayes in another Seat, followed by the battered Andy Pipe who won the driver of the race award, but lost class D to steady Alex Ribbens. The two Minis of Mike Edgell and Lee McNair finished line astern and Duncan Clarke overtook the understeering Vauxhall of Graham Richardson for third in class D.

Danbury, Gatfield, Ribbens and Gemma Morris completed the finishers to bring the final chequered flag down on a brilliant season. With around 20,000 spectators watching the final round they must have been impressed with the quality of racing that they saw.

 

 

Congratulations to everyone involved in making this such a fantastic championship.

Here’s to 2008.

 

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