Dunlop Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship  -  Brands Hatch October 31st & November 1st 2009

The final two rounds of the Dunlop Motorsport News saloon car championship took place at Brands Hatch at the weekend. Supporting the Truck Superprix meeting a large crowd was in attendance on both days. Rod had already claimed the 2009 crown but his aim was to achieve his 500th race win.

Qualifying took place on a slippery track but Rod soon staked his claim to pole position.  When the session was stopped early, due to John Cross getting stuck after spinning into the gravel at Paddock Bend, Rod topped the time sheets. Nick Williamson lined up second with Malcolm Wise third. The track was dry for the first race and from the rolling start Rod powered into the lead. Exiting Clearways corner Nick spun and rejoined after losing several places. Rod then had his mirrors filled by the very quick Nissan Skyline of Darren Bly. However on lap three Nik Barton rolled his Ford Fiesta at Clearways which prompted the safety car to intervene. The wrecked car was removed to a place of safety and thankfully Nik was unhurt (it’s always a jinx to have a “for sale” sign on a car which is racing). Once the race resumed Rod noticed a noise coming from the front of his car. Undeterred he kept his foot down and just held on to take the historic win. Darren finished just 0.166 of a second behind, with Nick recovering to third.

Malcolm had a good run to fourth with Stratton Mackay going well to claim fifth in his well prepared Subaru. Andy Woods-Dean drove out of his skin to win class B by less than half a second from Cris Hayes. Andy Thompson held off Ray Barrow by an even smaller margin for eighth place. Mark Jenkins VW Golf rounded out the top ten closely pursued by Paul Nevil, who won the Quaife driver of the race award, and class D winner Bill Richards. Rick May was a subdued 13th from the battling class C duo of James Lindridge and Lee Allen with his smart new shape Mini Cooper S. The older version of Alex Osborne took class E honours, this being the ex-Lee McNair car.

After the celebrations, where Rod was presented with a special trophy from Motorsport Vision (the owners of Brands Hatch), our team discovered the front anti roll bar had broken. The part was fixed for the second day and Rod led the cars away on the warm up lap. However, another gremlin struck as the alternator pulley sheared off and a disappointed Rod was forced to retire. This would be his first non finish all season, but it would allow someone else to go on the top step of the podium at Brands.

Nick seized the initiative and eased away from Darren with Malcolm hanging on closely in third. All eyes then switched to Graham Wait who was making remarkable progress from 32nd on the grid. Another safety car intervention, this time for Graham Richardson going off, meant the field closed up again. With Wait in tenth it would be interesting to see how much further he could progress. The answer turned out to be fourth and the fastest lap of the race. The Ford RS club unanimously gave him their driver of the race award, whilst the Quaife award went to Mark Jenkins who finished eighth overall and third in class B.

The first three positions went to Williamson, Bly and Wise whilst Mackay took another fifth spot. Sixth went to Rick May and another class B victory. This assured Rick of class B in the championship and third place overall. Andy Thompson finished on Rick’s boot lid in seventh. Paul Nevil understeered to ninth with Cris Hayes beating Woody to tenth. Lindridge took class C again, with Bill Richards conquering class D. Julian Howell triumphed in class E with his Mini. The Quaife best prepared car award went to Nick Proudlock in his Ford Escort Mk.1.

Congratulations to all the various winners this year. All the classes have been closely contested and everyone has worked hard for their success.