Silverstone May 31st - Race Report
All week the weather forecast was predicting a wet day, but come Saturday it remained dry all day. Practice was busy as usual with 37 cars taking to the national circuit at Silverstone. One who was missing was the joint championship leader, namely James Lindridge. The ECU had packed up in his Vauxhall Astra, which was very frustrating for poor James, especially as he had just been featured in Motorsport News.
It was business as usual for Rod, with pole position secured in five laps. Alongside Rod would be Ron Kiddell in the quicker of the two Skylines. Darren Bly headed row two from Peter Taylor who was going very well in his RS500. Peter was easily nominated as having the best prepared car, and deservedly won the Quaife award. Row three contained Nick Hayes in the fastest class B car. The fact that it was a Seat ( complete with fully compliant rear wing ) made a few people take note. Nick acknowledged that the previous dayís testing had been extremely useful. Alongside Nick was a welcome newcomer in the shape of a Nissan Primera driven by Keith Butcher. Another super-tourer was seventh driven by Alex Schooledge, whilst Graham Bahr should have been eighth, but engine woes meant he had to withdraw. Chris Hayes qualified ninth, with Andy Wickens rounding out the top ten. The full list of qualifiers is on the results page, but special mention to three more newcomers, namely Guy Blumer (Ford Sierra), Richard Ellingham (Fiat Tipo) and 17 year Jason Davies (Ford Escort). In fact it was Jasonís first ever circuit race.
The rolling start for race one was very orderly and Rod had a good lead by the end of lap one. The margin extended to nearly five seconds on lap two, but on lap three disaster struck! Rod visibly slowed and appeared in third place with a sick sounding engine. A further lap saw our car plummet down the order before it appeared in the pit lane. Stewart dived under the bonnet, and immediately saw the problem. A plug lead had somehow become detached. Once re-fitted Rod sped back into the race in a lowly 33rd position. With only five laps remaining it would be a tall order to regain the lost ground, but he set about the task in determined mood. By the chequered flag he had moved up to 17th, which was a superb achievement.
Meanwhile the battle for the lead continued between the two Nissanís with hardly any gap between them. In the end Ron just got to the flag first and with it secured his first circuit racing win. He also won the Quaife driver of the race award. Third place witnessed a close battle between the super tourers, once Peter Taylor had spun his RS500, with Schooledge triumphing over Butcher. Nick Hayes came home a delighted fifth overall and first in class B, from a hard charging Ray Barrow.
Andy Wickens climbed from tenth to seventh in his best run for some time, whilst Richard Brent performed his usual giant killing act and claimed eighth overall and first in class D. Cris Hayes maintained his ninth place, but only just from a fast closing Rick May. Rick had started dead last following a crank sensor problem on his first lap of practice. The two VW Golfs of Duncan Clark and Steve Dann fought over 11th place, with Duncan getting the verdict. Mark Hoskin had a good run in his Audi to take 13th from close C victor Peter Wilkinson. Peter only just held off Lee McNair, with Bill Richards easily taking class E honours.
With the results of race one, as usual, determining the starting positions of race two, Rod would line up 17th. In the collecting area, Bill commented on the nice group of people he would be starting amongst! An incredible first lap saw our black Escort somehow pass 14 cars to be in third position. There was a degree of help in that Ronís Nissan Skyline stopped just after the first corner and various drivers took avoiding action. Rod in the WRC however, took to the grass but did not decrease his speed. Meanwhile Bly held the lead from Butcher, but Rod soon swept past the Primera and started harrying Darren. On lap three the yellow Nissan slewed sideways as it turned into Brooklands, and in an instant Rod swept by into the lead. From there on it was plain sailing to the chequered flag and the fifth win of the year. Bly kept the gap down to just over a second and finished a good runner up. Butcher could not resist the attack by Schooledge, who took the final podium position.
Initially Ray Barrow ran as high as fourth with his quick starting Ford Escort. Gradually he slipped back behind the battling Hayes brothers and the tenacious Richard Brent. Richard even had the audacity to pass both Seats and finish fifth overall, which was no mean achievement for a class D car. Nick Hayes just pipped brother Cris by 0.725 of a second to claim class B honours and the Quaife driver of the race award. Barrow took eighth from a steady Wickens, with Hoskin rounding out the top ten. Peter Taylor drove well from 31st to 11th, with Graham Richardson 12th overall and second in class B. Graham had another back row starter, Guy Blumer, looming large in his mirrors, but he managed to hold off the Ford Sierra. Bill Richards was the final unlapped runner, and he also claimed class E honours, although both Mike Edgill and Eric Falce non-started with engine woes. Behind Phil Brent it was the two VW Golfs again, and for a second time Duncan had the upper hand over Steve. Lee McNair took class C honours and claim his maiden victory with the Integra. Peter Wilkinson was less than half a second behind, with Gerald Dale hot on his heels.
The championship now returns to Kent, for the first of three meetings at Lydden Hill this year. Richard Brent now heads the table from Bill Richards, with Rod slipping back to third. It is still early days, but the odds are beginning to favour the red Peugeot driver.