Brands Hatch November 4th & 5th November 2006

 

And so to the final rounds of this year’s DT&R championship. Back to where it all began in April, Brands Hatch, but this time on the Indy circuit. Supporting the trucks meant that this would be a high profile meeting, and as usual our grid was full before the closing date for entries. A brief dispute when some Renault Clio’s were temporarily added was happily resolved so that no one had to be turned away.

The weather forecast was spot on, dry and sunny, but a bit chilly. Practice saw everyone behave themselves although poor Ashley Hargreaves was an early casualty with more engine woes.  The battle for pole position was quite intense, with Greg Rose serving notice by bolting a new (softer) set of tyres onto the white Mercedes. A last ditch effort by Rod just failed, so for the fourth time this year we had a different pole man. Lining up third should have been Josh Ronchetti but his gearbox lunched itself forcing him to return to Leicester for a replacement. Fourth would be John Cross, followed by Peter Taylor and Chris Adams. Row four contained those rapid Peugeots of Richard Brent and Andy Mitchell. The rest of the practice times are on the results page.

Missing from the line up was Steve Govett who broke a half shaft and David Fuller whose MG Midget refused to start. Pushed off from the grid was Mark Thurston-Jones in his VW Golf suffering from water pump failure. From the standing start Rod got away first only to see the red flags on Cooper Straight. Peter Reeve had inexplicably spun at the start and was left facing the oncoming traffic!

Take 2, and again Rod used his superior traction to slot into the lead. Greg hung onto second, but somehow Richard Brent appeared in third, followed by John Cross and a fast starting Mark Hosken. Greg soon latched onto Rod’s Bumper and there followed a terrific scrap for the remainder of the race. Rod was quicker out of the corners and along the straight bits, but Greg was awesome through the corners and closed right up each time. Such was their pace that within 4 laps they started lapping the slower cars. Gemma Morris was first, but she wisely held her line and was not at all flustered. The battle between Russell Bradley, Andy Woods-Dean, Kevan Wells and Anthony Ahmed looked like it might cause the leaders a problem, but true to DT&R form everyone used their mirrors wisely. On the final lap Greg tried a bold outside move at Clark Curve, but Rod had the shorter route and just held on to win by 0.293 of a second. Greg set a new lap record for class B at 50.834 seconds an average speed of 84.91 mph.

John Cross soon got his V8 Mercedes wound up and powered back into third position, closely followed by Peter Taylor who was doing four races with his Cosworth Sierra. Brent had a typical little'un vs big'un battle with Hosken’s Audi TT and just held onto fifth. Chris Adams had a grandstand view in seventh and winning class C. Steve Weatherley had a steady run to eighth, although Richard May would have been closer, had he not had an incident leaving the pit lane in practice, which meant he had to start from the back of the grid, with his hastily repaired car!

Andy Mitchell rounded out the top ten, with Nigel Craig next. Curiously Nigel took the chequered flag in the pit lane, pulling off when he saw Rod and Greg approaching to lap him. This explains why his (Nigel’s) final lap took well over a minute! Alex Ribbens just failed to beat Greg Pye to win class D, but it still meant their class title would not be settled until the last race. Eric Falce had shadowed this pair but did not interfere in their battle. Barry Barnes took runner up in class C from the battling quartet mentioned earlier. Tim Dodwell managed to keep Anthony Ahmed honest, noticing a two second improvement on his previous lap times, whilst Andy Gatfield was only a second further back in his Nova. The remaining finishers were Robin Welsh (proudly claiming his BMW was built for under £1000), Peter Reeve, Nick Jones (Proton), Richard Kemp (Fiesta) and Gemma Morris. All 26 starters were classified, and Rose deservedly took the driver of the race award. Andy Woods-Dean finally getting the Quaife Engineering “best prepared” car award.

 

 

Race 2 was on Sunday and from an early hour hordes of spectators started arriving. Overnight work saw Josh Ronchetti, David Fuller, Mark Thurston-Jones and Gary Cole all ready to join in, meaning that 30 cars would line up for our 13.15 start time. Again Rod made the superior start and all was going well until the pack arrived at Graham Hill Bend. Eye witnesses’ say Hosken was slightly slow exiting the corner (may be “off” boost) and Richard Brent touched the Audi’s rear bumper. What followed was a typical racing “bomb burst” with cars moving in all directions to avoid others that were spinning. Needless to say the red flags quickly appeared and there then followed a bizarre incident at Paddock Bend where Kevan Wells’ Honda Integra suddenly appeared on its roof in the gravel trap!

Whilst the clearing up operation took place, several cars received running repairs on the grid or in the pit lane. Missing from the re-start would be Hosken, Ribbens, Ahmed, Wells and Dodwell; all were suffering various amounts of bodywork damage, which was a huge shame.

With the re-run shortened to 9 laps Rod blasted away again. Rose again latched onto our Escort’s bumper for a repeat of the previous day. On lap six Greg got a good run through Graham Hill Bend and almost drew alongside. Indeed his front wheel just touched our rear wheel and it all looked very close along Cooper Straight. Both drivers held their line and no real damage was done, but it was good to see how hard they were both trying. This time Rod shaved the class A lap record and just held on by 0.199 of a second. All the crowd and marshals applauded our drivers on the slowing down lap, which was great to see. Cross and Taylor both had good runs into third and fourth respectively, with Ronchetti storming through to fifth and taking the Quaife driver of the race award.

Steve Weatherley and Richard May had their class B battle (for third in class) go to Steve who also managed runner up in the championship (for class B). The class B champion was Nigel Craig who split the class E Peugeots of Richard Brent and Andy Mitchell. Richard took his 17th class win of the year and a new lap record, but Rod’s 20 out of 20 meant the championship title returns to Kent.

David Fuller pedalled his little Midget to 11th overall just passing Eric Falce on the final lap, with Chris Adams winning class C and breaking Richard Gane’s class lap record. Barry Barnes was the first lapped runner in 14th, which also saw him win another trophy just before his 60th birthday. Greg Pye duly took class D honours both in the race and in the championship, whilst Russell Bradley claimed third in class C along with some interesting video footage! Nick Jones was runner up in class D, having also set the fastest lap en route to holding off Gary Cole and Andy Wood-Dean. Welsh, Thurston-Jones, Kemp and Morris completed the runners as the chequered flag fell on a brilliant year’s racing.

Congratulations to everyone who have made this the best championship in the country. The camaraderie and friendliness has made it a most pleasurable experience and “Ten-Tenths” would clearly not be the same without us. Roll on 2007 starting with the dinner dance on January 20th at Maidstone.

 

See you there!

 

 

 

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