2008 Dunlop Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship. Round 8 Lydden Hill - October 4th
Well what a day. Rod set off really early, mainly because he had to deliver the programmes for the whole meeting. He found a reasonable space to park up and saved some tarmac for Malcolm Wise. Malcolm was joining the championship with his Ford Escort WRC, and Rod was looking forward to the challenge from this experienced Ford Saloon runner.
Practice showed the two Fords at the top of the time sheets, with Rod a slim 0.725 of a second in front. Ron Kiddell lined up third with his mighty Nissan, followed by another class A runner Andy Thompson in his rapid Seat. Cris Hayes topped the class B runners, whilst Peter Wilkinson was fastest in class C.
With standing starts this week, it would be an interesting drag race to the first corner. Somehow Ron squeezed through on the two Fords and hit the front, whilst Rod found himself back in third. At the Devils Elbow the two Fords went in side by side with our black version emerging in front. For two laps Rod stalked Ron, and when Ron made a slight mistake at Paddock Bend, Rod was past in a flash. Clearly intent on proving a point Rod lowered his own lap record en route to a two second win. Malcolm took until the last lap to find a way past the big Nissan, but all three were comfortably ahead of Thompsonís Seat. Meanwhile the Hayes brothers were having a mighty dust up for class B honours, and this time Cris had the measure of Nick. John Cross was not far back with his Seat and fellow Xsport team member Andy Woods-Dean secured class C honours after Peter Wilkinson retired his Peugeot 306.
James Lindridge had Andy Wickens for close company, whilst David Usher, Steve Dann and Phil Usher completed the runners. Poor Peter Taylor had been spun out at the first corner and was unable to continue, whereas Darren Bly had retired his Nissan with total boost failure.
Before our second race the class D and E drivers had their first outing. All eyes were on Richard Brent to see if he could maintain his run of class success. Bill Richards emerged in front from the start, with Richard second and Alex Ribbens popping up in third. In fact Alex put on one of his best ever performances, chasing Richard closely for several laps, and even setting the fastest lap of the race. Ultimately he settled for third but richly deserved his Quaife driver of the race award.
By the time our second race was due, it had started raining albeit sporadically. Everyone was waiting until the last minute to choose which tyres and suddenly Rod opted for intermediates. The boys did the tyre change really quickly just as the pit gate was closing but we squeezed through. Malcolm and Ron stayed on slicks whilst Andy Thompson elected to run slicks on the front and wets on the rear. From the start it looked like we had made the correct choice as Rod soon opened up a four second lead. Everyone else seemed to be stuck behind Malcolm who was slithering around on his slicks. Andy Wickens had chosen full wets and he suddenly appeared in second place just as Rod slowed slightly. Unbeknown to us a rear wheel was coming loose and just as Rod thought about pitting it departed company at the North bend hairpin. Rod limped into the pit lane but it was game over.
Meanwhile the race carried on and in a dramatic conclusion Wickens faded as his tyres overheated and Thompson found he had the perfect combination as he sneaked through to take a well calculated win. Cris Hayes emerged in second, which also meant he won class B, as Malcolm held off Ron for third. Wickens slipped to fifth whilst Nick Hayes was fairly lonely in sixth. James Lindridge took the class C spoils after Woody accidently collided with David Usher at the Devils Elbow, both ending up stuck in the gravel. Steve Dann, Peter Taylor and Phil Usher completed the finishers, after John Cross rooted his wet weather tyres.
The concluding D and E race saw Richard Brent take a totally dominant win, the result of which meant that he has now won the 2008 Dunlop Motorsport News Championship.
It has been a brilliant year for Richard and his title is well deserved. Special mention in this race must go to Ken Welch who came up from last position to take second overall and win class E with his Mini.
In the Cannonís tin top series our good friend Gary Chappell took a decisive step towards his first title. In the first race he finished fourth just behind Danny Cassar, but in the second race Gary read the conditions perfectly and stormed off to a 17 second win. This was Garyís first ever overall race win and to say he was delighted would be an under statement.