BARCsec Dunlop Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship - October 4th 2009
This would be the Dunlop Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship’s first visit to the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. The bumper 53 car entry made a magnificent sight on the 3.14 mile track and the first race provided plenty of action. Rod qualified third after having a problem with a broken front splitter on his car. With this part duly fixed for the race Rod challenged hard for the lead as four cars broke away from the pack. He tussled with Nick Williamson in a similar Ford Escort WRC and the two immensely powerful Nissan Skylines of Darren Bly and Mark Biggers. This quartet swapped places during the entire 15 minutes race but in the end Williamson got to the chequered flag first with Birley second just 0.1 of a second in front of Bly. Biggers came home fourth suffering brake problems on the last lap. Newcomer Neil Philpotts brought his Mitsubishi Starion home in fifth place from the hard charging Keith Butcher, who started 47th. Keith easily won the driver of the race award. Rick May came home in seventh and also won his class in his Ford Sierra. Gareth Porter took eighth in his Peugeot (also winning class C) with John Cross and Cris Hayes rounding out the top ten in their Seats.
The second race was a bit of an anti climax as Williamson broke into the lead straight away and edged clear. Biggers had rectified his braking problem and quickly established a small buffer in second position, whilst Rod appeared to settle for third. In fact the black Escort WRC was suffering from a handling problem which prevented him from challenging the two front runners. However, he was well aware that his main championship rival, namely Richard Brent from Bristol, was having a rather torrid day. The Peugeot driver was unable to start the first race as he was on the reserve list, but in the second race he charged from 48th to 14th only for his engine to break on the last lap with suspected head gasket failure. This was really cruel luck as Richard had waited patiently all day to join in.
With Darren Bly retiring because his exhaust silencer collapsed, Keith Butcher moved up to fourth in his Nissan Primera. Philpotts dropped back to 20th in his Starion, so May took fifth spot. Hayes usurped Cross for sixth whilst Andy Woods-Dean just kept in front of Mark Hosken for eighth spot. Andy earning the driver of the race award. Ray Barrow completed the top ten in his Cosworth powered Mk.1 Ford Escort. Class C went to James Lindridge after Gareth Porter had a time consuming spin. Bill Richards was twice the victor in class D, whilst David Usher took the best prepared car award in his neat Peugeot 205.
Although Rod failed to add to his tally of 499 race wins he was not too concerned. The final two races in the championship take place at his home circuit Brands Hatch on October 31st and November 1st.
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