Lydden Hill - 7th October 2006
The penultimate round of the championship saw a return to Lydden with enough entries to require split grids again. Although ďhiab cityĒ (the oval racers) had gone, we were joined by the PPC sprinters in the morning, which meant that the paddock was nice and full again.
Despite torrential rain for most of Friday, Saturday dawned bright and sunny and remained that way all day. A fairly leisurely run down the M2 and A2 meant we arrived in good time for scrutineering. Unfortunately the meetingís programmes had not arrived so some frantic phone calls were made which resulted in their arrival after the meeting had started.
Practice was fairly uneventful but it did result in the demise of Andy Pipe and Phil Usher, with similar engine maladies. Ray Adams also suffered a clutch problem, which meant that he was sidelined as well. Russell Harding had a misfire, somehow endused by well worn wheels. The vibration had dislodged a plug lead, but this was soon rectified. A new addition was the interesting Seat Cupra driven by Andy Thompson, yet another different make.
With standing starts being the order of the day, it meant that some drivers might be less quick initially. The class A and C sprint race saw Peter Wilkinson make a meteoric getaway from row two straight into the lead with Rod second. Poor David Oates broke a halfshaft, which meant he was out on the spot. This was Davidís first non-finish of the season. Meanwhile the red Mitsubishi lead the pack into the Devils Elbow from our black Escort with Bill Richards looking for a way past in his Metro! Rod accidentally moved across Bill, which meant the blue car kicked up the dust in avoidance. Snapping at Billís heels was John Cross in the mighty V8 Mercedes.
For four laps Peter maintained the lead until Rod pulled off a daring move around the outside of Chessons Drift. By now Bill had retired his Metro with a hole in the gearbox, and Kerr Robertson had also retired his Peugeot with a major oil leak. Most of the slippery stuff was on the circuit, which meant that several drivers slowed their pace. In class C a good battle was brewing between Barry Barnes and Ashley Hargreaves, both drivers having endured a troublesome year but for vastly different reasons.
At the chequered flag Rod had a five second lead over Peter (who received the Quaife driver of the race award), with John Cross a further four seconds back. Ashley just held off Barry for class C honours, with Andy Woods-Dean bringing his Renault Megane home sixth from Anthony Ahmedís black VW. Gary Cole and Peter Reeve completed the finishes after Russell Bradley retired his white VW.
The class B, D, E and I sprint race saw Richard Brent storm off into the lead which he maintained throughout. Pole sitter Rick May made a tardy start and was inadvertantly clipped by Bill Richards, this time driving his Mini. Bill retired at the end of the first lap, whilst Rick was later black flagged when his exhaust started dragging. Nigel Craig steered his Escort to a safe second position, whilst initially Alex Ribbens held a good fourth overall. Eventually Steve Weatherley powered past to take third overall and Lee McNair had a good run to take fourth spot, with Alex settling for class D honours and fifth overall. Lee had the added bonus of receiving the best prepared car award, whilst Alex got the driver of the race bubbly.
Sixth overall went to Andy Thompson, feeling his way in the pretty Seat. Jamie Goldthorpe had a good run with his Honda CRX , battling with Russell Harding and Steve Griffiths (TVR). Phil Brent (yes Richardís brother) retired his Peugeot with a rubbing tyre.
The longer feature races again saw plenty of action. Peter Wilkinson repeated his fast getaway to lead the A and C brigade. This time Rod took a little longer to find a way past. Lap seven and a small gap appeared going into the Devilís Elbow. This proved to be the right opportunity and the black car took the lead. This time Peter held on well and maintained the pressure right to the end, finishing just 2.9 seconds adrift. John Cross had a steady run into third, 16 seconds further back.
Meanwhile class C had three protagonists, as Andy Woods-Dean joined in with Barry and Ashley. It was not until lap 11 that the Toyota hit the front, and then the French cars began to whilt. Firstly, Andy retired then Ashley dropped back and soon had Anthony Ahmed to contend with. Anthony in fact pulled off a neat move around Paddock Bend on the final tour to snatch fifth overall by 0.113 of a second. Peter Reeve had a spirited run to seventh overall, his sideways style also netting an additional award for best 1970s hair syle (something to do with Roger Clark and Cossack hairspray). Russell Bradley fixed his VW Golf and enjoyed a good scrap with Gary Cole. Barnesís effort in winning class C also saw him scoop the driver of the race award.
The final DT&R race at Lydden for this year, provided a tremendous four car battle for the lead. This time Nigel Craig made the best start, with Richard Brent slotting into second. Steve Weatherley held third, with Rick May storming through from the back of the grid to join them. There then followed some wonderful side by side racing, with Richard searching for a way past Nigel. Meanwhile, Steve had two attempts at usurping Richard, and all the time Rick was closing in, setting the fastest lap of the race. Finally, Steve found a way past Richard, then Rick pulled off with a suspected head gasket failure. Just as Steve drew alongside Nigel the red flags appeared, to signal a race stoppage. Richardís brother Phil had gone off at the Elbow and hit the tyres quite hard.
With over half distance completed the result was declared, much to Nigelís relief. His stern defence also netted him the driver of the race award. Meanwhile Andy Thompson lowered his lap times by over a second to take a deserved fourth place, with Alex Ribbens seeing of Lee McNair this time. Russell Harding reversed the tables on both Steve Griffiths and Jamie Goldthorpe, and promised to look for some new wheels.
Bill Richards did survive the two tin top races, which were amalgamated with the sports cars. He won his class on both outings, whilst Jamie Goldthorpe received a special award for doing four races with the same car. Tristan Barden and Phil Shed won the other two classes.
The championship has now been decided in Rodís favour, Richard suffering from a very low class E turnout on this occasion. Class D is still between Alex and Greg Pye, so Brands Hatch on November 4th and 5th will see plenty to play for. It is expected that a large crowd will be in attendance, so hopefully they will see some superb DT&R races.