excitement started at the drivers briefing just after midday where
Matt James, from Motorsport News, confirmed that the weekly paper he
works for are to be joint sponsors of the championship with Dunlop
Tyres. Hence we now have the Dunlop Motorsport News saloon car
championship, which will soon become known as DMN or DMSN.
With a warm and sunny
afternoon in prospect we decided to try out some new wheels and
tyres in practice. Along with our new front suspension, this made
the Escort more stable and Rod easily set pole position with a time
of 43.177 seconds, 2.866 faster than John Cross in his Mercedes V8.
Next up was Andy Thompson with his neat Seat Leon, the quickest of
three Seats in the field. Andy was also the leading class B runner.
Alongside him was Peter Wilkinson with his new acquisition, which is
the ex-Derek Hales Nissan Primera Super-Tourer. Row three should
have been the driver featured on the front cover of the programme,
namely Steve Weatherley, but a differential problem meant that Steve
was a non- starter. On his own therefore was Stewart Thomas in a
pretty Renault Clio, a former cup car complete with sequential
Next came Graham Bahr
with his hastily readied BMW E30 turbo. Graham had a mishap in
practice when he spun on his own oil and wiped off his front
spoiler. Alongside the Beemer was Martin Johnson in his re-painted
Mercedes 190 Evo2, which Greg Rose pedalled very quickly last year.
The car looks absolutely brilliant in its DTM livery and sounds
fabulous out on the track. The distinctive sounding Subaru Imprezzas
of Stephen and Nigel Craig occupied the next two slots, followed by
the Seats of Ray Adams and Anthony Ahmed. Ray withdrew after
receiving some damage in the allcomers practice. Bringing up the
final row were Greg Rose in the ex-Laurence Bristow Thundersaloon
Ford Sierra (suffering boost problems) and Andy Wickens in the
Kalimex Ford Sapphire.
With standing starts the
order of the day, Rod blasted away and disappeared into the
distance. What was amazing was that the team had put the old tyres
back on, in order to save the new ones for later in the day. All
eyes focused on the scrap for second place.
John Cross had to fend off the attention of Andy Thompson, but
scything through from the back of the field was Greg Rose. Somehow
Greg managed to squeeze past John on the run to the chequered flag,
so not surprisingly Greg won the driver of the race award which was
being decided by the marshals.
Andy Thompson held on to
fourth overall (winning class B), from a fast closing Graham Bahr.
The gap from second to fifth was just 1.9 seconds, whereas Rod’s
winning margin was 19.274. In sixth place Steward Thomas had a good
debut run, outpacing the four wheel drive Subarus in seventh and
eighth. Nigel leading home Stephen, with Anthony Ahmed hassling
Stephen towards the end. Martin Johnson was the first lapped runner,
followed by Andy Wickens.
For the longer race Rod
again took off like a scalded cat, unlike Greg Rose who got badly
bogged down. Shooting past five cars was Nigel Craig, who
experienced the delights of four wheel drive traction. Nigel was
second by the Devils Elbow put unfortunately got tapped into a spin
by John Cross at the hairpin. Nigel’s recovery drive was judged to
be the highlight of the race and the marshals rewarded him with the
Quaife driver of the race award. Meanwhile an interesting, if
slightly physical, battle developed over the runner up spot. Greg
Rose took a little while to out muscle the silver Mercedes but once
clear he quickly pulled away to finish just 3.2 seconds behind a
This time Cross managed
to resist a last bend attempt by Bahr to usurp him. Graham took the
class B honours from a somewhat subdued Andy Thompson, who finished
6.8 seconds behind the blue car. Nigel Craig recovered to sixth
overall, a bit disappointed after his lightning start, whilst
Stewart Thomas had a lonely run to complete the unlapped runners.
Stephen Craig again held off Ahmed by less than a second, and
Wickens rounded out the field. Martin Johnson retired the Mercedes
with a clutch problem.
The races for the class
C, D and E runners were very dramatic at the front. In the sprint
event Bill Richards beat Richard Brent away, but surprisingly
neither of them lasted the distance. Richard pulled off with an
engine problem whilst Bill had a driveshaft fail. This left two more
Minis (Peter Crewes and Lee McNair) battling with Andy Woods-Dean in
his Renault Megane. On the final lap it looked like the yellow
French car had it, but a slip up in the final corner meant the
yellow Mini (from Devon) took the spoils. Lee nipped through for
second place with Andy recovering to third, just over a second
splitting them. Crewes took the driver of the race award.
Richard Brent was unable
to fix his car, but Bill Richards lined up at the rear for the
longer race. Gradually Bill picked off his rivals until he joined
the other two Minis at the head of the field. For five laps, the
three drivers put on a magnificent display of “on the limit” racing.
Every lap they each lifted their rear nearside wheel going into the
Elbow. Bill clearly had the bit between his teeth and he finally hit
the front around two thirds distance, and held on to take a superb
win. He also took driver of the race, and driver of the day awards
(this netted him six months worth of Motorsport news). Crewes and
McNair were still within a second of the blue Mini at the end.
In the other two
classes, Phil Brent outpaced Woody for class C honours, the dark
Peugeot taking fourth overall. Phil Usher took third in this class
with his re-painted Ford Focus. Although Alex Ribbens triumphed in
class D in the shorter race, he failed to start in the longer one
when he discovered his oil cooler had split. This allowed Andy Pipe
to take a well deserved trophy, especially as two days earlier he
did not have an engine. Runner up in class D went to the BMW 318 of
Paul Dickenson. This budget car also won the best prepared car
Next round is at Brands
Hatch, where the BARC South East Tin-Tops will be involved in a team
event. The race is on for everyone to get their entries in on time,
as there will only be 32 places on the DMN grid.