BARCse Intermarque and TinTops - Brands Hatch - Novevember 8th and 9th
The final rounds of the Chris Knott Intermarque League and the Cannon’s Motor Spares Tin Top Saloons took place over the weekend of November 8/9th at Brands Hatch. As usual both series produced capacity grids, with reserves waiting in the wings. Saturday started off overcast with the threat of rain, and by the time the intermarques went out to qualify the precipitation was getting quite heavy. Rod stunned everyone with a lap time of 53.214 seconds which was over 3 seconds quicker than league champion Steve Hall. Steve was half a second quicker than Chris Brockhurst who had Andy Thompson for company with his rapid Seat. Malcolm Harding and Mick Robertson occupied row three with their silhouette specials, whilst it was good to see Steve Weatherley returning and setting the 7th quickest time. Next to Steve would be Paul Dudley in the quickest Tiger sports car, with Mark Steward and Tony Paxman rounding out the top ten.
With quite a long wait to the first race, some drivers were hopeful the weather would improve. No such luck, if anything it was raining harder as the 32 starters set off on their rolling lap. Amazingly Hall got the jump on Rod and for two laps he held a tenuous lead. Rod chose his moment carefully and drew alongside coming out of Clearways and with superior traction sailed past into the lead. Hall hung on for a couple of laps but then gradually fell back into the clutches of Andy Thompson. Andy tried valiantly to find a way past but failed by just 0.8 of a second. Meanwhile Birley cruised to a 22 second win. Into fourth place came Brockhurst, who was somewhat isolated but happy to be able to have clear vision. Unfortunately Malcolm Harding had major vision problems and eventually retired, whilst Mick Robertson also pulled off. Steve Weatherley made steady progress to net fifth overall and second in class B. Steward became the top Tiger in sixth, albeit the final unlapped finisher. Dudley had Mick Grant for company as they were both pursued closely by Nick Starkey. Completing the top ten was Mark Withey in another Tiger, whilst Paxman took 11th also collected the best prepared car award. 12th went to Paul Clarke (Tiger) and the next finisher was first time circuit racer Glen Rossiter who also took the driver of the race award. Glen has raced on the ovals in Outlaw Hot Rods, winning at Lydden back in September, but his enthusiasm to come circuit racing is truly admirable and he is a welcome addition.
By the time of the second race the rain had abated and the choice of tyres became a major talking point. In the end only Gareth Smith opted for slicks. Gareth would be starting 32nd as he was a reserve in the first encounter. In the end he made reasonable progress to 19th overall and third in class B. He was also rewarded with the driver of the race award, which was particularly well received as Gareth had got married the day before (congratulations from us all ). Meanwhile the race had seen Rod ease into an early lead, but he was already searching for the wetter parts of the track in order to keep his tyres relatively cool. Hall again clung on gamely but eventually found he had a new attacker in the shape of Mark Steward. Mark had made steady progress and clearly his tyres were coping well with the greasy conditions. He passed Hall and set off after Rod, only failing by 1.22 seconds. Hall came home third with Brockhurst again rather lonely in fourth. Thompson felt his tyres going off as he settled for fifth, with Dudley only a couple of seconds further back. Weatherley again took the runner up spot in class B, although he was being caught by a rapid Harding. Malcolm had cut a hole in his windscreen to aid vision, and he certainly had a better run this time. Grant and Withey brought their Tigers home ninth and tenth and again Paxman claimed 11th.
On Sunday it was the turn of the Cannon’s Tin Tops together with classes D and E of the Intermarque. Yet again it was oversubscribed and 36 cars set out for qualifying. The times were headed by Julian Howell, even though a glitch had initially shown him three seconds quicker than anyone else. Once corrected, he still lined up on pole position with James Lindridge alongside. Row two contained Nigel Craig and Steve Dann, both running in T1 of the tin tops, whilst Rod occupied fifth spot driving a Mk1 Ford Escort. What’s that all about I hear you say. Well this year was the 40th anniversary of the Ford Escort and it is believed that Rod has taken the most race wins for the marque. In a very kind gesture Andy Pipe loaned Rod the use of his car, which would see the local man racing a Mk1 for the first time in 26 years. Next to the yellow Escort was Dave Clark in his Renault 5 turbo. The top ten positions were completed by Danny Cassar, Alex Ribbens, Bill Richards and Ronnie Fielding (Ford Anglia).
By the time of the first race it was raining quite heavily. From the rolling start Howell’s Mini took control but Dann and Craig clashed at the first corner. Craig bounced into the gravel which meant that the safety car was deployed. On the re-start Lindridge and Howell disputed the lead but somehow Birley squeezed through into second. However, with inferior tyres Rod’s charge soon abated and he slipped back to eventually come home 12th, but still won class D. Meanwhile the Vauxhall and Mini drivers battled away for the lead, with Howell triumphing by just over a second. Dann recovered from his fist lap mishap to take third place, just fending off Danny Cassar. Ribbens claimed fifth from a hard charging Gary Chappell, whilst Bill Richard annexed seventh.
The second race still saw the track wet, but a few drivers (including Rod and Nick Proudlock) opted to go on slicks. Lindridge got the jump on Howell and appeared to have everything under a control. However, the safety car appeared again as Terry Searles became stuck in the paddock bend gravel. On the re-start the black Vauxhall still had the lead but a “tank slapper” going through Surtees unfortunately saw Howell tip James into a spin. From there on the Mini cruised to a five second win, with a delighted Dann taking the runner up spot. Ribbens got past Cassar for third, whilst Lindridge recovered to fifth. Chappell took another sixth spot, which was enough for him to secure the 2008 title. Richards, Peter Winstone, Anthony Harrison and Birley completed the top ten. Somehow Rod took class D in the Intermarque Championship, overtaking Richard Brent by just two points.
Driver of the race in the first encounter went to Ken Angel in his mighty Jaguar. Despite the conditions he advanced from 27th to 16th. In race two the award went to Nik Barton, who has raised a tidy sum for the MacMillan cancer fund. The best prepared car award went to Anthony Harrison with his Rover Tomcat.
And so the final chequered flag, for the BARC South East season, brought to a close a wonderful year for the region. Congratulations to all the champions who will be collecting their awards at the dinner dance on January 24th. This is already sold out, such is its popularity.