Dunlop Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship - Lydden - 8th September 2007

With round eight being the fifth meeting in a heavy five week schedule, it was not surprising that the entry list was a little depleted. Unfortunately Greg Rose was missing, as were several of the quick class C cars, but most of the usual suspects and loyal supporters were present.

As this was also our annual Festival of Motorsport event a reasonable size crowd was expected. With good weather the spectators turned up in good numbers along with the colourful short circuit racers plus the very large trucks. The atmosphere was good throughout the day and several people have commented on what a brilliant day they all had.

As usual the DMN races featured split grids, with C, D and E in the first group, them A and B. This seems to work very well, and the smaller engined cars have a rare chance for overall victory. In our group, Rod secured pole position in practice early on and sat out most of the session. Second quickest was Steve Weatherley who really seems to be getting the best out of his car at Lydden. Lurking on row two were John Cross and Rick May, followed on row three by the Seat duo of Andy Thompson and Ray Adams. The other Seat of Anthony Ahmed was missing, but his sparring partner Nick Hayes had Anthony’s former owned VW Golf in tenth. In between were Darren Bly with the mighty Nissan and the two Craig’s. A new car appeared in the latest shape VW Beetle driven by Martin Rutherford and quailed 11th, followed by Peter Clarke and Andy Wickens, although Peter withdrew because of a problem with the oil system.

It was rolling starts for the final time this year and Rod just eased Steve as they went into Chessons. Steve hung on well for the first few laps but then the grey Mercedes got its act together and John slipped by going into the Devil’s Elbow, the clean manoeuvre earnt him the driver of the race award. John chased Rod hard, but our Escort looked quite serene and Rod maintained a safe gap. Steve fell back slightly, but took a good class B win. There was a very entertaining three way scrap between Rick May and the two Seats, which went the way of the Tonbridge driver who now has his engine sorted by Harvey Gibb. Andy Thompson just pipped Ray Adams whilst the two Craig’s finished with father Nigel in front of son Stephen. Darren Bly had a very entertaining run to ninth including a hairy off course excursion. Hayes completed the order after Wickens retired his Sapphire with head gasket problems, and Rutherford non-started.

Part two went almost the same way, with Rod steadily pulling away from John, then easing up towards the end. The third place battle involved the four class B protagonists, with Steve falling back into the clutches of the other three when he experienced braking problems. Eventually this caught him out at the elbow, and the grey Sapphire ended up beached in the gravel. Rick May therefore took the class win from Thompson, whilst Nigel Craig usurped Ray Adams for fifth. Stephen Craig had a lonely run to seventh. The refettled Beetle took ninth from Hayes’s Golf, which slowed towards the end. May deservedly won the driver of the race award, whilst the Westlake VW won best prepared car. Bly retired the Skyline with obvious handling difficulties.

In the second pair of races Bill Richards led the first one all the way, but he had to fend off a concerted challenge from Andy Woods-Dean. Third place saw a good battle between Ashley Hargreaves and Lee McNair, the Peugeot just beating the Mini. Russell Turner took class D honours but was pressed all the way by Peter Crewes and Phil Brent. Russell Harding pedalled his Fiesta with great verve to take eighth and also the Quaife driver of the race award. The rivalry between Alex Ribbens and Andy Pipe is getting quite intense, but it was a fairly clean race with the blue Escort just in front when it mattered. Gatfield, birthday boy Goldthorp, Usher and Barden completed the finishers, after Richardson and Morris fell by the wayside.

Bill Richards had an unusual problem, which manifested itself in the second part. It later transpired his chassis had a crack, which caused quirky handling. Ever the hero, Bill soldiered on gradually falling back to last place, but still scoring valuable points. Gratefully accepting his first outright win was Woody, who lead home McNair from a closing Crewes. Phil Brent took class D honours this time, even managing to pass the class C Peugeot of Hargreaves. Turner had to fend off a pumped up Ribbens, whilst Harding had Gatfield, Pipe and Goldthorp for company. This intriguing group was a good advert for our championship and received many favourable comments from onlookers. Gatfield received the driver of the race award. Both Richardson and Morris made the finish this time followed by the hampered blue Mini. Barden and Usher both had problems and retired.

Next stop is back at Lydden on October 6th where all our races are in the afternoon this time.