Lydden Hill 9th September. Part 1 - Dunlop Track and Race Car Saloons
Round 8 of the DT&R championship saw a return to Lydden Hill for the annual “Festival of Motorsport” meeting. This is a really popular day, with action all the way. 36 races would be run before 6pm (just), including the return of the trucks. These 6.5 tonne monsters certainly kept the large crowd entertained and hopefully they will return again. They arranged for the lovely Gemma to help present our awards, in the absence of Andy Ratcliffe. I think the majority decision is for Andy to stay away!! (only joking Andy).
Practice for the class B, D and E race saw an unfortunate accident, which eliminated both Chris Farr and Neil Clark. Chris was having his first go in his re-engined (now) class E Fiesta, whilst Neil was debuting in the championship with the ex-Kris Waite (white) Sapphire Cosworth. Opinions obviously differed about the accident, but suffice to say it was a great shame. Hopefully the cars will be fixed soon. Andy Pipe suffered a half shaft failure, which meant his team would have to miss breakfast.
The A, C and I practice was fairly uneventful although Andy Woods-Dean nearly stopped right in front of Rod.
The first race saw Nigel Craig, obviously inspired by being on all the posters and the programme cover, shoot off into an immediate lead. Richard Brent was comparatively slow away and then had a brush with Steve Weatherley. Richard did receive a driver warning flag, but no penalty was issued. Meanwhile Andy Mitchell had secured the class E lead and looked to have done enough to secure the win. However, Richard relentlessly reeled him, eventually making a neat outside pass at the Devils Elbow. This meant he won the class and finished second overall behind Nigel, whilst Andy had to settle for third overall although he did get the driver of the race award. Steve maintained fourth overall and second in class B from Rick May.
Lee McNair had a welcome return, managing sixth overall and third in class E, whilst Alex Ribbens returned to form and took class D honours from Greg Pye, the pair never more than a length or two apart. Alex seemed more pleased to see Gemma, although I am sure it was just the elation of receiving his trophy. West countryman Mike Edgell had an interesting race with Ray Adams, the VW finishing five seconds in front of returnee Malc Best. Malcolm has had to battle against illness so it was especially good to see him back, and he brought his other car for Chris Marsh to drive.
The second race was for the class A, C and I cars, although one of the class I competitors (namely Steve Luscombe) suffered a major clutch failure on the rolling lap. The start was aborted whilst his car was moved. From the off Rod shot into an early lead, only to see it negated on lap 8 when he had to wait behind Tim Dodwell due to a yellow flag showing that Steve Govett had stopped. John Cross sniffed an opportunity and roared up behind Rod and then tapped him into a half spin. Rod quickly recovered, despite dropping to third behind David Oates. With time and laps running out, the black Escort suddenly spat larger flames as Rod stoked up the boost and regained the lead just before the chequered flag.
John did apologise for the incident and no action was taken. In fact John got the Quaife driver of the race award. David came home third with Bill Richards hard on his tail in fourth. Bill had just jumped into his Metro, having retired his Mini in the previous race. Peter Wilkinson had managed to repair his immaculate Mitsubishi, which he brought home fifth just 0.8 seconds behind Bill. Only 4 seconds covered the first five. Kerr Robertson finally broke his duck in class C, taking a good win over Chris Adams in his Honda Integra. Peter Taylor did originally split them, but an unfortunate incident with Ashley Hargreaves, resulted in Peter receiving a ten second penalty and points on his licence. Ashley did limp home third in class C, whilst Alan Cherry suffered a ventilated block in his Astra.
The longer B, D and E race again saw Nigel Craig make the best start, with Steve Weatherley snatching second place. There then followed an intriguing battle as Steve defended his position against Richard Brent. The Sapphire was quicker down the straights whilst the Peugeot closed up around the corners. Their battle also kept them close to Nigel, with just 1.5 seconds covering the trio at the chequered flag. Andy Mitchell was somewhat subdued in fourth, with Lee McNair similarly isolated in fifth. Rick May had a good run to sixth although he was somewhat shy about meeting Gemma at the prize giving. Andy Wickens stepped forward with no hesitation!!
The battle for class D honours continued. This time Alex Ribbens had to fend off the advances of Andy Pipe, the final gap being just 0.1 of a second. Andy’s team gratefully accepted the driver of the race award, whilst Alex took the winners trophy. Greg Pye had to settle for third in class but only 1.5 seconds behind, with Mike Edgell close on his exhaust pipe. Ray Adams completed the full distance again with his well-turned out VW Vento.
Malc Best was the first lapped runner in 12th position, and he said he enjoyed his return immensely even managing to dice with Andrew Gatfield and Andy Wickens. Russell Harding, Jamie Goldthorpe and Chris Marsh completed the finishers after Bill Richards retired his recalcitrant Mini.
The A, C and I boys were told to cool it for their second race. Rod scampered off into the lead, quickly building up a four second margin. John Cross started experiencing worsening understeer as a result of a de-laminating tyre. By lap five David Oates had slipped by into second position, with Peter Wilkinson moving up to third on the following lap. Bill Richards then overtook the Mercedes with his Metro, before John called it a day on lap 8. With Rod cruising to his 17th win of the year (16 in DT&R), David came home an equally reliable second. The battle for third was another of these “little and large” tussles. The red Mitsubishi just had sufficient margin over the blue Metro Cosworth.
Peter Taylor had a less dramatic run to fifth overall, although unable to match the pace of the leading quartet. Kerr Robertson was delighted to see the chequered flag twice in one day, and doubly pleased that it was another class win. Chris Adams chased him hard to secure the runner up spot, and receive the Quaife best prepared car award. Anthony Ahmed was the first lapped runner in eighth, Anthony trying slick tyres and improving his lap times during the day.
Steve Govett “fixed” his Eurocar Toyota, although he is still not sure why it stopped in the first race. A good run gave Steve a bit more confidence so hopefully he will come back next month.
The trio of Russell Bradley, Phil Usher and Barry Barnes enjoyed a race long tussle. Barry had at least one “gravel trap” moment with his Carina. Later he explained that the gearbox was not quite right, so he was compromised in some of the corners. Never the less it was good to see a smile on Barry’s face. Tim Dodwell found an unusual playmate in the shape of the MG Midget driven by Paul Bernal-Ryan. They both had a good clean scrap with Tim just emerging victorious. Andy Wood-Dean and Peter Reeves completed the finishers, Andy having a few gremlins with his Renault Megane.
This completed the DT&R races, although Bill Richards also competed in the two “tin top” races for road tyred saloons. He won his class twice with his “renta Mini”, whilst Andrew Busby took two overall wins in his neat BMW M3. Alan Cherry was loaned his brother’s Rover Tomcat for the second race following his Astra’s engine problem. Jamie Goldthorpe also took in both these races, finishing fourth and third in his very reliable Honda CRX.
Lydden Hill 9th September. Part 2 – The Oval Sessions including Trucks
During the afternoon both Rod and John Cross tackled the CAMSO V8 races on the oval. John pressed his Mercedes into use, whilst Rod borrowed one of the oval cars (a Pontiac). John suffered a cracked brake disc in the first race, so subsequently withdrew. Rod nearly spun on some loose gravel in the first encounter, but took a good third place in the next heat. For some reason he had to start the final from the rear of the grid. A first corner melee saw Rod emerge in the lead much to the delight of his many supporters, but it was short lived as the red flags soon appeared. A complete re-start saw the grid reform in its original order. Unfortunately there was little place changing as the cars were very evenly matched.
The stock hatch “rallycross” vs. Group A hot rod challenge, saw Richard Kemp drafted into the stock hatch team. Although he was a little apprehensive he soon adapted to the oval style of racing, netting two second place finishes and helping the team to retain their title. Richard in fact was the top scoring “hatch” driver, and he was really pleased to receive a trolley jack for his efforts.
Finally, the truck racing was simply awesome. The 6.5 tonne leviathans really put on a good show and even managed to overtake quite cleanly. One driver, Rick Collett, spent most of the lap completely sideways, much to the delight of the appreciative crowd. All in all a great day’s entertainment, well done to everyone involved. The image gallery has plenty of photos, which capture the flavour.