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Dramatic opening for 2014 saloons title chase

By Brian Phillips

QMN Three races which launched the 2014 Quaife/Motorsport News and Cannons Motorspares saloon car championships proved to be among the highlights of a 22-race programme at the Brands Hatch spring truck festival.

Among the headlines, former QMN champion Rod Birley launched his bid for the title with two wins in the faithful Escort, and newcomer Barnaby Davies was the pace-setter in the Tin Tops, winning outright in his rare Toyota Starlet GT when the less modified saloons had a race of their own.

However, this brief summary overlooks the fact that all three races included genuine excitement which had a big crowd on its toes, raising the promise of a challenging season for all concerned.

New car and first meeting problems reduced an oversubscribed entry to just below the capacity grid the club hoped for, but the quality was certainly there. QMN qualifying saw Birley snatch pole position from Rick May’s Escort and the Dale Gent Impreza. Fourth was a genuine surprise, Dave Charlton popping up late in the session on his first appearance in the championship in a Seat Leon – a far cry from his elderly Beetle.

Dave also grabbed attention at the first race start, spinning into the Paddock gravel trap and luckily extricating himself at the tail of the field. The Clio of Perry Winch went off in sympathy and recovered but Glen Rossiter’s Clio was stuck, bringing out the safety car.

QMN From the restart May, Birley and Gent fought mightily for the outright lead and class A honours until Birley found an opening at the foot of Paddock and Gent followed him past May half a lap later. From then on the margin between the two black cars varied, depending on their encounters with backmarker traffic, but with Gent worried about fading brakes his threat was effectively over and Birley won by almost 4s.

Jamie Liptrott’s BMW blew its engine and dropped out of fourth place and a class lead, promoting Paul Eve’s Sapphire and Ian Butler’s Focus (class B winner), Eve only getting the better of his rival in the final couple of miles. Next across the line and winners of their respective classes were Jez Francis (Nova) in class E and Bill Richards (Mini) in class D. Dave Charlton recovered to 11th place and a class C win after Liptrott’s demise and the Tin Tops classes were won by Barnaby Davies (T2), Vic Hope (Civic) in T3 and reigning champion Pete Osborne (Clio) in TP.

Retirements included Andy Banham’s Impreza with turbo intercooler problems (and a cockpit full of smoke) and Chris Whiteman, who broke his Civic’s differential after a drive shaft problem the day before.

QMN Race two was dominated by Birley and Gent, although May held a secure third place until his Escort shed oil around the second part of the lap before stopping at Clearways in a cloud of smoke. Gent snatched the lead when a backmarker accidentally hampered Birley and he was determined to keep it, but the brakes were going off again and Birley used the advantage this gave him at Druids, overtaking on the dive down into Graham Hill Bend.

Eve and Butler got together again, Eve just avoiding being lapped in third place, but Butler was classified a lap down with Francis next. Alan Phillips’ Sapphire completed the top six while Charlton moved up the order again to secure his second class win in seventh. Tony Paxman (Escort) enjoyed a brief skirmish with Bill Richards and took class D when the Mini expired and the Tin Tops winners were Tom Bridger (T1) and Lewis Turner (T4).

QMN driver of the day was Alan Phillips and Steve Dann’s Golf was judged best prepared car.

Excitement among the Tin Tops

TinTops An 18-car Tin Tops entry fully justified their exclusive race in the first half of the weekend programme. Barnaby Davies topped the qualifying sheet with Bridger and Whiteman second and third ahead of Whiteman’s T3 rivals Russell Turner (Escort), Terry Searles (MG ZR), novice Chris Bassett (Peugeot 205), Vic Hope and Cliff Pellin.

The race itself broke into two groups, with Bridger narrowly heading Davies and Whiteman while Searles led Pellin, Hope, Bassett, the T1 BMW of Len Colley and Turner – although not necessarily in that order for very long.

TinTops This was tremendous stuff, but Davies took the lead in traffic on lap seven and eventually pulled away and Whiteman broke his drive shaft on the last lap, slowing dramatically although he maintained third place to the flag. Colley spun out of the second group on his own oil, which also caught out Bassett who couldn’t restart because of a loose wire. So the order behind the top three was Hope, Searles, Turner and Pellin followed at a distance by T4 winner Neal Gardiner (MG Metro). Pete Osborne won TP in tenth overall.

Tin Tops Mark Fish Motorsport driver of the day was Chris Bassett and the prize for best prepared car went to Russell Turner.

Next Race Meeting:

23rd September 2017
Brands Hatch (TinTops and Intermarque)

24th September 2017
Brands Hatch (QMS)

Latest Galleries:

Latest gallery Quaife Modified Saloons with Cannons TinTops,
10th September 2017

Latest gallery Scrapco Avon Intermarque,
3rd September 2017

Latest gallery Quaife Cannons TinTops,
2nd September 2017

Last Race Results

Quaife Modified Saloons:

1. Rod Birley
2. Malcolm Wise
3. Paul Adams
See full results

Quaife / Cannons TinTops:

1. Dan Fisher
2. Rod Birley
3. Bob Hosier
See full results

Scrapco / Avon Intermarque:

1. Lewis Smith
2. Malcolm Blackman
3. Keith White
See full results

2017 Championship Leaders:

Quaife Modified Saloons:

Rod Birley
See full standings

Quaife / Cannons TinTops:

Dan Fisher
See full standings

Scrapco / Avon Intermarque:

Malcolm Blackman See full standings