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Race report, Snetterton 300, 18th April 2015

By Rod Birley

Intermarque A slightly disappointing grid of 14 cars plus one ultimate saloon ventured out onto the Snetterton 300 circuit. The first casualty was David Brooks, who ground to a halt on the edge of the track which prompted a red flag. Initially it looked like Lewis Smith had secured pole position with a stunning sub two minute lap time. However, closer examination revealed a track infringement so Lewis was relegated to the rear of the grid. This promoted returnee Tommy Field to pole position with Malcolm Blackman alongside. Chris Brockhurst’s re-liveried Tigra lined up third, with another returnee Daniel Smith fourth in his stunning new VW Corrado. The leading senior cup driver was Mike Thurley in fifth with Chris Ayling alongside. Next up was Steve Burrows with Philip Young lining up a creditable eighth.

There was drama just before the start of the first race as Tommy Field found his brakes had locked on. Hasty work by his team saw him join in from the pit lane as the rest roared away from the rolling start. Another driver struggling already was Ross Loram, whose car slowed on the rolling lap and then cut out completely on lap two. Ayling and Burrows spun in unison at Hamilton’s but both continued unharmed. Meanwhile a storming first lap by Lewis Smith saw him draft past Blackman to take the lead. Equally impressive was Field’s progress up to sixth on colder tyres. Lap two saw Brockhurst squeeze past Blackman, as Field passed Thurley to go fifth.

Intermarque Although Lewis edged clear the battle for second now featured four cars. Field took a while but picked off the three in front of him to go second on lap five. The question was whether he could catch Lewis Smith. The answer was no, as Tommy cruised into the pits at the end of lap seven with more brake issues. Daniel Smith had already retired when a rear wheel departed as he dived pit wards. The errant wheel rolled down the entire length of the pit lane before crossing the circuit and finally stopping against the tyre wall. Philip Young unusually retired as he suffered a punctured tyre, whilst Paul Adams had head gasket issues and also pulled off.

Whilst Lewis took a nine second win, Blackman executed a stunning outside pass on Brockhurst going around Riches. This meant the red Tigra secured second place, with Chris finishing a very close third. Mike Thurley came home a good fourth and first senior home, with Chris Ayling recovering fast to fifth. Simon Smith had split these two on the road, but a five second track infringement penalty meant he was classified sixth. Steve Burrows climbed back to sixth, passing Richard Smith’s slowing Mercedes and the misfiring Brooks Tigra.

Intermarque The second race was minus Field, Daniel Smith, and Adams, but Loram and Young were fit to go again. The grid draw put Lewis Smith eighth and this time it took him until the second lap to get the lead. Again he edged away to take a comfortable win. Behind him a battle raged between a flying Burrows then a small gap to Simon Smith, Ayling, Brockurst and Blackman. It went a bit wrong on lap three as Brockhurst, Brooks, Loram and Thurley gyrated at Hamilton’s. The only casualty was Thurley, as grass blocked his radiator and he retired before damaging the engine. Blackman was now free to challenge the two front row starters and finally got into second position on lap six. This was just as well as at the end of lap seven Brooks ground to a halt on the startline. With the car in a dangerous position and the timing beam blocked the red flags appeared, which meant the result was taken from the end of lap six. Ayling managed a quick spin at Oggies just before the stoppage, but kept sixth place and first senior driver. Brockhurst clawed his way back to fifth with Burrows a fine fourth and Simon Smith an impressive third. Loram, Richard Smith and Young completed the finishers.

Not surprisingly Lewis Smith won the driver of the day award, as he also lowered the lap record to 1 minute 59.178 seconds. The best prepared car went to Chris Brockhurst, and the four Avon tyre awards went to Richard Smith, Young, Loram and Burrows. An encouraging start to the intermarque season, with the promise of several more drivers at Rockingham next month.

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