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Motorsport News Saloons race report, Brands Hatch, 25th May 2015

By Adam Grant

MN Saloons Again it was 22 cars which lined up for the start of the first Motorsport News saloon car race at the Masters festival. On pole position was the Escort WRC of Rod Birley, with Malcolm Wise’s similar car alongside. Row two was another all Ford affair with Rick May’s Escort Cosworth and Ian Butler’s Ford Focus. Gavin Thomson’s class C Peugeot headed row three (following a detailed eligibility check) and was joined by Tony Skelton’s class B Renault Clio turbo. Jamie Liptrott was the first of several BMWs followed by the smart Ford Escort Mk.2 of Pantelis Christoforou. Row five comprised of Andy Banham’s Subaru and Dave Charlton’s Seat.

The rolling start for the first race was very orderly and Birley just edged into the lead by Paddock bend. Wise slotted into second and this pair soon pulled away from Butler who had got in front of May. Thomson initially had Skelton for close company, until on lap three Liptrott eased through into sixth. The two leaders set a terrific pace and at first it looked like Birley had it all under control, extending his advantage to over two seconds by lap ten. However, Wise started to close back in as the race headed towards the last few laps. Birley’s Escort had started to loose boost pressure, due to a split diaphragm and suddenly the leaders were together again. With backmarkers starting to come into play Rod had to use all his circuit knowledge to hold off the yellow and white Cosworth. In the end just 0.197 of a second separated the two Fords, with Birley claiming the victory.

MN Saloons Butler held off May until lap five, but regained third on the following lap. On lap seven May made the move stick and gradually edged away in third position. Butler now had to defend against Thomson, which he managed to do until lap eleven when the red and white Peugeot slipped through. May looked comfortable in third, but suddenly on lap 16 the white Escort slowed and pulled off coming out of Graham Hill bend. The problem was traced to a split oil pipe from the turbo.

So Thomson inherited third and a convincing class win. Liptrott steered his BMW into fifth behind Butler, with Skelton taking a good sixth. Matt Turner overcame a problem in qualifying to take seventh, followed by Banham and Paul Nevill. The first lapped runner in tenth was Christoforou in his smart Mk.2 Escort pursued closely by Dave Charlton with his Seat. Sean Fairweather managed to keep class D winner Perry Winch at bay. The rest finished in the following order: Cripps, Cowan, Richards, Baxter and pit stopper Dann. For race two the starter sent the cars on a second pace lap after Tony Skelton pulled off and some drivers were not in close enough formation. From the off Wise was in a very determined mood and powered into the lead before the first corner. Birley tried to go around the outside of Druids, but had to settle into second position. Thomson was soon passed by Butler for third, with Liptrott and Turner battling over fifth. Christoforou quickly moved up to seventh in his glorious sounding Escort, with Steve Dann soon moving into the top ten from last position.

MN Saloons The lead battle continued unabated until lap 8, when Birley jinxed to the right going up Hailwood Hill. The two cars rounded Druids side by side, but this time the black version emerged in front. The leaders stayed close together for the remainder of the race, but when Liptrott spun into the gravel at Paddock bend it removed any chance of place swopping at this part of the track. On lap 11 Butler had slowed noticeably which allowed Thomson through into third. The white Focus was running low on fuel and struggled through to the finish, falling back to 11th overall and second in class. The class B winner (and fifth overall) was Dann in the VW Golf, following the retirement of Christoforou. Class D went to Bill Richards this time, in his Mini Clubman, beating Perry Winch for the first time this year. Winch did get the best prepared car award. Sixth overall was Banham followed by Nevill, Palmer and driver of the day Mark Cripps. Behind Richards and Butler the rest of the finishers were Charlton, Fairweather, Winch, Scott and Baxter. Marcus Bicknell had a torrid day with his Mustang after it shed a fan belt.

The next rounds are at Lydden Hill on Sunday June 21st as part of the truck festival meeting.

Next Race Meeting:

See you in 2019

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Last Race Results

Modified Saloon Car:

1. Rod Birley
2. Steve Rothery
3. Malcolm Wise
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1. Kamran Tunio
2. Kevin Palmer
3. Steve Everson
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1. Steve Burrows
2. CHris Brockhurst
3. Lewis Smith
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2018 Championship Winners (Provisional):

BARC SEC Modified Saloon Car:

Adrian Bradley
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Rikki Taylor
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Scrapco / Avon Intermarque:

Lewis Smith
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