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Quaife Motorsport News Saloons race report,
Brands Hatch, 6th November 2016

By Adam Grant
Photos: Rafal Biniszewski

QMN Saloons The Quaife Motorsport News championship was the only one which had not been decided prior to Brands. Although Rod Birley and Laurie Grant had won their respective classes, the overall title was still up for grabs. Prior to the meeting Birley had a scare when the starter motor failed, but swift work by Brise electrical had it rebuilt in time. Qualifying saw a good field of 23 take the track, which was comparatively dry. However, the red flags soon appeared as Andy Pipe hit the tyres hard coming out of Druids. A suspected steering failure being the cause. Already out for the day was Steve Dann, with terminal engine problems in his VW Golf. Mean while the two heavy hitters, Birley and Dale Gent, were slugging it out for pole position. This time it was Birley’s turn to annex pole position, but only by 0.013 of a second. Third quickest was a very on form Tony Skelton, followed by Malcolm Wise, Dan Cowan and Graham Crowhurst. Next up were Dalton and Sidwell, then Eustace, and leading class E runner Woods-Dean. Nick Wall was quickest in class C closely pursued by Grant. 13th fastest was Dan Palmer, with Cripps alongside. JJ Ross had borrowed a Vauxhall Astra following problems with his Renault, and the grid was completed by Mott, Vanns, Scott, David Cowan, Charlton, Pipe and Hunt.

QMN Saloons There was more drama before the start of the first race when the engine in Birley’s Escort refused to fire up. However, his engine builder Joe Stevens fortunately had a spare ECU which was hastily fitted. From the rolling start Gent blasted into the lead and that was it as far as he was concerned. Birley visibly did not have the power, so it became the battle for second place which everyone focused on. Skelton was really pedalling the turbo charged Clio and hung onto the black Escort WRC. A brief caution period on lap five to remove Dave Charlton’s spun Seat, closed the field up and Wise pulled off with a misfiring engine. Crowhurst was chasing hard in fourth, but soon came under pressure from Dalton who went past but then slid wide. Dan Cowan then got his head down, just as Skelton sneaked past Birley. Cowan made his way up to fourth and set fastest lap, as Dalton plunged off at Paddock bend at unabated speed. A brake failure seemed to be the issue, but the race was immediately red flagged.

QMN Saloons With second in class Birley slightly edged away from Grant, who also finished second in class but with fewer starters. Cripps took class C honours, so there were certainly no team orders in this camp. Sidwell pursued the BMW pair in eighth, with Eustace not far behind. Ross rounded out the top ten, followed by Wall, Scott, Mott, Woods-Dean (winning class E), David Cowan, Vanns and Pipe. Other retirements included Palmer and Hunt.

QMN Saloons After a huge delay due to a massive diesel spillage, the very patient QMN drivers got their second race. With rain due at any time, the drivers set off for two warm up laps to try and disperse the abundance of cement dust. Again it was Gent who sped off for his 10th QMN win of the year. Birley slotted past Skelton, and seemed to have the better of the octogenarian this time. Dan Cowan was initially fourth, but not enjoying the conditions, indeed on lap four he called it a day just as the rain arrived. By now the track was treacherous and the rear wheel drive cars were struggling. Sidwell, Pipe and Cripps abandoned the battle, whilst Ross ground to a halt with the Vauxhall. Grant slipped back behind Wall, who had Woods-Dean pursuing him. Mott was also making good progress, until he came unstuck at Paddock bend and visited the gravel trap. At the same time Skelton looked for a way past Birley but the red flags appeared, along with the chequered. The track conditions were declared too slippery, so a result was taken from the lap before. As he was stationary Mott did not feature, neither did the ones who had gone into the pit lane.

So Birley had done enough to retain the Paddy Hopkirk trophy, whilst he was full of praise for the way Grant had put up such a good fight. Skelton took class B in the championship having battled hard with Crowhurst. Woods-Dean was already class D champion, although the class was poorly supported this year. Vanns was victorious in E and also secured fifth overall.

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See you in 2019

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