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Brands Hatch, 25th-26th March 2017 Meeting Report

By Adam Grant
Photos: Rafal Biniszewski

Intermarque The season kicked off at Brands Hatch on Saturday with the Intermarque championship starring first. Qualifying took on a familiar look with Malcolm Blackman on pole position followed by Lewis Smith. Keith White was good for third spot, followed by Steve Burrows. The fastest guest class entry was Colin Watson, but as the rules dictate all the guest class competitors start behind the intermarque championship runners.

Intermarque From the start it was a contest between Blackman and Smith, with Lewis taking the early initiative. As we often see Malcolm bided his time and waited for his opportunity which he took on lap nine. Which was just as well, as a lap later the safety car appeared after Malcolm Harding was nudged into the pit wall. Sadly it took a little while to move the stricken blue Tigra and we wondered if they would get at least one racing lap. As the safety car lights went out, just after the last lap board appeared, it seemed rather odd that the cars would be left to “race” to the chequered flag. Of course the rules say no overtaking prior to passing the green flag at the startline, but Lewis Smith nipped past any way. Needless to say the win went to Blackman, along with a new lap record in 48.793 seconds.

Following a clash between White and Burrows, Thurley gained the final step on the podium, just beating fellow senior runner Ricky Hunn. Ricky had come through from ninth on the grid. Watson clawed his way up to fifth (winning the guest class) followed by Reuben Taylor, Mark Fuller, Philip Young, Anthony Bennett and Tim Davis. The rest of the finishers were John Steward, Philip Blackford, Hugh Coulter and newcomer Phil Spinks.

Intermarque Race two saw Fuller on pole position and he held the lead for the first lap. Lewis Smith pounced on lap two, quickly pursued by Blackman. Again these two raced away and again Blackman made his move on lap ten. Without a safety car interruption Malcolm powered away to win by just under four seconds. Thurley was good enough for third again, once Hunn had outbraked himself at Druids. Taylor came home a strong fourth, followed by back row starter Ian Hales. Ian had missed the first race after a qualifying crash at Paddock Bend, but his team got him out for this race and he scored some useful points plus won driver of the day bubbly. Fuller pulled off with a flat battery so Harding took sixth this time, also winning the guest class. Bennett was the best of the Caterham drivers following the retirement of Watson with bodywork damage after being hit from behind. Blackford (who won best prepared car), Young (Avon tyre winner), Davis, Steward and Coulter completed the finishers as Spinks also retired.

Also on Saturday were the first two races in the Quaife/Cannons Tin tops championship. A very healthy 24 cars appeared for qualifying which saw Rod Birley top the time sheets in the Bevan owned Honda Integra. Lining up second was Dan Fisher as Chris Whiteman headed row two from young James Ross (Vauxhall Astra). There were plenty of new drivers throughout the grid and the prospects for a couple of exciting races looked good.

TinTops At the start Birley was slightly slow away and both Fisher and Whiteman nipped past by Paddock bend. The first three set a blistering pace as they edged clear of the T1 front runners Ross and Bob Hosier. JJ dropped out on lap four and parked up just past the already retired Ken Angell (engine issues). The next bit of drama befell Birley as the Integra’s engine coughed and sounded flat for a few laps. Somehow it cleared but by now Hosier had moved into third. The leaders still battled on, but there was another fierce contest for T3 honours between Rikki Taylor and Mikey Day, albeit sandwiched either side of Dominic Ryan and James Alford for a while. Once the faster T2 cars plus the T1 Megane of Matt Turner edged clear the two smaller cars resumed their fight, joined later on by Steve Everson in his Saxo.

Meanwhile at the front Whiteman continued to lead, but Fisher stuck like glue to his tail gate. In the end the winning margin was just over a quarter of a second. Hosier came home third, winning class T1, with Birley fourth. The green Honda Civic of Alford was next pursued by Ryan’s Ford Puma and then Turner. Taylor held off Day and Everson for T3 honours, with Marcus Bicknell next followed by Ryan Brimsted (Peugeot 106), Adrian Matthews and Alfie Brooker in his Mini with a hastily rebuilt engine. Sam Regan should have been next but his Renault Clio engine blew up in a big way going into Graham Hill bend. So the finishers were completed by Bradley Lane (Peugeot 206), Terry Waller (Fiesta), Chris Bicknell, Gideon September (class TP winner) and Kelly Dann.

TinTops Race two saw Fisher make a slightly better start than Whiteman, only to run off the track at Druids. Luckily the close following Birley and Hosier took avoiding action and everyone carried on. Whiteman had a slight break, but Fisher and Birley soon latched on to make it a three way fight. On lap six the Integra again dropped off the pace, but not as bad as in the first race. So now the fight was between the two Honda Civics, and it appeared that Whiteman had it under control. That was until lap 15 when Fisher finally squeezed past, although to be fair Chris was having to nurse an ailing gearbox. So Dan took the win, with Whiteman second and Birley third. Hosier was good enough to hold off a charging Ross for T1 honours, whilst Day got the better of Taylor for the T3 class. September was on his own in TP, but still had the honour of a class win. Bradley Lane picked up the best prepared car award, with Matthew Turner being voted the driver of the day.

QMS The Quaife modified saloons had to wait until the end of Saturday to qualify in the gathering gloom. It made little difference to the front row as Dale Gent had Rod Birley alongside. As is often the case everyone was looking forward to a battle between the two protagonists, but after spending the first lap side by side Gent disappeared and won by 23 seconds. Andy Banham was a further 18 seconds adrift, closely followed by Tom Bridger having his first outing on slick tyres with his familiar Rover 220. Mark Cripps won class C, although his mirrors were filled by the Mini of veteran returnee Bill Richards. Seventh, although a lap down was David Cowan, then came Paul Adams (not scoring points in his Focus due to a technical issue), Sean Fairweather (Ford Sierra) and class E winner Sam Taylor in his Renault Clio. Next up was Dave Charlton in his usual Seat, although minus the rear wing, then came Kenny Hunt in the Pirtek Mini, Martyn Scott (BMW), Dean MacDonald and Mitch Plowman (both in Renault Clios). Another returnee Steve Rothery retired his Clio with engine maladies, whilst Riku Garner also pulled off.

QMS Race two can be summed up as a demonstration. Gent lapped the entire field and virtually equalled his previous best lap time even with a smaller restrictor. Birley was second, with Bridger third. Banham pulled off at Druids when a turbo pipe popped off. Both the Minis of Richards and Hunt also retired which left just 12 finishers. There was a battle for fourth as Cripps held off Cowan, whilst Scott (best prepared car) went better to come home seventh. Charlton (driver of the day) just had the speed to hold off the three Clios of Garner, Taylor and MacDonald. Hopefully the competition and the numbers will improve soon.

Next Race Meeting:

18th-19th November 2017
Brands Hatch
QMN and TinTops Non-Championship

Latest Galleries:

Latest gallery Quaife Modified Saloons with Cannons TinTops,
24th September 2017

Latest gallery Scrapco Avon Intermarque,
23rd September 2017

Latest gallery Quaife Cannons TinTops,
23rd September 2017

Last Race Results

Quaife Modified Saloons:

1. Andy Banham
2. Graham Crowhurst
3. Matthew Turner
See full results

Quaife / Cannons TinTops:

1. Rod Birley
2. Dan Fisher
3. James J.J. Ross
See full results

Scrapco / Avon Intermarque:

1. Malcolm Blackman
2. Matt Simpson
3. Daniel Smith
See full results

2017 Champions (Provisional):

Quaife Modified Saloons:

Rod Birley
See full standings

Quaife / Cannons TinTops:

Dan Fisher
See full standings

Scrapco / Avon Intermarque:

Malcolm Blackman See full standings