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Brands Hatch, 29th-30th July 2017 Meeting Report

By Adam Grant
Photos: Rafal Biniszewski

Quaife Modified Saloons Championship

QMS BARC HQ were in charge of the two day saloon car extravaganza at Brands Hatch. Saturday featured rounds 8 and 9 of the Quaife modified saloons and there were indications that the entry would improve. Sadly by race day we had lost the Pirtek duo of Steve Dann and Kenny Hunt, as well as Tim Sandhu, Perry Winch and Tom Bridger all with car issues. After a challenging Friday, where he had a turbo blow and a smashed windscreen, Rod Birley put his Ford Escort WRC on pole position. Malcolm Wise was just 0.35 of a second slower, followed by Tony Skelton and Andy Banham. The third row should have been Paul Adams in his Focus, but a last minute tyre issue saw him start from the rear. So it left newcomer Paul Restall in his Sierra Cosworth on his own. Bill Richards lined up 7th, then came Michael Eustace (BMW). Riku Garner, Sam Taylor, Mark Cripps, David Cowan, Sean Fairweather, Martyn Scott, Steve Rothery and Dave Charlton.

QMS The first race took place on a dry track, with Birley inching into the lead by Paddock Bend from Wise and Skelton. On lap two the turbo Renault Clio made an ambitious move around the yellow Escort going into Paddock. Unfortunately Skelton plunged off the road into the gravel trap. It is unsure whether the engine was damaged before or after this incident, but the net result was instant retirement. So into third came Banham followed by a fast starting Eustace and the class D leading Mini of Bill Richards. As Birley eased away from Wise, all eyes switched to a battling pack led by Cripps and included Scott, Taylor, Garner, Rothery, Cowan and Adams. Cripps wriggled clear and passed Richards, just as Restall spun from an encouraging fifth position to the rear of the field. This left Scott to try and defend fifth when Cripps disappeared with head gasket failure. The BMW held on well until the Focus of Adams finally picked Martyn off with two laps to go.

QMS Meanwhile Birley loomed up on the 7 car battle and thought about lapping them, but stayed behind allowing Wise to close up by the chequered flag. With Banham taking third spot, Eustace was fourth and winning class C, as Adams took class B. Richards won class D, even though he was caught and passed by some of the marauding pack. Garner just beat Rothery for class E honours, with Taylor only 0.063 further back. Cowan came home 11th, with Charlton and Restall completing the finishers after Fairweather retired.

QMS Race two started on a dry track, but it soon started drizzling. This slowed the pace as drivers looked for traction on the slippery surface. The first casualty was Charlton, who ploughed through the gravel at Paddock bend. Just as he emerged the safety car appeared, which allowed Dave to rejoin at the rear. The race ran for another three laps until Restall smacked the pit wall quite hard in his Sierra. Everyone avoided the stricken car, but by now the track was getting quite wet and the race clerk wisely halted proceedings. Although Birley had a comfortable lead, and subsequent win, it was Banham who moved into second as Wise started to struggle. Andy being awarded the driver of the day prize. Eustace kept his head to claim fourth and class C again, with Adams fifth. Rothery got away from his fellow Clio drivers to take sixth spot and win class E. Richards won class D in 7th. Cowan in 8th also won the best prepared car award. Garner, Fairweather and Scott rounded out the classified finishers, as Taylor and Charlton both retired.

The championship points battle behind Birley has certainly hotted up, with seven drivers covered by just seven points.

Quaife Cannons TinTops Championship

TinTops The Quaife/Cannons Tin Tops had their qualifying session later on Saturday afternoon. It was extremely pleasing to see 29 cars take to the track, albeit in very slippery conditions. Although the rain was only light, it made tyre choice a lottery. Some drivers seem to revel in these conditions and it was no surprise to see Birley post the quickest time. It was very close though as JJ Ross was just 0.029 of a second behind. Third quickest was former QMS class winner Jaime Vanns in his Renault Clio, with young Alfie Brooker getting the fourth best time in his BMW Mini. Garry Barlow secured fifth spot in his Honda Integra with Dan Fisher next up. Whiteman, Hosier, Richardson and Tunio rounded out the top ten. Everson was quickest in T3, with September the TP pace setter.

TinTops Race one was early on Sunday morning on a completely dry track. From the rolling start Ross and Birley went side by side through Paddock Bend with the white Astra just getting in front. Whiteman rushed up into third, with Fisher fourth, but the safety car was already on track. Hosier had been dumped into the gravel trap at Paddock as everyone jostled for position, assailant unknown!

TinTops On the re-start Ross scampered away as Whiteman challenged Birley. Vanns briefly appeared in front of Fisher, but the positions were reversed on lap five. Barlow slotted into sixth chased by Richardson, Alfie Brooker, Mikey Day (leading T3) and Danny Brooker. It was difficult to know where to look, as there were battles throughout the field with lots of overtaking. In some cases there was a bit of paint swapping, but the clerk of the course did speak to everyone later. Meanwhile the lead battle was hotting up as Birley reeled in Ross and pulled away from Whiteman. Barlow, Vanns and Richardson were very close, whilst Alfie Brooker retired with a broken alternator belt. Day consolidated his T3 lead as Trevor Collar moved up into the top ten. Another driver making progress was Ken Angell, who had started 26th in his BMW.

Ross held on to take the win, as Birley was slightly held up by a battling group of back markers. Whiteman had enough in hand over Fisher, whilst Vanns saw off Barlow and Richardson. Day was 8th overall, winning T3, followed by Collar, Angell and Steve Everson. Glen Rossiter finished 12th followed by Dominic Ryan and a slowing Danny Brooker. Marcus Bicknell was only 0.042 further back, as Lane and Matthews completed the unlapped runners. September just held off Wheeler for TP honours.

TinTops Race two saw Ross edge Birley wide at Paddock bend, which allowed Whiteman to power through on the inside. The three abreast move looked spectacular and there was no contact! Likewise Vanns sprinted past Fisher, as Barlow and Fisher slotted in behind. Barlow departed the scene when a drive shaft broke, so Fisher regained fourth spot. Hosier was making rapid progress from the back of the grid, until he pulled off on lap 12. Vanns dropped behind Richardson, as Angell moved past Collar into 7th. Ryan and Rossiter got ahead of the rapid Saxo of Day, although Mikey still led T3 comfortably.

As Whiteman eased away in the lead, Birley tried hard to find a way past Ross. On Lap 11 they reached a pack going into Clearways. Ross went to the inside, Birley went to the outside, which proved to be the better route as he emerged in second place. Rod then chased after Whiteman, but despite setting fastest lap had to settle for second again. Ross tailed off in third, but was far enough in front of Fisher, Richardson and Vanns. Angell, Collar, Ryan (driver of the day winner) and Rossiter completing the top ten, with Day in 11th. Bradley Lane was one lap down in 12th, getting the better of Everson and Marcus Bicknell. Chris Bicknell won the best prepared car award, whilst Wheeler topped class TP this time from September.

Scrapco Avon Intermarque Championship

Intermarque The Scrapco/Avon Tyres intermarque competitors had the luxury of the pit garages this time. With all their action on Sunday, they had the best weather conditions. Unsurprisingly it was Malcolm Blackman heading the time sheets, from Lewis Smith and a happy Steve Burrows. Reuben Taylor was fourth from Keith White, Chris Ayling, Ian Hales and Ricky Hunn. Richard Smith was back in his Mercedes for this meeting, lining up ninth, with Mike Thurley tenth. Joe Russell was also back, along with Volker Timm and the two Audis started 11th and 12th. Completing the grid were Philip Young, Mick Robertson, Phil Spinks and Toby Homewood. Sadly John Steward was a non-starter as his new engine failed.

Intermarque From the start of race one Blackman did not hang around and soon pulled out a 1.5 second lead over Lewis Smith. Burrows could not live with their pace, but was safe in third as White was occupied fending off Thurley. Taylor had been fourth until a front suspension part broke and he retired. Moving up to sixth was Hunn, going well in his Corrado, although he had to keep an eye on Richard Smith and Hales. Eventually they both got past the Scrapco owner, only for Richard Smith to pull off two laps before the end. The finishing order was therefore Blackman, Lewis Smith, Burrows, White (senior cup winner), Thurley, Hales, Hunn, Young, Russell, Ayling, Timm and Spinks. Robertson retired with mechanical issues.

Intermarque Race two saw the first nine finishers from race one reversed as they lined up on the grid. Russell made a good start and had the honour of leading lap one. As usual Lewis made a blinding getaway from 8th and was already up to second. Two early casualties were Thurley, who gyrated at Paddock Bend (assisted by an unidentified competitor) and Hunn. The yellow VW had suffered a clutch issue on the way to the grid. Meanwhile Smith junior was in the lead, with Burrows second for one lap until Blackman swept past. The two leaders battled hard until lap 5 when Blackman got good traction out of Clearways. Lewis tried to close the gap, but it was too late so Malcolm took control. With Burrows safe in third, White was next to demote Russell, who was driving really well for just his second meeting in this new car. Also on lap 5 Hales took over fifth place, but Russell stayed in sixth until lap 12. By now we had lost Reuben Taylor after a clash with Ayling. It was judged a racing incident, but Taylor again had suspension damage so pulled into the pits. A few laps later Robertson brought his brakeless VW in as well.

Intermarque The chequered flag came down on Blackman, which also secured him the champion of Kent title. Lewis was reasonably happy with second, but looking forward to Donington. Burrows got a big cheer for another podium as White took senior cup honours (plus the senior champion of Kent). Hales was good for fifth (also winning best prepared car), from Ayling (Avon tyre winner) and Richard Smith. Russell held on to 8th, from Young as Spinks battled past Timm (also an Avon tyre winner). Homewood completed the finishers.

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