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Quaife Cannons TinTops Championship and
Quaife Motorsport News Saloons Championship race report,
Brands Hatch, 30th May 2016

By Adam Grant
Photos: Rafal Biniszewski

TinTops On a day which was forecast to be very wet everyone was pleased to see that it stayed dry all day. Kicking off proceedings were the Quaife/Cannons Tin Tops, where a healthy grid of 28 cars took part in qualifying. Top of the pile was Chris Whiteman who had just returned from Barbados. Lining up next to him would be Rod Birley, with Chris Bassett on row two followed by the class T1 cars of Peter Osborne and Robert Hosier. Dan Fisher occupied sixth spot with Len Colley seventh on the inside of row four. Graham Richardson qualified eighth with Daniel Adams and Terry Searles completing the top ten. Mikey Day was quickest T3 runner as Gideon September headed the two class TP competitors.

TinTops The usual rolling start saw Whiteman head Birley into Paddock Bend, as Bassett slotted into third just in front of Osborne. These four soon edged clear of Fisher whilst Colley had got in front of Hosier. On lap three Osborne momentarily powered past Bassett, but the blue Peugeot 205 soon regained the position. The four leaders were still covered by less than a second when it all got very close at Druids. Whiteman covered the inside line as Birley closed under braking, with Bassett braking even later a concertina effect took place. As bumpers clashed front and rear, Whiteman was turned around. Birley emerged in the lead with Bassett literally glued to his tail, as Osborne fell back. Hosier had squeezed past Colley into what was now fifth behind Fisher, Whiteman rejoining in 12th. Birley gradually edged away from Bassett to take his second Tin Top win of the year, whilst Whiteman charged back to 7th although the race was stopped prematurely. Again opinions will differ but it appears as though Chris Bicknell spun his Citroen Saxo coming out of Druids and although he tried to get going he was collected by an unsighted Russell Turner and Terry Waller. Les Beer was involved in the melee, which was very unfortunate as all four cars were badly damaged.

The results were therefore declared at the end of 13 laps, in the order Birley, Bassett, Osborne (T1 winner), Fisher, Hosier, Adams, Whiteman, Colley, Richardson and Day (T3 winner). September took class TP honours in 21st overall. Both Birley and Bassett were interviewed by the clerk of the course but the results stayed the same.

TinTops Race two saw Birley lead initially from Osborne, with Bassett in third and Whiteman up to fourth by the end of lap one. Again these four set the pace as Whiteman moved up to second on lap three and Bassett followed him past Osborne. Going into Paddock Bend on lap five there were waved yellow flags as Hosier had pulled off on the outside of the circuit. Whiteman dived past Birley and took the lead, with Osborne getting in front of Bassett. Osborne then powered past Birley to move into second. Birley retook the position going into Druids but Osborne had another go as they went along Copper Straight. Going into Surtees Osborne made a very optimistic lunge which spelt disaster for Birley as he was hit in the rear wheel and spun onto the grass. Osborne then tagged Bassett who received a dent in his door.

Whiteman motored on his way, happy to be away from the drama this time. In the end his winning margin was 3.7 seconds over Osborne who held off Bassett. Adams claimed fourth position after Fisher pulled off at Druids, with Richardson fifth. Birley had clawed his way back to sixth at one stage but then dropped back as the Integra went sick, eventually finishing tenth just behind Searles. Day again took T3 class victory, as he put James Alford in between himself and his nearest class rival Steve Everson. Ken Angell took 11th position after a race long battle with David Packham. Angell also received the driver of the day award as Packham got the best prepared car prize in his Suzuki Ignis.

QMN Saloons The QMN salons were very subdued compared to the Tin Tops, with Dale Gent getting pole position in a time of 49.9 seconds. Malcolm Wise lined up second in his Escort Cosworth, but missing from row two was Rod Birley after his turbo charger had broken. A generous offer from Stuart Day meant a replacement unit would be brought from Basingstoke so there was a chance that Birley might make the second race. Tony Skelton was therefore alone on row two. Alex Sidwell brought his reliveried Holden Commodore to line up on the inside of row three with Dan Cowan alongside in his RS500 Cosworth. JJ Ross (quickest class C runner), Andy Banham, Laurie Grant and Mark Cripps completed the top ten. Andy Pipe was quickest class E competitor just in front of rival Jaime Vanns Renault Clio.

QMN Saloons From the rolling start Gent eased into the lead as Skelton cheekily popped into second. Wise soon got past on lap two and appeared to be staying with Gent. However, a look at the lap times soon showed that Dale was lapping well within his capabilities. Nonetheless Wise tried very hard to stay with the Subaru, although eventually his turbo also cried enough so a second Ford would be sidelined. Luckily Malcolm did cross the finish line to hold onto second position. A second lap incident involving Ross and Pipe going into Surtees saw both yellow cars spinning across the grass. The Mk.1 Ford Escort moved no further, but eventually Ross got back on the black stuff in his Renault Clio. The class C battle therefore now involved the BMWS of Grant and Cripps, with Nick Wall joining in with his black Renault Clio. On lap 8 Wall got in front of Cripps and closed in on Grant. Sadly the leaders broke this battle up as they came around to lap them and then Wall pulled off on the last lap. So Grant took class C honours, with the class B Escort of Paul Nevill separating him from rival Cripps. At the front Gent cruised home as Wise’s car slowed, Skelton completed the podium and took class B honours. Sidwell looked comfortable in fourth and started to hunt down Skelton, until a time consuming spin on Copper straight dropped him behind Cowan, but still in front of Banham. Michael Eustace completed the top ten in his new BMW, as Ross recovered to 11th. Martyn Scott, Adam Mew, Jaime Vanns (class E winner) and Marcus Bicknell completed the finishers as Dave Charlton had gone off on the exit of Druids and Steve Dann had retired his VW Golf after a nut had broken off.

QMN Saloons Race two saw Birley line up at the back of the grid, but Wise was missing from row one. Gent again eased away to lead Skelton as Cowan slotted into third from Banham and Sidwell. Nevill had squeezed through into sixth but already Birley was up to seventh having passed 11 cars on the opening lap. Paddock Bend saw Nevill plunge off the road with his MK.2 Ford Escort, getting beached in the gravel, as Birley harried Sidwell along Cooper Straight. On lap three the number 44 Escort was fourth having passed both the Commodore and Banham’s Subaru. Cowan was the next victim although he did hold on gamely for three laps. On lap 8 Birley was up to second as Skelton was over taken. By now Gent had a lead of just over nine seconds and his lap times were over a second quicker than in the first race. Birley kept charging on and the gap was reducing by nearly a second a lap until lap 15. Exiting Clearways were the battling BMWs of Grant and Cripps who were squabbling over class C honours. Just in front of them was Bicknell’s Ford Mustang being driven by American visitor Rob Manson. Again it is unclear exactly what happened, but Birley went to the inside of Cripps and then had to jinx past the Mustang. In an instant Rod was flying across the grass on the outside of the circuit, but somehow managed to regain the tarmac. Nearly two seconds were lost and any thought of victory had gone, as Gent completed his double for the day. Cowan closed in on Skelton and overtook him on lap 16 to claim the final podium spot, much to the delight of his supporters. Sidwell got the better of Banham on lap four, but then had a lonely race to take fifth position behind Skelton who again won class B. Steve Dann brought his Pirtek liveried Golf through to seventh spot and first lapped runner. Grant saw off Cripps for class C honours as Mark’s BMW pulled off on the final lap. Wall came home ninth followed by Ross, Charlton, Mew, Eustace, Scott, Vanns (class E winner) and Manson. Banham received the driver of the day award.

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See you in 2019

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2. CHris Brockhurst
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Lewis Smith
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