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Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit Report

By Adam Grant
Photos: Rodney Tietjen

MN Saloons The combined grid of Motorsport News saloons and Cannons Tin Tops made for an awesome sight as they set out onto the full 2.433 mile long circuit at Brands Hatch. With 40 cars taking part it was always going to be who could get a reasonably clear lap to set the quickest time. Rod Birley made the task slightly easier by getting out first and he clocked his best lap time on lap three, then he came across lots of traffic so he headed for the pits to see if anyone could get close to the 1 minute 38.816 seconds. Gradually the others improved their times, but Birley’s time remained the best. Tom Knight came closest with 1 minute 40.599 seconds, followed by Gavin Thomson’s very swift class C Peugeot, then Malcolm Wise and Ian Butler. The quickest tin top, by over 1.5 seconds, was Barnaby Davies from Chris Bassett, after Tom Bridger had a torrid time with a bad vibration.

Both the races were on Sunday, so the teams had plenty of time to make any repairs or adjustments, except for Steve Rothery whose engine had failed in his Renault Clio. From the slightly ragged rolling start Birley just held the lead as the cars went out onto the GP loop. Knight was initially second, but Wise nipped past, only to be re-taken as the cars burst into Clearways to complete the second lap. Missing already were Steve Dann, with gear selection issues and Cliff Pellin with a blown fuel pump fuse. On lap two Bob Hosier plunged off the road into the Clearways gravel trap, as Alex Sidwell started to make progress with his brand new Holden Commodore. Sidwell had started ninth, but by lap four was up to fifth. In the Cannons section Davies was well ahead and holding ninth overall,just in front of the BMW MN saloon of Mike Chittenden. Bridger had made up a lot of ground to be third in the class behind the T2 Peugeot of Chris Bassett.

TinTops As the race entered its second half, Knight made a big effort to close on Birley and reduced the gap to 1.6 seconds. However, back markers started to loom up and Birley made good use of the traffic to extend the margin back out to 2.8 seconds. In the end the gap was just under two seconds, with Wise a further four seconds back in third. Thomson should have been fourth until a puncture dropped him into the Paddock bend gravel, so Sidwell claimed the position. Butler came home fifth from a fast closing Dan Cowan. Matt Turner took class C honours in seventh, from the very impressive Tin Top winner Barny Davies. Mark Cripps was ninth with Tom Bridger heading the next group in tenth. Tom just beat Andy Banham, who had Dave Charlton and Bassett in tow. Bill Richards took class D in the MN saloons as Gary Cole was the only starter in class E. In the Tin tops class T3 went to Mikey Day for the first time this year, as he held off Ryan Steel, whilst in TP Dan Adams took the trophy. Everyone was present for race two, except Graham Richardson who had suffered a drive shaft failure on his Honda Civic. Once again Birley just held the lead as they rounded Graham Hill bend, with Knight second, Wise third and Sidwell fourth. The big cars made a wonderful sight as they roared back into the stadium section and everyone completed the first lap safely. Making good progress from the rear of the grid was Gavin Thomson, along with Bob Hosier, whilst poor Steve Dann found his VW Golf stuck in one gear, but he was determined to finish this time.

MN Saloons At the front Birley was setting a hot pace and Knight was slowly slipping away. On lap three we lost Malcolm Wise as he pulled off at Dingle Dell with a broken gearbox. Sidwell now took up the gauntlet and hounded Knight until squeezing past on lap 5. The glory was short lived, as on lap seven the big Aussie car pulled over when the alternator failed. This left Knight fairly lonely in second spot, although a rear wing failure was attracting the attention of the officials. Butler appeared in third, but he was being caught by the flying Thomson, now up to fourth position. Cowan was running solidly in fifth with Turner in sixth. The leading tin top battle was stunning between Bridger and Davies, for several laps the two were side by side until the Toyota popped a brake calliper seal. The resultant trip through the gravel at Sheene curve precluded Barnaby’s retirement.

TinTops Further back in the pack there was a very entertaining scrap between Perry Winch, Steve Everson, Ken Angell, James Alford, Chris Brown and Adrian Matthews. As is typical with our championships they were all in different makes of car. All too soon the entertainment came to an end as the chequered flag appeared after 15 minutes. Birley took his second win of the day after waiting since 2010 to achieve success on the GP circuit. Knight was pleased with the runner up position, which also earnt him the driver of the day award. Butler just held off Thomson, although the brakes were very marginal on the white Focus. Cowan and Turner rounded out the top six. Bridger was best of the Tin Tops this time, from Bassett and Osborne. Richards and Cole took their respective MN class wins, with Steel winning the tin top T3 class and Pellin the TP class.

Best prepared MN car was Martyn Scott’s BMW, and the Mark Fish tin top driver of the race trophies went to James Alford and Tom Bridger. Both championships now conclude at Brands Hatch on the Indy circuit at the Autumn truck meeting on November 7/8.

Next Race Meeting:

23rd September 2017
Brands Hatch (TinTops and Intermarque)

24th September 2017
Brands Hatch (QMS)

Latest Galleries:

Latest gallery Quaife Modified Saloons with Cannons TinTops,
10th September 2017

Latest gallery Scrapco Avon Intermarque,
3rd September 2017

Latest gallery Quaife Cannons TinTops,
2nd September 2017

Last Race Results

Quaife Modified Saloons:

1. Rod Birley
2. Malcolm Wise
3. Paul Adams
See full results

Quaife / Cannons TinTops:

1. Dan Fisher
2. Rod Birley
3. Bob Hosier
See full results

Scrapco / Avon Intermarque:

1. Lewis Smith
2. Malcolm Blackman
3. Keith White
See full results

2017 Championship Leaders:

Quaife Modified Saloons:

Rod Birley
See full standings

Quaife / Cannons TinTops:

Dan Fisher
See full standings

Scrapco / Avon Intermarque:

Malcolm Blackman See full standings