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Gent completes winning double at Brands Hatch

By Brian Phillips

QMN Victory in a dry second race completed Dale Gent's winning double on the Brands Hatch GP circuit on Sunday August 25. The two-day fixture formed round six of this year's Quaife/Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship and Cannons Motorspares Tin Tops Championship.

Rod Birley, winner of all ten previous races, twice finished second to the Subaru driver and saw the points deficit increase to championship leader Andy Woods-Dean, who maintained a 100% success record in his class. Steve Rothery also remains easily in touch after a double class success, but all three must shed one result from their seasonal total in the four races to come.

Glen Rossiter and Pete Osborne are joint leaders of the Tin Tops points, both racing Clios but in different classes. While Osborne is currently unopposed in the production class, Rossiter faces strong competition from Chris Whiteman's Honda Civic in T3. Whiteman stands five points behind the others and is the only one of the three who can count all his points in the remaining races.

Even with 44 grid spaces available, the lure of the long circuit attracted an oversubscribed entry at the Lotus Festival meeting, but everyone who signed on had at least one opportunity to race.

The Birley Escort took pole position on a slippery track, followed by Gent, Ian Butler's Focus and Malcolm Wise (Escort). Danny Innes was next despite beaching his Seat at Paddock, then came Woods-Dean's Megane Coupe, Bob Hosier (BMW Mini) who loves the wet, Rothery (Clio), Ricky Davies (BMW M3) and championship returnee Brett Lidsey completing the top ten in his Clio. Cliff Pellin's Fiesta headed the Tin Tops with Terry Searles (MG ZR) next.

Gent squeezed past Birley along Cooper Straight for the first time, but Hosier was already out after contact with Rothery as the pack raced up to Druids. At the front, the Impreza built up a lead of nearly 6s by the end, and the leading pair left Malcolm Wise well behind, Malcolm suspecting he "wasn't brave enough" in the wet conditions.

QMN Another half minute adrift of Wise, Ian Butler was a class-winning fourth but there was plenty of competition for fifth place. Davies, Rothery and Woods-Dean were all class winners but squabbled over who would be best in the overall order. Innes joined in until the second of two incidents at Paddock left him parked in the gravel trap. Stewart Hutchinson's Integra and the Clios of David Thomas and Lidsey rounded off the top ten.

Pellin's winning form continued in the Tin Tops. He finished 13th overall and won T3 with Searles next and last man on the lead lap in 17th overall. Third and fourth in T3 were title contenders Whiteman and Rossiter who enjoyed a good scrap and, according to Chris, had similar amounts of grip "in other words, none" on the wet tarmac. There were also class wins for Tom Bridger (Rover 220) in T1, Robert Taylor (T4) whose Fiesta overcame Dave Charlton's skittish Beetle, and solo runners Russell Turner (T2) and Pete Osborne (TP).

The damaged Hosier car and Vic Hope's Civic missed a dry race on Sunday, making room for Jamie Liptrott, whose BMW engine failed in Friday testing leaving him no time to join Saturday morning's qualifying session.

This time Gent led from the start and could even relax for a couple of laps when Gary Cole's damaged Citroen stopped on the top straight and brought out the safety car. Birley was lining up an attack when the yellow flags appeared, and after the restart both drivers were looking out for the last lap board which would be Birley's signal to make a move. When it didn't appear Gent was worried how much longer he could hang on and Birley was disappointed to find his chance had gone.

Tin Tops Wise briefly looked a threat to Birley, but left the road at Surtees, while Butler's partially wet-shod car faded as the race went on and he slipped to 11th while still winning his class. All of this promoted the Davies / Rothery / Woods-Dean battle to third, fourth and fifth overall with race one double spinner Ray Barrow close behind in his Escort turbo. Liptrott was a remarkable seventh from 43rd on the grid despite the caution period and then came Tony Paxman (Escort), Bill Richards (Mini) and Lidsey, all three running in Rothery's class D.

Pellin's Tin Tops challenge faded in the dry and the honours were taken by Bridger ahead of Whiteman in 18th and 19th overall. The closely matched Rossiter, Pellin and Searles were next. Dominic Ryan's Fiesta this time beat Charlton and Taylor in T4 and Turner and Osborne both finished to claim T2 and TP again.

After race two Gent was chosen as QMN driver of the weekend and Tony Paxman's car was judged to be the best prepared. The same honours in the Tin Tops classes went to Bridger and Taylor.

Next Race Meeting:

23rd September 2017
Brands Hatch (TinTops and Intermarque)

24th September 2017
Brands Hatch (QMS)

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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