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Festival fun as championships reach mid-season.

By Brian Phillips

Truck pull Our three championships reached their halfway stage on a busy family-friendly Lydden Hill festival weekend. They shared the east Kent track with two days of action on the Chessons oval and trucks competing on the "three quarters" layout which omits the North Bend hairpin.

Months of hard work behind the scenes ensured success for the only event of the 2013 season organised by the South Eastern Centre, and the drivers rewarded this effort with some superb entertainment.

Quaife Motorsport News Saloons

QMN Rod Birley maintained his 100% 2013 success record, making it eight wins out of eight in the QMN for the former champion. Andy Woods-Dean kept the points pressure on Birley with a double class victory but the next drivers in the table slipped back. Steve Rothery won class D at the first attempt but Bill Richards completed a fine comeback after qualifying problems and beat him in race two. Defending champion Gavin Thomson ended an unhappy weekend with a DNF. Fifth in the table coming to Lydden, Peter Wilkinson didn't even make it to the starting grid.

Still warming his Peugeot's tyres at the start of qualifying, Wilkinson tangled with Rick May's Escort which was on a flying lap and both crashed out. Dale Gent also retired for the day when his Impreza broke a drive shaft. Richards set the second best time behind Birley on a damp track but didn't make it to the first grid in the Mini after his gearbox broke. Danny Innes fielded a rather battered Seat following a crash at the Elbow which ended the session early.

Bob Hosier, on the second row after a good showing in the damp, was quickly demoted by Malcolm Wise and Ian Butler as Birley headed clear at the beginning of a dry first race. Butler started to slip down the order as the abrasive surface chewed up the Focus' tyres and his place was taken by a hugely impressive Andy Banham, a Lydden regular, who drives his Impreza to the track with a set of race tyres in the back. Paul Eve completed a class A top four in his Sapphire. Banham was later awarded the QMN "driver of the day" prize.

QMN Steve Rothery beat Butler to fifth place to win class D, but Ian remained first in class B. They were followed by Ricky Davies (class C winner) and Andy Woods-Dean (E). Thomson was next, struggling with a car set up in anticipation of more rain and running on old tyres. Dunlop has ended the supply of the size he needs. Innes completed the top ten after surviving another adventure at the scene of his earlier shunt.

Bill Richards mended his car for race two and started at the back, along with Chris Whiteman's Civic which was reluctant to fire up in the collecting area and joined in half a lap late.

QMN Birley, Wise and Banham dominated the proceedings but Eve fell away and crawled to the finish for some consolation points as a gearbox problem worsened, and Thomson was out before half distance, also with gearbox trouble. Butler's tyre problems returned, slowing the Focus and creating a jostling six-car group fighting over fifth place once Richards had left them behind. Birley saw this going on and eased his pace to avoid having to try lapping the group. Butler finally slipped to tenth, but still won class B after being passed in turn by Woods-Dean (class E winner), Davies (C winner and recipient of the "best prepared car" award), Nick Proudlock, Rothery and Innes.

Cannons Motorspares Tin Tops

Tin Tops Tom Bridger and Chris Whiteman were the winners on Saturday, Chris again making a race two recovery after his car cut out on the first lap of qualifying, forcing him to miss the opening encounter.

Russell Turner was a little nervous about starting from pole after a long layoff, but from the rolling start his main concern was not being hit from behind as he crawled round for a single slow lap with the Escort's front brakes seized. Rover Tomcat T1 drivers Bridger and Peter Winstone settled down at the front, leaving Terry Searles' MG ZR and Glen Rossiter's Clio contesting third place and T3 victory in a duel which saw them regularly side by side.

Mark Freemantle's Escort and Cliff Pellin's Fiesta were next with Tristam Barden seventh in his Intermarque invitation class Mini, which runs on slicks. Tristam's qualifying was hampered by cable tie problems and smoke in the cockpit and he moved up well from the back of the field.

Tin Tops Pete Osborne won the production class in eighth, his Clio heading a closely matched group for much of the race. This included Robert Farndon, who found his Golf transformed by suspension mods, although this didn't help when the engine let go. Dave Charlton must have had extra Shredded Wheat for breakfast, his Beetle showing a rare turn of speed in tenth place behind Ross Craig and comfortably beating the other T4 drivers.

Running for the first time this year completely independent of the QMN, the Tin Tops had their first experience of a partially reversed grid. Bridger drew number eight as his starting place, promoting Osborne and Barden to the front row.

From seventh on the grid Winstone squeezed ahead on lap two and built an early lead while Barden kept the rest at bay for a while. However, Chris Whiteman was racing up the order and took second place on lap five to head the T3 runners. He closed in on Winstone but didn't take the overall lead until lap ten.

Tin Tops Rossiter and Searles resumed their duel, finishing third and fourth with Russell Turner closing up and scoring the first points this year for a T2 driver. Bridger's car came under close scrutiny from officials with a loose bonnet that looked in danger of breaking free, but it lasted the distance and he finished a subdued sixth ahead of Barden. Mark Freemantle's Escort, Osborne and Craig completed the top ten, Mark taking the prize for the "best prepared car".

Charlton again won T4 ahead of a hectic scramble featuring Jon Wild's Metro and Kieron Lehane, Robert Taylor and Dominic Ryan in Fiestas. Dave's efforts were recognised in the "driver of the day" award.

Quaife Intermarque Championship

Intermarque Chris Brockhurst and Matt Simpson continued their neck-and-neck duel for championship honours with a win and a second place each at Lydden and finished level on points in the Champion of Kent contest. This combined the results from Lydden and the previous weekend's Brands Hatch event.

There were dramas from the start of the day. Luke Armiger broke his gear lever while running in the car during qualifying and later ended his involvement with a blown head gasket. Mick Robertson had an oil leak which kept him out of race one and Richard Smith was concerned about a leak from his gearbox. Son Daniel set about fitting a new clutch after his qualifying session ended early.

Intermarque Chris Ayling caused a first race stoppage when he plunged off at the startline after running wide through Paddock. Chris was OK but the Corrado was badly crumpled. Restarted in single file behind the safety car, the race saw Brockhurst and Matt Simpson go clear. Jeff Simpson and Malcolm Blackman entertained the crowd with a superb duel for third place in which they covered nearly a whole lap side by side without contact. Things came to a head on the Dover Slope a couple of laps later where the two cars did touch, giving Simon Smith a fright and sending him into the gravel trap at the Elbow.

Daniel Smith's repaired car carried him to fifth place in front of Ben Taylor, Ross Loram, Lewis and Richard Smith. Mike Thurley always goes well at Lydden but stopped when his oil warning light flashed on. The problem proved to be with the light, not the engine.

Brockhurst was delighted to record a win (and a new lap record) at a track which has never before been good for him, while Matt Simpson was baffled by his inability to keep up. Chris picked number eight in the race two grid draw, giving the front row to Lewis Smith and Loram. Simon Smith and Thurley lined up at the back, but Blackman was missing after a drive belt jumped off when his engine was started in the paddock.

Simon didn't complete a lap because his gearbox let him down, but Thurley moved up well and joined in a great battle from fourth place down to eighth which finished in the order Lewis Smith, Daniel Smith, Thurley, Taylor and Richard Smith.

Intermarque At the front, Matt Simpson found his car transformed by a change of gearing and stayed out of Brockhurst's reach. Chris wasn't so happy, especially as he suffered the return of a mysterious engine misfire which blunted his challenge. And finally, as the sole class C entry John Chasey and his Caterham completed two trouble-free runs.

Lewis Smith received the "driver of the day" award and the four Avon tyre winners were Jeff Simpson, Mike Thurley, Mick Robertson and Ben Taylor.

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