Snetterton report by Adam Grant. Photos by Rafal Biniszewski
A very healthy entry of 38 cars was a bit depleted by the start of qualifying. Missing was Volker Timm and Vic Hope with gearbox issues, Andy Banham had a clutch problem when he unloaded his car and Colin Smith was unable to source a suitable differential. Kamran Tunio appeared in Steve Everson’s Citroen Saxo, as his usual Honda was not quite ready.
Qualifying threw up quite a few surprises with Ed Leigh taking pole position on his favourite track in the BMW M3 V8. Newcomer Mark De’Ath lined up second in his Subaru Imprezza, followed by Niall Bradley in his re-liveried class C BMW E46. Next up was pre-race favourite Alex Sidwell in the Holden Commodore V8 followed by Rod Birley in his Escort WRC. Gavin Dunn headed class B in his BMW E36 with Mick Robertson the fastest class H competitor in his VW Corrado. Paul Nevill completed row four in his very rapid Ford Escort Mk2 RS2000. Malcolm Wise was a bit further back than expected in his Escort Cosworth and was joined by Matt Turner in his BMW E36. Colin Tester was having another outing in Paul Restall’s Sapphire Cosworth and had David Cowan for company in another BMW. Sean Fairweather made a very welcome return in his Sierra Cosworth to head row 7.
Dave Hutchins was the quickest production saloon with his Honda Civic lining up 14th. Paul Cocksedge had a quick spin at Nelson, but was good enough for 15th. Then it was the production runners filling the rest of the grid headed by Adrian Matthews (hoping for better luck in his Ford Puma) and Dave Charlton (Seat Leon). All the times are on TSL sport timing: https://www.tsl-timing.com/file/?f=BRSCC/2019/192131sul.pdf One driver who withdrew after qualifying was Steve Dann in the VW Polo with turbo issues.
The sight of 32 cars taking the rolling start was very impressive, as the formation was perfect. With the leaders jostling for position Leigh held on in front from DeAth, as Birley moved into third, which then became second. On lap two Birley closed in on Leigh going down the Bentley straight, but was unable to pass. However, a good exit from Murray’s saw the black Escort power past on Senna Straight. Sidwell then got into his stride and used Holden V8 power to usurp the BMW V8. He then set his sights on Birley. For the next few laps we were treated to a high speed battle, as the two protagonists hit speeds in excess of 150mph. Sadly the race was curtailed prematurely after Matt Turner had a lurid spin at Oggies and abandoned his car. With the BMW stranded in the middle of the track the race was sensibly red flagged with just 3 minutes to go. So Birley took his 650th win, from Sidwell and Leigh.
De’Ath had driven well to take fourth spot, just holding off Bradley’s class C winning BMW. Wise had closed in on this duo bringing Dunn with him, Gavin taking class B honours. Robertson had a good race to take 8th overall and winning class H, with Tester and Cowan rounding out the top ten. Fairweather had a steady run in 11th (class D winner) followed by Cocksedge who just got the better of the production saloon winner Dave Hutchins. Graham Heard led the T1 class in his VW Golf, with T3 winner Adrian Matthews glued to his bumper in his Ford Puma. The returning Ken Angell moved his BMW into 16th overall (second in T1) from Graham Richardson (Honda Civic) and Wayne McGuire (BMW Compact). Marcus Bicknell chased this trio in his little Citroen Saxo, whilst Kam Tunio just held off Robert Methold’s BMW Mini. The battling continued down the field as Charlton had Chris Bicknell for company, whilst Nathan Wells managed to shake off Nick Lunn and class TP winner Harry Hardy (Ford Puma). Gideon September and Vince Proto completed the finishers, as we lost Chris Burley (broken exhaust) and Paul Nevill (broken rose joint).
Race two necessitated a second rolling lap as Sidwell’s Holden had battery failure on the grid. Once removed the race got underway and Birley just held sway at Riches from a fast starting Wise, Leigh slotting into third. Also missing was Niall Bradley who had to leave for the airport due to a previous arrangement. De’Ath slowed markedly coming out of Palmer which allowed Tester into fourth. As things began to settle down, it was the progress of Paul Nevill which most people noticed. From last position (29th) he quickly picked off the production runners and was up to 8th by the end of lap two. He then closed down David Cowan his class C rival, finally getting past on the last lap to take 7th overall.
With Fairweather reasonably safe in 9th, although Hutchins did close up at the end (taking production honours again). Attention moved to the dust up between Heard, Richardson and Matthews, the first two fighting for T1 honours. The red VW Golf took the class and 11th overall. Not far behind T3 winner Matthews, was a good battle between old protagonists Angell and Charlton who finished just 0.4 of a second apart. The Saxo gang had their usual tussle which went the way of Tunio this time. Both Kamran and Chris Bicknell used the track limits and received an interesting award for their endeavours. Marcus and Chris were split by Wells in his BMW Mini. Hardy had the measure of September and Proto for the TP class, with Chris Burley completing the runners.
Methold retired his BMW Mini, but did win the very generous award (courtesy of Marcus Bicknell) for a day at the Goodwood festival of speed. Lunn pulled off with a gearbox issue, whilst Cockedge retired on the final lap. McGuire being an earlier retirement.
So the win went to Birley, with Wise just holding off Leigh. Leigh won the best prepared super saloon prize courtesy of Caesar electrical, with Wise getting the BMR driver of the day award. Tester was a spirited fourth taking class B, with Dunn fifth. Robertson was hot on his heels in sixth winning class H again.
The Cannons best prepared tin top prize was awarded to Dave Charlton, with Methold receiving the H&G trophy. Richard Culverhouse thanked all the drivers for attending the event and staying on for the prize giving.
It was slightly delayed due to several of the production saloon drivers having an extra allcomers race, giving them a chance for overall glory. Adrian Matthews taking the win, from Marcus Bicknell and Rikki Taylor.
Finally clerk of the course Terry Scannell praised everyone for good clean racing and well controlled rolling starts. Next stop is Mallory Park on Sunday June 16th.