A new era
By Adam Grant
Silverstone April 6th saw the first pair of races under the CMMC southern banner. A varied grid of 29 cars arrived to do battle on the wide 1.64 mile national circuit.
Qualifying saw an interesting battle for pole position between Rod Birley (in his familiar Ford Escort) and Ed Leigh in a very smart V8 BMW. In the end Birley took top slot by just 0.4 of a second. Castle Combe regular Kevin Bird was next up in his Nissan 200SX followed by first timer Niall Bradley (cousin of last year’s champion Adrian) in a BMW E46. Row three saw Paul Nevill’s Ford Escort RS2000 just in front of Adrian Bradley, then came Steve Rothery (Peugeot 308 turbo) followed by Dave Cowan (BMWM3). Mick Robertson was the quickest Intermarque Silhouette in his “Help for Heroes” VW Corrado.
Matthew Turner and Mark Cripps lined up 10th and 11th, followed by the quickest Production saloon in the hands of Bradley Lane (Honda Civic). Dave Charlton was fastest in T1, Adrian Matthews was quickest in T3 with Gideon September top of the pile in TP (in Rikki Taylor’s new Ford Fiesta).
The rolling start saw Birley just edge into the lead going into Copse corner, with Leigh clinging on in second. Bird suddenly dived off the racing line, as something broke in his differential, whilst Nevill shot up into third spot. The two leaders were very close together for the first six laps, the gap being no more than half a second. As back markers loomed Birley used his years of experience to open a slight gap and edge out a better margin. By the chequered flag the No.44 car was just over 4 seconds up the road.
Nevill managed to hold on to third place, although Niall Bradley kept up the pressure in fourth. Rothery had an interesting battle with Robertson, the Peugeot driver claiming class B honours whilst Mick was the first Intermarque home. Dave Cowan managed to change the clutch on his BMW and got the better of Adrian Bradley. Turner was the first lapped runner in yet another BMW, just under 8 seconds clear of the first production saloon in the hands of Lane. Matt Johnson (BMW) just held off the advances of T1 winner Graham Heard (VW Golf). Martyn Scott was clear in 13th, have shaken off the attention he had from Dave Charlton in the early laps.
Marcus Bicknell steered his green Citroen Saxo to 15th overall, also winning T3. Youngster Mark Kimber was impressive in Colin Tester’s Ford Fiesta taking the TP class, with Nathan Wells getting a good result in his BMW Mini. Chris Bicknell had a race long tussle with Kenny Hunt’s new BMW, as they both usurped Gideon September. Nick Lunn improved his form as he took a liking to the fast Silverstone track in his Honda Integra. Debutant Paul Cocksedge in the ex-Mike Thurley Vauxhall Tigra drove sensibly and gained experience, with Steve Dann (VW Polo) and Vince Proto (Fiat Punto) completely the finishers. Alfie Brooker suffered yet another supercharger belt failure on his BMW Mini, with both Mark Cripps and Adrian Matthews also retiring.
With slick organisation the BRSCC managed to start the second race nearly 40 minutes early. Again it was Birley who grabbed the lead by the first corner. Further back there was a bit of consternation as cold tyres appeared to catch out a few people. Matt Turner had a quick spin and cars scattered in all directions, which resulted in a bit of panel damage, but everyone continued. This is the video link on board with Marcus Bicknell: https://youtu.be/lXO7seJNkDM
Meanwhile Birley continued on his way to notch up his second win and repay his team for a late finish the day before. Leigh started to struggle, a wisp of oil appeared around the back of his BMW as the race progressed. Nevill sensed an opportunity and pounced on the last lap to take the runner up spot. Niall Bradley finished right on the bumper of the ailing white BMW. Robertson was really happy to take fifth and winning the intermarque section. Cowan drove well to shake off the attentions of Rothery, who nonetheless took class B honours. Turner recovered to take 8th.
Lane was again the top production car and got stuck in with the BMWs for an interesting race. On the last lap a massive plume of smoke appeared beneath the black Honda and Brad was very pleased to see Rod lap him on the run to the chequered flag! Mark Cripps drove well from the back of the grid to take 10th, also winning the driver of the race award in the super saloon section. Matt Johnson was good for 11th keeping a handy gap over Martyn Scott. Scott winning the best prepared car award ironically provided by his own company!
Dave Charlton steered his way to T1 class honours, despite having to avoid some wayward cars. The demise of Graham Heard in a grassy moment on lap 3 at Maggotts helped the Seat driver’s cause. Wells took the runner up spot in T1 and completed the Amusetime production saloons podium. He also claimed a well deserved “best prepared car” award from Cannons motor spares. Kimber chased hard in the TP Fiesta, and he also took the production saloon “driver of the day” trophy provided by H&G Engineers.
The Bicknell’s reversed their positions this time, which meant young Chris Bicknell took T3 honours. Lunn had a good battle with September to claim 18th overall. Cocksedge and Proto completed the classified finishers. Adrian Bradley retired a very smokey BMW, and we also lost Kenny Hunt and Steve Dann.
So it was a very positive start to a new season with a new club. The prize giving was well attended as the fine array of awards were handed out by Richard Culverhouse and Krissy Taylor. All eyes now focus on Brands Hatch, where the production saloons have their own race on Saturday April 27th whilst the super saloons and intermarque do battle the next day.
Full results here