Speedfest Silhouettes – race report

American Speedfest race report for SMMCS by Adam Grant…
The Avon Tyres Intermarque Silhouettes were re-named the “speedfest silhouettes” for this prestigious meeting at Brands Hatch. Competing on one day, although this time the schedule was a bit more relaxed. Qualifying started on a rather slippery track, caused by a combination of an earlier rain shower plus a large amount of oil dropped from the previous session. As our session progressed the track got considerably quicker and despite losing one lap time Ray Harris emerged with the quickest time.
Alongside him would be series rival Malcolm Blackman, with Lewis Smith going well to take third spot.
Fourth on the grid would be Steve Burrows, narrowly edging out Ian Hales who had Mike Thurley in close attendance. Lining up 7th was an impressive improvement from Dave York, who had Colin Smith joining him on row four. Rounding out the top ten were Danny Smith (Colin’s son) and Pat Kiely. Chris Ayling and Paul Knight were 11th and 12th, with Ricky Hunn junior 13th and Philip Young going well to get 14th. Mick Robertson was next up, but a blown head gasket saw him retire from the meeting so Phil Spinks moved up a spot. Daniel Smith in the blue Mercedes had a puncture which slowed his effort. John Steward continued his good form to line up 17th with the similar Mercedes of Richard Smith alongside. Completing the grid were Scott Aprigliano, Paul Cocksedge, Danny Hunn and Danny Russell. Missing was Tom Hutchins with engine woes, and in fact Russell missed qualifying although his father Joe got the car fixed for race one. An effort that earnt him the mechanic of the day award.
Race one saw Blackman snatch the lead from the start, but on lap three we had the familiar sight of the safety car. This time it was for Danny Hunn as the Ford Fiesta had suffered engine failure going through Paddock Bend. Fortunately 3 laps later they were racing again, as Blackman eased out a small advantage over Harris. Lewis Smith held third until lap 9 when Burrows found a way past. Steve then hunted down Harris and went into second spot on lap 13. So the first four finished in the order Blackman, Burrows, Harris and Lewis Smith. Daniel Smith did his usual charge through the field, going from 11th on lap 1 to fifth by the chequered flag. Not so lucky was his father Richard, who steadily made progress from 17th up to 13th but then had a clash with Ricky Hunn. Retaliation by the No.129 orange Mazda saw both drivers visit the clerk of the course, with Richard receiving a warning plus 2 penalty points whilst Ricky was excluded from the meeting plus 4 points.
Meanwhile Hales had a good run into 6th, with leading senior driver Thurley in 7th. York continued to impress with a solid 8th, followed by Colin and Danny Smith. Ayling did well to hold off the advances of Spinks, whilst Steward had another consistent showing this time leading home Young and Russell. Aprigliano and Cocksedge completed the finishers, as Kiely retired with gearbox issues and Knight also pulled off and out of the meeting.
Race two saw the top nine finishers reversed, which meant Colin Smith would be on pole position with York alongside. A terrific start by the 196 Tigra saw Dave hit the front and lead for just over a lap. Quick into his stride was Lewis Smith, as he eased into the front on lap two. However, York hung on gamely and even had a look at re-taking the lead a couple of laps later. This was building into something good as Daniel Smith pushed his blue Mercedes up to third, closely pursued by Burrows and Blackman. In fact Daniel set the fastest lap of the race on lap five which showed he meant business. The five leaders were now less than two seconds apart, as Burrows made his move. Steve moved into third, then second and crucially took the lead on lap 9.
Sadly things started to unravel on lap 10. The axle in Daniel Smith’s Merc had split heading up towards Druids. In a shower of sparks he ground to a halt on the track. As marshals moved towards the stricken car, the three leaders (Burrows, Blackman and Lewis Smith) were reported for lapping Cocksedge under waved yellow flags. A trip to see the clerk of the course was therefore required. As the safety car appeared it became obvious that the recovery might take a while. The race was therefore stopped on lap 13 and the result taken from the previous lap.
Unfortunately the first three were later excluded so the win went to a slightly bemused Ray Harris. Thurley inherited second overall, again winning the senior cup, with Hales in third. Ian also won the best prepared car award, whilst York easily won the driver of the day bubbly, as he was classified fourth. Colin Smith secured fifth from Ayling (second senior home), then came Steward (third in the senior class) followed by Spinks, Young, Aprigliano and Cocksedge. Retirements included Richard Smith, Danny Smith and Russell.
It was an unfortunate end to what had been a good couple of races. However, we now look forward to the challenges of Cadwell Park on July 25th, as all three series descend on the challenging Lincolnshire venue.

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