Lydden Hill Race Report

Lydden Report
All three of our series were back together for the Lydden meeting, with individual races for each category. Drivers arriving on Friday had a tricky journey along with holiday traffic and the grid lock in and around Dover.
First out on track were the super saloons, with old Lydden favourite Bill Richards taking pole position in his spaceframe Mini. Lining up alongside him would be Martin Reynolds in his immaculate Mk.2 Ford Escort. Row two contained Mark Cripps in his BMW, although he was alone as Rod Birley had more miserable luck and withdrew his Escort WRC. Tommy Knight and Steve Dann made it an VW row three, then came Marcus Bicknell (Taurus V8) and Jacques Whitehead (BMW). Peter Osborne (Vauxhall Astra) was alone on row five as Andy Woods-Dean withdrew his Holden Commodore meaning there were no class A cars running. Completing the grid were Colin Claxton (Triumph Dolomite) Mary Grinham (Mini) and Martyn Scott in his newly acquired VW Golf.
The rolling start saw Richards lead away with Reynolds slotting into second. Bill increased his lead slightly until lap 8, when his brake pedal went to the floor and he pulled off. Reynolds now held a one second lead over Cripps with Dann in third as Knight had also retired, ironically with sticking brakes. Bicknell was now fourth, whilst Whitehead had got past the fast starting Osborne. Scott had moved up a couple of positions, before he too retired with an undisclosed issue. That was pretty much it until the last lap, when Whitehead drifted slightly wide at Paddock Bend and spun wildly over the finish line. Fortunately he did not hit anything and his dramatic moment earnt him the driver of the race award.
Race two was without Richards, Grinham, and Knight, so just 8 starters came out to play. The first start only managed a couple of laps, as Bicknell spun at Chessons and was stuck in an awkward position. The re-start saw Reynolds lead away, but Dann nipped past Cripps into second, a place he held until lap 6. The black VW had a slight misfire, which allowed the BMW to chase after the leading Escort. However, on lap 10 Cripps had a spin coming out of Chessons Drift and struggled to regain the track. At the Devil’s Elbow the BMW again slid wide so Mark pulled off. This elevated Dann back into second with Bicknell getting past Osborne and Whitehead to take third. Scott again had issues with his new car and retired. On lap 13 Whitehead got back past Bicknell to take the final step on the podium. So the final positons were Reynolds (also winning class C), Dann (who took class B honours), Whitehead, Bicknell (winning class S), Osbourne (winning class D) and Claxton (who got the driver of the race award in his Triumph.
The Tin Tops had gained a new sponsor courtesy of AFR Media (thanks go to Alex Baldwin). Qualifying saw a returning Chris Whiteman set the quickest time, but he sadly non-started due to a gearbox problem. Therefore Neal Gardiner took up pole position with Ken Angel (BMW) alongside. Row two saw Alex Baldwin in his TP Honda just edge out T1 runner Graham Richardson (Honda Civic). It was nice to see another BMW in the hands of Pete Winstone on row three, with Callum Perfect going well in his 318 version in the new class H. James Seale lined up his Fiesta in 7th from Alex Martin (T3 Citroen Saxo). Ian Seale (Fiesta) and James Ross (Renault Clio) occupied row 5, with the grid completed by Angelo Massonetto (Saxo), Jon Wild (Fiesta) and Damien Smith (Fiesta ST150).
From the start Gardiner streaked away into an ever increasing lead, with Angell in vain pursuit. Richardson moved up to third, but fell behind Winstone on lap 5. The T1 Honda was suffering tyre degradation saw Graham pulled off on lap 7. Winstone motored on in third until lap 9 when he too retired. This elevated Baldwin back into his starting position, although he was being harried by Perfect. A great little battle was going on between Martin and the two Seales. Initially Alex had the upper hand until lap 17, when James nipped by, followed a lap later by his father Ian. Meanwhile the first three finished in the order Gardiner, Angell, and Baldwin, with Perfect a lap down in fourth. Behind the Seales and Martin came Wild just holding off Ross with Massonetto completing the finishers after Smith retired.
Race two was without Massonetto, Smith and Winstone but it saw Angell make a lightning start. The green BMW led for two laps, once Gardiner got past he soon stretched out an impressive lead. Perfect had also made a quick getaway as he ran third. Attention now focused on Richardson who had started last. By lap two he was up to sixth, a lap later he was fifth. On the next lap he moved into third. Four laps later he closed in on Angell to take second overall and the lead of T1. Angell started to slip back towards the battling Perfect and Baldwin. Alex overtook Callum on lap 12 and closed in on Ken. At the front Gardiner cruised to his second win, also taking T2 honours. Richardson impressed with his drive to take second also winning T1, as Angell just held off Baldwin (TP winner). Perfect was good enough for fifth (winning TH) as James Seale had a more comfortable run, whilst Ian had to fight off Alex Martin (T3 winner). Wild had an interesting battle with Ross, which went in favour of the blue Fiesta.
The Avon Tyres/Image Wheels intermarque had a disappointing entry as only 8 cars appeared. This was a shame as Lydden often produces good close racing for this formula. However, the small entry did not disappoint the good number of spectators. Surprise pole position went to senior runner Mick Robertson (VW Corrado), who had rushed back from Spain to support the series. Alongside him was Daniel Smith (Mercedes SLK), then came Colin Smith (Ginetta) and Paul Knight (Vauxhall Tigra). Row three saw Brian Loram (Tigra) with yet another different make in the shape of the Mitsubishi Colt of Philip Young alongside. The back row was completed by our cheerful German visitor Volker Timm (Audi TT) and John Steward (Mercedes).
Daniel Smith got the better start to lead lap one with Robertson hanging on in second. The Corrado started to develop a bit of oversteer, as Mick tried to fight off the challenge from Knight. Paul got by on lap four and two laps later Robertson lost out to Colin Smith. The Ginetta driver then closed in on Knight, taking second spot on lap 9. This was when Robertson retired, as the handling was getting far worse. It later transpired that a couple of link bars had bent rather badly. This brought Mr.Cheese into fourth, but behind him was a good scrap between Steward, Loram and Timm. Volker moved past Brian into sixth on lap 13, then overtook Steward two laps later. However, John fought back and on the last lap made his move into the hairpin to take a hard earned fifth. The finishing order being Daniel Smith, Colin Smith, Knight (winning the senior section), Young, Steward, Timm and Loram.
With less than ten starters only the first four finishing positions were reversed. This saw Young on pole, with Knight alongside. Missing were Robertson and Loram. Daniel Smith had the lead by the end of lap one, with Knight holding onto second and Young in third. Timm was an early retirement followed a lap later by Steward, Sadly this only left four runners, but luckily they all finished. Daniel Smith was comfortable out front, whilst Knight had his mirrors full of Colin Smith from lap four until lap 14. Then Colin slipped back towards the consistent Young. Although there was no place changing from here to the chequered flag, there was only 7.5 seconds covering the four finishers. Behind Daniel Smith it was Knight taking second (winning the senior section again), then came Colin Smith and Young. Hopefully the field will be a lot bigger for the Vauxhall Valves meeting at Brands Hatch on August 21st.
Two of our regular drivers also appeared in the ELMS V8 races which took place on the oval circuit. Bicknell and Birley both acquitted themselves well, with each of them gaining a third and fourth place finish.
Hats off to all the drivers, who coped well with the hot conditions and rather abrasive track surface.

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