Mallory Park Tin Top and Super Saloons race reports from Lee Sutton

The tin tops and super saloons had separate races at Mallory Park. Starting with the Tin Tops, it was expected to be a show down between Castle Combe winner Brad Lane (Honda Civic) and Chris Bassett (Peugeot 306). Qualifying saw them trading fastest laps, until Chris nailed it with a time of 51.607 seconds (94.17 mph). This was 0.349 quicker than Brad, with Neal Gardiner (Honda Civic) next up on 53.404. Dave Charlton was fourth quickest and the leading class T1 runner in his Seat Leon, the first three all being in T2. Alex Baldwin was an impressive fifth in his TP class Honda Civic, followed by the T1 BMW 328i of Ken Angell. Adrian Matthews (Volvo C30) and Rick Skelsey (BMW Compact) shared row four, with Sam Haywood (Fiesta 150) and Gideon September (Honda Civic) completing the top ten. The grid was rounded out by Nick Lunn (Integra), lan Seale (Fiesta 150) and Angelo Massonetto (Saxo). Unfortunately a technical infringement meant that Bob Hosier had to move to the super saloon class in his Seat Leon.
The rolling start for race one saw Bassett jump into the lead, with Lane slotting into second. Gardiner occupied 3rd as Charlton staved off an early attack from Angell. These two would soon be joined by Matthews and the trio kept in close company for the rest of the rest. Despite Lane’s best efforts he was unable to close on Bassett, as the Peugeot driver took a comfortable 7.5 second win. Gardiner was rather lonely in third, but was the only other driver to complete 18 laps. The fourth place battle went to Charlton (who also won T1), from Angell and Matthews. Baldwin settled for 7th (winning TP), easily outpacing September. Gideon took until lap 13 to find a way past Skelsey as they finished just a couple of seconds apart. Lunn and Haywood enjoyed a race long scrap, which was resolved in favour of the Honda driver. Seale and Massonetto completed the finishers, as everyone made it to the chequered flag.
Race two saw Bassett make a very quick start, with Lane slotting into second and Gardiner in third. Angell initially got the jump on Charlton, but Dave redressed the situation a lap later. It was pretty much a repeat of race one until lap 13. As Gardiner approached the hairpin, his car appeared to not slow down. It later transpired the brake pedal went to the floor. Neal grabbed the hand brake which locked the back wheels, but didn’t prevent the Honda going straight on. Luckily the passenger side took the worst of the impact, but it was still a heavy crash. The marshals and medics carefully extracted Neal and he was taken to hospital. Although bruised and shaken it transpired that the only broken bone was a small vertebrae in his back. He was discharged later that night and would like to thank everyone for packing away his awning and loading the remains of his car.
The results were therefore declared at the end of 12 laps with Bassett winning by just over two seconds from Lane. Charlton took third (again winning T1) from Angell and Matthews. Baldwin was not far behind in sixth (triumphing in TP) followed by September. Haywood got the better of Lunn this time, as they both got past Skelsey. Seale and Massonetto (who won T3) completed the dozen finishers. The two “driver of the race” awards (provided by AFR media) went to Skelsey and Lunn.
The BMR/Caesar Electrical super saloons had a representative 14 car entry. It was BMWs at the forefront as Rod Birley elected to bring his E36 version to take on the Bradleys (Ronan and Adrian). Qualifying saw a good battle for pole position. Initially Birley headed the times, but as he pitted so Ronan went to the top. With less than a minute left Birley did one last lap recording a time of 49.277 seconds, exactly half a second better than Ronan. Adrian put his E46 in to third spot with Marcus Bicknell manhandling his mighty Ford Taurus V8 into fourth. Next up was Brad Lane, giving his Honda an outing in class D, still on treaded tyres, with Mike Thurley alongside in his pretty Mk1 Ford Escort. Martin Reynolds put his Mk2 version into 7th spot (leading class C) with newcomer Dave Avis posting the 8th quickest time in his VW Golf. Jacques Whitehead (BMW M3) had “tractor boy” Lee Maddox (Pontiac V8) for company on row five. Completing the grid were Steve Dann (VW Scirocco), Bob Hosier (Seat Leon), Lee Cleugh (whose Audi was now in 4 wheel drive trim) and returnee Steve Rothery (Peugeot 308). Steve had a turbo pipe come loose, which meant a severe lack of power.
The rolling start saw Birley just edge in front as they headed around the sweeping Gerrard’s bend. Up to the hairpin Ronan tried an audacious move to try and outbreak Rod. Sadly it failed as he slewed into a spin just grazing the barrier. This left Adrian to latch onto Birley as Ronan re-joined at the tail of the field. The leading two BMWs then put on a high speed display of close racing. Birley was quicker in the first part of the lap, whereas Adrian would reel him back in at the hairpin. With the gap never more than a second, it only varied as they met back markers at different times. There was also plenty of action going on further back as both Rothery and Ronan were carving their way through the field. Initially Bicknell was third shadowed by Lane, Thurley and Reynolds.
Marcus held onto third until lap 8, when Rothery managed to displace the big V8 with his more nimble Peugeot. By now Reynolds had found a way past Thurley and Lane, as he closed in on Bicknell. It took until lap 16 for Martin to find an opening, by which time Ronan had overtaken both of them on his way to fourth spot. Whilst this was happening Lane came back on the scene, finishing just over a second behind Bicknell. Whitehead had a good race to come home 8th, he did get the better of Thurley on lap 14 as they diced together. Mike was nearly caught by Avis, who had Maddox looming large in his mirrors towards the end. Dann was rather lonely in 12th as Hosier and Cleugh ensured that everyone finished.
With Birley take the win and class A, Adrian secured class B and the fastest race lap. Rothery’s drive up to third place secured him the driver of the race award as Ronan chased him home in 4th. Reynolds secured class C honours in 5th overall from Bicknell winning class S. Lane took the class D honours in 7th overall, followed by Whitehead, Thurley, and Avis.
It was a shame the second race was cancelled, as it was shaping up to be a good encounter. The next outing for both groups is on the Grand Prix circuit at Brands Hatch on July 8th.

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