Race reports – 24 April 2021 Lydden Hill

By Adam Grant


The CMMC season finally got going at Lydden Hill on Saturday. With no spectators (and this reporter) allowed in, it was good to see most of the racing being live streamed by Alex Baldwin and John Simes.

Tin Tops

First out were the tin tops, which had seen a couple of cars being moved to the super saloons following eligibility checks. Qualifying saw local man Warren Johnson line up in pole position with his Peugeot, as Danny Fisher (Honda Civic) lost 4 lap times due to track limits penalties. Third was David Hutchins in his Honda followed by the leading T3 Citroen Saxo of Marcus Bicknell, fifth was Andy Banham from the sole T1 runner Ken Angell. In TP it was  Ian Seale at the head, whilst in the new T4 class Mark Rider was quickest.

The rolling start was slightly shambolic as the leaders blasted away rather early. Fisher got the jump with Johnson hard on his heels and Hutchins staying close behind. The three way battle looked enthralling and on lap 10 Johnson found a way past into the lead, but it only lasted a lap as Fisher muscled his way back ahead. Sadly on lap 13 it all came to a premature end as Fisher understeered off at Paddock Bend and clouted the tyre wall quite hard. Immediate red flags saw Johnson declared the winner with Hutchins second. Marcus Bicknell did well to hold off Angell and Banham, who all ran in close company.

Richard Sanders won the TP class (Nick Lunn had been moved to T2). I do know that Lee Bristow won T4, as Mark Rider competed in the same Ford KA in race two.

The second race was without Fisher, but nevertheless another enthralling battle ensued. This time it was a better looking start as Hutchins dived into the lead. This proved to be the decisive move as Johnson tried every way to find a way past, but to no avail. The two protagonists crossed the finish just 0.3 of a second apart, good stuff. Similarly Angell got the jump on Marcus Bicknell and again stayed ahead for the full distance. This time the margin was just over a second. Banham drove well to take fifth spot in his Renault Clio. In class TP the winning margin was the closest of the day, as Richard Sanders pipped Seale by just 0.044 of a second. Rider won T4 with three cars non finishing, those being Chris Bicknell (alternator failure), Nick Lunn and Christopher MacKenzie (Citroen C1). All in all it was a good start for the tin tops.

Super Saloons

The Biddenden motor racing supported super saloons had a mix of familiar cars with a sprinkling of new ones. Most impressive was the immaculate BMW V8 of Andrew MacKenzie, who took pole position as Rod Birley was banished to the rear of the grid following a combination of track limits penalties and an oil pressure switch issue. Tom Bridger planted Oliver Davies’s Toyota Starlet on the front row, which was a good effort on treaded tyres. Lining up third should have been Paul Watson in his BMW, but serious issues meant he had to swap to Paul Restall’s Sierra Sapphire Cosworth (with permission of all the other drivers). So third went to series sponsor Martyn Scott in his BMW, followed by another BMW driven by Graham Heard. Row three contained Ronan Bradley (BMW) with Steve Dann alongside in his VW Scirocco.  Andy Presswell (Vauxhall Astra) and Alex Baldwin (Honda Civic) were next up, followed by Ken Hunt (very smart Castrol liveried VW Golf), Nick Wall (Ford Fiesta), circuit employee Matthew Bennett (VW Golf), then Birley and Watson. In what must be a record all bar 3 drivers received track limit penalties, with Heard receiving the most ( 6 laps disallowed). I wonder if this will be enforced at next month’s rallycross events!

Race one saw MacKenzie lead away as Bridger tried to cheekily sneak up under braking for the Devil’s Elbow. The power of the BMW told going up Hairy Hill, but Tom was holding on gamely. Heard and Dann outgunned Scott at the start as Birley quickly moved through the field, taking the lead on lap 4. Watson was a bit more circumspect in the unfamiliar Sapphire, but he gradually improved his lap times coming through to sixth and winning class B. As Birley put in some quick lap times just ducking below 44 seconds, MacKenzie consolidated his second place. Attention now focused on a battle brewing for third spot. Initially Bridger had a healthy gap, but gradually Dann started to close in once he got past Heard. It looked like Tom was going to hold on, but a rapid last lap from Dann drew him alongside on the run to the chequered flag. It certainly looked very close, but Steve got the place by 0.092 of a second. Heard held off Watson for fifth, with Scott coming home 7th. Presswell was next from a subdued Bradley. Wall got pinged 30 seconds for track limits, but still won class D, as Bennett battled with Baldwin for 11th overall. Hunt completed the finishers, as everyone survived to the chequered flag.

Race two was without Steve Dann due to mechanical issues. This time Birley had a comfortable run from Union flag to chequered, as the starting lights on the new gantry failed. MacKenzie had a lonely run in second with Bridger battling with Heard for third spot. On lap six it seemed like Heard had made the decisive move, as he found a way past. However, the dreaded track limits managed to reverse the result, as Heard picked up a five second penalty. This dropped him to fifth, as Scott came in on the action and started closing in on Bridger. Heard’s penalty dropped him behind Scott for class C honours. Presswell drove well in his Astra to take sixth as Bradley had Wall for company in a true little and large battle. Nick again won class D. Bennett and Baldwin kept close company, as Hunt completed the finishers. Watson had a brief pit stop, but was prevented from re-joining for some reason. In a poignant moment Birley was honoured to receive the Robert Bridger memorial trophy. Sadly Robert passed away earlier this year, in the past he was a regular competitor at Lydden initially in hot rods (with one of Birley’s old cars) and latterly in modified salons and thunder saloons.

Avon Tyres Intermarque Silhouettes

The revitalised Avon Tyres intermarque silhouettes came to Lydden with a healthy number of registrations, including several new drivers. A couple of whom only just got their ARDS test in time, with help from Motorsport UK they were allowed to compete.

Qualifying again saw the dreaded track limits influence the grid positions, as Ray Harris took pole position in his Ginetta. Next up was a very improved Colin Smith in his Vauxhall Tigra, followed by Lewis Smith and Danny Hunn (Mazda RX8). Danny (son of Colin Smith) was on the inside of row three with leading senior runner Paul Knight alongside. The rest of the grid lined up as shown on TSL, but special mention to newcomers Danny Russell, Pat Kiely and Warren Farazmand.

The first race saw an orderly rolling start with Colin Smith snatching the lead, as Lewis Smith slipped into second. From here on we saw a terrific three way battle as Harris latched on in third. Lewis Smith briefly snatched the lead on lap four, but Colin quickly retaliated. Then on lap 12 Lewis got through again, only for Colin to return the favour. Lap 14 saw Lewis back in front, and he actually led for two laps. Then Colin made a decisive move and somehow crossed the finish line a bumper width to the good. The timekeepers said it was the nearest thing to a dead heat. Harris was in their slipstream in third, with Thurley just a second further back, taking the senior cup award, as Knight had an off at the hairpin. Pat Kiely’s first ever circuit race netted him an impressive fifth, with Daniel Hunn hot on his heels. Subsequently Hunn lost a place to Danny Smith due to a five second track limit penalty. Into 8th came Chris Ayling who had Mick Robertson for company for the entire race, as a recovering Knight claimed 10th. John Steward had a good run to 11th withholding the attention of Farazmand. Danny Russell and Paul Cocksedge completed the finishers, following the retirement of Richard Smith. Sadly we had a few non-starters as Philip Young, Brian Loram and Daniel (son of Richard Smith) were all missing after qualifying.


Race two saw the first six finishers from race one reversed, but unfortunately missing was the impressive Kiely. Danny Smith took full advantage of pole position and held the lead for two laps. On lap 3 Harris prized the door open and a group nipped past including Lewis Smith and Thurley. A lap later Colin Smith passed his son and then Richard Smith (no relation) went through closely pursued by Hunn. Harris edged clear as Lewis Smith started to struggle, finally a cloud of smoke heralded his retirement on lap 18, ironically followed by his father two laps later. So Harris ran out the winner with Colin Smith claiming second. Thurley was third, claiming senior honours again as Danny Smith held off a fast closing Knight and Hunn. The 339 car again got track limits penalties, but he did not lose a position this time. Ayling came home 7th, as Farazmand got the better of Russell (due to a track limit penalty). Steward and Cocksedge completed the finishers, as we also lost Mick Robertson.

It was good to see the intermarque returning to Lydden, it always produces good races for them. Brands Hatch in early June should see several more runners join in, for what could be a very good year for the formula.

It is worth mentioning that the Ford modified saloons also produced a couple of good grids. Rod Birley had his old sparring partner Malcolm Wise for company, but it was another couple of fairly easy wins for Birley’s black Cosworth WRC. It is always good to see the immaculate Mk1 and Mk2 Ford Escorts, which really compliment this series. We look forward to seeing them with us at Mallory Park in June

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