MCALEER SECURES DOUBLE WIN
BRANDS HATCH: MGCC APRIL 30/ MAY 1
Mark Mcaleer was a double Porsche Club Championship winner at a busy two-day fixture, leading a quality field in both dry and wet conditions.
A safety car intervention gave Kevin Harrison two chances to attack for the lead in race one, but former champion Mcaleer stayed narrowly ahead, with Paul Winter a close third.
Winter was the main challenger in race two, which was delayed for a tyre change after a shower. Mike Johnson finished third, with a charging Pete Morris next, recovering from a qualifying shunt and out to defend his 2015 title. Morris was aiming for the podium, but his charge was halted by a race-shortening red flag with a car off at Paddock.
Three-time former MG Trophy champion Chris Bray pulverised the opposition in Saturday’s first race, but a double hit at a crowded first corner on Sunday sent him into retirement. This gave Saturday runner-up Doug Cole the chance to dominate. Notable drives were put in by Robin Walker, starting well down the grid because of a faulty plug. His fourth and second places were well earned.
James Wheeler converted second on the grid to a race-long lead under massive pressure from Russell Mccarthy in the first MG BCV8 race. This pair left Neil Fowler well behind. Fowler spun out of second at a treacherous Graham Hill Bend in the wet second race, causing all kinds of confusion in the chasing pack and handing Wheeler an unbeatable advantage.
Wheeler added a third victory in Sunday’s Thoroughbred Sportscar race, hounded again by Mccarthy, who won a close contest with Rob Spencer. MGB GT V8s dominated, and Fowler completed the top quartet, all of them a lap ahead of the next car.
Ben Rushworth survived several lurid moments to win the first Metro Cup race, but the same ragged tactics didn’t help him to unseat Mike Williams from the lead on Sunday. Williams dropped out of Saturday’s race with a first lap flat tyre.
An Equipe GTS double fell to Tom Smith’s MGB. Both races featured a tough fight between Smith and the Triumph TR4S of Brian White and John Andon, finishing in that order in race one. White was in front for more than 20 laps of the second race before a puff of smoke signalled a sudden retirement. Andon fell well back but retained second.
Chris Bassett scored a maiden outright win in the first of two BARC South Eastern Tin Tops races, and enjoyed the experience so much he did it again later. His Peugeot was given a hard time in race one by Chris Whiteman’s Honda Civic and Rod Birley’s Integra before Birley fell away with a crippling misfire. Whiteman didn’t give up, and finished a scant 0.047s adrift. Bassett dominated race two in the wet, with Whiteman a distant second. Birley’s still unwell car recovered from 18th on the grid to fourth, right behind Daniel Adams’ Proton. The 1830hrs curfew prevented a likely podium finish.
Among the more hardcore SE Centre saloons racing on Sunday, Dale Gent (Subaru Impreza) ended Rod Birley’s early unbeaten run in this year’s Quaife Saloon Championship with a pair of emphatic wins over the local man’s Ford Escort. The rivals clashed when they last shared the track, but this time around Gent was never under threat after the first third of each opening lap. Malcolm Wise (Escort), Gavin Thomson (SEAT Leon), Tony Skelton (Renault Clio) and Andy Banham (Subaru Impreza) followed in both races. The veteran Skelton was a double class winner.
With other quick cars falling by the wayside, James Dunkley could pace himself to the flag in the first Midget and Sprite Challenge. Race two was a different story. Graeme Adams pressed hard until his car expired, then David Weston traded the lead before spinning at Clark Curve. He recovered in second place, but Dunkley had the race in the bag, only to have the car die under him half a lap from the flag, handing the victory to Weston.
The first three places in both MG Cup races were filled by Tom Halliwell, Ed Davies and Tom Diment in ZR models. Richard Buckley, penalised down to sixth for contact in race one, stayed out of trouble to finish fourth at the second attempt.
Robin Ellis took a while getting up to speed in his Lotus Elite, but drove clear once in front of the Iconic 1950s field. Colin Jones’ MGA was best of the rest.
Cars from a much earlier era took part in the Triple M races, which brought victories for David Seber’s Wolseley Hornet Special and Charles Jones’ MG L Special.
David West’s Midget easily won the MG Allcomers’ Challenge that rounded off the long programme. This was interrupted when Dan Jones rolled his ZR at Paddock. Ian Boulton’s eighth-placed ZR was first non-midget home.
Mcaleer was unstoppable in the opening Porsche Club races