GENT DOES A QUADRUPLE IN SUBARU
Dale Gent was undisputed man of the meeting at BARC’S busy 22-race Indy circuit clubbie, netting four outright wins in his ultra-potent Subaru Impreza.
On his first outing of the weekend Gent’s wet-shod car trounced Rod Birley’s Escort (slicks) and the rest of a modest Sevenesque/allcomers field on a damp but drying track.
Gent won despite a black and orange flag stop to investigate something flapping at the back of the car. This proved to be the flexible towing strap. He won again in the dry, and although Birley pitted when his power steering drive belt slipped off, he returned without power assistance to manhandle the car to a class win. Colin Watson was best of the Sevens, taking third and second places overall.
The Subaru driver’s third win came in the first Classic Thunder saloon race. Vaughan Fletcher’s Impreza was the closest challenger, but lost second to Dave Cockell (Escort) in the last few yards after the Subaru fell sick. Sunday’s race brought Berkhamsted driver Gent an easy win number four, with Birley’s late entry Escort taking a narrow second from Cockell after starting down the grid.
Thirteen classes were up for grabs in two races combining separate series for oriental, German and French machinery. Nerijus Zabotka headed the Nippon Challenge section by twice winning overall in his Impreza. He was helped by Barnaby Davies (Toyota Starlet) retiring from the lead in race one. Quickest qualifier James Janicki (Nissan Skyline) missed race one, but moved carefully through packed traffic from 34th to fifth at the second attempt. Phil Collard (Mazda RX7) was a double runner-up, taking advantage of traffic to depose Jon Whelan (Peugeot 306) on the last lap of race two.
Stephen Primett (Escort) raised his score to 10 wins out of 10 in the Pre-66/ Pre-83 Touring Car races, although Saturday’s success was his first at Brands. David Howard (Jaguar XJ12) retired with a flat tyre after leading race one. Howard split the Escorts on Sunday until a slide at the last corner allowed Stephen Cripps to grab the place back on the line.
The first Pre-93 Touring Car race descended into chaos as a portion of the field followed slowly in confusion as rescue vehicles drove from the pits to attend a shunt on Cooper Straight while the rest of the track remained open to unrestricted racing. The safety car was not deployed. Ray West’s BMW was a comfortable winner over Mark Fowler’s similar M3, and the duo repeated this result in calmer circumstances on Sunday. Reece Jones and Terry Davies each scored a third place finish.
David Chapman escaped from the Mazda Max5 pack early in race one. He clung on to win under increasing pressure from invitation class drivers Jonathan Halliwell and Paul Roddison, whose Mk4 machines did not score points and started at the back. Roddison won (from the front this time) in race two, but the points-scoring victor was Chapman again, under pressure from Nick Dunn. Halliwell finished fourth from a pit road start.
Taking full advantage of some wild first corner antics on Saturday, Danny Cassar (Honda Integra) leapfrogged from seventh to first in the Pre-2003 Touring Cars race. Cassar yielded to the inevitable when things settled down, and finished fifth while Andy Thompson’s SEAT cruised ahead. Thompson could afford another slowish start in race two and soon took the lead.
Vince Pain rolled his MG ZR in qualifying for the MGOC round, but the now windowless car charged to a fine third in a hard-fought first encounter. The ZRS of Adrian Wray and David Mellor went off together at Paddock and just missed emulating Pain’s qualifying fate. Martin Wills won in his F model and repeated the feat in a four-way blanket finish on Sunday, Wray, Brian Butler and Adam Jackson giving him a hard time. Pain’s already crumpled car collected the spinning F of Stuart Plotnek in front of the pits, and the leaders were greeted by a bunch of cars off at the foot of Paddock on their final lap.
Chris Whiteman (Civic) was a comfortable double winner in the South Eastern Centre Tin Tops while potential rival Rod Birley (Integra) continues to experience reliability issues. Daniel Fisher’s Civic was runner-up in both races.
Nathan Harrison narrowly missed a winning double in the MR2 racing series. He held off Adam Lockwood, Neale Hurran and Peter Higton in race one but lost out to a last corner lunge by Hurran in race two after Lockwood had an adventure while contesting the lead.
Only Lewis Smith could keep defending champion Malcolm Blackman in sight in the Intermarque races, and even he could have done with some binoculars. Smith briefly led in the reversed grid second race, but Blackman was in front again on lap five.