The weekend of 2nd and 3rd May saw the annual M.G. Car Club meeting at Brands Hatch. The weather looked mixed but there was a healthy entry for the two races over the weekend. There were 26 cars in all with the Healey class E proving to be the most popular with an entry of 10 cars.
Anyway, apart from that we had Ed Reeve, Paul Sibley, Martin Morris, James Dunkley and Stephen Pegram entered in Class A. Chris Southcott and dad Andy, Dean Stanton, Carl Chadwick, Phil Attwood and a returning Tom Neat in Class B. Nigel Lackford, Dave Jenkins, Jim Prior, Brian Bedford and John Bridge Class D, and finally Class E entries Paul Campfield, Pippa Cow, Pat Harris, Richard Perry, Andrew Actman, Richard Homer, Ian Burgin, Robin Lackford, Ian Langford and John Hilberry.
Qualifying took place and there were one or two dramas, Perry had overheating front brake issues, Pegram had something more terminal in that a rod had exited the block and unusually Sibley hit a problem with his engine dropping a valve.
Dunkley came out on pole with Sibley, Reeve and Morris behind. Pegram had got fifth spot completing the Class A runners before the first Class B car of Southcott A. Campfield was next from Southcott C, Lackford R, Neat and Chadwick getting used to his ex Pratt car. Stanton came next from the first Class B of Lackford N., Cow, Attwood, Hilberry and Burgin who were ahead of Harris and Perry. Bridge, Actman, Bedford, Langford, Homer, Jenkins and Prior completed the field.
Pre race activity saw Sibley grinding in new valves, fortunately there was no damage to pistons. Perry was sorting his brake issue with the unfortunate Pegram obviously out for the weekend. Everybody else seemed to be content with the usual pre race fiddling whilst we waited for our race.
There had been delays during the meeting and we got the announcement that the race would be reduced by 1 minute equating to a lap. This was subsequently altered to 2 minutes by the end of the race.
Eventually the grid formed and waited for the green light and at the off it was Dunkley who got the drag on Sibley into Paddock, up to Druids Reeve was third and Campfield had made a great start and was in fourth followed by Morris, Southcott A, Neat and Southcott C, all in line abreast. Lackford R, Stanton, Cow, Harris were next followed by a whole gaggle of cars.
Onto the second lap Sibley was challenging ant tried, unsuccessfully, to get the lead on the outside at Paddock, Reeve had dropped back allowing Morris to pass, Campfield and co. got through Paddock, but just behind chaos ensued. Lackford R. saw oil fly out of Neats car and was powerless to avoid the subsequent spin, further back worse was to come as Bedford slewed sideways and was unfortunately collected in the rear by Actman who was right behind. It was a hard impact leaving both cars badly damaged in the middle of the track, surprisingly no red flag but we did get the safety car deployed.
Further on into Druids Pippa Cow slid straight on into the gravel, presumably on the same oil, as Neat coasted round to retire.
The safety car failed to pick up the leaders, preventing Lackford R, Homer and Langford to tag on at the rear, effectively leaving them a lap down at the restart which wouldn’t be for at least three more laps.
Meanwhile the order was Dunkley, Sibley, Morris, Reeve, Campfield, both Southcotts, Perry who had made progress in those opening laps, Harris, Hilberry, Burgin, Stanton, Lackford N., Chadwick, Bridge, Atwood, Prior, Jenkins, five minutes in and already four cars out.
A great battle was forming further back with Harris and Burgin. Bridge and Attwood weren’t far behind either.
With only seven minutes left at the restart the race had become a quick sprint. Sibley took the flag with Morris just under a second behind, Reeve was a comfortable third from Campfield fighting off Perry. Southcott A was ahead of son C, then came Chadwick, Stanton, Hilberry, Harris and Burgin. Bridge stayed ahead of Attwood with Lackford N and R coming home ahead of Langford and Homer. We had lost Prior early on who felt he had a puncture and Jenkins too was out on lap 8.
We had seen a good race and without the pace car intervention who knows how it would have gone. There were battles throughout but it was Perrys progress that got him voted driver of the race. And we had it all to follow on the Sunday.
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