The journey down to Kent on the Friday was slightly concerning as it seemed to consist of varying degrees of rain! By contrast Saturday morning opened a bright and sunny day, albeit a windy one. Such was the strength of the wind that ultimately, the Clerk of the Course decided that the giant-sized Lydden Hill inflated archway on the startline area should be deflated/removed for safety reasons before the Top 12 Run Off might take place.....And the rain stayed away until just after the Top 12 Run Off, after which it decided to offer a brief shower.
The one unfortunate casualty of the morning was Richard Arrowsmith. He spun exiting Devils Elbow and the end result was a bent upper left front wishbone and a bent front wing mounting both of which rather put paid to his hopes of British Sprint Championship points from the event
Simon Bainbridge suffered the misfortune of a water pump which was less than inclined to circulate, discovered fortuitously during the course of the post-practice noise test and aided by the assistance of Championship sponsor Steve Broughton, who happened to have a spare, and aided by the way John Hansell had built the car permitting access to many areas previously rather inaccessible, Simon was able to run.
Oddly, in many instances, the timed runs produced the best times of the day. But that was, fortunate for the many spectators present. Simon Bainbridge discovered that the adoption of a 2WD format, rather than the 4WD he had become accustomed to, warranted a modification to his driving technique. Nonetheless his opening Top 12 Run Off time was to become a new Sports Libre class record....getting the hang of it then?
Both Martin Webb and Martin Pickles found time during the Run Offs, in the latter case certainly, by the simple adoption of run-off tyres. A distinct advantage in his case as he had indicated his custom at the venue had, in recent years, been to often face the way he had come, but he overcome that particular issue this time and only suffered that experience during one run. Both Martin Webb and co-pilot Tony Jarvis made noticeable improvements during the Run Off runs, the latter resulting in a time he could leave the venue rather proud of! He managed to set a time half a second better than SBD co-pilot Matt Hillam had during his opener. For some quite unaccountable reason, Matt did not manage to complete his full number of laps during his second run. Bradley Hobday arrived at the venue, as will become common during 2015, never having seen it before. Benefitting from a recently completed support arrangement with Yuasa Batteries, Bradley had to learn the nuances of Lydden Hill and enhance his time all day long. The latter proved difficult to accomplish, in the Run Off having set a quicker time in only his 2nd timed run, but nevertheless was able to set the 5th fastest time of the day and 5th in the Top 12 Run Off. The proximity of his time, to that of the ultimate class record, would be something many competitors could be proud of....not Bradley, hunting for improvements in his times, he felt more was to come, this indicative of Bradley, a driver to watch in the future!
Then came the top 4 battle. Steve Broughton sensed the car was steadily coming towards him, the front end pointing just as he wanted, the rear taking a little while to follow still. His final results being a 69.05, but the remainder where very tight. Craig Sampson finishing with a 66.85 run, but Steve Miles mamnaged to pop that with a storming 66.70, but Mark Smith maintained his phenominal start to the season with a closing second timed run in 66.26 seconds folowed by his two Top 12 Run Off times at 66.30 pipped by his final effort in 66.26 seconds.
All in all a very good day, only perhaps dimished by the slightly disappointing number of entrants, sadly a feature of the event, although, as we left promising discussions were being entered into concerning potential future developments of that.We shall see what 2016 brings?
RESULTS 1. Mark Smith 2.0 Reynard-SBD Duratec 66.26secs 2. Steve Miles 2.0 Van Diemen-SBD Duratec 66.70secs 3. Craig Sampson 2.0 Reynard-SBD Duratec 66.85secs 4. Steve Broughton 2.0 Dallara-SBD Duratac DBMk1 69.05secs 5. Bradley Hobday 1.0 Jedi-Suzuki Mk 4 69.95secs 6. Matt Hillam 2.0 Dallara-SBD Duretec 70.63secs 7. Tony Jarvis 2.0 Dallara-Vauxhall F399-025 70.10 secs 8. Simon Bainbridge 4.2T Crono-SBR 71.82 secs 9. Martin Pickles 1.0 Jedi-Suzuki Mk 1 72.17 secs 10. Martin Webb 2.0 Dallara-Vauxhall F399/025 72.23secs