Race Report by Dan Wright:
Sixty-three drivers filled Lydden Hill’s paddock when the 2021 season began in fine style behind closed doors.
The Classic & Modern Motorsport Club Southern brought four categories to Kent on Saturday, April 24: Tin Tops, Super Saloons, Intermarque Silhouettes and the Classic Challenge. They were joined by the Modified Ford Series, which had previously played a starring role at the BHP Performance Show.
Local racers starred throughout the day – including Pluckley’s Warren Johnson who claimed a win and a second-place finish in the Tin Tops. The self-employed plumber had previously raced his lightweight Peugeot 205 in the early 2000s and returned to Lydden following a
full rebuild. He raced wheel-to-wheel with Honda Civic pilots Dave Hutchins and Dan Fisher, but the latter was forced to retire from race one when he crashed heavily on the Canterbury Straight.
In Super Saloons, West Kingsdown’s Rod Birley dominated proceedings – despite struggling with low oil pressure during the early part of the day. The Ford Escort ace cut through the field from 12th on the grid to triumph in race one, beating West Malling’s Andrew MacKenzie (BMW M3) by 6.6 seconds. Birley started the second encounter from pole thanks to his race one win and won by more than 14 seconds.
Lydden Hill maintenance manager Matt Bennett made his racing debut in the Super Saloons, driving an ex-Trackday Trophy VW Golf. The 25-year-old from Folkestone got to the finish in both races – enjoying close tussles with Formula 1 digital media video editor Alex Baldwin (Honda Civic) on his way to 11th and ninth.
The Intermarque Silhouette Series produced two thrilling races, with Colin Smith (Vauxhall Tigra) and Ray Harris (Ginetta G40) claiming the spoils. A strong 16-car field took part in qualifying, with polesitter Harris lapping the one-mile circuit in 43.224 seconds. Former champion Lewis Smith was in the thick of the action in both races – finishing runner-up in the opening event – but was forced to retire on Dover Slope in the second thrash.
In the Classic Challenge, Alan Hersey (Scimitar GTE) stopped in race one but bounced back later on, beating the Mini Marcos Mk3 of Charles Colledge. Triumph star Roy Chamberlain had won the first race, chased to the flag by Charing-based 79-year-old Paul Bernal- Ryan (MG Midget). Both drivers failed to start the second encounter. Adding yet more trophies to his collection, Birley starred in the Modified Ford races, leading home Malcolm Wise (Ford Escort) on both occasions. Wise had struggled with an underpowered engine but enjoyed a great scrap with Paul Nevill and Jamie Gough in the second race.