Action-packed spectacle after club travels north

SHOWCASE: Cars line up for the media day of the Croft 50th anniversary event

SHOWCASE: Cars line up for the media day of the Croft 50th anniversary event

First published in Sport

THE Darlington and District Motor Club-organised Northern Saloon and Sports Car Championship visited Knockhill in Scotland last weekend as part of the Knockhill Motor Sports Club’s Super Lap Scotland weekend where also in attendance were about 12 of DDMC’s marshals.

Particularly unusual was that Saturday’s event was run in an anti-clockwise direction with the infamous hairpin becoming the first corner. In fact this layout of the circuit actually provided quicker lap times than the conventional direction with pole sitter Paul Brydon (BMW M3) posting a time of 54.722 seconds.

There was drama even before the off when the Marcos Mantis of local man Colin Simpson refused to run cleanly leaving him to join the race from the pit lane and dead last. Four and five car battles ensued throughout with York’s Mike Cutt parking the BMW in the gravel at Clarks on lap six to be followed two laps later by David Cox from Darlington suffering braking problems into the hairpin and breaking the front suspension as well as his wrist on the Peugeot 306.

Meanwhile, Simpson ploughed his way through the field using the lapping of back markers to great effect to outpace Stockton’s Mike Williamson (Mitsubishi) to take the lead on the penultimate lap.

Simon Deaton’s 911 took third from Andrew Wareing’s Lotus Europa. Stephen Craggs, from Durham, was the class C winner; Darlington’s Paul Moss took class D, Neil Finnegan class E1 and Alan McPherson class E2. Clinton Ewen dragged the class H Mini around after a coming together with Brydon to the class win.

The following day, rain greeted the competitors for qualifying and many pulled in when a very heavy cloudburst struck half way through. Come the race, however, the sun broke through just as the cars were called to the grid. A quick change of tyres for some and a fast starting Paul Brydon leapt in to an early lead. Chesterfield driver Deaton’s Porsche seemed to take a few laps to warm the tyres but once in to his stride quickly caught Brydon.

With David Botterill from Ingleby Barwick and Scot Andrew Morrison close on his tail, Deaton made his move and, once clear, pulled away to a convincing win. Unfortunately it all went wrong for Mike Williamson whose Mitsubishi turned right under braking some 150 yards short of the hairpin, dug in on the wet ground and launched in to a spectacular series of rolls.

Fortunately Mike was quickly out of the car and waving to the large crowd. Deaton took A1, Andrew Morrison B, Stephen Craggs C, Paul Moss D, Clinton Ewen H, Neil Finighan E1 and Alan McPherson E2. The next outing is at Donington Park on June 8.

CROFT hosted the great and the good from the worlds of motor sport and TV stardom last weekend as Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship aces and famous celebrity guests helped to celebrate its 50th birthday in style.

The north-east’s premier motor racing venue began life as Croft Autodrome back in the summer of 1964, since when it has gone on to welcome almost every high calibre series including British F3, British Rallycross and the Grand Prix, British Superbikes and the allaction BTCC, which will return in a month’s time for the fifth of ten meetings on its 2014 calendar.

Over the years Croft has also played host to some of the sport’s most legendary competitors, including Formula 1 World Champions Ayrton Senna, James Hunt, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Alan Jones, as well as national treasure Sir Stirling Moss. Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti and rallying legend Malcolm Wilson have competed at Croft as well as top bike race World champions Barry Sheene and Ron Haslam.

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