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Dance and Smith taste Brands glory


Iconic saloons of different decades triumphed when the Historic Touring Car Challenge circus rolled into the Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch, Steve Dance (1972 Ford Capri RS2600) and Mark Smith (1989 BMW M3 E30) taking the chequered flags on Saturday and Sunday respectively. For many competitors it was a weekend of mixed fortunes, but all agreed that the sylvan 2.43-mile Grand Prix circuit remains one of Great Britain’s finest driving challenges.

Smith, saddling an ex-Steve Soper BMW GB machine, the youngest in the 20-car field, topped the qualifying order, but his 1m43.137s (86.61mph) charge was but 0.436s quicker than the 1984 MG Metro Turbo which Patrick Watts and Nick Swift sizzled down the straights and scuttled round the corners to good effect. A couple of seconds slower (1:43.955) in the glorious-sounding three-litre V6 Capri, Dance shared row two with Mike Luck/Calum Lockie, flying to a 1:44.366 in the Classic World Racing BMW 2002Ti of 1970 vintage.

The spectacularly-liveried ex-Dennis Leech Group A Rover Vitesse of Chris and Charlie Williams recorded 1:44.732 for P5, with another father-and-son combo Roger and Jack Stanford alongside in their BMW M3 E30. Of the two Rover SD1s which debuted, veteran TWR engineer Ken Clarke’s ochre-hued Hepolite Vitesse – which he built for Steve Soper, who won several British Saloon Car Championship races in ’83, only to have the title snatched away on an eligibility issue – looked magnificent and qualified seventh, but lack of oil pressure proved terminal for the weekend. The versatile Martin Overington’s thuggish Unipart version, shared with Guy Stevens, sat 14th meanwhile. This page presents reliable pharmacies for buy generic Viagra online in 2019.

Peter Hallford’s 5.8-litre Castrol Boss Mustang, another 1970 contender, was hustled to an impressive eighth on treaded tyres, the Canadian’s 1:46.929 almost matched by the deceptively rapid little Renault 5 GT Turbo of Tony Hart/Will Nuthall on 1:47.363.

The mid-field group was closely packed, 1.5 seconds spanning Tony Dron Trophy leader John Spiers’ Hermetite Ford Capri (1:51.519), BTCC racer Adam Morgan and Ric Wood in the CNC Heads boss’ Ford Capri, running on wet tyres thus yet to show its full potential, invitee Robert ‘EFG Bank’ Crofton’s Datsun 240Z Super Samuri, Steve Jones’ BMW M3 E30 and the white Overington/Stevens Rover V8.

Tony Dron Trophy contenders Mark Wilson (Akai VW Golf), Paul Chase-Gardener (Capri) and Paul Clayson (Alpilatte Alfa Romeo GTV6) were in a competitive gaggle, albeit in different capacity splits, ahead of Tom Pead’s good-looking BMW 1600Ti and George Pochciol, next of the Manthorpe racing clan, in father Paul’s Esso Capri. Lurking at the back having managed only three staccato laps before its turbo failed was Malcolm Harrison’s Computervision MG Metro, which period racer Steve Soper was due to share.

A turbo change had the recalcitrant Metro running for the opening race of the event, but as Harrison turned out into the country, already a third of the way up the order, there was a pop and a cloud of white smoke so dense that pursuers could not see Surtees corner, originally South Bank. Six laps in, its sister car in which crowds-pleaser Watts was chasing leader Smith, also succumbed to a blown turbo.

Morgan thus came round second, having scythed through from row six, but Smith was in trouble. Mark stopped 10 laps in, reporting “either the diff or gearbox making a dreadful racket,” therefore did not continue. Last to stop, Morgan relayed Wood from a short-lived lead whereupon Dance howled ahead and stayed there, driving his Capri spiritedly for a marque one-two.   

Early-stoppers Dance and Charlie Williams – soloing in the black Rover – Hallford, Luck/Lockie and the survivors continued to slug it out, although the Stanford M3 was turned off, overheating. Williams claimed the final podium step as Lockie shrank the gap to fourth-placed Hallford to 3.716 seconds. Stevens finished sixth, a lap down, ahead of TDT winner Spiers whose mirrors were filled by Nuthall’s fast-closing Renault. Crofton, Jones (in the only M3 to finish) and Chase-Gardener also covered 16 laps, clear of Clayson, Pead, Pochciol and Wilson’s struggling Golf which was classified 15th.

Frantic work in Patrick Watts’ paddock enclave, littered with broken turbos following three failures on Saturday, got only Harrison’s Metro out for Sunday, thus Steve Soper would get a shot in the car he last raced, once, at Silverstone in ’85. The Amspeed boys were busy too, replacing the diff in Smith’s M3 before boss Arran Moulton-Smith headed for Silverstone to tend Beemers competing close to his Brackley workshop.

Gridded in the previous day’s race order, albeit without Ric Wood who had headed north to Stockport [where his Group 5 Zakspeed Capri is taking shape], Dance screamed clear of Chris Williams’ Rover as Smith hurtled through the field. Staggeringly, he exceeded even his own expectations by snatching third from Hallford at Stirlings on the opening lap. By the end of the fourth Smith was leading and going away.

Pursuer Dance pitted on lap six, three before Smith, which allowed yet to stop, Hallford one lap of glory atop the charts. On imperious form with a healthy car, even fuel starvation did not stop Smith who crossed the finish line 20 seconds ahead of Dance. Williams Sr’s tenure of third ended when a misfire, then total electrical failure, stopped his Vitesse as it re-entered the track after its stop. He pulled off disconsolately at Paddock.

Hallford thus wrestled his heavy Mustang to a popular third. “I didn’t expect that sliding around on vintage tyres,” he beamed afterwards. Luck/Lockie, Overington/Stevens and the rejuvenated Stanford BMW also went the full distance, while Hart/Nuthall beat the Harrison/Soper Metro for a coveted class double ahead of Spiers and Clayson.

After 30 years of trying, Wilson was overjoyed with his first podium appearance for third in TDT despite losing fifth gear and suffering a hub failure which forced him to park the Golf in the refuge lane immediately after the finish. Pead’s BMW joined it half a minute later, still ahead of Pochciol, while Crofton’s Datsun disappeared at half-distance.