Donington Park, 6-7 June 2009

Once again, we were unable to enter this race, the kappa is still in pieces.

Round three of the 2009 LMA Euro Saloon and Sports Car Championship, and a late decision to run both races on the Saturday proved a blessing in disguise - heavy rain caused the Sunday programme to be abandoned!

Qualifying:
Very wet conditions and almost half the session lost to a red flag incident meant that only a handful of the 36 competitors managed 5 flying laps during the session, the majority had to make do with less. With conditions expected to favour the Class A for wheel drive cars, the surprise was that pole sitter was Olly Allen (Class C) in a rear wheel drive Ford Escort Mk II looking more akin to a rally car than race car, it was sideways that often. The four wheel drive Mitsubishi Evo and Ford Escort Cosworth of Simon Deaton and Dave Cockell were the nearest to Allen's time with just 3/10s separating the three of them.

The lower class cars were having a good time in the wet, only 4 Class A cars (all 4wd) made the top 10, and one of those was 10th. Class B pole man was Simon Blanckley (Seat Leon) in 4th with next Class B driver Peter Challis (Nissan Primera) back in 9th, over a second behind Blanckley. Class C provided three of the top nine, with Allen on pole, then Andy Robinson (Peugeot 306) in 5th and Angus Dawe (BMW M3) in 7th. The final top ten place went to the Class E pole and Andy Neal (Honda Integra) in his first race of the season, and almost 3 seconds clear of the second placed Class E driver, Joe Walton, back in 18th.

Race 1:
On a drying, but very damp track, Simon Deaton got the better of Olly Allen from the start and launched into a lead he would keep to the flag. Allen held on gamely for a couple of laps before Andy Harvey (Subaru Impreza) and Angus Dawe made their way past and up into 2nd and 3rd places. Peter Challis was also on the move, starting off in 9th but up to 4th by lap 4. Four laps in, Class A cars in 1st and 2nd, but Class C and B leaders were 3rd and 4th. The Class D leader Lee Reynolds (Citroen Saxo) was running back in 23rd while Class E leader Andy Neal had fallen back from 8th to 11th.

On lap 7 Jason Newman lost the gear linkage in his Peugeot 306, and after heading for the infield gravel trap, came to rest on the apex of Old Hairpin. It took another lap or so before the safety car was deployed so Newman's car could be retrieved which had the effect of bunching up the drivers. Deaton's lead over Harvey dropped from 7 seconds to half a second as the drivers followed the safety car for three laps, before being allowed one flying lap to complete the race. Deaton set his fastest lap of the race on that final lap to win from Harvey by 1.6 seconds. Angus Dawe had been running 4th before the safety car incident, but got the drop on 3rd placed Peter Challis at the restart. The pair were nose to tail around the circuit but Challis just couldn't find a way past and Dawe held on for 3rd place by 15/100ths and took the Class C win while Challis was rewarded with his 3rd Class B win from 3 races this year.

Andy Neal had been well clear of his nearest Class E competitor so finished some 5 places ahead of second in Class Matt Walton (Renault Clio) after the sprint lap to the finish while Class D was easily won by Lee Reynolds.

Race 2:
Grid positions for race 2 were in race 1 finishing order, so Simon Deaton on pole from Andy Harvey. The track was now dry so all drivers were looking forwards to a good race. Chaos at the start, the front few rows were nicely bunched up but as Andy Robinson came through the chicane, he spun before the start and three other cars were caught up in the incident. Cars further back were held up and came through to the start in dribs and drabs - surprisingly the start was not aborted so 4 cars lost already. The 5th was lost at the first corner, pole sitter Deaton failed to stop in time and beached his Mitsubishi in the gravel trap giving Andy Harvey a clear run into the lead. Angus Dawe could only hold off Peter Challis for the first lap before the Super Tourer Primera got by and went off in chase of Harvey who had built up a 2 second lead in two laps. This was down to 4/10ths by lap 3, after that Harvey and Challis were running within half a second all the way to the end, Harvey winning by second.

Joss Ronchetti (Talbot Lotus Sunbeam) moved from 7th to 3rd within 4 laps and was running within a second or so of the leaders' pace. Only in the final laps did Ronchetti fall back, eventually finishing 3rd, 15 seconds behind Harvey despite setting his fastest lap on the final lap. All three lapped in the 1:15s, fully 3 seconds faster than the outright LMA Euro Sports Car & Saloons lap record, all now hold the lap record in their respective classes.

Despite race 2 being the "dry" race, it was a race of attrition with only 22 of the 35 starters completing the race. Richard Hawken (Nissan Primera) had a puncture, Jim Mepham (Renault Megane) went off-field and almost fell into a mud bath causing him to retire due to no visibility (the whole car was covered in mud including the screen), Danny Winstanley was unfortunate to retire on the final lap in his new to the series Mazda RX7.

Championship leader Brett Walter found his form in the dry to take the Class E win beating race 1 winner Andy Neal by 4 seconds. Lee Reynolds took his second Class D win of the day finishing 17th overall.

Brett Walter still leads the championship with 100 points, but a win and a joker-playing second place move Andy Harvey up into second place on 94 points, two wins bring Peter Challis into 3rd place with 86. Brett Walter also leads the Mark Fish Clio Cup on 98 points from Antony Sullivan (68) and Jason Tarling (44). Renault lead the MSE-Performance.com cup for manufacturers with 352 points but a good points haul from Ford (320) mean the gap has been closed. Subaru remain in 3rd place on 230. Peter Challis has a perfect record within the new Super Touring Car Cup and leads with 80 points from 4 races from Bernard Hogarth (68) and John Hammersley (60).

Visit the LMA site for details of the LMA Euro Saloon and Sports Car championship and standings so far.

Check out the current points standing.

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