Round 3 - Lydden Hill - 27 May 2023


We unfortunately missed the first three meetings of Kent Outlaw Oval Racing this year (a practice day in February and the March and April race meetings) due to clashes with dates elsewhere, but we're probably alone in finding a clash between Lydden and Waterford Raceway, so we can't make too much of an issue of that! Round 3, on the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, had an excellent 75 car entry (of which just 9 cars didn't make it on the day) and perfect weather conditions, warm sunshine with a welcome breeze.


The day's only real problems were timetable related, with the 18 race programme having to be completed in a three hour window from 3 to 6 pm. It never helps if the racing starts late, which it invariably does if it follows a bike, rather than a car, track day. This time was exceptional though, with incidents in nearly every heat causing either stoppages or time consuming recoveries. That left 30 minutes to complete the 6 finals and these were rattled through, with the usual 10 lap races reduced to 6, until the curfew was reached with a lap to go in the last race. Frustratingly that was red flagged just when a last lap showdown was promised between the two fastest cars in the club!


The MINI RODS last year were split into three random groups, so effectively we never saw all the quickest contenders racing together. This year’s format meant that, with 22 entries, the top 13 in the championship raced in one group and the other 9, who’d yet to score this year, had their own race. Richard Follett was the only non-arrival but unfortunately we also lost Darren Pindar with pre-race problems; the furthest travelled driver in the group who’d no doubt also had to brave the chaos at the notorious Brenley Corner, at the end of the M2, to get there. Also with problems was Jake Langley, coming in third in the points, who only managed 2 laps all day, joining in one heat late at the wheel of brother Tommy’s car.


The “B” group had their two heats convincingly won by the pink Tommy Langley car. Tommy was chased in the first race by Lewis Follett, Vic Bilkey Snr, Kevin Ellis and a newcomer to the class, ex Stock Rod racer Matt Coburn. Giles Parker’s “Red Arrows” car was the day’s first casualty, finding the tyre wall at Chessons on his last lap.


Second time out Tommy Langley was followed by Vic Bilkey, with Lewis Follett, Matt Coburn, Kevin Ellis and Peter Jones scrapping for third, and Bill Barlow completing the field. The final brought out just five cars and, after Tommy Langley was promoted to the “elite” group, Vic Bilkey won from the battling Lewis Follett, Matt Coburn and Kev Ellis, with Bill Barlow in fifth.


The other group of Mini Rods provided exceptionally close and hard racing. Lee Pullen led the first race away, with Matt Haines taking over the lead before points leader Nick Langley came through from the back, fending off Matt Haines until the reds came out, after Joe Bullen departed the third place battle into the tyre wall. Vic Bilkey Jnr took third from Adam Rossiter, Wayne Wallace, Mark “Panda” Robinson and Piers Shaw.


The second race saw most of the field closely bunched up in the early stages, giving Nick Langley another chance to shoot past them all, then narrowly holding off Adam Rossiter to win again.  Matt Haines had another good run to head the third place battle from Tom Merry, Wayne Wallace, Lee Pullen, Vic Bilkey, Piers Shaw, Mark Robinson and Ant Williams.


This year the grids, in reverse points order, more or less stand all day, rather than the previous method of putting the day’s top scorers at the front for the final. Lee Pullen again led the early laps, but this time it was Matt Haines who found himself able to grab the outside line and take the lead that he held to the finish, with Lee Pullen hanging on for a good second and Tommy Langley just nosing ahead of Mark Robinson for third across the line. Wayne Wallace took fifth with Tommy Langley coming from the back to take a close sixth from Adam Rossiter, Tom Merry, Piers Shaw and Vic Bilkey.


The OPEN RODS, despite having 22 registered drivers to date, had the day’s smallest field, 9 cars, but the grid line-up looked interesting, with a father-daughter pairing on the front row and a father-son back row! The racing was very hard fought, with a three way battle to the line in the first heat. Neil Tiffin’s BMW was holding off the Sierras of Chris and Marcus Reeve when the race was red flagged for a spin across the finish line by Lily May Burbridge. A three lap dash to the finish then saw Neil Tiffin just hang on with Marcus snatching second from his dad. Bob Oxenbury’s BMW chased the lead battle home while early leader Andy Burbridge’s Lexus took fifth from the slowing BMW of Neil Waite. Completing the field was the immaculate new Swampy Beavis-prepared 1450 Hot Rod Micra of Rob Bishop, which didn’t really fit into any of the KOOR classes. Rob was slotted into the Open Rods to start with, before it was decided the car was more compatible with the smaller Lydden Rods.


The second heat was even closer, with Neil Waite and Marcus Reeve racing side by side for the lead until Marcus edged ahead in the closing stages. The top four ended up crossing the line as one with Marcus just holding off the last corner challenge of Neil Tiffin, while Neil Waite and Chris Reeve were side by side for third. Bob Oxenbury was next ahead of the immaculate Labbatt’s liveried Sierra Cosworth of Ricky Beazzer, trying an alternative to the dirt at Coombe Valley, and going well after failing the noise test for heat one. Andy Burbridge’s big Lexus was chased home by the smaller Lexus of daughter Lily May.


The final saw the third different winner as Chris Reeve got the best of the early scramble from the back of the grid and was then chased all the way by Marcus. Neil Tiffin beat Neil Waite in the BMW battle for third, with Andy Burbridge and Ricky Beazzer next up after Lily May just saved a close encounter with the finish line bank.


A 15-car entry of EURO RODS was reduced to 11 on the day, and the first race lost front row starter Mick Letchford, flagged off for a what sounded like a dragging exhaust, but apparently wasn’t!  Darren Necci’s Peugeot 206 led away but Aaron Keynes quickly came through to take a clear win in his Corsa, while Grayci Burbridge’s 106 took a good second, holding off the Corsas of Chris Kemp and Darren Carpenter. Ben Reynolds’ converted ex-Stock Hatch AX beat Danny Reeve and Darryl Mundy’s Corsas for fifth, while Darren Necci held off the Corsas of Smallfield regular Chris Ryan and Angmering exile David Growns, in the ex-Callum Ray car.


Aaron Keynes had just taken the heat two lead from Mick Letchford when Grayci Burbridge bounced heavily off the finish line tyre wall to bring out the reds. Aaron led all the way from the restart with Chris Kemp holding off Darren Carpenter, Ben Reynolds, Mick Letchford and Darryl Mundy, followed by Sean Ryan, Darren Necci and David Growns.


The final saw another convincing win for Aaron Keynes, but this time Mick Letchford had his best run yet since switching to the Corsa, hanging on for second ahead of Chris Kemp, Darren Carpenter, Ben Reynolds, Darryl Mundy, Darren Necci, Sean Ryan and David Growns.


The class currently showing a rapid increase in popularity is the limited modification, up to 1800cc, LYDDEN RODS. 15 cars took the flag for heat one, but unfortunately this came to a rapid stop as Paul Apps’ Honda Del Sol got sideways and was collected by Jon Fowler’s Puma. From the restart Steve Green, one of the many local drivers in the field, led all the way with his 1700 Zetec Puma, while David Burke’s Suzuki Swift came through to second, just ahead of brother Michael’s Honda CRX, Scott Dalton’s Puma and Perry Thorpe’s Fiesta. Robin Miles’ striking orange Mk7 Fiesta took sixth from Neil Longshaw’s Puma and points leader Gemma Bernhauser’s Del Sol, with the field completed by Jack Miles’ Fiesta, Edwin Walker’s Citroen C2, Leighton Ponton’s Civic and Jordan Dell, finding an alternative to the Angmering Thunder Rods and Hot Rods with his Puma. Ryan Martin was going well in his Focus until a blown tyre sent him on a wild ride over the kerbs.


The second heat proved hectic with Steve Green leading again to half distance, but this time getting caught by the side-by-side Burke brothers. David and Michael looked set to fight to the finish, but Michael got very sideways before dropping back with a puncture, leaving David in the Swift just holding off a strong challenge from Neil Longshaw, who headed Steve Green over the line by inches. Perry Thorpe topped a close bunch for fourth, in front of Gemma Bernhauser, Scott Dalton and Rob Bishop, coming through from the back of the grid in the Micra to pass Jack Miles and Jordan Dell.  


The final produced another flag to flag win for Steve Green, with David Burke just holding off Michael for second. Scott Dalton got the better of Perry Thorpe, Rob Bishop and Neil Longshaw for fourth, with Jordan Dell, Jack Miles and Leighton Ponton completing the finishers and Gemma Bernhauser retiring.


The race order was completed by the OUTLAW and 2 LITRE HOT RODS, which are slowly picking up in numbers, although a couple of the Outlaw entries failed to make it this time. Colin Smith quickly took the lead from Billy Perry's 206CC in the first heat and was leading from Jason Anderson's Corrado, Dan Rolfe's Saxo, Stuart Davis’ Corsa and Billy, when the reds came out thanks to Scott Tait's 2-litre Corsa shearing off a rear wheel. Kevin Duce's now well sorted Suzuki Baleano won the 2-litre class from Gary Austin's Starlet, and the Novas of Shay and Jayden Anderson, while Joe Cato's 205 completed the Outlaw runners.


The second heat also contributed to the record number of red flags during the day, after an unfortunate coming-together between Billy Perry and Dan Rolfe. Colin Smith led the restart and won chased by Jason Anderson and an impressive Kevin Duce, whose 2-litre was keeping the Outlaw cars well in sight. Shay Anderson held off Gary Austin, with Joe Cato next after Jayden Anderson spun out on the restart.


The final, despite a slightly depleted field, saw a fast paced battle as Jason Anderson held off Colin Smith. Unfortunately, the flag came out a lap early, so we never saw what Colin might have planned as a last minute move, but it was a great win by Jason, with Colin, Stuart Davis and Joe Cato in the other Outlaw places. Kevin Duce completed his unbeaten day in the 2-litres, with Gary Austin heading Shay Anderson for second.