West Kingsdown Resident and Veteran Racing Driver Narrowly Escapes 120mph Crash at Brands Hatch GT World Challenge Europe Meeting

West Kingsdown Resident and Veteran Racing Driver Narrowly Escapes 120mph Crash at Brands Hatch GT World Challenge Europe Meeting

At the GT World Challenge Europe meeting at Brands Hatch, West Kingsdown resident and veteran racing driver Rod Birley narrowly escaped a horrific 120mph crash that left his BMW E36 racing car completely destroyed. The incident occurred on the Grand Prix loop during the Classic and Modern Motorsport Club’s Super Saloons race on Sunday.

Birley, 69, was leading the race when he attempted to lap Andrew Stenning’s Ford Fiesta on the unnamed straight between Stirlings and Clearways. However, the two cars collided, sending them both into the armco barrier on the right-hand side of the track. The impact acted as a launchpad, propelling Birley’s car into a violent roll and causing it to hit a vehicle bridge that runs across the track.

The racing driver was taken to Princess Royal University Hospital for scans but was released the following day with only minor injuries. “I’m very sore but thankful to be alive – it’s mostly bruising,” Birley stated. “It was weird and I didn’t expect it at all. I had my lights on but the driver said he couldn’t see me coming through.”

Birley estimates that his car, which was hit by Keith White’s BMW Z4 after landing upside down on the track, is a total loss. The incident also caused significant damage to the armco barrier, leading officials to red flag the race and hold the remaining competitors on the track while rescue crews attended to the drivers involved.

This is not the first time Birley has faced a major crash on the track. In 2017, he broke the record for the most wins in British motor racing, surpassing the previous record of 625 victories held by saloon car racing legend Gerry Marshall. That same year, his Ford Escort was severely damaged in a 130mph crash on the Brabham Straight at Brands Hatch.

Despite this recent setback, Birley remains determined to continue racing. “I won’t be out for a while and will be taking it easy,” he said. He also expressed his gratitude for the support and advice he has received from fellow racers and legends in the sport, such as British Touring Car Championship legend Andy Rouse.

The incident occurred during a weekend of racing that supported the GT World Challenge Europe, but fortunately, there were no other major accidents. In fact, Kent-based BMW racer Niall Bradley, from Chatham, even managed to win the second Britcar Trophy race in his BMW M3 E36. Unfortunately, the planned Classic Sports Car Club New Millennium and Turbo Tin Tops race was cancelled following Birley’s crash.

Brands Hatch will continue to host racing events, including the second round of the British Touring Car Championship, in the coming weeks.

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