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Brands Hatch racer wins prestigious UK motorsport award

Friday, January 15 2010

Reigning Dunlop Motorsport News Saloon Car champion, West Kingsdown's Rod Birley, has been awarded Autosport magazine's 'Golden Helmet' award for the driver with the most wins in UK and Ireland during the course of a season.

In a career spanning almost 40 years, Birley has proved a tour de force in south east club racing, clinching titles in a number of categories including Supreme Hot Rods, Thundersaloon and Formula One Silhouettes.

In 2009, Rod took overall victory in the Dunlop Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship in his Ford Escort Cosworth, beating powerful competition from the Nissan Skylines of Darren Bly and Mark Biggers and fellow Escort Cosworth Driver Nick Williamson.

Birley also celebrated another milestone this season when he achieved his 500th career victory at Brands Hatch in November. MotorSport Vision presented him with a special commemorative trophy to mark the occasion.

Speaking to Autosport magazine on receiving his award, Rod commented: "We had a few goals in 2009 and it turned out to be an incredible year. The first aim was to win the title - there were a couple of mistakes that meant we lost out in 2008 - and it started well when we broke the Brands Hatch lap record at the season opener.

"It wasn't until October that we started looking at the Golden Helmet. We got the title sealed at Silverstone, then I thought we had to get 500 wins, so it became a bit of a panic to find other races to do!"

Birley is planning to defend his Dunlop Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship title in 2010 and is currently working on improvements to his Ford Escort Cosworth.