Hoosier Race Tyres
World Series England Round 7
Hednesford Hills, Sunday 5th November.
Haird hot in the Hills again
Graham Brown Chris Haird dominated the feature race at Hednesford to take the top honours, repeating his victory at the same track just three weeks earlier. Qualifying even further up the grid on this occasion, the world champion was able to very swiftly subdue some early opposition, even a mid-race caution period failing to derail his charge thereafter.
There was a passing fair entry of 28 cars for what has now become the traditional World Series season closer, bolstered on this occasion by the welcome addition of Ulster interloper Adam Maxwell, who’d also been in action at Lochgelly the previous evening.
Superstox ace Jason Cooper had forsaken the chance of a stock car outing at Yarmouth in favour of a NHR return after a long while away, with Rich Adams back in action too, with his hard-to-miss lurid green Ginetta. They and everyone else also benefitted from an unusual practice session, presumably enabled by the later than usual start to the meeting.
The opening heat kicked off in frenetic fashion, returnee Cooper tangling with Shaun Taylor, while Carl Waller-Barrett and Billy Wood performed some synchronised spinning at the West Bend.
It was Nigel Beardsmore who grabbed an immediate lead, hotly pursued by Colin Hitch and Steve Dudman. Dudman moved swiftly up to second and commenced closing on the leader, who demonstrated that there wasn't a lot of grip on offer when he exited the East Bend completely sideways at one point. The chilly air and rapidly approaching dew point were only to make matters worse in this respect as the day wore on.
Once Dudman got on terms with Beardsmore, the pair commenced an entertaining dice for the lead, with Dudman zooming repeatedly up the outside without being able to make a pass stick. The situation was complicated further when CW-B joined in too, trying to un-lap himself, but once he'd gone through the leaders got back down to business. Unfortunately their scrap ended with Beardsmore getting punted into a spin at the West Bend. Dudman pressed on to take the flag but then faced disqualification, handing the win to the fast finishing Bradley Dynes, who'd been steadily making places all the way.
Jack Blood demonstrated how greasy the track was getting by spinning during the warm up laps for heat two. Hitch got a great start to blitz through from the second rank and straight into the lead. Front row man Ken Marriott (who’d already been black crossed for creeping on the grid) was soon into his stride though and went to the front as Hitch fell back to dice with Beardsmore and Lee Pepper. That continued until Pepper and Hitch touched leaving the East Bend. Hitch clattered the wall and slid to a stop out by the barriers but this relatively minor incident faded into insignificance when Mikey Godfrey went spinning, sparking off a nine car, track blocking shunt which saw Aaron Dew's Ginetta airborne before it landed on the back of Colin Smith's car. Danny Smith’s car also came out of this looking very second-hand with the left front tyre having gone missing altogether somewhere!
Following a clearing up session, Marriott resumed his lead but with Beardsmore and Rich Adams keeping close company. With the finish coming up, Adams started to look the best of them, moving up to second and pressing the leader hard. The pair traded places twice in the last lap and a half but it was Adams who had his nose in front when they took the flag, with Waller-Barrett and Haird next home after late race charges from both men.
Marriott and Dynes ended up sharing the front row for the final but with Haird and Jason Kew on row two, nobody was betting against another Haird final. Well, except possibly Kew, who pulled off a demon start to cut ahead of Haird to immediately attack Dynes’ lead, Marriott having been swamped the moment the green flag came out.
Dynes did his best to stem the tide but Haird and Kew eventually darted past, one on either side, with Haird the one to hit the front and immediately commence pulling clear. The leader lost a little bit of time dealing with some back marking traffic, enabling Kew to get almost back within touching distance just before Taylor and Beardsmore ended up in the wall on the back straight right near the East Bend exit, prompting a yellow flag.
Haird was immediately off and running again once the track went green though, leaving Kew and Dynes trailing once more, while an interesting battle was forming up for the minor places between Ipswich winner Billy Bonnar, Jack Blood, Maxwell and Gavin Murray. This lasted until four laps from the scheduled finish when Blood’s motor appeared to let go in the East Bend. With the track plastered in oil and water, several cars having already spun and the curfew fast approaching, the stewards were left with no option but to put out the red flags and call the race at that point, the results being taken from the last completed lap. GB
Heat 1: 964 172 155 2 39 27 209 174 95 136 333 316 115 844 565 491 305 76 92 162 152 55 113. Dnf 23 59 22 482. Dq 3
Heat 2: 22 2 162 115 59 333 3 174 92 305 844 964 209 482 76 95 55 152 136 113. Dnf 39 316 155 172 565 23 491. Dq and loaded 27
Final: 115 174 964 844 39 22 155 23 76 136 172 333 55 nof
Penalties: 3 disqualified from heat one for causing 59 to spin out of the lead and fail to finish. 27 loaded up following pits incident. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Hankook Performance Tyres
World Series Northern Ireland Round 7
Aghadowey, Friday 27th October
Darren Black reports: Ulster Champion Glenn Bell produced a commanding performance to round off the 2017 Northern Ireland National Hot Rod season in style at Aghadowey Oval's Gala Night last Friday. Glenn took a heat and final brace in round 7 of Hankook Performance Tyres World Series NI, with Andrew Stewart taking a popular win in the other race of the evening. The 2017 Cirrus Plastics DMC Race Promotions Points Championship, counting all races at Tullyroan and Aghadowey over the calendar year, went right down to the final race of the campaign, with Jaimie McCurdy taking the superb trophy and four new slick tyres for the second year running.
The season really did end in style, with an outstanding entry of 21 cars on hand in the pits. Amongst them was a return to action for Ian McReynolds in the newly acquired ex-Donaldson Tigra, which had been used by Derek Martin, Christopher Kincaid, Derek McMillan and Victor McAfee of late whilst in the ownership of Ronnie McMillan. There were also returns to World Series NI action for Ben McKee and David Kernohan.
The opener was easily the race of the night, and right up there as a contender for race of the season too. We had an early yellow for Keith Martin (still struggling badly for mobility after his recent knee injury) who found himself stranded on the Brown Trout Bend, and once things settled down we had Andrew Stewart out front ahead of Davy McKay and Stewart Doak, with the star names already closing fast. Stephen McGonigle then rotated on the exit of turn four, with McCurdy doing likewise in the confusion. With the Ginetta of the meeting sponsors McCurdy Fuels stranded on the kerb, the yellows got a second airing.
McKay headed them back into action from Doak and Stewart, with Adam Heatrick, Bell, Derek Martin and Adam Hylands next up. It was real cut and thrust stuff, with Doak edging ahead of McKay whilst a great move from Bell got him underneath Heatrick into turn one to go third. The top six or more were now together when the yellows came on again when Stewart spun on the Pit Bend.
Had the stoppage with just three to go ruined a thrilling climax? Not a bit of it, as we were treated to an explosive finish. Hylands quickly got the bit between his teeth, sensationally hauling himself past Martin and Bell and right alongside Doak for the lead as they took one to go. With Doak concentrating on keeping Hylands at bay, Bell somehow found a gap on the inside out onto the back straight, with the trio coming round the Brown Trout Bend for the final time three abreast. It was outstanding stuff, with Bell getting the verdict on the line ahead of Hylands and Doak, with Gary Woolsey, D Martin and John Christie next up after an absolutely blinding race.
Heat two was never going to live up to the opener, but the drivers certainly gave it their best shot! Stewart quickly settled into the lead, with Doak looking outside Simon Kennedy for second until drivetrain trouble ended the Cirrus Plastics man’s charge, and his night, too.
As Stewart edged further ahead by the lap, the rest were now on Kennedy’s bumper but somewhat reluctant to go for the notoriously difficult outside pass. A Heatrick, Christie, Mark Heatrick and D Martin were now all line astern, and Simon was most definitely giving them the line, IF they wanted it. Sooner or later someone was going to go for it, and it turned out to be Bell, the heat one winner hauling himself alongside D Martin and M Heatrick on the outside. The sight of Bell on the wide line perhaps spurred on Christie, with John then getting out there and putting the Fiesta alongside both A Heatrick and Kennedy. Stewart was well down the road by now though, taking a good win at a canter. The rest came to the line as one, with Christie nabbing second ahead of Kennedy, A Heatrick and Bell.
The final paired old adversaries Bell and Christie on the front row ahead of Hylands and A Heatrick. Bell and Hylands were first to show, with Christie tucking into third from his outside start. Next up were D Martin, Woolsey, A Heatrick and M Heatrick. As the cars spread out many eyes were on the charge of McCurdy from the back of the grid as he chased the Cirrus Plastics Championship, and also a very tasty scrap between M Heatrick and Shane Murray.
There then followed one of the most peculiar caution periods you are ever likely to see. Our turn two marshal saw a petrol cap land at his feet, and immediately made radio contact with Race Control. A very quick discussion saw us declare that we just couldn’t continue with the risk of escaping fuel and a possible fire, so all cars were brought to a halt and checked by the staff. It later transpired that it was in fact the cover off a CBR Ginetta hub!
So the field was all closed up for the restart, but Bell again just edged away from the rest, as Glenn once again looked in fine fettle indeed. He raced home to take the flag, the McCurdy Fuels sponsored trophy and the excellent Hankook cash prize. Hylands, Christie, D Martin and Woolsey filled the top five, with Christie’s third spot just not enough to shift McCurdy from the top of the Cirrus Plastics DMC Race Promotions Points Championship. Jaimie’s eighth spot thus saw him collect an absolutely stunning engraved crystal trophy from sponsor Stewart Doak, and four new Hoosier slicks.
Hylands hangs onto his Hankook Performance Tyres World Series NI lead at the halfway stage, with D Martin, Christie and Woolsey next up ahead of defending NI Champion Shane Murray. Battle will resume at Easter 2018. Darren Black
Heat 1. 9 54 996 940 20 962 70 342 960 977 943 937 343 18 nof.
Heat 2. 669 962 998 342 9 960 20 199 70 940 54 937 977 995 18 nof.
Final. 9 54 962 20 940 342 960 199 70 937 998 995 18 nof.
Hoosier Race Tyres
World Series England Round 6
Ipswich, Saturday 21st October
Bonny for Bonnar at Foxhall
Graham Brown Itinerant Scots racer Billy Bonnar made his long haul down to Ipswich well worthwhile when he took the final honours last Saturday, Bonnar outpacing the field for most of the race before successfully fending off a last lap challenge from runner up Billy Wood. One time leader and heat winner Gavin Murray was third.
Although the field was down by several cars due to various factors, ranging from bans through to broken engines (Danny Smith, who’d suffered a busted crank on the rolling road the previous day), there was still a respectable 22 cars and a decent grid for every race, helped along by the very welcome addition of Ulster visitor, Adam Hylands.
Although a member of the ‘banned brigade’, Jason Kew was still in attendance, having principally come along to collect his new gel coat Ginetta, which will soon be replacing the long serving Tigras no doubt.
Colin Hitch headed heat one away from his lonely spot at the front of the white grade, Hitch setting a good pace on the windswept but dry oval. He was soon joined by Lee Pepper and Shaun Taylor however. Taylor moved up to second at the expense of a black cross and was pressing the leader hard enough to attract a second such warning. He still couldn't dislodge Hitch, but the arrival of Murray at the back of this lead bunch certainly looked like forcing the issue.
Some cut and thrust racing put Taylor back to fourth and caused Pepper and Murray to swap places back and forth as Hitch gleefully put some distance between himself and the places squabble. Murray was still looking the quickest of them though and, once back in front of Pepper, wasted no time darting past Hitch and away to the win. Meanwhile, a superb trademark late charge from Chris Haird carried him all the way up to a well-earned second place by flag fall.
Hitch had another good go at leading in the second heat, losing out this time to Steve Dudman, 'Duddy' having missed the first race due to mechanical woes in practice. In fact, both he and team mate Colin Smith had managed to blow their diffs up in something of an unpleasant and inconvenient coincidence.
Dudman was just beginning to look settled at the front when his race was spoiled by a yellow flag, thrown when several cars - one of them Haird's - collided on the back straight. Alastair Lowe’s #55 ended up stranded across the inside line, that being what actually caused the yellow. This was one of those situations where trouble of some sort had always looked a distinct possibility, as there had been a 15-car dice going on around that part of the pack just beforehand!
Paul Frost's Ginetta got the jump on Dudman at the resumption and was soon far enough ahead to be thinking about accepting the chequers. Dudman had a solitary race in second following Frost's pass, while Bonnar served due notice of his intentions for the final by battling his way to the front of that chasing pack to claim third spot.
The final grid threw up several probable winners, with Murray on the front row, Kym Weaver on row two, Wood on row three and Haird not all that far behind them. It would probably be fair to say that, had the Betfred booth been open, you could have got quite good odds on Bonnar, especially from the third row...
But it was Frost who instantly converted pole into the lead at the off with Murray and Weaver all over him. Frost clung on until he left a huge hole down his inside at turn four and paid the price, getting railroaded back to fifth before he could recover his composure.
Murray took up the lead but with Wood having already lost out to Bonnar, Weaver too was relegated by the racy looking Scot, albeit at the cost of a black cross. Almost before Murray had a chance to realise that it wasn't Weaver in his mirror anymore, Bonnar had forged down his inside along the back stretch and then pulled away steadily.
Wood also put Murray behind him, Murray looking likely to go down a further spot to Haird when he caught up as well. But the world champ's charge stalled at that point, and fourth was as far as he was going to get.
Nearing the finish, Wood clawed his way up to Bonnar's back bumper and was in with a serious shout at out-fumbling the leader in traffic on the last lap. But Bonnar clearly appreciated the danger and stayed alongside a lapped car, simply giving his pursuer nowhere to go, the Scot blasting past the flag to take what must surely have been one of his best ever victories.
Heat 1: 95 115 172 152 316 209 305 155 27 844 92 23 54 113 39 136 333 55. Dnf 118 162.
Heat 2: 316 3 844 162 95 209 305 152 39 23 113 54 491 136 172 118 155. Dnf 27 333 55 115. Dq 92.
Final: 844 305 95 115 209 54 316 162 23 152 3 92(X-2) 491 113 136 172 118 333 55. Dnf 39 155.
Penalties: 92 disqualified from heat two for causing incident involving 55 and 115.
Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Hoosier Race Tyres
World Series England Round 5
Hednesford Hills, Sunday 15th October
Heat 1: 565 39 48 152 55 333 2 844 162 115 209 305 491 92 113 95 23 27 118 (117) 155 3 136 59 421. Dnf 15 316 172 42.
Heat 2: 59 2 39 152 209 162 48 565 115 491 305 92 3 844 55 (117) 172 113 316 155 27 95 23 (15) 136 118 333 421.
Final: 115 162 305 209 39 565 (117) 491 48 844(X-2) 113 95 23 2 27 136 59 333 118 55 3 172 421. Dnf 316 92 155 15 152
World Series Ireland Round 3
Tipperary Raceway, Sunday 15th October
Heat 1: 925 208 61 803 69.
Heat 2: 61 208 925 803. Dns 69
Final: 925 61 208 803 69.
World Series Ireland Round 2
Tipperary, Sunday 8th October
Heat 1: 925 343 803 69 nof. DQ 955
Heat 2: 943 982 803 69 925 nof. DQ 955
Final: 925 343 982 803 69 nof.
Hoosier Race Tyres
World Series England Round 4
Northampton Saturday 30th September
Kew’s – but not Kew’s
Graham Brown Jason Kew drove what appeared to be a faultless race to take the final honours at a rainy Brafield, racing past early leader Bradley Dynes to lead the rest of the way in dominant fashion. Sadly, the celebrations were short-lived, Kew’s Vauxhall Tigra failing post-race technical checks when back in the pits, handing a first ever final win to Stuart McLaird instead.
We went down for this one to 26 cars when Mikey Godfrey managed to slip over at work after stepping on a number plate lying on the ground (sounds silly but easily done in a vehicle dismantlers believe me!), Mikey having to go to hospital rather than the race track, and lost another when itinerant Scot Billy Bonnar had a long journey in vain when he was forced to pull off the heat one grid in clouds of smoke from a blown up clutch.
It was Ivan Grayson who headed them away with Shaun Taylor and Colin Hitch for company, Taylor going to the front with a couple of laps completed only for an error to let Grayson back in front, Taylor falling back to fifth before he could recover.
Grayson was able to maintain a fairly comfortable cushion for quite a while, the squabble over second between Hitch, Paul Gomm and Dynes keeping all of them from progressing. Eventually Gomm and Dynes put Hitch behind them, Dynes moving up to second down the inside at turn three. Grayson still looked pretty safe, running about a quarter of a lap clear, until the yellow flags came out following a coming together involving Hitch and Chris Haird which left the former’s car stranded across the track at the exit from turn four.
The caution naturally closed the field right up and, although there was initially a backmarker between Grayson and Dynes, the Irish driver quickly moved into position to have a stab at the win, darting past down Grayson’s inside as they came to take the ‘last lap’ board.
An entertaining places battle had been well worth watching in the closing stages too, where Taylor was eventually forced to give up two more places to Jason Kew and Haird, with Kew and Haird fighting hard with each other to the point that Kewy almost got sent spinning along the back straight at one point!
The forecasters had promised rain at some stage of the evening, and it was falling by the time the cars gridded for their second heat. Several spinners in the early going, including Colin Smith and Layton Milsom, demonstrated just how slippery the track had become. Meanwhile, Taylor got away first this time before losing out to Grayson once more, Taylor falling back further when Dynes got properly on the move, looking for win number two.
Grayson wasn’t hanging about though and it took until mid-distance before he had to square up to Dynes’ challenge, the Ginetta driver powering down the inside of the back straight to hit the front as they rounded turn three. With Dynes off and running towards the chequers, Grayson was left in a lonely second spot, a long way clear of third man Kew and a sharp looking Stuart McLaird, although the latter would cop for a two-place contact penalty in the final analysis.
Aggregate results from the heats placed Dynes firmly on pole for the final, but with Grayson alongside, Kew tucked in behind and Chris Haird on row three as well, the win was far from assured.
The rain had stopped by this point, but the track was still very wet and tyre choice was going to be critical. Grayson was actually the first to move at the green but Dynes blasted past on the run in to the first turn, with Kew sitting right on his shoulder. An early yellow looked likely when Grayson and Hitch collided at the end of the home straight on lap two, but they limped away and the rest pressed on uninterrupted.
Kew spent another couple of laps sizing the leader up before making a masterly swoop right around the outside of turns one and two to take a lead he wasn’t going to lose – well, during the actual race at any rate.
Behind the leading two, there was a good side by side dice going on for third between Taylor and Haird. The world champion finally went ahead, only to end up going straight on at turn one and having to throw out all the anchors to avoid the parked Grayson car following a three wide moment when Shane Bland came rushing up to join the party.
Haird did eventually get going again, almost a lap down, while Bland forged on to pass Dynes and set off after the leader, who was now over a quarter of a lap to the good. Dynes continued to drop places, looking to have made the wrong tyre decision on what was now a slowly drying track, with McLaird the next to take advantage of the fact.
Not sure if I’ve managed to upset Shaun Taylor recently but I did momentarily wonder if it might be the case when he subsequently hurled a lump of bodywork (dash cover?) at us when passing by along the home straight! Having cleared the catch fence, it luckily landed a few feet short of us and was soon retrieved after the race.
McLaird was having possibly his best race since his return to the formula and was able to move up to challenge Bland’s position before having to fall back again a touch in order to defend against a fast finishing Jack Blood.
It was only after the flag that the major places were finally settled, with Kew unfortunately losing his win and Bland getting docked a couple of places for the incident with Haird, all of which rewarded McLaird’s steady drive with the victor’s trophy instead. GB
AWAITING REVISION AFTER SCRUTINY INFRINGEMENTS
Heat one: 964 136 333 115 174 152 23 316 3 155 113 42 565 491 162 305 95 92 209 48 55 118 2. NOF
Heat two: 964 136 174 152 92 113(-2) 172 305 316(-2) 565 115 42 23 55 162 155 491 2 118 333 39. NOF
Final: (174) 113 92 42(-2) 305 95 152 23(-2) 964 565 491 316 39 115 55 155 118. NOF
Penalties: 113 dropped two places in heat two for contact on 316. 316 dropped two places in heat two for contact with several cars. 23 dropped two places in final for contact on 92. 174 disqualified from final after failing post-race technical check. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Hoosier Race Tyres
World Series England Round 3
Birmingham, 23rd September
Jack’s alright at Birmingham Wheels
Graham Brown Jack Blood’s recent sporadic appearances in Nationals came to an end in the most dramatic fashion, the Derby-based racer making good use of new tyres and an advantageous grid position to leave the second city with a dominant hat-trick. 2.0 Hot Rod world champion, Danny Smith, was the only other driver to get a look-in when he took the win in the first heat.
A useful enough entry for the return to The Wheels, with the 26 cars (Rich Adams was a late cancellation) on hand and sufficient for three heats to be scheduled. Among them was Shane Bland, returning to the fray after a short sabbatical during which he’s been off racing classic touring cars, and Guy Smith, his car still sporting the pretty ‘old school’ paintwork it wore for his sole previous outing at NIR a while back. Also joining them was Danny Smith, his car perfectly repaired from his Ipswich crash.
The opening race actually turned out to be the most action-packed of the night.
Colin Hitch led the early laps before spinning when challenged by Billy Bonnar, the Scot pulling out a short lead while the rest scrapped to see who would go after him. It was Dan Smith who burst free from the other placemen, towing Kym Weaver along with him as they steadily reduced the leader’s advantage. Despite a chronic backfire, Bonnar still looked as though he might be able to hang on, until someone laid a load of oil and water at turn one, the sudden decrease in grip catching out several drivers and enabling Smith and Weaver to finally catch and pass Bonnar.
Smith still had work to do to take his first win in the class, with Weaver snorting down his neck every inch of the rest of the way. But Smith, a veteran of hundreds of Lightning Rod and 2.0 Hot Rod wars, remained unmoved by the pressure and was careful never to leave even the slightest hint of daylight on his inside.
With Blood on the outside front row and on four new tyres (having played his ‘joker’) it did always rather look as though heat two – and indeed on from there – might just prove to be a case of ‘who would be second’.
Sure enough, it was Blood who went straight to the front at the green flag. He was dogged for a while by Bonnar and Steve Dudman but, once the leader got his head down, he rapidly cleared off and opened out a quarter of a lap gap in fairly short order. With Dudman falling gradually down the order, leaving Bonnar to try and keep second out of reach of the fast moving Carl Waller-Barrett, Blood was left with a free hand to extend his lead to half a lap. And even once Waller-Barrett was through to second, he was unable to make any impression at all on the leader’s huge cushion, Blood having lapped everybody up to tenth spot by flag fall.
Heat three followed a similar pattern, with Blood coming from row two this time to swiftly relieve Nigel Beardsmore of his initial lead before tearing off into the distance. He put a quarter of a circuit between himself and the nearest opposition even faster this time, and in fact, Blood’s only scare probably came when Hitch re-joined after a spin right in front of him.
Mikey Godfrey drove a steady race to claim second from this one but only just, as he managed to pip the fast finishing Bland to the line.
With Blood on pole for the final, a third win certainly looked well on the cards, despite the presence of Weaver alongside and Chris Haird – who’d been quietly impressive all night – right behind them.
Once again, Blood was in no mood to hang about and blasted off into an immediate lead, opening up a sizable gap with only one lap on the sheets. Haird relegated Weaver fairly early on and now it did look as though there might just be a race in prospect. However, it soon became clear that the world champion didn’t have any answer to Blood’s pace. Haird never gave up trying to close the gap but Blood’s handling of backmarking traffic was impeccable and his pursuer actually began to lose ground with the finish coming up.
The matter was finally put beyond doubt when a right side track control arm broke on Haird’s car four laps from home, putting him out and leaving Blood half a lap clear once more. Weaver was the man who claimed second, having successfully fended off a last minute challenge from Waller-Barrett. Shane Bland put another load of useful points on the chart with a fourth spot in this one, ahead of Layton Milsom – another who’d had quite an impressive evening – and Billy Wood, his sixth place helping him into the points lead going into the next round at NIR. GB
Heat one: 565 209 48 844 55 3 174 155 162 305 491 95 152. NOF
Heat two: 92 162 844 115 113 3 (316) 174 491 27 95 964 155 59 118. NOF
Heat three: 92 27 42 209 55 115 316 48 305 23 113 152 59 118 172. NOF
Final: 92 209 162 42 48 305 844 55 565 23 491 113 15 316 155 172 118 3. NOF
Penalties: 316 disqualified from heat two for contact with 421, causing 421 to spin. 27 disqualified from final for causing incident with 174 which caused both cars to spin. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Hankook Performance Tyres
World Series Northern Ireland Round 6
Tullyroan, 24th September
Darren Black reports: Reigning Northern Ireland Champion Shane Murray put his recent run of bad luck behind him to claim a dominant heat and final double at Hankook Performance Tyres World Series NI at Tullyroan Oval on Sunday afternoon. The other heat saw a very popular winner as Andrew Stewart withstood some late pressure to take a pleasing victory.
Amongst the entry was a welcome return to action for Stewart Doak after his recent injury, whilst Co. Cork's Jeff Riordan was keeping his hand in with a run off the back as an international entry whilst there is a lack of action at his local Tipperary circuit. There was also a first World Series outing of the campaign for 2016 World Champion Adam Maxwell, the Crumlin man refreshed after a break from the week in, week out action and promising more outings at Tullyroan over the coming months.
With no yellow graders on the grid following Conor McElmeel's late cancellation due to illness, it was down to the star studded blue and red grades to chase down the trio of whites consisting of Brendan McConnell, Kenny McCann and Andrew Stewart. Former Lightning Rods British Champion McConnell set the early heat one pace ahead of Stewart, with Murray and Mark Heatrick quickly in pursuit and Gary Woolsey and Hylands leading the star grade charge.
Glenn Bell lost out as he attempted an outside pass on British Champion John Christie, as Hylands got under Woolsey to make more ground towards the top places. Up front Murray and M Heatrick swooped round the outside of McConnell to go ahead, Shane holding on all the way home for the win. M Heatrick, Keith Martin and Hylands were next home, whilst things got a little heated in the pack which saw two place penalties handed down to both Bell and Adam Heatrick.
McConnell was missing for heat two, which saw Stewart quickly build a lead as McCann dropped back. K Martin was leading the blues forward in this one, with Murray quickly looking for a way past on the outside. It didn't work out for Shane, who dropped back alongside M Heatrick. As they circulated side by side, Keith was able to make his escape and close down Stewart's advantage at the head of the field. Keith arrived on Andrew's tail with just three laps to go, but Stewart used everything in his locker and a bit more, to hold on and win the battle of the veterans for the victory. It was a very popular win indeed for the Portadown man, with Martin, M Heatrick, Murray and Maxwell filling the top five.
Murray and M Heatrick shared the front row for the final; with Mark giving it his all over the opening lap on the outside before slotting into second. The duo edged clear, with third man K Martin having to divert his attentions to the challenging Hylands and Maxwell. Hylands lost out hugely when he tried the outside line, as McConnell found himself facing the traffic out by the fence on the Tullyroan bend. With no gap in the traffic to recover, Brendan's race was run.
As the race progressed Murray stretched clear of M Heatrick out front, Shane charging home to complete his double and collect the Wilson Motors trophy alongside the Hankook Performance Tyres prize. M Heatrick was good value in second ahead of K Martin, Maxwell, Jaimie McCurdy and Bell. Darren Black
Report with thanks to footage from NIOvalTV
Heat 1: 70 960 994 54 940 962 409 76 199 925 669 18 gap 9(X-2) 342(X-2).
Heat 2: 669 994 960 70 76 199 9 54 940 996 342 962 925 18.
Final: 70 960 994 76 199 9 962 940 54 996 925 669 18 nof.
Hankook Performance Tyres
World Series Northern Ireland Round 5
Ballymena, 15th September.
Heat 1: 75 994 342 82 54 940 199 20 9 962 960 998 944 409 18 nof
Heat 2: 342 82 962 940 54 960 199 20 994 998 944 995 409 18 nof
Final: 342 82 940 994 54 962 20 199 9 70 943 998 944 960 409 995 18. (amended 16/09)
Hoosier Racing Tyres
World Series England round 2
Ipswich, 28th August
Murray’s manic Monday
Graham Brown. A massive Bank Holiday crowd basked in hot sunshine and saw three races with three different winners, but may well have gone home talking more about the number of crashes, yellow flags and penalties than any other aspect of the racing. At the end of it all though, it was Gavin Murray who made off with the final honours, Murray being chased home by Stuart McLaird and Mikey Godfrey.
There was a fair entry of 27 cars for this, round two of the 2018 series, with former 2.0 Hot Rod racers Lewis Shelley and Danny Smith (the former 2.0 world champ of course, in the beautifully re-fettled ex-Dave Garrett car) the latest recruits to help swell the grids.
The opening heat started pretty much as it meant to go on, with Steve Dudman going off at the first turn and then getting collected by Alistair Lowe, who somehow managed to get underneath Dudman’s car. Unsurprisingly, this was grounds for a very early yellow flag.
The restart had Terry Hunn out front but again not going all that far before another caution, this time brought on by Aaron Dew’s Ginetta ramming the barriers at turn three, Chris Crane and Paul Gomm both rotating at the same spot.
Hunn was still leading from McLaird, Shaun Taylor and Layton Milsom for the next attempt, Milsom falling back as Lee Pepper, Danny Smith and Murray all got by. Murray had relegated Smith as well and Kym Weaver was just trying to do the same when the pair touched along the back straight, sparking off the biggest crash of the day. Smith spun across the shale backwards, the car then coming off the infield and straight into the path of the chasing pack, Smith’s car taking an enormous full chat impact from Dick Hillard, whose smashed Tigra careered on into the wall, with Jason Kew, Carl Waller-Barrett and Godfrey all involved as well to some extent. A yellow for this little lot was obligatory, although Weaver’s disqualification for causing it came as a bit of a surprise, not least to the driver, who promptly put his car away for the day.
Hillard and Smith’s racing was unfortunately all done for the day, with the left front corner of Dick’s car a complete mess, as indeed was the left rear of Smith’s, the back axle looking like it was half dragged out of the chassis – not good.
All of this had taken place before they’d even breached half distance but the rest of the race remained comparatively incident free. Murray chased down McLaird and passed him five laps from home, with Milsom and Chris Haird also putting McLaird behind them before the chequers. Winner Hunn was still a fair way up the road by then, with Murray having to relinquish his second spot when the steward handed down a two place penalty for contact.
Heat two was a good deal less disjointed.
The new-for-this-season shake up in the second heat grids had placed Lowe on pole but he got jumped at the start by Billy Bonnar, the Scot scooting into the lead with Paul Frost following him past Lowe’s race tape special a lap later.
Hunn wasn’t going to have any say in this one as he spun to a stop by the start line with a flat, and the race became all about deciding who was to go after Bonnar and Frost. Lowe battled with Colin Hitch initially before Hitch was forced sideways at turn three, various minor collisions in the wake of this sending McLaird glancing off the wall and getting Crane black crossed.
Repeated blue flagging of Lowe didn’t get anyone else past him but some argy-bargy exiting turn two did in the end, with Crane moving up to third four laps from the finish but far too late to bother the two front runners, Bonnar and Lowe remaining safely clear of the rest.
With Murray on the front row it always looked like the final might be a bit of a gift for him, but those arrayed around him weren’t giving anything away, with Frost turning pole into an immediate lead and McLaird filling Murray’s mirrors every step of the way. Three laps in, Murray found a way past down Frost’s inside exiting turn four, McLaird following him through and Frost then disappearing from the leader board after a coming together with Pepper.
McLaird stayed right with the leader for many laps but, eventually, Murray began to inch away from him. By that point Godfrey was firmly established in third with most of the interest centring on the places battle involving Bonnar, Hunn, Colin Smith, Chris Haird and Kew. Bonnar’s car was backfiring, slowing him up momentarily in the turns but, despite repeated blue flags and a nine car queue forming up behind him, it was a long time before Hunn was eventually able to make an outside pass stick. That opened the floodgates and the Scot got swamped by the following pack soon after that but this was only shortly before he went a lap down to the leader, who was all but home and dry with five laps to go.
Indeed, the only changes in the order came after the flag, with Hunn, Shaun Taylor and Waller-Barrett all getting hit with penalties for contact some while after the finish. GB
Heat 1: 39 48 115 95(X-2) 113 155 491 316 174 27 92 118 13 nof. DQ 209 964 15.
Heat 2: 844 316 15 27 23 305 95 162 174 964 55 491 155 152 113 92 118 13 nof.
Final: 95 113 27 115 491 39(X-2) 174 162(X-2) 23 15 964 305 155 844 92 152(X-2) 13 nof.
Penalties: 15 disqualified from heat one for causing crash. 209 disqualified from heat one for crossing white line and colliding with 565, causing crash. 964 disqualified from heat one for overtaking under yellow flags. 95 dropped two places in heat one for contact with 23. 39 dropped two places in final for persistent contact. 152 dropped two places for contact in final, forcing 305 onto shale. 162 dropped two places for contact in final on 491. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Hankook Performance Tyres
World Series Northern Ireland round 4
Ballymena, 26th August
Colin Adair reports: Round 4 of the Hankook Performance Tyres World Series NI at Ballymena Raceway on August 26 produced the fourth different final winner of the new campaign as John Christie claimed the honours in the feature race. For a long time however it looked as if Round 3 winner Mark Heatrick was about to record back to back final wins until his Heatrick Demolition Tigra dropped out of the running in the closing stages. The same pair had earlier split the victories in the two heat races.
Nineteen competitors arrived at Ballymena where the Nationals were supporting the ORCi Stock Rod World Championship, which was won comprehensively by Northern Ireland’s Stephen McCready. On a weekend when Stock Rods were centre stage it was perhaps fitting that the most intriguing name on the National entry list was Stock Rod royalty in these parts, Victor McAfee. Now this was not Victor’s debut in Hot Rod racing, but you needed to be of a certain vintage to remember the last time he raced a National as it was back around 1979 or 1980! The McMillan Team had very kindly offered Victor a run out in the Tigra used most recently by Christopher Kincaid at the National weekend and the Ballymena garage proprietor certainly acquitted himself well in the unfamiliar mount.
Unfortunately we lost Phillip McCloy before the start, a clutch problem apparently sidelining his Peugeot for the evening. That left 18 runners for heat one where, in a welcome change from recent tradition at Ballymena, the track was actually dry, and stayed that way for the entire evening! Stephen McGonigle led them away in the opener, but trouble quickly brewed in the red grade which ended with Shane Murray’s Ginetta backward into the wall at the entry to turn one, an incident which would earn Keith Martin a two place penalty in the final result. The drama didn’t end there either as Ian McReynolds rotated on the exit of turn two a lap later which brought out the yellow flags to let everyone catch their breath a while. The blue grade is always fertile ground when looking for potential winners in Northern Ireland and so it proved again here as Mark Heatrick quickly made his way to the front of the pack by lap 5. Once into clear air the Heatrick Demolition Tigra really stretched away from the rest, as Mark punched in a 15.1 second lap which would prove to be the best of the entire evening. Behind the winner fellow blue-grader John Christie picked his way around McGonigle and Davy McKay to net second at the flag, with Derek Martin the best of the reds in third after another eye catching run. Gary Wilson, Gary Woolsey and McKay rounded out the top six in this one.
McGonigle made a good fist of leading heat two, with Andrew Stewart and McKay running nicely too in second and third. Christie led the blue grade contingent this time, while back in the reds a quick spin on the exit of turn two cost Derek Martin a lot of time. McGonigle continued to hold sway beyond the half way point before Christie swooped around the outside on lap 12, with Heatrick now hot on his heels. Ian McReynolds had been running well in fifth spot until his Citroen Saxo was pitched into the wall at the entry to turn one. It looked for all the world as if something broke on the car as McReynolds turned in, and he certainly wasn’t going any further now with a wheel off following that argument with the wall. The yellow flags were therefore required to allow the stricken #977 car to be removed which left us with a three lap sprint to the chequered flag. Christie managed this with aplomb, despite the close attentions of the eager Heatrick, while McKay enjoyed one of his best runs for a while to nail down third ahead of Woolsey, Murray and Adam Heatrick.
960 943 54 342 199 669* 70 998 977*
962 940 20 82 994 995 35 18 996* (* Did Not Start)
A win and a second place finish apiece meant a tie between Heatrick and Christie for pole in the final. The rule for this situation determined that Heatrick secured pole position due to his better result in the first race, with Christie alongside on the front row. McKay and Woolsey occupied row two, with Hylands and Martin on row three. Stewart, McReynolds and Stewart Doak were non starters in this one which left fifteen runners for the Anderson Racing Trophy final.
That was quickly reduced to fourteen however as Adam Heatrick ground to a halt out by the wall between turns one and two on the opening lap. Uncle Mark had made a swift getaway to lead, while Christie squeezed down in front of McKay to grab second, and gave a close inspection to the rear of the leader’s Tigra during the early laps. Woolsey and Hylands were next in line until the British Champion had to contend with a real moment after a touch from the following Derek Martin at the exit of turn four. Adam did a sterling job just to keep the thing out of the wall and pointing in the right direction, but lost a handful of places to Martin, Murray and Jaimie McCurdy in the process. Up front Heatrick had now eased himself into this one and started to pull away slightly from Christie, with Woolsey comfortably able to sit with the front two as well. As the laps ticked down Christie edged back up onto the back bumper of the leader and a close finish looked on the cards. All of a sudden however a pop and a bang signalled that everything was not well with the leader’s Tigra and Christie was through in a flash as the unfortunate Heatrick coasted to a halt behind nephew Adam’s car. Christie reeled off the remaining 5 laps to claim a second win of the night which earned him the handsome Anderson Racing Engines trophy, while Woolsey looked much more like his old self after a very competitive run to second place. Derek Martin was third across the line, but that earlier incident with Hylands earned him a two place penalty, which promoted McCurdy and Murray to third and fourth. Hylands was next up behind the demoted Martin, with Wilson, Keith Martin, McKay, Simon Kennedy, McGonigle and Kenny McCann the remaining finishers. Colin Adair
Hankook Performance Tyres
World Series Northern Ireland round 3
Aghadowey, 19th August
Darren Black reports: Portadown's Mark Heatrick was the man on form at Aghadowey Oval last Saturday night, when he scooped a heat and final double at the third round of Hankook Performance Tyres World Series NI for National Hot Rods. Perfect weather conditions led to some fast and furious racing all evening, with the other heat win falling to the new Ginetta of reigning NI Champion Shane Murray.
From the original booking list of 20 cars we lost Nigel McCauley to a cancellation in the run up to the event, whilst Phillip McCloy encountered problems in practice and didn't make the track at all during the meeting proper. Veteran Sticky Torrens then had his throttle jam during the heat one installation laps, his subsequent trip to the wall on the Brown Trout Bend causing significant damage to his Fiesta and rendering his night finished.
With Ian McReynolds suffering maladies too, 'only' 16 made the grid for the opener with Kenny McCann leading them away in his Corsa. Mark Heatrick then challenged and took over out front, but he was soon under pressure from Shane Murray's Ginetta before they were all brought up short by a yellow flag thrown when Andrew Stewart lost a wheel on the exit of turn four which sent him spinning into the wall.
At the resumption of hostilities Murray again challenged Heatrick on the outside, but he couldn't quite make it stick which allowed another Ginetta, in the hands of Gary Woolsey, to grab second at the flag behind the victorious Heatrick. Murray, leading red grader Derek Martin and Jaimie McCurdy filled the top five.
McReynolds rejoined the fray for heat two, replacing Stewart in another 16 car field. Davy McKay led them off from McCann, before the same trio of blue tops, Murray, Woolsey and Heatrick, moved past to assume the top positions. British Champion Adam Hylands, McCurdy and Martin were making great strides from the reds once again, but the lead trio were to remain out of their grasp all the way home. Murray thus took his new mount's second victory in as many meetings out of the box, ahead of Woolsey, M Heatrick, Hylands and McCurdy.
With M Heatrick and Murray tied on points, it was Mark who took pole position as he had claimed the better heat one finish. Woolsey shared the second row with D Martin, with Hylands and McCurdy occupying row three. Heatrick and Murray headed to the first corner side by side, with Shane gamely hanging on before dropping into third behind Woolsey. As he looked for a way back past the NW Developments Ginetta, Heatrick banged in what would be the fastest lap of the race to make good his escape out front. Mark was a straight ahead before Woolsey mannerly stepped aside to allow the harrying Murray a way past to second, Shane quickly getting the hammer down to erode into Heatrick's advantage.
A squabbling backmarking trio of Gary Wilson, Simon Kennedy and McCann was the last thing Heatrick needed ahead of him, and by the time he had cleared them Murray was right on his case and the battle for the lead was well and truly on. Murray looked outside, then inside, then outside again as Heatrick switched into defensive mode to thwart each attack. Now Woolsey, McCurdy and D Martin joined the fun too, and for the remaining laps we were treated to an excellent five car lead battle. The slightest of errors from Woolsey into turn one left a gap that a switched on McCurdy soon filled, but up front Heatrick had covered every base to come home to his second win of the night, the Ross Hyndman Motors sponsored silverware and his Hankook prize too. Murray was great value in second, ahead of an impressive McCurdy, Martin, Woolsey and Hylands. Darren Black
Heat 1: 960 940 70 20 199 994 54 962 996 998 342(X-2) 82 943 18 995 nof.
Heat 2: 70 940 960 54 199 20 996 994 962 342 18 998 82 977 995 nof. Dnf: 943.
Final: 960 70 199 20 940 54 994 996 342(X-2) 82 977 998 943 995 18 nof. Dnf: 962
Hankook Performance Tyres
World Series Northern Ireland round 2
Ballymena, 29th July
Colin Adair reports: Derek Martin captured a long overdue final win when Ballymena Raceway hosted Round Two of the Hankook Performance Tyres World Series NI on July 29. Martin slipped ahead of pole sitter Adam Hylands on the opening lap of the feature race and controlled things from the front to lead home Hylands and Adam Heatrick. The earlier heats brought victories for Hylands and Glenn Bell.
An improved showing of eighteen competitors gathered for Round Two, David Kernohan the only absentee from the original booking list. The weather once again threw a random element into the mix on the evening, just like the opening round in fact. Heavy rain in the hours prior to start time created a sodden track, but the rain had ceased when racing commenced, which left everyone with some headaches on setup as the meeting progressed and track conditions improved.
There was no real dilemma for heat one however as a totally wet track greeted the runners in this one. Kenny McCann headed the field away before Conor McElmeel confirmed just how tricky conditions were with a quick spin on the exit of turn two. Nigel McCauley emerged from the yellow grade group to head the chase after McCann, but blue graders Adam Hylands and Glenn Bell were also on the move and making rapid progress towards the front. Further back Mark Heatrick had been progressing very nicely too from the red grade until he came across a notch of cars which included Andrew Stewart, Phillip McCloy and Davy McKay. Heatrick appeared to misjudge the speed of this group completely and slammed into the back of McKay entering turn one, which caused a ripple effect throughout the pack and resulted in Stewart being tipped into a spin. That unsurprisingly earned Heatrick a disqualification from this one, while up front McCann continued to hold sway until half distance before Hylands breezed through. Bell followed suit on lap 14 to set up a straight fight between the pair to the flag, but there was further drama to come which would end with John Christie on the naughty step alongside Heatrick. Christie had been side by side with Shane Murray for a few laps and went very hot into turn 3 in an attempt to drop down in front of the Northern Ireland Champion. That part worked out OK, but Christie could not scrub off enough speed to avoid Gary Woolsey, who was immediately ahead of the pair. The resultant contact between the pair knocked Woolsey’s Ginetta into the back marking Sticky Torrens, who had been trying his best to keep out of everybody’s way on the outside! The messy episode ended with Torrens spun at turn three and Christie disqualified as the main cause of the incident. None of this had any effect on the leader however as Hylands swept home for a tidy win, with Bell in second and McCauley in third. Derek Martin finished as the best of the reds in fourth, while fifth place for McCann represented one of his best results to date.
By the start of heat two there were the first indications that the track had started to dry, on line anyway. That was certainly backed up by the lap times too. Only three drivers broke the seventeen second barrier in the opener, Hylands, Bell and Mark Heatrick, but all the frontrunners would post low-sixteen second laps this time around. Carl Sloan did not appear for this one, and the grid was reduced to sixteen cars when M. Heatrick pulled off with a problem during the installation laps. The sixteen remaining runners were led away once more by McCann, with McElmeel next up. McCann continued to lead until lap seven when a caution period was required with the Torrens Fiesta beached on the edge of the football pitch in a dangerous position at the exit of turn four. With Sticky’s car moved to a safe location the action recommenced, minus the unfortunate McElmeel, who could not find a gear again on the rolling lap and was forced to withdraw from a promising position. That caution period had wiped out McCann’s advantage and Bell wasted no time making his move to the front. Hylands kept the leader honest right to the chequered flag, but Bell was always in control and confirmed his first win of the new campaign. Hylands was a close second, with a fast finishing Martin in third, followed by Christie, Murray and Jaimie McCurdy.
54 20 940 342 4 962 943 960* 669*
9 199 18 977 343 70 64 75* 69 (* Did Not Start)
A win and a second place finish apiece meant a tie between Hylands and Bell for pole in the final. Protocol dictates that Hylands better result in the first race earned him pole position, and how important that inside line starting slot would prove to be. Bell was therefore outside row one, with Martin and McCurdy on row two, followed by Woolsey and the impressive McCann on row three. Stewart joined Heatrick and Sloan as a non-starter in this one to leave fifteen runners.
Track conditions had continued to get better throughout the meeting and as the National final was the last race on the card the drivers had a real decision to make regarding how much of a dry set-up to commit with. The lap times would end up around mid- 15 seconds for this one, which indicated how much the track had cleaned up. Off line however the surface was still very slick, as Bell discovered to his cost at the green flag where he dropped down to eighth by the end of the opening tour. Polesitter Hylands was having difficulties of his own and ran a little deep betweens turn 3 and 4 on the opening lap. Martin needed no second invitation to take advantage of that opportunity and immediately sliced into the lead, while Hylands had to be on guard to prevent a racy Adam Heatrick, who had started on grid seven, following suit. Martin looked comfortable out front and steadily edged a slight advantage over Hylands, who still had Heatrick for company, with McCurdy, Ian McReynolds and Woolsey slightly further back.
Sticky’s eventful evening continued when his Fiesta struck the wall a glancing blow along the start - finish straight, and a caution period was called to move the stricken car to safety. That eroded any advantage Martin had built up, but the leader was quickly back on it at the resumption to gain some breathing space once more. As the laps ticked down Hylands was able to match the pace of the leader, without ever being close enough to mount a serious challenge, as Martin stroked it home for a morale boasting win ahead of the forthcoming National Championships. A quick flick through the record books revealed that Derek’s last final win in the World Series occurred in October 2015, which indicates that Derek spends most, if not all, his time in the red grade, and how hard it is for anyone to win a final from back there!
Hylands was good value for second, which confirmed the current National Champion as top points scorer for the evening, while Round One winner Heatrick picked up another healthy haul of points in third. After that difficult opening lap Bell really got his head down and produced a storming recovery drive to salvage fourth place at the flag, with the top ten finishers completed by Murray, Christie, McReynolds, McCurdy, Woolsey and McCauley. Colin Adair
Heat 1: 54 9 4 20 18 940 199 342 977 943 343 nof. DQ: 960 & 962
Heat 2: 9 54 20 962 70 199 342 940 977 18 343 nof.
Final: 20 54 342 9 70 962 977 199 940 4 943 64 343 18 nof.
Hoosier Racing Tyres
World Series England round 1
Aldershot, Sunday 23rd July
Wood draws first blood in déjà vu event
Graham Brown Billy Wood took the honours from the final in the first round of the 2017-18 English World Series just as he did at the same event last year. The ‘back to work’ meeting featuring a different winner to every race, with former 2.0 Hot Rod ace Chris Crane and one-time 2.0 world champion Lee Pepper also topping the podium. Wood was chased home in the main event by Crane and Aaron Dew.
Although the entry wasn’t huge – just 20 - there were still quite enough cars and as I’ve remarked before, there’s an argument for saying that this is almost the perfect number of NHRs for this track. But that ‘respect’ everybody is always craving was much in evidence and only one penalty all afternoon pretty much told its own story.
All that said, there were quite a few drivers who gave the meeting a miss. Once again, and I know I’ve said this before too, they’ll be well aware they’ve got to drop two rounds anyway and obviously their thinking is that this will be one of them. But it has allowed others to steal a march on them and there is of course, no guarantee that those who skipped the meeting will score well at all the ones they do choose to race at…
A welcome addition to the grids for this year is Billy Bonnar, the Scot re-joining the English series after some seven years away, while Rob McDonald has gone in the other direction to bolster the Scottish series. Missing from the pits however was ‘ever present’ Dick Hillard, who has decided to take a rest from UK racing in favour of doing the 2018 series in South Africa.
A new season usually brings some rule revisions and this year is no different, with the adoption in England of the successful Northern Irish system of having the starting line-up drawn within grades and the order reversed for the second heat.
A very dodgy weather forecast looked to be coming true as the rain began spitting as the cars lined up for heat one. And, following a false start when Paul Gomm failed to move at the first time of asking, it was raining properly by the time they got underway for keeps. Fortunately it never came to very much, and it was Paul Frost’s Ginetta that set the early pace before Pepper, Crane and Wood all latched onto him.
A somewhat hasty re-joining manoeuvre by Shaun Taylor following a spin totally wrong footed the leader, Frost getting out-fumbled by all those immediately behind him as they swarmed around Frost and Taylor. It was the impressive Crane who emerged onto the back straight with the lead although Wood and Pepper were still right there too, the trio continuing to squabble over the lead all the way to the flag.
Bonnar’s return to racing south of the border was curtailed in this one by his being red-and-white flagged for running around with very bent steering.
The sun was out for the second heat, which was lacking Mikey Godfrey from the line-up due to a persistent misfire.
Pepper made the most of what was now a front row all to himself as he led them away with Crane in hot pursuit. Frost ran third for a time before retiring to hand the spot to Taylor, who promptly lost it to Colin Smith before having to pull up himself with rear bodywork jammed on the tyres – Stuart McLaird would later be penalised for causing that.
Half distance came and went with the lead pair still locked in combat but Smith, McLaird and Wood were about to join them for a fight to the finish. McLaird dropped back in the last couple of laps, while Crane almost but not quite found a chink in the leader’s defences, and a last minute lunge up the outside by Wood failed to unseat any of those ahead.
Chris Haird had been steadily hunting down the lead pack and got home fifth in the end, although he was probably lucky to finish, the world champ having had a major altercation with a big marker tyre almost in sight of the flag.
With Haird at the head of the second group on the grid for the final, his chances of taking the win certainly looked to be passing fair. In fact the race was won and lost inside the first fifty feet, with row two starter Wood making a demon getaway which took him underneath pole sitter Crane as they charged turn one, Wood’s yellow Tigra blasting into the lead he wasn’t to lose as they headed down the back straight.
Crane clung onto the back of Wood’s car like a limpet for a long time but, with the rain spitting again, the leader’s car appeared to just get better and better and the rest simply dropped back a few more feet with each passing lap.
In the end it became all about the battle for the places, with Crane at the head of a quintet comprising Dew, Jason Kew, Haird and Carl Waller-Barrett. Haird was probably expected to break free from this to go after Wood but it looked as though the #115 was still suffering some after effects of its encounter with the earth mover tyre and he eventually stepped aside to let CW-B have a go at breaking the stalemate ahead of them, which he couldn’t.
Wood eventually took the flag almost a quarter of a lap to the good with Crane still second and, after a solid afternoon’s work, about to leave Rushmoor as the new season’s points leader.
Billy was suitably upbeat following the win and said, “I do like it here (Aldershot), it’s a great little track – you’ve just got to keep it sensible, keep it smooth and try not to tear the wheels off!” GB
Heat 1: 15 305 155 23 316 174 162 48 491 39 209 115 113 55 29 152 nof.
Heat 2: 155 15 491 305 115 55 23 209 113(x-2) 174 162 48 333 844 152. nof.
Final: 305 15 23 174 162 115 48 209 55 491 113 155 316 39 3 152 844 nof.
Penalties: 113 dropped two places in heat two for contact with 152. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
CRL World Series Ireland, round 1
Tipperary, 15th July
Heat 1: 970 261 955 925 61 803. Dnf 777, 982.
Heat 2: 261 955 925 803. Dnf 970.
Final: 261 925 955 803. Dnf 61
(heat 1 amended after NHRPA investigation)
Hankook Performance Tyres
World Series Northern Ireland round 1
Ballymena, 14th July
Colin Adair reports: The new World Qualifying Series in Northern Ireland hit the road at Ballymena Raceway on July 14 amidst changeable weather conditions. Derek Martin and Glenn Bell shared the heat wins, but it was Adam Heatrick who stormed home to success in the final which also earned him the Richard Turtle Memorial Cup.
Less than two weeks after the chequered flag had fallen on the 2017 World Final and the province’s racers assembled at Ballymena to begin their quest for a spot on the 2018 World Final grid. The class received a welcome boast during the run-up to the opening round with the news that Hankook Performance Tyres had extended their sponsorship of World Series NI for another year. NHRPA confirmation that the province would be allocated a record ten spots on the grid at the 2018 World Final provided further proof to the strength of the class in Northern Ireland right now, so it was therefore a slightly disappointing entry of 15 cars which assembled for Round One. That should have been higher of course, but for some genuine tales of woe amongst many of the no shows from the original 22 car booking list. A few were undoubtedly put off by the weather; it began raining around 4 o’clock and was still chucking it down at start-time; while others were awaiting bits and pieces to finish their car preparations. Andrew Stewart had set out for Ballymena, but broke down enroute, while Christopher Kincaid got the length of the stadium before apparently damaging his mount getting it out of the transporter!
Amongst those present the most interesting entrant was Nevin ‘Sticky’ Torrens, making his first competitive appearance in Northern Ireland for well over thirty years! For those unfamiliar with his story Sticky was one of the driving forces behind the introduction of Hot Rod racing to Northern Ireland back in the mid-seventies, and was a regular competitor in the class until 1983-ish. Compared to some of his illustrious compatriots Sticky’s success rate was modest, an Irish Open win in 1976 his biggest victory, but he always remained a firm favourite with the local crowds, where his outgoing personality and relaxed attitude to racing proved almost universally appealing. The lack of characters in our sport currently is often lamented; well we certainly have one of the biggest back with us now! It’s going to be a steep learning curve however, as a space framed chassis, 16v engine and Hoosier Tyres were not part of the equation back in the seventies, never mind tyre logging sheets, transponders and raceivers! Another very welcome returnee was Gary Woolsey, the former British and National Champion back behind the wheel of his immaculately turned out Ginetta after a year’s sabbatical, and it was good to see Nigel McCauley back on track as well.
Light drizzle and a sodden track greeted the competitors for heat one. Kenny McCann led them away in this one, while Carl Sloan lost a lot of ground in the early stages after a touch with Adam Heatrick. Worse was to follow for Keith Martin when the 2005 World Champion’s Tigra was squeezed up the wall at the exit of turn two while the pack worked their way around the back marking Torrens. A piece of Martin’s bodywork came to rest on the track after the tangle, and required a caution period to retrieve, which eliminated Martin from the resumption. This one didn’t go much further before the yellows were required again after Torrens knocked a marker tyre out on track after a grassy excursion. Derek Martin took full advantage of a rare start in the blue grade to ease ahead on lap 6 and Glenn Bell followed through a few laps later to run second, with Shane Murray in third. As the laps wore down Bell closed in on the back bumper of the leader and was looking for a way past when the lapboards appeared. Martin kept it all neat and tidy however to stifle the threat and record the first win of the campaign, with an eager Bell second and Murray in third.
The rain had finally eased by the start of heat two, but the track was still soaking wet as the green flag dropped. McCann held sway until lap 4 in this one when Torrens tripped up the leader at the entrance to turn 3 while being lapped. The unfortunate incident also delayed Phillip McCloy and Sloan amongst others, and earned Sticky an early bath in this one. McCauley nipped ahead at this point with Adam Hylands in tow. The National Champion recorded a non-finish in heat one, but looked very racy this time around and pulled of a tidy move around McCauley to take things up on lap eight. Hylands wasted no time stretching out a handy lead as McCauley found his mirrors filled by Bell. For a number of laps Bell bided his time patiently, while McCauley pushed on harder and harder to maintain his advantage. Something had to give and sure enough McCauley clipped the wall on the exit of turn two after getting a little too close to the limit, which was all the opportunity Bell needed to grab the spot. It was way too late to do anything about the leader however as Hylands zipped home for an impressive win, well clear of Bell, Heatrick and D. Martin.
9 342 962 940 343 75 18 69
20 70 199 54 998 994 4
Bell’s brace of second place finishes in the heats tied down pole position for the final, with heat one winner Martin alongside on the front row. Heatrick and Murray occupied row two, with John Christie and Jaimie McCurdy next up on row three. All fifteen entrants were able to start the feature race where the winner would also receive the Richard Turtle Memorial Cup. This award was introduced back in 2015 in memory of Richard, who sadly passed away in November 2014. Richard had raced on and off in the National class from the late seventies until the early nineties and represented Northern Ireland at the World Championship in 1991.
Track conditions were the best they had been all evening by final time, but still far from ideal for any meaningful side by side racing. The silhouette of a dry line was visible by this stage, and that resulted in a full gambit of tyre choices up and down the grid. Some stuck with four wets, others went with the two and two option and there were rumours that some brave souls gambled on four slicks!
The problems for those on the damper part of the track was evident right from the green flag as outside row starters Martin and Murray lost ground in the opening exchanges. Bell immediately sprinted into the lead, but just as quickly disappeared when the Bell Building Tigra pulled up abruptly at the end of lap one. That left Heatrick in the hot seat, with Christie up to second already, followed by McCurdy, Murray and Woolsey. Heatrick set a brisk pace up front and started to edge clear of Christie, who in turn was beginning to drop those battling over third. Hylands was the other one to watch at this stage as he motored around Woolsey and Murray to latch onto McCurdy’s tail. Up front Heatrick had developed a useful gap over Christie, but was already starting to encounter backmarkers as the different tyre strategies came into play. Hylands initial charge had started to fade by half distance as D. Martin began to impress after his sluggish getaway. Martin eventually worked his way past McCurdy to snatch third, while leader Heatrick’s pace had now dragged him onto a train of cars that included Hylands, Woolsey and Murray. This heavy traffic allowed Christie to close in on the leader until the front pair were eventually running nose to tail as the lap boards appeared. Woolsey and Hylands yielded to the leaders, but Murray steadfastly stuck to the drier line, no doubt wary of being railroaded down to the back of the chain if he moved onto the wet section of track. Heatrick therefore was forced to patiently sit behind and cover the inside, playing the odds that it was going to take something extra special for Christie to go right around the outside of him on a damper section of track! It was a strategy which required restraint, as Heatrick could easily have lost patience and attempted a clumsy move to shift Murray. Instead Adam demonstrated admirable self control and coolly took the chequered flag after a professional performance. Christie was good value for second, and such was the pace of this pair that they lapped everyone up to fifth! D. Martin recovered well to finish third, no doubt rueing that tricky start, while McCurdy was a solid fourth. Murray was the last one to finish on the lead lap, with K. Martin and Woolsey in sixth and seventh respectively after Hylands received a two place penalty from the steward. Simon Kennedy, McCloy and McCann filled places nine to eleven, and final finisher Torrens got his name on the scoreboard as well to conclude his eventful re-introduction to National Hot Rod racing on a positive note. Colin Adair
Heat 1: 20 9 70 342 199 962 940 18 343 998 75. Dnf 4 54 994 69. 15 cars racing.
Heat 2: 54 9 342 20 962 70 994 199 940 343 998 75. Dnf 4 18. DQ 69.
Final/Richard Turtle Memorial: 342 962 20 199 70 994 940 54(x-2) 998 343 18 69. Dnf. 9 75 4.