NHRPA World Series England
Round 10 and Round 11
Northampton, 14th April and Ipswich, 17th April
Weaver’s Bank Holiday Bonanza
Graham Brown Three races and three different winners was the story at the chilly Brafield track for Autospeed’s annual Easter ‘away day’, with Kym Weaver fending off a late race challenge from Carl Waller-Barrett to lift the final honours. Three days later Kym made it a double by taking the top honours again at Ipswich, although he needed help from the stewards this time. Rob McDonald crossed the line first at Foxhall but was penalised for contact, a two place penalty relegating the Scot to third.
A healthy 26 cars turned out for Northampton, a field which included an outing for the seldom seen Peter Elliott, a return for the even more seldom seen these days Jack Blood and only the second chance for NHR followers to see the beautifully understated #421 car of Guy Smith. As the grids worked out, a relatively poor points average had placed Blood up front on row two for the heats, a starting slot which could well have given him three straight wins on any other day. But that wasn’t quite how things turned out…
Blood wasted no time snatching the lead away from Alistair Lowe with only a lap completed in heat one, with everything going pretty much according to the script thereafter. Blood was soon a quarter of a lap clear but was prevented from extending this advantage still further by a caution period thrown when Bradley Dynes went spinning at turn two, setting off a series of collisions which saw Shane Bland airborne, Jason Kew spinning and Lee Pepper somehow involved in the aftermath too.
This hiatus made absolutely no difference to Blood, the leader simply romping away when the green came back out, and once again carrying a better than quarter lap advantage by the chequers. Paul Frost got home second in his pretty Ginetta with Danny Hunn’s Mazda third.
The second heat looked like following the same pattern with initial leader Lowe pulling up on turn one lap one and handing the initiative to Blood. He again got busy building on that lead and was well clear when brought up short once more by waving yellow flags just beyond mid-distance. This has been occasioned by Bland getting into trouble of some sort, a slow cruise down the home straight being followed by an odd re-joining manoeuvre which had Frost run into him, Paul’s car then shedding its bonnet on the home straight a lap later.
Unfortunately for the leader, this was the point at which the steward discovered his radio wasn’t working which always attracts immediate disqualification. That would have put Frost on point but, having lost his bonnet, his was another car to be immediately withdrawn. Thus Shaun Taylor found himself in the lead and probably fancying his chances of staying there with only five laps left when hostilities resumed.
Taylor immediately found himself under the cosh from Aaron Dew however, Dew putting his Ginetta in front down the back straight. The result was still far from being cut and dried, with Waller-Barrett swooping in for what looked like a last minute ‘kill’ with five to run, only to have a lump of debris flick up into his engine compartment and jump his timing belt a few teeth.
With CW-B gone, Dew was able to extend his lead sufficiently to ensure that the fast finishing Weaver stayed far enough behind him at flag fall.
The aggregate grid provided a very different look to the line-up for the final, with at least four potential winners in the front group.
After a hard first bend shunt involving Rob McDonald (whose car took some severe damage on the left front), Mikey Godfrey and Steve Dudman gave rise to a complete restart, it was Paul Gomm who set the pace but with Weaver running alongside him throughout the first lap. Weaver eventually forged ahead with Colin Smith assuming second and keeping Weaver honest for all the first half of the race.
But the car to watch as the race wore on was the repaired Waller-Barrett machine, the Tigra having somehow not bent any valves and absolutely flying now as the European champ worked through from mid-grid. When CW-B took Gomm for third shortly before the midway mark, Weaver and Smith were still a heck of a long way down the road though, and that’s not to mention a few backmarkers barring Waller-Barrett’s way too. He was still whittling away the lead pair’s advantage just the same and darted past Smith through turn two six laps from home. He was still busy carving into Weaver’s lead when he finally ran out of laps, Weaver eventually running out the winner by a few car lengths.
Ipswich was only scheduled to feature 24 starters and this went down by one more after practice, when the unfortunate Alistair Lowe blew his motor up and non-started.
Jason Kew had decided there were just too many issues with his usual car after NIR and so brought his dad’s pretty blue example along. Stuart McLaird had his seriously pretty Ginetta on hand and was joined by dad Andy in Stu’s old Tigra, Andy making a comeback after more years out of the harness than probably either of us care to remember!
There was also a welcome visitor in the shape of Winnie Holtmanns having a pre-world final run out from the back of the grids as usual.
And speaking of Ginettas, the first heat of the day turned out to be dominated by them, with several drivers proving that they’re now beginning to get a handle on the still new marque.
Rich Adams took the lead from his pole start but with Frost challenging him right from the off, Frost going ahead with two laps done. With Frost gradually pulling clear thereafter, Adams fell back to scrap with Shaun Taylor, Steve Dudman and Dew over the other major places. They were joined by Danny Hunn, the dice continuing apace until Dudman went spinning at the turn two exit. That left Taylor still under plenty of pressure and forced to defend his spot, letting Adams get away again.
That places battle helped ensure Frost’s emphatic win and he took the flag half a lap clear of Adams and Dew, which looked like being the first all-Ginetta podium until Dew was adjudged responsible for Dudman’s demise and handed down a penalty.
Heat two kicked off with a three way argument over the lead, with Adams out front again initially, harried by Frost and Ivan Grayson.
Frost again looked the faster man and took over at the front once more down the inside as they exited turn two. Adams retired soon after and then suddenly the leader was gone as well, Frost having heard a rattle from his motor and pulling the car up before anything really expensive happened.
That put Grayson into the lead but with Taylor, Hunn, Dew and Bland all queuing up to have a go at him. Bland got by Dew down the outside and then Hunn just as Dew spun out. But as Bland tried for another swoop up the outside, he got off line and onto the marbles, dropping back to fifth by the time he’d sorted it out.
The destiny of the win was still much in doubt too, as Taylor and Hunn attacked Grayson’s position before they were joined by Stuart McLaird and the recovering Bland. Hunn managed to punt Taylor into Grayson with one to go but the leader not only survived the impact, he actually managed to make a few yards out of it, this scant advantage being enough to get him home first from Hunn and Bland. It was Hunn who suffered the steward’s wrath this time though, going down two places for the incident with Taylor.
The final was very much ‘a game of two halves’.
Grayson just managed to beat Taylor to turn one to lead but Taylor got ahead through a cloud of rubber smoke as Grayson locked his wheels ending lap one. That also allowed the eager Bland and McDonald through, Bland racing up the outside to briefly snatch the lead only to have Taylor and McDonald take him back again along the back straight.
The lead dice continued to rage between the trio with Bland persistently trying for the outside pass. Once they were joined by Hunn as well it really was anybody’s race. It looked as though a yellow flag was coming when Adams, Pepper and Dynes all collided with each other and the barriers at turn four but fortunately the flag remained furled, allowing Dew, Weaver and Colin Smith to close in and make it a seven car lead dice!
It all finally came unstuck when a series of bumps and bangs saw Bland and Hunn plough into the wall exiting turn two, Taylor losing the lead to McDonald in the midst of it all before spinning out, and the yellows finally getting an airing this time.
The order was McDonald from Weaver, Dew, Smith and Chris Haird when racing resumed but, try as he might, Weaver could never quite seem to shut down the small gap between him and the leader. In the dying laps he also needed to pay attention to his mirror with Haird and Gavin Murray right behind and looking to move up further still, the quartet finishing in the same order they’d been in for a while.
It was only after the finish that penalties were applied to move Weaver to the top step of the podium, elevating Murray to second and leaving McDonald third after Haird also copped a two place docking for his method of passing Dew. GB
Heat one: 92 316 339 152 162 333 48 209 491 95 27 155 42 55 964 22 31 115 43 117 136 3 421. NOF
Heat two: 23 209 333 3 491 152 117 964 95 27 39 48 115 22 174 155 136 43 421 31. NOF
Final: 209 162 491 95 115 92 964 23 22 31 174 39 48 155 152 333 136 43. NOF
Penalties: None. Martin Kingston's photos in The Gallery
Heat one: 316 22 152 339 23(-2) 333 136 964 42 155 39 48 113 209 117, 491 115 95 162 174 467 13. NOF
Heat two: 136 42 152 339(-2) 117 3 491 209 115 174 95 48 155 964 333 31 467 23. NOF
Final: 209 95 117(-2) 23 115(-2) 162 491 113 48 31 136 22 152 467. NOF
Penalties: 23 dropped two places in heat one for contact with 3. 113 disqualified from heat two for contact with 23. 339 dropped two places in heat two for contact with 152. 117 dropped two places in final for contact with 152. 115 dropped two places in final for contact with 23. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Dechmont Forklift Trucks
World Series Scotland round 9
Crimond, Sunday 23rd April
Heat 1: 308 700 335 36 33 875 94x
Heat 2: 308 871 700 36 94 344 335 33 875
Final: 308 36 700 335 94 871 344 875 33
To be confirmed.
Hankook Performance Tyres
World Series Northern Ireland round 9
Aghadowey, Monday 17th April
Darren Black reports: On an afternoon that showcased everything that is good about National Hot Rods, former World & European Champion John Christie took his retro Fiesta to a fine heat and final double at Aghadowey Oval on Easter Monday. The other heat winner in front of a big Bank Holiday crowd was Conor McElmeel, his first taste of victory in the formula.
All those expected came to grid for the ninth round of Hankook Performance Tyres World Series NI, including those who had ran into trouble at Ballymena just three days previously. Phillip McCloy had his diff problems rectified whilst Ian McReynolds' suspension issues on his Saxo were also behind him after a busy Easter weekend in the workshop. Another busy team were McCurdy Motorsport, who had replaced the engine in Jaimie's Ginetta with a spare borrowed from Derek Martin following oil pressure issues at Ballymena. Unfortunately Adam Hylands was absent following a family bereavement, which had understandably led to his early retirement from the Good Friday meeting.
Conor McElmeel stepped into the lead in the opening heat as the sole white grader, as David Kernohan had elected to run off the back with a persistent oil leak that was proving troublesome to stop. Simon Kennedy and Andrew Stewart led the yellow graders, whilst many eyes were already on John Christie who had made a lightning start from the front of the blues.
Christie quickly demoted Ben McKee, McCloy and Stewart to go third, whilst a raging battle at the front of the reds saw Derek Martin finally break clear of a stubborn Mark Heatrick. McKee and McCurdy then tangled into turn one, the resultant brush with the wall unfortunately enough to put Ben out for the remainder of the afternoon. Christie now had the bit between his teeth, and swooped past both Kennedy and McElmeel to grab a well deserved win. Sloan, who always seems to perform well at Aghadowey, hit the outside late on to grab second from McElmeel, with Kennedy and Martin following Conor home in fourth and fifth respectively.
There was disappointment for Kennedy before the start of heat two, as he retired during the warm up laps with some bother or another. McElmeel again led them off, with Stewart heading the yellows this time and McReynolds the blues. World number one Adam Maxwell was leading the charge from the rear and immediately we could see that this one was going to have a completely different complexion to the previous heat – exactly the reason why we reverse the grid within grades here in Northern Ireland.
McCurdy, Sloan and Christie got underneath McReynolds and then Stewart, and the chase at the front was now on as they fought to reduce the gap to leader McElmeel which was over half a straight at this stage. Sloan lost ground on the pit bend and with it a fistful of places, whilst Shane Murray finally got the better of Maxwell by boxing him in behind the McReynolds Saxo in a superb manoeuvre.
All the time the Ginetta of McCurdy was running down the leader, looking for the marque’s first ever Ulster victory. Jaimie got himself alongside nearing the end, but McElmeel held his resolve to take his maiden win in the formula. Conor has been looking more and more accomplished behind the wheel of late, and this was just the confidence boost he deserved. Christie, Stewart, Murray, McReynolds and Maxwell filled the places from third back.
< 962 75 199 20 70 960 998 343 717
< 64 669 977 9 76 994 82 342 18
The final, sponsored by Murrays of Randalstown, paired Christie and McElmeel on the front row with Sloan and Stewart next up, and it would turn out to be one of the best and most intriguing races for some time. Christie was off like a hare at the green, but the heat two victory had obviously raised McElmeel’s confidence as he calmly slotted across into second. Sloan was the first to challenge Conor on the outside, but ran wide through the Brown Trout Bend which invited Martin into the mix. A brief three abreast moment saw Derek catapult up McElmeel’s outside, hanging Sloan out to dry which would ruin his and the following McCurdy’s race too.
Last season Martin would have cleared McElmeel in no time, but Conor was proving tougher to crack than many thought. It took Martin a few tours to make it stick, but by now the leading Christie was almost half a lap to the good. But with the others now queuing up behind McElmeel, John was going to have some serious traffic up ahead very soon. Bell and Murray (from the second group after a blinding opening few laps) were amongst the next to challenge McElmeel on the outside in what was becoming a super encounter. The field was backed up behind a white grader, but the discipline and respect on show was top notch, with little or no contact except for a warning black cross on Mark Heatrick, and it for nothing major at that.
Most of the stadium were engrossed in the battles to pass McElmeel, but the main plot was bubbling nicely up front as Martin was taking chunks out of Christie’s lead. A gaggle of cars lay ahead for John which he traversed quickly, only for Martin to lose momentum whilst McCurdy finally rounded McElmeel right ahead of him. The lead was now back to about eight car lengths, and even that disappeared very quickly again as Derek arrived on John’s tail with just five to go. The quickest car on the NI scene currently versus the crowd favourite in the unfashionable Fiesta…
Derek wasted no time in getting alongside John but it was never going to be an easy task. They even had to go wide around a spinning McElmeel on turn three, still sensationally side by side, with John using every inch of his experience to hold the rapid #20 car at bay. It all had to come to an end at some stage though, with John getting the nod on the line by half a car length. A morale boosting win for John and the retro Fiesta, whilst Derek was great value in second in what looks a very rapid car indeed. Bell, Murray, Maxwell and Keith Martin chased them over the stripe.
The drivers now have almost two weeks’ break until their next round, the first outing of the year at Tullyroan Oval, on April 29th.
Darren Black with thanks to footage from NIOvalTV.
Heat 1: 962 75 64 998 20 9 669 977 960 76 994 70 199 82 343 18 nof.
Heat 2: 64 199 962 669 70 977 76 75 342 9 20 994 82 960 343 18 nof.
Final: 962 20 9 70 76 994 960 977 342 82 199 75 669 343 998 18 nof.
Hankook Performance Tyres
World Series Northern Ireland round 8
Ballymena, Friday 14th April
Colin Adair reports: Shane Murray was top points scorer when the Hankook Performance Tyres World Series NI recommenced with Round 8 at Ballymena Raceway on Good Friday. The former Two-Litre Hot Rod World Champion made the most of his blue grading for the evening to register a tidy heat and final double, and the blue grade domination was completed with a win for Keith Martin in the opening heat.
While the World Series in the other regions had returned from their winter hiatus a number of weeks ago the racing scene in Northern Ireland does not traditionally click into full swing until the Easter weekend which meant a late start to the year for most of the province’s National racers. Some had already been on their travels to seek out some action elsewhere, most notably the European at Lochgelly, but Good Friday at Ballymena still felt very much like the proper start of things again in this neck of the woods. 2017 is also a significant year for the venue, as Ballymena celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year, so it was fitting that the Nationals appeared at the opening fixture of 2017, just as they had featured at that opening night back in 1977 and on so many occasions since.
Everyone was therefore raring to go and there was a great sense of anticipation in the crowd, with a cracking entry of 21 cars in the pits. David Kernohan was a late withdrawal from the original entry list, but his place was filled by a welcome outing for Ben McKee. Other entries of note included an all too rare these days appearance for Tommy Maxwell and a National Hot Rod debut for Kenny McCann. Kenny previously raced scale model cars to a very good standard, but had certainly jumped in at the deep end with full size cars! His tidy Vauxhall Corsa had been out and about at various practice events for quite a while now, but this was Kenny’s first race experience and the novice acquitted himself well, finishing all three races and keeping out of trouble.
All 21 entrants gridded for heat one on a track that was not yet completely dry following a light shower at the start of the meeting. Andrew Stewart got no further than the warm-up laps before retiring as Philip McCloy and Conor McElmeel led the field away initially, with Tommy Maxwell and Simon Kennedy next in line. On lap 7 Kennedy rotated his Tigra on Suffolk bend and with the car stranded in a dangerous spot a caution period was called. McCloy continued to lead at the resumption, but Keith Martin was already starting to come into play and slipped ahead of both McElmeel and Maxwell to run second by lap 10. Fellow blue graders Shane Murray, Jaimie McCurdy and Adam Hylands soon followed through in Martin’s path, while Gary Wilson was making the best progress from the red grade. It was all change at the front on lap 14 as Martin eased his way to the top of the lap sheets, with Murray, McCurdy and Hylands now in tow. The leaders continued to circulate in that order to the chequered flag as the evergreen Martin chalked up 2017 as yet another year when he registered a National Hot Rod race win, 30 plus years after his first!
Ian McReynolds was an absentee for heat two where McCloy led away the remaining 20 runners. Hylands and Carl Sloan headed up the blue grade charge in this one and worked their way into third and fourth by lap eight. The top two proved a hard nut to crack however as McCloy and Tommy Maxwell confidently continued to hold sway out front, and still ran one and two as the lap boards appeared. Leader McCloy looked to have this one done and dusted as he headed into the final turn, but a tell-tale stream of smoke from the rear of the Village Blinds Peugeot hinted at mechanical problems. It wasn’t just the leader who was in trouble either. That transmission failure had coated the entry to turn three with fluid and the following Maxwell and Hylands were immediately onto the slippery stuff. Both did well to keep their cars pointing in the right direction and with cars sliding in all directions, plus the leader coasting towards the line without any drive, it was Murray who successfully navigated a path through to steal an unlikely win, despite heading in that final bend in fourth!
70 994 343* 75 82 342 369* 64 996 977* 937
199 54* 20 9 962 960 76 669 998 18
* Did Not Start
Murray and McCurdy headed the 17 starters for the final, where Hylands, McCloy and Tommy Maxwell joined McReynolds as non-starters, Adam understandably withdrawing from the meeting after receiving news of a family bereavement. Murray made the perfect start to charge into the lead, but fellow front row starter McCurdy was not so lucky and found himself railroaded down the field before his Ginetta ground to a halt after only a handful of laps. Murray eased out a slight gap over the Martins, Keith ahead of nephew Derek in the early stages, while further back Sloan had his hands full keeping an eager Glenn Bell at bay. Behind the top five Wilson, John Christie and Adam Heatrick fought out a tight battle over the minor places, while World Champion Adam Maxwell and Mark Heatrick rounded out the top ten. Murray continued unabated out front in what had, at this stage anyway, the look of a very routine win written all over it. That all changed however once Derek Martin eased ahead of his uncle to secure second and began to chase after the race leader. The gap between the pair visibly reduced lap on lap until Martin had Murray firmly in his sights. Once on the leader’s tail Martin wasted no time going on the offensive and immediately dived onto the outside of Murray’s Tigra. The pair circulated side by side for a number of laps, with Martin level with the leader at some points, but never quite managing to get his nose in front as Murray expertly defended his advantage. The pair had the added distraction of dealing with knots of backmarkers at the same time and their battle allowed Keith Martin to close in on the pair. That was Derek’s cue to call time on his outside attack and instead drop into line astern formation for the closing laps. Murray comfortably completed the distance for his second win of the evening after a clinical drive, with Derek Martin good value for second after an eye catching run. Keith Martin helped himself to a good haul of points with third while Sloan managed to thwart Bell’s advances and retain fourth to the flag, with the top ten rounded out by Bell, Wilson, Christie, Adam Heatrick, Maxwell and Stewart Doak. Colin Adair
Heat One: 994 – 70 – 199 – 54 – 343 – 82 – 962 – 20 – 9 – 960 – 76 – 75 – 996 (DQ) – 937 – 64 – 369 – 342 – 18
Heat Two: 70 – 199 – 54 – 343 – 994 – 75 – 342 – 20 – 369 – 9 – 64 – 669 – 960 – 76 – 962 – 82 – 996 – 937 – 998 – 18
Final: 70 – 20 – 994 – 75 – 9 – 82 – 962 – 342 – 76 – 996 – 960 – 998 – 64 – 669 – 18
World Series England round 9
Wimbledon, Sunday 26th March
Bland’s last London hurrah
Graham Brown Despite only extracting a third and fourth from his heats Shane Bland still managed to turn things around and take the final honours at the emotional last ever meeting at Wimbledon Stadium. Bland was made to work for his win however, having to pass pole sitter and double heat winner Steve Dudman and also survive a yellow flag period along the way.
Although a couple of no-shows depleted the grid slightly (Ivan Grayson was one, unfortunate to suffer a breakdown en route) there were still 22 cars on hand, more than enough around the relatively tight confines of what has become an increasingly rough surfaced Plough Lane track in recent months.
The meeting kicked off with a proper old style grand parade but with the addition this final time of all the Spedeworth staff and officials, led out by Deane and Janet Wood. The photo call and speeches (an emotional and clearly heartfelt one from Jan) underlined that this was in no way ‘just another meeting’, although I doubt any one of the sell-out crowd were under any illusions about the gravity and significance of the occasion.
The entry unfortunately fell still further when Paul Gomm was forced to non-start for the first heat, and it was Alistair Lowe who took off from his pole start to head the opening lap. However, Dudman made a huge sweep around the outside of turn four, putting himself perilously close to the fence but also into a lead he was not going to lose.
Chris Lehec was the next to demote Lowe who fought off the rest of the pack until several took him in one go, although Bland’s pass was only at the expense of a black cross. Nevertheless, once ahead Bland swiftly chased down Lehec to mount a hard challenge for second spot. It took him a long time to make a pass stick but he did eventually make the cut-back work and darted through to second spot. Dudman was a quarter of a lap clear by that stage though and with only five laps to go, Bland was never going to be able to do too much about that, even if he hadn’t lost a couple of spots for his black cross.
Along the way, Bradley Dynes and Chris Haird had a hefty coming together along the home straight at around mid-distance. Both cars were able to continue but this was going to be Haird’s only appearance as he was feeling most unwell and took no further part in the meeting. Mick Sworder didn’t manage to set the world alight in Billy Wood’s spare car but equally didn’t attract the attention of the steward either – contrary to many people’s expectations – even if he did give Dudman a friendly poke on the last bend!
Heat two followed a similar pattern. Lowe was first to break at the green but Dudman and Lehec were on him from the word go. Dudman got past first and had again put plenty of daylight between him and the rest by the time Lehec had worked his way into second.
It took Bland somewhat longer to close on Lehec this time but once there, the two conducted an entertaining duel, with Lehec defending firmly but fairly and Bland trying every which way to get past, inside and outside. Despite flirting with the fence worryingly often, Bland never did make it by in this one, Dudman romping home an unbothered winner with another quarter lap margin of victory.
Speaking of flirting with the fence, Sworder very nearly had a close encounter of the expensive kind coming off turn four at one point and, even if Mick wasn’t going to be taking any trophies home, there was no doubt that he was trying!
With the aggregate heat positions having sorted the final grid, Dudman looked like he was going to have a real fight on his hands if he wanted the hat-trick, with Lehec alongside, Bland right behind him, and a useful looking Gavin Murray on row three.
A very tight first lap saw Dudman, Lehec and Bland locked in combat throughout, with Dudman going ahead at the end of it and Bland ducking under Lehec to snatch second. Finally able to get Dudman in his sights, Bland soon pressured him into leaving the door open at the turn two exit and shot through to hit the front.
Murray also took Lehec when Chris had to check up momentarily rather than clout the wires, and didn’t take much longer to also pass Dudman, shortly before Aaron Dew and Dynes collided at turn two to bring on a caution. Unfortunately, Sworder was adjudged to overtaken under the yellows, so that was the end of his race.
This caution period naturally closed the field right up for the restart but the leader was alert to the danger, Bland taking off like a rocket the moment he got a sniff of the green flag. Colin Smith went straight on into the fence at turn one, Terry Hunn attracting a black cross under suspicion of maybe having had something to do with #491’s demise.
As Dudman began to fade from the major places, it was Rob McDonald who was the first to take advantage of the fact, the Scot on a real charge in the last half as he chased down Murray and went ahead eleven laps from home. Murray stayed well in touch however and, when they were joined by Jason Kew not far from the finish, it became clear no-one was going to be left with a free hand to try and catch the leader, Bland sweeping under the last ever chequered flag for the Nationals still well clear of McDonald and Murray.
And so ended our formula’s more than fifty year association with Wimbledon. Whilst no-one who drove the track in the 1960s was racing at this meeting to take any kind of link right through to the end, I did note that Gordon Bland was driving Shane’s car on the parade and Gordon certainly raced at Plough Lane back then.
My own involvement with the track goes back just about the same length of time and there is no denying that it was pretty gutting to be there for what we all knew would be the last time. So one final cup of overpriced stadium tea preceded one final walk through the pits and the famous tunnel, before a final stroll along the battle-scarred and pitted tarmac. The fact that at least a couple of hundred other like-minded souls were doing the same thing, often stopping to say ‘hi’ or shake hands and no doubt having similar thoughts and memories, made it all seem just a touch less glum and woeful.
So it was not until I awoke to a lovely sunny Monday morning wondering why I felt so depressed, that it properly sank in. Barring a miracle, it is all over for The Grand Old Lady of Plough Lane and there really won’t be any more heady nights spent in SW17 ever again. What on earth are we going to do with our winter Sundays now? GB
Heat one: 3,615,39,42(-2),491,152,117,95,174(-2),209,48,155,964,23,115,150,339,27,55. NOF
Heat two: 3,615,42,(209),155,162,95,39,31,174,117,48,491,964,23,55,339,333,150,152. NOF
Final: 42,117,95,174,155,39,48,31,339,55,491,333. NOF
Penalties: 42 dropped two places in heat one for contact with 55. 174 dropped two places in heat one for contact. 209 disqualified from heat two for starting out of position. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
DFT World Series Scotland Round 8 Cowdenbeath, Saturday March 18th
Heat 1: 117 871 700 36 308 94 nof (34 engine seized)
Heat 2: 117 871 700 36 94 308 nof (wet race)
Final: 871 700 94 36 308 nof (very wet race)
To be confirmed.
World Series England round 8
Birmingham, Saturday 4th March
Back to work win for Kew
Graham Brown Jason Kew followed up second and third places in the heats with a sterling final victory over Dick Hillard after a nail-biting dice between the two. They traded places a couple of times before Kew eventually prevailed to take the win in what was easily the race of the night.
A couple of late cancellations may have knocked the entry a touch, down to 21 in fact, but it was still a quality field that lined up for the first race of the 2017 part of the current season, including no less than three spanking new Ginettas for Rich Adams, Stuart McLaird and Aaron Dew.
There was also a new car – another Tigra A – for Shane Bland although, as it was wearing the panels from the old car, it was basically impossible to tell!
There was new and improved (if still similar colours) paint for Alistair Lowe, with Terry Hunn’s Mazda also sporting a new livery, very much in the style of so many Team Hunn cars down the years with a return to the traditional red and yellow colours.
But new car or not, new livery or not, every single car looked absolutely mint for the start of the new term, with every one a great advert for our sport and formula.
Heat one had barely got under way with pole sitter Lowe leading initially before being relieved at the front by Danny Hunn, when a collision on the back straight saw Bradley Dynes grind to a halt in a cloud of steam and smoke on turn four to bring out the yellow flags. During this brief hiatus a sudden shower soaked the track making the already damp and slippery surface even more treacherous, and that was without all the extra water the out of control Dynes machine had thrown onto the tarmac as well, at the entry to turn three.
Back under the green, Hunn continued to lead and even pulled clear for a time, but he was eventually reeled in by the hard trying Layton Milsom. Milsom tried an outside pass before ducking back under and past entering turn three, leaving Hunn to fall victim to the charging Kew. The rest of the pack managed to catch Hunn as well before flag fall, relegating him to fourth in the final reckoning as McLaird came through to claim third ahead of Weaver. McLaird would subsequently become the latest driver to fall foul of the tyre logging rules however, losing him all his places from the meeting. Steve Dudman had also incurred officialdom’s displeasure by passing under the yellow flags, which naturally led to him getting dropped from the result altogether as well.
It was still very wet but not actually raining for a scrappy start to the second heat, which left Dudman (who wasn’t having a great night it must be said) in the barriers and Lowe up an embankment for a very early yellow.
Following the restart, the fight up front was all about the Hunn boys and their Mazdas, with Danny taking up the lead before losing out to brother Terry. Danny’s wide line also tempted Shane Bland to nip by down the inside, Bland then closing down the leader to begin a lengthy battle to get by.
Half distance came and went with the #339 still just ahead, with Bland eventually making it past along the back straight. But Hunn stayed in touch for a long time, their struggle carrying them fully half a lap clear of the rest nearing the finish. Kew claimed third this time, while Danny Hunn’s good performance up to that point became all for naught, when he got involved in a pit bend incident with McLaird. Stuart went spinning but managed to re-join and limp home 15th (for all the good it was going to do him) while Danny tried to battle on to the flag in clouds of rubber smoke but in the end only succeeded in getting disqualified for causing the fracas with McLaird.
A spin by Dew in the warm up laps demonstrated how tricky the oval still was for the 19-car final, but that didn’t stop Kew rocketing away into the lead from the outside front row berth he’d earned in the heats. He was soon being bothered by Hillard though who looked even quicker if anything.
Anyone who could tear their eyes away from the lead dice could also have watched a great scrap further back between Chris Haird and Rob McDonald, the pair passing and repassing until they were upset by a collision involving Shaun Taylor and Bland, the impacts leaving Bland up a bank, Taylor with a technical disqualification for trailing bodywork and Haird nose on into the barriers.
Meanwhile, up front Hillard pulled off a class move between some backmarkers that put him into the lead for a second time (he’d been briefly in front for a few seconds on the previous lap), only for a determined Kew to fight back once more and re-pass going through another knot of traffic.
This time the leader made good his escape to ensure the win with Hillard still great value for second ahead of Gavin Murray and amazingly, Haird, who’d staged a magnificent recovery which even saw him eventually re-catch and pass McDonald. GB
Heat one: 48,174,(113),209,339,95,31,(3),155,55,22,115,491,162,23,39,152,333. NOF
Heat two; 42,39,174,48,31,115,117,209,491,95(-2),162,155,23,55,(113),152. NOF
Final: 174,31,95,115,117,339,209,39,155,22,55,48,964,23. NOF
Penalties: 3 disqualified from heat one for passing under yellow flags. 95 dropped two places in heat two for contact. 339 disqualified from heat two for causing crash involving 113. 113 loaded up after heat two for incorrect tyre logging. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Martin Kingston & Phill Cornish's Photos
World Series England round 7
Hednesford Hills, Sunday 6th November
Another day, another final for McDonald
Graham Brown Fresh from his ‘comeback’ success in the Scottish World Series final at Lochgelly on Saturday night, Rob McDonald repeated the exercise rather further south on Sunday evening. McDonald also picked up a heat win before overcoming some tough opposition and surviving a final peppered with crashes and caution periods.
With thirty-one cars out for the World Series season closer, we got three heats with which to sort the finalists starting order. And among those thirty-one, we had the welcome return of Ralph Sanders (I daren’t call him ‘veteran’ or he’ll have me!) for his first racing since this time last year. Joining him on the ‘comeback’ list was Jack Blood, the team having had some time out to both develop and modify the car in an effort to try and get on the pace of the front runners in the class.
Actually, Peter Blood didn’t put it quite like that, he said, ‘to try and get on the pace of the Irish’, and we had three of them helping swell the numbers too. Adam Maxwell was back for his second English meeting in a row (and he deserves loads of respect for all the effort put in to show the gold roof off, as he was at Lochgelly the night before as well) along with his uncle Tommy, both of them being joined by David Kernohan.
With Paul Gomm allowed back out to play too, this was definitely what we might call an impressive entry for an end of season affair. What was not quite so impressive was the temperature! And those who thought Ipswich was a bit parky soon had to revise their opinion upon arrival at The Hills! As I said to Mark Swinnerton, it really was a typical old-fashioned out-of-season Hednesford, as it was raining quite hard as well when we got there. And although that petered out eventually, the predicted temperatures of just two degrees never materialised or, if they did, it sure didn’t feel like it.
The damp, cold and very slippery track necessitated wets for all runners in heat one, where Alistair Lowe headed them away chased by Danny Hunn, Dick Hillard and Paul Frost until they were all brought up short by a yellow flag, thrown for the Terry Hunn and Chris Haird cars which were up against the wall.
Lowe swiftly lost the lead to Danny Hunn after the restart but the man to watch now was McDonald, the Scot almost driving in dirt track style as he carved through the placemen. Chucking the car at the bends sideways (not usually a quick way round Hednesford) and letting it run high and wide up the turns, he appeared in second just beyond half distance. On the way, it had looked as though he might get bottled up in a box comprised of Lee Pepper, Frost and Bradley Dynes at one point, but he swiftly fought his way out of the closing trap, then caught and passed Dick Hillard and finally swept to the front around Hunn’s outside exiting the East Bend three laps from home for a classic victory.
Ivan Grayson set the early pace in heat two with Lowe doing the chasing initially until he lost out to the fast moving Lee Pepper, who appeared to have all the grip the rest were mostly lacking on the still damp track.
Pepper took Lowe down the inside at the East Bend and Grayson with a carbon copy move at the other end of the track. From that point on, Pepper just got further and further up the road, eventually running out the winner by a full half lap. The places battle was quite another matter though, with Grayson having to fight off a massive challenge in the dying laps, Hillard just making it past in a blanket finish which also involved Adam Maxwell (although the world champion did collect a contact penalty) and Gavin Murray.
Grayson was again the fast starter in the third encounter, but Andy Lee was right with him (after surviving a first lap clash of paintwork with Dave Garrett) and very soon, so was Shane Bland. And it was Bland who had the bit between his teeth here, having been forced to miss his first race with last minute mechanical issues of the fuel pump kind. Passes of Lee and Grayson into the East Bend on successive laps carried him to the front, after which he simply pulled further clear with every tour.
There was still plenty to watch back in the pack though, where there was some robust – sometimes four wide – racing going on. It was Maxwell who emerged from all this best, having managed to get and stay ahead of Haird and Billy Wood (although this was still only for eighth place) but once again fell foul of the steward with another two place docking.
McDonald always looked a good bet for the final honours after he gained a second row start for the main event, but it wasn’t going to be easy.
Heat two victor Pepper was off the outside front row and went straight into the lead, McDonald settling onto his tail where he applied plenty of pressure without being able to find an opening. There had already been several spins and minor wall-bangers by the time McDonald was finally saved from having to make the pass on Pepper when three cars got together at the West Bend, the leader unfortunately managing to clip one of them on his way past.
With the yellows out and Pepper eliminated with broken steering, McDonald was now left to defend his lead against Jason Kew and Murray. But before they could do any serious racing, they had to endure a further three caution periods in the space of the next five laps, an almost farcical sequence of crashes undoubtedly brought on by each stoppage taking their tyres ever nearer the almost freezing track temperature. For the record, Steve Dudman crashed for the first one, Aaron Dew and Wood got involved with each other at the West Bend for the second, the same corner becoming the scene of a similar incident with Garrett and Kernohan for the third.
With the race finally underway a little more permanently, McDonald settled into a lead he looked unlikely to lose. But the places were far from settled, with Kew, Murray and Bland trading positions until Kew smacked the wall to bring on no less than the fifth caution period.
By this point there were already thirteen derelict cars on the infield, and we were only just past half distance.
But this restart was the last one, after which McDonald, Bland and Murray steadily put over half a lap on the rest, where Dynes was busy defending fourth against all comers. His success in this endeavour eventually enabled him to claim third too, when Bland picked up a penalty for some contact and a jumped start somewhere along the way. GB
Over 360 excellent Martin Kingston photos in the Gallery
Heat one: 117, 339, 964, 491,155, 31, 95, 48, 209, 115, 113, 55, 162, (27), 316, (369), 92, 289. NOF
Heat two: 155, 31, 136, 95, 305, 76(-2), 209, 117, 55, 113, 174, 23, 491, 196, 734, 369, 3, 333. NOF
Heat three: 42, 136, 3, 174, 39, 162, 23, 196, 115, 305, 76(-2), 92, 27, 964, 44, 717, 289. NOF
Final: 117, (42) 95, 964, 115, 113, 305x2, 162x2, 491, 31, 289, 27, 734 NOF
Penalties: 27 disqualified from heat one for contact with 39. 76 dropped two places in heat two for contact with 305. 76 dropped two places in heat three for contact with 92. 305 dropped two places in final for contact with 3. 42 disqualified from final for two incidents of contact (with 136 and 162) and also a jumped start. 717 originally disqualified but penalty withdrawn for insufficient evidence. 196 disqualified from final for contact with 55. 23 disqualified from final for contact with 305. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
World Series Scotland round 6
Lochgelly 5th November
Heat 1: 117 Robert McDonald, 76, 344, 844, 7, 700, 871, 369, 717, 77, 5, 36. DNF 94, 197, 648
Heat 2: 844 Billy Bonnar, 76, 117, 7, 344, 648, 94, 36, 77, 5, 700, 369, 717. DNF 871 DNS 197
Final: 117 Robert McDonald, 76 Adam Maxwell, 844 Billy Bonnar, 700, 344, 7, 36, 94, 5, 369, 717, 77. DNF 197, 648, 871. (369-2 places for contact)
Hankook Performance Tyres
World Series Northern Ireland round 7
Aghadowey, 28th October
Darren Black reports: The Ulster National Hot Rods signed off for 2016 with an excellent outing at Aghadowey Oval's Gala Night meeting. There was a record entry on hand, and after heat wins for Carl Sloan and Simon Kennedy it was World Champion Adam Maxwell who powered through to take the honours in the McCurdy Fuels sponsored final of Hankook Performance Tyres World Series NI Round 7.
A fantastic twenty one cars were gathered in the pit area come start time, including the immaculate Tigra of Davy Gurney. Davy has built the car up from an ex-Hunn frame, and it looked resplendent in his usual livery. There were also welcome returns for Tommy Maxwell (for his first World Series event in some time) and Ben McKee, the latter back in harness after his big British Championship crash. All three started off the rear of the grid, where they were joined by David Kernohan who is improving all the time in his Tigra B.
It was a great sight to send the 21 Rods off on their warm up laps for heat one, but as always is the way there as soon a spanner in the works! Shane Murray ground to a halt with drivetrain problems, meaning that only 20 cars took the green flag as Shane adopted a spotter’s role in Race Control.
Philip McCloy beat pole man Andy Stewart off the line at the first green flag of the evening to take up the heat one lead. Carl Sloan and Jaimie McCurdy were making good use of their generous yellow grading to give chase to the quartet of whites, with Sloan especially looking very racy as he always seems to do at the Co. Londonderry venue. McCloy wasn't getting away from Stewart at the front, and when Sloan and McCurdy relegated Simon Kennedy down the outside things were certainly hotting up behind him. And just to add to the tension, World Champion Adam Maxwell and British and National Champion Adam Hylands were closing in fast too...
The evergreen Keith Martin had been leading the charge of the red graders, but he succumbed to some sort of problem and came to a halt in turn four at the same time as Hylands departed the fray with a broken halfshaft. McCloy dropped back as Stewart took up the running, Philip possibly struggling with fluid getting onto his tyres. Indeed a blown head gasket would curtail his evening after this one.
Sloan was now all over Stewart for the lead, and found the slightest of gaps down his inside into turn one. Andy tried hard to close the door, only to get spun aside as Carl raced into the lead. Sloan pulled clear to take an impressive win, although it did take a Steward’s Inquiry to clear him of any wrongdoing, with McCurdy doing very well to spurn the advances of Maxwell in second, with Gary Wilson, Glenn Bell and Derek Martin next up.
Murray was repaired for heat two, but this time it was Bell who hit gearbox problems on the warm up laps and like Murray he too took up a spotter’s role in Race Control before hostilities got underway. Kennedy this time took the early lead ahead of Davy McKay and Stewart, with Sloan eventually getting the better of McCurdy after a few side by side laps to nail down fourth. John Christie was leading the charge through from further back, tracked by Wilson, Maxwell and Hylands.
Sloan wasted little time relegating Stewart and McKay to go second, again looking in fine fettle as he chased down Kennedy's advantage. That he quickly did, and straight away looked to the outside line for the lead. Time and again Kennedy staved off his advances, only for Carl to come back strong in the final laps. On the final tour he got himself right alongside the leader, just losing out in the drag race to the line as Kennedy took a sensational win by the narrowest of margins - 0.023 seconds! And Simon says he doesn't like Aghadowey that much! Stewart held on for third, ahead of McCurdy and Christie.
Sloan and McCurdy unsurprisingly shared the front row of the grid for the final, with Carl immediately taking up the lead, with Maxwell and Wilson slotting in behind as McCurdy got railroaded back to sixth. There was also plenty of interest further back, as Bell, Murray, Hylands and K Martin tried to improve on their lowly starting positions having failed to card two finishes.
Maxwell was slowly but surely inching into Sloan's lead out front, as a monster battle developed for third between Wilson, Christie, D Martin and Doak. All had their moments on the outside, with Bell joining in for good measure as the race progressed. Out front Maxwell was right on the leader’s tail, and found a gap down the inside into the Brown Trout Bend to take up the lead. Sloan tracked him all the way home as the World Champion rounded out his domestic season by taking the win and in some style too. Sloan could be more than happy to add to his huge points haul with second, with Wilson, Christie, D Martin and Bell next over the stripe.
A ninth place finish was enough to secure the Cirrus Plastics DMC Race Promotions Points Championship for McCurdy. The series runs over all the Aghadowey and Tullyroan meetings across the calendar year, and requires not only raw speed but consistency throughout the campaign to win it. Jaimie came into the final round with a narrow lead over Wilson, but after his excellent heat scores he was able to cruise home to the excellent trophy and a prize of four new Hoosier slicks.
That brought to end the 2016 season for the Ulster rods, and it has been arguably the best yet. The new reverse within the grades system adopted since July has worked superbly, and we can all look forward to more of the same in 2017. Darren Black
Brian Lammey's photos in the Gallery
Heat 1: 75 199 76 82 9 20 962 996 342 977 998 943 937 343 369 669 nof.
Heat 2: 998 75 669 199 962 82 76 54 996 20 994 977 70 943 342 937 369 717 nof.
Final: 76 75 82 962 20 9 996 54 199 70 994 342 977 998 937 943 717 nof.
World Series England round 6
Ipswich, 22nd October
Haird hustles but Dynes denied
Graham Brown Bradley Dynes may have got his Ginetta over the line first but a penalty for a jumped start handed the final win to the hard charging Chris Haird. The former world champion was chased home by the current one, Adam Maxwell returning to the scene of his July victory to drive a real stormer of a final.
There was a healthy 26-car entry on hand for this, round six of the 2016-17 series, that number swelled by the latest of the Ginetta runners in the shape of Paul Frost’s barely completed but still very pretty blue G40R. And of course, we also had an extremely welcome visitor in world champion Adam Maxwell, and it was really good to see the gold roofed #76 car at Foxhall and indeed, taking part in the meet ‘n’ greet autograph session with fellow world winners Danny Smith and Jason Cooper. A top promotional effort on the part of all concerned.
In fact, with these three classes on duty (2.0 Hot Rods and Superstox for anyone unaware) and a dry if cold night in prospect, this was clearly going to be a meeting for the oval racing connoisseur to savour. It was a shame therefore, that behind-the-scenes (mostly!) problems would eventually lead to the resignation of no less than three NHRPA officials.
But despite having two Ginettas lining up on track together for the first time in heat one, it was another of the latest marques to enter the NHR arena which caught the eye at the start with the Mazda RX-8 of Danny Hunn taking the early lead until his brother’s similar car brought out the yellow flags after crashing at turn one. Terry had in fact clobbered one of the outsize marker tyres on the speedway track first, so did his car absolutely no good at all.
By that point though, Danny had already lost the initiative to Mikey Godfrey and it was he who took charge for the restart, steadily pulling away from Hunn until a further caution period. That one was created by Alistair Lowe getting punted into a turn one spin, sparking off a chain of collisions which involved more than half the field by the time it was over.
Kym Weaver was left with a load of rear end damage, while Gavin Murray ended up in the wall and required a rear end lift to get his car removed. Jason Kew took a hit to the rear that damaged his rear axle sufficiently to put him out of the rest of the meeting, Lowe himself suffered a lot of front end damage, and the world champion too, was forced to withdraw with the left front corner smashed in and broken steering to boot.
Not a great outcome then, and even less of a great outcome when the resulting confusion enabled Aaron Dew to appear to be in fifth place when in fact he was a lap down. Even the transponder computer was happy to declare 23 to be 5th and the oversight was to have consequences.
Godfrey wisely didn’t put up too much of a fight when Shane Bland blasted round the outside to un-lap himself when racing re-commenced, but he wasn’t headed again after that. Hunn appeared to have lost second near the finish when Dynes went for a big sweep round his outside to pass the flag as the runner-up, but a penalty for contact put Dynes back to fourth in the final result.
Following a false start caused by some sort of miscommunication between the box and the starter, Andy Lee stepped off the line first to lead the second encounter away but lost out to Danny Hunn at turn three, albeit at the expense of a black cross for the new leader. Godfrey was hunting him down all the way though and did get in position to apply plenty of pressure as they left half distance behind. But as the laps dwindled, Dynes was able to catch up and apply pressure of his own, forcing Godfrey to defend rather than attack and allowing the leader to pull clear once more by the chequers.
Shortly before the start of the final there was clearly a problem on track, where Billy Wood drove down to the start/finish area to complain that Dew shouldn’t be starting ahead of him. Of course, it subsequently transpired that he was absolutely right. But with the meeting already overrunning and the ever-present threat of the curfew looming, there was no time to be re-jigging the grid and so Billy refused to start the race, thus giving up what could have been a pretty good result from the front of the second group.
With the race finally underway, it still didn’t get very far.
Godfrey immediately turned his pole start into the lead but when Danny Hunn went spinning at turn one and involved several other cars, the yellows flew once more. Dynes had the lead by the time the cars stopped and, following some initial confusion about when exactly he’d hit the front, was allowed to keep it for the restart.
With the race back under way, Dynes was able to maintain a small buffer over Godfrey and Carl Waller-Barrett. But the men to watch here were undoubtedly Haird and Maxwell, both men carving through from well down the grid. Steadily picking off every car they came across, Maxwell was always that little bit behind Haird and didn’t seem to be getting the rub of the green with the backmarkers either. Nonetheless, he was still within range when it all got very tight at the front, Dynes having his own backmarker problems which allowed Godfrey, Waller-Barrett and Haird to close right up.
Godfrey was forced to defend once more though, letting Dynes slip away a little, while Haird went outside CW-B to snatch third through turn two. Maxwell was just preparing to do the same when another (this one seriously untimely) caution flag flew for Kym Weaver, whose battered car had become stranded in mid-track.
The hiatus spoiled Maxwell’s charge (although he soon relegated Waller-Barrett once they were back under the green flag) but did put Haird right in position to blitz past Godfrey and attack Dynes’ lead with a vengeance. He didn’t quite make it past despite going side by side out of the last bend, but Dyne’s subsequent penalty gave Haird the win in any case, also promoting Maxwell to second spot. GB
Results (Amended 31/10)
Heat 1: 27 339 152 964(X-2) 305 136 155 31 162 115 491 (48) 289 316 113 42 23 217 nof.
Heat 2: 339 27 964 217 152 (48) 3 155 31 491 113 23 305 (76) 162 39 136 289 316 856 nof.
Final: 115 (76) 27 964(X-2) 162 152 491 (95) 3 155 23 316 39 136 289 856 nof.
Penalties: 48 disqualified in heat one for spinning 55 and causing incident. 48 subsequently loaded up in any case. 964 black crossed in heat one and dropped two places for contact on 3 and persistent tapping. 95 disqualified in Final for causing 209 to spin. 964 dropped two places in Final for jumping a restart. 48 loaded up after heat two for abusive behaviour. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Clive and Martin's Photos
World Series England round 5
Dew's double delight
Hednesford Hills, 9th October
Graham Brown Aaron Dew made off from The Hills with the lion’s share of the points after taking victory in a heat and the final, with only Terry Hunn able to head him home in the other heat.
A passing fair entry of 25 cars made it to Cannock Chase for this one, albeit that we lost one of them – former F2 racer Richard Bowyer – after practice when the diff let go on what I’m told is the original ex-Chris Haird world championship winning car.
Everyone else was racing what you’d expect them to be racing, Bradley Dynes giving his Ginetta its second outing, while Stuart McLaird had his car in a very fetching new colour scheme, now featuring sponsorship from Flybe. I’m not sure if Dick Hillard spilling tea on the roof of the car during scrutineering had anything to do with it, but Stewart never finished out of the top six all day so maybe an anointing with the elixir of life is a new tweak!
Terry Hunn made a lightning start to the opening heat, easily beating Andy Lee and Lee Pepper into turn one, the Mazda driver quickly extending his advantage while the rest descended on Lee.
Bradley Dynes picked up a black cross and continued to have something of an exciting race with what was apparently a notable lack of brakes on the G40R, while Mikey Godfrey had a spin at turn four. Godfrey wasn’t the only one to end up with the track going round him instead of the other way round, as Shaun Taylor rotated coming off the West Bend and remained stuck there for the duration, an incident for which Billy Wood initially got the blame and a disqualification to go with it.
Hunn continued to maintain his buffer over the rest until Aaron Dew caught and passed Pepper and was closing the leader down all the way from half distance. The balance finally tipped in Dew’s favour when Hunn ran into backmarking traffic that he couldn’t break through and, when a gap opened up for Dew down the inside at turn three, he slipped by. Hunn stayed in touch and even managed a last gasp attempt at an outside pass coming to the stripe, but to no avail.
Heat two followed a similar pattern, with Hunn again getting away first and swiftly building a bit of a lead over Pepper, Dew and the rest. The other Mazda, in the hands of Danny Hunn, was soon parked on the infield after some sort of incident at the East Bend, and he wasn’t the only one in bother either. Colin Smith suffered a spin by the start/finish and Lee was forced to a smoky stop in order to reverse up and spring his rear bodywork off the tyres.
This time, Pepper put up a much stiffer defence of his second spot and, try as he might, Dew couldn’t make an outside pass stick despite numerous attempts. In fact, Dew’s car didn’t look to have the grip he’d enjoyed in the first race and it wasn’t until two laps from home that he finally managed to put himself ahead of the Pepper Peugeot. By that time Hunn was a long way ahead and was actually able to back off and cruise home, still a quarter of a lap clear.
Having ensured a pole start for the final, Dew made the perfect getaway to head the field as they streamed into turn one, and it wasn’t long before he was leaving the pack behind. Initially he was pursued by McLaird but it was Terry Hunn who moved up to second on lap two, with Jason Kew also passing McLaird soon afterwards.
A difference of opinion between Billy Wood and Dynes about whose bit of track was whose saw Dynes go spinning at the East Bend while rest pressed on, with Kew attacking Hunn’s position and being rewarded with second place down the inside at the West Bend. Dynes was subsequently red and white flagged for continuously running around with his window net unfastened, a situation which eventually attracted him a black flag.
The rest of the race became all about whether the leader could deal with the constantly looming knots of backmarkers effectively enough to keep the more experienced Kew at bay. It turned out to be no problem at all for Dew and, nearing the finish, attention switched to Chris Haird who was coming on with one of his characteristic late charges. Having already put Kym Weaver and McLaird behind him, the former world champion relieved Hunn of third as they got the last lap board to follow Dew and Kew home. GB
Heat 1: 23 39 113 174 3 217 155 209 305 115 42 95 289 48 196 162 491(X-2) 31 136 55 339 964(X-2) nof
Heat 2: 39 23 155 174 113 27 3 217 42 136 209 115 305 162 95 152 964 31 196 48 55 289 nof
Final: 23 174 115 39 113 95 42 162 305 217 196 27 155 209 48 136 491 55 152 289 nof. Dq: 964
Penalties: 491 dropped two places in heat one for contact with 162. 964 dropped two places in heat one for contact with 55. 42 initially dropped two places in heat one for contact with 209, penalty later rescinded. 305 initially disqualified from heat one for spinning 152. Penalty later rescinded after on-board video evidence viewed. 964 disqualified from final for failing to obey technical disqualification flag (window net unfastened) and Raceceiver requests to retire his car. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Phillip Cornish's photos in the Gallery
Hankook Performance Tyres
World Series Northern Ireland Round 6
Ballymena, Friday 7th October
Colin Adair reports: Round 6 of the Hankook Performance Tyres Word Series NI at Ballymena Raceway on October 7 generated the sixth different final winner of the current campaign as Gary Wilson mastered the tricky conditions to record a flag to flag win in the feature race. Wilson accounted for the opening heat as well, while heat two produced a maiden NHR win for Jonathon McMillan.
Seventeen cars arrived for Round 6, but unfortunately Phillip McCloy would not get beyond practice, gearbox woes reportedly sidelining the Village Blinds Peugeot for the remainder of the meeting. The entry was reduced still further before the start of heat one when Connor McElmeel’s Tigra pulled into the centre during the warm-up laps. That left Jonathon McMillan as the lone white grader who led the remaining 15 starters around to the rolling start at a damp Ballymena. Beyond the leader sole yellow grader Simon Kennedy ran second, while Gary Wilson edged ahead of Carl Sloan as the pair led the charge from the blues. McMillan continued to hold sway until well past halfway in this one before Wilson dived into the lead on lap 13. Further back there was some hectic action amongst the reds where Derek Martin undertook a brave three abreast manoeuvre through Suffolk bend. The wide bends at Raceway taper into narrower straights which makes three wide a real squeeze on the exit of the corner. Some intelligent work by the three drivers involved, Martin, Stewart Doak and Adam Maxwell, saw all of them safely through and Derek accounted for Kennedy on the same lap as well to prove that fortune does occasionally favour the brave! There was time for more drama when Jaimie McCurdy went for a spin at the exit of turn four. The ever alert Glenn Bell had spotted an opportunity on the inside and the slightest touch between the pair was enough to send the #199 car around in the wet conditions. None of this was any distraction to Wilson however, who came home well ahead of the rest for his first win on the current series. Sloan tiptoed around the outside of McMillan on the final tour to secure second, with National rookie McMillan good value for third considering the testing track conditions. Shane Murray was next across the line, with the top ten rounded out by Ian McReynolds, Bell, D. Martin, Maxwell, Doak, Keith Martin and John Christie.
The rain had stopped prior to the start of heat two which gave the drivers a decision to make regarding tyres. Sloan had gambled on four slicks for this one, but was an early spinner as he struggled to get any heat into the tyres. There was a lively start amongst the red grade with another tricky three abreast moment on the exit of turn four. A fast starting Adam Heatrick had managed to get a run up the inside of front row starters K. Martin and Christie and the trio came three wide onto the start/finish straight. Christie was squeezed tightly to the wall, his Ford Fiesta even riding up the lower lip on the wall at one point, and lost places hand over fist as the rest of the red grade filed past in quick succession. He was soon joined towards the rear of the field by McCurdy after Jaimie ran fractionally wide at the exit of turn two and was ruthlessly railroaded from fourth to twelfth in a couple of laps. Out front McMillan and McElmeel were going along very nicely indeed, the two white graders holding down the front running slots until three-quarter distance. Wilson was again heading the chasing pack and managed to hunt down McElmeel, but McMillan kept everything very neat and tidy to record his maiden National Hot Rod victory after a composed drive in the slippery conditions. Jonny joins brothers Ivan and Ronnie as a National Hot Rod race winner and I believe that is a unique achievement, certainly in the province anyway. There are numerous examples of two brothers winning races, but I can’t think of another family where three siblings have all recorded a National Hot Rod race win? Wilson followed the winner home to tie down pole position for the final, with Keith Martin in third, but the driver to watch over the closing stages had been Maxwell. The World Champion’s tyre choice, presumably four slicks, had really kicked in over the final laps as the track continued to dry out and saw Adam pick of the likes of Derek Martin and Murray in quick succession.
82 977 994 75 20 962 199 717
945 9 70 342 76 996 998
The heat winners shared the front row of the grid for the final, with McReynolds and Bell on row two. The track had continued to improve during the interim period and the first form of a dry line was now visible on the inside. Bad news for those starting on the damper outside line of course and so it proved at the green flag where McMillan and Bell both lost out as Wilson darted into the lead followed by McReynolds and K. Martin. Sloan initially ran fourth until Murray elbowed his way past in a move which attracted the attention of the steward. Once out onto the slippery stuff Sloan dropped like a stone through the field which demonstrated what little grip was available once anyone strayed outside the drier line. Out front Wilson was comfortable and stretched out a handy gap over McReynolds. However Martin was now under pressure from Murray, who arrowed in on the rear of the #994 Tigra, but some assistance from behind through the bends was something Martin certainly did not appreciate! Indeed the 2005 World Champion took the unusual step of slowing his pace right down to a crawl at one point to highlight his annoyance at the interrogation his Tigra had received from Murray. That almost spelt disaster for the following group, who came across the almost stationary pair at full chat, but thankfully everyone managed to sort out the moment and continue with Martin and Murray perhaps fortunate to escape with only a stern warning from the race steward. This all played into the leaders hands of course as Wilson and McReynolds extended their advantage out front. After a few laps respite the Martin / Murray battle resumed and Murray quickly made a decisive move on the inside of turn three to grab the position. Once free of his adversary Murray swiftly reeled in McReynolds too, who offered little resistance as Murray’s advance continued. Shane has certainly ruffled a few feathers since he moved into the Nationals, but the former Two Litre World Champion was undoubtedly the quickest man on the track now and caught the leader as the lap boards appeared to set up a grandstand finish. Wilson is an experienced campaigner and immediately covered any possible gap on the inside to force Murray onto the damper outside line if he wanted to win this one. Murray went for it almost straight away, but his foray confirmed this was going to be a near impossible task as the #70 Tigra immediately lost a lot of ground. Murray quickly made the distance back up again and to his credit went for the outside once again, but with no more joy than his original attempt. Time had run out for any further challenges as Wilson stroked it home for a well earned win. Murray’s earlier encounter with Sloan cost him a two place penalty in the final result which promoted Martin and McReynolds into second and third, with the remainder of the top ten rounded out by the demoted Murray, Heatrick, Christie, Bell, Doak, Maxwell and McCurdy. Derek Martin had been frantically searching for gears over the closing laps and those problems dropped him to thirteenth behind Sloan and Kennedy, with David Kernohan the final finisher.
The province’s final World qualifier of 2016 takes place at Aghadowey on October 28. Colin Adair.
Heat One: 82, 75, 945, 70, 977, 9, 20, 76, 996, 994, 962, 342, 998, 199, 717.
Heat Two: 945, 82, 994, 342, 977, 9, 76, 20, 962, 70, 199, 996, 64, 998, 75.
Final: 82, 994, 977, 70 (x-2), 342, 962, 9, 996, 76, 199, 75, 998, 20, 717.
Photo thanks to Ken Reay.
World Series Ireland round 6
Tipperary, Saturday 1st October
Ed Fahey reports: Seven cars assembled at Rosegreen for Round 6 of the Irish series, along with the postponed final from the previous week. Seven was a good improvement from the previous week’s very disappointing three and was both a mixture of old and new. David O’Regan debuted his newly painted and stickered Tigra, the blue and white car looking very smart indeed and a credit to David and his team. James Ginty turned back the clock with his smart SHP Peugeot 205, bringing back fond memories of when these cars were the ‘Tigras’ racing around Tipperary Raceway.
The first race of the evening was the previous weekend’s postponed final with Dave Casey on pole position followed by Damien Mulvey and Jeff Riordan. Unfortunately for Riordan a carb issue led to a bad misfire and he pulled off before the warm-up for repairs to be undertaken. This race was characterised by Tipperary’s rapidly changing weather, as while a grey cloud was looming in the distance, the breeze brought the lightest of rain onto the track literally as the drivers were forming on the grid along with a sudden loss of light. Given both drivers were wearing tinted visors this was not ideal for vision. Mulvey leapt into the lead at the start, cutting across Casey’s bow, Casey holding onto the outside line for a side by side battle, which only lasted briefly as Casey got ahead and pulled away by several car lengths. The darkness along with a slippery outside line left both drivers, who were on slick tyres, resolving to finish the race and clock up the points, Casey easing back with a comfortable lead over Mulvey to the finish.
Onto round 6’s heat 1 and the rain had long gone leaving a cool and dry track under the floodlights. Sadly for Ginty his brakes stuck on in the first lap of warm-up, making light contact with the wall at T3 and he was sadly unable to sort this for the rest of the evening. No point in being able to go if you can’t stop! At the green both Mulvey and O’Regan made fast starts from the blues and only a single lap of the race had passed before Mulvey passed lone yellow grader Tom McSweeney and into the lead. In third and fourth was a great battle between O’Regan and Riordan, both drivers keeping it very tight and clean and not giving each other any room for error. Lone red grade Casey was rapidly closing in and took blue Eddie Wall on the inside of T4 and off in pursuit of Riordan. There was a bit to go before Casey got behind Riordan, who had broken free of O’Regan’s grip and was now chasing Mulvey. O’Regan had slowed a little and a trail of white smoke from his left rear wheel was the sign of a halfshaft/bearing issue which ended up affecting the brakes too, David lifting a bit earlier with spongy brakes and unable to battle with Riordan as a result. Wall came up for fourth position after McSweeney had retired with clutch issues.
Up ahead Casey had caught Riordan but Jeff’s improving skills at the wheel clearly showing as he held the inside line, forcing Dave onto the outside. Riordan held off Casey very fairly and forcing Casey to ease a little which allowed O’Regan closer, but not close enough as his brakes were almost gone. Finally with 2 laps to go Casey took second place but not enough to catch Mulvey who had a comfortable lead from almost the start.
It was noticeably cooler for heat 2 and only four starters with O’Regan still repairing the halfshaft/wheelbearing but he would return for the final. A good start from the now pole positioned Mulvey saw him edge ahead of Riordan who started second off the grid, who was leapfrogged by Wall who pushed him back to third. It didn’t take long for Casey to close in from the back and take Riordans third place exiting T4, but it certainly was not Casey’s cleanest ever pass with slight contact - Casey clearly determined to get past and not be held back like he had been in the first heat. Riordan clawed some ground back to take Wall for third. Ahead, Mulvey’s lead was under threat from Casey who was again on the outside but finding it tough to make the position. A big moment of oversteer leaving T4 meant Casey held back a bit and soon Mulvey found Casey on his rear bumper trying for the inside line, but not enough as Mulvey held on for the win.
955 925 208
Back to 5 cars for the final, with O’Regan’s issues hopefully resolved. It was now quite cold with winter clothing evident all around the track; a clear sky indicating that although it was quite cold there would be no rain.
Both Mulvey and Casey made their trademark strong starts and Mulvey held the lead for the first few laps, until Casey came under him at T3 for a textbook inside pass and slowly pulled away. Riordan spent most of the race on his own while O’Regan made a fine outside pass at T3 to take fourth place from Wall. The race settled quite significantly at this stage with the 5 cars almost at identical distances apart around the track, which given the size of Tipperary meant they were well spread out. O’Regan’s brake issue made a return towards the end, but he still kept fourth to the flag.
The lack of National Hot Rods has been very evident at Tipperary Raceway in 2016 and it does not seem likely to change at any time soon for what is meant to be the premier formula at the track – a track which is regarded as one of, if not the best track for National Hot Rods to race on. This contrasts sharply with the class in Northern Ireland with healthy double figure turnouts at every round. The disappointing entries at Tipperary in 2016 - despite the titles that Tipperary drivers have won, and the quality of the drivers both past and present - seems unlikely to change in the immediate future. Perhaps a sponsorship model similar to the Northern Ireland series could be sought, and a sponsor found? Although not every driver has a chance of winning a round on points the incentive will be there for them and also the coverage that the extra sponsorship would bring to both the series and to the venue. With drivers like John Christie and Ian McReynolds proving that the slightly older cars are competitive in the right hands, a few NHR’s might be encouraged from “barns” and brought back to where they belong. 2016 has shown that NHR racing is not just ‘Formula Tigra’ and that you don’t need the latest equipment to win either.
Heat 1: 955 261 925 208 420 nof
Heat 2: 955 261 925 420 nof
Final: 261 955 925 208 420.
Thanks to Mike Looby for the photo.
World Series England round 4
Ipswich, Saturday 24th September
Walter wins, Rob robbed, Dynes dynamic
Graham Brown Brett Walter fought off a stiff challenge from the new Ginetta of Bradley Dynes to win both heats before Rob McDonald beat both of them to take the final victory. Within minutes of the finish however, McDonald failed a post-race tyre legality check, handing the win to runner-up Dynes.
A goodly entry of 27 cars greeted the punters for this one with the most looked at and photographed machine in the pits undoubtedly being the brand spanking new Dynes Ginetta, the latest offering from Carl Boardley’s shop.
Despite looking seriously wide in Dynes’ colours (which suit the car perfectly) it turns out that there is virtually nothing in it between the G40R and a Tigra A. Speaking of which, there was an unfamiliar one of those in the pits also, with Matt Wells making his return to the short ovals. The immaculate car was no longer wearing the 356 number it was last seen with but now runs as 856.
And speaking of ‘immaculate’, one thing which was noticeable, was the rather less than perfect turn-out of some of the cars – particularly considering how long it had been since they were last raced. And yet Dick Hillard’s #31 machine, which had been in action in Northern Ireland since the last English WQR, was its usual mint-looking self.
A warm, dry evening and the decent entry provided the perfect foundation for a night of close competition, none of it closer than in the opening heat.
Walter had his Peugeot planted on pole and ready to make up for his disastrous day at Northampton last time out, while alongside him sat Dynes in the Ginetta. The duo were disputing the lead from the green flag and remained at the head of what was to be something of a scrappy affair, with numerous spins (Alistair Lowe, Hillard) and minor collisions marring the early going. Several separate incidents put Chris Haird in the wall at turns 3-4, left Mikey Godfrey head on in the barriers and Terry Hunn’s Mazda limping round with what looked like a small fire in the left front hub – it was certainly red hot and smoky in there.
Walter had just started to gain a breathing space over Dynes when the yellows came out after a collision exiting turn four between Dave Garrett and Stuart McLaird sparked off a home straight crash that scattered cars in all directions. Aaron Dew came out of this particularly badly, his car looking much the worse for wear as it was dragged off.
Walter leapt away again eagerly following the clean-up. But a little rest seemed to have suited Dynes’ car more than Walter’s, and the Ginetta was swarming all over the Peugeot as they took the last lap board. Dynes was nearly past on the inside at turn two and put himself ahead with what looked like the winning move entering turn three, only for Walter to fight back and take the chequers by a matter of inches at the stripe.
It was much the same story up front for heat two. Walter again got away first but with Dynes challenging hard until a few laps were on the chart, at which point Walter began to draw clear.
Others were still having something of a torrid evening however, with Haird suffering a spin this time, as did Danny Hunn who got collected by Layton Milsom. Jason Kew pulled his mount up by turn one while the Terry Hunn retired the other Mazda with damage.
It was when Walter began wading into traffic he ran into trouble and started to struggle to get through, allowing Dynes to close in once more. Walter finally managed to get around Lowe to escape the backmarker trap four laps from home and took the flag clear of Dynes once more, their race–long chase having carried them half a lap clear of third man McDonald, although a penalty for contact along the way put him back to fifth in any case, elevating Ivan Grayson to third spot and Garrett to fourth.
Dew’s battered and race-taped car made it back out for the final, and at the start Dynes managed to beat Walter away from the outside front row for the first time, despite this often being the best berth at Foxhall these days. McDonald – starting much closer to them this time – wasted little time in further relegating Walter as well. Leaving Walter to try and fend off Gavin Murray and Carl Waller-Barrett, McDonald swiftly chased Dynes down, taking the lead with a confident sweep round the outside coming off turn two.
That was that as far as the lead was concerned, with attention centring on the highly entertaining places scrap for the rest of the race.
Murray and CW-B got the better of Walter and then spent many laps indulging in nail-biting side by side racing, a battle which eventually allowed a charging Haird to catch up and join in too. Waller-Barrett and Haird both got past and then closed in fast on Dynes’ second place as the laps dwindled. They all but had him boxed in behind a backmarker on the final lap but Dynes managed to escape the closing trap in sight of the flag to retain second spot and, ultimately, the win.
Although the tyre logging rules are clear enough and we all know the penalties for transgression, it is now starting to look as those penalties might well be too swingeing. Bad enough for Rob to have lost the points from what appeared to be a well-taken final victory but to have lost them for what seems to have amounted to a clerical error, and to get a two-meeting ban on top, is looking a bit strong to my eyes. GB
Heat 1: 217 964 339 152 136 42 316 95 48 162 155 174 491 209 39 289 3 856 31 nof. DQ 44 and 55
Heat 2: 217 964 136 44 95 42 162 209 23 491 155 31 316 3 55 289 152 856 nof.
Final: (117), 964, 115, 95, 217, 42, 209x2, 162x2, 152, 491, 113, 31, 136, 55, 3, 289, 856 nof.
117 DQ for using unlogged tyre.
Martin Kingston's photos in the Gallery
Hankook Performance Tyres
World Series Northern Ireland round 5
Tullyroan, Saturday 24th September
Ed Fahey reports: Tullyroan Oval’s final 2016 NHR meeting saw Adam Heatrick take his first final win amid changing conditions and steward’s inquiries. Fifteen cars arrived including Shane Murray who had done well to repair the previous week’s damage, although the newly crowned 2016 British Champion Adam Hylands was absent serving his unfortunate 2 meeting ban.
Heat one saw a wet track but no rain falling. Conor McElmeel was the lone white top and he led the rolling start away. Further back in the blues Gary Wilson led Jaimie McCurdy ahead of a heavily scrapping Adam Maxwell and Shane Murray, and it was not long before red-graders John Christie and Glenn Bell were with Murray, Maxwell gaining some space ahead. Christie was immediately on Murray’s bumper and Shane held a defensive line forcing Christie onto the outside. Both cars were wobbly coming onto the start straight but Christie held onto the outside line and gained the position.
As the reds mixed into the blues it got very tight with a brief three-wide moment with Derek Martin, Adam Heatrick and Murray as the red graded drivers pushed through, but Murray was getting adept at defensive driving and held both off. Maxwell had broken through into second at this stage and was reeling in McElmeel for the lead, but it was not enough as McElmeel held on for his first ever National Hot Rod race win with Maxwell right on his diff.
Heat two saw a damp track but with a dry line appearing. Everyone seemed to be exploring the line as from this reporter’s position every car was quite hesitant for the first few laps. Christie was quick to push ahead from the reds and again he was behind Murray. A poorly timed inside pass saw John clip the front of Murray’s car and glance off the wall as a result, but able to continue. Up front McElmeel was still leading but a hard charging yellow top Ian McReynolds soon displaced him, as just behind the Tigra B’s of Maxwell and McCurdy were looming. McCurdy passed McReynolds before long, but sadly this didn’t last as a broken half shaft saw McCurdy out for the rest of the evening, the half shaft damaging the inside of the diff. This gave Maxwell a bit of space as D Martin was being pushed very hard by Bell with Heatrick following the battle and gaining places as a result. D Martin and Bell were soon on Maxwell’s tail for the lead but Adam was well in control holding the hard chargers at bay. Behind them Heatrick had gained position past Murray and Wilson to slot into fourth place.
76 64 977 962 342 998
9 20 82 70 994 669 945
A dry final started with a bang as Christie and Murray again tangled with Murray going backwards into the T1 wall losing his rear wing in the process while Christie retired to the centre.
A full restart saw everyone being a tad more cautious, D Martin getting ahead of Bell to pursue Maxwell. It didn’t take long with D Martin up the inside of a sideways Maxwell onto the start straight but Adam tried closing the door in a similar move to the previous one deployed on him the previous week by Dave Casey. This aggressive defence didn’t work, the cars clashing hard and D Martin into retirement with damaged steering, Maxwell gaining a two place deduction for his unnecessary actions adding to his slide down the order. Heatrick was the main benefactor of the brief melee climbing to third position behind Bell and McReynolds. Behind them Murray was showing how effective NHR aerodynamics were, as despite having a straight line speed advantage with no rear wing, his cornering speeds were compromised with the pack behind him bunched up on the bends and being left behind on the straights. This pack consisted of Keith Martin, Wilson, McElmeel and a recovering Maxwell. Heatrick was able to quickly slip under McReynolds and pursue Bell for the lead. With the cars spread out, Bell and Heatrick were soon lapping the backmarkers and Heatrick made a fine pass on the inside of Bell to gain the lead, although as ever Bell was not one to easily let go and he pushed Heatrick hard to the finish. There then followed a lengthy steward’s inquiry with a few grievances being aired for what was at times a very sloppy race.
Heatrick, Bell and McReynolds were free of the inquiry however and it was a fine first final win for Adam Heatrick in what is still his first full season in NHR racing. A good run also for Glenn Bell in his still improving new car and Ian McReynolds continues to impress with the rapid and becoming consistent Citroen Saxo
The Northern Ireland series continues at Ballymena on October 7th. Ed Fahey
Heat 1: 64 76 199 962 977 9 82 994 70 20 342 998 945 669.
Heat 2: 76 20 9 342 70 82 994 977 669 962 64 945 nof.
Final: 342 9 977 70 994 82 64 998 76(X-2) 669 nof.
Brian Lammey's photos in the Gallery
Hankook Performance Tyres World Series
Northern Ireland round 4
Ballymena Raceway, 9th September
Colin Adair reports: John Christie adapted best to the changeable conditions at Ballymena Raceway on September 9 where the 2013 World Champion carded a confident heat and final double in Round 4 of the Hankook Performance Tyres World Series NI. Renowned wet weather expert Stewart Doak was the only driver to defeat Christie during the meeting after the pair fought out a terrific battle in the opening heat.
Late cancellations from Nigel McCauley, Tommy Maxwell and Davy McKay left us with a field of sixteen starters for Round 4. Amongst those present David Kernohan made his track debut as the local lad continued to get acquainted with the ex-Mikey Walsh Tigra B.
A particularly squally autumn shower engulfed the stadium during practice to leave a sodden track for the opening heat. The slippery conditions added an extra dimension to this one and provided the backdrop for one of the best races of the new campaign to date. A rolling start was in order and lone white grader Conor McElmeel led the field away. Things were moving along nicely until Ian McReynolds went for a spin at the exit of turn 2 on lap five. With his Citroen Saxo stranded in an awkward position a caution period was called which bunched the field right onto the leader’s back bumper for the resumption. Jaimie McCurdy quickly took control when things got underway again, with Stewart Doak and John Christie also on the move from the blue grade. Doak has something of a reputation as a wet weather specialist and looked right at home as the Cirrus Plastics Tigra wrestled the lead from McCurdy with a tidy pass around the outside. Christie followed through almost immediately and the pair started to pull away as McCurdy fell back into the clutches of the main pack. It was a rearguard action for Jaimie now as first Carl Sloan, then a fast moving Keith and Derek Martin, both of whom had started in the reds, swept around the outside of the Wilson McCurdy Haulage Tigra. Up front a real nip and tuck battle was in play between the two leaders with Christie running the very wide line around the bends. It was a good clean scrap between the pair which eventually went the way of Doak by a matter of inches at the line, with Christie a commendable second. Behind these two Keith Martin made it all the way to third after an eye catching run, with nephew Derek in fourth after Sloan rotated on the very last lap. McCurdy rallied to fifth, with Adam Hylands, Gary Wilson and Shane Murray next up, while Adam Maxwell nipped ahead of Glenn Bell on the run to the flag for ninth. That one had certainly whetted the appetite with more overtaking in one race than we sometimes get at a whole meeting!
With no further rain during the interim track conditions had improved for heat two where all sixteen entrants took to the track again for the rolling start. In a carbon copy of the opening heat McReynolds came to grief at almost the exact same spot on the track, Ian completing the sense of déjà-vu by repeating his spin on the exact same lap as well! After another caution period Christie slithered around McElmeel and set about building a commanding lead out front. McCurdy followed suit to run second and while no threat to the leader was comfortably able to hold off his pursuers this time. Out front Christie stroked it home for a fine win, the Fiesta handling really well in the mixed conditions. McCurdy was a surefooted runner-up while Doak skated around Sloan and Rob Forsythe in the opening exchanges to confirm another good score in third. Hylands was the best of the reds this time in fourth, while Maxwell, D. Martin, Bell and Adam Heatrick formed a high speed train in positions five through to eight.
962 199 54 76 9 70 75 977
996 20 994 82 342 992 64 717
The track conditions were at their best, speed wise anyway, for the Ross Hyndman Motors sponsored final, but were certainly the worst imaginable for any meaningful rod racing. The racing line was now almost dry, but step outside that corridor and you were on the slippery stuff again. Christie’s first and second place finishes tied down pole position, with first heat winner Doak alongside on the front row. McCurdy and Derek Martin occupied row two, with the remaining top ten positions occupied by Keith Martin, Maxwell, Wilson, Bell and Heatrick. The rolling start remained in place for the final and was going to prove critical for those on the damp outside line. Christie swept into the lead at the green, but Doak and Derek Martin could find no way in to the preferred line and were railroaded back by a train of cars. Martin eventually settled into eighth while the unfortunate Doak was relegated to twelfth by the end of lap 2. McReynolds’ eventful evening continued with another spin; at turn four this time, on what had turned into a meeting to forget for the Round 3 winner. The order was quickly established as Christie, McCurdy, Hylands, Maxwell and Wilson, with Keith Martin, Bell and Derek Martin next in the queue. The leader’s Fiesta again looked to be on rails as Christie eked out a gap over McCurdy who had his mirrors filled by Hylands. The National Champion was looking to get a run up the inside of McCurdy on the exit of the bends and had a couple of good looks before wisely thinking better of it when the door was firmly closed in his face. Anything more forceful by Hylands would probably have seen them both off as McCurdy carefully defended the inside line, safe in the knowledge this was the only area any attack would emerge with no one likely to risk it on the damper outside line. Their battle was playing right into Christie’s hands however as he continued to press on with a comfortable cushion out front. Hylands early zest gradually subsided as the race settled down into formation flying. McCurdy was able to pull this group back towards the leader in the closing stages, but the win was never in doubt as Christie stretched home for another convincing win. A Saxo winning round 3 and a Fiesta winning round 4! Who says there is no variety in National Hot Rods? McCurdy drove a measured race to pocket a good haul of points in second, with a frustrated Hylands next up. The other major positions were static throughout as Maxwell, Wilson, Keith Martin, Bell and Derek Martin followed each other home, while Doak at least made some headway to secure ninth with the top ten rounded out by Sloan. Colin Adair.
Heat 1: 996 962 994 20 199 54 82 70 76 9 342 64 75 992 717 nof.
Heat 2: 962 199 996 54 76 20 9 342 82 992 75 994 70 64 717 nof.
Final: 962 199 54 76 82 994 9 20 996 75 342 992 977 717 nof.
World Series Scotland round 3
Crimond Raceway, Saturday 10th September. Results - to be confirmed.
Heat 1: 844 700 871 5 344 77 nof
Heat 2: 844 871 700 344 5 36 94 77 648 336
Final: 844 871 5 700 344 94 36 77 648 336
World Series Scotland round 4
Crimond Raceway, Sunday 11th September.
Results - to be confirmed.
Heat 1: 844 344 36 700 5 871 77 648 308 94
Heat 2: 36 5 844 871 308 344 94 77
Final: 308 344 36 5 871 nof. Dq 94 and 648
World Series Ireland round 4
Tipperary Raceway, 3rd September
Heat 1: 955 970 261 925 208 (977) (64).
Heat 2: 955 970 261 925 208 (977) (64).
Final: 970 955 261 925 208 (977) (64)
Ed Fahey's photos in the Gallery
Hankook Performance Tyres World Series Northern Ireland round 3
Ballymena Raceway, 27th August
Colin Adair reports: Round three of the Hankook Performance Tyres World Series NI produced a third different final winner of the new campaign when Ian McReynolds recorded a flag to flag win in the feature race at Ballymena Raceway on August 27. McReynolds added a heat win for good measure, while the other race produced a first ever National Hot Rod win for 2016 newcomer Phillip McCloy.
Nineteen seems to be the magic number in the province at the moment as, for the third round in a row, a field of 19 cars assembled at Ballymena Raceway for Round 3. There were some changes in personnel from Round 2, with Ben McKee, Jonny McMillan and David Kernohan absentees this time around while Stewart Doak, Davy McKay and Adam Hylands joined the fray. There was drama in practice for Hylands when his car pitched into a sudden spin with only a handful of laps completed. Further investigation by the team discovered a broken stub axle and with no spare available it looked like an early bath for the National Champion. Help was at hand however in the form of the ex-John Christie Tigra. The McMillan Team kindly performed a mercy dash to collect the car from their nearby premises and brought it to the Ballymena pits, where the necessary part was stripped from one car and fitted to the other!
That ensured a full complement of 19 starters took the green flag in heat one where novice Phillip McCloy led the field away. Conor McElmeel headed the chasers initially, but was relegated by Ian McReynolds on lap 5. Further back John Christie had worked his way nicely from the blue grade into third by lap 15 and quickly set about closing the gap to the front two in the time that remained. McCloy had managed to keep McReynolds at arm’s length to this stage, but his advantage had virtually disappeared as Christie sidled up to the front two. Christie immediately took to the outside of McReynolds, but just ran out of time to make any further progress, as McCloy held on for a landmark first win in the category. McReynolds retained second from the charging Christie, with the top six rounded out by Stewart Doak, Glenn Bell and Carl Sloan.
McCloy’s hopes of a repeat performance in heat two were soon dashed when the Village Blinds Peugeot coasted to a stop between turns one and two on lap three. It looked for a long time as if we might get another first-time victory in this one too as McElmeel set a brisk pace in his gorgeously finished Tigra. His advantage lasted until lap 12 before McReynolds edged ahead with Doak in tow as well. Further back a touch between Adam Maxwell and Derek Martin sent the #20 Tigra perilously close to the parked up McCloy car and the incident would earn the World Champion a two place penalty in the final results. Further drama lay ahead for Maxwell before the chequered flag when he and Christie went to pass McElmeel, just at the same time as Conor attempted to head onto the infield! It was a heart in the mouth moment for sure, but thankfully the trio managed to avoid each other although Christie lost several positions in the melee. Up front McReynolds kept things neat and tidy to the end for a pleasing win in his revamped Citroen Saxo. Doak kept the leader honest throughout while Davy McKay enjoyed a clear run to third. Adam Heatrick continued to harvest points productively in fourth and Maxwell’s penalty promoted Sloan and Derek Martin into fifth and sixth spots respectively.
977 342 962 9 343* 998 199 82 70 409
996 75 943 20 76 4 994 64 54* * Did Not Start
McCloy and Hylands were absentees for the final where the winner would receive the Anderson Racing Engines Trophy. McReynolds and Doak occupied the front row for this one and although Doak got the better initial traction off the start it was McReynolds who just managed to retain control of the inside line heading into the first bend. That spelt trouble for Doak, who was railroaded down to fourth by Heatrick and Sloan over the opening laps. McReynolds had already settled into a nice rhythm and eked out a slight advantage over Heatrick as Doak and Glenn Bell slipped under Sloan to run third and fourth. It wasn’t long before they were all over the back of Heatrick, but Adam has already shown that he is not intimidated by this sort of attention in his mirrors and resolutely defended his position. The outside line was available to anyone who wanted a crack at the #342 Tigra B and it was Bell who eventually decided to try his hand. The pair sat it out side by side for a number of laps before Bell completed a very tidy and hard earned pass to grab second.
Further back Sloan was tipped into a spin by Shane Murray on the entry to turn one, although the following Gary Wilson was deemed by the steward to have provided Murray with a helping hand into the #75 car. Fate dictated of course that Sloan would rejoin again just in front of Murray and was obviously in no frame of mind to make things easy for the former Two-Litre World Champion. Sloan stuck to the inside and made Murray go the long way round, but after one lap side by side Murray seemed in no mood to continue that particular scenario and chopped down hard right onto the #75 car at the entry to turn one. Predictably Sloan steered left to prevent his car being forced off the track and with neither prepared to back down they circulated the turn locked together out by the wall. The incident cost Murray a handful of places and earned Sloan a disqualification for baulking from the race steward.
Meanwhile up front McReynolds was well up the road and the Lurgan man was soon home and hosed to record his second win of the night by a clear distance. Bell was very good value for second and is already starting to look right at home in his new mount while Heatrick gathered another healthy haul of points in third. Derek Martin, Maxwell and Keith Martin were next across the line, with the top ten rounded out by Christie, Doak, Jaimie McCurdy and Nigel McCauley. Wlson received a two place penalty for sparking the initial Sloan/Murray incident which placed the Ballyclare haulier in eleventh, with Murray, McKay, Brendan McConnell, Simon Kennedy and McElmeel the remaining finishers.
A popular win for McReynolds, who is very much a budget racer, and one which demonstrates that cars considered unfashionable by some can still run competitively in the right hands. Colin Adair
Heat 1: 343 977 962 996 9 75 342 998 943 64 20 4 199 54 76 994 82 409 nof
Heat 2: 977 996 943 342 75 20 76(X-2) 9 962 70 994 82 199 4 998 nof
Final: 977 9 342 20 76 994 962 996 199 4 82(X-2) 70 943 409 998 64 nof. DQ 75 for baulking whilst a lap down.
World Series England round 3
Northampton, Monday 29th August
Great day for York
Graham Brown In what had to be one of the best days of his oval racing career so far, Dave York put together a very well taken heat and final double in front of a huge and sun-drenched bank holiday crowd at Northampton, only just failing to complete his hat-trick with a second in his other race. Stewart McLaird was the other winner on a day when the Nationals demonstrated they are capable of both close racing and controversy, a combination which might just entice some of those ‘virgins’ in the crowd to return.
With entries continuing to be ‘on the up’, we had twenty-nine cars for this one, two better than Birmingham a week earlier. This also gave rise to another three heat meeting and another meeting what’s more, without either a single caution period or a badly damaged car - not that some weren’t trying to make that last bit untrue I must say…
Certainly there were plenty of cars in the pits for practice and I did finally get a closer look at Brett Walter’s superb new race truck, a really different and stand-out vehicle for sure. Unfortunately, my stroll over to that part of the pits also allowed me to see first-hand the struggle the team were having trying to get the #217 car to run properly. It had sounded very rough - particularly on the overrun - in practice and, despite everybody’s best efforts and assistance from various helpers including Tick Steward and Blackman mech Graham Webster, sadly the pits was where Brett had to remain for the rest of the day.
Also having practice bothers was Jason Kew who did about a lap before spinning to a halt on the infield and taking no further part in the session. It transpired he had a cracked stub axle, presumably the culprit for his lack of brakes (the wheel wobbling about would have caused pad knock off) at Birmingham. Fortunately, the team had a nice new spare and were soon hard at work changing everything over.
Dave Garrett, his car’s green paint sparkling nicely in the blinding sunshine, seemed to be in a bit of bother at the start of the first race, notably with McLaird, Paul Frost (who spun) and Danny Hunn, Garrett slowing after contact with the latter before retiring.
It was Andy Lee who set the pace here, pursued by McLaird who got under Lee going into turn one. It wasn’t long before Danny Hunn had followed suit although Lee continued holding his own despite trailing smoke from what looked like it might have been a detached gearbox breather or similar.
York was the next to relegate the 289 car, going on to press Hunn for second spot and being rewarded with it after Danny had a ride over the kerbs and the pair had done a lap or so side by side. But McLaird was too far away by that point for York to do anything about it, the pair finishing in that order, Kym Weaver having worked his way through to third by the finish.
Heat two turned out to be something of a lively encounter and not necessarily for all the right reasons. It was a case of too many cars in too little space on the first lap as Danny Hunn was forced into the wall exiting the first turn, Danny managing to reverse up a bit and slightly further out of harm’s way, thus avoiding the need for a yellow.
Lee was again the pace setter and this time – despite still giving out some smoke signals – he was going to be in charge for a lot longer. Steve Dudman relieved Ivan Grayson of second spot fairly early on, leaving Grayson to fall back into the clutches of York (looking quick again) and Mikey Godfrey.
An incident involving Paul Gomm and Mark Edwards at the end of the back straight apparently sparked off a further collision which sent Layton Milsom spinning at turn three and also put Kewy out with a flat in the left front.
Milsom managed to get going again and was following the leader round for many laps. It was clear the 48 car was quicker and that Layton wanted to un-lap himself, but it never quite happened and he remained behind Lee, acting as a buffer to keep Lee’s pursuers from mounting any sort of a challenge for quite a while.
Eventually York managed to see off Grayson and find a way past Dudman, Godfrey having already fallen back, eventually to get half spun by Aaron Dew in a clinch which would get Dew black crossed.
When Milsom suddenly pulled off, York’s way was left clear to close in on the leader, David darting past along the inside of the back straight two laps from home. With another big load of points safely in the bag, York was tracked past the flag by Lee and Weaver, although Kym picked up a penalty here, elevating Dudman to third and Gavin Murray to fourth.
It was only when all the cars had stopped that it became obvious that Edwards and Gomm weren’t happy with each other, stopping for what looked like a few less-than-friendly gestures, before the two got together along the home straight, the 45 finally crashing the 333 car backwards hard into the wall! Their twin load ups were a mere formality, and we can probably expect further sanctions…
Lee Pepper was obviously having trouble getting going after the heat three warm up laps and it looked as though his transmission had expired in a bad way when he had to be lifted off and the huge puddle of oil he left behind dusted off.
Once the green flag was out, it was Frost who seized the initiative this time, quickly putting a bit of daylight between himself and Dudman. Grayson and McLaird settled into disputing third, ahead of Garrett and Godfrey once Mikey had by-passed Bradley Dynes.
Carl Waller-Barret was exhibiting plumes of smoke from what looked like brake locking trouble, Garret pulled up near the start/finish to retire and McLaird went by Grayson to assume third. But the man to watch here was Dick Hillard, Dick putting Shaun Taylor behind him before going outside of Godfrey. He couldn’t quite get that pass made before Colin Smith arrived on the scene and got underneath him, giving rise to the tightest bit of racing all afternoon. In the end, Dick gritted his teeth and shrugged off Smith’s challenge, overtook Grayson and then inched ahead of Godfrey at the startline.
The Dudman-McLaird dice was too far ahead for Dick to catch by flag fall, and Frost’s win was assured by then in any case.
It did seem initially as though there might be some aggro after the flag in this too, when Terry Hunn got in a clinch with Kew and sent the pair of them fence-wards, but it turned out they’d only locked wheels accidentally going through the start/finish.
The charge to turn one in the final was one of those nail biters that could just have ended in tears, with Hillard, Billy Wood and Lee getting together in a ‘Lee sandwich’. They all survived the inevitable series of collisions but McLaird didn’t, and was forced into the wall on the back straight as the rest raced on.
It was York who’d not only snatched up the lead but was already busy making good his escape, helped along by Dudman getting loose between turns one and two and sliding wide to let Murray, Weaver and Hillard all through.
Weaver looked well hooked up, ducking under Murray exiting turn two a while later to take up second spot. On past performance one might have expected Weaver to close York down with reasonable confidence but not on this day, the leader maintaining his advantage seemingly without any bother.
Further back, Wood went past Hillard at turn four, a move Rob McDonald was able to emulate a lap or so later at the other end.
As the race went beyond mid-distance and York started to encounter the odd backmarker or two, Weaver did start to bring down the gap a touch. But that didn’t last long and in fact, with the starter signalling five to go, the leader was actually extending his lead again, taking the chequers still well clear of Weaver, who had a similar distance between himself and Murray.
All in all, a fairly proper day’s racing with the best weather to boot. Even DW gave it an 8/10. As we both agreed that 10s only get awarded about once every three or four years, we reckoned that was still pretty good! GB
Heat 1: 113 196 209 155 339 23 305 289 491 39 115 48 42 55 162 45 964 nof.
Heat 2: 196 289 3 95 209(X-2) 305 31 117 115 23(X-2) 27 136 152 nof
Heat 3: 316 3 113 31 491 27 95 117 162 136 152 42 174 39 55 964 nof.
Final: 196 209 95 305 117 31 162 491 115 39 23 174 3 339(X-2) 48 289 316 27 136 55 44 152 nof. (Results confirmed 07/09 after transponder inquiry resolved)
Drivers 45 and 333 disqualified and loaded-up following an incident after heat 2. NHRPA reviewing incident, further penalties may follow.
Photos by Martin Kingston in the Gallery
World Series Ireland round 3
Tipperary Raceway, 27th August
Heat 1: 261 970 420 925 202 982 nof. DNS 955
Heat 2: 261 970 420 925 202 nof.
Final: 261 970 420 925 nof.
Ed Fahey's photos in the Gallery
World Series England round 2
Birmingham, 20th August
Waller-Barrett wins at Wheels
Graham Brown Carl Waller-Barrett continued his bid to become the top Englishman in NHRs at Birmingham, the reigning points champion putting together two good heat results before making off with the final laurels, keeping the chasing Chris Haird at bay for much of the race.
A really good and improving entry for this, featuring 27 cars and – after a bit of dickering – three heats. This really is the preferred scenario for racers and (most) watchers, as spectators obviously get an extra race for one thing. But rather more importantly, damage is kept to a minimum, thus giving every chance of a full field for the final. Win, win and win in my book, and we didn’t have a single yellow flag period all night either, just to underline the point.
Not too many parish notices among those 27 starters but it was good to see the really great looking Mazda of Terry Hunn on the grid, even if his eagerness to get to grips with it saw him initially come out for heat one when he wasn’t due to be in it!
Something I’d like to have told you more about but time constraints (one downside of a three heat meeting) meant I never got up the pits to get a good look at, was Brett Walter’s new Scania transporter. We saw him on the ring road and guessed who it was from the colour scheme, the direction it was heading in, and the fact it said ‘We’re the boys who make the noise’ on the back. Plus the noise it made of course!
The first of the three heats saw pole sitter Dave Garrett set off into an immediate lead, tracked by Mikey Godfrey, Paul Gomm and Danny Hunn. Despite the track looking a bit slick (Paul Frost had a spin almost before they’d got going) Hunn was seemingly on a mission, apparently managing to send Gomm spinning after a challenge at turn one before chasing Godfrey past Garrett.
Godfrey still looked to have things under control out front but Hunn did eventually catch him. Unfortunately, his attempt to wrest the lead away ended much the same way as his earlier assault on Gomm. The Mazda man did press on to win at the head of a completely changed race order after the incident with Godfrey, but the steward had other ideas and handed down an immediate disqualification, giving the win to Layton Milsom.
One unfortunate footnote to that first heat was a subsequent disqualification for Stewart McLaird for having the wrong colour fin plates on. That did seem a bit draconian to me but I daresay, like some of the early penalties applied to tyre registration transgressors, it will make everyone that bit more careful for the future.
Ivan Grayson was the first to show in heat two but looked to be having brake locking trouble as he continually ran wide into the turns. This finally led to Gomm slipping past down his inside, to be followed in successive laps by Paul Frost and Shaun Taylor. That left Grayson to try and stay ahead of Steve Dudman and Milsom, but Milsom was the man on the move, as he climbed the places to arrive behind the lead dice between Gomm and Frost.
Frost ceded the inside at turn three to let Milsom through to second, Milsom then pressing Gomm until he got by with just over a lap from home to claim win number two.
Along the way, Steve Dudman had a spin at the exit from turn two and got hit hard by the following Jack Blood, sending a cloud of smashed bits of Tigra into the air. Duddy limped off with much of the back of his car either missing or billowing in the air like a sail, while Blood was also out of it, red and white flagged for a missing door following the impact. Also in trouble was Dave York, who slowed suddenly into turn three, flame blossoming from the exhaust as he headed for retirement.
Danny Hunn and Dudman, who’d both got their cars repaired after their earlier problems, got together at the start of heat three, with Hunn being sent spinning after first being lifted into the air and Dudman the one who copped a DQ this time.
Grayson had another go at leading but still seemed to be having trouble staying low on the track, tempting second man Garrett to try his luck down the inside of the back straight. But they touched, sending both cars out wide and presenting the third placed Godfrey with an open goal. He seized the opportunity with both hands and took off into an unassailable lead which stretched to more than a quarter of a lap at one point.
If Godfrey was having things relatively easy up front, the rest of them weren’t, as the extremely tight battle for second featured no less than six cars. It did look as though Dick Hillard would get the best of this for a time until an incident at turn one involving Stewart McLaird and Grayson (who was sent spinning) delayed him, and it was Haird who emerged from the in-fighting with the runner-up spot.
With a few disqualifications having been dealt out for contact during the evening (McLaird was also hit with one for having shoved Hillard into Grayson in that third heat) everybody had to mind their p’s and q’s a bit for the final.
A brief shower of something that didn’t amount to much more than heavy drizzle had fortunately ceased by final time, and I doubt anyone was tempted into even thinking about wets, even if the track might still have been a touch slippy for the opening couple of laps.
A slow start for Garrett almost saw him rammed by Lee Pepper, while pole man Milsom took off fast, but not fast enough to leave the experienced chasing pack behind, with Waller-Barret, Colin Smith, Hillard, Haird, Kym Weaver and Jason Kew all snapping at his heels.
CW-B was already piling on the pressure with only a handful of laps done and there was an air of inevitability about it as he was rewarded with a pass under braking into turn one which put him in charge.
The leader commenced pulling away pretty quickly from that point on while the paces scrap principally came down to Milsom, Hillard and Haird. It took Haird a few laps before he was able to get under Hillard at turn three. A blast down the outside of the back straight put the two-time world champ up to second, and with Waller-Barrett constantly enmeshed in traffic it did seem as though maybe he could be caught.
Two placemen who looked to be garnering a few points here, ran into problems nearing the finish. Kewy seemed to be struggling with some sort of trouble and had to give up a couple of places, but he was still better off than Weaver who went out in a cloud of possibly expensive looking smoke.
In the end, Waller-Barrett never put a foot wrong going through the backmarkers and kept Haird more-or-less a quarter of a lap behind all the way to the flag, with Hillard claiming third ahead of Milsom. GB
Heat one: (339),48.491,209,152,162,196,174,305,42,45,44,(113),155,23,316. NOF
Heat two: 48,333,316,31,174,45,305,152,115,39,55,136,155,964. NOF
Heat three: 27,115,55,162,491,31,209,42,339,39,23,44,964,136. NOF
Final: 162,115,31,48,491,305,42,174,152,339,45,27,39,55,23,333,196,113,964,3. NOF
Penalties: 339 disqualified in heat one for contact with 333 and 27, causing both drivers to spin. 113 disqualified from heat one for running incorrect coloured fin plates. 113 disqualified from heat three for contact with 31, causing 31 to spin 136. 3 disqualified from heat three for contact with 339 causing 339 to spin. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Martin Kingston's photos in the Gallery
Hankook Performance Tyres World Series
Northern Ireland round 2
Aghadowey, 20th August
Darren Black reports: Just two points off a maximum score looks on the face of it to be a dominant performance from Shane Murray at Hankook Performance Tyres World Series NI Round 2 at Aghadowey Oval last Saturday evening. But that only tells half the story, as Shane drove a blinder in heat two to pass the other heat winner Adam Heatrick on the outside, and then he was forced into a fine defensive performance for most of the final to stave off the advances of Derek Martin.
Another pleasing entry of 19 cars arrived to do battle for this one, including a welcome return for Ian McReynolds in a completely revamped Saxo. There was a class debut for former Stock Rod and Lightning Rod man Jonny McMillan at the wheel of the former John Christie Tigra (last seen in the hands of Keith Martin at Ipswich), whilst also taking his NHR bow was David Kernohan in a pretty Tigra B that was last raced by Mikey Walsh at Tipperary. David's only other oval experience has been racing in the DMC Reliant Robins for the past couple of seasons - now that is one hell of a jump!
Amongst the regulars was a first local look at the new Glenn Bell Edwards Motorsport Tigra, whilst Adam Maxwell was fresh from his South African exploits. Missing however was new National Champion Adam Hylands, still sunning himself in Dubai on honeymoon.
The opening heat took two attempts to get going, the first being aborted when Conor McElmeel failed to get his Tigra off the line. Philip McCloy as lone white grader led them off, followed by Brendan McConnell, Ben McKee and Adam Heatrick. McConnell soon lost a bagful of places, with John Christie's Fiesta and Shane Murray's Tigra quickly joining in from the blues.
McCloy was baulked by the retiring Kernohan and that was enough for the rest to swamp him, with McReynolds hitting the front, now ahead of Heatrick, Christie and Murray. The 962 Fiesta then seemed to slow out of turn four, allowing Murray and Sloan ahead down the outside. Murray quickly pressured Heatrick for second, which became a battle for the lead when McReynolds dramatically slowed and retired for the evening with just two laps to go.
Despite the best efforts of Murray and Sloan to unseat Heatrick, Adam held on for the victory over Murray, Sloan, Derek Martin and McKee.
The going got a little slippery at the start of heat two, with good work from the marshals pinpointing that the moisture was coming from the leading McCloy Peugeot. That unfortunately earned Philip a technical disqualification, handing the premier spot to Heatrick ahead of McKee and Murray, with Christie and Sloan in close proximity too. Murray found a way past McKee on the inside and quickly set about running down the leader.
Heatrick and Murray have had more than enough battles as star men in the 2.0 Hot Rods in the recent past, and they soon went at it hammer and tongs. Shane quickly headed for the notorious Aghadowey outside line, and with Heatrick not giving an inch it was going to be a difficult trip. Murray is made of stern stuff however, and the Thunder 500 champion managed to eventually haul himself right around and into the lead in a terrific manoeuvre. That was enough to land him the win, with Heatrick hanging on for second despite a late charge from Christie, Bell and Gary Wilson.
Heatrick and Murray shared the front row for the final, ahead of Sloan and Christie, whilst Derek M and Bell were handily placed on row three. At the green Heatrick and Murray circulated most of the first lap side by side, before a superb switchback from Murray out of turn four got him the run up the inside of the leader. Heatrick tried to shut the door, but it was much too late as Murray slipped ahead in sensational style. As Adam recovered Derek M and Sloan got under him, traversing the back straight three abreast! Derek M went second and Sloan third, and whilst Heatrick got himself slotted into the queue again (just!) he was punted wide by Gary Wilson which earned the Ballyboley man a black cross.
All the while Derek M was making inroads into Murray’s lead, with Sloan and Wilson already battling for third. Bell soon joined the third place fight, his pressure on Wilson allowing Sloan to break free. As the Union flag signalled half distance, Derek M had arrived on the bumper of the leader and quickly put Murray under real pressure. They too have had many a scrap in the 2 Litres down the years, and the destiny of the silverware was sure to be hard fought. Murray is a master of defensive driving when needs dictate, and he held resolutely to the inside whilst thwarting the racy looking Martin's advances. Shane had to use everything in his locker and more, including the backmarking traffic, to hang on out front, but that he did after a truly outstanding race with the two of them at it at full tilt for the second half of the encounter.
Behind them Sloan took a very solid third spot, whilst Wilson lost fourth to a penalty for his earlier contact. That elevated Bell and Heatrick to fourth and fifth respectively at the end of what was a great meeting all round for the Nationals, and in front of a big Speedweekend crowd too. Battle resumes this coming weekend at Ballymena Raceway for Round 3 of the Hankook Performance Tyres World Series NI. Darren Black
Heat 1: 342 70 75 20 937 199 962 76 9 82 994 998 409 343 64 945 nof
Heat 2: 70 342 962 9 82 994 75 76 20 199 937 998 4 409 945 64 717 nof
Final: 70 20 75 9 342 82(X-2) 76 937 998 994 904 4 64 945 962 717 nof
Brian Lammey's photos in the Gallery
World Series Scotland round 2
Cowdenbeath, 20th August
Heat 1: 844 7 700 94 5 308 36 871 648
Heat 2: 7 700 94 5 308 871 36 648 nof
Final: 871 94 308 36 5 844 nof
To be confirmed
Raymond Henderson's photos in the Gallery
Back to work Wood takes first blood
2017 round 1, Aldershot, 24th July 2016
Graham Brown It was Billy Wood who came away with the final honours as the Nationals got back on the World Series trail that will lead to next year’s World Final at Ipswich. Wood executed a great pass on double world champion Chris Haird to take the final win, while it was Paul ‘Ratty’ Gomm who made off with both the heats.
Although the entry wasn’t huge – just 20 cars and probably not helped by some of the controversy surrounding the previous Aldershot meeting - there were still quite enough cars circulating to ensure that the track looked pretty busy most of the afternoon. In fact, there’s an argument for saying that this was almost the perfect number of NHRs for this track, as all the things which went wrong at that other meeting, didn’t happen here. That ‘respect’ everybody seems to harp on about these days was much in evidence and only one penalty all afternoon pretty much tells its own story.
All that said there were quite a few drivers who we’ve come to think of as front runners, who gave it a miss, including the three men who finished top of the 2015/16 points. OK, so 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. You pays yer money…
Among those 20 cars (sadly soon to be 19 after Paul Frost lost oil pressure in practice) was Sammy Shuddall’s crowd-pleasing Peugeot 205, and Mikey Godfrey’s new mount, the ex-McGuigan Tigra A. Rob McDonald had reverted back to his still smart black and gold (sorry, yellow!) bodywork and the rest were in their usual cars, although it would be easy to score Bradley Dynes as 844 if you weren’t paying attention.
It was Gomm who had pole for the opening race and made a quick getaway too. But Alistair Lowe soon got the best of his early scrap for second spot with Dave Garrett, Lowe then shutting down the leader’s advantage. The gap between them see-sawed for the rest of the way until Gomm looked like he finally had it won by positioning the backmarking Shuddall car between them six laps from the end. Lowe came back at him yet again though and was still right there at the finish ensuring that, while Gomm may have led from flag to flag, he’d never had it too easy.
Garrett got home third ahead of Haird, who survived a last lap clash with Dave York during their places dice, an incident which also cost Steve Dudman several places.
We lost Dick Hillard after the first heat with a blown up gearbox, Dudman also falling by the wayside from heat two almost before the green flag came out.
That second heat looked initially like it might follow the same pattern, with Gomm stepping off pole to lead and Lowe passing Garrett early on to assume second, albeit at the expense of a black cross. This time though, Layton Milsom also relegated Garrett and then Lowe as well, to set off after the leader. He never really got within striking distance however, despite Gomm catching backmarkers in the last couple of tours. Haird recorded another fourth spot here to give himself every chance in the final from nearer the front of the grid.
Gomm still had his pole start for the final but with men like Haird, Wood and Jason Kew all close behind, a hat-trick was never going to be easy.
A bit of argy-bargy behind him in the first couple of laps gave Gomm the chance to get into the lead once more but once they’d dealt with Lowe and Garrett, it was Haird and Wood who were left in pursuit.
When Haird caught the leader, he dived to the outside along the back stretch, followed by a sharp cut-back which put him in front at turn three, with Wood following him through. Now the battle for the top spot began in earnest but Wood’s car seemingly worked very well down low on the track, and when Haird gave him a bit too much room at turn three, it looked to be all over as Wood darted past.
Haird stuck right with him though and, as they encountered traffic in the last couple of laps, looked to have been rewarded when Wood went to pass the lapped car of York down the outside and found he couldn’t, letting Haird back under him. Left with no choice but to stay out wide and try to make it work for himself, Wood eventually completed the pass to take a worthy victory, helped by the backmarker making life no easier for Haird.
Nearing the finish, itinerant Scot Rob McDonald claimed third place from double heat winner Gomm as some reward for his long trip south.
By complete contrast to the last Aldershot, nobody took a load of damage home with them, there was just the one penalty, and a passing fair day’s racing was had by all on both sides of the fence – proves it can be done. GB
Heat one: 333,55,44,115,339,31,174,305,117,209,3,491,152,196,27,444,(964). NOF
Heat two: 333,48,55,115,44,196,174,27,305,23,117,209,491,152,444,964. NOF
Final: 305,115,117,333,174,209,196,964,23,491,3,152,55. NOF
Penalties: 964 disqualified from heat one for making heavy contact with 444. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Over 360 great Martin Kingston photos in the Gallery
Colin Adair reports: Adam Maxwell made his first appearance as World Champion at the opening round of World Series NI on July 15, but it was a former holder of the gold roof who took the spoils at Ballymena Raceway where 2005 World Champion Keith Martin swept to a heat and final double that also earned him the Richard Turtle Memorial Cup.
Less than 2 weeks after the chequered flag had fallen on the 2016 World Final and the province’s racers assembled at Ballymena to begin their quest for a spot on the 2017 World Final grid. Qualifying rounds during the month of July were a regular occurrence in the province a while back, but over recent seasons the norm has been for the new campaign to start in August, after the National Championship weekend. However the age old problem of trying to find suitable dates on the fixture list meant this year’s series had to commence earlier than usual, during the peak holiday period in the province in fact. That was never going to suit everyone of course, but despite the absence of a few regulars there was still a very healthy entry of 19 cars at the opener. That should have been 20 too, but unfortunately the Heatrick Team bus was crippled en route. Some frantic calls managed to scramble a van and trailer which transported one of the cars, Adam’s Tigra B, to Ballymena but Mark’s car remained stranded.
Pride of place on the entry list went to our new World Champion Adam Maxwell. The fixture presented local fans with an opportunity to welcome home their new champion and Adam received a well deserved victory parade before racing got underway, together with a gift from the track promoter in recognition of his success. The silver roof on Adam’s Tigra B, which had only been applied for the Ipswich Spedeweekend, had gone already after only one meeting and been replaced with a gold top, how nice a problem was that to have! And very well it looked too, the gold paint coming right down to the waist line of the car, crisp and clean, without the plethora of decals and sign writing which cover so many roofs these days, and all the better for it in my opinion.
Other points of interest on the entry included a track debut for Brendan McConnell in his Peugeot 206cc, which hopefully hints at a full tilt at this qualifying campaign from the former Lightning Rod star. Keith Martin had reverted back to his usual Tigra after competing in the McMillan Team car at the World Finals and there was a welcome return for 2013 World Champion John Christie, at the wheel of the Autocross Fiesta which carried his father Ormond to a World title win 20 years previously in 1996. Christie’s evening was filled with the little niggles and problems that only track time can discover on a car, but the team’s performance against the modern day Tigras is sure to be one of the talking points of the new campaign.
World Series NI also welcomed a new sponsor onboard for 2016/17, Hankook Performance Tyres. Former National Hot Rod racer Corrie Beggs had been one of the central figures in securing the deal and Corrie’s presence was much in evidence during the night, where some publicity shots were taken to mark the new partnership.
Eighteen cars took to the track for heat one, Ben McKee an absentee for this one due to work commitments which saw him arrive late at the track. It was a muggy night in Ballymena where the rain was never far away, and intermittent showers would be a companion throughout. Indeed it was one of those nights where the track was never fully wet or fully dry, but rather a halfway house between the two. The mixed conditions was going to keep everyone guessing on tyre selection and sure enough the full gambit of tyre choices was employed, from 4 slicks to 4 wets, plus a mixture of both! Light rain had just arrived before the opener where lone white grader Philip McCloy led the field away. Simon Kennedy was quickly on the move from the yellow grade and motored ahead on lap two while further back Maxwell was catching the eye with his progress from the red grade. Adam Hylands and Shane Murray were both displaced in quick succession, no mean feat in itself, before Keith Martin, Rob Forsythe and Davy McKay were all relegated to leave the World Champion in third by the half-way point. Maxwell eased ahead of McCloy to go second on lap 12 and now only Kennedy stood between the World Champion and a victory first time out with the gold roof. There was to be no story book ending however as Kennedy’s late call to switch onto 2 wets and 2 slicks proved inspired and the Dungannon racer displayed good place to confirm a well taken victory. A fully slick shod Maxwell chased hard all the way, but had to settle for second in the end after a great run. His fastest lap of the race was the thick end of four-tenths quicker than any other driver on the track, a life-time by National Hot Rod standards, and underlined the confidence Adam is driving with at present. Behind the front two it was Keith Martin next across the strip, while nephew Derek hadn’t been hanging about either to make it up to fourth from near the back of the reds.
McKee had arrived in time for heat two to give us a full complement of 19 starters for this one where the starting positions within each grade were reversed from the heat one order. The rain had eased prior to the start of the race, but the track was still very greasy as newcomer McCloy led them away once again. The novice made a real good fist of the challenging conditions too and maintained his advantage until the half way point when K. Martin slipped ahead. The leaders had already started to lap the stragglers by this point, which underlined what a big difference there was in tyre strategy, but Martin’s mix and match set up of 2 plus 2 seemed ideally suited to the conditions and carried him to a clear victory. Maxwell could not repeat his earlier heroics this time around however. The Maxwell Freight Services Tigra B caught one of the damper patches on track while battling with Jaimie McCurdy and even the World Champion’s reactions could not prevent his slick-shod car from a grassy departure onto the centre-green, with the following Carl Sloan caught up in the moment as well. Derek Martin followed his uncle home in this one after another strong run, with Heatrick a solid third. Heat one winner Kennedy was well to the fore again in fourth, followed home by Hylands and Andrew Stewart, while McCurdy lost seventh position after a two place penalty for a jump start dropped him to ninth behind Nigel McCauley and Gary Wilson.
994 20 342 82 943 199 992 937 64
998 54 70 669 76 4 962 409
When the points were tallied up for the final it was running mates K. Martin and Kennedy on the front row, with Derek M and Adam Hylands on row two, followed by Heatrick and Murray on row three. McCloy and Sloan were absentees for the final; Sloan’s TorqueTronix Tigra packed away with a cooked engine. That left us 17 runners for the feature race where the winner would also receive the Richard Turtle Memorial Cup. This award was introduced last year 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 for the Nationals, confirmed by lap times in the low 15 seconds for the feature race compared to 17 second laps during the heats. The silhouette of a dry line was visible on the track by this stage, great news for those on the racing line, but overtaking was certainly going to prove difficult for those not on the favoured groove.
That was evident right from the green flag when Kennedy was railroaded down the order from his front row starting slot with the #998 car ruthlessly held out on the slippery stuff by the pack. In fact none of the outside starters had fared particularly well at the start, with Hylands and Murray also going backwards as K. Martin led D. Martin and Wilson over the opening exchanges. Polesitter Martin had went with four slicks this time and the experienced campaigner quickly settled into his stride as Murray and Hylands regained some ground by relegating Wilson, who now found himself under attack from Maxwell. Their battle would be an ongoing feature until the chequered flag, but try as he might the World Champion could not breech the defences of a dogged Wilson.
Up front in the Martin dispute it was still Keith ahead of Derek and that’s the way it looked like staying too. While Derek was able to sit with the leader quite comfortably, the chances of him going right around the outside, on the damper section of track, looked slim. The only tactic available was to sit tight and hope that uncle Keith made a mistake which would provide an overtaking opportunity. However when you’re following a man that has seen it all, and done it all, in National Hot Rods for over 30 years those mistakes are few and far between and so it proved again as Keith demonstrated all his race craft and experience to secure the win after a faultless drive. There could have been no more fitting winner either, as Keith was the only driver on the grid who had raced regularly with Richard, and no doubt Dick would have enjoyed his former rival leading the youngsters a merry dance!
Things took a turn for the worse on the final lap for Derek Martin when the #20 Tigra coughed and spluttered its way down the back straight. Martin was immediately engulfed by Murray and Hylands and although Derek managed to keep them both at bay until the flag his defensive work through the final bend did not find favour with the steward. A two place penalty was handed out to Martin, which promoted Hylands into second with Murray in third. Beyond the front four Wilson successfully fended off Maxwell’s advances to retain fifth, with the top ten rounded out by McCauley, McKee, McConnell, a commendable performance on his track debut, and Christie.
A very encouraging start to the 2016/17 campaign. With a new title sponsor on board, record car turnouts and a new World Champion to boot, what’s not to like? There really is a buzz surrounding the National Hot Rod scene in Northern Ireland at the moment and long may that continue. Colin Adair
Heat One: 998 76 994 20 70 54 943 343 82 992 199 342 669 962 409 4 nof. DNF 75 & 64
Heat Two: 994 20 342 998 54 669 4 82 199(x-2) 70 409 943 962 992 937 75 64 nof.
Final: 994 54 70 20(x-2) 82 76 4 937 409 962 199 998 669 64 nof.
Ipswich, 30th May
Graham Brown Danny Fiske may have bounced back from a first heat disqualification to win the final, while Colin Gomm might have returned from a lengthy sabbatical to win both heats, but still much of the interest at Foxhall centred on the minor places battles between Shane Bland and Carl Waller-Barrett as the pair slugged it out to determine the destiny of this year’s points championship. In the end it all came down to a drag race to the flag from the last bend on the last lap of the last race of the season to decide it, with Waller-Barrett getting the verdict by a couple of inches.
With twenty-seven cars on hand for the day and the two points leaders saddled with rear of grid starting slots, it was probably always going to be about relatively small points scores deciding the issue.
A few items of interest among those twenty-seven included the aforementioned Colin Gomm, making a very welcome return at the wheel of his Mercedes, which was looking as superbly turned out as ever. But if you thought Colin had been missing for a while, a comeback by Andy Lee (formerly #209) was a turn of events few were expecting. I found Andy on a points table on the computer going back over a decade but I think he reckons it is even longer than that since he last graced a NHR track. Now armed with a Tigra and a new number (289) Andy took his place at the back of the grids to begin playing himself back into it all.
The ‘other Gomm’ – Paul – was also back out in his beautiful 333 car, with all of them being joined by “our” German, Winnie Holtmanns, hopefully getting in some practice ahead of this year’s T-500 and presumably the World, although he didn’t race in it last year.
While there was still everything to play for at the top of the table, there was, as usual, still plenty at stake near the bottom of the eighteen qualifiers too. This pretty much centred on whether Alistair Lowe or Dave York could dislodge bump spot man Danny Hunn. But with York abdicating his chance by skipping the meeting and Lowe unfortunately suffering a blown transmission in practice and thus being forced to miss the first race, it was beginning to look pretty sorted down there even before a green flag was waved. This was a situation for which Hunn – who didn’t exactly have a great day himself – no doubt became suitably grateful as the night went on.
Gomm’s return to the formula after more than a year away from World Series racing, saw his Mercedes plonked onto the front of the grid, a situation which seemed quite likely to net him at least one win. He ripped away from the rest at the off in heat one, helped by Paul Gomm’s car getting all out of shape off the line, and soon opened up a sizable gap over the rest.
Lee Pepper overhauled Ivan Grayson to take up second while way back in the pack, Waller-Barrett passed Bland by half distance to claw his way towards what were to be a vital few points. But they were all interrupted by a yellow flag thrown seven laps from home when Colin Smith slammed into the wall at turn one following the incident which was to get Fiske disqualified.
The hiatus didn’t bother the leader, who simply blasted off into sufficient lead to ensure the win, before tapping off and allowing Pepper to close up as they headed for the finish. Grayson was still third at the flag but the vitally important places were thirteenth for Waller-Barrett and fifteenth for Bland. With their ‘dropped scores’ taken into account it put the pair dead level!
At the front, heat two followed a very similar pattern, with Gomm eagerly marching away and leaving the rest to it. It came down to Grayson and Pepper to dispute second again, their dice continuing throughout the race this time until, with five to go, the pair had a coming together at turn three. This saw Grayson go spinning and subsequently cop a penalty for causing the fracas into the bargain.
Thus Gomm was left to take the win with a better than quarter lap margin over Pepper this time, Lowe claiming third after finally sorting his gearbox bothers. Both Bland and Waller-Barrett finished out of the places here so it was all down to a last race shoot out in the final.
Pepper underlined in the final what Colin Gomm had proved in the heats, which was that the outside front row slot was giving a better launch, Pepper’s 206cc hacking into turn one first with Gomm, Jack Blood and Aaron Dew all jostling for position behind.
A long way behind all this, Waller-Barrett had started well, only to get overtaken by Bland as they battled the traffic around fifteenth-sixteenth spots. Clearly, if nothing much changed for them by the finish, whether they were fifteenth or sixteenth was going to matter quite a bit…
Up front, Blood launched a spirited attack up Pepper’s outside, the pair running neck and neck for two or three laps before Blood finally got ahead for good exiting turn two. Pepper then got embroiled in a scrap with Dew and a charging Fiske, who swiftly got the best of it to go after the leader. Meanwhile, back in what were now eleventh and twelfth places, CW-B was ahead of Bland once more but with Bland trying everything to take him back again.
With the finish coming up, Blood was forced to start carving through backmarkers with Fiske now right behind him and piling on the pressure. It eventually told when the leader banged one of those backmarkers – Lowe - wide at turn three, an impact which was going to get him into hot water with the stewards. Blood did press on to get home first on the road but collected another penalty which dropped him down to third and gave Fiske the win.
That sorted, all eyes switched back to the placemen haring across the line, sixth, seventh, eighth…and then came Bland and Waller-Barrett blasting out the final bend, absolutely side by side as Bland went for a desperate last gasp outside pass to cross the line in a virtual dead heat. Adding to the drama, (and really, you couldn’t make this up) Waller-Barrett’s transponder had chosen that last lap to pack in, leaving it down to the scorer and stewards to judge who’d got there first. They were unanimous in declaring Waller-Barrett ninth and thus champion by a single point.
You can’t say there’s all that much wrong with a formula or its system of operating when, after dozens of races and hundreds of laps spread over the course of a year, it all comes down to the last few yards of the final lap and a margin of only inches. #lovehotrods? You bet we do. GB
Heat 1: 278,155,136,66,152,3,23,(304),209,92(-2),117,115,48,(-2),162,174,42,31,44,615,27,333,339,(467),289. NOF
Heat 2: 278,155,55,333,304,44,23,92,3,31,209,115,217,117,152(-2),66(-2),162,48,42,339,174,615,27,(467),289,---,---,136(-2). NOF
Final: 304,23,92(-2),155,209,115,117,31,162,42,3,152,66,174,217,55,339,136,333,289,27. NOF
Penalties: 48 dropped two places in heat one for contact with 44. 92 dropped two places in heat one for persistent contact. 217 disqualified from heat one for spinning 615. 304 disqualified from heat one for causing 491 to crash. 66 dropped two places in heat two for contact. 152 dropped two places in heat two for contact. 136 dropped two places in heat two for contact. 92 dropped two places in final for contact with 55. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation. Final points
100's of superb Photos by Martin Kingston and Clive Marchant in the Gallery
Tullyroan, 29th May
Darren Black reports: The National Hot Rods rounded off their season with a thrilling meeting in glorious sunshine at Tullyroan Oval last Sunday afternoon, and whilst it was Gary Wilson who landed the spoils in Round 14 of PC Paints & Components World Series NI, the big winner was Adam Maxwell as he was crowned 2015/16 Northern Ireland Champion. The lead in the points championship was swapped throughout what was a very pulsating afternoon in the Ulster sunshine.
For the second round in a row it was very pleasing to see the twenty car barrier hit once again. I'll even admit that I myself had a nice smile on my face as we headed off into the warm ups for heat one, seeing such a big grid in perfect weather conditions - it's moments like this that make all the hard work behind the scenes worthwhile! Of those on track, everyone was mounted as we would expect, with an unprecedented nine jokers being played. Amongst these were points leader Derek Martin and rival Adam Maxwell, and it looked like these would be the two to contest the series win. Mark Heatrick was always going to be in with a good shout too, whilst at the bottom end of the World Final qualification zone Adam Hylands was chasing Carl Sloan for the final slot, but with Sloan playing his joker it was going to take a monumental effort from the 2015 European Champion to unseat the Kells-based, second generation racer.
Heat one was headed away by Philip McCloy, the Ballymena racer taking his first start off the front in this one. He was setting a decent pace too, which was not unexpected as some of his practice and provisional outings so far have suggested that would be just the case. We lost Adam Heatrick early on as he ground to a halt on the outside of turn four, whilst Keith Martin spun into retirement of turn two, and with a few others getting out of shape the drivers all got an oil warning from the starter and on the Raceceivers.
McCloy continued to set the pace, with Andy Stewart and Rab Forsythe next up and Nigel McCauley (fresh from an outing at Tipperary the previous evening) and Gary Wilson leading the blues. Derek Martin was already looking very racy from the reds as he looked to seal the points crown, with Hylands chasing him through. Stewart continued to edge ever closer to the race leader as Forsythe dropped out of contention, but with Wilson and Bell closing in too we had a grandstand finish on the cards.
To win in your first meeting from the front would be some feat, and it seemed quite a lot on the terraces were willing Philip on to seal the deal. Stewart almost got under him at one stage, but McCloy was still there with just one to go. But he then ran way too deep into turn one, inviting Stewart right up alongside. Philip glanced off the passing Stewart Peugeot, and fishtailed his way down the back straight before smacking the wall head first just past the pit gate. He almost got collected by Bell, but although he escaped what could have been major damage it was still a sorry case of so near and yet so far for Phil, and his day was finished there and then. Out of it all Stewart took a welcome win, ahead of Wilson, Maxwell and the recovered Bell. Nearing the end Hylands had to give up his chase of that final World Final slot, when an engine problem sidelined him for the afternoon.
We were down in numbers for heat two for various reasons, as Forsythe took up the running whilst Adam Heatrick had a turn four spin from which he quickly recovered. That was only a small part of the drama though, as smoke could be seen emitting from the rear of Derek Martin's pretty #20 machine. Surely the man who has looked so good all season wasn't going to hit bother with the NI title in his grasp? Derek's worst fears came to pass as he gamely struggled on with a cockpit now filled with smoke (or steam?), but then had to pull to a halt on turn four with his engine troubles looking as terminal as his title hopes...
Wilson had assumed the lead by now, and made short work of holding on all the way home ahead of Bell, McCurdy and Sloan, whilst Maxwell's 8th propelled him to the top of the World Series NI Standings.
Wilson and Bell lined up on the front row for the final, with Maxwell (on his joker remember) in grid five and Heatrick back on grid nine. It was always going to be a big ask for Mark to land the crown from this position, but then again we had seen the pendulum swing constantly all day and the searing heat was certainly taking its toll on cars across all the formulas on the race programme.
Bell made a real good fist of things at the off by challenging hard on the outside, but Wilson had the measure of him and soon settled into the lead. Sloan was in third ahead of Maxwell, McCurdy and Shane Murray, the latter having one of his best runs of recent meetings after a whole host of problems with his new motor. Sloan clipped the kerb out onto the back straight which invited Maxwell down his inside to third, but out front Wilson was excellent value for his win having looked very rapid all afternoon. Maxwell found a way past Bell for second nearing the end, which was more than enough to seal him the Northern Ireland Championship win, and he celebrated in style with some donuts on the Pit Bend. Behind the jubilant Adam came a rather subdued Bell - with no World Final on his agenda this year and his wedding just a week away, he could be forgiven for not being on top form! McCurdy, Sloan and series runner-up Mark Heatrick followed them home after Murray had retired late on.
With our nine World Finalists now declared - Adam Maxwell, Mark Heatrick, Derek Martin, Stewart Doak, Keith Martin, Jaimie McCurdy, Carl Sloan, Gary Wilson and Gary
Woolsey - attention now switches to focus on Ipswich. A number intend taking in the Thunder 500 in preparation for the big one a fortnight later in early July. The most successful and competitive
World Series NI battle for many years could well prove to be the 'extra' our drivers need to get back onto the top step of the World Final podium. Darren Black
Heat 1: 669 82 76 9 75 20 199 4 940 960 996 70 992 64 943 nof
Heat 2: 82 9 199 75 937 992 70 76 960 996 994 669 342 64 nof
Final: 82 76 9 199 75 960 994 937 992 342 nof
Brian Lammey and Ed Fahey's photos in the Gallery
Ballymena 20th May
Colin Adair reports: Adam Maxwell mastered the tricky conditions at Ballymena Raceway on May 20 to record his first win of the current campaign in Round 13 of the PC Paints and Components World Qualifying Series NI. A record entry of 20 took to the track for the penultimate qualifying round where Mark Heatrick romped to a brace of victories in the heat races, and led the early stages of the final too, before Maxwell took control. Series Leader Derek Martin chased the winner hard all the way to the chequered flag, but had to be content with second in the end, while Keith Martin rounded out the top three finishers.
A splendid entry of 20 cars arrived for Round 13 of the World Qualifying Series where the drivers were greeted with damp surroundings at the Ballymena oval. The conditions would prove a real test for the drivers, and if anything got worse at the evening wore on, which resulted in the meeting being officially declared ‘wet’. That had a knock-on effect for Rob Forsythe, Adam Maxwell and Carl Sloan, who all had planned to play their Joker at Round 13, and will no doubt be praying the weather takes a turn for the better at the final qualifier! One notable point of interest about those gathered in the pits was the very welcome return of Stephen McConigle for his first appearance in the current series in his usual Peugeot 206cc.
All twenty entrants took the track for heat one, the first occasion that the 20-car barrier has been reached at a domestic meeting in the province. For sure a nice milestone to achieve, especially for those of us who can remember all the 4 and 5 cars meetings which we attended back in the day, but hopefully one that can be nudged even higher as the season continues. Rolling starts were the order of the day in these conditions and it was Simon Kennedy who slithered into the lead of the opener, with fellow yellow-grader Andrew Stewart in tow. Mark Heatrick was already on the move from the blues, relegating Nigel McCauley, Ben McKee and Gary Wilson in quick succession to head up the chasing pack. Heatrick soon displaced Stewart as well, but it would take until lap 8 before Mark would catch and pass Kennedy. Once out front however Heatrick pulled comfortably away to record a very clear win in the Heatrick Demolition Tigra. Things were not just as clear cut back in the main pack with some excellent two, and sometimes three, abreast racing on display. Wilson and Keith Martin contested a very tidy scrap for second, which eventually went the way of Martin, while his nephew, Derek M, made great strides over the closing laps to grab third. Wilson, Adam Hylands and Maxwell rounded out the top six, while Jaimie McCurdy received a two place penalty in the result from the race steward after an overly eager getaway at the start.
It was Stewart who led the field away in heat two, but Heatrick hit the front even earlier in this one, 3 laps in fact all it required for Mark to get his nose out front. Much like the opener Heatrick was untroubled throughout and romped home for another very impressive victory. Maxwell ducked around Wilson on lap 7 to grab second and gave valiant chase throughout, but could not quite get on terms with the leader. The two frontrunners were well clear of the main group at the finish where Wilson managed to successfully retain third position, with the top six rounded out by Gary Woolsey, McCurdy and D. Martin.
960 76 994 54 75 70 4 64 998
82 20 940 199 996 937 343 995 992
The brace of heat wins locked down pole position for Heatrick, who was joined on the front row for the Cirrus Plastics sponsored final by Wilson. Maxwell and D. Martin occupied row two and this pair looked the most likely challengers to the pole sitter. K. Martin and Woolsey shared row three, while the absence of Stewart and Adam Heatrick left us with an eighteen car grid for the feature race. If anything the rain was falling slightly heavier at the start of this one, but nevertheless Heatrick seized the advantage from the off. Maxwell and D. Martin were also quickly into their stride to run second and third by lap 3. A really intriguing battle of speed looked in prospect between this trio, but it was quashed before it had really begun when the leader appeared to lose power shortly afterwards. There were a few strange bangs and pops from the Heatrick car and Maxwell needed no second invitation to motor through into the lead on lap 5. D. Martin soon followed through on the same path and it quickly became apparent that these two would be the class of the field in this one. Further back there was drama for Sloan when his TorqueTronix Tigra spun onto the infield at the inside of turn two after tussling with McCurdy and McKee. To make matters worse for Sloan he was unable to rejoin with the car beached on the ledge between the track and the centre green. Up front there was little to separate the lead pair throughout a keenly contested duel and a knot of backmarkers just ahead of the leader in the closing stages looked like it might present Martin with his best shot at an overtaking opportunity. That one chance never materialised however as Maxwell expertly carved a path through the tail-enders to secure a first victory in the current campaign, and one his pace has certainly warranted. D. Martin’s runner-up spot confirmed his position at the top of the points chart; no matter what the track or conditions at the moment Derek just seems ‘on it’ all the time. These two were well clear of the field by the chequered flag, with K. Martin the best of the rest in third to complete a strong haul of points at Round 13 for the 2005 World Champion. Hylands nipped ahead of Heatrick in the closing laps to grab fourth spot and keep his qualification hopes alive, while Heatrick soldiered on to the end in fifth.
Once again the qualifying series in Northern Ireland heads into the final round, at Tullyroan on May 29, with plenty still to play for at both ends of the table.
Heat One:960 - 994 - 20 - 82 - 54 - 76 - 940 - 75 - 996 - 199(x2) - 70 - 342 - 998 - 937 - 669 - 992 - 343 - 64 – 995
Heat Two:960 - 76 - 82 - 940 - 199 - 20 - 54 - 994 - 75 - 996 - 70 - 937 - 342 - 4 - 992 - 998 - 343 - 64 – 995
Final: 76 - 20 - 994 - 54 - 960 - 82 - 940 - 199 - 937 - 996 - 70 - 992 - 343 - 998 - 64 - 995
Cowdenbeath, 21st May
Results (to be confirmed)
Heat 1 top 6: 871 700 77 36 94 648
Heat 2: 871 700 77 36 648 94 nof.
Final (as they crossed the line): 871 700 77 36 648 94 nof
To be confirmed.
Raymond Henderson's excellent photos in the Gallery
Graham Brown On a day of controversy when trouble seemed to find most of the field, Mikey Godfrey managed to keep his head and find some clear air at the front of the pack as he raced to a well taken heat and final double. And, despite being in bother with the steward later on, it was Layton Milsom who made off with the other heat.
The twenty-two car entry was about what most people expected, with those who reckon they can’t now qualify for the World Final mostly keeping their powder dry for after it’s been and gone, and those who are simply chary of racing at Aldershot also leaving their cars in the garage. But with those twenty-two spread over three straight races, there was always going to be more than enough cars on this particular track.
Matters started out quietly enough with a fairly orderly opening heat on what was a pleasantly warm and sunny afternoon. Alastair Lowe stepped off pole to lead the first lap before getting hung out to dry as a freight train headed by Lee Pepper and Milsom charged through down Lowe’s inside.
There was a bit of excitement when Dick Hillard and Danny Hunn got locked together along the home straight, although both survived the incident unscathed. Pepper then diced for the lead with Milsom and Shaun Taylor, Pepper getting relegated to third as Milsom hit the front and proceeded to march away. Thereafter, Taylor defended second against all comers for the duration with Pepper staying right in touch and the pair being joined by Godfrey, Billy Wood and Aaron Dew for a bit of a tussle in the closing laps. Milsom eventually took the flag just over a quarter of a lap ahead of the places battle, which Taylor managed to remain in charge of until the finish.
Heat two was when it all went Pete Tong. A first bend collision that sent Hunn, Dave York and Chris Lehec spinning caused an almost immediate red flag, although York and Lehec had in fact managed to pull away again by then.
The second attempt was yellow flagged almost before they’d got going, when Pepper stopped in the wall at the pit bend, Milsom getting a prompt disqualification for putting him there. Following three further DQs for either passing under yellows (Colin Smith) or having bits of bodywork adrift (Rob McDonald, bumper, and Jack Blood missing a door), they tried again.
It was Godfrey who put his nose in front at this point, surviving another caution period when Hillard and Blood went spinning between turns three and four.
When they got going yet again, Godfrey drew well clear of Lowe (subsequently disqualified for spinning Wood in an incident which allowed the leader to really make good his escape) and the long duel for third spot between Lehec and Dew.
Wood suffered another spin, this time at the hands of a black flagged Hillard, while York and Danny Fiske clashed along the back stretch in a clinch that got Fiske black crossed. York, on the other hand, was already headed for a disqualification for a separate incident involving Taylor.
Well, anybody who’d dozed off in their lawn chair prior to that race, probably got something of a rude awakening that was for sure. Steward Paul Fiore was also pretty rude to the drivers over their Raceceivers but to be fair, he did have something of a point.
I think it’s also fair to say that all the seasoned rod watchers in the stadium were awaiting the final with a hefty dose of trepidation.
Taylor beat Godfrey away at the off in the final but Godfrey quickly redressed that situation to assume the lead again, chased by Dew, Chris Haird and Carl Waller-Barrett. But they were all brought up short when Jason Kew had a big crash at the start/finish, the car spinning backwards through the air before impacting the barriers hard. I actually missed the start of the shunt but it appears Wood clipped one of the marker tyres, which sent his car a bit sideways and into Taylor, who got shoved into the wall. Then Kew hit the 152 car and used it as a launch ramp. The ‘bang’ when Kewy took off certainly alerted anyone who wasn’t looking in that direction (me included) that something nasty was definitely going down…well up, in Jason’s case. Fortunately, Jason was eventually able to walk away and to the ambulance under his own steam.
It was Kewy’s pal Godfrey who got back on with the business of winning when hostilities resumed, chased hard by Waller-Barrett once he’d out-foxed Dew to go second. The European champ was narrowing the gap every step of the way after they passed mid-distance, although attention was somewhat diverted from the leaders by a confrontation of a different sort between Wood and Fiske. Fiske had been giving Billy’s back bumper significant attention with Bill putting his point across by ‘showing’ Danny the wall at turn four. This was a clash which led to both men getting disqualified, in Wood’s case, from the entire meeting. (Note that a few of the penalties described here, and as applied at the meeting, were subsequently added to or downgraded after the further viewing of video evidence).
At the front, Godfrey had his mirrors full of orange and silver Tigra well before the five lap board, the leader just managing to fend off a last bend sweep round the outside by Waller-Barrett which saw him only defeated by inches at the line.
This was always going to be one of those days that got everybody hot under the collar afterwards but, if I’m brutally honest, I don’t actually think it was quite as bad as a lot of people were making out afterwards. OK, so the track isn’t Hednesford or Ipswich. But it’s perfectly possible to have “one of those days” at either of them once in a while too. So while twenty-plus cars around a track with very limited passing opportunities – and especially nearing the end of qualifying - is always going to demand the drivers show each other that bit of respect we keep hearing about, that is usually what happens at Aldershot. And I suppose there is also a case to be made that maybe the steward was being a bit “black flag happy”, but what was he supposed to do, sit back and let a load of contact go on unchecked?
Then too, maybe I personally have a tendency to take too lenient a viewpoint of this sort of thing because I’ve just been around so long. Let’s face it, if it had been
Ringwood on a 1970s Tuesday night - which also frequently seemed to get a bit rough for whatever reason - nobody would have talked about it! The difference is, instead of spending a couple of hours
in the garage kicking the doors back out on your Anglia and bashing the wheel arches straight again with a club hammer and Portapower, nowadays any damage can cost several grand to put right. That is
really what makes the drivers fed up (who can blame them) and exercises the chattering classes. Mind you, if this was NASCAR, what would they be doing about it, eh? Probably nothing much except
rubbing their hands and looking forward to the click of the turnstiles at the next one. GB
Heat one: 48,152,27,23,155,305,55,196,31,42,115,615,92,162,304,174,491,117,45,3. NOF
Heat two: 27,(55),615,23,115,162,152,196(-2),304,174,45,305. NOF
Final: 27,162,23,48,117,115(-2),31,45,92,(304),615,55,339. NOF
Penalties: 196 initially disqualified from heat two for contact with 152, later downgraded to a two place docking following the viewing of video evidence. 491 initially disqualified from heat two for passing under yellow flags, later rescinded following the viewing of video evidence. 55 disqualified from heat two for spinning 305. 48 disqualified from heat two for spinning 155. 31 disqualified from heat two for spinning 305. Technical disqualification from heat two for 117 due to a bumper hanging off. Technical disqualification from heat two for 92 due to having a door missing. 115 dropped two places in the final for contact with 48. 304 disqualified from final for contact on 305. 305 initially loaded up after final for running 304 to the wall, later downgraded to a disqualification following the viewing of video evidence. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Martin Kingston's Photos
Aghadowey Raceway, May 13th
Darren Black reports: Portadown's Stewart Doak returned to victory lane for the first time in quite some time when he took the honours in the final of PC Paints & Components World Series NI Round 12 at Aghadowey Oval last Friday night. It was a night which showcased the Ulster Nationals at their very best, with recent returnee Rab Forsythe grabbing both heat wins on a glorious, warm and sunny evening.
We finally made the elusive twenty car barrier for this one, in the pits at least, as a blown gearbox in practice for Shane Murray left us once again with 19 cars. Forsythe was a welcome addition to the ranks after some time away, and he was joined by Adam Heatrick who was behind the wheel of the DMC Race Prep-built Tigra B that has recently been campaigned by Thomas Dilly. Whilst Adam has made sporadic appearances in the NHR's over the past number of years in the team's spare car, he confirmed that this was to be a much more serious switch this time for the reigning 2.0 Hot Rods NI Points Champion.
The opening heat didn't get very far before the reds came out, when Philip McCloy spun his pretty 206cc to a halt in the middle of turn one. The second start didn't get much further, which had many thinking that maybe we shouldn't have ran a meeting on Friday 13th after all! This time it was Gary Wilson in all manner of bother, as he tried to shut the door on Doak much too late down the back straight, the resultant scary ride over the infield leaving Gary stranded mid-track on the Brown Trout Bend and bringing out the yellows.
Forsythe led them away at the restart, but was soon under the cosh from Nigel McCauley, who was intent in reaping the dividends of playing his joker. Nigel got himself alongside the leader, but Rab was being very resolute despite his lack of recent seat time. Tommy Maxwell and Carl Sloan were looking good too, as Davy McKay spun onto the infield with presumably some mechanical issue as he wouldn't be seen for the rest of the night.
What had been a ferocious six car lead battle was now an amazing fifteen car lead scrap - who said this was a one line track? McCauley just couldn't get one over Forsythe to take it up, and then a mistake from Tommy M saw Nigel very unfortunate to get railroaded right out of contention. Doak was now up to second, but Forsythe held on for a very decent victory indeed at end of a truly fantastic race. Doak, Jaimie McCurdy and a once again impressive Derek Martin from the reds filled the top four.
Unfortunately there were some 'afters' between Adam Maxwell and McCauley on the slowing down lap, which left the powers that be with no option but to give Nigel an early bath for the evening. Coupled with Wilson's earlier demise, the jinx of the joker was most certainly striking again...
There was drama right at the off in heat two, with Mark Heatrick the big loser of a three abreast moment off the grid from the reds. Adam Hylands, Gary Woolsey and Mark found themselves three abreast into turn three, the resultant squeeze as they ran out of room seeing Heatrick spin out, rejoining stone last.
Forsythe was again setting a lightning pace at the front, edging out an advantage over Tommy M, Wilson, Sloan and Doak. Wilson bravely went for the outside, only allowing Sloan past on the inside. Gary tried to get back into the queue, only to get spat aside once again by a charging Doak in an almost carbon-copy of their heat one incident. This time Gary was able to right himself quickly without losing too much time.
As Glenn Bell retired, Sloan found a way past Tommy M to set off after the leader. He arrived on Forsythe's tail with just a lap to go, leaving him no time to make any serious assault on the top spot. Forsythe thus took his second win of the night, over the excellent looking Sloan with Doak, McCurdy and Keith Martin next up.
<992 199 994 54 940 960 82 343
<996 75 20 937 669 76 342
Forsythe and Doak shared the front row for the McKnight Motors sponsored final, with Stewart getting off the line like a rocket to take up the running. A couple of laps in McCurdy got a run down the inside of Forsythe for second, but when Rab tried to slam the door the two t-boned each other and came to a halt at the pit gate. As the yellows came out to rescue them both, Doak was now ahead of Hylands and Martin on the road and it really was going to be a big test for the Cirrus Plastics man if he was to hang on all the way through.
Hylands quickly lumped pressure onto the leader at the resumption of hostilities, and for a time it looked as though he was facing the old 'stick or twist' option given his precarious position in the points chart. Finally he did give it a blast, bravely taking to the outside of Doak but crucially failing to make the move count. Martin capitalised on the inside, and as soon as Hylands dropped back far enough to give him an opportunity, Derek was out on the wide trip too.
Doak has turned enough corners in his career though, and was more than comfortable out front as he welcomed allcomers to take him on. Martin got alongside the #996 machine, but Doak had all under control. Derek tried to slam back into the train, but Hylands was already occupying that piece of tarmac and Derek got spun aside into turn three.
On we motored in what was a truly pulsating race, with Hylands now second and looking like he was now more than happy with the runner up points. He did try a dive down the inside into turn one with a couple to go, and this sensationally allowed Sloan a good run on the outside. Carl has come on in leaps and bounds in recent times, and he drew himself right past Hylands and alongside the lead car as they took the one to go marker. It would have been one hell of a story had Carl pulled it off, but Doak had driven the perfect defensive race and held on to take the win at the end of a 'corker' as they say. Hylands just pipped Sloan for second on the line, with Ben McKee good value in fourth ahead of Mark Heatrick and Wilson.
With just two rounds to go, the action continues this Friday night at Ballymena. The Ulster Nationals are certainly in rude health at the moment, with car counts and
the racing as good as we've ever seen. Darren Black, with thanks to footage from NIOvalTV.
Heat 1: 992 996 199 20 994 54 75 937 940 9 76 960 669 369 342 nof. DQ & loaded up: 4
Heat 2: 992 75 996 199 994 369 937 54 20 940 82 342 669 960 343 nof.
Final: 996 54 75 937 960 82 76 994 940 342 669 20 343 nof.
Brian Lammey's Aghadowey photos in the Gallery
Lochgelly, May 13th
Anderson almost there
The Madman reports: Round 10 of the 12 round Scottish series took place at Lochgelly Raceway on Friday 13th May. There was a healthier entry than expected with three drivers from the north of Scotland joining the more local quartet including Samantha Ross, daughter of Allan, out in the infamous Starlet which has graced tracks for around 30 years. Notable absentees were Billy Bonnar, who had done enough rounds to ensure his place in the support races at Ipswich, and Steven Armit, who was apparently side-lined with engine trouble.
The sole white top sitter, Ian Anderson, set off out front in heat one but was quickly caught by Paul Yule who, after several attempts, eventually got round the outside and into the lead. The rest of the pack were eager not to let Paul disappear into the distance and most got past quickly helped when Tam Rutherford caught the back end of Ian putting him into a spin which saw the black cross being effected for his part in the incident. Roy Anderson and Graeme Callender quickly caught the leader up who slowed the pace up from sufficiently enough to allow Rutherford, and series leader Ian Donaldson, the opportunity to play catch up. There then followed an intriguing battle of cat and mouse with each of the quartet trying their luck on the outside line before being forced back down the order. Roy Anderson almost made it past on a couple of occasions but Paul was able to hang on down the straights forcing Roy back down the order. With a couple of laps to go, the race was anybody’s. One mistake from anyone could have caused an expensive pile up but thankfully that never happened. Callender went for an outside lunge on the final bend but it was not enough and Paul held on for a rare but well deserved win. Samantha Ross shown that she had lost none of her talent during her time racing 1300 Stock Cars not being too far behind at the finish and coming home ahead of Anderson senior. The steward took a dim view of the manoeuvre of Rutherford and he was penalised two places for his efforts.
Heat two turned out to a somewhat different affair than heat one. It started in the same vein with Anderson senior leading Yule away with the usual suspects slotting in behind. Ian looked a bit more determined this time which caused the field to once again pack up. Mid race there was a fracas involving Paul Yule and the pack, the result being that everyone slowed down. A gap opened up like the parting of the Red Sea for Graeme Callender and he was quickly through followed by Ian Donaldson leaving the rest of the field to get back on an even keel. Donaldson looked the quickest of the pair and after the pair diced for a number of laps; Ian got his nose on the inside and assumed command. Callender immediately fought back and almost got his nose on the inside at the pit bend but had to back off or both of them would have ended up heading towards the Armco. After that, Donaldson had a trouble free run to the line with Callender having to keep a watchful eye in his mirrors over the last couple of laps from the rapidly closing Rutherford.
With Ian Anderson not coming out for the final, it was left to Paul Yule to set the early pace although the race was almost stopped on the first lap after Samantha Ross got a bit gallus (a Scottish word for over-confident) with the old Starlet and almost planted it into the Armco. She got going again thus avoiding any race stoppage. Roy Anderson quickly made a move on Yule which netted him the lead and was quickly followed by the rest of the main protagonists. It looked like we were going to have a good race on our hands as Callender and Rutherford kept within touching distance of the leader. That was until Tam went far too hard into the pit bend contacting Callender who spun off and became grounded on top of the inner perimeter kerbs. It gave Anderson the breathing space he need to pull clear whilst Rutherford found himself both under investigation for his incident with the 871 car and under pressure from Donaldson who was struggling a bit with the handling on the machine. There was no change to the chequered flag with Rutherford being disqualified for his incident with Callender following a review of the video evidence available. It meant that Anderson had done more than consolidate his second place in the points with a couple of rounds to go - although as the old saying goes, it ain’t over until it’s over. The Madman
Heat 1: 344 Paul Yule, 871 Graeme Callender, 700 Ian Donaldson, 36 Roy Anderson, 5 Tam Rutherford, 648 Samantha Ross, 336 Ian Anderson
Heat 2: 700, 871, 5, 36, 344, 648, 336
Final: 36, 700, 344, 648
Lochgelly, 13th May
Mad Jock reports: Lochgelly was the venue for round 10 as the Scottish Rods arrived at the HRP venue for the final time in the current qualifying series.
A dry evening greeted the seven Rods assembled. The grid included Samantha Ross taking over the long lived red and yellow Starlet from brother Matthew. Despite being programmed Steven Armit and Billy Bonnar weren't to appear.
The field set off for heat one and it was fairly quickly Paul Yule that took up the running. With only seven cars on track the pace was fast and with a clear track in front of him Yule was able to build a comfortable lead. The only spoiler to this could have been when Ian Anderson's Merc went into a 360-spin on the back straight, fortunately however the situation was recovered before flags were required. As the race entered its final stages Yule had plenty of company but despite the close attention of Graeme Callender and Donaldson amongst others, Yule held on for his first victory in the formula.
Result - 344 - 871 -700 -3 6 - 5 - 648 - 336
Heat 2 saw all seven cars return to the track and it was again Yule who made the early running. Early in the race it could have all gone pear-shape when the first four went into turn one swapping paint, fortunately all emerged out of turn 2 facing in the right direction, but the running order had changed. Donaldson had taken over with Callender on his tail. Roy Anderson probably lost out most as the first four jostled for position emerging from turn 2, now in fourth with Rutherford in third. At the flag it was Donaldson with Callender not far behind waiting for any slip-up that never came. Tam Rutherford completed the top three.
Result - 700 - 871 - 5 - 36 - 344 - 648 - 336
The final was probably the best race of the evening. Yule again got away but this time he had Roy Anderson for close company. Anderson after a couple of looks up the inside took to the outside line and remained there for three complete circuits, eventually finding that bit extra to get past Yule. From that point Anderson slowly increased the gap and wasn't to be challenged to the flag. Behind, Callender and Rutherford were having their own battle which ended with Callender spun onto the inner kerb where he remained stranded for the rest of the race. Perhaps surprisingly with the 871 front end out on the track on the exit of turn 4 there were no flags, Rutherford getting black crossed for his troubles. Roy Anderson then held on for a comfortable victory there by becoming the second driver on the night to claim his maiden victory in the formula. Donaldson came home for second with Yule completing the top three.
Result - 36 - 700 - 344 - 648
The Scottish Rods are next on track in a week's time at Cowdenbeath. Mad Jock
Tipperary Raceway, May 8th
Heat 1: 970 261 (888) 982 925
Heat 2: 970 261 925 (888) 982
Final: 970 261 925 982
Ed Fahey's photos in the Gallery
Hednesford, May 2
Graham Brown Rob McDonald continued his present run of good form by following up his Northampton win last time out, the Scotsman taking a second final victory in a row at Hednesford, this time having to fend off a dogged pursuit by Danny Fiske throughout most of the race.
A passing fair entry of 26 (including a welcome newcomer but ‘old’ racer in the shape of former Super Rod driver Adrian Bennett in an ex-Haird 206cc) was assembled for some traditional Hednesford Bank Holiday manic Monday shenanigans, which was going to be quite enough with the all-in format and not necessarily the best of conditions. Although practice took place in a spitting drizzle, the rain had unfortunately turned into the real thing by start time, and the first race was run in a downpour with attendant clouds of blinding spray.
Proof of the tricky conditions came when there were two spinners on the opening lap, Dave York and Chris Haird both having rotations. Martin Heath fought off initial challenges from Ivan Grayson and Alastair Lowe to assume the lead, with Lowe being overwhelmed by the pack soon afterwards.
Heath was able to maintain his lead over Grayson with third now being disputed by Layton Milsom and Steve Dudman, with the latter beginning to look as though he was really enjoying the wet. By half distance, he’d relegated Milsom and was after Grayson, taking him down the inside into the East bend. The leader looked to be still impossibly far away but Dudman’s inexorable whittling away at the gap eventually brought him within striking distance three laps from home.
Dudman wasted further time when he had to sort out a near collision with a back marker along the back straight two laps from the end. But he was right with Heath as they got the last lap board, taking to the outside down the back stretch before sweeping round the wide line at the West bend to snatch the win by a scant 0.064 of a second at the flag.
The rain had stopped leaving the track still wet and difficult choices to be made about tyres and set-up for heat two.
Once again, it was Heath, Grayson and Lowe who set the early pace, and it wasn’t going to be Milsom trying to go after them this time, as he spun at the East bend. In fact it was Dudman who was after them with a vengeance once more. Heath probably knew it and was working harder at extending his lead this time, but Dudman cut past the other placemen quicker still and was reeling the leader in fast on the drying track.
With a big pack of backmarkers looming up ahead of Heath into the bargain, he was clearly going to have a struggle to stay in front. He made a fair fist of it though, and Dudman was still playing catch up nearing the finish, the leader always managing to keep just one lapped car between them. But they were together with four laps remaining, Heath hanging on grimly as others also now saw their chance with Mark Edwards, McDonald and Shane Bland all catching up fast, presumably as the track conditions finally came to them.
It all came to a head as they went into the penultimate turn where Dudman got under Heath going into the bend and the two made contact. Dudman got the lead in the ensuing scramble, as Bland carved through to second ahead of Edwards, McDonald and Heath. Dudman was initially penalised two places for contact but after the stewards had reviewed video evidence he was ultimately awarded the win.
A completely dry track and blinding sunshine greeted them for the final. Dudman had pole now but was never likely to be handed an easy win with McDonald and Bland sat right behind him. We were never to discover how Dudman might have tackled their threat however, a stuck throttle in the warm up laps pitching him hard into the wall and then onto the infield with a Tigra that was now considerably shorter on the left front corner. Fortunately, Steve was unhurt in crash which was a hard hit for sure.
It was Edwards who was able to grab the early lead at the green with McDonald second, although he quickly lost out to Bland inside a lap. McDonald fought back to re-take second down the inside of the West bend after only another circuit, the Scot repeating the exercise on Edwards to hit the front next time around.
Edwards then had to face up to Bland and an insistent Danny Fiske, both men going past before Fiske managed to relegate Bland too as they exited the West Bend.
All that scrapping had allowed McDonald to make good his escape though and with Fiske still being pestered by Bland, he wasn’t left with a free hand to try and chase down the leader either. But at that point they were all saved the bother when Lee Pepper ground to a halt right by the pit gate, bringing out the yellows. He wasn’t the only one in trouble at that moment either, Shaun Taylor having gone spinning backwards in a hairy ride up the winner’s ramp.
There was however, still the backmarking York car left between McDonald and Fiske for the restart, enabling the leader to make a clean getaway once the race resumed. Fiske was soon past York too but the damage was done and McDonald was off and running.
York wasn’t in any hurry to step aside for the other placemen however, Bland, Edwards and Colin Smith being cooped up behind him for many laps, the bottleneck eventually leading to Bland getting sent spinning and Smith copping a two place penalty for it, as did York for baulking them. GB
Heat one: 3,66,117,48,92,304,615,31,42,45,491,155,217,55,136,209,174,339,115,162,152,27,23,196,305,119. NOF
Heat two: 3,42,45,117,66,491,31,92,162,55,304,615,209,155,174,115,217,136,305,152,48,339,27,119,196(-2),23(-4). NOF
Final: 117,304,45,162,491(-2),209,115,42,174,217,615,23,31,136,55,66,119,196(-2). NOF
Penalties: 3 initially dropped two places for contact in heat two but penalty rescinded after the viewing of video evidence. 196 dropped two places in heat two for baulking. 23 dropped four places in heat two for a jumped start and baulking. 491 dropped two places in final for contact with 42. 196 dropped two places in final for baulking. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Martin Kingston and Phill Cornish's photos in the Gallery
Round 11, Tullyroan, 30th April.
Darren Black reports: With a domestic World Series round record of nineteen cars in action at Tullyroan Oval last Saturday night, young Broughshane star Jaimie McCurdy was on fine form as he raced through the card unbeaten to take a faultless hat-trick of victories in PC Paints & Components World Series NI Round 11.
Amongst the entry was a pleasing return to action for former World Champion John Christie, with former Lightning Rods British Champion Brendan McConnell also returning in the former Gary O'Neill Peugeot 206cc, his only previous outing having been back in September 2014. Adam Hylands was a welcome returnee from his ban, whilst it was good to see Stewart Doak back in action after his big shunt at the previous Ballymena round, and playing his joker too along with Mark Heatrick. The number of cars on track could well have been higher, with Glenn Bell missing his first local meeting in eight years due to other commitments and Tommy Maxwell unfortunately suspended.
Andy Stewart (behind the wheel of his RCE 206CC) led them away in the opener ahead of Thomas Dilly, with McCurdy and Doak the first to show from the blue grade. Derek Martin, who really is showing some excellent pace this term, was off like a hare from the reds, and quickly making inroads towards those ahead. Dilly was soon demoted by McCurdy and the rest, and Stewart soon followed suit as the #199 machine went ahead. Jaimie was by now managing to edge out a gap to the much more experienced Doak.
Behind the Doak car, Gary Wilson, Heatrick, Adam Maxwell and Carl Sloan were in close proximity, but they soon had Martin to deal with after he relegated both Ben McKee and Nigel McCauley. Derek dealt with Sloan with a great move on the outside nearing the end, but McCurdy by now was home and dry to land first blood of the night ahead of Doak, Wilson and Heatrick.
With dusk falling, it was Simon Kennedy who stepped in the lead of heat two with fellow yellow grader Dilly quickly in bother and parked up on turn two with a seized wheel bearing in the DMC Race Prep 206CC. McCurdy again led the charge of the blues, with Wilson this time on his tail ahead of Heatrick, Doak and Maxwell.
Kennedy was performing really well, and the posse only arrived on his bumper as the lap boards approached. McCurdy wasted little time hitting the outside, and although Wilson almost got under him the Tigra B pilot managed to pull off a great move to take the lead and the win. Wilson and the rest found a way under Kennedy on the inside, Gary taking a deserved second spot ahead of Heatrick, Doak and Maxwell.
199 996 76 20 937 994 54 669 409
82 960 75 962 4 940 70 998
Under the floodlights McCurdy and Wilson shared the front row for the McElmeel Mobility Services sponsored Final, ahead of Doak and Heatrick with Maxwell and Sloan on row three. As expected McCurdy blasted ahead at the greens, with Wilson bravely clawing onto the outside of the lead car for the opening laps. Gary had to give best to Doak for second before dropping into the queue, only for Maxwell, Martin and Christie to quickly relegate the Ballyclare haulier too. McCurdy was pulling clear at the front from Doak, as Maxwell, Martin and Christie battled hard over third, when the yellows came out for a nasty back straight crash for Wilson and Keith Martin. Martin had thought he was clear of the #82 machine and headed out to the wall on the racing line, only to find the nose of the Wilson Tigra still alongside. The resultant contact speared both into the fence, coming to rest in a heap on turn three. The obvious mistake earned Keith a very, very rare disqualification in the final analysis.
McCurdy had the buffer of the back-marking Sloan between himself and Doak at the resumption, and Jaimie was quickly back into top gear once again and pulling clear. Martin was most certainly the man to watch though, nipping under Maxwell before putting a sublime outside pass on Doak to go second. Derek reeled in McCurdy over the remaining laps, but Jaimie was able to keep him at arm's length all the way to the flag to complete his impressive hat-trick. Jaimie also extended his lead in the Cirrus Plastics DMC Race Promotions Points Championship too - in two meetings so far this year on the DMC tracks he has carded five wins and a second!
Martin's fine season continued with second position, ahead of Doak and Maxwell, the latter just holding off a spirited outside charge from Christie over the final laps. We really are down to the business end of the P.C. Paints & Components World Series NI now, with much still to play for as regards World Final qualification and the NI Championship crown. The action continues at Aghadowey Oval on Friday May 13th.
Darren Black, with thanks to footage from NIOvalTV.
Heat 1: 199 996 82 960 76 20 962 75 4 937 940 70 54 994 966 669 409 64 nof
Heat 2: 199 82 960 996 76 75 937 4 994 962 20 54 940 70 998 409 nof
Final: 199 20 996 76 962 54 940 960 (x-2) 70 4 409 669 nof. DQ 994.
Brian Lammey and Ed Fahey's photos in the Gallery
Callender denies Donaldson hat trick at Crimond
The Madman reports: Seven cars turned up for the first 2016 qualifier at Crimond on 1st May. All the drivers in contention for the two places at Ipswich along with newcomer Steven Armit who was out in the ex-John Sibbald Tigra complete with new smart paint job. There was drama before the racing got underway in earnest when Tam Rutherford blew his diff in practice and headed out of the pits before the first race was underway, a round trip of almost 400 miles for less than a handful of laps.
Heat one got underway with Ian Anderson setting the early pace being chased by son Roy and Jim Cowie, both of whom got past Graeme Callender at the start. Points leader Ian Donaldson wasn't hanging about either and he quickly set about reeling in the leaders. Cowie retired almost unnoticed after a spin coming round to the straight having lost his brakes. The battle up front was on in earnest with Anderson senior trying to stop junior going round the outside only to leave the door open for Donaldson to rocket up the inside and disappear off into the distance. Roy still had a battle on his hands as Callender clung onto his coat tails whilst, further back, the impressive debut of Steven Armit came to a halt when he tangled with Anderson senior and retired off onto the centre. Donaldson was able to reel off the final few laps without any calamities taking an easy win from Anderson junior with Callender in his wake at the line.
With Anderson senior leading away in heat two, junior was able to quickly assume second ahead of Callender as Cowie got a bit out of shape at the start. They were soon joined by Donaldson who was looking for the double. Graeme went for it on the outside which got him past Roy A, but failed in his attempt to get through leaving the 700 car to lead the way. Callender was having none of it though and went back round the outside to take over in front. However it was short lived as he left the door open by running wide a couple of bends later leaving Ian to get back ahead. There was a great battle between the Andersons as they sat side by side for a couple of laps with Cowie eager to get by both of them. A few spits of rain changed the complexion of the race as Anderson senior and Cowie clashed bringing out the yellows. Both were forced to retire, the latter with a broken half shaft which prompted the comment from him in the pits “I wish I’d stayed at home”. When the race resumed Donaldson kept his lead and his cool as 871 and 36 made a train in the final few laps with Armit getting his first ever points in the formula in 4th.
Jim Cowie never made it out for the final and, as the green dropped, Ian Anderson stalled the car before he quickly got it fired up and on the move, This played into hands of Callender who took full advantage to blast round the outside and take the lead by the end of the home straight. Roy Anderson and Ian Donaldson followed suit leaving Anderson senior to fall back into the clutches of Armit. For the next twenty laps or so we were treated to a battle between 36 and 700 with Roy ensuring that he did not leave the door open on the inside and Ian trying the outside time and time again. Meantime, the impressive Armit passed Ian Anderson and then had a lonely time for the rest of the race in fourth. It was pretty lonely for Callender up front as well as he pulled well clear of the battle for second with top marks for trying to Ian Donaldson but Anderson was a man with grit and determination as he held on all the way to the line.
A good haul of points for both Donaldson and Anderson gives them the advantage with three rounds to go, with the next action at Lochgelly on Friday 13th. The Madman
Heat 1: 700 Ian Donaldson, 36 Roy Anderson, 871 Graeme Callender, 336 Ian Anderson
Heat 2: 700, 871, 36, 94 Steven Armit
Final: 871, 36, 700, 94, 336
Saturday 23rd April
Graham Brown. Rob McDonald took the win from a tightly fought final, with double heat winner Chris Lehec, Jack Blood and newly crowned European champion Carl Waller-Barrett all helping to make life difficult for the eventual winner.
It’s always good to see new drivers coming into the formula and to get a meeting with two debutants is even better! Former Grand Prix Midget racer Tom Keep did manage to keep his booking together after finally finding a transmission for his Mercedes (courtesy of Billy Wood) while another with Midget connections, Guy Smith, was the other NHR rookie we were seeing for the first time.
Smith’s debut (with a very neat Tigra, painted very plainly in grey with some rather nice ‘old skool’ signwriting) had piqued considerable interest among organisers and spectators and been eagerly awaited - a former Le Mans winner, Bentley Boy and international racer of big sports cars just had to be a great PR coup. How would he fare in the rough and tumble world of short oval racing? Just one problem….he isn’t that Guy Smith.
Guy told me, when I quizzed him before the meeting about any previous exploits, “It’s not me - I’m the real Guy Smith! I do know him though – we met when he was racing Formula 3 and I was doing a Mallock clubman car and we always enjoy a little joke about it when we meet. So I’m sorry to let you down.
“Basically, I’m involved with Historic racing with Lotus Cortinas, I do a lot with Lotus spares, gearboxes and so on. My father used to race on the ovals years ago, in Grand Prix Midgets and Hot Rods, so I suppose it’s in my blood. I went to pick a car up in Scotland and the chap told me there was Hot Rod racing at Lochgelly. I went and saw it and it just blew me away. It’s just so exciting compared to circuit racing, it’s full on, and the cars are just stonking. More circuit racers should try it”.
With 26 cars in total and the heats being run to the “all in” format the track looked pretty crowded for the first heat. Mark you, even then we could have had 28 cars had Shaun Taylor (illness) and Dave York not been forced to cancel. In our favour though, despite a chill wind, the rain did manage to stay away.
Russ Wilcox was the first to show, tracked initially by Alastair Lowe, Ivan Grayson and Layton Milsom. But the latter pair soon tangled at turn one, elevating Lehec to third spot, a position he looked to have every chance of improving on with the four new tyres he was running courtesy of having played his Joker.
When Wilcox – whose car had been blowing out puffs of white smoke – suddenly fell by the wayside, it was Lowe who took over at the front. But his lead turned out to be short-lived, as Lehec and Danny Hunn went by. As Lehec pulled clear, Hunn came under pressure from Blood (another Joker player) who eventually went past and began closing on the leader. Just as it became clear the second man was going to run out of laps, there was a brief distraction as Steve Dudman’s car burst into flames. Fortunately Steve emerged unharmed but his meeting was over.
Wilcox and Lowe ran side by side as they battled over the early lead in heat two, with Wilcox finally managing to put himself just in front, but with Lowe, Milsom and Lehec all keeping close company. Some argy-bargy saw Lowe forced out with rear bodywork fouling his tyres, which left Milsom and Lehec to attack Wilcox’s lead, Russ dropping to fourth as they raced by with Hunn in tow.
Now the dice for the lead began in earnest, with Milsom sticking rigidly to the inside line, Lehec trying it on repeatedly up the outside and Hunn hoping to duck underneath the pair of them if there were any mistakes by the other two. Lehec’s last gasp lunge up the outside was just enough to nett him the win from a virtual dead heat by a scant 1/1000th of a second at the line!
The final pretty much started as it was going to go on, with the guys at the front of the grid charging turn one three wide. It was Lehec who emerged from the clinch with the lead with Dick Hillard, Blood and McDonald all clustered around. As Lehec made a bit of ground, the rest settled down a bit, with Hillard getting forced backwards as Blood moved up to second and McDonald third.
Slowly but surely, Blood and McDonald reeled the leader in. With Blood ‘looking’ up the outside of Lehec, McDonald tucked in tight and hoped to benefit which he eventually did, the merest touch between the other two allowing the Scot to dart under them going through turn one.
With McDonald and Blood now locking horns, Waller-Barrett came rushing up to join in too, having by-passed Lehec round the outside at turn two. When the lead trio came together just as a huge gaggle of backmarkers appeared ahead of them, anything could have happened over the last five laps. But McDonald, a veteran of so many nip and tuck Stock Rod wars, proved more than equal to the task and never put a foot wrong, the three remaining in the same order all the way to the finish. GB
Heat one: 615,92,339,217,31,117,115,27,174,55,162(-2),42,304,45,305,209,2,(491). NOF
Heat two: 615,48,339,219,31,155,27,115,117,217,162,42,92,491,174,305,209,45(-2),23,304,46. NOF
Final: 117,92,162,615,217,31,115,305,339,491,174,42,209,27(-2),48,155,55,23,45,46. NOF
Penalties: 162 dropped two places in heat one for contact with 305. 491 initially dropped two places in heat one for contact with 2, penalty later upgraded to a disqualification. 45 dropped two places in heat two for persistently ignoring the blue flag and failing to hold a line. 27 dropped two places in final for baulking. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Martin Kingston's photos in the Gallery
Colin Adair reports: Up until now Shane Murray has been sidelined with an injury in 2016, but the former 2-Litre Hot Rod World Champion marked his return to the action with an impeccable hat-trick of wins in Round 10 of the PC Paints and Components World Series NI at Ballymena Raceway on April 22. On the face of it that sounds like a fairly run off the mill meeting, but the reality was somewhat different as the steward was kept busy throughout dealing with a number of contentious clashes.
A fine effort by the drivers saw all seventeen names on the booking list gathered in the pits at Ballymena for Round 10 of the World Qualifying Series in Northern Ireland. Some bright spring sunshine greeted everyone at The Showgrounds oval, but the pleasant spring evening quickly turned chilly once the sun disappeared behind the Warden Street grandstand. Noteworthy entries included first outings of 2016 for Shane Murray and Andrew Stewart, plus a welcome return for Mark Heatrick following his big crash at the venue on Good Friday.
Heat one was led away by Davy McKay with yellows graders Simon Kennedy and Stewart leading the chase. Stewart quickly dropped down the order however as Murray moved up to third, with fellow blue graders Tommy Maxwell, Jaimie McCurdy, Stewart Doak and Carl Sloan in tow. Kennedy took over the front running spot on lap 6 and McKay was relegated to third by Murray one lap later shortly before the first major incident of a bruising night unfolded. McCurdy’s frustration at being bottled up behind Tommy M perhaps revealed itself with some heavy taps on the back bumper of the #369 car which unsettled the Maxwell Freight Services Tigra sufficiently to send Tommy off course and onto the centre green. The steward had witnessed it all, and McCurdy would receive a two place penalty at the end of the race for the contact, but the incident appeared to detonate the ‘red-mist’ inside the #369 car and Maxwell was intent on handing out some punishment of his own! Maxwell rejoined in front of the McCurdy car and slowed abruptly before speeding up again once McCurdy had passed to deliberately ram the #199 car in turn one. Some of the following pack became embroiled in the melee too which meant a caution period had to be introduced and the steward was left with little option but to disqualify Maxwell and load him up for the night. It was certainly out of character for one of the most placid guys on the scene and maybe 30 years ago the incident would have been dealt with by a ticking-off from the promoter, but in this day and age there is, quite rightly, no tolerance for such intentional contact. Kennedy led the remaining runners away at the resumption and set a decent pace out front, but gradually Murray upped the pressure on the leader as the laps ticked down. When the lap boards appeared Murray really started to buzz around the back of the #998 car, feinting outside before trying the cut back up the inside. With Kennedy well tucked in to protect that inside line Murray seized his chance to go for it around the outside and pulled off a tidy pass on the penultimate lap to take his first win of the night. Kennedy was a strong second with McKay in third, while Stewart Doak dropped a number of places on the run to the flag after a breakage on the nearest front corner of the Cirrus Plastics Tigra.
Once again it was McKay who led the sixteen remaining runners away in heat two while Kennedy and Murray settled down into second and third. The top three remained static for the first half of the race before Murray edged his way past Kennedy on lap 13. McKay continued to set a brisk pace up front in one of his best showings for a while, but once again Murray timed his run to perfection and nipped ahead on the penultimate lap to earn another victory. McKay kept everyone else at arm’s length to retain the runner-up spot, with the top six rounded out by McCurdy, Sloan, Doak and Heatrick.
70 75 4 996 9 20 940 669 64
943 998 199 76 960 82 994
Murray and McKay shared the front row for the Buckna Autos sponsored final, with Sloan and Kennedy sat on row two followed by Nigel McCauley and McCurdy on row three.
Unfortunately for Jaimie problems with the battery meant the #199 Tigra was unable to take its rightful position on the grid and instead limped round at the tail of the field. Murray got the drop at
the green flag to lead them away and Sloan dived in behind the leader to take second as they completed the opening lap. McKay was in grave danger of being hung out to dry on the outside line and
desperately tried to cut across the front of McCauley onto the inside groove as they passed the start finish line. The gap was never really there however and the contact between the pair sent those
following scattering in all directions in avoidance. A caution period was called to clear up the incident with the stationary pair of Gary Wilson and Kennedy excluded from the restart as per the
rulebook. It was extremely hard luck on both as they had anchored up on track to avoid hitting cars and ended up paying the penalty for trying to prevent a crash rather than causing it! The
steward can only implement the rules that are in the rulebook of course and this was one of those ill-fated ‘rules are rules’ moments that unfortunately crop up from time to time. Joining Wilson and
Kennedy on the sidelines for the restart was McCauley, out with damage from the incident, and McCurdy whose Tigra had given up the ghost completely now. The restart saw the cars settle down into the
order of Murray, Sloan and Maxwell and this lead trio managed to pull out a gap over a train of cars headed by Doak that also included Glenn Bell and Heatrick. Up front Murray was not running away
with this one and instead had to be on his guard as Sloan and Maxwell filled his mirrors. After a few exploratory looks Sloan eventually went for it around the outside and pulled up level with the
leader, but could not make the move stick and eventually dropped back down to third behind Maxwell. In the second group Bell tried the outside pass on Doak before Heatrick somehow managed to squeeze
under both of them and once clear of this battle quickly started to reel in the leaders. Maxwell was all over the back of Murray’s car now and you could almost sense Adam debating in the cockpit
whether to ‘stick or twist’ as Murray diligently ensured there was no gap through on the inside. Eventually temptation proved too great and Maxwell dived for the outside line. His attempt proved no
more fruitful than Sloan’s however as Murray confidently defended his position and Maxwell started to drop backwards instead. Sloan nipped up the inside to retake second and Heatrick had caught this
group now and was in no mood to let the #76 car in either! Maxwell lunged for the inside at the entry to turn 3, but there was nothing doing there as Heatrick was already occupying that space and the
resultant contact between the pair saw the Maxwell Freight Services Tigra spin out to the wall. There was still time for Doak’s Tigra to shed a wheel before the finish, which brought out another
caution period, before Murray coolly completed the remaining laps to seal a perfect hat-trick of wins on his return. Sloan and Heatrick banked some useful points in second and third, with Gary
Woolsey, Keith Martin and Derek Martin completing the top six. The steward’s busy night was not over yet as a post race review disqualified McKay for his part in the incident with McCauley, while
Maxwell was demoted two places for jumping the final restart. Colin Adair
Heat One: 70 – 998 – 943 – 75 – 4 – 9 – 20 – 940 – 76 – 82 – 996 – 994 – 960 – 199 (x2) – 64 – 669 (369 DQ)
Heat Two: 70 – 943 – 199 – 75 – 996 – 960 – 76 – 998 – 82 – 4 – 994 – 20 – 9 – 940 – 669 – 64
Final: 70 – 75 – 960 – 940 – 994 – 20 – 9 – 64 – GAP – 76(x2) (943 DQ)
Tipperary, Sunday April 24th
Heat 1: 888 982 (54) 955 906 261X 925X
Heat 2: 970 261 955 (54) 925 906 803
Final: 261 970 955 (54) 925 982 803
Results to be confirmed.
World Series England rounds 9 and 10
Colin Smith looked to have done everything right in the main event at Northampton, holding off a fierce challenge from Carl Waller-Barrett throughout the race. But some early race contact with double heat winner Danny Hunn, which saw Hunn spin, would ultimately lead to Colin’s disqualification. At Ipswich on the Monday and following on from his victory at Hednesford a fortnight earlier, Danny Fiske played his Joker and used the four new tyres that went with it to notch up another final.
Five late-ish cancellations for the annual and now traditional Good Friday Autospeed bash at Northampton led to what had been scheduled to be a three heat meeting becoming down-sized to two. It was just a one-of-those-things situations brought about in part by illness and completely unavoidable.
So, just the 21 cars then, but still quite enough with all of them on track at the same time. Shaun Taylor was able to take his place on the heat one grid (having been given some extra practice laps earlier to try and sort a persistent misfire) but the car still sounded very unwell.
Dave Garrett took an early lead but it wasn’t long before Hunn was on him, the Mazda man swiftly taking a lead he was not to lose. As the leader extended his advantage to around half a lap, the loose looking Garrett fell steadily back into the clutches of Layton Milsom and Steve Dudman. But the latter pair ended up as part of a heap of cars which were all crashed on turn one after Aaron Dew lost all his coolant right in the braking area. Dew, who was running a replacement engine after his Hednesford blow up, had simply lost a core plug. This is an easy enough problem to fix but it proved surprisingly challenging to find anyone who had a new plug!
The caution period which resulted from Dew’s problem put fast movers Waller-Barrett and Smith right behind Garrett, enabling them to relegate him to fourth by flag fall, although Hunn was still well clear of all of them.
Heat two followed a similar pattern, although Garrett managed to stay out front for longer before Hunn went by on the outside as they exited turn two.
The places battle this time featured Milsom, Smith, Dew, Dudman and Waller-Barrett, with Smith the man who broke through to chase after Hunn. Smiffy left behind a squabbling ten car pack while he narrowed the gap somewhat to the leader by the end, but the winner was never in any real danger of being caught.
As is now becoming usual, the final grid placed Hunn in a lot more danger of being caught, with Smith starting right alongside him now and the likes of Waller-Barrett, Jason Kew and Kym Weaver not far behind.
Hunn knew what he had to do and made a blistering start, but it still wasn’t enough to leave ‘Smiffy’ behind. The two were soon squaring up to one another, a brief confrontation which ended with Hunn spinning between turns three and four. Smith was also delayed fractionally by the impact, allowing Waller-Barrett to launch a challenge which was to last the rest of the way.
Indeed, their fight for the lead was the feature of the race, with Waller-Barrett almost alongside at one point as they tore through the traffic, with Kew also nipping at their heels every chance he got.
They crossed the line still in the same order but the dust and smoke from Smith’s victory doughnuts had barely cleared before his disqualification was announced, giving Waller-Barrett the win.
Having missed out on any Monday racing for the past couple of years, it was ‘back to normal’ for 2016 with a customary trip to Ipswich back on the agenda. And by contrast to much of the country, Foxhall Heath was blessed with sunshine, fairly mild temperatures and a nice dry racing surface. We were doubly thankful as the news started to come in of all the meetings that were cancelled at various tracks from Buxton to Dover.
With Fiske fighting fit again, he helped swell the entry slightly over NIR to 23. We were also joined for this one for the first time by Lee Morgan in a nice looking (and nowadays unusual) Mercedes SLK, and Winnie Holtmanns made another of his very welcome visits from Germany too.
Dew took an almost immediate lead at the start of the first race but didn’t have much time to enjoy it as Morgan unfortunately shed a rear wheel from his Merc when all the studs sheared, bringing on a mandatory caution.
The restart pitted Dew in a duel for the lead with Taylor but it wasn’t long before Dew began to pull away, Taylor’s struggle to keep up having also carried him well clear of third man Hunn.
But the man to watch in the latter half of the race was Fiske. After catching a big slide at the exit from turn four while trying to wrestle fifth spot away from Dudman, ‘The Wildman’ was on an entertaining charge for the rest of the way. He didn’t quite manage to catch Taylor but the second man was no doubt suitably grateful there weren’t any more laps left.
Heat two also featured an early stoppage when Colin Smith went spinning and Brett Walter stopped on turn one. This brought out the yellows and then reds as the steward declared an unsatisfactory start and sent them all back to try again.
When they got going for real, it was Taylor who set the pace out front with Dew and Hunn the ones playing catch up this time. These three and fourth man Mikey Godfrey were soon fairly well clear of a battling twelve car pack headed up by Ivan Grayson.
With the passing of half distance, Dew managed to settle on Taylor’s shoulder before seizing his chance to dart past six laps from the finish.
An incident near the end which left Holtmanns and Jack Blood locked together in the wall at turn one later led to Blood’s disqualification.
Not surprisingly, Dew was going to start from pole for the final, with Taylor to his outside and Hunn and Fiske on the second row. That grid suggested Fiske ought to be doing the winning but of course, hot rod racing is rarely that simple or predictable!
He was however, helped along by Dew and Taylor battling side by side all through the opening lap before they both got into turn three way too deep. Fiske just said ‘ta very much’ and once in front immediately commenced pulling away.
But this race too was going to be brought up short by yellow flags for the spun cars of points leader Shane Bland, and Billy Wood, who’d gone around in unison at turn four. This naturally closed the field right up and put Smith in position to swiftly relegate Dave York and Dew to begin a pursuit of the leader.
Fiske proved able to maintain his advantage over Smiffy though and in the end the second man was forced to turn over his position to Weaver who was clearly quicker going into the last half of the race.
It became an intriguing cat and mouse fight with Fiske having to negotiate knots of generally uncooperative backmarkers and Weaver steadily edging nearer all the time. The gap between them was a great deal less than it had been when they took the five lap board and still there were backmarkers looming ahead to perhaps cause a last minute upset by tripping the leader up. But Fiske’s timely pass of one of them just a lap from the chequers put it out of Weaver’s reach once and for all.
A quarter of a lap behind them, Dew again drove a good race to take third spot with NIR protagonists Smith and Waller-Barrett home in fourth and fifth.
Heat one: 339,162,491,44,45,136,174,115,42,92,615,305,209,31,48. NOF
Heat two: 339,491,23,44,3,162,48,45(-2),209,115,136,174,42,305,92,217,615,27,152. NOF
Final: (491),162,174,209,115,42,23,117,44,3,217,92,45,339,615,136,27. NOF
Penalties: 45 dropped two places in heat two for contact with 615. 491 disqualified from final for spinning 339.
Heat one: 23,152,304,339,27,3,31,196,162,491,305,92(-4),209,174,42,217,45,22,136,615,(467). NOF
Heat 2 - 23, 152, 339, 27, 304, 45, 491, 196, 31, 305, 209x2, 217, 162x2, 42, 115, 136, 22, 3, (92DQ), 615, 174. NOF
Final - 304, 209, 23, 491, 162, 174, 115, 92, (196DQ), 217, 152, 42, 45, 27, 3, 22, 136, 615. NOF
Penalties: 92 dropped four places in heat one for two instances of contact. 209 dropped two places in heat two for contact with 305. 162 dropped two
places in heat two for contact. 92 disqualified from heat two for causing crash with 467. 196 disqualified from final for spinning 339.
Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation
Martin Kingston's excellent albums of Northampton and Ipswich photos now in the Gallery
Darren Black reports: Following his hugely destructive crash during the Good Friday meeting less than 3 days previously, Broughshane teenager Jaimie McCurdy showed fantastic 'bouncebackability' at Round 9 of the PC Paints & Components World Series NI when he grabbed a well deserved heat and final double. The team had worked wonders over the Easter weekend to repair his Vauxhall Tigra B, and Jaimie was just 0.005 seconds away from making it a clean sweep. Ben McKee was the man who was the party pooper, just grabbing the opening heat win by that narrowest of margins to thwart McCurdy's treble dream.
Following the Round 8 dramas at Ballymena, we were minus the injured Mark Heatrick (get well soon Mark!) and the now banned Adam Hylands - a major shame for the European Champion following his weight miscalculation. We also had a cancellation from Philip McCloy who had blown a motor in his new 206cc at Ballymena, but there were a couple of additions to the 16 strong line up. Making a formula debut was Armagh's Conor McElmeel at the wheel of the former Robert McDonald Tigra. Quite stunning it looked too in its black and yellow livery, with the former ProStocks racer more than aware of the steep learning curve ahead of him but relishing the challenge nonetheless. The other making his first appearance of the weekend was McKee in his 206cc. Ben had decided to skip the Good Friday Ballymena meeting having had that huge shunt with Keith Martin at the same meeting 12 months ago. He obviously must have had some sort of premonition...
Clutch troubles in practice saw Simon Kennedy elect to start off the rear all day, where he was joined by McElmeel and John Murray. John of course has bags of Nationals experience as well as being a former 2.0 Hot Rods World Champion, but he was content to run from the back as he was simply putting some shakedown mileage on the newly rebuilt car of his son Shane¸ another on the injury list with a broken wrist.
As lone yellow top McKee quickly stepped into the lead of the opener, with McCurdy taking up the chase from the blues and quickly dropping Thomas Dilly's pristine new McCall-built Tigra B and Nigel McCauley. As the red graders, led by the evergreen Keith Martin, struggled to make an impact, all eyes were on McCurdy as he edged ever closer to the leader. An off form Stewart Doak was struggling for pace in the pack, with Derek Martin and then Glenn Bell taking the wide trip past the Cirrus Plastics man. Inside the final five and McCurdy had arrived on the leader’s tail, and after the weekend he had just endured many would have settled for what they had. Not Jaimie though, and he hit the wide trip to draw right alongside McKee. He got out of shape a couple of times, most notably into turn one on the final lap, but he somehow found a great run into the final bend, with both cars drag racing to the line. It was so, so close, with McKee getting the nod by a mere five thousandth's of a second over the gallant teenager. McCauley, Keith M, Adam Maxwell, Carl Sloan and the impressive Derek M filled the places. Whilst every eye in the stadium was on the lead battle, Doak and Gary Wilson somehow rotated as they headed for the 1 to go marker, although both recovered to take the finish.
Heat two didn't get very far before the yellows were called for, with Dilly being the latest in the ever growing band of Joker players to find bad luck. It was McCurdy at the previous round, whilst Jason Kew and Aaron Dew have in England have all seen them backfire on them ("the stickers even look evil" said Jaimie's Dad Bill over the weekend...). Dilly was stationary against the turn three wall, and when he was removed McKee's lead had gone for the restart. McCurdy wasted little time in slipping under Ben to go ahead. McElmeel was exploring the limits of his new charger with a spin, and again much of the drama focused on Doak's rearguard action against Derek M and Bell. Both finally got by, before National Champion Gary Woolsey spent what seemed the remainder of the race alongside the #996 machine before making the move stick. That was for the lower places however, as McCurdy breezed home to the win over McKee, McCauley, Sloan and Keith M.
<937 4 75 20 940 996 82 701 *998
<199 994 76 9 * 369 966 64
One plus point of McCurdy's ill-fated joker round was that his four new tyres only lasted a sum total of about 100 yards, so that (coupled with an exemplary getaway) could be why he rocketed off the line at the green flag in the final. From the outside of the front row he was able to slip ahead of McKee before turn one, and to be honest that was that as far as the race winner was concerned. There were a few heart-stopping moments when McElmeel failed to get away, but he had all sorted and moving by the time the leaders made it round again. It meant he was quickly being lapped, and this led to an almighty moment into turn three. Maxwell had got himself alongside Sloan, whilst Derek M found a gap up the inside too. Coupled with approaching the lap-down McElmeel, this made it four abreast into the Brown Trout Bend - amazing stuff! Maxwell was latest on the brakes to take what was fifth spot, with Derek M dropping in behind. Sloan departed the fray soon after with mechanical problems.
Keith M and McCauley slipped past McKee, with Ben getting railroaded right out of contention, but there was no stopping McCurdy who duly romped to the Murrays of Randalstown sponsored silverware. Two wins from three coupled with two fastest laps from three - not bad going in this illustrious company, never mind only a matter of hours after the biggest shunt of his short career to date. Keith M was well worth his second spot after an impressive afternoon, with McCauley, Maxwell, Derek M, Bell and Woolsey next up.
A number of the Ulster regulars now head to Lochgelly for the European Championship, before World Series NI resumes later this month. With Heatrick and Hylands having
watched their qualification hopes take a nosedive, there are some interesting times ahead. Darren Black
Heat 1: 937 199 4 994 76 75 20 966 9 940 998 369 701 996 82 nof.
Heat 2: 199 937 4 75 994 76 20 9 940 996 82 998 369 701 nof.
Final: 199 994 4 76 20 9 940 82 937 369 996 966 998 701 64 nof.
Brian Lammey and Ed Fahey's great Aghadowey photos n the Gallery.
Colin Adair reports: Glenn Bell began the second half of the PC Paints and Components World Series NI with a hat-trick of wins to card a perfect score in Round 8 of the series at Ballymena Raceway on Good Friday. While things could hardly have gone much better for the 2012 World Champion it proved to be a totally opposite story for Jaimie McCurdy, Mark Heatrick and Adam Hylands. McCurdy and series leader Heatrick both recorded zero scores after their evening was ended in a violent crash on the very first lap of the opening heat, while European Champion Hylands lost all his points from Round 8, and incurred 10 penalty points to boot, when his Vauxhall Tigra failed a post race weight check after the meeting final.
As is the norm in these parts the province’s oval racing season slipped into gear over the Easter weekend where a healthy total of 18 cars arrived at Ballymena Raceway on a nippy but mercifully dry Good Friday evening to contest Round 8 of the PC Paints & Components World Series NI. That number included a National Hot Rod debut for Phillip McCloy in the former Heatrick Motorsport Peugeot 206cc. Phillip had cut his teeth in the track’s Junior Rod class the best part of a decade ago, but since then had only a brief spell in the Stock Rods under his belt so this was quite a big step up for the 26 year old. McCloy had done a sound job getting to grips with his new acquisition during the recent test days at the local circuits and the car certainly looked very smart in its new colour scheme. As well as newcomer McCloy other points of note in the entry included a very welcome return for Simon Kennedy following his massive shunt in Round 5, and a first appearance in the current campaign for both Tommy Maxwell and Davy McKay. Getting behind the wheel of a National again for the first time in many years was John Murray. With son Shane sidelined due to a wrist injury the team’s exquisitely rebuilt and turned out Vauxhall Tigra was left in the capable hands of John for a shakedown run.
Murray opted to start at the rear of the field alongside provisional licence holder McCloy and it didn’t take long for the first major talking point of the new season to arrive! On the front row of the ‘blues’ for this one sat Jaimie McCurdy and Nigel McCauley and it was outside starter McCauley who gained half a car length advantage when the green flag dropped. McCauley attempted to drop down onto the inside groove as the cars exited turn four , but the #4 Tigra was never truly clear of McCurdy's car and the pair became locked together as they argued over the same piece of track. The pair eventually ground a halt, with McCauley virtually 90 degrees to the track across the front of McCurdy’s car, and it was hold your breath time to witness if the rest could squeeze through on the limited piece of track still available. The remainder of the blues managed to skate past, just, but as the pack of red graders filed out onto the straight it was the luckless Mark Heatrick who ploughed into the back of McCurdy’s Tigra B. Thankfully both drivers were able to walk away from the accident, gingerly in Mark’s case, and that was probably not surprising as a trip to A&E later confirmed that Mark had chipped his tailbone in the accident. Neither would take any part in the remainder of the meeting, double jeopardy for McCurdy as he had played his Joker at this round, while McCauley was disqualified by the steward for his part in the incident. Lone white grader McKay led away the 15 remaining cars at the restart and set a brisk pace out front, leading until lap 10 when Bell scampered through to register his first win of 2016. Thomas Dilly demonstrated a good turn of speed in his Davy McCall built Tigra B to follow the winner home, with Gary Woolsey and Carl Sloan in third and fourth.
McCauley was back on track for heat two where McKay once again led them all away. Dilly eased ahead for a few laps before Bell nipped through on the inside at Fisherwick bend to grab the lead on lap 13. Bell pulled steadily away over the remaining laps to make it two from two and nail down pole for the final, while McCauley relegated Dilly in the final laps to grab second. A tangle between Kennedy and Sloan cost both a lot of time as Dilly, Woolsey, Derek Martin and McKay filled out the top sixth in this one.
9 940 994 54 943 996 76 701
966 20 75 82 4 369 998
The Broughshane Car Dismantlers sponsored final featured 15 runners, with McCloy joining McCurdy and Heatrick as a non starter. Bell and Dilly shared the front row for the feature race, with Woolsey and Derek Martin on row two. This one looked like a Bell benefit from the off and Glenn duly obliged, leading every single lap of the final to complete his hat-trick and make it six wins on the trot in the last 2 qualifying rounds at the Ballymena oval. Form is temporary, class is permanent they say and Bell is steadily working his way back up the points chart after a somewhat bitty campaign to date by his usual high standards. Woolsey originally ran second, but someone, possibly Keith Martin or McKay, dropped fluid onto the track in the early stages and Gary lost out at this point as Derek M and a fast starting Adam Hylands took advantage of the conditions to slide into second and third. The pair kept each other honest throughout, with Martin maintaining the runner-up spot to the flag. An evening which began with drama ended in similar fashion when Hylands Tigra failed the post race weight check and was subsequently removed from all results at Round 8. Colin Adair.
Heat 1: 9 966 940 75 994 20 (54) 82 76 998 369 943 701 996 343 (4 DQ)
Heat 2: 9 4 966 940 20 943 994 82 (54) 996 701 75 369. NOF
Final: 9 20 (54) 940 82 75 76 369 996 4 966 998 701. NOTE: 54 removed from all results after failing post race weight checks.
Saturday 26th March
Alan (GMP Scotland) reports: The World Qualifying Series in Scotland continued at the Racewall Cowdenbeath on Easter Saturday with a frustratingly low six car entry as the age old problem continues of getting all the cars available racing out on track at the same time. The entry did include 7 Paul Cusack who is looking to benefit from the less crowded fields North of the Border. 844 Billy Bonnar was also seeking a place in the record books as he looked to compete in two different formulas (his National and 2 Litre Hot Rod) at two different tracks at two separate meetings taking place at the same time! I stand to be corrected but surely this is unlikely to have have occurred before.
The track was wet for Heat one although the earlier rain had eased off as the cars set off on their rolling lap. 36 Roy Anderson and 871 Graeme Callender battled hard over the early laps with Callender eventually hitting the front. Bonnar was soon on his tail and with both grappling with the tricky track conditions and after a lap or two side by side Bonnar slipped through and quickly extended a lead of half a straight. Further back the conditions caught out points leader 700 who lost control on the home straight and tangled with second in the points 5 Tam Rutherford. Donaldson spun around with Rutherford slamming into the Racewall. Donaldson was fortunate to get back into the race without to much time lost but Rutherford was left to limp his damaged car to the safety area behind the turnstile end goal posts. Bonnar continued in the lead but the yellows were called for with concern that Rutherford was not responding to trackside marshals and some question as to whether the safety belts had been released which given the new ORCi rules regarding drivers in their cars whilst racing is in progress left the Steward with no other option than to call for a race suspension. On the restart Bonnar quickly re-established his lead however Donaldson was the biggest beneficiary able to make up from his earlier spin to finish second from Callender as Cusack and Anderson dashed for the line.
As the cars came out for Heat 2 a very heavy rain shower once again drenched the track as Bonnar had made the dash back from his 2 Litre Hot Rod exploits. The damage to Rutherford's car had ruled him out of the remaining part meeting and therefore it was just the five starters. 36 Roy Anderson hit the front as Callender dropped down the field, the conditions clearly not suiting the 871 car on this occasion. Anderson was soon caught by Bonnar and the two lapped for several laps side by side with Bonnar eventually making the move on the outside. Donaldson worked his way up to second but by that time Bonnar was well away and by the final lap was closing in on third place Anderson and was within a quarter lap of putting a lap on the second place man in a dominant display.
An incident in the preceding Stock Rod Final which required the emergency services to assist with extracting the driver meant that the Final was unavoidably cancelled due to time constraints. Frustrating for all involved but everyone understands that time and racing is of no consequence when the wellbeing of another driver is concerned.
There is now more than a month until the World Series continues at its most Northerly base Crimond Raceway for Round 9. AM
Heat 1: 844 700 871 7 36
Heat 2: 844 700 36 7 871
Raymond Henderson's great photos n the Gallery
Sunday March 13th
Graham Brown While Danny Fiske may not have set the world alight in the heats, he certainly made amends in the final, driving an absolute stormer round the outside of the leaders to take a convincing victory.
There were twenty seven starters for this one, a pleasant sunny afternoon at the Hills where it almost stayed warm (shock, horror!) until the sun started to set. There should have been twenty eight runners but Ken Marriott was forced to cancel due to being unwell. We got another sight of Sean Cusack’s car although he didn’t get out in practice. Making up for that was Steve Dudman, who managed to get out twice in practice. But as everybody was supposed to have been restricted to one run, he also got to start at the back of his grade in heat one!
With the schedule calling for just three, ‘all in’ races, the track looked pretty crowded right from the off. Martin Heath and Dave Garrett led them away from the front rank of the grid in the first heat, with Heath gradually establishing a bit of a lead over the first five laps.
Alastair Lowe took a spin at the West bend and was probably lucky to avoid any damage as the rest of the field streamed past.
Garrett continued to keep the leader honest until he suddenly retired, leaving the way clear for the rapid looking trio of Rich Adams, Aaron Dew and Mark Edwards to close in on Heath instead.
Heath eventually responded to the pressure by going a touch wide at the West bend, allowing the others past shortly before mid-distance. Then it became a three way fight for the lead between Adams, Dew and Edwards, with Edwards ducking under Dew just before Dew’s motor blew in a spectacular cloud of smoke.
That left Adams and Edwards to fight it out over the remaining distance, with Adams managing to hold on at the front until flag fall. Shaun Taylor, who’d been waiting patiently in fourth to see if he could pick up the pieces from any heroics by those ahead, kept his place despite having to defend it against Steve Dudman over the last couple of laps.
I must admit, I was somewhat perplexed to see Dew fire his car up and drive off the track after the finish. If it was blown up, surely it wouldn’t run? And if he just had an oil pipe off, then driving it like that would (a) coat large parts of the rest of the track in oil and (b) knacker the engine if it wasn’t already. Upon investigation by your intrepid reporter (yes, just taking a casual stroll down the pits counts as intrepid for me these days) it turned out that, bizarrely, the motor had broken a rod and presumably, spat all the oil that went down, out of the exhaust. There was no hole in the outside of the motor, it still ran quite well on just three cylinders, and must have spun the big end bearing, as the oil pressure was still OK! I wouldn’t hold your breath on seeing that happen again…
There was some drama at the start of heat two after Dick Hillard and Danny Fiske collided at the East bend, the incident leaving Hillard almost stationary in the middle the corner.
Heath had his hands on the lead once again and looked pretty comfortable there for a while until second man Dudman closed in to mount a challenge. Their dice was in full swing when Hillard got into hot water again, this time becoming involved in synchronised spinning along the home straight with David York. With both cars stopped right across the track, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see the yellows come out.
The restart pitted Heath against Dudman again, an encounter made even more interesting by a swathe of oil going down on the West bend exit when Jason Kew’s motor let go. As Dew and Kew (that well-known firm of solicitors!) had both chosen this particular day to play their jokers, this meeting wasn’t exactly what the script had called for, for either of them.
At the end, Heath managed to keep both his head and the lead all the way to the finish, despite Dudman piling on the pressure on the final lap.
Adams, Edwards and Dudman were scrapping for the lead straight from the green flag in the final, with Taylor running fourth and trying to fend off Fiske and Chris Haird. Fiske and Haird shot past Taylor in a heart stopping one-either-side, three wide moment along the back straight, with Fiske the man out by the barriers. They don’t call him ‘The Wildman’ for nothing…The pair were still together once they’d cleared Taylor, but Danny was looking very determined indeed, as he zipped ahead of Haird and then by-passed Dudman to assume third spot.
Adams and Edwards were still locked in combat for the lead and didn’t look like they were going to leave any easy openings either, but Fiske didn’t appear to notice and simply stayed on his outside charge. He worked his way past Edwards after a handful of laps but found Adams a much tougher nut to crack. Several times Dan surged ahead only to have Adams fight back and it took a number of laps for the challenger to finally hit the front on the East bend.
Once ahead Fiske drew rapidly clear, and was long gone before the destiny of the lesser places was settled.
But despite Danny romping away, there were still a few bits of excitement in the latter stages of the race. Mikey Godfrey had taken a very smoky spin along the back straight, then Rob McDonald (who wasn’t having the best of afternoons) got a touch from another car and ended up in the wall at the East bend. Right near the finish and up at the other end of the track, Brett Walter, Jack Blood and Dudman had all got together and crashed into either the barriers or each other at the West bend.
In the end, it was Haird who finally got up to second after a lot of hard work, Chris then even managing to reduce the leader’s advantage a bit over the closing laps. But it was all too little too late and Fiske’s win was assured long before the chequers came out. GB
Heat one: 22,45,152,3,196,115,615,304,31,42,(162),305,209,27,491,92,217,66,339,136(-2),55,155. NOF
Heat two: 66,3,22,136,27,45(-2),152,491,304,115,42,162,305,92,209,117,55,217,339,615,155,196. NOF
Final: 304,115,45,491,42,31,162,22(-2),305,615,136,152,155,55,66,339,27,117,3,92. NOF
Penalties: 136 dropped two places in heat one for contact with 615. 162 disqualified from heat one for spinning 174. 45 dropped two places in heat two for contact with 136. 22 dropped two places in final for contact. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Martin Kingston's Photos
Lochgelly March 5
Heat 1: 844 700 5 871 308 344 36
Heat 2: 700 844 344 308 5 36 871
Final: 844 700 344 5 871 36 308
Birmingham 5th March, World Series England 7
Graham Brown 2015 points champion Kym Weaver put himself firmly in contention for another title as the Nationals resumed World Series racing in the second city. He eventually took the final honours after having to survive an initial disqualification over a scrutineering problem which was not resolved until the following day.
The ‘back to work’ meeting was helped along by a dry, if very cold, evening at The Wheels, a goodly entry of 27 cars giving nicely weighted grids for the three heats.
As per usual, there had clearly been loads of ‘behind the scenes’ re-fettling of race cars going on throughout the winter, even on the cars which looked exactly the same as last season. But some had clearly changed, Brett Walter’s superb and quite different new paint job for example which, rather oddly, reminded me of works Fords of the1960s. Then there was Danny Hunn’s Mazda making its debut in its ‘proper’ colours as seen at the NEC, and darn good it looks too.
Mark Edwards’s car also has a striking new colour scheme, while Ken Marriott’s new Tigra looks every bit as good in the flesh as it looked in pre-season photos. Then of course, there’s Lee Pepper’s car, his 206 now transformed into a 206cc with a change of all the bodywork. Apparently Lee was offered the cc panels for less than the cost of a replacement 206 front panel that he needed, so couldn’t say no!
My sincere apologies to anyone who’s spent loads of time and money on their cars that I didn’t notice, I even liked Rob McDonald’s car despite it looking like it has a gold roof! It’s some variety of Renault yellow apparently…
Perhaps unsurprisingly, quite a few drivers thought this would be a good time to start with four new tyres and thus played their Jokers. McDonald, Colin Smith, Steve Dudman, Alastair Lowe and Marriott were the men with the new rubber and the double points.
The first encounter of the night kicked off with Russ Wilcox leading them away, tracked by Martin Heath, Marriott and Hunn. Chris Haird was on something of a charge until he got in a collision with Hunn and Aaron Dew exiting turn two, which put a stop to that. Haird got going again, only to lunge at the barriers going into turn three a lap later, causing me to wonder if he’d perhaps driven through the rather large puddle bordering the track along the back straight and arrived at the bend with wet tyres.
Wilcox continued to lead but eventually came under pressure from Marriott, ceding the lead under braking at the end of the back straight. But Marriott was also being chased, by McDonald, the Scot also passing Wilcox to hassle Marriott the rest of the way. The experienced Marriott made sure he never left an opening however (although I daresay there might have been a rude word spoken inside his car when Hunn spun just in front of the leaders going into the last corner) the pair crossing the line still in the same order, leaving Wilcox third and Haird – despite his travails – still fifth behind fourth man Jack Blood.
Heat two followed a similar pattern to begin with. This time though, Wilcox led much more briefly, Marriott and Dudman overtaking after only a couple of laps and just before the yellows flew due to a loose wheel on the track, Billy Wood’s car having ground to a halt on the figure eight missing the right front.
Marriott made a fast getaway when racing resumed but it wasn’t long before Dudman was hard after him and went past in determined fashion, remaining in the lead for the duration.
Behind them, Dick Hillard was the hard charger for a time, until he suffered a rotation on oil running out of the already spun Rich Adams car which was stranded on the exit from turn four. I’m not sure if Rich had blown his motor or just lost an oil line, but he didn’t come out again. Thereafter Weaver became the one to watch as he battled his way from ninth all the way up to fourth which was very nearly third, as he all but forced a dead heat with third man Lowe at the line.
The third heat proved to be the race of the night.
Dudman was the front runner right from the off this time and looked set fair for the win for many laps. But emerging from the scrap around sixth/seventh/eighth in the early laps, came Dudman’s long-time friend, Colin Smith. It wasn’t long before ‘Smiffy’ had the best of that and was through to fifth, past Dave Garrett to fourth, then by Heath to assume third.
Once Lowe had also been relegated and Smith was up to second, the gap to the leader was soon reducing as well, the pair coming together with three laps to run. It looked for a couple of tours as though Smith wasn’t going to challenge his pal but, with only about half a lap to go, he swept to the outside and edged alongside to snatch the win by maybe an inch or two.
Or at least, that was opinion of seemingly everybody in race control, positioned as they were, right above the start/finish. The transponder system had been acting up so couldn’t be relied upon to separate the pair, although it has apparently since proved possible to extract enough data from it to make Dudman to have been in front by a fraction of a second. Now, I personally would always sooner trust the human eye. Where you’re dealing with transponders and tiny thousandths-of-a-second increments, mis-placement of the transponder unit by even a centimetre or two can affect the result. And yes, I know they should all be in the exact same spot by the rulebook. So I’ve never seen them as a substitute for the lap scorer, merely a safety-net-style back-up which we may choose to disbelieve if what they say doesn’t fit “the real world”. By all means, let’s have the luxury of transponders as an aid to scoring but I think we should treat it as just that and not adopt the “computer says no” mentality! But I also realise I’m in the minority here, so I expect we will carry on giving the occasional race win to drivers who clearly didn’t cross the line first.
I must just conclude that I was between turns three and four at the time so I don’t actually have an opinion about how they finished on this occasion – it just looked like an absolute dead heat from where I was standing.
With the final grid determined largely by the aggregate heat results, Dudman and Marriott shared the front row, but had the likes of Smith (row two), Weaver (three) and Haird and Carl Waller-Barrett (four) all close by and ready to make life difficult.
Sure enough, it was Dudman who stepped off the line and into the lead but, with the opening gambits played out behind him, it was Weaver who burst through into second. For a time the gap between them stayed static, Dudman’s cause undoubtedly being helped by his newer tyres. But eventually Weaver began to push on, braking later and later into the corners and eating up the leader’s advantage as a result.
Weaver’s first attempt at a pass coming off turn four was thwarted by the spun Walter car partly blocking the track. But he made no mistake at the same spot a lap later, taking over at the front and pulling rapidly away into the bargain.
Dudman was steadily forced backwards as Waller-Barrett, Smith, Haird, Jason Kew and McDonald forged on towards the front. A brief clinch between Waller-Barret and Smith saw Carl lose a load of ground, but that aside, the places remained in a stalemate for the remaining laps with nothing much changing about the order in the final third of the race.
The point at which it looked like there would be a change, came after the finish when it was reported to race control that Weaver and Haird had failed to attend a post-race weight check. Both drivers were initially disqualified but were adamant they had not been told of any requirement to go to the scales, and it was only on the following day that the original result was eventually confirmed.
All in all though, a good night when it stayed dry, we had some interesting fresh cars, some very entertaining racing, and it was just generally great to be back in the groove. Best of all though, it’s only a few days until the next one! GB
Heat one: 2,117,219,92,115,174,155,152(-2),66,217,615,27,42,196,44,333. NOF
Heat two: 3,2,55,209,27,491,115,162,92,31,217,155,152,45. NOF
Heat three: 491,3,55,31,209,162,339,174,66,196,615,23,42,45,333,117. NOF
Final: 209,491,115,174,117,31,162,55,92,(27),2,42,66,23,45,615,305,155,217. NOF
Penalties: 152 dropped two places for contact with 66 in heat one. 27 disqualified from final for spinning 217.
Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Martin Kingston's excellent photos in the Gallery
NHRPA Statement: Birmingham Wheels 05/03/2016:
Following a review of proceedings after the NHR meeting final at Birmingham Wheels involving potential infringement of weight check rules by Kym Weaver (209) and Chris Haird (115) the NHRPA can confirm that their verbally advised disqualifications have been rescinded. Therefore, their placing as they crossed the finish line will stand. Having investigated, the NHRPA are not satisfied that the correct procedures were followed on the night. We have identified some changes to these procedures to ensure no such confusion or issue occurs in the future. NHRPA
Cars in attendance: 5, 36, 97 (Day Lic), 308, 336, 344, 523, 629, 700, 844, 871, 948 (12 cars)
Heat One: 308 Jim Cowie, 700, 844, 36, 629, 5, 344, 948, 871, 336.
Heat Two: 700 Ian Donaldson, 344, 629, 5, 308, 948, 844, 36, NOF.
Final: 700 Ian Donaldson, 5 Tam Rutherford, 308 Jim Cowie, 36, 629, 948, 523, NOF.
Hednesford Hills, Sunday 1st November
Graham Brown Shane Bland rounded off this year’s portion of the 2015-16 World Series with a resounding victory by half a lap in the final at the now traditional Hednesford November fireworks meeting. In what was a fiercely contested event, Bland became the fourth different winner from four entirely unpredictable races.
An excellent – and still rising – entry of 33 cars were booked in for the closure of this year’s World Series racing with several points of interest amongst them. Most notable had to be the UK debut of the new SHP Mazda RX8, first seen displayed in the National Hot Rod paddock at this year’s World Final. It was Danny (rather than Terry) Hunn who was giving the Mazda its shakedown outing, however.
Former double 2.0 Hot Rod world champion Kevin Randell became the latest ‘guest’ driver to have an outing in the Paul Frost Tigra, running under the number 396 rather than 96 in due deference to Ian McKellar. Rob McDonald was piloting the ex-Willie Hardie car which looked rather odd with just the driver’s name and bright red number on its otherwise virgin white bodywork. Ralph Sanders was making a highly welcome return to the fray with his Tigra A, while Winnie Holtmanns was back for another equally welcome outing here in the UK.
On what was a glorious sunny and warm autumn afternoon, Layton Milsom beat Russ Wilcox away in heat one as Russ got a bit sideways leaving the line, Milsom rapidly opening up a substantial lead. It soon became all about who might claim second, particularly once Wilcox fell by the wayside to leave the leader even further clear.
Dick Hillard and Hunn were two men making useful moves in the right direction, the latter’s new Mazda looking really smooth and controllable, even if he did slap the wall with it three times!
It was Hillard who worked his way past Dave Garrett and Alistair Lowe and into second, which looked to be the best he could hope for until Holtmanns spun car came to a stop broadside across the end of the home straight, bringing out a very late (lap 23) yellow flag.
As the cars sat waiting for the restart, clouds of Ferodo-scented smoke arose from Milsom’s car, suggesting the brakes were not only very hot, but no longer getting the air discs need to work properly. I did wonder if maybe the leader would arrive in the first corner only to find himself brakeless but in fact he seemed to have things totally under control. So, even though Hillard attacked hard over the two lap sprint finish, he was unable to dislodge Milsom and in fact did well to stay ahead of a seriously fast finishing Billy Wood at the line. Hunn eventually brought the Mazda home fifth, not a bad result at all for its first ever race.
Wilcox made a better start to heat two, taking charge throughout the early laps as he shrugged off a challenge from Martin Heath. Russ was still out front as they went beyond half distance but his cause wasn’t helped by a caution being thrown after Rich Adams, Chris Lehec and Shaun Taylor all got together on the back straight, in an incident which left Adams and Lehec both facing the wrong way.
Wilcox got away well again at the green and still looked set fair to take the win, especially as he had the backmarking Dave York car between him and the rest. But Russ found his car to be pushing badly after the stoppage and, when he moved over to allow York to un-lap himself, he was forced to let the hard pressing Ivan Grayson through as well, Wilcox eventually going out after tangling with Chris Haird on the West bend exit. Grayson was still well clear at flag fall with Sanders an impressive second on his return, the long serving racer looking like he’d never been away.
Milsom made another demon start to lead the third heat, chased initially by Heath and then by Sanders, who was running even faster this time and overtook Heath down the inside at the East bend. As the laps wound down, the first five – Milsom, Sanders, Heath, Colin Smith and Haird – all closed up quite a bit, but it took until six laps from home for Sanders to finally catch and pass Milsom, with another dart down the inside at the East bend. By then Haird and Kym Weaver were also right in the mix, which made for a frantic last few laps, but Sanders managed to cling on at the front with Milsom coming back impressively to nick second back from Haird right at the death.
The final was won and lost at the start, where Milsom and Sanders both made equally fast getaways in an effort to assert their superiority, only to have Bland somehow find some daylight down their inside rounding the West bend for the first time. The three-wide moment put Bland ahead shortly before the yellows flew for Sanders, who’d ended up in the barriers at turn three as the result of some argy-bargy behind him going down the back straight.
Bland made a superb flying start when the green came back out and was soon uncatchable, half a lap up and happily carving through the backmarkers with no apparent worries. There was still plenty to watch behind him though, with no less than ten cars running line astern and all involved in the tough places fight at one time.
Then Hunn’s Mazda started belching smoke out of the back, Danny soon retiring to the infield for the fire to be dealt with. The places battle continued to heat up, for some more than others, as Weaver also started trailing smoke and was forced to abdicate fourth spot with flames pouring from his left rear wheel arch. This was all taking the bonfire night theme a bit too far if you ask me!
Bland carried his half lap advantage all the way to the chequers with the fight for the places being eventually won by Billy Wood and Jason Kew who collected the other podium spots. GB
Heat one: 48,31,305,92,339,55,155,196,44,45,304,117,22,152,27,217,23,3,333. NOF
Heat two: 136,734,31,42,174,209(-2),491,66,304,27,(467),217(-2),55,196. NOF
Heat three: 734,48,115,209,491,42,92,66,174,305,155,44,615,(467),3. NOF
Final: 42,305,174,92,304,155,217,31,491(-2),117,27,45,396,615,22,152,55,3,44. NOF
Penalties: 209 dropped two places in heat two for contact with 304. 217 dropped two places in heat two for jumping a restart. 396 disqualified from heat two for spinning 196. 22 disqualified from heat two for causing crash involving him and two other cars. 491 dropped two places in final for jumping a restart. 92 initially disqualified from final for causing incident involving 734, penalty later rescinded after further viewing of video evidence. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Martin Kingston & Phil Cornish's PHOTOS
Aghadowey Friday 30th October
Darren Black reports: On a night that started out dry and ended up abysmally wet, Dungannon's Derek Martin took the final win he's been threatening for some time at Aghadowey Oval's Gala Night last Friday. With a huge crowd on hand for the fireworks display, the Nationals served up the best meeting of the series so far and hopefully gained some new fans. Ben McKee banished his recent run of bad luck by taking a deserved win in the opening heat in the dry, before an outstanding drive netted European Champion Adam Hylands a very wet heat two. With the McCurdy Fuels/ Wilson McCurdy Haulage sponsored trophy up for grabs in the final, it was Martin who came out on top.
A late season newcomer to PC Paints & Components World Series NI attracted quite a bit of attention in the paddock before the meeting began, as former World, European, British and National Champion in the 2.0 Hot Rods Shane Murray wheeled out his recently acquired ex-Neil Stimson Tigra. His class debut at Tipperary the previous week just underlined how big a competitor Shane will be in the future, and it really is a big plus for National Hot Rods to have him on board. Thomas Dilly also gave a home debut to his former Garry Kelly machine, whilst Ben McKee was a welcome entry given his latest Tipp shunt the previous week.
Another in the wars at Tipperary in his RCE 206cc was Andrew Stewart, and he swapped across to one of his Tigras for this one. But the night was to start very badly for the Portadown man, as what looked like a jammed throttle sent him hurtling into the wall during the heat one warm up laps.
There were three drivers intending to play their jokers during the meeting, including National Champion Gary Woolsey who was hoping to take advantage of his decent grid position following a recent bad run. Stewart was another, but his got cancelled when he failed to take a green flag in any race. The third was supposed to be Nigel McCauley, but work commitments forced him to cancel his booking earlier in the afternoon.
The opening heat would see the only dry track of the evening, and McKee was the early pacesetter in his 206cc ahead of Dilly. Woolsey led the pack of blues whilst Stewart Doak was the lead red as they began the quest of running down the others - no easy task given the pace that all the Ulster runners have at present.
Derek Martin was continuing his good form of late, and found a way past Jaimie McCurdy out of turn four to press Woolsey for what was now second as Dilly got relegated. Slowly but surely they were reeling in the leader, with Murray and Carl Sloan now joining the party too. With three to go they arrived on the bumper of McKee, but whilst Ben may be new to the Nationals he is far from a racing novice, and he was able to keep the snarling Woolsey and Martin at bay to the flag, with Murray and Sloan rounding out the top five.
The track was very wet for heat two, and it was Dilly who got the jump from the rolling start to take up the lead. McKee was struggling in the tricky conditions and fell back, with Woolsey quickly establishing himself in second. Back in the reds there was a hairy three abreast moment for Adam Hylands, Mark Heatrick and Keith Martin, but they all somehow survived.
The grades closed much quicker in this one, with Doak getting in amongst the blues in his favoured conditions. He dipped under McCurdy and then Murray, with Shane hanging in there on the outside for a number of laps. At the sharp end Woolsey was looking repeatedly down the outside of Dilly, but was thwarted time and again.
As Jaimie McCurdy attracted a technical disqualification for circulating slowly with what looked like a broken front suspension, Hylands was now the man to watch. Having already passed Glenn Bell and Adam Maxwell on the outside, he quickly put the same move on Murray and Doak. By now Derek M had joined the squabbling lead duo, but Hylands was looming large in his mirrors...
There were now just three laps to go, and Hylands wasted no time in hitting the outside again. He was carrying great momentum, and relegated Derek M and Woolsey in quick succession. Onto the last lap and he drew alongside the stubborn Dilly, making the move stick on the exit of turn four to take a fantastic victory on the line. It really was an outstanding drive in difficult conditions, and brought great applause from the appreciative fans. Dilly was good value in second, ahead of Woolsey, Derek M and Doak.
Woolsey had grabbed pole for the McCurdy Fuels/Wilson McCurdy Haulage sponsored final, with the rapid Derek M alongside and the two gladiators of many a decent 2.0 Hot Rod scrap in recent times, Hylands and Murray, on row two. Woolsey as expected stepped into the early lead, but he soon lost out to what had seemed to be the two fastest cars on track all evening, Derek M and Hylands.
As the race settled down, Derek M was keeping Hylands at arm's length at the head of the field, with these two holding an advantage over Woolsey who had Doak and Heatrick on his case. The conditions were far from ideal, but the drivers were still managing to serve up arguably the best meeting of the campaign so far.
Hylands began to close on the leader, but then had his exhaust break just as he came within touching distance of the #20 car. We all know there is only one outcome in this situation, and unfortunately for Adam he received the dreaded red and white technical disqualification flag, followed by the even more dreaded black version! Adam's defence was that in the spray he couldn't see the flags, and the broken exhaust made the Raceceivers difficult to hear. This brought out the caution flags to remove the #54 car from proceedings, where he joined Bell on the infield who had been suffering with what sounded like a very sick motor.
At the restart Heatrick was immediately black crossed for getting away much too early and passing Doak into turn three long before any green, but that made little difference to Derek M who powered home to the victory. Woolsey made great use of his double-points joker with his second runner up slot of the night, with Doak and Maxwell inheriting third and fourth ahead of the demoted Heatrick after his black cross stuck.
Maxwell had done enough over the evening to confirm his win in the Cirrus Plastics DMC Race Promotions Championship, which covers all the National Hot Rod meetings at Aghadowey and Tullyroan over the calendar year. He gratefully received four new Hoosier slicks for his troubles, with Derek M of course landing one too courtesy of World Series sponsors PC Paints & Components. It was somewhat ironic that there we were handing out five slicks in the pouring rain...
The drivers now have a well deserved winter break ahead of them before what should be a really interesting climax to the campaign, scheduled to race back into action at Easter 2016. Darren Black
Heat 1: 937 940 20 70 75 199 996 54 960 9 994 76 966
Heat 2: 54 966 940 20 996 70 76 960 9 994 75 937 nof
Final: 20 940 996 76 960(X-2) 994 70 75 199 966 937 nof
Heat 1: 955 970 261 925 982
Heat 2: 955 970 261 925 982
Final: 970 261 955 925 nof.
Graham Brown It was Mikey Godfrey’s turn to play his Joker at Birmingham and he made good use of his quartet of fresh tyres to mop up two heat wins and the double points that went with them. But Kym Weaver hit back by taking the other heat and then the final, relegating Godfrey to a still impressive second spot.
Entries continue to be ‘on the up’ meeting on meeting and Birmingham was no different, with 32 cars turning out for this one. These included the long awaited debut of the beautifully turned out Tigra of Paul Gomm, first seen at the NEC last winter, and also the welcome return of Russ Wilcox to the fold after a break of a couple of years. I’m guessing Russ isn’t going to be silly enough to take any bets with me about world qualifying this year though…
Perfect track conditions greeted the 32-car field on what was something of a chilly evening although, to be fair, I have known a lot worse at this track!
Lee Pepper looked a good bet for a win in the opening race from his starting slot on the outside front row and I’ll admit, I was already thinking about who might be second! Lee got away very fast too and soon opened out a useful advantage over the rest. But once Dave Garrett lost second to Godfrey, it was clear he and Pepper were going to be squaring up to one another sooner or later.
While Chris Haird pulled up on the first turn with a flat in the left front following a touch with Danny Fiske, Godfrey caught up with the leader pretty quickly and then took his time picking his passing spot. In fact, his patience was probably a mark of Mikey’s level of experience these days, but his new tyres were probably always going to carry him to the front eventually. And, when he saw a small gap down Pepper’s inside exiting turn four, that was the fate of the heat one win sealed.
Further back, there had been clear signals of Weaver’s intentions for the evening too, Kym marching towards the front throughout and only eventually being defeated by the quarter of a lap between himself in third and second man Pepper by the time the lap boards were out.
Heat two couldn’t quite manage to match the clean-and-green all the way status of the first race. In fact, there was very nearly a major incident right on the start-line, when Dick Hillard barely moved at the green as he staggered away on a broken half shaft – a malady which was going to put him out of the rest of the meeting as things turned out. Very prompt and clear warnings over the Raceceivers from steward Brian Oliver undoubtedly contributed to everybody managing to miss the becalmed #31.
Pepper was quickly off and running again and already working on extending his advantage when the first yellows came, following Steve Dudman spinning on the exit from turn two – a lift from the breakdowns suggesting a blown up and seized diff or gearbox.
They had hardly completed four laps from the restart when another incident at the same spot brought on a further, lengthier caution. Martin Heath had gone spinning, Wilcox went wide to avoid him with Colin Smith following him before the two collided. Then Dan Holden arrived on the scene with some mystery engine fault which led to an oil spillage needing to be cleaned up too, and a great deal of dust going down.
Serious damage had been done to Pepper’s position this time because Weaver had already got through to second before the caution and now he was right on the leader’s bumper. He rocketed past down the inside at the first sniff of the green flag and was off and away to the chequers, Pepper going down another spot at the hands of Billy Wood shortly before the finish.
Godfrey made even lighter work of taking the honours from the third encounter, zapping past Frank West to assume the top spot before the completion of lap one and then simply clearing off into the distance thereafter.
There was still plenty to watch further back however with the fight for second involving several drivers before finally being resolved in favour of Rob McDonald. Behind the itinerant Scot there was further entertainment too, with the places from sixth back to tenth undecided until the last lap, Carl Waller-Barrett, Haird, Jason Kew and David York enjoying a diverting scrap.
With Godfrey on pole and Weaver sharing the front row with him for the final, it really did seem to be just a question of which way round they were going to be on the podium. Weaver pretty much settled that argument by blitzing into turn one in the most determined fashion and leading every step of the way after that despite Godfrey’s best efforts to stay in touch. That said, it wasn’t quite as cut-and-dried as I’m making it sound. Weaver often had lots of traffic to deal with, any of which might have presented Mikey with an opportunity, while for his part Godfrey always stayed resolutely in Weaver’s tyre tracks and didn’t give up the chase either.
A virtually race-long dispute between Rob McDonald and Billy Wood over third eventually went Wood’s way when he managed to put himself in front just as the lap boards appeared. GB
Heat one: 27,155,209,196,162,305,152,45,44,304,615,23,339,55,3,197. NOF
Heat two: 209,305,155,174,117,42,615,44,339,22,304,491. NOF
Heat three: 27,117,152,42,162,22,174,115,196,217,23,55,197,45. NOF
Final: 209,27,305,117,162,174,42,196,115,152,217,55,155,615,491,45,197,22,23,44,333,3,304. NOF
Penalties: None. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Martin Kingston's PHOTOS
Ballymena Friday 9th October
Colin Adair reports: Glenn Bell became the fourth Northern Ireland driver to register a perfect score in the current campaign after a faultless hat-trick of wins for the 2012 World Champion in Round 6 of the PC Paints & Components World Series NI at Ballymena Raceway on October 9. European Champion Adam Hylands offered the closest examination of Bell’s credentials during the evening and pocketed a healthy haul of points on his way to second in the feature race while Keith Martin continued his improved form with a strong run to third.
Thirteen entrants assembled in the pits for Round 6 where there was a very welcome return to domestic racing for Ben McKee. The former Lightning Rod star was returning to the scene of ‘that crash’ on Good Friday which punched such a big hole in his season, and even more impressively made it out despite inverting his refitted Peugeot 206cc at Tipperary six days earlier! It was no surprise therefore that Ben took the option to run off the back of the grid all evening in an attempt to get some clear track time out of harm’s way.
McKee’s understandable decision to start at the rear presented Glenn Bell and Jaimie McCurdy with a clear track ahead of them as the pair fronted up a strong looking group of ‘blues’ that also featured Nigel McCauley, Stewart Doak and Adam Hylands. The ‘red’ grade were certainly going to have their work cut out catching that little lot, with Keith Martin, Adam Maxwell, Gary Woolsey, Derek Martin, Carl Sloan, Mark Heatrick and Gary Wilson making up the rear block on this occasion. All thirteen runners took to the track for heat one on a dry and mild autumn evening at Ballymena where Bell made the most of his prime starting slot to lead out McCurdy, Hylands and Doak. Back in the reds Woolsey ran D. Martin wide which allowed Sloan to nip through on the inside with Heatrick and Wilson in tow. Out front Bell chiselled out a handy lead as McCurdy found himself under pressure from Hylands for second while Doak held a watching brief in fourth. Leader Bell set the fastest lap of the race (15.171 secs) on his way to a clear, and long overdue, race win at a World Qualifier for the 2012 World Champion, as a quick flick through the record books confirmed his last one was 14 months ago in August 2014! McCurdy kept Hylands at bay to secure second, with Doak, K. Martin and Maxwell rounding out the top six in this one.
Woolsey was an absentee for heat two and the field was further reduced when Sloan’s Torquetronix Tigra snapped a half shaft at the drop of the green flag and trundled onto the infield. Bell had judged the start perfectly again to lead with McCurdy, Hylands and Doak heading the pursuers. This one soon settled into a similar pattern to the opener, as Bell pulled out a gap while McCurdy and Hylands squabbled over second. McCurdy really had to be on his guard in this one too, as the Wilson McCurdy Haulage Tigra was proving a real handful with binding brakes unsettling the car on the entry to the bends. On the final lap a big slid for McCurdy through turns 1 and 2 presented a gap on the inside for Hylands which the European Champion filled in a flash. As McCurdy corrected the slide the pair made contact on the exit of the turn which fired his Tigra hard left into the wall causing considerable damage to the nearside front corner. McCurdy gamely dragged his Tigra round the rest of the lap, but was losing places hand over fist, as an untroubled Bell made it two wins from two. Runner-up Hylands posted the fastest lap in this one (15.141 secs) with Doak in third, followed by K. Martin, Maxwell and D. Martin.
9 996 199 20 960 937
54 994 76 82 4
There was some frantic work in the pits around the Sloan and McCurdy cars as both teams carried out repairs before the final. The start of the Ross Hyndman Motors sponsored feature race was delayed as long as possible to give both a chance to make the grid, but with one eye on the fast approaching curfew time at the council owned Showgrounds venue the organisers eventually called for the gate to be closed. McCurdy just squeezed out in the nick of time, while the unfortunate Sloan joined Woolsey as a non-starter. That repair job may have got McCurdy’s car back on track, but the set-up was far from ideal which presented a trip into the unknown for the teenager with regards to the car’s performance. With the option of starting at the back made available by the steward McCurdy sensibly decided to join McKee at the rear of the line-up, which was proving to be a popular spot as Doak encountered clutch problems during the warm up laps and the Cirrus Plastics Tigra took the green flag from the very back of the field. That left a very disjointed grid, with gaps on rows two and three where Doak and McCurdy would have been, but a front row of Bell and Hylands presented the prospect of an intriguing comparison between two of the quickest cars in the business at the moment. Bell executed another good getaway to lead as Hylands dropped down onto the inside line to secure second with K. Martin, Maxwell and D. Martin next in line. With a clear track ahead of them this was going to be a real test of speed between the front two and Hylands tracked the leader over the opening tours, without ever looking to make a move, but gradually as the race progressed the gap between the pair began to widen ever so slightly lap by lap. In the end it was Bell who comfortably won their battle of wits on this occasion, the reigning Northern Ireland Champion leading every lap of every race to complete a flawless hat-trick of wins, and also punching in the fastest lap of the final for good measure (15.177 secs). Hylands kept the winner honest throughout but just couldn’t quite get on terms with Bell this time and had to settle for second, but with a handsome haul of points tucked away over the course of the evening. Keith Martin had an untroubled run to third, the 2005 World Champion the best ‘red’ at the meeting, and Maxwell enjoyed an equally trouble free, if rather lonely, run to fourth. D. Martin dropped out of fifth on lap 8 which initially promoted Wilson into that spot, but he was soon under pressure from Heatrick and then Doak, who had been knocking out some rather good lap times once the Cirrus Plastics Tigra had got up and running properly. Wilson defended his position resolutely as always, but Heatrick and Doak both swapped around the outside to complete a pair of tidy passes which earned them fifth and sixth spots at the finish. Wilson came home in seventh ahead of McCauley, with the finishing order completed by McKee and McCurdy.
Four hat-tricks in the opening six rounds of the current World Series NI equals the total number recorded in the entirety of the previous campaign. What does that tell
us about the new system? The withdrawal of the ‘reverse’ grid within each block for the second heat has probably contributed as much to these hat-tricks as the new ‘points’ formation for the final.
While the racing at each round has maybe been more predictable the same cannot be said about the overall series where nobody has really been able to stamp their authority on the table so far. One
thing that was settled at Round 6 however was the destiny of the Ballymena Raceway Track Championship for 2015 where Wilson started the evening with a handy 40 plus points lead over nearest
challengers McCurdy and Sloan. When both his main rivals encountered problems during the meeting it was a relatively straightforward job for Gary to pick up the necessary points which saw him seal
the Track Championship in what has been an impressive first season in the premier rod division for the Ballyclare haulier. Colin Adair
Heat One: 9 – 199 – 54 – 996 – 994 – 76 – 75 – 960 – 82 – 20 – 4 – 940 – 937
Heat Two: 9 – 54 – 996 – 994 – 76 – 20 – 82 – 960 – 4 – 199 – 937
Final: 9 – 54 – 994 – 76 – 960 – 996 – 82 – 4 – 937 – 199
Ipswich 26th September, World Series England 4
Graham Brown When to play the double points scoring Joker may well turn out to be critical in the 2015-16 season and Shane Bland definitely pitched it just right at Foxhall as he raced to a hat-trick and a perfect 135 points score. Jason Kew took the honours from the other heat after on-the-road winner Danny Fiske picked up a two place penalty.
With entries on the increase just lately, it was no surprise to find this meeting expanded to three heats, although the 31 car criterion I believe is employed for this to happen didn’t in fact hold up all the way to start time, with Brett Walter an enforced cancellation after he broke down en route.
But the heats certainly still seemed to have enough cars on track, featuring among them the very welcome return of Steve Dudman in the immaculately turned out ex-Andrew Murray/Wayne Woolsey Tigra. Steve had been testing in the week at Arena and allowed that, although he was happy with the car, there was still some way to go yet before it entirely suits him.
Also back to join in the fun was Winnie Holtmanns, Winnie taking part in all three heats as per usual, rather than getting involved in the final as he is ineligible to score points anyway.
The field went down by another car when Frank West’s Merc failed to appear again after practice.
It was Shaun Taylor who set the early pace in the first heat although one look at the grid suggested that either Bland or Colin Smith might be tough to beat, both in this and for the rest of the evening.
Bland wasted no time progressing past Ivan Grayson, Martin Heath and Peter Elliott to second and then spent a bit longer catching up with the leader before going ahead down the outside as they exited turn four. As Shane proceeded to pull clear, Taylor was left to have a somewhat lonely race thereafter as the action centred upon the battle for third thru seventh, where Grayson was trying to fend off Kym Weaver, Smiffy, Rob McDonald and Danny Fiske.
Grayson clung onto third for some time but was eventually railroaded backwards as Weaver got the best of the dicing to claim the position instead, at least until he collected a penalty for contact which moved Fiske and McDonald back in front of him. Neither Bland nor Taylor would have known anything about all that however, both men finishing well clear of any pursuit.
There was brief drama at the off in heat two, when Elliott’s car got a bit loose coming off the line and clobbered Alistair Lowe, with Elliott nearly spinning! That would have been exciting to say the least, right in front of the pack, but everybody soon sorted themselves out with Taylor the early leader again by the end of the first lap. He stayed that way through a yellow flag brought on by Dave Garrett and Dick Hillard having got together along the home straight, Garrett slamming into the wall hard after cutting across the luckless Hillard exiting turn four.
With everybody closed up for the restart, Lowe and Elliott were soon ousted from their places behind Taylor, and it was Smith and Fiske who descended on the leader instead, with Kew and Billy Wood right there too. Smiffy tried hard to get down the outside but Taylor was defending for all he was worth and, in the end, this enabled Fiske to get under Smith before taking the leader as well, down the outside of the back straight. Fiske pressed on to accept the chequers too, nearly a quarter of a lap to the good by that stage, only to be penalised for an earlier incident with Mikey Godfrey. This handed the win to Kew with Wood second, both drivers having further relegated Taylor in the closing laps.
A sterling effort saw Garrett just get repairs completed and make it out for heat three by the skin of his teeth. Lowe was the first to show in this one with Martin Heath (who probably slept well after doing double duty all night by contesting the Legends British championship too) challenging him. Their duel was interrupted by Bland however, who was on his way to the front again and, once out front, looked all set to win easily and by a large margin. That was, until they were all brought up short by another caution thrown for a car stopped in a dangerous position, Danny Hunn having come to rest out by the barriers just about on the apex of turns 1-2.
By the time of the hiatus, Hillard had worked his way through to second and was in a perfect position to have a crack at Bland over the remaining few laps. The leader was obviously well aware of the danger though and made no mistake with his restart technique, leaving Hillard gradually further and further behind on his way to win number two.
The final showed every sign of being hotly contested because although Bland had not surprisingly annexed pole, he had Fiske alongside him, Kew on row two and several other potential winners scattered among the next few ranks.
But in fact the die was cast in the first few seconds, as Fiske broke a half-shaft when he dumped the clutch. He limped away, delaying several other cars, while Bland took off like a rocket and was soon opening up a substantial lead, helped along by some argy-bargy going on between the placemen, Taylor, Hillard, Carl Waller-Barrett, Kew and McDonald.
Taylor continued to successfully see off all comers while Bland extended his advantage to more than half a lap. And with Shane demonstrating how confident he was feeling by going three wide while passing backmarkers, it looked to be all over at that point. Or at least, it did until Kew and Waller-Barrett got locked together coming off turn four, the former hurtling over the shale and the latter taking a spin in a dodgy spot at turn one and bringing out the yellows.
Of course, Bland now had it all to do again but with seven backmarkers between him and his nearest pursuer, the restart was never going to be that much of a challenge and it wasn’t long before he was back to being half a circuit away from the other placemen.
Some contact between Taylor and Wood saw Taylor go spinning at turn one but no-one was ever going to close Bland down by this stage in any case and he carried his impressive advantage all the way
to the flag, with Wood second (unpenalised after a lengthy steward’s inquiry) and Weaver third following a two place penalty against Kew. GB
Heat one: 42,152,304,117,209(-2),162,491,136,196,92,305,23,66,45,27,48,(467),3,43. NOF
Heat two: 174,305,304(-2),491,152,31,615,55,339,48,23,161,43,(467),27. NOF
Heat three: 42,31,196,162,136,117,174,55,209,92,615,66,3,(467),44,161. NOF
Final: 42,305,209,92,174(-2),196,491,615,23,161,152,162,48,55,3,45,66,44. NOF
Penalties: 209 dropped two places in heat one for contact with 196 on lap one. 304 dropped two places in heat two for contact with 27. 44 disqualified from heat two for causing incident which put 31 in the wall. 174 dropped two places in final for contact with 117. 31 disqualified from final for causing incident which caused 117 to hit the wall. 162 disqualified from final for contact with 209, penalty later rescinded after further viewing of video evidence. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Steve Weston, Martin Kingston and Clive Marchant's photos in the GALLERY
Darren Black reports: John Christie returned to PC Paints & Components World Series NI action for the first time this campaign at Tullyroan Oval on Saturday night, and used his advantageous yellow grading to land a faultless hat-trick of wins. It wasn't just as easy as it sounds though, with John made to work more than hard for each of his victories.
There were 15 cars in action for this one, which was more than creditable given the poor 11 car showing a week previously. The one notable returnee was of course Christie, who had repaired his engine after his British Championship problems and was using the meeting as a shakedown ahead of the upcoming trip to Tipp for the Irish Open. There was one very notable absentee in Stewart Doak, who reckons he was missing his first World Qualifier in 13 years. This was due to his son Callum racing in a clashing Bambino Kart event down south, and the third generation of Doak to don a racesuit even bagged his first win too!
Whilst it might have looked like the evening was always going to be a '962 benefit', even John was quick to point out that with Adam Hylands (playing his joker), Derek Martin, Glenn Bell and Adam Maxwell to name a few in the blues, it wasn't that much of an advantage really! Christie did quickly go ahead of lone white top Simon Kennedy in the opener with Thomas Dilly in his Merc and Andy Stewart next up, but quickly being reeled in by Hylands, Bell, Martin, Jaimie McCurdy and Maxwell.
There were a frantic few laps as they all came together, with Dilly getting all out of shape into turn three whilst attempting to get ahead of Kennedy on the outside. Hylands seized the opportunity to slip between the pair in a great move, with Martin getting well sideways as he slammed the door hard on McCurdy.
Dilly dropped back and then retired for the night with engine bothers, as Hylands began to pressure Christie, who was becoming embroiled in some heavy backmarking traffic. Adam did have a look down the leader's inside, but John had all under control and took the first chequered flag of the night ahead of Hylands, Bell, Martin and McCurdy.
Dilly was the only absentee from the second heat, as Christie again hit the front early on. Hylands quickly moved to second, with Bell and Martin side by side as they came to challenge Kennedy. With Bell running out to the wall and Kennedy on the kerb, Martin stayed alongside Bell as they went three abreast past the startline. It all became just a little too tight into turn one, with Kennedy getting speared sharp left and into the wall almost head on in a huge accident which brought out the yellows.
Christie led Hylands and Martin at the restart, whilst Bell had to take the greens well back in the line up having been held up in the race suspending incident. Hylands soon pulled himself right back onto Christie's rear end, looking past both outside and inside, whilst all the while Martin was right there with Maxwell and McCurdy soon joining in too. Christie again had it all under control though, and took his second victory of the evening over Hylands, Martin and Maxwell. Bell was next over the line having got the better of McCurdy on the final tour, but he was to cop a disqualification for his part in Kennedy's demise after video footage had been viewed.
The final obviously paired Christie and Hylands on the front row, with Martin and Maxwell next followed by McCurdy and Mark Heatrick, the latter the first of those running from the reds for the night. Right from the off Hylands was right on the offensive, running side by side with Christie and looking to pull himself ahead, as Martin, Maxwell, McCurdy and Heatrick slotted in behind. Hylands gave it his best shot, but the difficult outside trip coupled with some cement dust on the entrance to turn three from the preceding 2.0 Hot Rod event saw him get out of shape on not one lap but two in succession. That was enough to see him tumbling down the order, and only getting back on the racing line when down to eleventh.
Martin was the man taking the fight to Christie now, and Derek has looked more than sharp in the past couple of meetings since his nightmare British title challenge which saw his car badly damaged. He made some serious attempts down the inside of the #962 machine, only to see the door well and truly slammed shut. McCurdy then got wide into turn three as well, inviting Heatrick and Keith Martin by him.
It now really was 'game on' at the front as Maxwell joined the lead duo, and further back Bell got a great run around National Champion Gary Woolsey as he attempted to make up for his lowly grid slot. Inside the last five laps and Maxwell had dropped off the pace slightly, and this gave the incentive to D Martin to have one last shot at thwarting Christie's hat-trick bid. He tried inside first, before hitting the outside and drawing alongside John, only to again be thwarted by the dirty entrance to turn three.
Over the last lap Christie filled the track to seal his faultless evening's scoring by taking the Tullymore Road Motors sponsored trophy and the PC Paints & Components Hoosier slick. D Martin was great value in second, ahead of Maxwell, an impressive Heatrick, K Martin and McCurdy.
The Ulster drivers now have a few weekends off from World Series duty, although a number intend racing in the Irish Open at Tipperary in early October. This was by far the best World Series round of the new season so far, and hopefully we will see the enthusiastic Kennedy, the true NHR fan-come-racer, repaired and back on track after his huge shunt. Darren Black
Heat 1: 962 54 9 20 199 76 994 960 940 4 82 75 998 669 nof.
Heat 2: 962 54 20 76 199 960 994 75 82 940 4 669 nof. DQ: 9
Final: 962 20 76 960 994 199 9 82 54 75 940 4 669 nof.
Ed Fahey's great photos in the GALLERY
Heat 1: 208 261 970 420 955 982 311 nof.
Heat 2: 208 925 261 970 420 982 nof. DQ 955
Final: 208 261 970 420 925 982 955 nof.
Wood doubles up with dominant final win
Graham Brown It was Billy Wood who emerged as top man in The Hills as he raced to two wins out of three at Hednesford, with his second victory in the final a convincing trouncing of the field too, Billy holding a half lap advantage by the time the chequers fell.
Twenty-nine cars was a good entry, with things definitely moving in the right direction in that department. Having them all confined to the newly expanded outer pits (due to the regular pit areas being reserved for the World Final contesting BriSCA F2s and 1300 Stock Cars) wasn’t so great, but it really was the only way it was all going to work at this meeting.
Among those twenty-nine we had two very welcome ‘newbies’, former 2.0 Hot Rod driver Layton Milsom in what I think might be an ex-Aaron Dew Tigra, and Buxton Outlaw racer Sean Cusack in a Peugeot 206cc, provenance unknown to me at least. Both cars were superbly turned out and great additions to the formula obviously. It was also the day Danny Hunn returned to NHRs and with Winnie Holtmanns paying us a visit too, it was, as they say, “all good”!
Even with a goodly number of entrants we were still only going to get three races (but still probably the right decision to be fair) with the track looking nicely packed for the opener.
Dave “Rocky” Garrett set the pace in that first heat, nipping past Frank West midway through the opening lap. Cusack’s Nationals career didn’t start very well sadly, as he was soon struggling round with a motor that sounded as sick as a dog. He pulled it up once but then rather unwisely decided to try and press on again – the car was still having none of it though.
Garrett had quite a while to enjoy the lead while the rest sorted themselves out but, once they had, it was Ivan Grayson who chased him down. Grayson wasted no time taking to the outside line and went to the front as they crossed the stripe shortly before mid-distance.
Garrett fell back fast after that, with Rich Adams moving up to second ahead of Hunn. To be honest though, the real interest here laid further back, with Dew and Willie Hardie dicing over fourth, while further back still there was a rare old scrap going on between Shane Bland, Rob McDonald, Wood, Jason Kew and Jack Blood.
Adams really got into his stride in the last half of the race and sneaked under Grayson along the back straight to take it up as they left the West bend. Grayson managed to stay in touch and appeared to be assisted in this endeavour by Dave York blowing an oil line off in extremely smoky fashion going into the East bend and coating the inside line with lube. Luckily, it didn’t look as though any of the closely following pack suffered as a result of that, but the conditions did seem to suddenly favour Grayson over Adams. However, it was still Adams’s win at flag fall, with the fast finishing Willie Hardie home in third.
Dew was next up with Wood (sixth) and McDonald (seventh) definitely getting the best of all the infighting among the placemen near the end.
Heat two didn’t go near so well for Grayson who pulled up right at the start, causing a caution for his car to be removed from the entry to turn one. Prior to that West had led this one for a handful of laps before Garrett took it up again, while Cusack was struggling with a very unwell car once more and West retired.
Garrett made a great restart and took off fast with Alistair Lowe running second before he lost out to Mark Edwards and Hunn, only for all of them to be interrupted by another caution for a crash which started at the West bend exit but ultimately ended up at the other end of the track. Dew and Shaun Taylor had managed to get together, Shaun smacking the wall before the two careered off down the track only to end up in the infield barriers and embankment at the approach to the East bend.
The restart put Mark Edwards right on Garrett’s bumper, Edwards going by with Hunn in tow, shortly before they were all passed in turn by the fast moving Wood who then pulled steadily further and further clear.
Bland and Dick Hillard somehow became locked together along the home straight and had an ‘off’ at the start/finish, while Carl Waller-Barrett and Brett Walter also got into a clinch at the West bend, Carl pulling off immediately afterwards with a flat in the left rear.
Wood was well clear by the finish with placemen Edwards and Hardie well spread out too, while it was Kym Weaver who got home fourth in the end, having got the best of a good battle with Danny Fiske and Hunn.
As the grid had panned out for the final, this looked to be the best chance yet for this season’s still new qualifying system to produce a great race. All the day’s fast movers were either at or near the front of the grid thus presenting the prospect of a potentially hard fight all the way.
Pole sitter Hardie got the jump at the green but almost immediately found Wood alongside him, the challenger forcing a side-by-side situation throughout the opening laps. Just as it looked as though something of a stalemate might be developing, Carl Waller-Barrett went spinning on the East bend and was forced into a high speed reverse manoeuvre away from the scene. As the leaders swerved around him it enabled Wood to finally hit the front (as well as the wall with a glancing blow!), leaving Hardie to try and defend second spot against an increasingly impatient two pronged assault on his position by Fiske and Weaver.
Repeated blue flags didn’t manage to oust Hardie from second however and, despite Fiske and Weaver piling on the pressure, with Wood busy scything through the backmarking traffic it began to look all over as far as the win was concerned.
Fiske eventually vanished from the dice after clipping the backmarking Holtmanns at the West bend, but if anything the places battle intensified without Danny, as Kew, Bland, McDonald and Jack Blood (his wing somewhat adrift) all queued up behind Weaver, ready to have a go at Hardie instead.
There were less than two laps to run when Hardie’s defence finally cracked, allowing Weaver, Kew and McDonald all through at the East bend, but Wood was long gone by then and was exactly half a
lap up at the end. GB
Heat one: 22,136,72,339,23,305,117,66,92,491,304,174,162,42(-4),44,217,31,209(-2),152,615,27,55,(467),43. NOF
Heat two: 305,45,72,209,304,339,92,44,491,174,42,217,55,615,27,48,66,43. NOF
Final: 305,209,174,117,72,42,304,92,217,23,48,45,615,22,152,491,339(-2),44,197,162,(467),55,43. NOF
Penalties: 42 dropped four places in heat one for two incidents of contact. 209 dropped two places in heat one for contact. 339 dropped two places in final for contact. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
.Martin Kingston's great photos in the GALLERY
Colin Adair reports: Jaimie McCurdy advanced his qualifying campaign with a timely hat-trick of wins in Round 4 of the PC Paints & Components World Series NI at a sodden Ballymena Raceway on September 11. McCurdy had Glenn Bell for company throughout the evening as the pair made the most of their starting positions in the yellow grade to acquire a healthy haul of points, with Derek Martin the best of the rest in third.
Twelve cars arrived at Ballymena for Round 4 of the World Series in Northern Ireland, but unfortunately Carl Sloan would not make it beyond practice after the bolts sheared around the flywheel of the Torquetronix Tigra’s engine. It was a real double whammy for Carl too as he had been running neck and neck with Gary Wilson in the Ballymena Raceway Track Championship at the start of the evening. Not only was the engine problem going to mean a big fat zero on the points chart for the World Series, but it would also considerably lengthen his odds at claiming the £500 prize on offer to the winner of the track championship.
With three rounds of the 2015-16 campaign now done and dusted most of the drivers had dropped their results from the previous campaign and their averages were now being calculated on their performances in the current series. That certainly shook the grid up quite considerably for Round 4, with Bell and McCurdy both languishing in the yellow ‘grade’ for this one. You probably have to go back to his debut season in the Stock Rods to find the last time Glenn started that close to the front of the grid and plenty of observers expected this one to be a Bell benefit from there. The team perhaps shared that view as Glenn looked to maximise his advantage by playing his Joker round as well, but Mother Nature intervened to ensure that did not happen. The forecasters had predicted rain would arrive during the evening and sure enough two races into the programme it did! A persistent drizzle would circulate the stadium for the rest of the proceedings and the meeting was officially declared ‘wet’ which meant that Bell’s Joker Round would have to wait until another time.
The remaining eleven runners took to the track for heat one where McCurdy and Bell quickly dropped fellow yellow grader Simon Kennedy to run first and second, with Derek Martin moving along nicely from the blue grade. Back amongst the ‘reds’ Stewart Doak shed a number of places when the Cirrus Plastics Tigra slowed around half distance and the order settled down as McCurdy, Bell, Martin, Adam Maxwell and Nigel McCauley. Maybe this wasn’t going to be quite as straightforward a night for Bell as we had envisaged beforehand, as McCurdy was driving very tidily indeed and repelled the 2012 World Champion’s advances throughout to open his account for the evening in some style. Bell was forced to settle for second as third placed Martin made it a three way dice up front over the closing laps.
Heat two followed a similar pattern as McCurdy grabbed the initiative early once again with Bell glued to the back of the Wilson McCurdy Haulage Tigra. Once again Martin was catching the eye from the blue grade and eased up onto the back of the front two runners even earlier this time. Martin’s arrival on the scene spurred Bell on to a few exploratory laps around the outside of McCurdy, but that met with little success which allowed Martin to duck under the Bell Building Tigra to snatch second. Once again McCurdy kept it all under control very nicely indeed over the remaining laps to record his second win of the night ahead of Martin, Bell, Maxwell and McCauley.
199 20 4 994 996 998
9 76 54 960 82
All eleven starters were able to grid for the final where McCurdy and Bell occupied row one with Martin and Maxwell on row two. McCauley and Adam Hylands sat on row three with Keith Martin, Mark Heatrick, Doak, Wilson and Kennedy the remaining runners. McCurdy judged the rolling start with aplomb once again, the teenager showing no sign of anxiety about the pack queued up on his back bumper for this one. Bell quickly dropped down onto the inside groove to snatch second with Martin next in line and these three edged out a small advantage over Maxwell during the opening exchanges. McCauley originally ran fifth until Hylands worked his way past the Gilford man to take up that position, but there was no such movement up front where McCurdy was comfortably keeping his pursuers at arm’s length. Maxwell eased up onto the back of the lead bunch as the laps ticked down, but it was still very much as-you-were entering the final stages. A few backmarkers on the horizon provided the only real concern for the leader and Bell sensed an opportunity when McCurdy had to move off his preferred line to put a lap on Wilson. Bell was poised to capitalise on any mistake, but McCurdy got the job done in the nick of time before any gap opened up for his closest challenger. After that little moment it was relatively plain sailing for McCurdy over the remaining laps as the teenager took the flag to complete a polished hat-trick of wins. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been that surprised by Jaimie’s performance as the majority of his National Hot Rod wins have been recorded around the Ballymena oval and the teenager has demonstrated before that he is quite adept at running from the front. Bell pocketed another tidy score of points in second, while Martin must have been pleased with his performance considering the damage his Tigra received during the British Championship only 6 days previously. Maxwell was the epitome of consistency as he carded fourth once again, with the top six rounded out by Hylands and Heatrick.
The National Hot Rods were the beneficiaries of the track’s Hot Lap bonus scheme at Round 4 and the £50 award for the fastest lap of the evening, which was kindly donated by LM Motorsport, went to European Champion Hylands with a time of 16.477 seconds in the final. Colin Adair.
Heat 1: 199 9 20 76 4 994 54 960 82 998 996.
Heat 2: 199 20 9 76 4 996 54 960 994 82 998.
Final: 199 9 20 76 54 960 4 996 994 82 998.
Heat 1: 970 261 925 955 208.
Heat 2: 970 925 261 955 208 121
Final: 970 261 955 121
Ed Fahey's great photos in the GALLERY
Colin Adair reports: Andrew Stewart saw his hat-trick hopes dashed by Nigel McCauley at Ballymena Raceway in the closing stages of the feature race at World Qualifying Series NI Round 3 on August 22. Stewart had locked down pole position for the final with a comfortable pair of heat wins and led the feature race for a long distance too before McCauley squeezed ahead in the closing stages. Gary Wilson followed the winner across the line with Stewart Doak in third.
Fourteen entrants were in attendance for Round 3 and it was a case of one in and one out compared to the previous round. Thomas Dilly was an absentee for this one, but Adam Hylands returned after missing Round 2 to prepare, very successfully as I’m pretty sure you are all fully aware, for the 2-Litre Hot Rod World Final at Lochgelly.
A big oil spill during the preceding BriSCA F2 Stock Car race meant all 14 starters were greeted with far from ideal track conditions for their opening heat at a muggy Ballymena Showgrounds. The warm up laps blew away most of the cement dust which had been placed to soak up the dropped fluid and it was Andrew Stewart who led them all away at the green flag. Fellow yellow grader Simon Kennedy only got half a lap in this one before posting a very early retirement as Carl Sloan and Gary Woolsey led the chase after the race leader. Stewart was setting a decent pace out front, but eventually the chasers reeled the leader in and the train behind the lead car grew longer and longer as the laps ticked down. It was crying out for someone to have a go around the outside, but Stewart was not exactly dawdling around up front and it seemed from the stands that the track was still not totally clean either. When those factors were considered it was perhaps not surprising that everyone decided to hold what they had in this one, and it was therefore a line astern run to the chequered flag with Stewart at the head of proceedings to post a good win ahead of Sloan, Woolsey, Stewart Doak and Nigel McCauley, with Mark Heatrick the best of the red grade starters in sixth.
Once again Stewart got the drop on Kennedy at the start of heat two to grab the advantage and within a couple of laps Kennedy had the blue graders looming large on his back bumper. Sloan was the
first to arrive and went for the outside pass, but couldn’t make the move stick and soon found himself relegated by McCauley, Doak and Wilson. Next time around McCauley found a much easier gap
through on the inside of Kennedy which Doak, Wilson and the rest gladly followed as Kennedy fell to the back of the pack. Woolsey was another in trouble a few laps later as the National Champion shed
a number of places around the halfway mark. Up front Stewart continued on his merry way and while the main pack was once again able to hunt down the Stewart’s Garage Tigra no one seemed to have
worked out any plan on how they were going to get by it! That was definitely going to be easier said than done as Stewart was driving very neatly indeed and had no trouble holding his pursuers at bay
once more, with McCauley, Doak, Wilson, Sloan and Heatrick the place men in this one.
669 4 82 940 994 54 199
75 996 960 76 9 20 998
The Anderson Racing Engines Trophy was the prize on offer for the winner of the final where pole sitter Stewart was joined on the front row by Round 2 winner Sloan. The first attempt to get things underway was a scrappy affair, with Stewart away long before the green flag was dropped. Some had waited for the flag and some had followed Stewart’s lead and departed the scene early, so a complete restart was wisely called and the grid lined up again minus Jaimie McCurdy whose Tigra pulled off with a trail of steam or smoke wafting from beneath the bonnet. The second start was exemplary with Stewart and Sloan very evenly matched off the line. Sloan toughed it out for a lap on Stewart’s outside, before dropping back onto the inside line in fourth place behind McCauley and Wilson. Further back Woolsey was in trouble once more and slowed into retirement as the race settled down into a familiar pattern with Stewart leading the way. McCauley, Wilson and Sloan were next up until Maxwell sneaked under the TorqueTronix Tigra on lap 11 to grab fourth. Up front McCauley continued to track the leader, but never looked likely to threaten the status-quo, until Stewart ran slightly wide through Suffolk bend on lap 25. It was the first glimmer of hope Stewart had offered the rest during an otherwise impeccable display and McCauley needed no second invitation, immediately jamming the #4 Tigra up the inside of the lead car. Stewart frantically tried to close the door and the pair argued over the same piece of tarmac all the way down the back straight, with Wilson trapped in behind their squabble with nowhere to go. Fourth placed Maxwell sized up the situation quickly and saw an opportunity to slingshot around all three and into the lead! It looked like a race winning move, but the slightest brush with Stewart’s car on the entry to turn 3 snapped Maxwell’s Tigra sideways. Adam wasn’t about to give up on it just yet however and looked to have pulled off a brilliant save before the Maxwell Freight Services finally got away from him in the middle of turns 3 and 4. McCauley had managed to force the issue out front, but a trackside marker tyre had been knocked onto the edge of the track during the melee for the lead which required a caution period to allow for its safe recovery. McCauley made no mistake from the resumption to carefully complete the remaining laps for what had looked an unlikely win, with Wilson, Doak and Sloan next across the line. Keith Martin was the top red grade finisher in fifth, the 2005 World Champion looking much more like his old self in recent outings, with the finishing order completed by Heatrick, Hylands, Maxwell, Stewart and Kennedy.
It’s easy to suggest that the new grid system has not helped the actual racing so far, but it is clear that any of the drivers starting towards the front of the grid will be very hard to beat no
matter what system is deployed; such is the very high standard of all the competitors in the Northern Ireland Series at present. This was the last round when a driver’s score from the previous
qualifying series was included in their average and those who have struggled so far from the back of the grid will no doubt be hoping for some respite, and a more favourable grid position, at Round
4. Colin Adair.
Heat One: 669 – 75 – 940 – 996 – 4 – 960 – 82 – 76 – 9 – 54 – 994 – 20 – 199
Heat Two: 669 – 4 – 996 – 82 – 75 – 960 – 994 – 76 – 20 – 54 – 9 – 940 – 199 – 998
Final: 4 – 82 – 996 – 75 – 994 – 960 – 54 – 76 – 669 – 998
Heat 1: 261 970 925 420 982 121 nof. DQ 888 and loaded-up.
Heat 2: 261 970 17 955 925 121 982 nof.
Final: 970 261 955 925 121 nof.
Ed Fahey's great photos in the GALLERY
Blood spins it to win it
Graham Brown The three races provided three different winners at Northampton, with Mark Edwards and Brett Walter taking the heats before Jack Blood made off with the final, despite taking a last lap, last bend spin which fortunately still carried him over the finish line.
So, it was off to NIR for round two of the 2016 series and we had 25 takers for this, a figure which is starting to look like the present day “norm”. They included the return of Frank West, Paul Frost, Ivan Grayson and of course, Jason ‘Kewy’ Kew to World Series action, although of these, only Kew was really going to go home with a decent points haul. We were also minus a few who had been at the first round too, with no Lee Pepper, Jason Cooper, Dalton Scarlett, Dan Holden (who was out in a Classic instead) or Alex Meadows.
One welcome returnee was Mark Edwards, last seen in a Peugeot 206 a few years back, but now wheeling the ex-Shane Brereton Tigra, still emblazoned with the distinctive Tor Trucks livery.
Oh and, Colin Smith was back in his BMW, the Tigra presumably still feeling the after effects of it’s unfortunate coming together at Hednesford.
On what was a pleasantly warm and dry afternoon, the cars all lined up for the opening heat, but there was a bit of a commotion before the first race even got underway, when Frank West took the Roberto Guerrero award (Google ‘1992 Indy 500’) by crashing his Merc on the home straight during the warm up laps.
It was Rich Adams’ beautifully re-liveried ex-Gary Woolsey car that owned an initial lead before quickly losing out to Edwards, who was able to pull out a small lead which was in real danger from new second man Walter as they passed mid-distance. It still took a while for Walter to truly get on terms, the two then conducting a very evenly matched dice, often running side by side and with Walter in front several times without ever being able to make a pass stick. It certainly looked as if he might though, especially nearing the finish when Edwards’ mount appeared to be getting more than a touch loose. To add to the leader’s problems, a late yellow also looked a distinct possibility when Mikey Godfrey, Kym Weaver and Chris Haird all had a bit of a ‘scene’ all over the pit bend.
But a caution didn’t prove necessary in the end and Edwards’ lead survived all the way to the chequers.
Adams had another go at leading in the second heat with Edwards just as keen to overtake him from the off. But Adams was definitely quicker this time and not only could Edwards not pass him, he also lost out to Alistair Lowe and Walter.
They hadn’t gone all that far though, when this time they did run into a yellow flag situation, occasioned when Grayson had a half spin along the home straight, maybe after the merest touch with Walter, Grayson overcorrecting into turn one and heading straight for the wall, taking David York and Frost with him.
With the field closed right up for the restart, Walter (running third but on four new tyres and playing his joker) took straight to the outside and was able to slip through to challenge the leader. Walter hit the front after a bit of a struggle with Adams, although he was later to come under the cosh from Blood, who’d taken up second only after a spirited defence of the position by Adams.
Walter’s cause wasn’t really helped by a late caution period either, this time brought on by Shaun Taylor and Weaver colliding on the back straight and Shane Bland spinning in the aftermath. The blame for all this appeared to lie squarely at Danny Fiske’s door and he lost his sixth place finish to a disqualification after the flag. He wasn’t the only one in bother either, with Dick Hillard and Willie Hardie both getting disqualified for passing under the yellows, not a decision which went down very well with Dick, it must be said!
It was basically a five lap dash when the green flag came back out with Walter’s lead really under attack now, and he did well to hold off a last lap outside lunge from Blood too.
With the final grid order sorted, Walter and Blood both looked possible candidates for the win, the pair sharing the front row. But with Jason Kew and Carl Waller-Barrett occupying the third rank (a lot further forward than either of them are used to starting) nobody looked like getting it too easy.
It was Walter who got away first but it didn’t take long for Blood to see the daylight he wanted down Walter’s inside at turn one, Blood going to the front and then pulling out a substantial advantage. It turned out to be substantial enough to keep him in charge every step of the way, despite a determined race-long chase by Kew and Waller-Barrett. But the gap was never actually coming down at any point and even a knot of backmarkers slowing Blood a touch near the finish didn’t really make his lead anything other than very safe.
At least, it was until Jack spun as he took the flag! That was certainly very unexpected and, although I initially thought he might have just done it for a bit of fun, it turned out to be anything
other than planned as he later pointed out the track had got very slippery along there and that he’d had no intention of doing anything of the sort! GB
Heat one: 45,217,31,22,196,304,72,92(-2),174,152,162,491,42,117,305,615,316,55,43,209,136,23,115. NOF
Heat two: 217,92,615,174,162,(304),22,491,115,23,117,55,305,27,45,43. NOF
Final: 92,174,162,217,304,491,117,209,115,31(-2),45,196,72,23,615,27,152,22,55,43. NOF
Penalties: 92 dropped two places in heat one for contact with 316. 304 disqualified from heat two for causing accident involving 152, 209 and 42. 31 dropped two places in final for contact with 304. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation.
Martin Kingston's photos in the GALLERY
Darren Black reports: The National Hot Rods arrived at Aghadowey Oval for Round 2 of PC Paints & Components World Series NI last Friday night, and after Andy Stewart won the opening heat Kells young gun Carl Sloan took over to land a brace of wins in heat two and the final.
There were fourteen cars in action for this round, and whilst all those in attendance were as you'd expect, much of the talk beforehand was of two absentees from the entry. European Champion Adam Hylands was one; he being in Scotland readying himself for what would be a successful bid for the 2.0 Hot Rods World Championship. Adam will be concentrating on his National from now on having secured the 2 Litre gold roof, and the dropped rounds for this campaign mean that he'll be able to 'carry on regardless' although he will have to hope that no major troubles lie ahead of him. The other missing from the action was Wayne Woolsey, who cancelled early in the day after selling the ex-Murray car after just one outing. Sometimes things just aren't for you, and with the pressure on the family of running two cars in the Nationals, Wayne has decided to step aside to the 2.0 Hot Rods for now at least.
The first of the graded order heats saw Stewart the early leader from the front of the yellows ahead of Thomas Dilly and Simon Kennedy, whilst Sloan was first to show from the blues ahead of Gary Wilson and National Champion Gary Woolsey. Keith Martin had set off from the reds like a hare, and he quickly posted some fastest laps of the race as he showed some of the old flair we've been missing in recent times.
Wilson found a gap to relegate Sloan for what was now third spot, trailing Woolsey through in his wake, whilst the battle was every bit as intense further back as British and NI Champ Glenn Bell raced side by side with young Jaimie McCurdy. Stewart managed to break free at the front entering the closing stages, helped by the rest getting onto second man Dilly's case.
Wilson tried in vain to make an outside move on Dilly's Mercedes stick, only succeeding in letting Woolsey up his inside. It all went wrong as they went towards turn one for the final time, as Wilson had got himself back into the queue but a whole raft of contact saw Woolsey pushed wide from behind. Gary fought to control the #940 machine, coming back over the top of Wilson and cannoning into first Mark Heatrick and the Stewart Doak in the process. Heatrick then went wide and smacked the wall, all whilst Stewart coasted home to a rare and very welcome win. Dilly, Sloan, Woolsey, McCauley, Doak and Heatrick was how they crossed the stripe, and despite a lengthy Steward’s Inquiry, no main cause of the incident could be identified with video evidence even inconclusive, so the results stayed as they crossed the line.
Heat two wasn't very old when the yellows got an airing as early pacesetters Dilly and Kennedy tripped over each other on the Brown Trout bend, leaving Simon's car beached on the kerbing. Stewart also departed the fray at this stage, leaving Sloan to lead them back into action ahead of Wilson, Woolsey and McCauley.
As Sloan extended his lead at the top of the leader-board, fastest man on track was once again Keith Martin, and he broke clear from his fellow reds to chase Woolsey past McCauley. Keith was putting big pressure on the National Champ, but that was irrelevant to Sloan as he guided the pretty Torquetronix Tigra to its first win of the campaign. Wilson took second ahead of Woolsey and Martin, with McCauley next up having fended off a big charge from Heatrick and Maxwell in the closing stages.
The accumulated points from the heats saw Sloan on pole for the final with Woolsey alongside, and McCauley and Dilly sharing row two. Sloan made no mistake at the greens, setting off into the lead with Woolsey slamming across into a gap McCauley had left to take second. Heat one winner Stewart retired with mechanical gremlins, as surprisingly perhaps Sloan began to pull clear at the front.
Wilson made his way into third behind Woolsey, with Keith Martin and a whole bunch of star graders getting under Dilly to go fourth. Keith then began to pull clear of those behind as he closed on Wilson. The laps were by now running out, and it quickly looked like Keith was very fearful of what could happen if he took to the outside of Wilson looking for third. With the outside not working at all well, Keith dropped back into the clutches of Doak and Maxwell to buy himself some breathing space, rather than risk being railroaded out of contention.
There were no such problems for Sloan; he coolly put a lap on Dilly and Kennedy as he cruised to a very deserved win indeed. Carl has been impressing on many occasions in the past number of months, and now that he has the experience under his belt he could well be a major force in the campaign ahead. As well as the Ross Hyndman Motors trophy, he also collected a new Hoosier slick courtesy of PC Paints & Components to round out a very fruitful evening for the Kells star. The Woolsey car was obviously not handling to his liking but still managed to salvage an easy second, with Wilson, Keith M, Doak and Maxwell rounding out the top six.
The action now moves back to Ballymena for round three, and whilst the new season has not reached the heights of the previous two so far, hopes are high that the new format will soon spark the formula back to life. Darren Black
Heat One: 669 966 75 940 4 996 960 9 199 76 20 82 994 998
Heat Two: 75 82 940 994 4 960 76 20 9 199 996 966 nof
Final: 75 940 82 994 996 76 9 20 960 199 4 998 966 nof
Brian Lammey’s excellent photos in the GALLERY
Colin Adair reports: Mark Heatrick made the perfect start to the 2016 World Qualifying Series in Northern Ireland with an efficient hat-trick of wins in the opening round at Ballymena Raceway on August 7. On a night of slim pickings for the star names Heatrick was followed home in the feature race by fellow blue grader Gary Wilson, with Derek Martin the top red grade finisher after an eye catching run to third.
Sixteen competitors gathered to contest the opening salvo of the province’s World Qualifying campaign, which will once again benefit from some significant backing from PC Paints & Components. Clive Richardson was the one absentee from the published booking list and those present included Wayne Woolsey, making a welcome return to the National scene at the wheel of the Vauxhall Tigra which carried Andrew Murray to the runner-up spot in the 2015 World Championship at Foxhall. Wayne had retained Andrew’s striking livery on the car, with the TRM logos now replaced by those of NW Property Developments. There was one other significant change to note, as Wayne has registered under 950 rather than his usual 50 for his latest crack at the Nationals. Now that’s a number which I grew up with in these parts, watching his father Norman race for many's a year, and I must admit that I did have to remind myself on a couple of occasions that it was Wayne and not Norman back on track! It’s probably just an age thing on my part, so I’ll no doubt become accustomed to it as the season progresses, and having a driver of Wayne’s calibre on board is certainly another boast to the formula in the province. Wayne was always there or thereabouts during his previous spell in the National class, without ever managing to land one of the major titles, and you always felt that National Rodding was filed under ‘Unfinished Business’ by the two times 2-Litre Hot Rod World Champion.
All sixteen entrants lined up for the opening heat at a dry and pleasantly sunny Ballymena where Simon Kennedy stepped off the front row of the yellow grade to lead them away, with Thomas Dilly and Andrew Stewart in tow. Heatrick, Gary Woolsey and Carl Sloan headed the chase from the blue grade until Sloan spun at Fisherwick bend which relegated the Torquetronix Tigra to the back of the field. Out front Kennedy had edged out a handy gap over his pursuers and looked a likely winner in this one until the Trevor Falloon Motors Tigra pulled up sharply after a loss of power on lap 14, the team subsequently discovering that water had been spraying out of the engine and over the carburettor which had caused the power unit to cut out. Kennedy’s misfortunes left Dilly out front, but Heatrick was right with the new leader and quickly eased around the outside to take it up on the following lap. G. Woolsey attempted to follow Heatrick’s path, but couldn’t quite make the move stick, and that allowed Keith Martin to squeeze under the National Champion’s Tigra for third. Heatrick eased away from this battle over the remaining distance to record a comfortable first win of the evening while K. Martin dived through on the inside of Dilly on the final bend to snatch second at the line. G. Woolsey also relegated Dilly on the run to the flag, with the top six rounded out by Wilson and Adam Hylands.
Kennedy had managed to cure the problems below the bonnet in time for heat two which ensured a full complement of sixteen starters took the green flag. The team had certainly done a good job too as Kennedy sprinted into the lead of this one, but Heatrick was quickly on the march as well from the blues and made short work of Dilly and Stewart to run second by lap 7. The front two were soon together and with no imminent pressure from behind Heatrick was free to attack and instantly took to the outside line once more. Kennedy defended his lead with vigour and the pair sat it out side by side for a number of laps before Heatrick eventually made the move stick on lap 15. While that feisty scrap had been simmering away up front Nigel McCauley was consigned to the back of the pack after a spin on lap 9 and Stewart dropped out of third on lap 11 with smoke wafting from the back of his Tigra. Stewart’s demise promoted Dilly to third, but that place was still far from his own just yet, with K. Martin, G. Woolsey and Wilson all hard on his case. Martin was the first to have a go around the outside, but Dilly saw off that attack with some spirited defensive work and Wilson’s attempt looked doomed to a similar outcome when his foray to the outside saw him initially go backwards, behind Martin and Woolsey, rather than forwards. Wilson was stuck on the outside now, but rather than bemoan his fate the Ballyclare haulier got his head down and started to make the wider line work quite nicely indeed. Wilson dragged his way back alongside Woolsey and Martin, both still tucked up behind Dilly at this point, and then skirted around Dilly on the penultimate lap to secure third after a fine effort. Woolsey had a long hard think about trying the same move on the final lap, but thought better of it and tucked back in behind the 966 Mercedes to leave the finishing order as Heatrick, Kennedy, Wilson, Dilly, Woolsey and K. Martin.
960 82 994 20 75 199 996 9
940 966 54 76 998 950 4
In accordance with the new format for the 2015/16 campaign the grid for the Broughshane Car Dismantlers sponsored final was calculated by the results obtained in the heat races. Heatrick was obviously a shoe-in for pole and was joined on the front row by National Champion Woolsey, while Stewart’s problem in heat two proved terminal to leave us with 15 starters for the feature race. A rolling start was deployed by the steward for this one, but the initial attempt didn’t get too far at all before McCurdy, W. Woolsey and Doak clashed going past the start line. A full restart was called, with Woolsey unfortunately unable to rejoin the action, while Doak soldiered on despite some obvious damage to the rear wing of the Cirrus Plastics Tigra. The second attempt got a little further before it all kicked off again, at the entry to turn one this time, when McCurdy dived for the merest of gaps on the inside of Sloan. That opening was only getting even smaller the further Sloan got into the turn and the inevitable contact between the pair sent the 75 car wide and loose through the bend where the luckless Dilly got caught up in their tangle as well. When the dust settled Dilly had come to a rest in a dangerous spot at the exit of turn two and the steward wisely pulled the field up again until the track was cleared. Neither Dilly or Sloan were in any shape to rejoin however so it was 12 runners who received the green flag again where Heatrick took full advantage of his pole position slot to dart into the lead. Fellow front row starter Woolsey was not so lucky however. Gary tried his hardest to drop down onto the inside groove, but could find no gaps at all in the pack as Wilson, K. Martin, D. Martin, Adam Maxwell and Hylands squeezed him back to seventh during the opening couple of laps. Heatrick set a brisk pace out front and even at this early stage looked to have this one sewn up, while Derek M. ducked under his uncle Keith to snatch third on lap 5. Hylands elbowed his way past Maxwell on lap 12 and the pair swapped paint again at the following bend as Adam M let his namesake know just what he thought of his overtaking manoeuvre! Hylands found a way around K. Martin as well to grab fourth as Derek M began to apply the pressure to Wilson for second. Martin got his Tigra well up the outside of Wilson on many occasions, and was as much as half a car length in front at certain points, but could never quite get his car fully clear of the equally determined Wilson. It was a very clean and tidy scrap, with both drivers giving each other plenty of room, and we could have all happily watched it for many more laps, but the outline of Hyland’s Tigra looming larger and larger in his rear view surely signified to Martin that the window of opportunity to get this done was reducing rapidly. Martin made one final attempt around the outside, but the pack was nearly with them now and, perhaps sensibly, Martin decided to drop back into line behind Wilson rather than risk being railroaded down through the field. While all this was going on we had nearly forgotten about Heatrick up front, but the pole sitter had been diligently going about his work and stroked the Heatrick Demolition Tigra home well clear of the field to complete an accomplished hat-trick of wins. Wilson was good value for second, and his results for the evening propelled the Ballyclare based racer to the top of the £500 Track Championship standings to boot, while Martin looked very sharp on his way to third, the best result of the evening for a ‘red’ grade driver. Hylands and Maxwell both received a two place penalty from the steward for their earlier antics, which promoted K. Martin to fourth and G. Woolsey to fifth. Hyands, Bell and Maxwell were classified in positions 6 to 8, with Doak, Kennedy, McCauley and McCurdy the remaining finishers.
All in all an intriguing start to the new campaign. The current strength in depth of the formula in Northern Ireland, and the extra places now available to the province’s racers on the World Final grid, means that everyone on the starting grid at a qualifying round is now a genuine contender for a spot at the World Championship. It’s certainly way too soon to make any definitive judgement on the merits of the new race format for the final. Sure, the pole sitter walked away with this one, but Mark was really on it all evening and there is every likelihood that he would have won the final under the old system as well. Plenty to ponder and plenty to look forward to as well! Colin Adair
Heat 1: 960 994 940 966 82 54 20 199 76 950 996 4 9 669 75 nof
Heat 2: 960 998 82 966 940 75 54 76 994 20 996 950 199 9 4 nof
Final: 960 82 20 994 940 54(X-2) 9 76(X-2) 996 998 4 199 nof
Heat 1: 970 142 261 420 955 888 121 982 nof.
Heat 2: 142 955 970 261 420 982 121 nof.
Final: 970 142 261 955 420 121 nof.
Ed Fahey's great photos in the GALLERY
Walter’s back-to-work hat-trick
Ipswich 11th July 2015 - World Series (England) 1
Graham Brown Brett Walter put himself firmly in the spotlight from the word go as the Nationals got back on the World Series trail and Walter nailed a hat-trick of wins together to make a great start towards appearing on the 2016 World final grid.
Twenty-six cars was a reasonable enough turn out for the return to World Series racing and certainly included a fair few points of interest with quite a number of either new or returning drivers adding spice to the evening.
Obviously though, the main talking point was the debut of BriSCA ace Andy Smith, the five-time F1 world champion having generated more column and Facebook inches than any other driver in the run up to the event. I managed to get a few minutes with Andy prior to the start of the meeting to get the lowdown on how the drive came about.
“Stock cars is finished for me, I’ve ticked that box – done. I haven’t raced for nigh on four years in anything. We came to speed weekend, I enjoyed it thoroughly, and on the Sunday I thought the Hot Rod World Final was a cracking race. I’ve always liked Hot Rods and for quite a while I’ve just fancied having a shot in one. There’s no big masterplan going on here or anything like that.
“I got talking to Dick Hillard socially about how I’d like to have a shot, and then, as we got a few more vodkas down us, we talked a bit more, and before you know it he’d contacted Deane and Deane said he’d provide a car. And he and his son Billy have been fantastic to let me have a go in their car, and I appreciate it.
“We went to Aldershot testing Thursday, just did a couple of sessions, and we altered the seat and steering column to get me a bit more comfy. It was obviously very strange, very alien to what I’m used to do. But within about five or six laps I felt like I was going reasonably well. By watching Billy I could see where I was going a bit wrong, so when I went out again I tried to simulate what he’d done. But I didn’t attempt to over-drive the car, these are skittish little things. To drive one reasonably fast, I think is perhaps not too challenging if you’ve got a lot of experience of racing. To drive one very fast must be very hard. I’ve got a lot of respect for these guys who are running at the top level in this job. You know, a lot gets made of Stock Cars versus Hot Rods and I’ve heard it all over the years, and a lot of it is bullshit really, drummed up by people who are ignorant. I’ve always had the utmost respect for the Hot Rod racers, it’s a different discipline, it’s much harder to make a passing move than it ever is in a Stock Car and you’ve got to appreciate what they do, you know? Let’s see if I can hold my own, that’s all I want to do. My ambition tonight is to get all my laps in, and get three races in; then I’ll be more than happy. If I can just enjoy it, get a feel for the car, not mess anybody up, not do anything daft or get in anybody’s road, that’ll do.”
While Andy might have been the one attracting all the attention, there were still lots of other runners and riders for rod watchers to take note of. Not least of all there was Willie Hardie back again, in an all-new Tigra, although it had already been blooded by Davy Philp at the World Final.
Superstox racers Alex Meadows (in the borrowed Paul Frost car) and Jason Cooper were making their first outing and return to World Series racing respectively. Other
complete newcomers to WS racing included Dalton Scarlett in his highly distinctive VW Corrado, and Rich Adams in the ex-Gary Woolsey Tigra.
Rob McDonald seemed to be trying to confuse us by returning his car to its previous white colour scheme (it’s a different set of panels apparently) and he might not be the only one, as Martin Heath has switched his number from 242 to 66. Should be entertaining when John vd Bosch is racing and Raceceivers are in use….but maybe John will revert to his old number of 6.
As Walter stepped off the front row of the grid to lead the opening race away, Andy Smith picked up a big dose of wheel spin, allowing Lee Pepper and Dick Hillard to blast past at the green. He soon latched onto their tails however and was able to chase them round until overwhelmed by the main pack coming up behind, at which point Andy sensibly stepped aside rather than get too involved.
Up front, Walter continued to head Aaron Dew and Chris Lehec in the major places, with Dew slowly closing the gap to the leader until the pair starting encountering traffic. But Walter made a better job of dealing with the backmarkers and came back onto the open road with an increased lead of not far short of a quarter of a lap, which he carried all the way to the finish.
Andy Smith meanwhile, made it to the finish unscathed and was hardly disgraced in the unfamiliar company, car, and direction of racing. He made a much better start to the second heat too but still managed to get jumped by two or three of the regulars.
It was Walter and Dew who again set the pace at the top of the leader board, while Smith continued what was becoming something of a baptism of fire when, after a spin in turn one, he tangled with Colin Smith at the end of the back straight, the pair of them ending up stopped against the Armco.
With half distance already passed, Dew’s efforts to catch up with Walter were assisted greatly when a caution was thrown after Adams smacked the barriers exiting turn two and sent a loose wheel bowling down the track. There was only a five lap dash to the flag left when racing resumed, and it looked very much as though Dew had missed his opportunity when Walter took off like a rocket, making a great getaway to ensure win number two.
The final line-up was subject to the new qualifying system and, with drivers like Chris Haird and Carl Waller-Barrett starting further forward than is customary, if there was any chance of Walter’s hat-trick being spoiled this was definitely it.
He got away fast once again but this time it was not Dew doing the chasing but Lehec, with Dew relegated to third. Their situation remained unchanged by mid-distance, although the hard trying Hillard was up to fourth and closing on all of them. The placemen all came a lot closer together as a result of some underfoot backmarkers, but Hillard unfortunately disappeared to the infield during one of the skirmishes.
That left Waller-Barrett and McDonald looking the men most likely to hunt down the leaders if anybody could, and it was Waller-Barrett who continued his advance towards the front for the rest of the way, taking Lehec with five laps to go and reducing Walter’s lead somewhat. It was far too late for him to prevent the leader from wrapping up a flawlessly taken hat trick however.
OK, so Walter had won all three races, and there were a few people who were already saying that the new system doesn’t work. I’d say it’s far too soon to know if it does or not but, firstly, Brett is a much better driver than his grid position and average suggest, so he was always going to be a serious hat-trick contender from where he started. And secondly, if you want to get some idea of whether the new system is doing anything useful, you really need to look at the placemen. I don’t think the positions gained by Waller-Barrett, Chris Haird or McDonald were too bad at all and, on any other day, the leader might well have been caught – particularly by Hillard if he’d been able to keep going.
As the meeting finished well before curfew time, and Andy Smith’s fellow F1 ace Mick Sworder had been an interested spectator all night, Dean Wood suggested that maybe they’d like to go out and do a few laps in the two 305 cars just for fun. Nobody took too much persuading!
Firstly, Smith drove the 305 car and Sworder jumped in the 391 – well, I say ‘jumped’, he probably inserted himself into the cockpit with great care, given that he is a lot taller than Andy and had to borrow a race suit from Danny Fiske, as the only other driver likely to have one which fitted.
They did a 20 lap demo run before stopping to switch over, with Sworder getting into the 305 and Billy Wood then driving the 391, the two doing another similar stint
before noisy time was at an end.
I went and had a quick de-brief with Andy and Mick afterwards.
“I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the night as a whole.” said Andy.
“I would have liked to have finished the last race but I didn’t manage to. I was getting lapped and wanted to keep out of the way of the leaders, then just clipped the kerb and knocked a rose joint off. OK, I didn’t do that good but, having said that, I enjoyed it, it was an experience. I had a go in Billy’s car at the end of the meeting, and I felt more comfortable in that car to be honest. It didn’t feel as nervous going in the corners. I could go in much quicker and the car stayed stable.
“But I would have another go. I think it’s a good thing to get people from other types of racing out in it, it’s good for the profile of the sport. But it’s not just the driving side of it, I’ve enjoyed being part of it, and it’s been an eye-opener”
How about having your own car?
“Well…I don’t know….possibly. I’ve been talking to a few of the lads and getting an idea of the budget you need to put a top, top line car together. I mean, you see cars round the 15-20,000 mark….but then you speak to some of the guys and you have to go up a little bit from that. They’re a high level of oval racing so they’re going to be a certain level of money. It’s something that I’m not ruling out just ‘cos I’ve had a bit of a poor night; I didn’t expect to pull any trees out tonight, I wasn’t here for that.”
Mick saw me coming and immediately started joking about how dreadful it had been and how much he’d hated it….
….won’t matter that you’re still banned then!
“Nah, I enjoyed it really, it was good of Deane to let me have a go round, and it was great. He said I could have a race in one and if the opportunity’s there, of course I’d have a go, yeah – I’d love to! I don’t know whether I could race them full time though. They are good to drive but they’re harder work to drive than our cars are, without a doubt. You’ve really got to hang onto the steering wheel.” GB
Heat one: 217,23,615,161,305,31,162,27,117,196,115,152(-2),304,491,209,42,482,72,92,22,391,55,176,78. NOF
Heat two: 217,23,196,615,27,305,115,31(-2),161,162(-2),42,117,92(-2), 152,304,155,482,209,72,66,55. NOF
Final: 217,162,615,115,117,23,42,304(-2),92,196,209,305,27,482,72,161,152,155,491,66,55,176. NOF
Penalties: 152 dropped two places in heat one for contact. 31 dropped two places in heat two for contact. 162 dropped two places in heat two for contact. 92 dropped two places in heat two for contact. 304 dropped two places in final for contact. Note that all results & penalties are subject to official confirmation
Martin Kingston and Steve Weston's great photos in the GALLERY
Tipperary 11th July 2015 - World Series (Ireland) 1
Heat 1: 970 420 17 261 955 925 nof.
Heat 2: 420 261 955 925 970 nof.
Final: 970 261 955 925 420 nof.
Also present: 888 982
Ed Fahey's great photos in the GALLERY