2005 British Open Championship
Nutts Corner September 2, Ballymena Raceway September 3
Thompson storms the British
Darren Black reports: Ian Thompson continued the excellent start to his National Hot Rod career when he took the spoils in the British Open Championship staged over Nutts Corner Oval and Ballymena Raceway on September 2/3. Consistency over the five qualifying heats gained Thompson pole position for the final and he never looked back to record a commanding victory ahead of Stewart Doak and Malcolm Blackman.
A good entry of 17 cars competed over the weekend, with the visitors headed by European Champion Blackman, who had Chris Haird, Dick Hillard and Wilson Hamilton for company from England. From the Republic of Ireland came a quintet of Tom Casey, Des Cooney, Joey Butler, Mike Riordan and Les Compelli, while the local entry was boosted by the return of defending champion Clive Richardson. Three all in heats would be raced at Nutts Corner Oval, before a further two and the final at Ballymena.
< 996 976 151 142 980 901 921 994 961
< 940 50 911 177 962 115 904 31
Stewart Doak stepped off pole into an early lead in this one but the reds were soon flying when Clive Richardson clipped the wall entering the back straight before ploughing headlong into the turn 3 fencing with broken steering. John Christie was another to get caught up in the melee and both were missing from the restart, which saw Dick Hillard take a rolling start at the back with clutch problems. Doak again made no mistake, with Gary Woolsey getting a better start this time to hold second. His brother Wayne was in third ahead of Blackman, while further back Ian Thompson was making great strides towards the front. Wayne W then spun his third place away at turn 2, gifting the place to Blackman who was now under severe pressure from Thompson. Doak held on for a good win, ahead of Gary W, Blackman and Thompson, who had a small fire in his brakes at the end. Chris Haird showed well in fifth, ahead of Des Cooney and World Champion Keith Martin.
Result: 996, 940, 911, 901, 115, 921, 994, 961, 151, 31, 142, 980. nof
< 115 177 31 940 911 962 50
< 901 921 142 961 994 996 151 980
Thompson beat Haird away from the clutch start to heat 2, but those expecting him to drive off into the distance were in for a surprise. Haird had got the Corrado well dialled in to the new track, and was soon following Thompson’s every move. It all ended in tears though, as Chris smacked the wall on the River Bend, eventually getting going again in midfield. Next time around Joey Butler met the same fate as it became clear that some kind of fluid was on the track, and the reds were quickly called for. It turned out to be gear oil from a blown diff on the Wayne Woolsey car, and a major clean up operation was required before the restart. Thompson led them away again ahead of Cooney and Mike Riordan, with Martin, Doak and Gary W making good efforts as they moved through the field. Blackman was struggling to get past Tom Casey, and as the starter readied the blue flag for the Waterford man, Blackman got his nose in and turned the #961 car aside, earning himself a black cross next time around. John Christie’s torrid night continued, as he was the innocent party of the incident after getting baulked by Casey’s spinning Focus. Thompson led them home, ahead of Riordan, Martin, Doak and Cooney.
Res: 901, 142, 994, 996, 921, 940, 115, 911 (x-2), 31, 962, 151, 961. nof
< 994 961 151 921 996 901 142
< 31 962 911 940 115 177
Hillard grabbed the lead from the outside ahead of Martin in the final Nutts Corner qualifier, a race that turned out to be no great advertisement for National Hot Rod Racing. Martin looked outside Hillard a number of times but couldn’t quite make it, whilst further back Thompson was making good progress through a field that seemed intent on swapping paint at every opportunity. Martin’s efforts ended when broken front suspension forced him to a halt and retirement. Frequent NI visitor Hillard held on for a popular win, ahead of the consistent Doak, Thompson, Blackman and Cooney.
Res:31, 996, 901, 911, 921, 961, 115, 940, 962. nof
< 31 911 940 115 50 901 177
< 980 996 904 142 961 994 921
On to Ballymena for a further two heats, and Hillard was looking to capitalise again with a front row draw. Christie, Butler and Richardson were absent, so we were down to just 14 cars for the nights racing. Dick duly led them away, while a slow starting Will Scott baulked points leader Doak. Stewart really needed to get to the inside as he fell back, but his efforts to cut in front of Wilson Hamilton saw him get bumped into a spin, which gave the waved yellows an airing. Hillard was still ahead, but had Blackman, Gary W and Haird right with him, but none prepared to risk anything on the infamous Ballymena outside line. Further back Wayne W and Thompson were having a real ding-dong battle, Wayne no doubt incensed that Ian had possibly used the grass to get inside him at the start. Wayne was all over Thompson, but when he looked wide for the pass he only succeeded in letting Martin through instead. Hillard held on for another good win from Blackman, Gary W, Haird and Casey.
Result: 31, 911, 940, 115, 961, 901, 994, 50, 996, 921, 142, 980, 177.
< 921 994 961 904 996 980 177
< 901 115 940 911 31
Riordan had loaded up before the last heat, and we were also missing Wayne W who was still working to rectify problems in the pits. Cooney led them away, but was soon relegated by Martin who took up the running. Thompson immediately looked outside Cooney, before Casey hit Des from the rear into turn 3, taking Thompsout wide with him. Casey moved through, but Ian soon found a gap on the inside to take second back as Casey lost out big time when helped into a spin by Cooney. Martin was well ahead by now though, Keith taking a well deserved victory ahead of Thompson, Haird and Hamilton.
Result: 994, 901, 115, 904, 996, 911, 940, 921, 31, 980, 177, 961.
2005 British Open Championship Final
< 901 911 940 921 961 980
< 996 115 31 994 177 50
Thompson made no mistake at the start of the big race, and duly took up the front running position. A slow starting Blackman allowed Doak to get to the all important inside line in second, and back in the field a coming together saw Haird, Cooney, Casey and Hillard all lose valuable time. Doak was giving it all he had, but just had no answer to Thompson, who gradually pulled out a gap that would be the length of a straight by flag fall. Stewart withstood a bit of heat from Blackman initially before making second his own. Casey and Les Compelli both retired, and Hillard spun on to the infield, but nothing could stop Thompson from taking his second major title in a month, and all this just a few short months into his National Hot Rod career. Doak claimed a fine second, ahead of Blackman and Gary W. Martin had a lonely race to fifth, ahead of Wayne W, who nursed a very sick car for most of the final to sixth, Cooney and Haird.
2005 British Open Championship Result: 901, 996, 911, 940, 994, 50, 921, 115, 980.