United Downs Raceway - Sunday 3rd November 2013

Report by Jon Wyatt

For the third time in a row rain has fallen on the good people of Cornwall early on race day at the United Downs track but unlike the previoius two dates, when conditions have steadily improved during the afternoon, today the weather simply deteriorated with gusting winds and rain, rain, rain - so much so that half-way through the afternoon the good ole' boys and girls from the St Johns ambulance brigade were replaced by the RNLI..............  For once the BBC weather forecasters got it spot-on but despite this almost all those drivers that booked in to race actually turned up - and full credit to them all too - but not one seller actually turned up at my local car-boot sale which was a real downer. On a day when competitors almost outnumbered spectators you could have been forgiven for thinking that this final meeting of the 2013 season would be a wash-out but instead the racing from all three formulas was top-notch.

ORCi Stock Rods

It was Grand National Championship time for the nippy non-contact Stock Rods and all but two of those that had booked the meeting arrived to race - which proves two things: the importance of this Championship to these drivers and the undoubted commitment of each one. Conditions were simply appalling for a non-contact formula but surprisingly the racing was still superb, with some excellent dicing and very little contact to concern the race steward - leaving him plenty of time to work his way through the tin of Cadbury's Roses that some folk from the Stock Rod community had so kindly left in Race Control! The Championship race was the first event of the day and 20 cars lined up in qualifying order. Cheddar's 441 Tom Major was pole-man with local star 151 Simon Vincent in the super-smart ex-John Harding Nova saloon on his outside, and from the start these two engaged in a fascinating race-long battle for the lead, with Vincent particularly adventurous - and at times stubborn - adopting some brave outside-line driving in an attempt to pass the rapid Nova of 441 Major. 151 Vincent did very briefly lead, at the green, after coming out of turn 4 for the first time, sliding sideways and almost collecting 441 Major, causing him to brake, but a lap later Major was able to slip through on the inside through turn 4 after 151 Vincent went wide in an attempt to find a quicker line, a course of action that he followed for the majority of the race. Further back the order, former double GNC Champion 306 Neil Truran experienced differential problems with his Toyota Starlet.  Several other drivers did try and get on terms with the two leaders, 40 Rick Cornell passing Vincent down the inside early on as the 151 pilot doggedly maintained his outside line technique, and almost passing leader 441 Major too when 26 Alan Furse had a moment in front of the leading trio, causing the 441 car to swerve across the track but somehow Major managed to wrestle the car back into a straight line to maintain the lead - as 92 Adam Daniels joined in the battle at the front. As we reached half-distance it is still 441 Major who leads, with 151 Vincent still stuck on that outside line constantly swapping 2nd place with 40 Cornell - Vincent quicker on the straights and Cornell gaining the advantage through the corners. With 8 laps to run 151 Vincent has shaken off 40 Cornell, who now has fastest man in pre-race practise 437 Lewis Trickey to contend with, and once again concentrates on chasing 441 Major down. 4 to go and Vincent is once again right on the back bumper of leader Major as the pair work their way through the back-markers in the very wet and slippery conditions, still keeping to the outside line Vincent seems to be the quicker car down the straights and on the final lap the two cars are level as they go down the main straight for the last time but somehow 441 Major keeps his cool and just manages to exit turn 4 ahead and take the chequered flag by no more than the length of a front wing, spectacular stuff, bearing in mind the track is very, very wet and the rain is falling. 437 Trickey was a close 3rd from 92 Daniels - with 909 Justin Washer docked two places for avoidable contact the only incident to report in what was a very quick and enjoyable race.
18 cars made it out for the first of two Allcomers races and with the rain now constant, conditions were again simply awful. 26 Alan Furse was the early leader - and 3 Matt Peters an early spinner, ending up facing in the wrong direction in the middle of the track on turn 3, but continuing after all the other cars had passed safely. In spite of the wet track conditions a good early battle shaped up at the front between 26 Furse and 675 Martin Nash, with the latter getting ahead - as once again 3 Peters spins on turn 3, before getting one on the nose from 151 Simon Voncent in the pretty Nova saloon . 675 Nash continued to lead past half-distance from 22 Wayne Belcher, 555 Greg Radmore and 23 Ross Stuckey and this is how it remained until, with 4 laps to run, 675 Nash tripped over back-marker 54 John Tait just as 22 Belcher was attempting to pass him on the outside, with 555 Radmore then leaning the 22 car toward the fence on the exit of turn 2, which allowed Radmore to pass both down the inside. Nash recovered to hang on in 2nd but he now had 92 Adam Daniels for company and as the two began the final lap 92 passed the 675 car before setting about leader Radmore. With the two cars going down the back straight almost together it was always going to be close through turns 3 and 4, and it was, with 92 Daniels getting the best drive out of the corner and just crossing the line first - but then 555 Radmore was docked two places for the contact with 22 Belcher, promoting Nash back up to a deserved 2nd and 23 Stuckey to an excellent 3rd on his track debut.
The second Allcomers race was run in absolutely appalling conditions, the constant heavy rain had formed deep puddles and there was standing water along the back straight which certainly made things difficult for the 14 starters. 26 Alan Furse took the lead from the green and by lap 3 was almost the length of the start/finish straight ahead as the following pack struggled to make progress through the rain and spray. 675 Nash was driving a steady race in 2nd and as he got into his stride began to close the gap on leader Furse, with 555 Radmore again on the pace in 3rd. These positions remained the same past half-distance, with several cars coming to grief after going through the deep puddle/lake (!) that had formed at the end of the back straight - including 12 Kev Hockings, 49 Kev Lock and earlier race winner 92 Adam Daniels. With 5 laps to go Radmore had moved up into 2nd and 3 Matt Peters to 3rd, both now closing the gap rapidly to leader Furse. 3 to go and Furse's lead definitely looks under threat but as Radmore attempts to pass the 26 car he hits the water at the end of the main straight - and then hits the number 3 car of Peters, spinning it aside. Radmore somehow recovers and continues in 2nd but loses it again at the end of the back straight the next time around, spinning and this time wiping out 3rd place man 22 Wayne Belcher - which leaves 26 Furse now clear at the front, the Exeter man going on to take a maiden win, from the impressive 23 Ross Stuckey and new Grand National Champion (and now Points Champion) 441 Tom Major. Only seven finished. Spectacular stuff then from the 'non-contact' (?) Stock Rods!

Autospeed Bangers

As has been the norm throughout the 2013 season an excellent turnout of 52 cars arrived at the United Downs raceway, this time to contest the annaul Supreme Championship. With no defending Champion in the shape of 246 Ryan Sparks (absent at a christening) on hand it was left to brother 247 Richard to keep the Sparks' family flag flying - which he did, in some style too. Before the big race itself though there was a single last-chance qualifier and with the rain falling and on a very wet track 26 cars lined up - including Lightning Recovery man 254 Will Blight in an early 1980s Rover 213S, maintaining the team's unusual car record, though one had to wonder if the Bodmin man was going to find this now quite rare machine as quick as his last race-winning mount, an Alfa-Romeo 156! At the start the wet conditions certainly caught a few out, with several spinners and cars coming to grief at each end of the track, but 999 John Glover was the first to master the tricky conditions, taking the early lead. 100 Alec Jenner though was also going well and soon took over at the front when 947 Luke Purdy took care of 999 Glover on the start/finish straight, going on to take a more than comfortable win from 947 Purdy, 235 Toby Brooks, 88 Louie Howell and 457 Jon Bright - who all went through to the title event.
The Supreme Championship saw 29 cars out on the wet track with odds-on favourite 247 Richard Sparks in a smart fresh Honda Accord lined up next to the well used but still rapid Ford Puma of 87 Paul 'Shakey' Lawer on the front row. At the green Sparks took off like a bullet from a gun, whilst further back there was a big pile-up on the start/finish straight. By the end of lap 1 though 247 Sparks already had a two-thirds-of-a-straight advantage over the chasing pack, and as 451 Mickey Reed and 920 Wayne Wadge had a big coming together on turn 4, was already up amongst the back markers, the black and green Honda somehow managing to find the traction that others simply couldn't........... 845 Albert Haines was the next to come to grief on turn 4, colliding with the now empty 920 car, with 87 Lawer and team-mate 654 Mark Pope also having a brief moment on turn 3 as Sparks continued to power his way even further ahead. Just as it looked as if Sparks was in complete control he was leaned into the turn 3 fence by the recovered Puma of 87 Lawer which allowed 2nd place 910 Katie Dawe to close the gap and briefly take the lead, but the 247 driver managed to extricate himself and continue. Lawer was the centre of attention once more a lap later when 372 Jay Matthews gave him a stiff one on the start/finish straight, leaving the battered Puma against the fence and facing the on-coming traffic - which brought out the waved yellows. Sparks had just regained the lead as the race was suspended, and he led away the restart from 910 Dawe and the Honda Civic of 929 Sam Baker and with the pack now closed up this seemed a perfect opportunity for someone to make a name for themselves but at the green it was 247 Sparks who once again made an electric start, going on to take an untroubled win - keeping the Supreme Championship title in the Sparks family for another year. 910 Dawe steered her lively Mondeo to 2nd, just ahead of the man who finished 'runner-up' in the recent 'Rookie World Final' at Ipswich 929 Sam Baker.
The consolation saw 20 out on the rain-soaked track with 612 Lee Pink the long-time leader before his car packed up with 3 to go handing the lead to 320 Dan Abbott. 45 Mike Reed then passed Abbott on the penultimate lap but coming out of turn 4 for the final time cheeky Abbott spun the Honda Accord of 45 Reed across the track to snatch the win!
25 cars lined up for the final and with the heavy rain causing havoc around the raceway it was difficult at times to see all the action. 421 Chris Luke took the early lead but was nudged wide by the Focus of 818 Terry Rowe. In spite of the conditions the race pace was quick, with the Mondeo of 910 Katie Dawe particularly impressive and from the second row of the yellow grade she had already taken over at the front by lap two. 247 Richard Sparks was again going well but kept turning his attentions to spinning the Puma of 87 Lawer - which slowed his progress - but even he would have had his work cut out to catch the flying Dawe who went on to take a convincing win, from 235 Toby Brooks.
The last race of the day - and the 2013 St Day season - was the Allcomers and 14 brave souls took to the track - or 'pool' as it now resembled! 907 Gary Sillifant took the early lead and for a while looked comfortable in the wet conditions but then got it all wrong going round turn 3, clobbering the stranded 654 Mark Pope hard on the driver's side - unintentionally and thankfully without injury to the Ford Puma driver, but bringing about a race stoppage. 247 Richard Sparks led away the remaining seven cars at the re-start, the new Supreme Champion going on to take an easy win from 804 Treve Wills, wrapping up a very lively and entertaining season from the always well subscribed Autospeed Bangers.

ORCi Ministox

When the youngsters last raced at United Downs in October one driver, 907 Cameron Lawrence, recorded that oh-so-rare feat of winning all three races and although that day the conditions were dry it was always going to be interesting to see if the young Newton Abbot star could repeat the exerecise in conditions that were almost the complete opposite. The wet weather was always going to be difficult for the nine young boys and girls but in all sincerity each and every one of them coped brilliantly - including 917 Warren Darby, who was making his track debut, and 943 Hannah Esau who was only racing in her third meeting - with not a single race stoppage or anyone coming to the attention of the steward. Yellow grader 951 Aiden Vincent was the early leader of heat 1 but from the red grade 986 Sophie Fasey was charging through the pack, taking 3rd by lap 3 and the lead a lap later - with the always consistent 989 Joey Marquand following her closely. Once at the front there was no-one to trouble Miss Fasey and the current Cornish and Essex Champion went on to take a reasonably easy win from 989 Marquand who survived a last bend assault from 907 Cameron Lawrence who was finding the conditions not completely to his liking but still coming home in 3rd. Heat 2, and even though the rain was getting more intense the standard of driving from the 9 young starters was again high, with 951 Aiden Vincent once more leading the pack at the start - but this time it was 907 Cameron Lawrence who was the first of the red grade to show, getting the jump on 986 Fasey at the start. A lap later though positions were reversed and once past Lawrence, 986 Fasey made short work of getting to the front - and that is where she remained - though 907 Lawrence was always close but just out of striking distance, finishing an improved 2nd, just ahead of Grampound's 910 Tom Cadby who drove well to keep 989 Marquand behind him. Track conditions for the meeting final were truly awful but even this failed to stop the impressive Fasey from getting to the front of the pack once more - though 951 Aiden Vincent did very well to lead past half-distance, battling with 987 Ethan Pope for several laps. It was, however, Sophie Fasey's day and for the second meeting in a row one driver had won all three races, which in itself is quite a feat, and with father 'uncle' Leon now retired from oval racing the good name of Fasey would seem to be in very capable hands. 989 Joey Marquand took his second runner-up finish of the day, with 907 Cameron Lawrence finishing 3rd - but ALL the drivers deserved credit for their efforts.

That's it for 2013 - thank's for reading!!

Stock Rods 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
GNC 441 151 437 92 40 306 12 909 49 83
Allcomers 1 92 675 23 555 437 26 49 441 40 83
Allcomers 2 26 23 441 83 71 3 22 nof
Ministox 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 986 989 907 987 951 910 931 917 943 nof
Heat 2 986 907 910 989 931 987 951 943 917 nof
Final 986 989 907 987 951 910 931 943 nof
Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Last Chance 100 947 235 88 457 622 358 818 479 421
Supreme 247 910 929 235 406 677 60 862 938 185
Consolation 320 804 87 45 511 416 194 930 182 999
Final 910 235 247 929 804 60 479 87 358 511
Allcomers 247 804 479 100 912 907 nof
Grade Awards W 818, 421 Y 910, 804, 947 B 60, 406, 677 R 247, 235, 929
Best Presented 153 254 845
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