Northampton International Raceway - Good Friday 3rd April 2015

Autospeed’s traditional Good Friday meeting at Northampton’s Pr1mo International Raceway once again produced the goods in terms of car numbers, with the pit area busy for the BriSCA F2 Stock Cars, Saloon Stock Cars and National Hot Rods.  Despite the weather forecast for rain throughout the meeting, the first half was actually run in dry conditions.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

The BriSCA F2 Stock Cars entry was 51 cars, actually the highest total of 2015 so far and as is the tradition included drivers from all four corners of the country and just about all points in-between and actually beyond, with a visit from Dutch points Champion H124 Wim Peeters.  Prior to racing most of those eligible and present for the Young Guns and Teen Sensations championships gathered for the photo call, for the launch of the 2015 campaign that will culminate at in the feature races at Smeatharpe on June 20 and 21.  The first heat saw a flag to flag win for 359 Gary Wrench whilst heat two saw 913 Pete Bartram get into the lead early on, and it was one he was not to lose whilst there was drama behind when 341 Drew Lammas suffered a large engine blow.  Thankfully there was not a major incident on the resultant oil slick, but it made the going slippery.  The consolation saw an early yellow flag when 109 Stu Biddle spun in the pack and trigged off a crash involving several, and 963 Lee Carlin was left stranded across the track.  578 Mark Gibbs went on to hold off 768 Tom Adcroft all the way to the flag.  The rain was at its hardest for the Tommy Pitcher Memorial Trophy Final and a first lap crash, mainly amongst the well populated yellow grade necessitated a complete re-run.  There were eight fewer cars for the second time of asking and 563 Keith Walding was the initial leader until passed by 111 Lewis Geach.  606 Andrew Palmer was the first of the star men to show progress and he relieved Geach of the lead after the halfway stage.  However, 154 Michael Green had kept track of him through the traffic and as the race entered the last quarter he was in a position to land a challenge.  It came with three laps to go when he was able to force his way up the inside of Palmer to lead and then opened out a safe gap over the remaining distance.  Thus a good, and emotional win for Green, his first under his late brother Steve’s #154 number.  Palmer took his best tarmac surface result in a long while with second and 38 Dave Polley got the better of a battle with World Champion 1 George MacMillan for third.  The Grand National saw a win for 242 Ben Bate who grabbed the lead early and was never challenged.

Saloon Stock Cars

Despite a few no-shows from those who had booked, the 40 car entry of Saloon Stock Cars was a fine showing with drivers from all four corners of the United Kingdom.  The first heat was in the dry conditions, and ultimately was actually the quietest race of the quartet from the Saloons.  157 Max Stott was the leader until 401 Steve Webster, who had come storming through from the back of the grid took the lead and went on to take the win.  The rain returned during heat two and the track got wetter as the race went on as a consequence.  610 Trent Arthurton opened out a good lead, but it was whittled right down when there was a yellow flag after 70 Scott Mitchell found himself stranded in a potentially dangerous place.  The re-start saw Arthurton again lead the way whilst behind him there was a great battle between 186 Todd Jones, 349 Michael Allard and 618 Stuart Shevill and this allowed Arthurton to maintain his lead whilst the star graded trio lost time in their own battle.  It all came down to a dramatic last lap.  Allard and Jones went past Arthurton, but the white graded driver impressively fought back on the last corner.  It was an effort that almost paid off but Allard was able to scramble to the line first.  The third heat was more straight forward, as much as it can be on a wet track as Arthurton led from flag to flag but encountered several issues with back marking traffic along the way.  It all came down to the 35 car Final which as expected had a lot of comings, goings and action on the slippery track and many start graded drivers encountering troubles.  350 Thomas Parrin was the early leader until 891 Andy Pridham took over and he opened up a gap.  Drama followed when flames billowed underneath the 730 Dean Mayes car, but he pulled to safety on the infield.  Back in the race, the gap up front came down as the laps passed and 149 Jamie Sampson was in a position to mount a challenge, albeit deep in back marking traffic as they started the last lap.  It was a bold move and it didn’t pay off, as the cars that he hoped to use to get to Pridham (notably 698 Danny Colliver), all tangled and spun in his path and this allowed Pridham clear to take the win.  This was his first since his return at the end of last season, after a near 20 year layoff from the sport.  Sampson recovered to maintain second and Jones emulated his podium position from the same meeting last year with third.

National Hot Rods

The National Hot Rods reached round eight of their World Championship qualifying process and the 24 car entry included all bar one of the current top 19, which is the cut off point for this year’s World Final, which takes place at Ipswich on June 27.  The NHRPA took the decision to run an ‘all-in’ format which made for a busy opening race, which was in the driest conditions.  It was also a very scrappy affair, with many all fighting over the same piece of tarmac and the outcome was three yellow flag periods.  The first was after 136 Ivan Grayson and 155 Lee Pepper came together on turn one, the second after 42 Shane Bland spun and several crashed in avoidance and then, perhaps in an example of the old Nascar saying that “yellow flags breed yellow flags” soon after the third re-start 31 Dick Hillard collected the plating on the exit of turn two after a coming together with 162 Carl Waller-Barrett and 305 Billy Wood.  Those that remained finally got to the end at the fourth re-start and 196 Dave York held off 92 Jack Blood all the way to the flag.  Despite the damage sustained, it was only Pepper missing from heat two, which was run in very wet conditions and was a much steadier race and this time York was never challenged on his way to his second win of the day.   The 35 lap Final again saw York get away but a crash involving 27 Mikey Godfrey along with 161 Daniel Holden, 316 Paul Frost and 964 Bradley Dynes brought out the yellow flags once again and bunched the pack up behind York.  Blood immediately challenged at the re-start and found a way past but he himself was under pressure from 174 Jason Kew who in turn found a way around Blood to take up the lead.  He pulled clear and looked set for the victory, but a yellow flag for the spun car of 44 Dave Garrett with four laps to go could have changed that.   Kew was able to hold on for the win however with Blood second and 615 Chris Lehec third.

BriSCA F2 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 359 627 604 542 761 563 352 38 132 797
Heat 2 913 59 464 242 1 676 154 560 101 606
Consolation 578 768 801 581 647 111 16 315 734 290
Final 154 606 38 1 647 111 761 676 560 16
Grand National 242 101 647 111 606 154 676 578 560 581
Grade Awards W 359 Y 111 B 59
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 A&B 401 661 677 220 618 349 218 50 460 570
Heat 2 B&C 349 186 610 618 149 600 6 158 220 698
Heat 3 C&A 610 306 149 670 401 360 570 600 538 158
Final 891 149 186 800 570 158 677 670 360 218
National Hot Rods 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 196 92 615 491 117 174 209 161 152 115
Heat 2 196 174 23 491 615 161 92 304 209 42
Final 174 92 615 196 115 209 305 162 304 964
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