Smeatharpe Stadium - Sunday 7th June 2015

It was a sun soaked Smeatharpe Stadium for what was effectively the first part of the summer season with Autospeed and the first of three British Championships in the month of June, the first of them being for the Bangers whilst the remainder of what was is always one of the busiest days of the season in terms of the programme was made up of the Saloon Stock Cars, Stock Rods, Ministox and a trio of races from the Micro F2’s.

Bangers

The format for the Bangers British Championship was slightly tweaked from previous years, to allow more cars on track during the heats, but the fundamentals remained in that it was a process of qualifying throughout the day that determined the grid, and who would be the ultimate victor.  The exceptions were those who won the right to be seeded into one of the two Semi Finals later on in the afternoon, where they drew their grid position and were given a chance to stick or twist and thus try their luck through the qualifying system.  They all stuck, and that left just over 50 hopefuls to do battle in the heats.  The first heat went the way of 134 Jarret Bond before 785 Nick Craddock took heat two and 185 Richard Coaker heat three, which came down to a last lap challenge from 929 Sam Baker and then the pair found themselves in a pile up that had formed ahead of them.  As it was, Coaker scrambled across the line.  The points from these heats then determined the line ups for the Semi Finals and it was one of the seeds 999 John Glover who had earlier drawn pole position and had Bond alongside with 154 Barry Pike and World Champion 113 Chris Jeanes on the next row.  However for Glover, having sat out the heats it was to go wrong for him as the engine on the 999 car sounded sick from the off and he fell down the order, with a fuel problem.  It was to be Jeanes who took the win.  In the second Semi it was 835 Matt Westaway on pole position with another seed, and one time winner of the event 242 Ben Ellacott alongside.  However, the same fate befell him as Glover in the previous, his engine misfired from the off and he was an early retirement, just at the end of the rolling lap.  In what was ultimately a good battle for the lead, Baker fought off Westaway to take the win.  Baker then won the toss with Jeanes to earn pole position and the inside line for the title race.  Jeanes found himself forced well to the outside at the drop of the flag and it was Baker and Westaway who moved into the top two spots and then it got worse for Jeanes as he was spun and thus denied the chance to add the British to his World title.  The race developed into a great five car scrap between Baker, Westaway, 935 James Flint, Coaker and 912 Simon Rees.  Despite his car having been badly damaged earlier in the day, Flint impressively moved to the fore of the battle and then started to open out a lead, with Baker unable to keep with him.  As the race drew towards its closing stages, Baker’s engine expired and this left Flint’s challenge clear.  He needed to be careful in the back marking traffic however, but was able to hold his lead to record an impressive win.  Rees made second and Westaway was third.  Bangers means different things to different people, but this meeting saw a good mix of racing and action, which is how the Autospeed class is intended to be.

Saloon Stock Cars

Although 20 Saloon Stock Cars were in attendance, this fell by two with pre-meeting practice failures which was unfortunate, but the record of at least one newcomer to the formula at each meeting this season was maintained.  The racing was of a high standard all meeting long, and very evenly matched too with some of the more established names quickly finding that the newer ones are not set to be pushovers.   There was also a little bit of a side show between National Points leaders 698 Danny Colliver and 730 Deane Mayes who are already locked into a head to head battle for the silver roof it would seem, and their battle for supremacy was, and clearly will be, most intriguing.  It was 158 Shane Davies who took the first heat having used the back marking 235 Toby Brooks as something of a cue ball to shift leaders 2 Luke Dawson and 178 Mike Davies aside.  Heat two was one of those races where it was difficult to know which way to look at what was going on, as there was something at either end of the track on almost every lap.  677 Eddie Darby fought off a challenge from Mayes to set after long-time leader 276 Ben King and he passed him towards the closing stages to take the win.  The Final saw more hard battles and the progress of Darby and Davies were clearly held up in these.  King and Dawson set the pace until they were both caught and passed by 891 Andy Pridham and he then opened out a gap.  Darby made late progress and passed King for second but was unable to do anything about Pridham’s lead and he went on to take his second Final win of the year, following on from his Good Friday success at Northampton.   Third was in doubt right until the last corner when Mayes delivered a huge last bend lunge to King, which effectively stopped the 276 car and he coasted across the line whilst Mayes took the other trophy spot.

Stock Rods

The Stock Rods appeared to struggle to find a useable outside line in their trio of races, coupled with the fact that the cars are evenly matched (which is how they are intended to be, of course) it did mean that those starting further back did not make the kind of progress they would have hoped for.  That said, despite it being frantically close in the mid-pack there was not one black cross issued and points champion 776 Simon Jones did make some progress in the heat and Final.  Both of these were won by 41 James Horwell, to earn himself an upgrade to blue.  The win in the heat was only just achieved, ahead of 49 Kevin Lock but the Final was won by bigger distance ahead of 222 Mike Belcher and 22 Wayne Belcher.   The Grand National saw Mike Belcher led all the way from flag to flag.

Ministox

Top of the bill for the Ministox was the first running of The Esau Family Trophy, which also included mementoes for every driver during the pre-meeting Grand Parade.   Fittingly, it was 943 Hannah Esau who started her day nicely by winning the first heat (a first victory of the season), just holding of 911 Harrison Bryant.  However, it went downhill for Hannah from the second heat onwards as she was tipped out early and brought about a yellow flag when she was stranded across the track.  This whittled the lead down that 917 Gemma Robbins and 988 Harry Shepherd had and Bryant and 907 Cameron Lawrence soon moved ahead after the re-start.  However, another yellow flag for 902 Brad Compton-Sage spun on the racing line again bunched the pack up and Lawrence moved ahead of Bryant when they went racing again.  However, Bryant stuck to Lawrence’s back bumper and executed a perfectly timed last bend move to grab the lead back, and secure the victory.  Robbins and Shepherd again disputed the early lead in the Final, whilst Esau was an early retirement.  667 Tommy Farrell (his car now in smart new colours) moved into the lead on the seventh lap, chased by Bryant.  The latter made his move a couple of laps later and went on to make it a heat and Final double.  Farrell held second and Lawrence got the better of a battle with 922 Joe Parker for third.

Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 134 835 738 79 622 194 154 717 113 246
Heat 2 785 835 372 912 246 134 938 935 70 254
Heat 3 185 929 154 146 113 416 130 515 787 34
Semi Final 1 113 935 912 938 246 416 331 717 134 741
Semi Final 2 929 835 185 146 622 79 194 366 718 284
British 935 912 835 185 622 79 246 154 134 416
Best Presented 281 999 668 913 718 246 366
Ministox 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 943 911 907 667 980 931 902 987 951 922
Heat 2 911 907 987 980 667 922 677 931 988 917
Final 911 667 907 922 902 988 677 931 951 987
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 158 84 2 698 891 995 619 199 350 475
Heat 2 677 276 158 199 259 891 698 730 314 612
Final 891 677 730 199 2 276 698 619 158 235
Stock Rods 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 41 49 222 776 26 22 3 181 437 9
Final 41 222 22 49 776 626 9 181 26 3
Grand National 222 22 49 626 181 26 9 437 776 40
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