Smeatharpe Stadium - Sunday 8th March 2015

Report by Steve Linfield

The first meeting of the national season duly arrived at Smeatharpe Stadium with a very busy pit area for the four formulae on duty;  BriSCA F2 Stock Cars, Saloon Stock Cars, Stock Rods and Bangers.  Unfortunately the weather was a little uncooperative to begin with, but improved greatly as the afternoon went on.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

The BriSCA F2 entry exceeded expectations with 44 cars in attendance including some welcome long distance travellers, new faces, new cars and returnees.  In the damp conditions in the first heat 111 Lewis Geach was the long-time leader until passed by 464 Matt Linfield in the closing stages .  The second heat featured a trio of race suspensions including one for a coming together on the home straight for 290 Jay Tomkins and 734 Glenn Sanders and then for 468 Sam Weston who was cannoned into the pits bend plating after a run-in with 476 Ryan Wadling.  542 Steven Gilbert had already got into the lead prior to these and held off 254 Richard Beere to the flag.  The consolation saw 745 Lee Morgan take his first Smeatharpe F2 win.  The track was dry and the sun was shining for the annual MDP Services Final and it was Morgan who emerged as the early leader and maintained a gap to 575 Tom Clark and Geach throughout the first quarter of the race.  However for Geach it was to go disastrously wrong as he appeared to suffer a stuck throttle and clattered into the pits bend plating at unabated speed.  The resultant crash left Lewis requiring assistance to be removed from his car and was taken to hospital for a check-up, were thankfully he was later discharged with a clean bill of health – albeit feeling somewhat sore.  Morgan continued to lead after the restart but his advantage had been lost and he was passed by 575 Tom Clark but he himself was under pressure from Gilbert who made his move to the front shortly thereafter.  However, it was not all over yet as a pile up on the exit of turn four left brought out the yellow flags once again.  The restart placed 676 Neil Hooper into a position where it looked like he may be about to mount a challenge, but the track was very slippery over the closing laps with oil being laid and it made it difficult for many to make further progress.   Hooper did move past Clark for second but Gilbert was able to maintain a safe distance to complete a heat and Final double, and thus a very short spell in the blue grade.  After a complete re-run early on, the Grand National was a fast and furious race with Clark reeling in track debutant 94 Charlie Marriott to take the win, whilst for Marriott there was to be a prize as he won a Yokohama tyre for being the best white graded driver over the course of the meeting.

Saloon Stock Cars

In much the same vein as the F2’s, the optimism for the Saloon Stock Cars for 2015 is showing signs of reality.  The entry of 18 cars could well be looked back on as average as the season progresses.  Again much like their F2 counterparts it included long distance travellers, new faces, new cars and returnees.  There are times when the heavy Saloons struggle in the damp conditions, but not in heat one which was a ferocious affair with bumpers flying in at every opportunity and places swapping and changing.  It was all for the minor places though as returnee 178 Mike Davies was well clear throughout and took the victory, with F2 convert 105 Ross Rowe second.  The track was drying fast for heat two and this time it was 28 Ian Govier who opened out a significant lead.  He was reeled in by 717 Richard James who in turn, then lost out himself to 401 Steve Webster right in the closing stages.  The Final followed a similar pattern with Davies unable to rediscover his first heat form and Govier opened out a good lead, which for much of the race looked like he may maintain.  James reeled him in once again, but just as it looked like he may be in a position to pounce the 717 car developed understeer and it allowed Govier to get away and Webster to attack James.  Once the latter had done so, he moved in on Govier and passed to go on and take his second win of the day.  Govier was nevertheless pleased with second on his full time return to racing and 661 Greame Shevill made his long journey from Scotland worthwhile with third.

Stock Rods

The Stock Rod entry was slightly disappointing with several no-shows from those who were booked and others apparently not ready for the season yet.  Nevertheless there was a trio of interesting races from the non-contact class.  The heat was a race of attrition with just seven cars lasting the distance and 776 Simon Jones took the win.   The Final saw newcomer 626 Richard Edmonds pull out a good lead but Points Champion Jones worked his way up to second place and then set off after and whilst the phrase “catching is one thing, passing is another” is often overused, it did ring true in this instance.  Try as he might, Jones couldn’t find a way past Edmonds who kept his line nicely and took his first Stock Rod victory.  918 Sam Lobb made third.   With Edmonds starting the traditional lap handicap in the Grand National it was over to Lobb to make the running and he did so nicely, and under immense pressure in the second half of the race with up to five cars queuing up behind.  Primarily it was Simon Jones and 181 Lindsay Jones, until the silver top took to the outside line and was able to just pip Lobb at the line by a mere three hundredths of a second.

Bangers

The Autospeed Bangers had the added incentive of contesting a British Championship qualifying round, and produced a 43 car entry, with the rule changes for 2015 being much in evidence with a far wider variety of cars being raced.  60 Andy Bulled took the first heat by quite a distance whilst 70 Jamie Thomas did likewise in heat two.  However Thomas failed the post-race scrutineering tyre check and was removed from the results which promoted 28 Steve Linly to the victory.  The first two races had been very quiet by Banger racing standards in many respects but heat three was much livelier.  Long-time leader 743 Jake Bond collected the stranded car of 35 Scott Bisset which allowed 28 Linly to come through to take his second win of the day.  The Final saw the biggest grid of the day and 720 James Warren opened out a good sized lead from his white grade start.  However when 45 Mike Read – and others – collected the stranded car of 130 Chris Durrant on the home straight it changed the race.  Read slid much of the home straight on his side and then landed with a crash into the inner marker tyres and when he signalled all was not satisfactory the yellow flags were shown.  This reduced any gaps and put 999 Jon Glover in touch with Warren.  However, both were to lose out to the flying Linly who therefore completed a hat-trick of victories in his Ford Focus.  Glover was runner up and Warren third.  387 Ben Bishop concluded a hectic day for himself, when his car went on fire, and he nonchalantly pulled to the infield, where the blaze was extinguished.

BriSCA F2 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 464 111 954 101 578 572 126 783 189 488
Heat 2 542 254 676 76 606 627 575 352 315 94
Consolation 745 522 605 430 476 55 740 734 979 175
Final 542 676 575 101 476 606 254 522 430 76
Grand National 575 676 94 464 101 126 797 302 315 605
Grade Awards W 745 Y 575 B 542
Saloon Stock Rods 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 178 105 698 28 401 199 891 717 661 677
Heat 2 401 460 677 698 717 661 158 199 28 525
Final 401 28 661 717 698 158 891 460 677 199
Stock Rods 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 776 181 740 918 9 626 26 nof
Final 626 776 918 181 3 9 49 26 740 437
Grand National 776 918 181 3 437 9 49 740 626 nof
Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 60 929 416 320 242 835 847 113 154 133
Heat 2 28 743 60 416 835 622 847 247 133 938
Heat 3 28 113 242 70 366 717 938 999 718 804
Final 28 999 720 133 60 929 113 622 247 735
Best Presented 717 720 73
Grade Awards W 720, 743, 366 Y 999, 835, 717 B 60, 416, 622 R 28, 113, 929
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