Smeatharpe Stadium - Easter Monday 28th March 2016

The Easter weekend concluded at Smeatharpe Stadium with weather very similar to that at St Day 24 hours earlier, with a mix of sunshine and showers and associated varying track conditions.  The difference was that ‘Storm Katie’ had passed overnight, and with it a lot of rain.  In truth, those of us in the southwest of England were actually very lucky, as a number of other short oval race meetings within the ORCi on the day had to be cancelled due to the weather conditions, or aftermath thereof.   The 16 race programme was concluded in less than four hours and despite the mixed conditions there was a very fine show from the BriSCA F2 Stock Cars, Saloon Stock Cars, ORCi Stock Rods and unlimited old skool National Bangers.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

Coming at the end of the long weekend, the Easter Monday meeting has in the past suffered for numbers due to everything that went before it but not this year, with it being a sign of the times and the current situation that the BriSCA F2’s currently find themselves in, that for many this was their only outing of the weekend.  The 39 car entry was also enhanced by an unscheduled appearance from Scottish superstar 7 Gordon Moodie, who had intended to race at Buxton but when that was called off due to snow, he  continued his journey from Scotland a further two hundred miles south instead!  This was commitment above and beyond the call of duty, although it was to be a relatively blank day for him.  The two heats, in dry conditions, went to 76 Chris Rowe and 127 Matt Stoneman whilst renowned wet weather expert 464 Matt Linfield took the consolation.  The Final for the Autospeed Rosebowl, in memory of Paul Oakley, and with the track back to dry conditions it was a fast and furious race.  It was more of the latter to start with – a typical start to a Smeatharpe feature race with bumpers charging in over the early laps.  Amongst other incidents, 890 Paul Rice and 745 Lee Morgan were left stranded on the pits bend and when Rice gave out some distress signals, the yellow flags were called, but not before 676 Neil Hooper had punted 528 Shane Hector into 935 Nathan Maidment, which cannoned him into Moodie, who then lost time and incurred front end damage.  689 Joe Marquand was the leader at the time, and although he continued to do so he was passed by 352 Dave Sansom soon into the re-start.   It was then Sansom who held sway for a few laps, but Hooper’s daring dive had positioned him nicely to make great advantage of the yellow flag.  Hooper made his move on Sansom, which is never an easy task, at the halfway point of the race.  From then on, it was all about Hooper at the front.  The main battle was for second between Sansom and 315 Justin Fisher and they found themselves hampered by the back marking 575 Tom Clark who seemed intent on wanting to join in.  Hooper was clear at the flag, to not only win his second Smeatharpe Final in a row but successfully retain the Rosebowl.  Fisher made second and Sansom completed a Devonian top three.   It was back to wet conditions for the Grand National and 126 Jamie Avery won by a large margin.

Saloon Stock Cars

The Saloon Stock Car entry of 15 cars could have been better and could have been worse, and fell by one after pre-meeting practice when National Points Champion 698 Danny Colliver’s season with the silver roof continued to go awry when he suffered engine problems and took no further part in the day.  The rain arrived just as the cars took the flag in heat one, and with dry tyre pressures it was a “tip toe” affair, which was mastered by 158 Shane Davies who took the win.  The track was drier for heat two and 891 Andrew Pridham took the victory, with a great battle for the places going on behind.  Although the track was wet for the Final, it was an enthralling race.  149 Jamie Sampson ultimately installed himself into a safe lead leaving the main scrap behind.  As Sampson took the flag, 199 Phil Powell went in for a last bend lunge on 730 Dean Mayes which took both out.  Thus 428 Lee Sampson came through to make second to his younger brother and 28 Ian Govier nipped in for third.

Stock Rods

The Stock Rod entry was again boosted by welcome visitors from Ringwood Raceway, albeit a slightly different set to the previous meeting.  944 Callum Hosie picked up from where he left off by winning the heat race and was once again the favourite for the Final.  However, veteran racer 705 Dave Ham had other ideas and fended off Hosie for lap after lap in the second half of the race, with 944 taking to the outside line.  A last ditch swoop on the outside wasn’t enough and Ham, whose career in oval racing dates back to the 1960’s took his first Stock Rod Final win.  Hosie had to make do with second and 315 Trevor Ashworth was third.   It was raining heavily for the Grand National and Ham quickly found himself a lap back.  Hosie led, but was caught and passed by 41 James Horwell who was then in turn reeled in by 40 Rick Cornell who found grip on the outside line and took a good win with a fine pass late on.

Unlimited cc Old Skool National Bangers

As anticipated, the eventual entry of National Bangers in unlimited Old Skool format was far better than had been booked.  The latest qualifying round for the Supreme Championship saw 27 cars in attendance with the big cars on the wet track providing plenty of race action.  114 Nick Courtier took the first heat and then 362 Johnny James heat two, albeit only just after a spirited last bend attack from 120 Mark Ashley which appeared to catch James unawares and Ashley almost snatched the victory.   The annual Easter Hop trophy looked like going the way of 246 Ryan Sparks.  However, a late red flag after 332 Andy Partridge was winded following a hit by 74 Adam Hitchcock closed all the gaps.  The two lap dash re-start saw him passed by Courtier, who went on to win, whilst 278 Shaun Brokenshire and 247 Richard Sparks grabbed second and third respectively.   It was great to see former Smeatharpe Banger star Gus Garrett in attendance to present the trophy.   With the weather really having closed in by the time of the Chained Pairs race it was, unfortunately, something of a damp squib.  Just three pairs took part and Courtier and Richard Sparks ran away with the win.  Nevertheless, an usual hat-trick for Courtier!

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 76 528 522 828 700 935 418 677 745 689
Heat 2 127 890 575 7 126 920 24 352 676 740
Consolation 464 750 979 111 542 526 315 476 189 627
Final 676 315 352 522 700 476 127 542 935 528
Grand National 126 111 464 676 476 418 127 575 935 979
Grade Awards W 920 Y 76 B 352
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 158 730 149 891 28 428 475 619 84 670
Heat 2 891 149 158 428 730 670 199 619 475 84
Final 149 428 28 730 199 901 891 619 158 475
Stock Rods 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 944 41 92 26 909 437 9 441 3 40
Final 705 944 315 3 68 26 9 40 776 626
Grand National 40 41 3 944 776 437 909 26 9 92
Unlimited National Bangers Old Skool 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 114 282 278 121 123 185 120 99 702 912
Heat 2 362 120 278 99 247 185 114 702 383 912
Final 114 278 247 246 362 185 120 912 702 383
Chained Pairs 114/247 120/121 nof
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