Smeatharpe Stadium - Saturday 22rd June 2019

Report by Mark Paulson

Season 2019’s second Smeatharpe speed weekend opened with the 37th annual staging of the National Banger World Championship, which brought a third success in the event for 190 Steve Bailey. Eight qualifying heats for the following day’s BriSCA Formula Two British Championship were also staged, alongside a Saturday night outing for the Saloon Stock Cars.

National Bangers

Clashing events elsewhere impacted the entry for the first early-summer staging of the longstanding World Championship. With five titles between them, 162 Brett Ellacott (Jaguar) and 190 Steve Bailey (Ford Scorpio) started as firm favourites, despite drawing places on rows five and eight of the grid, respectively. Pole position was claimed by 714 Paul Smaldon (Scorpio), with the Triumph of 120 Mark Ashley alongside. The Scorpio limo of 917 Andrew Tew and 7 Jamie Charles’s Ford Granada Mk2 made up row two. Smart car awards were claimed by 162 Brent Shaw, for his nicely-painted Mercedes estate, and 278 Shaun Brokenshire, whose Mercedes was kitted out in an Amercian sheriff’s livery.

On the green flag, Smaldon immediately jumped clear as Tew ran in 384 John Golden’s Mercedes. Smaldon’s lead didn’t last long as Ashley moved inside and was followed through by Bailey. Ashley had impressive pace in the Triumph, prompting onlookers to wonder when a Triumph last claimed a world title as the race neared half-distance. His cause was aided by 121 Mike Ashley (Mazda RX8) briefly holding up Bailey but, once past, ‘Pikey’ did start to reel in the vintage machine. He caught and spun the 120-car on the pits bend as the union flag was being unfurled.

Ashley’s unlikely hopes of striking gold were over and his race ended shortly afterwards, as the Triumph was thundered into the Honiton bend wall by Brokenshire. Action elsewhere came from 787 Marc Key blasting Smaldon into a marker tyre, 732 Danny Stroud (Mercedes) blowing up Ashley’s Triumph to wreck it further and cause a race stoppage, and a back-straight wrecking train featuring Tew, Mike Ashley and 733 Ricky Stroud (Toyota Supra).

On the resumption, with eight laps remaining, Bailey led from 208 PJ Collins (Scorpio), with the backmarking 45 Anthony Crowshaw (Mercedes) and Brokenshire ahead of third-placed 82 Danny Hunt (Lexus). As the green flag flew, 288 Billy Collins (Toyota Previa) held up Charles, allowing Crowshaw to blow up the Granada.

Out front, Collins was giving Bailey a hard time. Perhaps ill-advisedly, Collins attempted a move around the outside of the leader, to which Bailey gave short shrift. A deft flick sent Collins fenceward, clipping Crowshaw’s car in the process. So Bailey now had a comfortable lead and he eased to victory from Ellacott and 451 Nigel Belfield (Mercedes). The race’s second Triumph, that of 891 Darren Wade, and Brokenshire were the only other classified finishers.

The first allcomers race was won by PJ Collins, despite a spin on the final bend which forced him to reverse across the line. Bailey and Ellacott followed him home. The race was highlighted by some wrecking on the exit of the Honiton bend by Crowshaw, Shaw, Billy Collins and Tew. Collins was particularly lively, also treating Tew to a head-on.

Just nine survived for the second allcomers race which was a quiet affair. Belfield led but was spun by Ricky Stroud, who went on to win from Brokenshire and Bailey, despite the efforts of 452 Anthony Sleeman (Granada Coupe) to hold him up.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

Sixty-six cars were present to contest three qualifying heats each in their attempts to a secure a place on the following day’s British Championship grid. They included Northern Irishmen NI747 Bradley McKinstry and NI47 Sean McFerran, plus five Scots. There was also a first appearance at the track for south-east based National Ministox graduate 183 Charlie Guinchard.

Guinchard, who is already making a name for himself with his pace and fearless approach, showed why in heat one, when he quickly hit the front from his yellow-grade start and proved to be uncatchable. An over-eager blue grade had caused an unsatisfactory start which led to a complete restart minus a couple of runners, before Guinchard relieved 137 Russell Chadwick of the lead early on. Fellow yellow-top 325 Ryan Sheahan also looked quick on his way to second place, ahead of defending champion 647 Chris Burgoyne, who carved through from the back of the field. Red-tops filled places three to six as many of the blue-graded drivers fell by the wayside – 91 Harrison Bryant and 578 Mark Gibbs tangled with each other, while 689 Joe Marquand and 976 Dan Kent crashed into the Honiton bend wall and then again at the end of the home straight.

The bumpers were flying in at the start of heat two, led away by 222 Adrian Watts. In his new car, debuted the previous weekend, Cornishman 542 Steven Gilbert was making rapid progress through the field. He was seventh after just two laps, then fifth when a stoppage was called when a spin for 895 Ben Goddard led to a pile-up in which 126 Jamie Avery climbed over 328 Andy Walker’s car. 460 Matt Weston had moved into the lead from 667 Tommy Farrell and Watts, with 101 Kelvyn Marshall passing Gilbert to be the highest red-top in the queue. From there, it was easy pickings for the stars, as Marshall went on to win from Gilbert and 606 Andrew Palmer, the top three appearing reluctant to challenge each other too hard, for fear of costing themselves precious qualifying points.

Sheahan followed up his earlier second place with a win in heat three, demoting long-time leader 482 Dale Seneschall – making a visit from Lincolnshire with brother Daz (376) – with six laps to go. Marshall came through for second, ahead of 468 Sam Weston, with Seneschall holding on to fourth. Smeatharpe specialist 560 Luke Wrench was fifth, delayed by an entertaining scrap with 14 Mike Priddle, which ended with the latter in the wall.
The third yellow-top winner came in heat four as 801 Jack Cave took victory. His big lead was whittled down by 527 James Riggall and world champion 7 Gordon Moodie in the closing stages, but Cave held firm. Moodie’s fellow Scot – and one-time British champion – 16 Craig Wallace took a heavy hit into the back-straight wall when he was turned across the front of 629 Euan Millar’s car.

Guinchard made it two out of two in heat five. Priddle had led until nearly three-quarter distance when the teenager moved ahead, with Gilbert and McKinstry following through. Guinchard had a scare when delayed by 111 Lewis Geach with a lap to go, but Gilbert wasn’t quite close enough to dislodge the youngster from the lead so the top three remained unchanged, with Wrench, 464 Matt Linfield and Burgoyne completing the top six.
844 Jack Prosser suffered his second heavy trip into the wall of the night in heat six, rattling around the Honiton bend plating at unabated speed to instigate a caution period on half-distance. Dale Seneschall was again running well and led away the restart from 890 Paul Rice and 700 Adam Rubery, the man who had lifted the British Championship at its previous staging at the track four years earlier. It didn’t take long for Rubery to hit the front, with Riggall and Moodie following through. Riggall then ran wide with Sam Weston and Rice, while 674 Steven Burgoyne was turned into the home-straight wall and Marshall took a trip into the marker tyres. But it was Bryant for whom the yellow flags returned with three laps to go. Riggall had just rejoined, a lap down, between Rubery and Moodie, and that gave the West Midlander enough of a cushion to hold on to win from Moodie, Palmer and 418 Ben Borthwick.
Priddle again led much of the way in heat seven, which began with Marquand and 184 Aaron Vaight tangling into the wall on Turn 4. Stuck there, they then sent up smoke signals for lap after lap as the race continued. Gilbert again made quick early progress but was passed by superstar Wrench before half-distance as they ran third and fourth behind Priddle and Linfield. Wrench used the bumper to pass Linfield for second, then didn’t find too much resistance from Priddle to take the lead with five laps to go. Gilbert and Linfield also found a way through, but fourth was still a strong result for the veteran white-top. The hopes of star youngsters Wallace and McKinstry were dealt a blow, however, when they tangled and spun on the back straight while in the top six.

Only one man could stop Gilbert sitting on pole position for the British Championship going into the final heat. That was Guinchard, who duly completed a stunning showing by claiming his hat-trick and clinching pole position in the process. As Moodie, Riggall and Chris Burgoyne battled each other, Guinchard took the lead and built a margin which he held to the flag. Moodie and Riggall eventually passed 145 Lee Morgan to take second and third, with Morgan beating Burgoyne to fourth.
It all meant that Guinchard and Gilbert would form the front row of the grid for the formula’s second most important race, with Moodie and Wrench well-placed on row two. Sheahan qualified a well-deserved fifth, alongside Palmer, with Marshall and Chris Burgoyne on row four, and 618 Ben Lockwood and Riggall completing the top 10.

Saloon Stock Cars

Considering there were two meetings elsewhere for the formula, the 17-car entry of Saloons was very healthy. It included a first appearance of the season for one-time English champion 27 Kieren Bradford in his BMW-bodied car – which was sadly plagued by gremlins all night – and a track debut for sometime Lightning Rod European and British Champion 50 Ben Murray, in the ex-Sid Madgwick machine.

In what looks likely to be his only meeting in the white grade, 210 Paul Barnes had the most profitable night of fledgling career in the formula. He looked set to win the opener but was spun out by 28 Ian Govier’s big last-bend lunge, eventually recovering for 10th. 444 Kieran Bellringer, also benefiting from a spell in the whites, and 56 George Boult Jr completed the top three after the stars had given each other a hard time early on.

Barnes made amends in heat two as he won from Bellringer and Boult, who prevailed in a good battle with Yorkshireman 470 David Vaughan. Murray was fifth, having been turned into the back-straight wall in the opener.

Barnes quickly relieved Bellringer of the lead in the final. The leading pair were closed down by Murray and Boult, but while they made it into second and third, they couldn’t catch Barnes, who took a maiden final win. While Murray was second, Boult lost third to a lunge from 199 Phil Powell on the final bend. 902 Junior Buster and 23 Max Gunter completed the top six after 84 Carl Boswell was rattled around the Honiton bend plating then turned into the back straight wall.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 183 325 647 618 418 16 674 979 137 196
Heat 2 101 542 606 NI747 629 315 460 464 526 801
Heat 3 325 101 468 482 560 606 674 817 835 828
Heat 4 801 527 7 302 618 629 315 376 667 890
Heat 5 183 542 NI747 560 464 647 137 14 817 47
Heat 6 700 7 606 418 828 890 835 325 196 482
Heat 7 560 542 464 14 817 618 111 398 526 328
Heat 8 183 7 527 145 647 667 53 629 572 895
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 28 444 56 902 199 800 980 84 447 210
Heat 2 210 444 56 470 50 902 199 84 28 800
Final 210 50 199 56 902 23 444 470 799 800
National Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
World Final 190 162 451 891 278 nof
Allcomers 1 208 190 162 82 451 278 733 732 891 384
Allcomers 2 733 278 190 208 162 732 891 451 452 nof
Best Presented 162 278
Most Unusual 917
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