United Downs Raceway - Sunday 11th August 2019

Billed as the biggest Stock Car event in Cornwall since 1976, the BriSCA Formula Two World Championship Semi-Finals lived up to expectations with a pair of hard-fought races in tricky conditions as 7 Gordon Moodie and 418 Ben Borthwick clinched front-row starts for the World Final.  Support was provided by the ORC Stock Rods British Championship in which long-time racer 909 Justin Washer scooped the honours.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

The United Downs Raceway’s record turnout was smashed with 71 cars in attendance for the big event. They included nine Scotsman, among them 854 Robbie Dawson, who had won the previous night’s final at Birmingham as he broke up the mammoth journey south from Aberdeen.

The rain held off until the 1pm start time, leaving a wet track for the 15-car support heat.  Early leader 544 James Rogers spun, leaving 134 Cameron McColm clear out front, but he was quickly reeled in and passed by local man 196 Phil Chapman and 526 Marc Rowe.  The latter then moved inside Chapman for the lead but the Cornishman hung on around the outside before eventually giving way.  Chapman then lost out to 835 Matt Westaway and 517 Harley Cornock as he was forced around the outside of a backmarker, but held on to the fourth and final qualifying place for the afternoon’s meeting final.

A deluge and another heavy shower left very wet conditions for the first World Semi-Final.  After the 28 drivers were paraded in front of the large crowd, and 960 Aidy Whitehead suffered a scare when his car initially failed the track-width test before hurried adjustments, it was left to the inaugural BriSCA F2 World Champion, Roy Goodman to say, in his role as Grand Marshal, “Good luck to all the drivers, and gentleman, start your engines!”

From pole position, 606 Andrew Palmer surged into an early lead from defending World Champion 7 Gordon Moodie, while second-row man 488 Liam Bentham was turned into the wall on bend four, before even taking the flag.  He was collected by several, including crowd favourite 24 Jon Palmer, immediately ending their chances.  That allowed 127 Matt Stoneman into third, from ninth on the grid, ahead of 2015 World Champion 101 Kelvyn Marshall and British Champion 542 Steven Gilbert.

The early incident meant that the leaders were immediately faced with backmarking traffic, Moodie tracking Palmer as they carved their way through, well clear of Stoneman in third.

When the traffic created an opportunity, Moodie pounced to take the lead, and while Palmer initially looked set to retaliate he gradually dropped back a little, while still well clear Stoneman, Gilbert and Marshall, who switched places before half-distance.  527 James Riggall, 647 Chris Burgoyne and 854 Robbie Dawson, from near the back of the grid, were also running in the all-important top 10.  It didn’t last for Burgoyne, however, a trip around the bend four wall preceding his retirement, and making the 2002 World Champion one of the day’s biggest casualties.

Moodie negotiated the traffic with relative ease to win from Palmer, while Gilbert snatched third from Stoneman with six laps to go.  Marshall and Dawson completed the top six, while 302 Dale Moon made it three south-west drivers in the top seven.  Riggall, 38 Dave Polley (in his shale car) and 817 Timothy Bailey completed the qualifiers.

The track had started to dry in the second half of Semi 1, so that by the time Semi 2’s parade was complete it had returned to almost completely dry conditions, save for the odd damp patch and a puddle or two on the inside of bends three and four.  That led to lots of last-minute set-up changes, with front-row man 560 Luke Wrench and double world champion 968 Micky Brennan cutting it particularly fine to make the grid.

The start did not go to plan for shale specialist 788 Stephen Mallinson.  The double European champion, a welcome visitor to take up his second-row spot, crashed into the bend four wall before taking the green flag and the resulting pile-up left Scotsman 3 Liam Rennie balanced on his roof.  The inevitable red flags led to a complete restart and a welcome second bite of the cherry for several, including 418 Ben Borthwick, who had been turned into the bend one wall at the first attempt.  With no outside assistance allowed, there was some feverish work from a number of drivers to fix their damaged cars, with Wrench again only just making it after he had suffered damage to his steering.

A quick start from polesitter 905 Rob Mitchell brought the lead and a black cross for his troubles, with 618 Ben Lockwood, 629 Euan Millar and Borthwick slotting into second, third and fourth ahead of Wrench. Borthwick moved into third on lap three before yellow flags were called after Mallinson, 111 Lewis Geach and Brennan crashed on the entrance to the back straight, leaving Geach on three wheels and Brennan momentarily across the track.

When the race resumed, Borthwick picked his way through to lead before half-distance, from Mitchell, Lockwood, a recovering Wrench and Millar, with 315 Justin Fisher up to sixth.

Borthwick pulled away in fine style to take the win and banish the disappointment of so cruelly missing out in the British Championship two months earlier.  Wrench passed Lockwood for third, which initially relieved the pressure on Mitchell, but then he reeled in his fellow north-west resident and passed him for second, with Fisher also pipping Mitchell on the line to make it two south-west drivers in the top three.  Mitchell’s jump-start penalty dropped him to sixth behind Lockwood and 184 Aaron Vaight.  The qualifiers were completed by 801 Jack Cave, Millar and south-west duo 468 Sam Weston and 895 Ben Goddard.

The consolation was led by Rogers from 9 Harley Thackra, McColm and 689 Joe Marquand until a massive bend-four crash almost blocked the track and left 126 Jamie Avery in need of assistance.  On the resumption, novice driver Thackra moved inside Rogers to take the lead, with Marquand following through. Rogers then slipped backwards before spinning out, as Jon Palmer made full use of the bumper to move up to third, followed by 183 Charlie Guinchard, the pair demoting Burgoyne to fifth.  They crossed the line in that order, but 16-year-old Thackra was docked two places for jumping the start, handing Marquand the win.

The meeting final on Semi-Final day carries extra significance, with the highest-placed World Final qualifier earning the inside line of the World Final grid for their Semi.  Accordingly, drivers were issued with green or chequered flags to attach to their car and denote which Semi they represented.  Jon Palmer turned on his all-action style once more to hit the front before half-distance, followed by Guinchard, Fisher, Moon and Stoneman.  The top two stayed the same, while Stoneman worked his way up to third to clinch the inside line for Semi-Final One.  That handed Moodie pole position for the World Final, despite him losing time early on and not making the top 10 himself.

Stoneman then completed a profitable afternoon by winning the Grand National after long-time leader McColm was swamped in the final few laps.  578 Mark Gibbs and Borthwick completed the top three, with McColm dropping to seventh and Jon Palmer unable to make the top 10 from the full-lap handicap, despite another entertaining showing.

Stock Rods

The ORC British Championship raised 16 cars, including 41 Stuart McKinnon and 83 Michael Bethune from Scotland, with the drivers each competing in two of three qualifying heats, with drawn grids which were reversed for their second outing.

Heat one took place in pouring rain, with plenty of standing water making the track treacherous.  92 Adam Daniels led until a spin dropped him from contention as 3 Matt Peters won from 909 Justin Washer and McKinnon, who came out on top of a side-by-side battle between the Scots.

In dry conditions, 351 Rhys Langdown led heat two from start to finish, with Bethune second and 9 Chris Drake third after Daniels tangled with backmarker 14 Ross Montgomery and crashed into the wall.

From the outside of the front row, Washer was never headed in heat three, earning himself pole position for the British Championship race.  English champion 437 Lewis Trickey and McKinnon followed him home.

Peters joined Washer on the front of the row grid for the British, and tried braving it around the outside.  Despite holding the outside line for a number of laps, the move didn’t pay off for Peters and eventually he dropped down the order as he got hung out to dry, Trickey moving into second and McKinnon third before the Scot pulled off into retirement.  That promoted Bethune to third but neither he nor Trickey could breach Washer’s defences, the Wiltshire man going on to claim his first major championship.

Click here for the statement on the BriSCA F2 website

BriSCA F2 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 526 835 517 196
first 4 to final
World SF1 7 606 542 127 101 854 302 527 38 817
World SF2 418 560 315 618 184 905 801 629 468 895
Consolation 689 24 9 183 647 890 578 968 960 828
Final 24 183 127 302 315 689 890 560 629 418
Grand National 127 578 418 689 560 854 134 302 542 618
Grade Awards W 134 Y 689 B 315
Stock Rods 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 3 909 41 83 14 81 92 222 982 nof
Heat 2 351 83 9 437 206 222 426 nof
Heat 3 909 437 41 9 3 351 81 206 426 982
British Ch. 909 437 83 3 206 81 92 14 9 426
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