Smeatharpe Stadium - Sunday 23rd June 2019

Report by Mark Paulson

Following the previous night’s qualifying heats, the main event of the weekend, the BriSCA Formula Two British Championship, took place on Sunday, followed by a full-format meeting. A deluge of Back 2 Basics Bangers and Stock Rods completed the bill.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

The 30 highest scorers from the previous evening’s eight qualifying heats were assembled to contest the 2019 British Championship. Sadly, heavy rain just before the contenders were due to emerge from the pits sent all the drivers and their crews scurrying back to change tyres and set-ups. Unfortunately, that also led to the grand parade being scrapped as the drivers had no appetite for it in the conditions.

The rain had stopped as the grid assembled behind hat-trick hero 183 Charlie Guinchard and leading home hope 542 Steven Gilbert, with 7 Gordon Moodie and 560 Luke Wrench on row two. 325 Ryan Sheahan made it two yellow-tops on the front three rows, starting alongside leading dual-surface racer 606 Andrew Palmer, with 2015 world champion 101 Kelvyn Marshall and defending British champion 647 Chris Burgoyne on row four.

Rain was falling again by the time the cars got moving for their rolling lap and continued to do so throughout the race. Acknowledged wet-weather expert Gilbert surged into the lead as the green flag dropped, with Wrench slotting into second ahead of Moodie, Guinchard, Burgoyne and Marshall. Palmer, Sheahan, 2015 British champion 700 Adam Rubery and 618 Ben Lockwood all lost out in the first-bend skirmishes, while 817 Timothy Bailey, NI747 Bradley McKinstry and 674 Steven Burgoyne crashed out on the Honiton bend.

Having shown he was willing to take the fight to Moodie at Buxton a week earlier, Guinchard was at it again, hitting the world champion into parked cars at the start of lap two but running himself wide too. That allowed Burgoyne and Marshall into third and fourth. Moodie retaliated on Guinchard a lap later, but picked up further damage and pulled off into retirement when an early caution was called after 667 Tommy Farrell was turned across the recovering Guinchard into the back-straight wall and then collected.

Gilbert led from Wrench, Burgoyne, Marshall, 418 Ben Borthwick (up from 14th on the grid) and 801 Jack Cave in the queue for the restart. When the race went green again, Burgoyne immediately moved into second before thundering around the Honiton bend wall – picking up damage in the process – in search of grip. Gilbert eked out a lead as Burgoyne persevered with the wide line, which allowed Wrench to run on the inside, often side-by-side with his Scottish rival for lap after lap.

But the quickest man on the track was Borthwick. After passing Marshall, he got inside Wrench to take third and assume the role of running side-by-side with Burgoyne. Borthwick managed to make the move stick on half-distance, then set about reeling in the leader. The man from the Devon/Cornwall border, who had only just attained star grade status for the first time, continued to post fastest laps, catching Gilbert as he dealt with the backmarking traffic.

Borthwick latched onto Gilbert, with the top two now well clear of the Burgoyne/Wrench/Marshall battle for third. The 418-car nosed inside Gilbert’s new self-built machine on the pit bend and completed the move half a lap later to take the lead. Gilbert wasn’t going to concede easily and pushed Borthwick wide with five laps to go, but Borthwick held on. From there, he started to ease clear but, unbeknown to him, the damage had been done. Borthwick’s right-rear wheelguard had broken and, in BriSCA F2, that can only mean one thing – a technical disqualification. The issue was picked up by race control with a couple of laps to go, and checked the next time around, so that when Borthwick came to complete the 25 laps he received a technical disqualification flag rather than the chequered flag. Instead, that was shown to Gilbert, who becomes the new British champion.

It was a heartbreaking way for Borthwick to lose out, having driven a magnificent race in very difficult conditions. But he deserves great credit for his sporting and professional acceptance of the situation. It wasn’t the way Gilbert wanted to win either, even though he himself had put in a fine performance, and he paid tribute to his vanquished colleague. “I had nothing for him. I don’t want to win like that [but] I’ll take it any way I can get it,” he said.

Outgoing champion Burgoyne was thus promoted to second, with Marshall beating Wrench to what became third, and 468 Sam Weston and Cave completing the top six.

Following the main event, which didn’t form part of the meeting proper, racing recommenced with three heats required for the large entry. The worst of the weather had been reserved the championship race, but it was still wet as 544 James Rogers won heat one from Farrell and McKinstry. On a damp track, Rubery won heat two from a fast-closing 629 Euan Millar and 325 Ryan Sheahan. The track had almost dried by the time 890 Paul Rice scored a commanding heat three win from 76 Chris Rowe and 184 Aaran Veight.

The 27-car consolation begun with a big pile-up on the exit of the pit bend which left 145 Lee Morgan pointing skywards and 147 Aiden Derry on his side, the two cars held up by 91 Harrison Bryant’s machine. Eight cars failed to make the restart, in which 24 Jon Palmer – back in his old car after gremlins struck his new machine the night before – was flying. He carved through the field to run second to Cave at half-distance. Cave’s left-rear tyre was being fouled by the wheelguard/bumper, just as it had done to cause a puncture in his heat, and so it wasn’t hard for Palmer to find a way past and pull away for the win. Cave’s tyre did last this time and he held onto second, ahead of 302 Dale Moon.

Thirty-one of the 34 qualifiers returned for the final, which also required a complete restart after Linfield required attention, having been involved in a first-bend pile-up, which also claimed Rubery, 895 Ben Goddard and Farrell. A caution was required in the restarted race after 835 Matt Westaway went backwards into the wall on the pit bend. 376 Daz Seneschall led the field away at the restart, while – after incidents at St Day last month – many were licking their lips at the prospect of Palmer lining up behind Moodie in the mid-pack. Palmer duly delivered, cannoning Moodie into Marshall, who spun and delayed the world champion. Out front, Cave worked his way into the lead from Wrench, who then moved ahead, followed by Moon. Cave then had his hands full with the well-recovered Moodie, the pair exchanging places before Moodie made third his own. He couldn’t catch Wrench and Moon, however, although it might have been a different story without that earlier delay.

After a long day in not the nicest of conditions, and many having long journeys home, only 16 cars returned for the grand national. Cave continued his strong form, taking a comfortable win from 315 Justin Fisher and 517 Harley Cornock, with Wrench climbing to sixth from the full-lap handicap.

Back 2 Basics Bangers

Over 50 of the limited-prep machines packed the raceway as they went all-in in their opening heat. Combined with a very wet track, it was unsurprising that chaos ensued. 938 Ashley Rice’s Mitsubishi, complete with space-saver wheel on the rear, led much of the way but pulled off at a stoppage. 74 Adam Hitchcock took over, but appeared to already be slowing when he was taken out by the backmarking 133 Terry Hill. So it was 328 Mark Trump who came through for the win, in what was said to be his first race in 25 years!

More than 40 returned for heat two, with further chaos and track-blockages, which managed to clear themselves. 311 Simon Rogers took the win.
The final was won by 211 Adrian Coles, after 218 Ant Jeffery managed a complete rollover back on to his wheels, allowing him to continue in the race. 157 Rob Surman repeated his runners-up spot from heat two, with 912 Simon Rees third.

Stock Rods

As spots of rain began to fall in the first race of the day, 41 James Horwell took advantage of his yellow-grade start to dominate the heat. He quickly moved into the lead and was never headed thereafter. 776 Simon Jones, in one of two rear-wheel-drive Toyota Starlets, was running him down in the closing stages but ran out of laps. 3 Matt Peters completed the top three ahead of the second Starlet of 306 Neil Truran, which failed to reappear for the rest of the meeting.

Horwell’s win in the final was even more dominant, his margin over Peters being half a lap. Peters prevailed in a close battle with 437 Lewis Trickey and Jones for second, in which Jones entertained on the outside line but lost out as a result.

Jones scored a deserved success in the grand national, with Trickey heading a close battle for what became second with 9 Chris Drake, as Horwell retired from the lap handicap.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
British Ch. 542 647 101 560 468 801 890 NI747 817 145
Heat 1 544 667 NI747 560 101 895 183 137 first 8 to final
Heat 2 700 629 325 464 376 526 689 16 first 8 to final
Heat 3 890 76 184 7 418 572 251 47 first 8 to final
Consolation 24 801 302 578 315 835 91 618 14 134
Final 560 302 7 801 618 24 418 NI747 16 47
Grand National 801 315 517 325 418 560 689 134 147 895
Grade Awards W 376 Y 801 B 302
Stock Rods 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 41 776 3 306 9 81 14 770 437 982
Final 41 3 437 776 81 9 14 222 982 nof
Grand National 776 437 9 3 81 222 14 982 nof
Back 2 Basics Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 328 74 455 83 905 760 133 nof
Heat 2 311 157 211 85 74 491 912 760 595 nof
Final 211 157 912 246 333 194 6 335 nof
DD 157
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