Smeatharpe Stadium - Saturday 18th May 2019

The first of two speed weekends at Smeatharpe in 2019 kicked off on Saturday night with very large fields of BriSCA Formula Two Stock Cars and Saloon Stock Cars, the latter contesting qualifying heats for the following day’s British Championship.  A more modest entry of Micro Bangers competed in their annual team contest.

Saloon Stock Cars

The 42-car entry was the largest anywhere in the country so far this year.  It included six visiting Scotsmen, plus 470 David Vaughan from the north of England and the usual hordes of East Anglians, totalling 18 on this occasion.  But, pleasingly, the locals mustered 13 cars, demonstrating the improved health of the formula in the south-west.
In the regular format for major championships, drivers were split into five groups, with each contesting three of the five heats to determine qualifiers and grid positions for Sunday afternoon’s British Championship.
Heat one provided a comfortable win for 888 Shane Emerson, who relieved 23 Max Gunter of the lead early on.  After 28 Ian Govier spun out of second in the closing stages, 661 Graeme Shevill shoved 470 David Vaughan wide to take the position.  The National Champion was in fine form, having spun World of Shale champion 306 Daniel Parker earlier.  Parker was having a torrid time, getting caught up in a couple more incidents, including when he collected the spun 116 Diggy Smith, who had won the European Championship at the corresponding meeting a year earlier, on the back straight.  That incident also involved World Champion 157 Max Stott, who was making only his third appearance of the season, and his first at Smeatharpe since winning the World title last summer.
Track debutant 341 Austen Freestone led much of heat two but was undone by a late yellow flag after Scottish Champion 684 Ian McLaughlin had gone into the pit bend wall very hard with 349 Michael Allard and 131 Timmy Barnes.  171 Adam O’Dell passed Freestone with a lap to go, with Shevill and 5 Tam Rutherford Jr also sneaking through before the flag.  Freestone had earlier shaken off the attentions of double British Champion 428 Lee Sampson, and survived another caution period after one of the biggest hits of the night befell 190 John Wagstaff, who was thundered straight into the Honiton bend fence by a pack headed by Emerson.
Freestone again led heat three but didn’t last long this time, allowing 444 Kieran Bellringer to take up the running until six laps to go when 149 Jamie Sampson nosed inside.  Sampson, making his seasonal debut, went on to win from Smith, who pipped 902 Junior Buster on the line.  Sampson and Smith avoided the pitfalls that some of the other East Anglians couldn’t, as 120 Luke Dorling and 399 Cole Atkins both took firm hits into the Honiton Bend wall, while Stott was treated to a trip around it before later getting spun into the back straight marker tyres.
O’Dell took a hefty backwards hit into the pit bend wall in heat four, necessitating a caution period, with 316 Danny McCluskey leading from track specialist 800 Scott Greenslade.  When Greenslade spun McCluskey out on the home straight, it allowed 600 Barry Russell ahead.  The Scotsman went on to win from defending British champion 730 Deane Mayes, who prevailed in a good scrap for second with 26 Tommy Barnes, as Greenslade dropped to fifth behind Parker.
Freestone again led much of the way in the heat five, the final race of the night, before succumbing to Greenslade with five laps to go.  But Wisbech man Greenslade was denied victory by running mate 428 Lee Sampson, who nudged him wide on the final bend to take the win, with Greenslade holding on to second from Smith and Mayes.  All four secured themselves places on the front three rows of the British Championship grid in the process, but it was Shevill who would start from pole position after his pair of second place finishes and a seventh.

BriSCA Formula Two

With 53 F2s in action, three qualifying heats were run, with eight places in the final on offer in each.  But before the main meeting got underway, the annual Ladies’ Race, in aid of the BriSCA F2 Benevolent Fund, was contested by 11 willing participants.  2018 winner Sarah Harley retained the Bill Batten Trophy, this time at the wheel of husband Dave’s car (#362).  She charged through from the back of the grid, taking the lead when 315 Kelly Bradford and 618 Hannah Brigg tangled, delaying 111 Kerrie Rundle in the process.  Rundle recovered to finish second, with 517 Millie Cornock third.
Heat one proper was won by 24 Jon Palmer, who made light work of the lower-graded drivers to lead within a few laps.  560 Luke Wrench prevailed in a good scrap with 542 Steven Gilbert and 418 Ben Borthwick for second, as British Champion 647 Chris Burgoyne was a subdued seventh and 2013 World Champion 783 James Rygor failed to make the cut in ninth.
53 Phil Mann and Lincolnshire-based visitor 25 Stuart Hodson had spells in front in heat two, before 527 James Riggall took over just after halfway.  By that stage, 7 Gordon Moodie had risen to third and was second when a caution was called with three laps to go for a flash fire on board 91 Harrison Bryant’s machine.  Moodie quickly cleared backmarker 572 James Lindsay and used the bumper to pass Riggall for the win, with 16 Craig Wallace beating Hodson to third.
Strong early pace from blue-top 184 Aaron Vaight allowed him to relieve 328 Andy Walker of the heat three lead before half-distance, but he had 127 Matt Stoneman and 126 Jamie Avery bearing down on him.  Local superstar Stoneman used the bumper to take the lead, and Avery pushed past a lap later, with Vaight eventually dropping to sixth.
The consolation featured five star-graded drivers but 700 Adam Rubery was the only one who would make it through at the second time of asking, with Rygor and 111 Lewis Geach just falling short.  Walker led from start to finish, heading home 76 Chris Rowe and 817 Timothy Bailey.
A complete re-run was required for the final when the 689 Joe Marquand was left hanging off the Honiton Bend fence after a tangle with 674 Steven Burgoyne.  The second attempt was quickly brought under caution after 890 Paul Rice and 464 Matt Linfield piled into the wall, leaving Linfield winded and his car hobbled.  Mann led them away but fell behind Chris Rowe before slipping further back, as Moodie rose ominously to second by half-distance.  From there it was relatively plain sailing for the World Champion to win the Grader’s Trophy, while Rowe managed to hold on to second ahead of a good tussle for third in which Stoneman eventually broke clear of Borthwick.
Moodie elected not to contest the Grand National which brought a win for 560 Luke Wrench, who would be defending his Benevolent Fund Trophy the following day.  Wrench relieved 468 Sam Weston of the lead before halfway, with Chris Burgoyne and Borthwick eventually following him home.

Micro Bangers

Disappointingly, only three of the anticipated seven Micro Banger teams were in action, and two of them were a dual assault from the Rebels.
Heat one was highlighted by Rebels ‘B’ runner 376 Steve Hill bearing the brunt of some big hits on the home straight from DWO pairing 190 Steve Bailey and 838 Jamie Peters, as 196 Phil Chapman (Rebels ‘A’) beat team-mates 133 Terry Hill and 74 Adam Hitchcock to the flag.
Terry Hill won heat two with a last-bend lunge on long-time leader 162 Brett Ellacott (DWO), with the main action provided by a mini wrecking train featuring 84 Jack Ansell (DWO), 205 Matt Cottle (Rebels ‘B’) and 838 Jamie Peters (DWO).
The third and final heat began with a roll for Chapman after he used a DWO car as a ramp, but was quiet thereafter, Ellacott winning from 59 Mike Hamley (Rebels ‘A’) and Hill.  Ellacott’s win wasn’t enough for DWO to overhaul Rebels ‘A’ who took the main honours.

Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 888 661 470 349 157 980 28 26 670 116
Heat 2 171 661 5 341 276 902 56 730 120 26
Heat 3 149 116 902 552 444 306 670 00 399 131
Heat 4 600 730 26 306 800 428 661 56 199 276
Heat 5 428 800 116 730 670 56 902 341 131 96
BriSCA F2 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Ladies Race 362 111 517 315 418 828 618 328 979 759
Heat 1 24 560 542 418 NI747 976 647 464 783 895
Heat 2 7 527 16 25 667 689 53 828 517 293
Heat 3 127 126 101 315 618 184 674 362 328 817
Consolation 328 76 817 700 468 91 890 979 783 111
Final 7 76 127 418 362 560 647 527 53 101
Grand National 560 647 418 NI747 101 468 24 302 674 315
Grade Awards W 53 Y 76 B 418
National Micro Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 196 133 74 162 59 84 190 nof
Heat 2 133 162 74 190 59 131 196 838 nof
Heat 3 162 59 133 131 190 74 838
Rebels A 93
DWO 65
Rebels B 12
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