Smeatharpe Stadium - Sunday 23rd May 2021

On a blustery afternoon which progressively got wetter and wetter, the first championship events of 2021 were contested in front of an appreciative crowd.

Saloon Stock Cars

The opening event for the Saloon Stock Cars provided a last chance opportunity to secure one of four places at the rear of the National Championship grid.  152 Levi Oughton led the 16-car grid away but suffered an early spin in the Honiton Bend which allowed 328 Michael Boswell to inherit the lead.  Boswell built up a healthy advantage but had a narrow escape as 14 Colin Savage spun out in front of him as he looked to put a lap on the Scotsman.  Boswell went on to take the flag, followed home by his brother 84 Carl Boswell with former National Champion 428 Lee Sampson third and 172 Jack Rust picking up the last qualifying spot.  Given the wet and cold weather conditions the drivers undertook their parade already strapped into their cars.  489 Wayne Jarvis was a non-starter and thus it was a 31-car grid which took the green flag.  661 Graeme Shevill struggled to get his car up to speed and came to a momentary halt mid-track on the entrance to the home straight, managing to get the car fired up just before the need for a race suspension.  600 Barry Russell and 364 Nathan Olden spun out together on the back straight whilst pole sitter 116 Diggy Smith quickly hit the front, despite a challenge from his fellow front row starter 677 Warren Darby who was spun aside and ended up an early retiree.  Diggy Smith charged ever onwards at the front, free from notable challengers, but still mindful of heavy back marking traffic.  There were incidents everywhere, with a succession of spinners, including 349 Michael Allard, and 600 Barry Russell, which saw him drop out of a high position.   As the race progressed, 399 Cole Atkins had moved into second spot, and whilst he was initially distant from race leader Smith, the flow of backmarkers aided his cause and Atkins ws slowly but surely reeling in the gold top.  The gap between the lead pair ebbed and flowed, but as the race headed towards the latter stages, Atkins made his first move by trying to pot the back marking Shevill car into Smith’s machine.  However, it was only a glancing blow and although the World Champion was forced out wide, he managed to find enough traction to maintain his lead.  Further back, 902 Buster Jnr spun but quickly recovered without losing too much time as he continued to battle for third with 730 Deane Mayes.  Having narrowly failed with the Shevill into Smith move, Atkins closed again on Smith, but the next challenge never came, as Atkins cruised to a halt with a broken throttle cable.  Smith was now free to close out the remaining laps, whilst Buster Jnr overhauled Mayes in what is now the battle for second.  Smith enjoyed a relatively comfortable run to the flag whilst Mayes mounted a last bend challenge on Buster Jnr.  The two ran wide, with Mayes forcing the westcountry star out to the pit gate plating, but the grippier outside line allowed him to out-drag Mayes to the finish line.  Further back, there was a similar rush to the line which saw 85 Kyle Irvine cross the finish line backwards in sixth.  Regrettably, the drama did not end with the red flags, as Smith’s car failed post-race technical checks, when his cam timing could not be aligned.  Smith accepted the decision with good grace, and was disqualified, which saw the win and the title pass to Buster Jnr – his first major honour, which came on his birthday weekend.

Weather conditions had deteriorated further by the time of the Allcomers and therefore it was of little surprise that there was a reduced entry.  The race action continued to be fierce as 618 Stuart Shevill Jnr first despatched Allard before spinning 131 Timmy Barnes inside out on the home straight.  Shevill then received swift retribution from Barnes on the exit of turn two which ended the afternoon for both drivers.  Up front Olden had built up a healthy lead although he still had to navigate his way through some wayward backmarkers.   A fine battle developed between 277 Jack Grandon and Atkins for the runner-up spot with Atkins lunging up the inside of Grandon on the final bend to snatch second.  Just 11 plucky survivors made it out for the Final on a track which could have hosted powerboats by this time.  The race still provided plenty of entertainment for the hardy spectators remaining on the covered terrace, with Olden losing the lead to fellow yellow grader 573 Marty Lake.  Buster Jnr sent 129 Will Morphey into a spin as 161 Billy Smith renewed his acquaintance with Olden, the two having encountered each other on a number of occasions over the weekend.  At the front Lake had difficulty clearing the back marking Russell which gave 389 Ryan Santry the opportunity to dive up the inside in the Honiton Bend.  Atkins attempted another last bend dive but it was not to be and resulted in the young driver dropping from third to fifth as he reversed across the finish line to conclude a fine day’s racing which was of a high standard despite the mercilessly dreadful conditions on track.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

Prior to the Benevolent Fund trophy race, two heats featured the majority of the lower graders in attendance.  16 cars gridded for heat one with 464 Matt Linfield the sole blue grader.  305 Colin Gregg and 903 Ben Spence lost control on the back straight, Gregg eventually coming to a halt facing the wrong direction on the Honiton bend as the yellow flags are called for 376 Daz Seneschall and 844 Jack Prosser who had hooked up close by.  398 Ian England made rapid progress towards the front when he was delayed behind 291 Dan Baker who spun out in the process.  194 Luke Johnson led the way when a yellow flag was called once again, this time with 379 Dale Senseschall Jnr left stranded in the middle of the track.  The young racer had been running second but fell prey to a challenge from Linfield.  On the restart, Johnson quickly came under pressure and dropped down the field with England winning from Linfield in second.  928 Lauren Stack led the early stages of the second heat before spinning on the pit bend as 466 Jake Williamson took up the running.  Threading his way through the back marking traffic with aplomb, Williamson crossed the line first.  Behind, former Saloon Stock Car racer 988 Charlie Lobb launched a hit on the rear of second place 359 Gary Wrench, but the move only delayed Lobb who eventually finished third.  That proved significant, as Wrench inherited the win after Williamson failed post race checks on rear axle alignment, which duly cost him a maiden victory.  The Ben Fund trophy race was next, the grid being adjusted to take into account the fact some of the participants had not raced in the curtailed 2020 season and therefore the usual reverse points chart order underwent some modification.  The field included 533 Johnny Whittaker, 27 Kieren Bradford, 438 Mike Rice and 667 Tommy Farrell as the top points scorers from the previous evening’s racing not already seeded to the grid, and the quartet of Wild Cards each received a new tyre for their achievement.  700 Adam Rubery made a good start from the front row, but he ended up slamming into a pile up between turns three and four which claimed a large number of fancied runners including 2015 World Champion 101 Kelvyn Marshall and silver top 560 Luke Wrench who is left to exit the race with front end damage.  The incident cleared sufficiently to avoid the need for a race suspension but at the front 689 Joe Marquand is forced to take the long route around the pile-up and that opens the door from 126 Jamie Avery to pounce.  It was obvious that Avery had the pace of the field, as he set fastest lap after fastest lap, and with only a quarter of the race gone he had established himself clearly in the lead.  Nonetheless, with 32 starters the track is busy and the leader soon finds himself in amongst backmarking traffic which given the tricky conditions provides danger at every turn.  The likes of 24 Jon Palmer, 127 Matt Stoneman and 184 Aaron Vaight failed to make an impression and it was 801 Jack Cave on a rare Smeatharpe appearance who emerged in the top three, with Marquand distantly shadowing Avery in second.  That is how the top three eventually crossed the line, Farrell finishing a good fourth from a late charging Gilbert in fifth.  Avery commented in the post-race interview that the race pretty much went to a perfect plan with the traffic opening up in front of him as the race went on, the Newton Abbott based driver receiving a champagne shower soaking from his fellow podium drivers in celebratory scenes.  24 cars contested the consolation which saw Scotsman 195 Mike Philip have an early spin in the Honiton bend as Gregg and Broatch had a northern reunion in a tangle on the home straight.  Johnson led until he encountered a spun car in the pits bend.  As second placed Bradford took avoiding action, 315 Justin Fisher jumped up into the lead where he stayed to the flag.  Johnson has recovered to fourth when he spun wildly out of control on the home straight eventually crossing the line in seventh.  As conditions deteriorated quickly, it was heartening that 29 of the 32 qualifiers gridded for the Ray Tyldesley ‘641’ Trophy Final.  915 Jamie Jones took over from Johnson at the front of the field in the early stages but before long Farrell made an audacious move which saw him punt Linfield into leader Jones to nip through into the lead.  However, Farrell however lost the lead to Marquand when he was delayed behind Prosser.  Marquand found himself being hunted down by a fast closing Avery and when Marquand encountered Stoneman and 128 Jack Bunter in a battle for the minor places ahead, he lost enough time to allow Avery through to take his second successive victory of the afternoon.  Palmer rounded out the top three.  15 brave souls took to the grid for the final race of the weekend in rain and wind soaked conditions.  605 Ritchie Andrews tangled first with Senseschall Jnr and then Jones in the early stages as the conditions also caught out Palmer who spun around unaided in the pits bend.  Marquand looked most at home in the conditions and picked up the chequered flag with Farrell second as behind there is an excellent battle between Cave, Palmer and 890 Paul Rice for third, the trio finishing in that order.

1800cc National Bangers

Just the eight entrants braved the conditions with the opening heat running to Old Skool rules to preserve cars for later in the programme.  838 Jamie Peters won in straightforward fashion in a race devoid of action.  A much more lively affair was to unfold in the second heat to full National Banger rules with 261 Tom Ware fencing 190 Steve Bailey heavily in the west bend, which saw 841 Jack Perkins join in, ending the World Champion’s day.  278 Shaun Brokenshire followed in Perkins in the pits bend, and Peters proceeded to wreck 652 Kristian Gale.  275 Liam Best and 632 Ryan Karkeen crashed out, which left the latter prone to an attack by Peters who also finished off Ware in the Honiton bend.  Brokenshire was declared the winner with Peters the only other finisher.  With only three cars managing to repair the Final and DD were combined.  Best, whose car was already missing his right rear wheel, encountered more problems when he lost the left rear tyre.  Brokenshire won the race section, but having met head on with Best, that stopped Brokenshire and Peters blitzed the Best car to win the DD component to conclude what in the end was an entertaining session despite the modest entry.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 398 464 903 915 482 128 6 to Final
Heat 2 359 988 746 390 467 35 6 to Final
Ben Fund 126 689 801 667 542 581 325 418 895 184
Consolation 315 127 890 27 183 24 194 736 844 287
Final 126 689 24 667 418 464 398 542 801 890
Grand National 689 667 801 24 890 315 126 915 903 27
Grade Awards W 194 Y 398 B 689 R 126
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
LCQ 328 84 428 172 129 444 561 447 316 152
National Champ 902 730 389 428 85 570 670 84 600 672
Allcomers 364 399 277 573 129 389 600 199 842 152
Final 389 573 277 902 399 428 129 199 364 161
1800cc Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 838 278 190 841 275 261 nof
Heat 2 278 838 nof
Final 278 838 275 nof
DD 838
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