Northampton International Raceway - Good Friday 19th April 2019

The annual trip to Northampton had a twist this year, as it was the first Good Friday meeting since the venue was resurfaced with shale last year. Accordingly, it attracted a large entry of 56 BriSCA Formula Two Stock Cars and a healthy 29 Saloon Stock Cars, with each serving up action-packed racing on a hot, sunny day.  Stock Rods were also in action, contesting their ORC Championship.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

The first of two well-populated heats brought a win for 977 Dave Massey, but only after long-time leader 88 Stefan Miller crashed out with backmarker 761 Rich Bowyer when well clear with only a couple of laps to go.  Massey led home 78 Henry King and 12 Daniel Ford, the leading star-graded driver.  Heat two was punctuated by three yellow flag periods, with one of the incidents coming after 722 John Broatch clambered up the fence on turn four.  The race was led for much of the way by white-top 252 Sam Claxton, but he lost out to 524 Michael Wallbank after the final restart, and dropped to fourth at the flag behind 995 Michael Lund and 226 Billy Webster, the Shale Supreme champion running well at the venue where he claimed the Grand National Championship last year.  Thirty cars contested the consolation which proved to be a race of attrition.  An early race suspension was called when 142 Jonathan Hadfield flipped upside down on the exit of turn two.  413 Richard Rayner led for some distance but was undone after a restart. 183 Charlie Guinchard, from fourth in the queue, got a flyer and caused chaos as the pack fanned out, sending Rayner and 981 Ian Bailey up the fence, with Rayner rolling over onto his roof.  735 Mick Haworth led away when the race resumed but then spun out, with 26 Gary Ford – who had run well in his heat but fallen foul of a broken wheel guard – taking over.  Ford ran wide with a couple of laps to go, allowing 788 Stephen Mallinson (at the scene of his European Championship triumph, in wholly different conditions) to sneak past for the win from Ford, 377 Daz Shaw and Guinchard, with all 12 finishers qualifying for the final.  Almost the full complement of qualifiers took their place in the Tommy Pitcher Memorial final which was soon halted when 608 Keith Minshall was sent up the fence then dragged along on his side by 88 Stefan Miller, springing a fuel leak in the process.  Claxton and 235 Bradley Blyth had spells in front, but the stars were making rapid progress through the field, headed by 905 Rob Mitchell.  The TMR man took the lead before half-distance, with 995 Michael Lund and 38 Dave Polley following through.  Mitchell was comfortably clear, only for yellow flags to be called when 755 Stuart Simpson was shook up in turn three.  That nullified Micthell’s advantage, and Polley swiftly hit the front at the restart.  Mitchell tried to immediately strike back, but his hefty challenge in turn one saw him only succeed in taking himself into the wall hard, eventually retiring with a puncture and further damage.  After another caution period followed, when King rolled after a tangle with Blyth, Polley pulled clear.  Gamely, 606 Andrew Palmer continued to close during the closing stages, but he ran out of laps, and Polley held on to win from Palmer and Webster.  The Grand National fielded 35 cars and brought a win for 682 Jason Cooper.  Daniel Ford had carved through to third before half-distance, then picked off 212 Jak Hall and 414 Josh Rayner to take the lead.  But Cooper kept with him and moved ahead, and while Ford tried a last-bend lunge, he didn’t connect.

Saloon Stock Cars

The field ran all-in, with 214 Tom Yould winning heat one having hit the front quite early on.  After an early spin, 120 Luke Dorling was a lap down but then stayed with Yould throughout.  He might have caused a nuisance for the leader on the final bend, but Yould held on to win from 570 Simon Venni and 172 Jack Rust.  Venni ran strongly from the red grade again in heat two but got turned around in some typical chaos on bends three and four while well placed.  Instead it was Rust who triumphed, as he benefitted from the intervention of 349 Michael Allard.  There was a lot of heavy hitting going on elsewhere – typified by a cracking battle between 661 Graeme Shevill (one of six Scottish visitors), 116 Diggy Smith, 26 Tommy Barnes and 391 Jake Banwell – but at the front, Rust initially fell foul of Allard’s attempt to unlap himself.   That left the door open for 399 Cole Atkins, but as he hit the front, Allard squeezed past.  Atkins went wide, and Rust regained the lead, to head home the final two laps from Atkins and 131 Timmy Barnes.  The final came after the track had been well soaked by the water bowsers that had earlier been suffering intermittent problems, and meant that there was less grip available in the early stages.  Cars were spinning left, right and centre before the pace gradually picked up.  Yould read the conditions perfectly to once again move in front early on and control the pace, taking his second win of the day.  888 Shane Emerson had closed in, but didn’t make contact with his last-bend lunge, finishing second ahead of 349 Michael Allard and 600 Barry Russell.

Stock Rods

Sadly only nine Stock Rods were present, but all of those had travelled long distances for the rare outing on shale.  The two heats featured a drawn and then reversed grid to decide the starting order for the ORC Championship race.  The top three of 272 John McAlister, 263 Dean McGill and defending champion 83 Michael Bethune staged a good race in the first.  McAlister won, but not before he had got out of shape on bend four, causing McGill to run into a marker tyre and pick up some damage.  Bethune, who had been willing to try the outside line, therefore beat McGill to second.  McGill and Bethune pulled a gap at the front in heat two, with Bethune getting inside to take the lead with six laps to go, only for McGill to return the favour a lap later.  He held on to win from Bethune, 216 Cameron Doak and McAlister.  That left McGill and Bethune on the front row for the final, from McAlister and Doak.  Bethune eventually nosed inside McGill for the lead and then eked out a margin when McAlister also passed McGill.  Doak followed, only to hit a marker tyre and rip a wheel off on half-distance.  McAlister closed in on Bethune and took the lead with three laps to go.  There was plenty of nudging in the closing laps but McAlister held on to win from Bethune and McGill for a Scottish 1-2-3.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 977 78 12 298 38 55 70 124 602 132
Heat 2 524 995 226 252 905 941 24 682 209 235
Consolation 788 26 377 183 981 88 735 755 219 608
Final 38 606 226 995 788 55 252 941 524 235
Grand National 682 12 226 905 788 524 132 305 735 142
Grade Awards W 252 Y 524
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 214 570 172 399 349 730 26 600 525 108
Heat 2 172 399 131 108 2 570 116 450 888 730
Final 214 888 349 600 131 2 730 570 450 116
Stock Rods 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 272 83 263 216 92 14 41 351 932 nof
Heat 2 263 83 216 272 14 92 41 351 932 nof
ORCi Championship 272 83 263 92 351 41 14 nof
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