Northampton International Raceway - Good Friday 30th March 2018

The traditional start of the Easter weekend for Autospeed on Good Friday goes back a long way in our history and for the twelfth time the meeting was staged at the Northampton International Raceway.  The weather has varied on all the extremes in that time but unfortunately it was back to cold and grey and then cold, wet and grey as the afternoon went on.  Nevertheless the BriSCA F2 Stock Cars, Saloon Stock Cars and National Hot Rods soldiered on with the show in a busy 12 race programme.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

As has been written and said many times over the closed season, and since the new campaign started, the BriSCA F2 Stock Cars are in something of a transition phase, particularly on tarmac and it was anticipated that numbers would be down on what had once been expected for this meeting.  Nonetheless, the entry just shy of 40 cars will most likely be the highest of the Bank Holiday weekend and was a cosmopolitan one from all four corners of the United Kingdom.  The meeting also had significance in that it was the first time that the ‘new’ Yokohama RY818 tyre was mandatory on the outside rear.  There was no denying the drivers had all conditions to try it in.  The heats were run in the dry and in the first 127 Matt Stoneman took the victory and then in the second it was a career first win for 16-year-old 674 Steven Burgoyne.  The consolation saw a complete re-run and a yellow flag following crashes that decimated the field and it was ultimately won by 282 Ant Riley.  The rain had arrived for the Tommy Pitcher Trophy Final and was run on a very wet track.  72 Ryan Jones was the early leader until he was passed by Riley, who was tracked by 528 Shane Hector and Steven Burgoyne.  This trio of lower graded drivers were still in these positions as the race moved into its second half, and it was on the 13th lap that Burgoyne made a decisive move on both Riley and Hector to move from third to first and from that point on pulled clear.  It was European Champion 154 Michael Green who battled through to second place and was closing on Burgoyne as the laps ticked off, but he simply could not get near the teenager who clinched a superb and memorable heat and Final double, winning the trophy elder brother 647 Chris had won last year.  The top three was rounded out by 464 Matt Linfield after Hector and NI747 Brad McKinstry tangled up a couple of laps from the end.  468 Sam Weston won the Grand National; again run in very wet conditions.

Saloon Stock Cars

There were a disappointing number of no-shows in the Saloon Stock Cars and whilst hindsight is a wonderful thing, the programme still went ahead in a two from three heat format.  The entry did feature the usual mix from all four corners of the country.  The first heat was ultimately the only dry race for them and after a yellow flag with 331 Mackensie Whitehead stranded and a flash fire in his car, 349 Michael Allard capitalised on the gaps being closed for the re-start and went on to pass leader 120 Luke Dorling for the win.  It was very wet for heat two and 56 George Boult Jnr, who often goes well in such conditions was the winner whilst heat three featured a heavy crash for 99 Jacob Roff after what appeared to be a struck throttle.  Dorling went on to take the win.  The Final was lead by 190 John Wagstaff who held sway in the first part of the race.  Further back there were plenty of heavy exchanges between some of the star graders.  399 Cole Atkins, who is surely destined to become one of the star graded drivers soon enough, moved ahead of Wagstaff to lead, although the equally impressive Dorling reeled him back in as they moved through back marking traffic.  But it was Atkins who held on to win with Dorling second, and a combined age of 33 years between them and it was the hardly ancient 23-year-old 56 Boult who made third.

National Hot Rods

After having their previous two meetings abandoned due to snow earlier in the month, the National Hot Rods were itching to get back into racing on their World Championship trail in the ninth round of their series.  The 26 cars on track made it look a very busy one for the opening heat, which was to be the only race for them.   After a yellow flag when the spun car of 118 Lewis Shelley was collected by 95 Gavin Murray, 172 Colin Hitch held on for a popular win, just holding off 209 Kym Weaver to the line.  Heat two was in very wet conditions with some visibly coping better in the conditions than others and one of them who did, 92 Jack Blood took the victory.  The points scored from the two heats determined how they lined up for the Final and 305 Billy Wood quickly converted his outside front row start to the lead at the drop of the flag, with Blood dropping into second and 174 Jason Kew third getting ahead of pole sitter Weaver.  It was a race where the leaders were constantly in back marking traffic.  It was in the traffic that Kew managed to make the move on Blood for second and then latterly 42 Shane Bland did the same to Blood for third, but he fought back.  The gap ebbed and flowed (with no pun intended) between Wood and Kew at the front, but whilst Kew did keep the 305 car in his sights throughout it was never close enough to land a challenge.  So, it was Wood’s victory, which took him back to the top of the English World Series with Kew second, getting some valuable points and Blood third after a solid afternoon.

BriSCA F2 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 127 647 16 245 581 464 468 72 315 398
Heat 2 674 101 560 359 154 123 542 700 NI747 886
Consolation 282 801 613 318 528 876 111 586 293 nof
Final 674 154 464 542 647 560 NI747 16 127 111
Grand National 468 72 560 123 542 613 111 647 315 674
Grade Awards W 674 Y 245 B 464
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 349 120 671 56 399 600 730 360 27 570
Heat 2 56 730 171 199 641 670 84 190 447 428
Heat 3 120 84 360 349 27 190 157 428 641 399
Final 399 120 56 157 428 306 600 350 661 276
National Hot Rods 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 172 209 136 305 115 155 55 964 162 92
Heat 2 92 42 174 209 305 491 95 15 55 844
Final 305 174 92 15 42 95 209 55 115 23
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