Smeatharpe Stadium - Sunday 12th March 2023

Smeatharpe Stadium’s season began with a first 2023 appearance in the south-west for Saloon Stock Cars at the venue where their World Championship will be held later this year. A large entry of BriSCA Formula Two Stock Cars contested the traditional season-opening MDP Services Trophy, while 2Ltr National Bangers had a PRI World Final Wild Card and the Spring Open up for grabs. Stock Rods completed the bill on an afternoon of mixed weather.

Saloon Stock Cars

The previous night’s call-off at Mildenhall slightly boosted the field which included a trio of newcomers and plenty of smart machinery, as well as a track debut in the formula for 760 Joey Reynolds who travelled south after racing in Scotland the night before. Ministox graduate 577 Harry Darby emulated his brother by winning on debut in heat one. Indeed, 677 Warren Darby made it a family 1-2 for the pair. While Harry drove an untroubled, mature race from the front, Warren worked his way through from the rear, hitting 227 Jon Kingwell wide for third and getting inside his brother 27 Jason Kingwell for second in the closing stages. As the Kingwells scrapped with 561 Aaron Totham and 902 Junior Buster, 227’s big last-bend-lunge only succeeded in letting 27 claim third. Rain had started to fall before heat two, making for tricky conditions which the Darby brothers would fall foul of. In a somewhat chaotic race, early leader 28 Ian Govier was turned around on the home straight by backmarker Totham before engaging in some tit for tat with Jon Kingwell. It was 319 Richard Regan who took over the lead, going on to win from 277 Jack Grandon and Junior Buster. With heavy rain continuing unabated, Harry Darby tangled with debutant 112 Rich James at the start of the final. James was heavily collected by Junior Buster and, with several other spinners, a complete restart was required. That was dominated by the Kingwell brothers, Jason leading Jon until the final bend when Govier – after sitting on the infield for more than half the race – pulled out to remove the leader. So, Jon Kingwell won from Grandon, Junior Buster and Reynolds. 16 cars made it to the last event of the afternoon which boasted enhanced prize money from sponsors Devon Truck Show. After previous happenings, there was an early focus on the anticipated battle between the Kingwells and Govier. They didn’t have to wait long, for as the race commenced Jason Kingwell launched a ferocious dive on the rear of Govier’s car resulting in hefty front end damage and the end of his race, leaving most savouring the future on track battles between the drivers. Harry Darby was the next to be spun around and out of the race as Regan again showed his liking for the wet track as he sped into the lead. He looked to be in control of the race until the closing laps when Powell appeared to find grip that was unmatched in the field and began reeling in the race leader. His opportunity seemed to come as Reagan was delayed when passing the back marking 111 Thomas Ruby allowing Powell to edge within striking distance but then Powell himself was impeded by the aforementioned Ruby who was having his own baptism of fire in the formula. That bought Reagan with just the narrowest of breathing space to take the chequered flag.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

An excellent early-season turnout of 44 cars got three of their races in before the rain. After a false start to the opening heat, 259 Daz Purdy established himself in the lead. But 667 Tommy Farrell, his car sporting a terrific tribute livery to the late Bill Batten, was carving through the pack. While a greasy Honiton bend make things tricky, Farrell picked off those in front and nudged Purdy wide for the lead before half-distance. He opened out a big advantage to win from 828 Julian Coombes and 315 Charlie Fisher, while returnee 24 Jon Palmer – borrowing Dave Sansom’s car while his new machine is readied – prevailed in a last-bend sort-out for fourth. 525 Charlie Knight led away heat two, only to spin and cause chaos behind. After a caution period, Ministox graduate 914 Callum Faulconbridge led away before 728 Jack Bunter hit the font. But 127 Matt Stoneman quickly scythed through into the lead, followed by 560 Luke Wrench who shoved his way past Bunter and 762 Mike Cocks. Northern visitor 915 Jamie Jones had injected further action by putting 320 Matt Hatch heavily into the fence and, when Hatch was caught by Bunter, yellows were required once more. Taking a wide line into turn three to avoid fluid on the inside, Stoneman controlled the remainder of the race, while Jones came through to second ahead of 736 Josh Weare as Wrench was shuffled backwards. The 23-car consolation was packed with 20 lower graders, making for plenty of action. Knight led away once more but, from the front of yellow grade, 325 Ryan Sheahan closed in and nudged him wide for the lead after six laps. Sole red top 581 Dan Fallows had looked a danger until getting caught out on the pit bend after tangling with Hatch. Thus, it was former Superstox star 776 Dan Roots who became Sheahan’s biggest threat. Roots passed Knight for second with two laps to go but was unable to catch Sheahan for victory. All the while, battles raged for the final qualifying places, with Bunter and 194 Luke Johnson getting the better of a fraught last bend to sneak through. The 30-car final came after the heavens had opened and again required a complete re-run after Johnson and 895 Ben Goddard tangled on the home straight and most of the star grade piled into the wreckage. Five cars were unable to restart, and more were lost when Coombes and 302 Dale Moon tangled in turn one and collected by 783 James Rygor. After a caution period to assist Coombes who had belted an infield marker tyre in turn one, 464 Matt Linfield took the lead form Purdy who then spun under pressure from 801 Jack Cave and the new car of 979 Paul Moss. A further caution was needed when 980 Charlie Lobb collected Bunter at full pelt on the back straight. Cave pushed Linfield wide on the restart but couldn’t make the move stick, the loss of time making him easy prey for a charging 689 Joe Marquand, with Stoneman and Jones swiftly through. Marquand made his move for the lead stick just after half-distance, but not before he and Linfield briefly traded the position. From there, Marquand pulled clear as Stoneman pushed past Linfield, opening the door for Jones to follow. Jones snatched second when Stoneman was momentarily delayed by a backmarker, but could not catch the 689 car as Marquand continued his habit of strong starts to the season. Farrell further demoted Linfield who was left with nothing to show for his efforts after being spun by 161 Ben Bate exiting the final bend. Despite the miserable conditions, 19 cars returned for the Grand National. Andrews quickly hit the front but Fisher had moved ahead after Jones instigated another caution by firing Cave into the wall, with 870 Bruno Farrell collateral damage. Fisher managed to pull clear of Moss to take the win, while Jones just prevailed in a scrap with Palmer for third, only to be docked for jumping the original start.

2-Litre National Bangers

A disappointing showing of Bangers competed for a wild card into the PRI World Final at Mendips Raceway later this year. It was 190 Steve Bailey who secured his place on the grid for one of the few major titles he hasn’t won. BMW-mounted 246 Ryan Sparks spun 59 Mike Hamley out of the lead but ‘Pikey’ then moved ahead and kept clear of Sparks for victory. 133 Terry Hill passed 2021 PRI world champion 743 Jake Bond to secure third. The second race was for the Spring Open championship but, save for some games between Hamley and 890 Pavaroti, it was another quiet race. Hill took the honours from brother Sam (131) with 83 Ben Styles third. The allcomers race was enlivened by 355 Aaron Dark following in the Vauxhall Astra of 278 Shaun Brokenshire. Regrettably, ‘Bean’ suffered a knee injury. Bailey looked set for his second win of the night, only for Styles to snatch victory away at the death. Only Dark was willing/able to take part in the DD, which was duly shelved.

Stock Rods

A 25-car showing of non-contact Stock Rods led to each driver contesting two from three heats. The very smart new car 415 Sean Gillett quickly picked up plenty of battle scars when he clipped the inside kerb and rolled in heat one. On the resumption, newcomer to the formula 79 Brian Edmond and yellow-top 220 Richard Short got a break. As the laps wound down, 131 Stephen Cock and silver-top 351 Rhys Langdown closed in as Edmond faced backmarking traffic, but he held on to win. With rain starting to fall, a complete restart was required in heat two after 275 Jeremy Hatch took a heavy hit into the wall as drivers squabbled for position at the drop of the green flag. Once again, it was Edmond out front, and he maintained his lead to the chequered. Having eventually reached the head of the chasing pack, former BriSCA F2 star 522 Chris Mikulla was catching Edmond in the closing stages but ran out of laps to challenge. Now on a very wet track, 375 Jonathan Salvage led heat three until beyond half-distance when he spun unaided, whilst exiting turn two. Short was there to take advantage while 426 Keith Channon’s bravery on the outside line was rewarded with second. 37 Barry Trickey completed the top three ahead of 151 Simon Vincent as Mikulla got shuffled back in the closing stages. On a very wet track as the skies became ever gloomier, 16 cars gridded for the Final. Salvage dropped out of the early lead spinning on the slippery surface which promoted Short into the lead. As the race progressed 204 Georgie Polley found herself in against the wall on the entry to the home straight alongside 131 Stephen Cock and delaying 286 Martin Walker Jnr, the race eventually being brought under caution to aide Polley from the car as 944 Callum Hosie’s poor reliability continued with another retirement. On the resumption there was, at one point, ten cars battling from fourth place backwards with little to choose between them, but it was Trickey who braved the outside line and began to close in on the race leader, with Langdown following. Trickey valiantly tried to close on Short but in the end the gap was just too much as Short took his second win of the afternoon.

Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 577 677 27 561 902 227 720 760 129 444
Heat 2 319 277 902 760 720 27 561 129 314 227
Final 227 277 902 760 129 677 199 561 720 444
Allcomers 319 199 277 902 720 760 129 561 677 227
2ltr National Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Wild Card 190 246 133 743 131 278 59 355
Spring Open 133 131 83 246 278 190 743 355 59 nof
Allcomers 83 190 133 131 743 246 355 nof
BriSCA F2s 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 667 828 315 24 801 184 979 890 689 259
Heat 2 127 915 736 988 783 161 560 302 605 464
Consolation 325 776 475 525 210 762 97 895 728 194
Final 689 915 127 667 161 315 302 979 801 560
Grand National 315 979 24 783 302 915 127 667 689 161
Grade awards W:525 Y:828 B:315 R:915
Stock Rods 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 79 220 131 351 32 204 77 151 231 84
Heat 2 79 522 101 204 286 351 37 285 426 131
Heat 3 220 426 37 32 151 909 286 522 231 101
Final 220 37 351 151 909 32 286 285 131 913
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