Smeatharpe Stadium - Sunday 20th March 2022

The opening meeting of the new national season at Smeatharpe took place under clear blue skies, with a very healthy turnout of both drivers and race fans on hand, and a suitably action-packed afternoon of racing took place. A typically colourful pre-meeting Grand Parade (added to by the presence of four resplendent rigs from SDH Transport) saw a number of additional presentations made including the 2021 Track Championship trophies to Saloon Stock Car racer 902 Buster Compton-Sage and Banger racer 2 Harrison Staples. BriSCA F2 driver 605 Richie Andrews was presented with his third place trophy in the Novice of the Year title, whilst former Ministox star Harry Darby was awarded the Trevor Redmond Trophy, given to the driver from the Autospeed family to have made the most impact in the preceding season in recognition of his triple title winning success in the junior class, achieved both on home soil and further afield at Skegness and Cowdenbeath.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

A fine entry of 41 cars gathered to contest a full format for the MDP Services Trophy, although one of that number failed to progress beyond practice. The opening heat featured 19 cars and flag to flag.  352 Dave Sansom sped into an unassailable lead, as behind one or two others tripped up including a tangle between 979 Paul Moss and 522 Chris Mikulla which ended their challenge.  21 cars contested the second heat where another star grader stumbled, this time 418 Ben Borthwick who retired following a coming together with 931 Rebecca Smith.  460 Adam Pearce broke free from the field into the lead but behind there was an excellent battle for the minor places with 526 Marc Rowe, 509 Jordan Butcher and 194 Luke Johnson enjoying a fine dice for the runner-up spot, with 127 Matt Stoneman and 184 Aaron Vaight joining them in that same battle for a couple of laps before Stoneman broke free to come home in second place.  The consolation featured 20 cars.  259 Daz Purdy led the opening stages until he was caught and passed by 91 Harrison Bryant, making a welcome return to Smeatharpe having been absent last season.  Purdy spun around as he entered onto the back straight and was run into by the chasing blue graders of Andrews and 528 Shane Hector, the two becoming hooked together for a time.  Behind Bryant another excellent battle for second place had developed, initially involving Moss and 828 Julian Coombes.  When 208 Dave Simpson spun in turn two, he careered across the path of Moss.  That led to Moss withdrawing to the infield where he thumped his steering wheel in frustration and having been slowed, Coombes was then joined by Borthwick and 390 Jessica Smith.  Whilst Bryant secured the win, it was Borthwick who eventually came out on top for second with Smith following him home for an excellent third place finish as just 11 drivers made it to the chequered flag.  The final featured 28 out of the possible 30 starters and was soon brought under caution when Stoneman found himself turned around against the plating facing the oncoming traffic approaching at speed on the home straight.  Thankfully all managed to avoid him but as the cause of the stoppage, his race was done.  On the restart Sansom nipped past 320 Matt Hatch to claim the lead, but it was clear that 2013 World Champion 783 James Rygor was the fastest car on track and was slowly but surely closing in on the race leader.  As the last lap board was shown Rygor was within striking distance and heading towards turn three he connected with Sansom’s rear bumper with sufficient force to move the yellow grader wide but without taking either of them towards the fence.  Rygor then had the line to snatch the lead on the drag race to the chequered flag, Sansom ruing his misfortune to lose the lead of a Final on the last bend for the second week in a row.  The Grand National featured a pleasing 28 car field with the drivers having to contend with a track that had seemed to lose much of its grip following an earlier Banger race.  Shortly after the race commenced there was chaos amongst the star graders entering the home straight, with Mikulla’s bad day getting worse as he was sent round into a spin, the car bouncing into the air, as he tangled with 27 Kieren Bradford, with Borthwick and 689 Joe Marquand also being caught up, the latter ramming into the infield marker tyres at the end of the home straight.  Shortly after 35 Charlie Fisher and 232 Dan Abbott collided by the pit gate.  Sansom had again hit the front but for a time the race appeared to be a mirror of the final, this time the chasing star grader was Stoneman.  However, with the lack of grip Sansom looked to be the quicker of the two round the pit bend whilst Stoneman seemed to be able to close in at the Honiton bend, and with his progress stalling, Stoneman had to make do with the runner-up spot behind Sansom to conclude a fine afternoon’s racing for the formula.

Saloon Stock Cars

With a few late withdrawals, the 17-car entry fell short of the promise that had been shown just a few days earlier, but nonetheless the action on track more than delivered for all those in attendance.  Heat one saw 672 Simon Paris, 84 Carl Boswell and 28 Ian Govier lose time on the exit of turn two dropping them out of contention.  33 Pete Hollett and the returning 97 Jon Kingwell made heavy contact with the pit gate (the gate requiring repairs once opened after the race).  Shortly thereafter 252 Mark Tatterton managed to make heavy contact with the home straight plating just beyond the pit gate, Tatterton then quite remarkably being able to get the car started again and continue in the race.  364 Nathan Olden joined the throng at the pit gate as 677 Warren Darby looked to make progress.  Up at the front 319 Richard Regan continued his fine start to the year, following up a win at Northampton the evening before with his first ever victory at Taunton, a track he had first raced at, primarily in Bangers, almost 25 years ago!  Unsurprisingly, Tatterton was missing from the second heat which got off to a hectic start with 28 Ian Govier being piled into the pit bend wall by Jon Kingwell.  10 Frank Little had made a good start and had built up a fair lead but was slowly reeled in by 698 Danny Colliver, and with five laps to go Colliver forced a way up the inside line to take over the lead as behind Darby and Regan enjoyed a good battle for third, the two swapping places on successive laps before Darby eventually came out on top.  There was a depleted field for the Final, but an equally lively race as Darby was propelled heavily towards the pit bend plating by Olden, 444 Kieran Bellringer also being sent around in the process.  Little lost out on the lead to Buster Jnr and 341 Austen Freestone, the two side by side over the closing three laps of the race until the National Champion edged into the lead to take the chequered flag.  Behind, there was an equally close battle for third between Colliver and Boswell, Colliver forcing his way up the inside on the entry to turn three and surviving an attempt by Boswell to then spin out the heat two winner at the line.

Bangers

A field of almost 50 bangers served up a mixture of crashing and close racing.  Two half car heats commenced their programme of races.  717 Donna Cotterell found herself straddling the home straight in the early stages of the opening heat creating a chicane for the other drivers to avoid, a task made even more difficult by 354 Simon Philips finding himself across the track on the entry to the straight until eventually 282 James Rowe slammed him out of the way.  121 Ryan Buddle maintained his lead until the very last lap where he was caught and sent into a half spin by 776 Terry Senford who then moved through for victory.  Heat two was brought under caution after 187 Dave Walters lost a wheel on his car, the then leader 274 Dillon Smith coming to a crunching halt against the home straight plating after the yellows were called.  The damage to Smith did not however prevent him from restarting at the front of the field with just a few laps to go.  He came under pressure from stablemate 23 Barry Staples but despite a last bend challenge, Smith won the dive to the line.  The consolation featured an early pile-up on the pit bend with the field having to choose whether to opt for the inside or outside line.  991 Ben Hale collected some of the stranded cars, which saw him slow to a halt in the middle of the home straight.  244 Aaron Warren led for much of the way until passed by 817 Michael Phillips, but ultimately it was Cornish Champion 238 Jake Hughes who streaked away for the win.  The largest grid of the day in the Final saw 556 Pete Hollis spun at speed on the home straight whilst 298 Dave Greening made heavy contact with the pit bend plating.  Earlier heat winner Smith had once again taken up the lead but with the pit bend becoming increasingly congested and 31 Liam Shipway blocking the outside line into home straight, his run was hindered.  Barry Staples took over at the front but entering the final bend he was squeezed towards the infield as they looked to navigate the narrow passage through, his car clipping one of the marker tyres, and just metres from the line that allowed Smith to get back alongside and take the chequered flag by a matter of centimetres.  The Allcomers still attracted a healthy 25 cars on to the grid.  Staples finally made up for his earlier disappointment, spinning out long time race leader 155 Connor Burtonwood to take the last chequered flag of the day.

BriSCA F2s 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 352 542 27 783 35 320 988 736 232 454
Heat 2 460 127 184 302 844 526 689 53 194 509
Consolation 91 418 390 828 572 777 663 162 525 529
Final 783 352 542 418 988 736 302 27 91 454
Grand National 352 127 736 184 542 844 988 783 390 302
Grade Awards W 526 Y 352 B 988 R 783
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 319 799 677 698 902 341 84 27 28 672
Heat 2 698 10 677 319 341 902 84 364 672 444
Final 902 341 698 84 319 672 10 27 364 nof
Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 776 246 121 31 206 743 836 729 621 114
Heat 2 274 23 775 891 44 366 33 556 296 786
Consolation 238 60 817 2 383 31 59 298 18 768
Final 274 23 206 246 296 768 891 786 621 44
Allcomers 23 206 708 743 246 786 891 59 2 621
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