Smeatharpe Stadium - Sunday 22nd October 2023

The final South West fixture of the national Stock Car season took place in pleasant early autumn weather with a packed programme of events.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

The event featured the track’s National Points Series Championship (NPSC) round, and there were ominous signs for the other nine challengers as World Champion 7 Gordon Moodie set a blistering pace in pre-meeting practice, despite having not attended the circuit since 2019.  The 10 NPSC contenders were presented with a hamper of West Country goodies on behalf of promoters Autospeed following the Grand Parade, whilst 903 Ben Spence’s team worked feverishly in the pit area to swap an engine after encountering trouble in the pre-meeting practice.  To afford the hard-working Spence team some extra time the F2 heats were pushed back a race into the programme.  Heat one saw 141 Harry Neath-Rogers move into an early lead but with just two laps completed disaster struck at the rear of the field as 127 Matt Stoneman and NPSC contenders 213 Tom Bennett, 618 Ben Lockwood and 776 Dan Roots all came to a grinding heap on the back straight.  Fellow silver roof chasers 560 Luke Wrench and 647 Chris Burgoyne were lucky to escape, and the race was suspended as the yellow flags were waved.  After a couple of attempts at resuming the race 468 Sam Weston found himself at the head of field being closed in by Wrench.  Despite a last bend challenge, Weston held on for the win.  The extra time afforded allowed Spence to grid for heat two.  On the green flag 53 Phil Mann and 509 Jordyn Butcher tangled, and 467 Timmy Farrell spun around on turn.  Up front, Moodie powered his way into the lead to take the win from 183 Charlie Guinchard.  Spence nabbed the final qualifier place in tenth spot.  The consolation saw Bennett exit with a burst tyre whilst a caution period is needed to assist 970 Archie Farrell from his car having impacted the plating backwards on the pit bend.  Lockwood led the field home from Stoneman and Timmy Farell.  The Ladies Trophy final begins in scary fashion with 605 Richie Andrews broadside across the home straight, where he is collected by Stoneman, both drivers thankfully exiting their cars under their own steam.  Moodie and Guinchard were fortunate that whilst they too found themselves out of shape on the pit bend, it was after the caution flags had been shown and therefore they could move retake their rightful places in the single file restart order.  In contrast to many other Smeatharpe finals this year, the race was relatively incident-free, and Moodie was unstoppable as he stormed up the order to take over from Neath-Rogers at half distance.  From there on, he sped off into an unassailable lead to become the first Scottish driver to win the coveted Ladies Trophy.  184 Aaron Vaight and Guinchard completed the top three, but even more significantly for Moodie, the win was the World Champion’s 500th Final of his career.  It was a typically reflective Moodie who voiced his pride at the achievement in the post-race interview prior to being ‘refreshed’ with the traditional champagne shower from the gathered Farell family and friends.  The Grand National began with Moodie making rapid progress from the lap handicap but as he sought to make his way past Guinchard the current silver roof holder sent the Scotsman into a half spin which saw him go back down a lap behind race leader 618 Ben Lockwood.  A yellow flag was required for Archie Farrell who suffered a stuck open throttle, and he ended up stranded across the track on the exit of turn two.  This was just as the last lap board was about to be shown.  Hence, a one lap shootout followed, but going down the back straight Lockwood saw the hit coming from second placed Vaight and managed to ride it out.  Vaight lost time making the challenge as 12 Criag Driscoll (in a borrowed Jon Palmer car) and Wrench both passed him, but it was Lockwood who grabbed the chequered flag.  The impressive Neath-Rogers signed off his debut season by claiming the St John Ambulance shield as the day’s leading white grade points scorer.

Saloon Stock Cars

With the entry missing a couple of National Series entrants having to attend the rescheduled round at Kings Lynn, the grid was a little sparser than hoped. 314 Bryn Finch led the opener from start to finish but behind there was plenty to enjoy with 220 Louis Kingwell having an eventful first outing, going full chat into the pit bend taking 111 Thomas Ruby round in the process.  Not the most judicious of moves, Kingwell suffered heavy front end damage which ended his afternoon early.  720 Archie Brown and 577 Harry Darby were two others to lose time during the race as 677 Warren Darby followed Finch home in second.  Brown was sent hard into the Honiton bend by Warren Darby at the start of the second heat, which was again led by Finch until five laps from home.  By that stage, Warren Darby had made his way to the front to take the win as behind Ruby, 27 Jason Kingwell and Brown all crunched heavily into the home straight plating on their way to completing the race.  The Final saw Finch spun early on as Warren Darby’s challenge was hampered by 271 Lacey Joyce, who showed up well on her first outing in the formula.  Veteran 199 Phil Powell took up the lead and it looked for a long time that it might be a fairytale ending to his racing career in what he had vowed would be his last home outing in the formula.  It was not to be, however, as with a lap to go Darby managed to dislodge him from the lead to take a hard-earned victory.

ORCi Ministox

The cancellation of the previous evening’s racing in Scotland owing to poor weather boosted the field with six drivers making the long journey South.  A two from three format was deployed for the annual Club 21 Trophy day.  505 Louie Herzig took his first win in the formula in the opening heat, and in some style at that, leading from the green flag to the chequered.  207 Alfie Flecken sped through to the runner-up spot with 870 Bertie Farrell finishing third.  Behind them, there was a tremendous battle for fourth between 202 Cody Bradford and 484 Dean Heeps, the duo eventually finishing in that order.  Another lower graded win in heat two looked on the cards with 511 Lexie Crosbie leading till well over half distance but she was eventually overhauled by Farrell and dropped out of the running.  ORCi Champion 629 Kerr Paterson forced his way past Bradford and Flecken to secure second spot despite a last bend attack from Bradford which failed to connect.  567 Mia Baten held on for a popular win in the third heat as she just managed to head off Scotsman 172 Rian Mitchell who found a way past 770 Austin Farrell who had tried hard to defend his position, only to lose third to National Champion 290 Alfie Tomkins on the last bend.  The Final was another entertaining affair.  Crosbie got out of shape on the home straight and Batten found herself spun on the back straight.  When Bert Farrell met her on the nose, it brought out the yellow flags.  The restart was very messy and resulted in 879 Caitlin Mitchell almost onto her side on the pit bend as she pushed 267 Robbie Batten into a spin, bringing another caution period.  On the restart Heeps got into the lead, with Flecken second, until a challenge from Tomkins delayed them both and allowed 475 Mason Sealy and Mitchell to claim the remaining trophy positions behind the new holder of the Club 21 Trophy: young Scotsman Heeps.

Bangers

198 Owen Nichol led heat one until 823 Tyler Philips took over.  A scrabble for places allowed 31 Liam Shipway into what was to prove to be a winning lead, and further behind 621 Scott Kendall and 206 Matt Brewer enjoyed a fine battle for the runner-up spot.  919 Oscar Berry and 556 Pete Hollis came together on the exit of turn four near the beginning of the second heat with Hollis being rattled into by 155 Connor Burtonwood.  Berry, Philips and Hollis then found themselves embroiled in some suspect hits whilst Shipway once again claimed the chequered flag.  The Devon Championship was a relatively straightforward affair, with the dominant Shipway swiftly getting to the front of the field.  He went on to win comfortably with 595 Ben Wall taking a decent runner-up spot ahead of Kendall.  A Demolition Derby was added which produced the usual fun and destruction as 756 Troy Hooper ran out the eventual winner.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 468 560 647 302 141 776 605 881 460 654
Heat 2 7 183 184 979 728 12 980 47 976 903
Consolation 618 127 467 509 828 762 232 53 235 nof
Final 7 184 183 828 560 647 618 980 141 979
Grand National 618 12 560 184 47 980 728 647 183 776
Grade Awards W 141 Y 828 B 468 R 7
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 314 677 277 199 672 271 7 720 27 577
Heat 2 677 314 720 27 577 277 672 799 271 111
Final 677 199 720 277 799 27 577 672 314 112
Ministox 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 505 207 870 202 484 475 922 267 629 913
Heat 2 870 629 202 207 290 172 484 27 770 920
Heat 3 567 172 290 770 617 050 475 920 922 267
Final 484 475 172 202 629 290 050 207 27 913
Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 31 621 206 230 662 836 756 198 823 556
Heat 2 31 621 206 230 756 836 198 595 nof
Devon 31 595 621 206 230 662 836 315 198 nof
DD 756 nof
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