Smeatharpe Stadium - Sunday 28th January 2018

Smeatharpe’s first race meeting of the new year, saw a healthy increase in numbers of 2 Litre National Bangers for their Winter Open Championship, compared to the past few seasons.  The Stock Rods set out on their Route To Gold, and Ministox numbers were plentiful, on a relatively mild afternoon for the time of year.  Fortunately, the few showers that did occur were light and fairly infrequent.

2 Litre National Bangers

In all, 43 drivers raced in the National Bangers – the best Winter Open Championship entry since 2014.  With not quite enough cars to warrant split heats, it was just shy of 40 cars that took to the track for the main event, and the race delivered some spectacular action at both ends of the circuit.  Right from the start, 374 Richard Kelly hit the front, and with huge crashing all around, the number of those left running soon became depleted.  Kelly held a good lead, with 176 Ben King in pursuit, but on lap six, Kelly came to grief in turn two.  King inherited the lead, and at one stage, his huge lead was more than half a lap, but slowly but surely, 190 Steve Bailey closed and closed.  The pile of cars in the west bend got larger and larger, and it was into this heap that King was nudged by Bailey with just under three laps to go.  Bailey took over the lead, and went on to land a record fourth Winter Open title, with 74 Adam Hitchcock and 209 Tom Waller completing the top three in a race which had only six finishers.  In the first Allcomers race, plenty of cars featured in a huge pile-up in the pits bend, as 397 Ben Hommell and 457 Nathaniel Wheeler steamed in, the latter being blitzed by 45 Anthony Croshaw.  He was attacked by 275 Jonny Tomlinson, the momentum of which took Tomlinson hurtling into Hommell.  278 Shaun Brokenshire was next in, followed by 20 Jack Dow, and he duly took a monster hit from King.  As cars came and went, King sent himself, Crowshaw and 531 Dave Hosking back into the mix, only for Tomlinson to storm in again, too, almost rolling as he glanced off the static Wheeler car.  921 Kairan Wilson was dumped into the pile, and King roared in again, this time blasting 42 Dan Relins, which left King a sitting duck for 239 Steve Carter.  Meanwhile, in the west bend, 376 Steve Hill had been in blistering form with two big hits.  He scored heavily with a big blitz of 760 Jamie Jones.  Bailey then picked up Kairan Wilson and deposited the Roughneck into a big pile of cars, almost standing the Welsh youngster on his nose, but as Bailey backed off, Hill arrived at speed to bludgeon the new Winter Open Champion.  With Wilson requiring assistance, the race was stopped.  Four drivers only were left for the restart, including Bailey, whose car was crabbing wildly.  133 Terry Hill swept to victory.  In the second Allcomers, Hitchcock rattled Tomlinson into the pits bend wall, which left the latter dazed and shook up.  Steve Hill was at it again in the west bend, as he brutally despatched race leader 196 Phil Chapman, before 162 Brett Ellacott did likewise to 37 Matt Thompson, which unfortunately led to the red flags appearing.  Ellacott looked set to win the restart, but when 199 Tom Pearce loitered on the home straight, Ellacott willingly attacked, which delayed him, and allowed 912 Simon Rees to grab the lead.  However, Terry Hill struck on the final bend, as he nudged Rees aside to claim his second win.  A well populated King of Crash/DD was a protracted affair, with several cars lasting long into the dying stages.  Ultimately, 208 Kieran Barrett rejoined after too long spent on the infield, but he was finally finished off by worthy winner 907 Cameron Bradford, who was contesting his first ever DD.

Stock Rods

A slightly disappointing car count of 18 Stock Rods contested their first Autospeed date of the year.  The opening heat saw an early spin in the star grade for 34 Glenn Sanders.  41 James Horwell emerged from the blues to give chase to the small number of lower graders out front.  Horwell soon took up the running, and had a commanding lead over track debutant 227 Jody Hawkins, who then lost power and glided to a halt.  Horwell won by some distance, with 909 Justin Washer the runner-up.  Hawkins was slow away at the start of the final, indicating the mechanical gremlins were still plaguing her.  From the front of the star grade, Sanders was quickly up and into contention.  He swept past 237 Ashley Vaughan to take the lead, but soon after nearly threw it away when he got out of shape on the home straight.  Sanders got it under control again though, to seal the win, as 151 Simon Vincent got the better of Washer two laps from home to clinch second.  337 Darren Waters was the early leader of the GN, but 3 Matt Peters stormed home to win ahead of Washer, thus becoming the third different winner of the afternoon.

Ministox

The 24-car showing of youngsters matched the best there has been for this winter time fixture in the past five years, and brought about the deployment of the two-from-three heat system.  In the opening heat, there was an early yellow flag when 917 Gemma Robbins collected the already spun car of newcomer 998 Taylor Sealy.  914 Callum Faulconbridge was the leader at the time, but he was swamped in a most untidy restart, as British Champion 368 Charlie Santry and 677 Warren Darby burst past.  However, 577 Harry Darby’s run around the outside line saw him hit the front, but he spun soon after, which also delayed his brother Warren.  Santry went on to a comfortable win, and 985 Sam Carter grabbed second.  Heat two was a very long and drawn out affair, but it provided a compelling climax.  At the very start, silver top 980 Charlie Lobb clobbered the pits bend wall, and that brought about a complete re-run, and the end of the Points Champion’s involvement in the meeting.  During a caution period, early leaders 946 Stacey Coombes and 244 Edward Selby departed the scene, the former with a puncture, which led to 584 Charlie Sime battling with Warren Darby and 619 Max Langmaid.  Another race suspension followed when Sealy and 927 Owen Robbins collided in the west bend.  Langmaid was at the front at this point, but the two Darby brothers relegated him to third amidst a slightly untidy restart.  Langmaid fought back, though, and the three drivers changed positions repeatedly during the thrilling final stages.  Just at the last, when it looked as though Harry Darby had grabbed victory, his elder brother Warren pipped him on the run to the line, air punching as he took the chequered by a very slender margin.  Heat three began in nonsensical fashion as Santry and 506 Bradley Eltham played cat and mouse at the rear of the grid.  When Eltham then retired to the infield, Santry pulled off the track to attack him; before rejoining whereupon he failed to respond to four black flags.  Unsurprisingly, Santry was excluded at the end of the race, and loaded up.  The race itself came down to Gemma Robbins and Carter closing in on Coombes in the latter stages.  Carter got by first, but when Robbins looked to do the same, Coombes spun her inside out, and was duly disqualified.  Carter won, and 654 Harley Soper and Langmaid inherited second and third.  Coombes led much of the final, too, but could not hold off Sime who reeled her in and won the coved Bill Batten Van Hire & Sales Trophy.  Gemma Robbins grabbed the runner-up spot late on, as she barged her way past Coombes, whose third place was her best yet on her home track.

2L National Bangers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Winter Open 14 190 74 209 196 133 176 nof
Allcomers 1 133 196 239 nof
Allcomers 2 133 912 162 239 720 190 199 nof
King of Crash/DD 907
Most Wrecked 176
Top Trier 912
Entertainer 720
Best Presented 37 74 251 531 760 921
Stock Rods 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 41 909 51 3 705 9 92 151 351 14
Final 34 151 909 9 3 51 41 944 351 92
Grand National 3 909 92 9 51 151 41 944 351 227
Ministox 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Heat 1 A&B 368 985 677 654 584 972 564 506 970 577
Heat 2 B&C 677 577 504 210 564 584 514 619 970 914
Heat 3 C&A 985 654 619 244 210 927 917 900 870 982
Final 584 917 946 619 972 677 244 564 504 914
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