Irish plunder world crown

BY general agreement, this year's Ipswich Speed Weekend was one of the best in modern times – the packed programme of 34 races ran to time, there was a huge crowd, the weather was glorious, and at the end of the it all, several important championships had been settled.

BY general agreement, this year's Ipswich Speed Weekend was one of the best in modern times – the packed programme of 34 races ran to time, there was a huge crowd, the weather was glorious, and at the end of the it all, several important championships had been settled.

Local success was limited, just about all the different nationalities in the cosmopolitan crowd had something to cheer about. The biggest cheers came from the Northern Irish contingent where there top two drivers, Davy McCall and Keith Martin led all the way in the National Hot Rods World Championships which was the main race of the weekend. Behind them thought, a lot of drama unfolded over the battle for third place which, for the first 36 laps, was disputed between Mark Willis and Malcolm Blackman. However, on the next lap defending champion John Steward was up to force and beginning to look dangerous. He is renowned for his ability to get better the longer the race lasts, but five laps later he was out with broken suspension.

Blackman regained fourth place but he went out as well a few laps later, replaced by Ipswich's Carl Boardley who was getting into his stride after an unfortunate start. But as the race neared its final stages all eyes were on Phil Spinks who was making astounding progress – he had started 26th on the grid of 32 and by lap 70 he had gone past Boardley and was closing in on Willis's third place as they approached the last bend. They clashed as Spinks tried to go through an impossibly narrow gap and while they were trying to straighten themselves up, Boardly nipped through on the inside to beat the two of them in the race to the line.

By then McCall and Martin had already taken the flag, and it was left to the Stewards to decide what to do about third. Initially, they ruled that Spinks' over optimistic challenge on Willis had effectively robbed Willis of third, so reinstated him with Boardly given fourth, but at the Trophy presentation, Willis sportingly offered to swap places with Boardley who had, after all, crossed the line third. Naturally Boardley accepted so justice was seen to be done all round.

For the winner McCall, this was his second World Championship, the first having come in 1990 when, as an unknown, he had come from 27th on the grid to win the race, but this time it was rather easier, leading from flag to flag, although he could never afford to relax as his countryman Martin was always within striking distance.

The loss of Steward and Blackman half way through the race didn't help the English chances, but third for Boardley, after a fourth and fifth in the previous two years, was another good result, and hopes are high in his camp that next year they can improve even on these excellent results.

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There was plenty of supporting racing over the weekend as well, and with 30 cars contesting the support racing, together with 32 for the World final, there is little doubt that the prestige formula, the most popular short circuit saloon formula in Europe, was back almost to where it was in its 1970s heyday.

They returned to Foxhall on August 18 for round two of the 2003 World Championship qualifying series – there is no such thing as having a rest or a close season in oval racing.

The second most important championship of the weekend was the 2-litre hot rod European Championship which was preceded by a very moving tribute to Mark Boulden from Aldershot who would have been the defending champion but had died just one week ago as a result of serious burns received in a work accident. His biggest rival, but also one of his closest friends, World Champion Dave Longhurst from Sussex, took the win with yet another masterly drive, dedicating the victory to his friend and colleague as he accepted the trophy.

Luton's Kevin Randall came from a long way down the grid to be second with relative new comer Paul Wright third. However, post race scrutinising on Sunday found his car not to be in compliance with the rules, so he was excluded and Alan Burksfield promoted to first place. The best placed East Anglian was Peterborough's Jon Field who was sixth.

But there was some local success in the 1400 cc Stock Rods where Bury St Edmunds driver Rob Sore managed to survive some very hairy early laps to pull clear of a battling pack who had a race long dual for second. This was full of champions so he did well to keep them behind him, World Champions Alisdair Kelvin from Northern Ireland claiming second in a photo finish from Scotland's former world champion Chris Latka.

However, Latka's car was found to be slightly underweight so he was disqualified and European Champion Steven Weeks awarded third.

Two local drivers were defending championships won at last years Speed Weekend; first up was Bacton's Darren Goudy who won the Budweiser 500 for Lightning Rods 12 months ago, but in an unusually quiet race neither he nor any of the other big names could quite get near enough to make a sustained challenge to the front runners.

Eighteen year old Daniel Smith, who had a couple of early season wins here, took the win, and with it the prize of 500 bottles of Bud, but only after the promoters had checked with his father, who races in the Stock Rods, that he was definitely old enough to go off with the liquid prize. He was, but on a weekend of good sportsmanship all round said that he would take the 250 bottles and share the rest out amongst the others who have taken part in the race.

There was no alcohol at stake for the Super Stocks, which was just as well as 17 year-old Mike Nicholls from Ipswich was defending the National Championship he sensationally won here last year. The racing from this formula had been quite brilliant all weekend, with lots of cars and non stop action, young Mike getting involved in it fairly early on which effectively scuppered his chances of hanging on to his title.

Felsham's Gary Sparkes was the hot favourite to win, but a collision on the first lap left him with a lot of catching up to do, and just as he looked like getting back amongst the front runners another accident held him up, and he could only manage eighth in the end as Mark Kelman from Hertford took the win, going past Steve Day two laps from the end.

One lap from the end Barry Randall from Diss went out when lying third, so fourth for Matt Carburry from Bury St Edmunds was the best the locals could salvage this year.

The Stock Cars had four exciting races on Saturday, with Ringwood's Barry Staples winning all three heats, but he got involved in a number of crashes in the final for the Sky Sports Trophy and finally struggled across the line in 10th place. Ipswich Simon Berry had led for more than half the distance, but Glen White got past him on lap 12, with three others getting by on the last lap, Berry having to settled for fifth.

The Banger racing over the weekend was some of the best seen at Ipswich in years, despite the fact that the East Anglian team was soundly beaten by a very strong Southern team. The fought gallantly though, and lasted a lot longer than many were predicting, but by the end of the third race, they had all been wipped out, except Ipswich's Dave Canham who survived everything the Southerners could throw at him to get across the line and take the win – even if it did owe something to the generosity of the officials who, realising that the Southern team had won the match overall, had no hesitation in a slight bending of the lap scoring rules to ensure a home town win in this light hearted but heavy hitting affair.

The Southerners emphasised their superiority with two more wins in the individual races on Sunday, although Steve Copland restored local pride with a good win in the weekend's closing event, the distraction derby, when his Banger was the only one left standing after a couple of minutes of furious action.

The handing over of a brand new Mercedes Pace Car from the Peter Brown Group, the traditional firework show, and a spectacular performance by the Suffolk Samba Band were other highlights of this motor racing festival which has been going ever since 1966 – and just keeps getting bigger and better.

Results: Race 23 National Hot Rods World Championship: 1 Davy McCall (Northern Ireland), 2 Keith Martin (Northern Ireland) 3 C Boardley (Ipswich), 4 Mark Willis (Slough) 5 Tom Casey (Tipperary), 6 Phil Spinks (Pinner).

Race 24 Bangers: 1 Keith Painter (Oxford), 2 David Wiles (Bracknell) 3 Sonny Sheerwood, (Thurrock), 4 Jerry Answell (Grinstead), 5 Gordon Coull (Brighton) 6 Shane Copland (Norwich).

Race 25 Super Stox Heat 3: 1 Barry Randall (Diss), 2 Russ Williams (Cheshunt) 3, Colin Aylward (Peterborough) 4 Darren Woolf (Enfield), 5 Matt Carberry (Bury St Edmunds) 6 Geoff Bridges (Ailsham).

Race 26 2-litre Hot Rods: 1 Neil Dunne (Ailsham), 2 Colin Hitch (Hertford) 3 Wayne Mansell (Dorking), 4 Lyndon Lynburry (Diss), 5 Jimmy Rix (Norwich), 6 Pat Kiely (Ilford).

Race 27 National Hot Rods: 1 Stuart Doak (Northern Ireland) 2 Winnie Holtmans (Germany), 3 Billy Bonnar (Scotland), 4 Tick Steward (Gt Bromley) 5 Wayne Woolsey (Northern Ireland) 6 Malcolm Blackman (Buckingham).

Race 28 Lightning Rod Budweiser 500: 1 Daniel Smith (Hayes), 2 Darren Warne (Leiston) 3 Trevor Stroud (Woking) 4 Mark Cooper (Poole) 6 Richard Boulton (Bedford) 6 Diggy Smith (Dereham).

Race 29 Bangers: 1 Sonny Sheerwood (Thurrock) 2 David Wilde (Bracknell), 3 Mark Simmonds (Southampton) 4 Mark Smith (Yarmouth) 5 Shane Davis (Mildenhall) 6 Keith Painter (Oxford).

Race 30 Stock Rods European Challenge Cup: 1 Rob Sore (Bury St Edmunds), 2 Alasdair Calvin (Northern Ireland) 3 Steven Weeks (Basingstoke) 4 Stuart Smyth (Uxbridge) 5 Davy Philp (Scotland) 6 Andy Sturt (Leatherhead).

Race 31 2-litre Hot Rods: 1 Colin Hitch (Hertford) 2 Hughie Weaver (Ailsham) 3 Jon Field (Peterborough) 4 Lyndon Limburry (Diss), 5 Lee Pepper (Eastbourne) 6 Stuart McLaird (St Albans).

Race 32 Super Stox National Championship: 1 Mark Kelman (Hertford) 2 Steve Day (Royston) 3 Shaun Brooker (Chelmsford) 4 Matt Carburry (Bury St Edmunds) 5 Chris Bradbury (Reading) 6 Mark Smith (Yarmouth).

Race 33 National Hot Rods: 1 Shane Brereton (Glastonbury) 2 Neville Stanley (Tipperary) 3 Keith Chesher (Fife) 4 Joey Butler (Tipperary) 5 Mike Thurley (Peterborough) 6 Pat Canavan (Tipperary).

Race 34 Bangers Destruction Derby: Winners Steve Copland (Norwich).

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