Jamie grabs first win
MOTORSPORT: Fans still supported the all-Rod motor sport meeting at Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich on Easter Monday despite the lack of Bangers and the counter-attractions of Premiership football at Portman Road.
FANS still supported the all-Rod motor sport meeting at Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich on Easter Monday despite the lack of Bangers and the counter-attractions of Premiership football at Portman Road.
All three formulas featured very good entries, with the top of the bill National Hot Rods fielding 30 cars for round 12 of the World Championship qualifying series.
Essex star Tick Steward wasn't among them. He only joined the formula at round nine, taking over from his suspended brother and is making a determined effort to get into the World Final, but engine damage at Ringwood on Friday couldn't be repaired in time for Ipswich.
However, all the other big names were present, including world champion John Steward and West Country driver Shane Brereton who had won both his heats and the final at Ringwood.
Peterborough's Neil Stimpson, who was lying fourth in the World Series at the start of the day, added to his score with a win in the opening heats at Ipswich.
European Champion and World number two Mark Willis took heat two with a storming drive from the back of the grid, thus increasing the pressure on Malcolm Blackman, the current World Series leader.
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Blackman responded by winning heat four, again from the back of the grid in what was undoubtedly the best race of the day, the first six racing nose to tail and side by side for most of the second half of the race.
In between these two heats, Peterborough's Mike Thurley had driven well to run away with heat three, although this was probably too late to save his World Championship chances, as he was way down the rankings, at 27th at start of play.
The final saw Adam Scott and Mike Haltby pull out a big lead by halfway, and these two never looked likely to get caught, with Scott winning.
All the interest was on the battle for third place where Scotsman Lee Patterson was desperately trying to stave off Dave Longhurst and Brereton.
Patterson and Longhurst collided, which let Brereton get past Longhurst, and although the Scotsman was initially penalised two places, the penalty was rescinded on appeal.
John Steward had a poor day, a seventh place in heat one being his only points, while Stimpson's bright start to the day ended early in the final when he got involved in a crash.
The racing from their less powerful "cousins" the 2L hotrods, wasn't as good as their previous outing at Foxhall although it did produce the third successive final for Andy Sturt.
Although experienced in other racing classes, he is new to the Hot Rods, this being only his fifth meeting in the formula. He won at Ipswich last time out, a fortnight ago, and also took the final at Wimbledon on Easter Sunday evening.
As so often, the Lightning Rods provided most of the day's excitement as yet another huge entry of the big cars made the track look very crowded.
And, as so often these days, it was the new boys who took most of the honours, with Ipswich driver Jamie Austin getting his first ever win in heat one.
He has looked good since he came into racing at the start of the year and has had a host of second and third places already, while another local driver, Ed Glendinning, won the next heat to go with two heat wins at Swaffham on Good Friday.
Seventeen-year-old Daniel Smith, another in his first season, won heat three and, while these have all been rather frantic affairs, the final was even more fraught. Thirty six cars was probably too many and inevitably there were a lot of crashes which had wiped out over half the field by the end.
Woodbridge driver Gary Farrington, out in his new car for the first time, celebrated with a win, Austin was a good second, while Watford's Neil Allgood, who specialises in very strong finishes, grabbed third over the last two laps.
All three were pleased with their trophies although perhaps more relieved to have come away still in one piece when so many others hadn't.