Memorial trophy is up for grabs at Raceway this Friday

RACING returns to the Ballymena Showgrounds this Friday evening (April 12) when the Stock Rods race for the coveted Wm. Cooke Memorial Trophy which is currently held by Michael McFall.

Antrim's Gary Blair won the Gilmore Engineering F2 Trophy at Raceway on Easter Saturday.

Also included in the programme of events is the Grand Prix Trophy for the Open Hot Rods and the Junior Rods Next Gen Cup, with races for the always competitive Group Two Lightning Rod class completing the schedule. The green flag drops to start proceedings in the Ballymena Showgrounds at 7:15pm.

EASTER REVIEW

The temperatures may have been bitterly cold over Easter, but the Stock Car racers at Ballymena Raceway still produced some hot action when the new season at the Showgrounds track burst into action over Good Friday and Easter Saturday.

The Stock Rod class took centre stage with visiting drivers from Scotland and the Republic of Ireland joining the best from the province to contest the Yokohama and Irish Open championships. After two days of tough competition the honours were shared between the home drivers and the visitors, with Irish Champion Stevie McNiece clinching the S. McAfee & Son Car Sales sponsored Yokohama Tyres title on Good Friday and Scotland’s Chris Lattka victorious in the Gilmore Engineering Irish Open title on Saturday evening.

In the other classes Randalstown based racer Andrew Murray marked his return to the National Hot Rods World Qualifying Series with a faultless hat trick of wins on Good Friday.

Antrim’s Gary Blair was another driver celebrating a treble after a dominant display in the opening round of the F2 Stock Car Grand Prix Series, with other final wins going the way of Bradley McKinstry in the Junior Rods and Billy Finnegan in the Speed Stocks.

The Group Two Lightning Rod class produced some of the closest racing over the weekend, with three drivers splitting the six race wins between them.

Galgorm’s Jonny Gillespie steered his sparkling new Vauxhall Astra to a fine heat and final double on Good Friday, but his hat-trick hopes were dashed by heat two winner Greg McMullan.

It was Rodney Fleck who looked on course for a perfect three out of three on Saturday evening, but impressive newcomer McMullan had other ideas once again and walked away with the meeting final on this occasion.

STOCK RODS

Yokohama Heat One: 1. Stevie McNiece (Newtownhamilton), 2. Chris Gordon (Ballymena), 3. Stephen McCready (Antrim)

Yokohama Heat Two: 1. Jonny Cardwell (Ballinderry), 2. James Gray (Scotland), 3. McCready

Yokohama Final: 1. McNiece, 2. Chris Lattka (Scotland), 3. Carl Sloan (Kells)

Irish Open Heat One: 1. C. Lattka, 2. Jonathan Lattka (Scotland), 3. Sloan

Irish Open Heat Two: 1. Cardwell, 2. McCready, 3. Gordon

Irish Open Final: 1. Lattka, 2. Sloan, 3. Derek McMillan (Kells).

NATIONAL HOT RODS

Heat One: 1. Andrew Murray (Randalstown), 2. Keith Martin (Dungannon), 3. Andrew Stewart (Portadown)

Heat Two: 1. Murray, 2. Gary Woolsey (Portadown), 3. Stewart Doak (Portadown)

Final: 1. Murray, 2. Andrew Cochrane (Portadown), 3. Martin

F2 STOCK CARS

Heat One: 1. Gary Blair (Antrim), 2. Christopher Kincaid (Antrim), 3. Craig McConnell (Bangor)

Heat Two: 1. Blair, 2. Kincaid, 3. McConnell

Final: 1. Blair, 2. Ryan McCrory (Antrim), 3. Conor Hughes (Antrim)

SPEED STOCKS

Heat One: 1. Billy Finnegan Jnr. (Ardglass), 2. James Goldie (Ballymena), 3. Lee Booth (Bushmills)

Heat Two: 1. Finnegan, 2. Goldie

Final: 1. Finnegan, 2. Goldie, 3. Booth

JUNIOR RODS

Heat One: 1. Patrick O’Boyle (Broughshane), 2. Cara Wightman (Belfast), 3. Dean McCrory (Antrim)

Heat Two: 1. Wightman, 2. Bradley McKinstry (Nutts Corner), 3. Jaimie McCurdy (Aughafatten)

Final: 1. McKinstry, 2. McCrory, 3. Aaron Moody (Ballymena).

GROUP TWO LIGHTNING RODS

Friday Heat One: 1. Jonny Gillespie (Galgorm), 2. Liscinda Smyth (Portglenone), 3. Shane Gault (Glarryford)

Friday Heat Two: 1. Greg McMullan (Castlerock), 2. Jonny Teggart (Banbridge), 3. Simon McLaughlin (Londonderry)

Friday Final: 1. Gillespie, 2. McLaughlin, 3. Gault

Saturday Heat One: 1. Rodney Fleck (Ballymena), 2. Gillespie, 3. Darryl Reid (Cullybackey)

Saturday Heat Two: 1. Fleck, 2. McLaughlin. 3. Nigel Doherty (Garvagh)

Saturday Final: 1. McMullan, 2. McLaughlin, 3. Mark Turtle (Ballymena).