No Friday 13th nightmare for locals at Raceway

FRIDAY the 13th at Ballymena Raceway held no fears for two local drivers last week. Ballymena's Kenny Greer romped to an impressive hat-trick of wins in the Group Two Lightning Rod class and Kells teenager Carl Sloan won the Stock Rod final for the second week in a row after another sizzling display in his Vauxhall Corsa.

The other final victories at the Ross Hyndman Motors sponsored meeting went the way of Gary Grattan in the F2 Stock Cars and Stewart Doak in the National Hot Rods.

NATIONAL HOT RODS

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Round 3 of the World Qualifying Series attracted an entry of ten cars and it was Stewart Doak who was successful in the first heat, heading home John Christie and Keith Martin.

Current Northern Ireland Champion Christie recorded his first victory of the new series in heat two, but was forced to withdraw his Vauxhall Tigra as the cars assembled on the grid for the final.

It was Doak once more who powered passed early leader Paul Crawford to claim his second win of the evening in the Cirrus Plastics Vauxhall Tigra, with Gary Woolsey and Martin the place men on this occasion.

Heat One: 1. Stewart Doak (Portadown), 2. John Christie (Crumlin), 3. Keith Martin (Dungannon)

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

Final: 1. Doak, 2. Woolsey, 3. Martin

F2 STOCK CARS

Seventeen cars gridded for the opening heat which concluded with a close battle between Conor Hughes and Gary Grattan.

Hughes managed to maintain his advantage over a fast-finishing Grattan in that one and it was another Antrim based racer, Gary Blair this time, who took the chequered drive in heat two. Sam McKay from Ballyclare had built up a good advantage in the final, but this evaporated when a caution period was called with two cars blocking the track at Suffolk bend.

Grattan quickly powered through to the front on the restart and pulled well clear by the finish, with Graham Fegan and Craig McConnell completing the top three.

Heat One: 1. Conor Hughes (Antrim), 2. Gary Grattan (Banbridge), 3. Graham Fegan (Hannahstown)

Heat Two: 1. Gary Blair (Antrim), 2. Adam Maxwell (Nutts Corner), 3. Gavin Fegan (Lisburn)

Final: 1. Grattan, 2. Graham Fegan, 3. Craig McConnell (Bangor)

STOCK RODS

The young-guns dominated the results with teenagers Bobbie Johnston and Carl Sloan sharing the race wins between them.

Johnston's Vauxhall Nova withstood a strong challenge from Micky McFall's similar machine to snatch the honours in heat one before Sloan continued his impressive recent performances with a clear victory in heat two.

Sloan's Vauxhall Corsa made short work of the final too, his second in a row at Raceway, while Johnston and McFall looked horns again in a fierce battle for second. This concluded when the pair touched which knocked Johnston out of contention and resulted in a two place penalty for McFall.

Heat One: 1. Bobbie Johnston (Glenarm), 2. Micky McFall (Craigywarren), 3. Carl Sloan (Kells)

Heat Two: 1. Sloan, 2. William Laffin (Coleraine), 3. Lee Johnston (Portadown)

Final: 1. Sloan, 2. Frankie Lynn (Cullybackey), 3. Raymond Harper (Nutts Corner)

GROUP TWO LIGHTNING

Twenty-one cars took to the track for heat one which developed into a great tussle between Brian Alexander, David Wilson and Kenny Greer.

It was Wilson who crossed the line first, but a post-race penalty from the steward handed the win to Greer. That proved to be all the help Greer needed for the rest of the meeting as his Vauxhall Astra went on to record comfortable victories in both the second heat and the final to complete a perfect hat-trick of wins for the Ballymena man. David Reynolds followed the winner home in the final, with Shane Gault moving through the field into third.

Heat One: 1. Kenny Greer (Ballymena), 2. Brian Alexander (Ballymena), 3. David Wilson (Cullybackey)

Heat Two: 1. Greer, 2. Shane Gault (Glarryford), 3. Wilson

Final: 1. Greer, 2. David Reynolds (Ballymena), 3. Gault

THIS WEEKEND

The biggest event on the Ballymena Raceway calendar takes place this weekend when the track hosts a double bill of international championships. Both the Stock Rod UK Masters and the Classic Hot Rod Irish Open Championships will be decided during two days of top quality short circuit competition.

Heading the star-studded entry list for the Stock Rod event is current European and National Champion Robert McDonald fro Scotland. British Champion Kerr Patterson is also making the trip to Raceway along with a strong team of cars representing Tipperary Raceway in Southern Ireland.

The drivers will contest a gruelling session of qualifying heats on Friday evening (August 20) to earn their grid position for the final which takes place on Saturday (August 21).

A full programme of support races are scheduled on both evenings, with the ORC Lightning Rod Yokohama Cup taking place on Friday along with racing for the Junior Rods and Group Two Lightning Rods. Saturday evening features the Group Two class again, plus a World qualifying Round for the National Hot Rods and the Tom Swan Memorial for the F2 Stock Cars.

It promises to be an excellent weekend of short oval motorsport that all the family can enjoy, with the on track action getting underway in the Ballymena Showground’s at 7:15pm on both evenings.