Raceway drivers notch up several ‘doubles’

It was doubles all round at Ballymena Raceway on May 2 where six drivers managed to win two of the three races in their respective categories.

Junior Rod final winner Niall McFerran collects The Country Garage Trophy from Raceway official Jonny Montgomery.

Irish Stock Car Champion Christopher Kincaid began the trend with a heat and final double in the F2 Stock Car division, and his lead was followed by Niall McFerran in the Junior Rod section.

Matthew Curran from Broughshane required a little assistance from the steward before completing his double in the Group Two Lightning Rods, while Moneymore’s Mark Frew capped his first appearance of 2014 with a pair of wins in the Euro Stocks.

Ballymena’s Steven McKane had the opportunity to go one better and complete a hat-trick of wins in the Speed Stocks, but he was forced to settle for a brace as well when another Ballymena racer, Noel Hazlett, secured their final honours.

The programme at The Country Garage sponsored meeting was completed by the Saloon Stock Cars, where Ross Houston ensured it was a full house of double winners with a heat and final success.

F2 STOCK CARS

Scott Finlay and George Campbell both made their track debuts on Friday evening and it was Finlay who led the opening heat for a good distance until Christopher Kincaid powered through to victory ahead of Craig McConnell and Conor Hughes.

Former kart racer Finlay went even better in heat two and marked his track debut with a maiden victory at the Raceway and the final was all about whether Kincaid could catch the impressive novice.

The Irish Champion proved equal to the task, raking up his second final win of the season at Raceway, while Finlay was spun out on the final bend by Hughes.

Final: 1st. 1st. Christopher Kincaid, 2nd. Conor Hughes, 3rd. Thomas Greer, 4th. Sam McKay, 5th. Martin Stewart, 6th. Scott Finlay

SALOON STOCK CARS

The Saloons made their first Raceway appearance of the season on Friday evening with great friends and rivals Ryan Wright from Cullybackey and Ross Houston from Waringstown carrying the colours of their local football teams, Ballymena United and Glenavon, who contested the Irish Cup Final the following day.

James Serplus and Tommy McCrory battled over the lead in heat one before Houston reeled them both in to make it a three way dice at the front. The trio then managed to get themselves into a real tangle on the exit of Suffolk bend, which allowed Anthony McIvor to sneak through for the win.

For the rest of the evening however Houston didn’t put a wheel wrong and was clearly the quickest man on the track, winning the second heat and the final, which proved to be a good omen for the Lurgan Blues!

Saloons: 1st. Ross Houston, 2nd. Anthony McIvor, 3rd. James Serplus, 4th. Matthew Stirling, 5th. Ryan Wright

GROUP TWO LIGHTNING RODS

A hotly disputed opening heat eventually went the way of David Gillespie, the Ballymena man finally turning his string of runner-up finishes at previous meetings into a well deserved race win this time around.

Matthew Curran recorded a flag to flag win in the second heat, where all eyes were focused on a good dice for second between Graham Young, Stewart Nicholl and Freddie Fleck. Nicholl and Fleck both lost ground through the backmarkers as Young held onto the runner-up spot, with Daniel Norris in third.

Young got the drop on the fellow yellow-grader Curran at the start of the final and held sway to the chequered flag despite the close attentions of Curran. The steward felt that Young was too quickly away at the green flag however and handed out a penalty for the jumping the start, which demoted the race winner and provided Curran with his second final win in succession.

GP2: 1st. Matthew Curran, 2nd. Graham Young, 3rd. Francis Fleck, 4th. Stewart Nicholl, 5th. Rodney Stewart, 6th. Paul Dunn

EURO STOCKS/SPEED STOCKS

The Euro Stocks continue to build up steadily with a dozen cars in attendance for their second fixture of the 2014 season.

It was one of the new entrants, Bobbie Johnston, who hit the ground running in his Vauxhall to record a satisfying victory in the opening heat ahead of Lester McCloy and Philip Doherty.

Mark Frew is another newcomer to the Euro Stock ranks, but the Moneymore man has plenty of previous Raceway experience and that was evident as he led home Johnny McCloy and Nigel Doherty in heat two. The final was all about Frew as well, who led this one from start to finish for his second win of the evening.

The Speed Stocks ran alongside the Euros and it is Noel Hazlett who continues to dominate their Super Pole Series. Hazlett took the honours in the opening round of the season long series on Good Friday and claimed the silverware once again at round two on Friday evening. Both heat races went the way of Steven McKane.

Euro Stocks: 1st. Mark Frew, 2nd. Nigel Doherty, 3rd. Philip Doherty, 4th. Johnny McCloy, 5th. Bobbie Johnston, 6th. Stephen McCahon

Speed Stocks: 1st. Noel Hazlett, 2nd. Adrian Finnegan, 3rd. Steven McKane, 4th. Rodney Stewart

JUNIOR RODS

Robert Mawhinney built up a handsome lead in the opening heat until an untimely caution period four laps from home wiped out his advantage. That was all the opportunity Niall McFerran required to gain the upper hand and the star grader duly obliged at the restart to lead home Aaron Moody and Mawhinney.

There were no such stoppages in heat two however as Mawhinney recorded a first ever win at Ballymena that his early season form has definitely warranted. The final proved to be a race of attrition, with a number of casualties. Shannon Ward and Irish Champion Moody tangled on the entrance to Fisherwick bend, with early pace setters Mawhinney and Patrick O’Boyle also caught up in the aftermath of this incident.

One man who always seems to be in the right place at the right time however is McFerran, who calmly picked his way to the front once again in his Vauxhall Corsa to make it an incredible six final wins on the spin in 2014.

Junior Rods: 1st. Niall McFerran, 2nd. Antony Kincaid, 3rd. Samuel Dunlop, 4th. Aaron McGraw, 5th. Jack Kearney, 6th. Adrian McConnell

HOT ROD WORLD QUALIFIER

Oval racing continues at The Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday evening (May 9) when the speed kings of the local tracks, the National Hot Rods, contest Round 12 of their World Qualifying campaign.

World Champion John Christie from Crumlin secured the European Championship recently in Scotland and heads the entry, along with points leader Andrew Murray and British Champion Glenn Bell.

The Junior Rods compete for their Next Gen Cup with Niall McFerran the hot favourite after an amazing six final wins on the trot. Speed Stocks, Euro Stocks, Group Two Lightning Rods, Classic Hot Rods, Retro and Stock Rods completed the packed schedule, with the first race leaving the grid at 7:15pm.