Red-hot racing matches weather at Raceway

The weather was hot and so was the pace at Ballymena Raceway on Friday where the drivers reached some scorching speeds around the fast Showgrounds circuit.

Robert Gillespie with his sons Philip and Jonny at Ballymena Raceway. INBT24-255AC

The Muppet Motorsport sponsored meeting featured Round 2 of the Elite Series for the Stock Rods and it was local favourite Micky McFall who finished as top points scorer for the evening after a well judged win in the meeting final. David Gillespie was another local driver in top form as the Ballymena man romped to an impressive hat-trick of wins in Round 2 of the Masters Series for the Group Two Lightning Rods. Speed Stocks and Junior Rods completed the schedule and their finals brought more silverware for Irish Champion Dean McCrory in the junior category and Billy Finnegan Jnr, in the Speed Stocks.

Stock Rods

Eleven drivers contested round two of the Elite Series and it was impressive newcomer Steven McKane who caught the eye once again in the opening heat with a smartly driven win in the Crebilly Fuels Vauxhall Nova.

McKane was embroiled in a great scrap with Carl Sloan for the victory in heat two and it was Kells lad Sloan who eased his Vauxhall Corsa ahead just three laps from home to claim the honours ahead of McKane and Micky McFall.

His performances in the heats earned McKane pole position for the final, but it was fellow front row starter McFall who got a demon getaway to snatch the lead on the opening lap. McKane soon found himself relegated to fifth as Sloan led a posse of cars in search of the leader. They eventually honed in on McFall’s Vauxhall Nova to set up a grandstand finish, but McFall was equal to all the pressure that was exerted and faultlessly completed the distance to register his first final win at Raceway in 2013.

Heat One: 1. Steven McKane (Ballymena), 2. Micky McFall (Craigywarren), 3. Raymond Harper (Dundrod)

Heat Two: 1. Carl Sloan (Kells), 2. McKane, 3. McFall

Final: 1. McFall, 2. Sloan, 3. Stevie McNiece (Newtownhamilton)

Group Two Lightning Rods

Round 2 of the Masters Series attracted 17 cars and recent returnee David Gillespie edged his Vauxhall Astra home ahead of Noel Hazlett in the opener.

Gillespie repeated the feat in heat two with Jason Clyde his runner-up on this occasion and that brace of victories ensured an automatic promotion for Gillespie to the blue roof section for the final. Starting further back proved to be no handicap for Gillespie however as the Ballymena driver quickly established himself out front once more. Freddie Fleck and Hazlett chased the leader down in the closing laps, but Gillespie kept everything under control to complete an expertly executed hat-trick of wins.

Heat One: 1. David Gillespie (Ballymena), 2. Noel Hazlett (Ballymena), 3. Freddie Fleck (Broughshane)

Heat Two: 1. Gillespie, 2. Jason Clyde (Broughshane), 3. Kenny Greer (Ballymena)

Final: 1. Gillespie, 2. Fleck, 3. Hazlett

Speed Stocks

The Vauxhall Tigra of Stewart Nicholl set the pace in heat one while James Goldie worked hard to chase the leader down. Nicholl held on for the win despite a last bend lunge from Goldie.

Nicholl enjoyed a much more comfortable win in the second heat where all eyes were on the battle for second between Goldie and Billy Finnegan Jnr. Their entertaining dice eventually went in Goldie’s favour, with Finnegan forced to settle for third.

The Co Down driver rectified matters in the final however with a very strong performance. Finnegan’s Honda powered through to the front and pulled steadily clear for a clear win with the Vauxhall Corsa of Curtis Greer in second position and Richard Purdy’s similar machine in third.

Heat One: 1. Stewart Nicholl (Kilrea), 2. James Goldie (Ballymena), 3. Billy Finnegan Jnr. (Ardglass)

Heat Two: 1. Nicholl, 2. Goldie, 3. Finnegan

Final: 1. Finnegan, 2. Curtis Greer (Cullybackey), 3. Richard Purdy (Cullybackey)

Junior Rods

Niall McFerran continued his recent upturn in form with a composed drive to the chequered flag in the opening heat. Local lad Adrian McConnell looked like he might enjoy another race win in heat two, but Irish Champion Dean McCrory fought his way to the front three laps from home. McConnell,

McFerran and McCrory all featured prominently in an incident packed final as well. Both McFerran and McCrory were impeded as they challenged for the lead and it looked like everything had fallen into place for Jaimie McCurdy to secure the spoils but his Corsa was knocked wide on the final lap however which allowed McCrory to sneak ahead again for an unlikely win ahead of Aaron Moody and the unlucky McCurdy.

Heat One: 1. Niall McFerran (Rasharkin), 2. Dean McCrory (Antrim), 3. Jaimie McCurdy (Aughafatten)

Heat Two: 1. McCrory, 2. McCurdy, 3. Adrian McConnell (Ballymena)

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