Sizzling action at Raceway

BALLYMENA Raceway survived the cold snap which affected so much local sport over the holiday period to stage an entertaining programme of short oval racing for the sizeable holiday crowd to enjoy on New Year's Day.

Main event of the afternoon was the 2010 Winter National Championship for the National Hot Rods which went the way of Stewart Doak after a hat-trick of wins for the Portadown driver.

Also celebrating was Cullybackey's Frankie Lynn, the current British Champion in the Stock Rod class. Lynn added the Wash'n'Dash Challenge Trophy to his collection of honours, while the other final winners included James Goldie in the Group Two Lightning Rods and Desie Howard in the Classic Hot Rods.

Sign up to our daily NorthernIrelandWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

NATIONAL HOT RODS

A field of ten competitors lined up for the first qualifying heat which went the way of Stewart Doak after an impressive drive from grid position six.

Doak confirmed his speed with another victory in heat two after a fine duel with 2005 World Champion Keith Martin. The same two drivers qualified on the front row of the grid for the Winter National final and raced neck and neck over the opening laps before Martin went spinning out of contention after their cars touched down the back straight.

Doak continued to set the pace out front in his Cirrus Plastics backed Vauxhall Tigra and went on to claim the title for the second time in three years.

John Christie demonstrated that his Ford Fiesta is still a potent force with a strong showing on his way to second, while former Super Rod World Champion Wilson Hamilton claimed third. The new champion was presented with a set of Hoosier Racing Tyres courtesy of event sponsors Wash'n'Dash, Maxwell Freight Services and LM Paints of Ballymena.

Heat One: 1. Stewart Doak (Portadown), 2. Mark Heatrick (Portadown), 3. Keith Martin (Dungannon)

Heat Two: 1. Doak, 2. Martin, 3. John Christie (Crumlin)

2010 Winter National Championship: 1. Doak, 2. Christie, 3. Wilson Hamilton (Kidderminster).

STOCK RODS

Micky McFall was in terrific form in the heat races where the Craigywarren driver rocketed to a brace of victories.

That earned McFall pole position for the Wash'n'Dash Challenge Trophy final, but it was fellow front row starter Frankie Lynn who edged ahead at the start.

The lead pair tangled as they battled for supremacy which sent both cars skidding off the track. Somehow Lynn managed to control his Vauxhall Corsa and retain the lead, while the unfortunate McFall lost a lot of ground in the incident.

Ballymena's Victor McAfee and Republic of Ireland visitor Alan McCormack emerged from the pack to challenge Lynn, but the British Champion never put a wheel out of place over the remaining distance to become the first winner of the new trophy.

Heat One: 1. Micky McFall (Craigywarren), 2. Gary Butler (Dublin), 3. Alan McCormack (Co. Tipperary)

Heat Two: 1. McFall, 2. Frankie Lynn (Cullybackey), 3. Alastair Bolton (Ballymoney)

Wash'n'Dash Challenge Trophy: 1. Lynn, 2. McCormack, 3. Victor McAfee (Ballymena).

GROUP TWO LIGHTNING RODS

James Goldie kept his cool to record a flag to flag victory in the final. A late race suspension meant the race leader had the entire field, headed by double heat winner Lyle Murray, lined up on the back bumper of his Vauxhall Astra for a two lap dash to the line. Goldie executed the remaining distance expertly however to claim the spoils just ahead of Murray and Shane Gault.

Heat One: 1. Lyle Murray (Ballymena), 2. James Goldie (Ballymena), 3. Michael Rodgers (Randalstown)

Heat Two: 1. Murray, 2. Goldie, 3. Gary Thompson (Cookstown)

Final: 1. Goldie, 2. Murray, 3. Shane Gault (Glarryford)

CLASSIC HOT RODS

Newcomer Thomas Dilly made an immediate impact on his first outing in the Classics. Dilly steered his Ford Escort Mk. 1 to victory in the heat race before Irish Open champion Desie Howard took the silverware in the final.

Heat: 1. Thomas Dilly (Portadown), 2. Desie Howard (Moneymore), 3. Robin Morrow (Glenarm)

Final: 1. Howard, 2. Norman Woolsey (Portadown), 3. Dilly.

JUNIOR RODS

Race one for the junior racers produced a clear win for Caleb Howard in his Nissan Micra.

The Moneymore lad was first across the finish line in heat two as well, but an incident with another car at Suffolk bend saw Howard penalised by the race steward and Andrew Gamble declared the winner.

Race One: 1. Caleb Howard (Moneymore), 2. Glen White (Coleraine), 3. Andrew Gamble (Rasharkin)

Race Two: 1. Gamble, 2. White, 3. Curtis Greer (Cullybackey)

NEXT MEETING

The next fixture at Ballymena Raceway takes place on Good Friday (April 2) when the 2010 season commences in earnest.

The Yokohama Championship for the Stock Rod division is the main event on the opening night programme, supported by races for the National Hot Rods, F2 Stock Cars, Group Two Lightning Rods and Classic Hot Rods.