Motor racing at Arena Essex Raceway

Fixtures - Review of recent meetings

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Sunday, 22 March 2015 - PRI Bangers plus Junior Bangers, Lightning Rods and Stock Rods

This meeting, and all others, are captured by Arena DVDs. Order your DVD now..

In a sensational twist of fortune, Jamie Hopkins bounced back from a huge rollover in a qualifying heat to win the Junior Banger final here last time out.
Hopkins and the closely following Charlie Murrell met with a slow moving Samuel Voller in heat two and as they both pulled out to pass, Murrell tipped Hopkins into a spin. Hopkins car rolled towards the barrier with Murrell's car also rearing up for a moment as Hopkins rollover ended with a high speed trip along the back straight on his side.
At the restart Murrell was dealt swift revenge with a big hit from Joey Holmes, who followed him all the way into the fence and into a rollover of his own. Simultaneously, Ellis Hopkins attempted a similar move on Ronny Gillett as revenge for an earlier spin, but probably took more damage herself as Gillett backed her into the fence. Alfie Jones and Bradley Lee were the heat winners.
The final started with a bang as Ellis Hopkins perfected her technique and took in the unfortunate Chloe McDonald, who had earlier been the first rollover victim of the day. Somehow the earlier instances of cars being followed into the fence had slipped under the radar, but Ellis was correctly disqualified at this point, although she chose to ignore the black flags being waved at her. Justice took its own hand though as she found herself upside down on the exit of turn two after being tipped over by Samuel Voller!
At the restart, the battered car of Hopkins spun Ben Raby out to take the lead, narrowly avoiding being taken into the home straight barrier as he did so. Raby recovered, but only for third place, Bradley Lee making it into second.
Entertaining though it was, clearly we need to keep a lid on the Junior Bangers a bit, some of the action was a little over the top for the youngsters. There will be plenty of opportunity for revenge shots, all hopefully within the spirit of the rules!
Numbers were slightly down on the norm in the senior PRI Bangers, although there were still enough cars for two qualifying heats, won by Danny Brett and Micky Cornish - the latter most surprised to inherit the win after the top three were all found with illegal wheels/tyres.
Many of the racers had different tyre sizes (diameter) on one corner, clearly to make them corner better on our particular type of tracks where you only ever need to corner in one direction! Unfortunately even after being forced to make the change, many more were seen with differing profile tyres achieving much the same result, yet still currently within the rules. It is a tough job for scrutineers and rule-makers to keep tabs on all the little tricks that bump up the expense of what should be a budget formula. But it is worth doing to safeguard its future.   
The consolation was stopped in the early laps after a heavy collision between Debbie Taylor and Jordan Webb left both requiring recovery time. We certainly do not need the scenes that followed as other drivers decided that they knew far more about medical matters than the assembled medical team. Quite how they think they can help their comrade by blundering in like a heavy handed Mr Bean is anyone’s guess. Thankfully all ended well although Jordan bit his tongue in the incident, something the other drivers involved would be well advised to do too.
Two victims of the post race scrutineering failures after heat two then made up for their disappointment, Paul Whiteman winning the restarted consolation whilst Karl Davis romped away to win the final.
The Ford Focus of Jamie Harding was unstoppable in the Destruction Derby, the car perhaps proving itself to be a little too strong for the class, the biggest wrecks from the earlier races also occurring after a collision with one of the handful of Focus's present. In fact we mentioned earlier about keeping tabs on the rules of the class, the Ford Focus does seem to be outside the spirit of the class. Very Mondeo-like in that it just doesn't bend. If we aren't careful the class will suffer like Rookie spec formulas elsewhere where one make of car takes over. Also it was notable that pretty much every stationary car hit seemed to be by someone in a Focus. The added confidence of being in a car that hardly bends is like cat-nip to drivers who want to pull off National Banger type hits in a Rookie spec formula. Hopefully the steward will keep that in check.  
The Stock Rod season also got underway a fortnight ago with former Mini Stox Track Champion, Dan Newman, taking an accomplished heat and final win. Despite being passed by Tony Perfect, who ran away with the first heat, Newman grew with confidence as the day progressed and no-one could match his pace from that point on.  For his efforts he has received an automatic upgrade for his next outing, which means he will have to start further back on the grid.
In fact this was a day for the lower graders. Carl Shackleford - son of Track Champion Wayne, took his new car to a pair of podium finishes, as did former Rookie Rod racer, Dave Crouch. The only man able to break the lower grade domination was Jamie Akehurst, who stormed through for second place in the final, following a spin in an earlier qualifying heat.
It was pleasing to see several new racers out. SuperBanger Track Champion, Tommy Parker went well in his Nova. Brother Louis is also due out in the coming weeks. Jake Perry's car looked immaculate and went very well until a spin in heat two saw a bit of damage as an unsighted Ian Heffernan almost managed to stop in time... but only almost. Former champion, Lee Rogers was back out, whether it is a long term comeback or just a one off we shall have to see. Ricky Lofthouse and Jon Turvey also had fine looking cars at their disposal. The thing with the Stock Rods though is - no-one is slow. So making progress from the back is mighty difficult, as track champion Wayne Shackleford knows only too well. It will take a few weeks to discover who will be the 2015 title challengers.
New cars were also in abundance in the Lightning Rods, where a pleasing 14 cars arrived to do battle. The pick of the lot was, former Mini Stox racer, Jay Page-Fullers machine which really did look the part. He took a heat win too before becoming victim of a first corner pile up in the final, caused when he missed a gear as he pulled away, causing Colin Murray to go for a trip across the centre and Jay to grind to a halt with a wonky wheel.
The race restarted and was a typically Lightning Rod hard fought affair. It was difficult to know where to look in the early laps as battles went on all round the track. Dave Imber and heat winner, Nathan Roberts clashed as they battled for the lead. Imber pulled away as Roberts desperately tried to get back onto the racing line, only to be denied by Nigel Carroll.
Steven Norman clashed with Track Champion, Anthony Lawrence, which flipped open one of his bonnet bolts leading to a flapping bonnet. A further pair of clashes with Nathan Roberts saw disaster for Norman with the bonnet flipping up in its entirety and frontal damage, including a broken wheel. Whether the wheel was already broken before the second clash, or whether it was as a result of some retribution for the first clash was unclear. Either way it lead to an early retirement.
It was good to see Nathan Roberts back out on track after his National Banger injury last year. His heat win proved that he clearly has lost none of his ability behind the wheel, even if the final certainly didn't go his way.
Imber had looked safe at the front but after a few laps both Nigel Carroll and Richard Norman were on his tail, although neither were able to make a pass on the greasy surface and they finished in that order.
Photo captions:
Jamie Hopkins goes for a spectacular rollover in a heat race  
Joey Holmes takes in Charlie Murrell
The Destruction Derby started off with eventual winner, Jamie Harding (middle) dishing out this huge head on to Luke Adams  
Stock Rod winner - Daniel Newman
Disaster for Steven Norman as his race comes to an early finish
Smart new Lightning Rod for former Mini Stox star - Jay Page-Fuller
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Sunday, 22 March 2015 PRI Bangers plus Junior Bangers, Lightning Rods and Stock Rods
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