A damp circuit meant the racers had to display their mettle throughout the Ballymena Raceway meeting on Friday evening.
The slippery conditions certainly proved to be a real leveller for the competitors as the 14 race programme produced no fewer than 12 different winners!
The Micro F2 Stock Cars, a new class for 7 to 11 year olds, made their first official appearance at the Raceway and it was English visitor Elexie Bartram from Staffordshire who journeyed back across the Irish Sea with the Next Gen Cup after an eye catching heat and final double success.
The only other driver to enjoy more than one victory during the evening was Garvagh’s Karl Smyth in the Group Two Lightning Rod division. Smyth had gained an earlier success in the opening heat and Harry Gilmore from Cullybackey recorded his first ever race win in heat two.
The F2 Stock Cars contested the opening round of their Snap-On Tools Series and produced a different winner on all of their outings. Sam McKay and Gavin Fegan slithered home in the heat races before Sean McFerran from Portglenone survived a late race caution period to claim a fine win in the final.
Likewise there were three different winners in the Stock Rod division where Jack Kennedy and Jason Clyde fought out an enthralling duel in the opener which eventually went the way of Kennedy. Ryan Murphy took the honours in heat two after a good run in his Vauxhall Corsa, before Clyde recorded his first ever Stock Rod win in the opening Round of the DNA Tuning Series.
Super Saloons completed the classes on display, with Irish Champion Alistair Christie from Ballymoney taking the honours in the heat race with a well timed late run, before Ashley Graham annexed the final ahead of Aaron McGraw and Johnny McCloy.
F2 STOCK CARS
Thirteen cars contested the opening round of the Snap-On Tools and it was Sam McKay who splashed through the puddles form the blue grade to take a clear win in the opening heat, before Gavin Fegan motored home to a maiden win in his new car in heat two. Those heat results determined the positions within each grade for the final where sole white top David Lilburn led the field for the opening 3 laps until Sean McFerran squeezed his way ahead on lap 4. Portglenone based McFerran coped with a late race caution period expertly to seal an assured win ahead of Fegan and Track Champion Craig McConnell.
Snap-On Tools Series Rd 1: 1st. Sean McFerran, 2nd. Gavin Fegan, 3rd. Craig McConnell.
Eleven entries participated in the opening round of the DNA Tuning Series and the first heat for the 1400cc Rods produced the best race of the night as Jack Kennedy just beat Jason Clyde to the line after the pair had swapped the lead throughout. Ryan Murphy never put a wheel out of place in heat two as the white top recorded a resounding flag to flag win, before Clyde got his revenge in the final where the local racer kept things neatly under control to record his first victory.
DNA Tuning Series Rd 1: 1st. Jason Clyde, 2nd. Jack Kennedy, 3rd. Alastair Bolton.
GP2 LIGHTNING RODS
Karl Smyth opened his account for the season with a good win in the opening heat. Cullybackey lad Harry Gilmore settled in the lead of the second heat on lap 2 and the novice kept the rest of the pack at arm’s length to record his first ever win at the Raceway. In the final, Mark Turtle nudged his way ahead on the very last lap, but the steward was not happy with his manoeuvre and issued a two place penalty which meant the honours went to Smyth, with Gilmore in second.
Final: 1st. Karl Smyth, 2nd. Harry Gilmore, 3rd. Mark Turtle.
Irish Champion Alistair Christie motored past long time leader Ashley Graham on the final lap to snatch the honours in the heat race in his Vauxhall Astra, but Graham would not be denied in the final and swept to a comprehensive victory.
Final: 1st. Ashley Graham, 2nd. Aaron McGraw, 3rd. Johnny McCloy, 4th. Richard Nicholl
MICRO F2 STOCK CARS
This new fun formula for 7 to 11 year old kids made their official debut at Raceway, where Jamie Dawson from Scotland and England’s Elexie Bartram joined local runners Tyler McClurkin, Rhianna Murray, Jack Morrow and Cathal McFerran on the six car grid. Bartam showed a great turn of speed to romp home in the first heat and the visitor looked poised to repeat the feat in heat two until a late race spin at Suffolk bend allowed Jack Morrow to slip through for the win. McClurkin started on pole for the final, but it was Morrow who made the better getaway to lead the opening 2 laps before Bartam eased to the front once more to claim the Next Gen Cup.