Oval racers from the Ballymena area posted some fine results at Ballymena Raceway on Friday evening with three of the final winners based in the local borough.
Top of the class was National Hot Rod racer Carl Sloan from Kells who posted straight ‘A’s with an impressive hat-trick of wins in Round 2 of the PC Paints and Components National Hot Rod World Series NI.
Another local driver to ace all his examinations on Friday evening was Noel Hazlett who continues to dominant the Speed Stocks Super Pole Series after another slick hat-trick of wins in his Vauxhall Corsa.
The third local trophy winner at the McLarnons Ramble Inn sponsored fixture was Rodney Fleck, who warmed up for this weekend’s big championship events with his first final win of the season in the Group Two Lightning Rod division. There were firsts too in the other classes on display as Antrim’s Ryan McCrory recorded his first final win of the season in the F2 Stock Cars to capture the coveted Norman Cromie Memory Trophy. Junior Rods completed the packed fifteen race schedule and it was County Down lad Jordan Finnegan who registered his first ever victories at the Showgrounds circuit with an impressive heat and final brace in his Ford Fiesta.
National Hot Rods
Sixteen cars took part in Round 2 of the World Qualifying Series with Donegal driver Terence McConalogue the early leader in the opening heat before Carl Sloan’s torquetronix backed Vauxhall Tigra rocketed to the front. The track became coated in fluid during the closing stages after a mechanical failure for one of the competitors, but Sloan expertly coped with the slippery track conditions to ease home for his maiden victory in the premier rod division. The Kells racer repeated that success with another well taken victory in heat two, while Northern Ireland Champion Andrew Murray made good progress from the red grade section to finish in second place. McConalgue was the initial leader once again in the final before Sloan carved his way to the front on lap 11. Nigel McCauley and Derek Martin moved through into second and third positions, but Sloan still had everything under control out front to complete the 30 lap distance safely ahead. Sloan’s perfect hat-trick of wins earned him the Driver of the Day award from series sponsors PC Paints and Components.
PC Paints & Components World Series NI Round 2: 1st. Carl Sloan, 2nd. Nigel McCauley, 3rd. Derek Martin, 4th. Stewart Doak, 5th. John Christie, 6th. Adam Maxwell.
F2 Stock Cars
Former Junior Rod favourite Dean McCrory marked his first Raceway appearance in the F2 Stock Car class with a splendid brace of victories in the heat races. Sixteen year old Dean only moved up into the senior ranks recently, but looked right at home in his new mount, with his brother Ryan and Gavin Fegan his nearest challengers in both events. It was Dean who led the final as well before losing time with a backmarker which allowed Ryan McCrory to make his move to the front. Once in the lead Ryan eased out a safe cushion and confidently steered his RCE car home to claim the Norman Cromie Memorial Trophy. His brother Dean followed the winner home to make it a great night for the McCrory household, with 2013 winner Fegan in third.
Norman Cromie Memorial Trophy: 1st. Ryan McCrory, 2nd. Dean McCrory, 3rd. Gavin Fegan, 4th. Conor Hughes, 5th. Thomas Greer, 6th. Scott Finlay
Group Two Lightning Rods
In the opening heat recent returnee Kenny Carson motored home well clear of the chasing pack to take his first race win of 2014 season at The Showgrounds oval. Jason Darragh set the pace for a long time in heat two before Johny Gillespie reeled in the leader three laps from home. The pair fought out a great side by side duel over the final tours with Gillespie swooping around the wide outside line to snatch a good win in his Vauxhall Astra. Once again it was Darragh who forged ahead in the final, but the novice lost his healthy advantage when a caution period was called in the final following a shunt at turn three involving James Burleigh and Jason Clyde. When the action resumed Darragh was powerless to resist the attentions of Rodney Fleck who jinked around the outside of the plucky novice to take command and claim his first final win of 2014.
GP2 Final: 1st. Rodney Fleck, 2nd. Johny Gillespie, 3rd. David Gillespie, 4th. Freddie Fleck, 5th. Noel Hazlett, 6th. Kenny Carson
Noel Hazlett took a routine win in the opening heat, the Ballymena driver leading home William McKeown and Rodney Stewart. The second heat proved to be a more competitive affair, with Jason McCreight offering some stern resistance to Hazlett over the opening half of the race before Hazlett made his escape to make it two wins from two starts. Hazlett completed his hat-trick with an untroubled victory in the meeting final.
Super Pole Challenge Round 6: 1st. Noel Hazlett, 2nd. Jason McCreight, 3rd. William McKeown, 4th. Rodney Stewart.
The opening heat race for the young chargers saw Jordan Finnegan record his first ever victory at the Raceway. Behind the winner Aaron Moody and Niall McFerran fought out a great battle for second with Irish Champion Moody just edging ahead on the final lap. McFerran got his revenge in race two however, the Rasharkin lad resisting Moody’s charge on this occasion to seal a well judged win in his Vauxhall Corsa. Come final time however it was newcomer Finnegan who caught the eye once again. The novice set a brisk pace out front and would never be headed on his way to an impressive first final win. It was Moody who gained the upper hand in the final to clinch second, with McFerran in third and a racy looking Antony Kincaid going well in his Ford Fiesta to finish fourth.
Final: 1st. Jordan Finnegan, 2nd. Aaron Moody, 3rd. Niall McFerran, 4th. Antony Kincaid, 5th. Patrick O’Boyle, 6th. Jack Patchett