Northern Ireland has a new National Hot Rod World Champion after Adam Maxwell from Crumlin claimed the title for the first time.
The local driver clinched the championship with a supreme display at Foxhall Raceway in Ipswich on July 3.
Maxwell qualified on pole position after setting the fastest lap time during the time trials on Saturday afternoon, with another Ulsterman, Derek Martin from Dungannon, alongside on the front row. 2014 winner Chris Haird from Cambridgeshire and defending champion Shane Murphy from Cork occupied row two on the grid and it was Maxwell and Murphy who quickly settled down into the front running slots. The leading pair steadily eased away from the rest, with Murphy tracking the leader’s every move, and that relentless pressure finally paid dividends when a gap appeared as the pair worked their way through the backmarkers.
However just as it looked like Murphy would pounce the defending champion’s Tigra spectacularly crashed out following a contact between the leaders down the back straight. It was an incident that the race stewards immediately reviewed, and cleared Maxwell of any blame, which left the Crumlin man out front on his own, with a handy advantage over Dave Casey.
Maxwell displayed a cool head and a sure touch to see out the remaining laps and bring the coveted title back to the province for the first time since 2013. Waterford based Casey followed the new champion home, with European Champion Carl Waller-Barrett from Norfolk in third. Gary Wilson from Ballyclare finished his debut appearance in ninth position with Portadown’s Gary Woolsey in eleventh.
Meanwhile World Final rookies Jaimie McCurdy from Broughshane and Carl Sloan from Kells both made it to the chequered flag in the 75 lap showdown! Sloan drew one of the unfavourable early running slots for the Hot Lap time trials and his best time of 15.07 seconds left the Kells lad down in thirtieth spot on the grid. McCurdy was amongst the later runners and posted a very respectable time of 14.76 seconds which placed the Broughshane teenager on grid position 13.
The race had only just begun however when Sloan encountered problems after his Torquetronix sponsored Vauxhall Tigra was punted into a spin by Kent based racer Danny Hunn. McCurdy was having no luck either and got caught up in a incident on the very next lap which left the two rookies right at the tail of the field in positions 30 and 31! The pair got their heads down and soon made up the lost ground despite their cars being in far from ideal condition. After 75 gruelling laps McCurdy had climbed to twelfth position, with Sloan in fourteenth place at the chequered flag, a very creditable recovery from those early setbacks.
There was further success for the province’s racers in the support events at Foxhall. Kells based racer Derek McMillan recorded one of his biggest wins to date in the Spedeworth Stock Rod European Championship. The twenty-one year old qualified his Vauxhall Corsa on pole position and withstood a strong late challenge from Scottish star Siobhan Martin to clinch the title.
The National Hot Rod racers have no time to rest on their laurels as the qualifying campaign for the 2017 World Final roars off the grid at Ballymena Raceway on Friday evening! Newly crowned World Champion Adam Maxwell is sure to receive a hero’s welcome from the local fans as the Crumlin racer makes his first appearance with the gold roof. The new campaign promises to be the most competitive ever, with the formula currently enjoying record car turnouts.
It’s a star-studded line-up too, with the likes of John Christie and Glenn Bell expected to mount a challenge, alongside former Two-Litre Hot Rod World Champions Shane Murray and Adam Hylands. An additional incentive for the drivers will be that the final winner receives the Richard Turtle Memorial Trophy, which is currently held by Hylands, The trophy was introduced last season in memory of the much liked and respected former Hot Rod racer Richard Turtle, who sadly passed away in November 2014.
The Stock Rod racers compete in their Irish Masters event on Friday evening. British Champion Jim Pitcaithly from Fife from Scotland is travelling over for the event and will be joined on the grid by fellow countrymen Trevor Calvin and David Kempton.
The locals will have to be in top form, with the likes of Jack Kennedy, Jason Clyde, Adam Sloan, Aaron Moody and Irish Champion Wilfie McNiece expected to be in the thick of the action.
Super Saloons and Group Two Lightning Rods are also on the programme along with the Classic Hot Rods, with the first race commencing in the Ballymena Showgrounds at 7:15pm.