First meeting blasts off start grid on Friday

Adam Sloan will be one of a new generation of drivers appearing at Raceway this season. INBT 14-950H
Adam Sloan will be one of a new generation of drivers appearing at Raceway this season. INBT 14-950H

It’s all systems go for the new season at Ballymena Raceway on Friday evening (April 3) where the opening fixture blasts off the start grid.

Top of the bill is Round 8 of the National Hot Rod World Qualifying Series and it promises to be another thrilling season for the fastest cars on the local ovals, with a fierce battle raging to determine the drivers who will represent the province in this year’s World Final.

European Champion John Christie from Crumlin occupies top spot in the rankings at present. Just one point behind Christie however is British and National Champion Glenn Bell from Portadown, with current Northern Ireland Champion Andrew Murray in third.

A further seven qualifying rounds will be contested over the coming weeks before the top eight drivers in the points table at the end of the series go forward to represent the province in the 2015 World

At the National Hot Rods last Raceway appearance on New Year’s Day it was Jaimie McCurdy from Broughshane who motored home to victory in the Winter National Championship.

The teenage rookie finished the season in sparkling form, taking nine race wins in a row over his last three outings on the local tracks! McCurdy currently lies ninth in the points chart and will harbour hopes of another strong performance on Friday evening to boast his qualifying bid.

Crumlin’s Adam Maxwell and Carl Sloan from Kells are both right in the mix as well, along with Stewart Doak, Derek Martin, Nigel McAuley, Gary Woolsey, Andrew Stewart and Keith Martin. Gary Wilson from Ballyclare impressed on his debut appearance on New Year’s Day, while current 2-Litre Hot Rod European and British Champion Adam Hylands is joining the National Hot Rod ranks this term and looks set to shake things up after setting some impressive lap times in pre-season

Also on the packed programme of races at the Gilmore Engineering sponsored meeting on Friday evening are the F2 Stock Cars, Stock Rods, GP2 Rods and Euro Stocks.

The Stock Rod men contest their Yokohama Championship with a strong contingent from England and Scotland travelling across the Irish Sea for the event. Ballymena’s Steven McKane took the Stock Rod honours on New Year’s Day and will spearhead the local challenge.

Scottish hopes rest with the likes of Trevor Calvin, Stuart McKinnon, Derek Connor and James Gray, while Trevor Ashworth, Richard Edmunds and Levi Robinson provide the English representation.

The F2 drivers contest the opening round of their McGill Motorsport Series on Good Friday, with Irish Champion Craig McConnell and Track Champion Christopher Kincaid expected to figure prominently, along with Antrim pair Conor Hughes and Ryan McCrory.

As an extra incentive the F2 men will also be racing for the new Hot Lap bonus scheme, where the driver who sets the fastest lap during the meeting will receive an additional £50 reward.

The green flag drops to get racing underway in the Ballymena Showgrounds
at 7:15pm.