It proved a great night for the province’s oval racers at Ballymena Raceway on Friday as the two main prizes both stayed in Northern Ireland.
Steven McKane from Ballymena enjoyed his biggest success to date after a dramatic win in the Stock Rod British Championship.
McKane squeezed ahead of long time leader Derek Conner on the very last lap to grab the British title and was followed home by Wilfie McNiece and Gareth Bevan to make it a clean sweep of the podium position for Northern Ireland drivers.
Belfast ace Graham Fegan trumped a star-studded line-up to capture the F2 Stock Car Challenge Trophy for a third time. Antrim’s Ryan McCrory came on strong in the closing stages to grab the runner-up spot at the chequered flag, with Scottish Champion Chris Burgoyne in third.
Two reverse grid qualifying heats determined the starting positions for the British Championship and the first of these brought a win for Richard Taylor, with European Champion Derek Conner from Scotland in second.
Recently crowned Supreme Champion Wilfie McNiece continued his good run with a victory in heat two, with another of the strong Scottish contingent, Stuart McKinnon, the runner-up in this one.
Conner’s solid performances earned him pole position for the final, with McNiece alongside on the front row, while McKinnon and Kells teenager Adam Sloan occupied row two. It was Conner and McKinnon who set the early pace in the final, but the man catching the eye was Steven McKane.
The Ballymena lad had started way down on grid 13, but scythed through the field to put himself in touch with the lead group. McKane worked his way onto the back bumper of leader Conner and the pair fought out a pulsating side by side battle over the closing stages. Starting the final lap McKane had dropped to third behind Conner and McNiece, but the Ballymena lad bravely dived around the outside once again and was in the perfect position to sling shot ahead when Conner’s Vauxhall slowed on the turn!
Stock Rod 2015 British Championship: 1. Steven McKane, 2. Wilfie McNiece, 3. Gareth Bevan, 4. Stuart McKinnon, 5. Trevor Calvin, 6. James Matson.
F2 CHALLENGE TROPHY
Scottish visitor Willie Draeger led the opening heat until lap 9 when Graham Fegan blasted through to make his intentions clear with a polished victory over Craig McConnell and Christopher Kincaid. Antrim ace Kincaid took the spoils in heat two ahead of Billy Finnegan Jnr. and the heat winners shared the front row of the grid for the F2 Challenge Cup final.
Kincaid led into the first corner where Fegan expertly placed a telling blow on his rival’s back bumper which sent Kincaid into a spin. Fegan picked up the pieces to charge into the lead and set a relentless pace out front and gradually eased away for a dominant win, while Polley dropped back in the closing laps as Antrim’s Ryan McCrory came on strong to grab the runner-up spot with Scottish Champion Chris Burgoyne in third.
BriSCA F2 Challenge Trophy: 1. Graham Fegan, 2. Ryan McCrory, 3. Chris Burgoyne, 4. David Polley, 5. Christopher Kincaid, 6. Craig McConnell
HERITAGE F2 CARS
The Heritage Cars made their debut appearance in Northern Ireland and 11 competitors travelled over from England. Jack Bunter claimed a flag to flag victory in their opening heat at the wheel of his Ford Model Y car, before Pete Welland stormed through to victory in his similar machine in heat two. Dan Chiplen’s Ford Popular Special led the early laps of the final before Nigel Finegan took over out front and he had just enough in reserve to capture the Irish Challenge Cup.
GROUP TWO LIGHTNING RODS
Recent form driver Keith Lyttle extended his winning streak with a brace of heat victories in his Peugeot 306. Lyttle soon found himself under pressure from Matthew Curran in the feature event and it was Curran who eased ahead on lap 3. Curran extended his advantage throughout to win comfortably in his Vauxhall Astra while the consistent Andy McLeister darted through into second at the flag. Lyttle was relegated to third in this one, with Johny Gillespie the first of the star men to finish in fourth.
GP2 Final: 1st. Matthew Curran, 2nd. Andy McLeister, 3rd. Keith Lyttle, 4th. Johny Gillespie, 5th. Jason Clyde, 6th. Nigel Doherty
The F2 Challenge Cup event was kindly sponsored by Ryan Wright Signs of Cullybackey, with additional prizes from Protech Shocks.
The reminder of the Raceway action on Friday evening was supported by ISUZU Truck Antrim, with additional prizes for the Stock Rod British donated by GAZ shocks. The Hot Lap bonus award was presented by Ross Park Motors, Kells.