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Added: 06 Sep 2011 Category: 2011 Oval Racing
2011 - #32 – Ballymena Raceway – 3/9/2011
For the second weekend in a row Ballymena Raceway featured a big championship and a good turnout of visiting drivers this time in the National Hot Rods, for the Irish Open championship, a good turnout of 2 Litre’s, Group 2’s and Stock Rods at Ballymena.

As the booking list grew and grew throughout the week it was an exciting prospect to see so many cars booked in and such a big field of National Hot Rods, probably as big a field of cars as I’ve ever seen. It’s a bit disappointing that none of the English 2 Litre’s took the opportunity to take in the weekend’s double header for them.
26 National Hot Rods were in action throughout the evening, with 25 taking to the grid for heat 1, which seen a comfortable lights to flag win for Shane Murphy with Hardie second and Heatrick the first local car home in third.
The second heat seen the first local win of the weekend in the Nationals, with Keith Martin leading home Adam Maxwell and Glenn Bell. John Christie was fourth after being docked 2 places.

The final seen an all Ulster front row with Glenn Bell on pole and John Christie alongside. The pair broke away from the field from the off and looked pretty even on pace, with Bell not pulling away and Christie not quite getting close enough to mount a challenge, as they caught and lapped Tommy Maxwell, Bell got a clean pass while Christie was held up quite a bit and at one stage the lead pair had four backmarkers between them, and it looked as though the race was done and dusted. In the closing laps someone dropped a lot of oil around the track and the cars started sliding about and taking a wide line, Christie by now was reeling in Bell and a big slide from Bell as they started the last lap allowed Christie to close right up and it looked as though a huge last bend outside run may be on, but Bell held on to take the win, with Christie second and Keith Martin third.

A decent turnout as well for the 2 Litre Hot rods, although it dwindled somewhat as the night went on. Nineteen cars took the green flag for the opener, with Garry Campbell and Wayne Woolsey on the front row of a closed grid for their UK Masters. Woolsey stayed with Campbell throughout the race and made several attempts to pass, but had to settle for second as they took the flag.

With the grids reversed for the second race it was Caleb Howard who started on pole, but the action came from the back of the field as Campbell, Woolsey and Bradley Dynes came together on the back straight taking the first two in heat one out of heat two and causing a stoppage. Howard led them away again with Philip Beatty running second, but it was only a few laps on when Gary O’Neill ended up spun and sitting broadside on the home straight, bringing the yellows out for a second time. Howard held on to take the flag, but was then docked 2 places for jumping a start, awarding the win to Beatty and promoting Shane Murray to second.

Shane Murray took pole for the title race, sharing the front row with Derek Martin, with only twelve cars remaining to start the final. The field was soon depleted even more when Howard and Heatrick came together as the cars crossed the line leaving Howard stranded on the home straight and Heatrick out. On the restart Martin and David McMenemy got past Murray in the opening laps and Martin pulled away. It wasn’t until late in the race that Murray regained second, but was unable to do anything about Martin up front. Derek Martin took the win with Shane Murray second and David McMenemy third. The drama wasn’t finished though as Murray first went off the speak to the stewards and then refused to take part in the trophy presentation and was excluded from the result, promoting McMenemy to second and Beatty to third.

In the Stocks Rods there was a seventeen car turnout boosted by 2 visiting drivers in the form of Graham Nelson and Colm O’Sullivan. Lee Johnstone took the opening heat win, before Nelson took the honours in heat two. The final then went to Thomas Morrison.

In the group 2’s there was a brace of heat wins for David Wilson before Steven McKane took the honors in the final after Gary Thompson who’d been first over the line was docked for pushing.

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