Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Arena Essex: Opening day spills

KARL Douglas won a dramatic 2.0Litre National Banger Shakedown final at Arena Essex on Sunday, spinning out Dale Hughes on the dash to the finish line. Hughes slammed his car into reverse and took Ricky Hutton into the wall as he made it across the finish line backwards, but still in second place.

It had been a pretty dramatic day already for Douglas who had, in an earlier qualifying heat, spun at high speed across the infield, ripping off a wheel and suspension leg in the process. The repairs were obviously more than sufficient. Paul Whiteman and Dave Palmer won the heats before a long winded Destruction Derby went the way of Nathan Roberts.

In the Unlimited Banger class Lee Evans bravely took on Paul Korpielas Pontiac in the final, but he came out second best, mainly due to intervention from Tony Hutton, who destroyed his car, allowing Korpiela to take a couple of run ups to further shorten his Volvo. Jack Tuffen won the race, continuing his fine start to the season, which also included winning the Birmingham staged Heartbreaker.

Despite ending heat one perched astride an infield marker, the big Rover of Ritchie Jarrod dished out a lot of damage throughout the afternoon, not least to a succession of red Volvos, including John Bhead and Dan Matthews.
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After a head on in the early stages of the Destruction Derby between Bhead and Jamie Batchelor, which snapped the latters seatbelt and caused a brief stoppage to allow him to escape safely, the event came down to a head to head between Jarrod, Dave Bull and Joey Palmer. Bull needed assistance from Palmer to get on to the track in the first place and once he was there Palmer obliged with a big hit, soon followed up by an even bigger hit from Jarrod, which finished Bull for good. Jarrod then became a sitting duck for Palmer who took a couple of run ups to silence the Rover and take the win.

The Junior Mini Stox had a very lively start to the year with the day most memorable for the incredible rollover of first time racer, Luke Dorling, who barrel rolled four times as he and Megan Petherick clashed on the entrance of the pit turn. Incredibly although he was understandably shaken, with everyone helping out in the pits, Dorling was able to return to the track for the last race of the day, the car seemingly performing well, even if the roofline was considerably altered.

Track Championship favourites, Dan Newman and Harry Steward spent most of the day spinning each other out, a lap down Steward even costing Newman a podium place in the final by running him out wide on the pit turn. Their battling allowed West Country visitor, Cameron Lawrence to win three out of four races, the one race he missed out on was the Final, where Tony Elbourn beat him into second place and Lauren Nicholls into third.

The next action at Arena Essex is on 23rd March when the National Bangers are joined, for the first time, by the Junior Bangers. Several Mini Stox regulars are expected to step into the class and a good number of visitors are expected, including fast lady, Louise Strudwick, who will be racing at her last event at the venue before retirement. With Stock Rods and Lightning Rods also on the programme, it will be another afternoon of high octane excitement.
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