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Arena Essex: Changing of the guard

THERE was a distinct "changing of the guard" feeling about the Junior Mini Stox competition at Arena Essex on Sunday. Marcus Reeve completed his last meeting in the class as he reaches the retirement age of 16 before the next scheduled event in the calendar. It was a successful finale for the Kent racer too with podium places in three of the afternoons races. Meanwhile, 12 year old Abbie McGuiness won her first ever race, having come close so many times before, including an earlier heat race where she was narrowly defeated by Steph Sore.

Reeve was one of the main players in the Mini Stox final, which in many respects was the race of the day. He looked favourite for the win, but was delayed twice whilst getting past successive leaders, Abbie McGuiness and Jack Leeks. This allowed the chasing pack to pounce with Harry Overy looking good for the win for a while before the bumpers flew again and David Shearing emerged with the lead. Shearing, already a heat winner on the day, then withstood a last bend shove from Luke Dorling to take the win and bring to an end Dorling’s winning streak in meeting finals.

A scintillating day of PRI Banger action kicked off with a massive pile up on the back straight with some heavy collisions amidst quite a dust storm. Former Stock Car racer, Corringham’s Danny Wade made a winning return to the track, much to the delight of daughter Dolcie and son Johnny, who were too young to remember his earlier racing days. Heat two featured a few less cars but an even bigger pile up on the back straight with Leon Sudbury piled into the fence by Josh Cant and John Avery getting launched into a big rollover by Grant Kilburn. Lewis Canham took the win following the restart.

The third heat saw Carl Hobbs go in hard on Dan Nichols whilst Jodie Cheeseman was spun hard into the armco by Tom Greenstreet. These incidents were small fry though compared to the crash that resulted from Jimmy Hughes attack on Danny Mitchell. Hughes caught Mitchell’s rear wheel and launched himself into the air, completing a rollover and catching Mitchell in the door in the process. Luckily Mitchell was fine, despite his up close and personal view of his rival. South Ockendon’s Harry Hunt took the win.

An undaunted Danny Mitchell was back out for the final, albeit he was to have no luck. The biggest crash was a huge head on between Tom Greenstreet and Grant Kilburn. Kilburn was then hit by Jamie Harding with both Kilburn and Harding disqualified from the rest of the meeting for the head on and stationary car hit, both moves not permitted in the class. Lewis Canham completed his move to the head of the PRI Banger points chart with a further win.

The Destruction Derby featured an explosive start with a series of heavy collisions and a red flag to check on Jake Simington. At the restart Charlie Korpiela took a number of heavy hits, his car plodding on until finally silenced by eventual last car running winner, Tommy Harding. Harry Hunt completed his successful day, earning a most destructive driver award.

The great entry of Stock rods provided great racing with Joe Rollings taking his first senior race win since his graduation from the Mini Stox category. Joe very nearly won the final too, losing out in the final yards to Paul Haralambou. Zak Alaoui was the winner of the first heat, but he will want to lose the habit of winning and then suffering mechanical ailments – once again his day went downhill from that initial success. Also mirroring the first meeting of the season, Ricky Lofthouse won the allcomers race that closed the programme.

The next action at Arena Essex is on 24th April when the 2 Litre Stock Cars are expected to be out in numbers for their latest World Qualifying round. The National Bangers and Junior Bangers make it a double dose of Banger action, whilst the Lightning Rods are expected to continue their action packed start to the 2016 season. Start time is 1pm.

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