A PLEASANT spring evening greeted drivers, teams and fans as they gathered at HRP Lochgelly Raceway ahead of the first of several Friday night events of the 2017 season, writes our Raceway writer Les Waller.
The pits were full of cars with four formulas and twelve races scheduled for the evening’s entertainment.
First on track were HRP’s low-budget non-contact CC Rods which have developed into an excellent formula with plenty of cars and some great action.
There were almost twenty cars on track for the first heat of the evening which saw Jamie Brown from Bonnyrigg take his first win of the season as he beat Colin Wotherspoon and Lee Wotherspoon to the line.
The second heat saw Brown in the thick of the action at the sharp end of the grid once again but it was previous feature final winner Jack Robertson, from Penicuik, who managed to come through to take the win ahead of Brown and Colin Wotherspoon. The feature final was a fast and frenetic race with action all over the track including one or two incidents that most certainly do not belong in a non-contact formula.
Heat One winner Brown came off second best in one such incident but his fellow heat winner Robertson was enjoying a relatively trouble-free run and he crossed the line to take his second win of the night and his second feature race win in a row ahead of Scottish and National points Champion Ian Donaldson and Davie McFarlane.
The Ministox were next on track and anyone who has seen them live at HRP Lochgelly Raceway will testify to how good they have been for a number of months now. Another good grid of around twenty cars arrived to do battle with most of the big names in the formula on hand.
Heat One was stopped almost as soon as it began as Saline’s Gary Paterson rolled over on the exit of turn two after a coming together with a gaggle of cars – the driver was fine and, indeed, made it back out for the other races during the evening – tough stuff these Ministox pilots!
One of the drivers who has quietly went about their business so far in 2017 is Mika Millar, who has been picking up some good results while sneaking under the radar but it all came good for the young man this past Friday night as he put it all together in heat one to claim victory ahead of the formula’s current top two in Scotland, Steven Burgoyne and Sean Naismith.
If anyone considered Millar’s heat one winner to be a bit of a fluke then they were made to eat their words in heat two as the driver of the 621 car went on to repeat his race-winning exploits holding of Burgoyne who, once again, had to settle for second with Luke McCallum enjoying a good run for third place.
The feature final saw Millar take up the running once more and a hat-trick did look on the cards until the latter stages of the race when he was caught and passed by Steven Burgoyne. Millar did hold on for a fantastic second place while Kelty’s Ciaran Adams performed an excellent last lap manoeuvre on HRP Points Champion Sean Naismith for a fine third place.
The Stock Rods were back in action and, with April being the last month for the battle for the points title and only a handful of points separating the top three, the battle lines were well and truly drawn. It was great to see James Morris make the trip north from his Midlands base for the event and he was joined on track by another healthy grid of cars. So far, the race wins have been mainly shared among the yellow graded drivers who, while certainly not lacking pace, have not scored quite so many points as their higher graded peers.
One such yellow top is Stuart Wedderburn, from Methil, and he took full advantage of his starting position to claim an excellent win in heat one ahead of Kelty’s Darren McAlpine and Cowdenbeath’s Stewart Paterson in an all-Fife podium.
Of the points title contenders; Jonathan Lattka posted the highest finish in fifth with Chris Lattka eighth and Siobhan Martin ninth. The second heat saw a white-graded Brian Wilson, from Springfield, put his experience to good use as he romped away to victory ahead of the returning John Venters (Balado) and Jonathan Lattka – Chris Lattka came home fifth with Siobhan Martin in seventh. The feature final saw another great race from the formula which has grown so much already in 2017 with the promise of more cars to come and while Wilson continued on his merry way to a heat and final winning double; the crowd were treated to all three points contenders battling for supremacy for the minor places with no quarter asked and none given and it was Scottish Champion Chris Lattka who took second place ahead of Best in Britain Champion Jonathan Lattka in third with defending two-times National Points Champion Siobhan Martin coming home in fourth – this battle will go all the way to the wire!
The final formula on show were the open-wheel Superstox and a fantastic twenty-four cars arrived for the evening including a stunning new car for former-Ministox racer Dean Johnston.
Last time out saw Alex Hamilton open his race-winning account in the formula and he picked up where he left off as he claimed a runaway win in heat one ahead of Stuart Gilchrist and Kenny McKenzie. The bumpers were being put to good use in the formula all night and a great battle between Scottish Champion Bryan Forrest, his main rival in the National Points Champion David Frame and current Points Champion Stuart Gilchrist thrilled the crowd as Hamilton, once again, romped home to his second win of the night which elevated him to yellow grade for the feature final.
The early laps saw chaos on every corner and it was difficult to know where to look as action took place all over the track but it was Hamilton who came through those early skirmishes to establish himself, once more, in the lead while the star men battled among one another again. This allowed blue top Tony Lattka and yellow top Kenny McKenzie to become Hamilton’s main rivals for the hat-trick but neither were able to catch the flying Falkirk man who scored an incredibly impressive treble on the night to round off an excellent evening of entertainment.
The next slice of stock car action at HRP Lochgelly Raceway comes your way this Saturday April 15 and features another huge international event as the Ninja Kart European Championship (sponsored by LJN deSIGNS) headlines the event. The Superstox, 2.0 Hot Rods and ProStocks will complete a four formula line-up with the first race getting underway at 5:45pm.