THE 2015 ORCi Stock Rod World Final was staged at the Cowdenbeath Racewall over the weekend of the 5/6th September, 2015, and was held in glorious hot weather and it turned out to be a fantastic race full of thrills and spills.

Our Cowdenbeath Racewall reporter, Jim Turner, this week caught up with the eventual winner, Michael Bethune who talked about his pride in getting to the line first.

There were plenty of spectators on both days and most of the top names in the sport were on hand all hoping that at the end of the day that the title would be heading their way!

Michael Bethune, from Kirkcaldy, recalled: “The car was checked over thoroughly on the build up to the World Final.

"Nothing was left to chance. I remember it was very hot when we got to the track and already there was a buzz. I went out to practice and I certainly wasn’t happy. Stuart McKinnon and I checked our lap times. It was us and not the car that was the problem. "I checked my car over between the practice and the qualifying heats and everything seemed to be alright.”

The Stock Rod drivers were split into two groups for their qualifying heats giving each driver three races. The grid was to be reversed for their second heat but for their third the mid order would be elevated to the front row in an effort to give the drivers as equal a chance of getting a good grid place.

The opening heat saw Bethune go through to win from Jimmy Pitcaithly and John McAllister, whilst in heat two Stuart McKinnon came out on top to win from Craig Tosh and Derek Conner. Bethune then won heat three where he led home James Matson and Dan Hansford.

James Gray then came out on top in heat four leading Dale Atkins and Steven Alexander home before Bethune scored his third win of the night, this time leading home Pitcaithly and McAllister. The last heat ended with Conner scoring an easy win over Gray and Cameron Doak.

“I was really pleased how the car ran throughout the qualifying heats – it had to be - I had won all three races and had secured pole position for the World.

“After the meeting we went home and put the car on the scales. In the morning I was actually the first to get to the garage – that’s unheard of – and basically all we did was a nut and bolt check.

"I was thinking a lot about the tyres. The car had felt a bit better in heat two for some reason so I was thinking about using these tyres in the race. The other nagging problem was the length of the race, 40 laps and the size of the fuel tank. I was thinking that it was marginal – a bit of a worry.

“On the Sunday the weather was still warm but the track temperature was warmer than the previous night. We got to the track reasonably early. For some reason I was nervous and it didn’t help that the race before the World we were sponsoring and I was presenting the trophy. When I got back to the pits we decided to put on the tyres that I had used in heat two and then headed off for the parade lap. The closer it got to the start the more nervous I was getting thinking that it is my race to lose!”

After their parade lap the grid was formed and it was an all Scottish front row with Bethune on pole with Gray alongside but third placed Pitcaithly had a fuel pump fail as he moved to take his grid place and was pushed into retirement.

“The delay didn’t help me any and all I could hear was the thump, thump of the music. Eventually we set off and if anything my nerves settled down.”

The cars set off on their slow warm up lap as the crowd began to get vocal. When the green flag dropped Bethune went straight into the lead and whilst Gray was on the outside McKinnon dived inside to move into second and onto Bethune’s back bumper. Over the early stages McKinnon maintained pressure on Bethune and finally got his nose in front on lap seven but he then drifted wide on the pit bend allowing Bethune back in front.

“I made a good start to the race but had Stuart glued to my bumper. My car felt good and I was reasonably pleased with how the race was going. When Stuart got ahead of me I knew he was going to drift wide on the pit bend so I was able to dive inside and back into the lead,” Michael said.

Bethune then slowly began to ease away from McKinnon but on lap 18 the dreaded yellow flags were being waved after Matson had been caught up in a shunt. This allowed the cars to line up behind Bethune but there were four back markers between him and McKinnon

“When the race slowed I was shocked to see Stuart right behind me but was relieved when they started to put the back markers between us.”

When the race restarted Bethune began to open up a useful gap before McKinnon got ahead of the back markers. Over the next few laps Bethune managed to maintain his lead, trying where possible to overtake the slower cars without getting into troubles

“I was hoping to catch some of the slower cars just in case of another stoppage which would give me a cushion over Stuart.”

As the five lap board appeared Bethune had built up a comfortable lead and he was closing in on a few of the slower cars so he would have to make sure of a clear run when he came to pass them. The last lap board was shown and it was then just a case of keeping out of trouble for the lap before receiving the chequer flag where he was followed home by McKinnon and Conner.

“I was happy when the five lap to go board appeared as I had a decent lead and became a bit more cautious. I was a bit nervous at this point. Listening for noises and hoping that everything would hold together. I didn’t want a back marker not to see me coming and take me out of the race. Stuart was still chasing me and I didn’t want to slow down in case he saw the gap closing and managed to speed up. With two laps to run I decided to hold station and when the last lap one appeared it was a case of not doing anything wrong and getting the car to the finish line. When it dropped it was brilliant, can’t really describe the feeling, – I even had a wee tear in my eye – and then the adrenalin kicked in.

“It was like a weight being lifted off my shoulders and on the slow down lap went to stop where my folks had been standing. They weren’t there and when Adam Daniels slowed beside me to congratulate me I got even more emotional. I drove around to the start/finish line and got out of my car to be surrounded by well wishers and when my family, girlfriend, mum, dad and sister, appeared there were a few tears shed. I don’t remember too much about the presentation ceremony or even the parade lap. My trophy has pride of place in my home.”

he concluded: “When I think about it, the Stock Rod racing over the two days was exceptionally good. There was a lot of close, fast and exciting racing and I don’t think there were too many penalties handed out for contact over the weekend. I certainly enjoyed the meeting – mind you I came away with the title!”

It had been a cracking two days of Stock Rod racing, with little or no contact – just what it is all about!