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Saloon Stock Cars 2017 Review

4th December 2017

The highlight of the 2 litre National Saloon season was their World Championship and whilst it was staged at the Cowdenbeath Racewall it was done so under the Autospeed Promotions from the South West. Irrespective of who promoted the meeting it turned out to be a cracking meeting, full of incidents, rollovers and controversy at the post racing scrutineering which happily was resolved in the favour of the winning driver Daniel Parker (Norwich).

Robert Mawhinney (Northern Ireland) set the tone of the meeting with a spectacular rollover whilst Euan Mathieson (Lochgelly) tried to outdo him by rolling on the Saturday night and all but doing it again on the Sunday!
Stuart Shevill Snr (Motherwell) brought his car out for the Joan Purdie memorial meeting and after being shunted hard into the wall rolled his car and luckily stepped out of his car unhurt.

The two domestic championships went the way of the Scottish drivers with Ian McLaughlin (Auchterarder) winning the Track points championship whilst Kyle Irvine (Glenrothes) became the Scottish Champion. Ross Graham (Carluke), Luke Grief (Stenhousemuir) and Ally Strachan (Aberdeen) all returned after serving suspensions whilst the new faces were Tam Rutherford Jnr (Dunipace), Callum McIvor (Inverkeithing), Jamie Smith (Brechin), Derek Marshall Jnr (Cowdenbeath), Ross Forrest (Livingston) and Mathieson were the new faces. Derek Russell (Kirriemuir) and Daniel Scrimgeour (Broxburn) had runs in the hire car as did Willie Mitchell (East Calder) after he sold his saloon.

Derek Duff (Cupar), Duncan Welsh (Kelty) and James Strath (Cellardyke) all retired for various reasons.
It soon became apparent that McLaughlin and Ross Watters (Leven) were going to be the drivers to beat and their fight for the track point’s championship went on until the around the time of the Scottish Championship before it was decided in the favour of McLaughlin.

Also one of the highlights at the start of the season was the conflict between Rutherford Jnr and McIvor, they started as white graders, moved to yellow but were never far away from making contact with each other much to the delight of the fans!

The Joan Purdie memorial race was held over 2 days and whilst attracting a few English drivers who had aspirations of winning the World title it also enticed Stuart Shevill Snr out of retirement. Mind he probably didn’t think it was such a good idea when he was shunted heavily into the turnstile bend and rolled his car.
Heat wins went to Graham and Watters with Daniel Parker (Norwich) winning the final and Grief the Allcomers race. On Sunday Deane Mayes (Diss) and Watters were the heat winners but in the final Mayes had to fend off challenges from Irvine then Watters before going on to lift the Joan Purdie memorial trophy from Grief and Shane Davies (Gravesend)..

A fortnight later and it was World Championship time at the Racewall and on the day the white wall of the track was changed to purple and white as Autospeed took over. The turn out of cars proved to be impressive with all the major players turning up for their chance of glory and the opportunity to race with the gold roof on their car. The defending champion was Simon Welton (Norwich) hoping to become the first driver to make it three wins on the trot!

When the World Final meeting came along there were plenty of drivers hoping to get themselves onto the final grid through the last chance qualifying race including the likes of Jamie Sampson (King’s Lynn) who led home Adam O’Dell (Bedford) and Grief, James Letford (Stirling), Raymond Dick (Glenrothes) and Eck Cunningham (Leven) but amongst those who failed to make it was Eddie Darby (Newton Abbot) a past double winner of the title.
The World Finalists were paraded around the track, each receiving a memento from Gilmore Engineering and then they lined up on the grid. To the command of “gentlemen start your engines” all 34 car engines burst into life. However there was disaster for the home drivers when Watters had a drive shaft and had to be pushed off the grid.
When the green flag dropped to start the race the front row duo of Davies and Mayes touched going into the turnstile bend and as they did this allowed Michael Allard (Great Yarmouth) and Parker though into the lead positions. However on lap two the race was stopped after Simon Venni (Spalding) got caught up in the action and ended up rolling on the back straight. Once the grid reformed Allard led the pack away but Parker sent him wide to take the lead. Allard was moved over as Mayes moved into second whilst Welton began his move and began to climb up the order. During the closing laps Welton made his bid for the lead but got tangled with a back marker allowing Parker to become the 2017 World Champion from Allard with David Aldous (Diss) in third and McLaughlin fourth.

Watters had his car repaired for the consolation race but promptly rolled his car to end a disappointing meeting and it was the final race of the night before the home drivers claimed their first win of the day when McLaughlin took the chequer ahead of Davies and Graham.

On the Sunday the main race of the afternoon was the Raymond Gunn memorial race and it proved to be a classic with Lee Sampson (King’s Lynn) and Watters fighting it out for the win. Watters got ahead of Sampson but at the start to the last lap Sampson was back in front. On the last bend Watters made his bid to retake the lead only to bounce off the wall and spin leaving L. Sampson to go through for an exciting win.

Irvine then went on to win the Turner trophy having won the ministox version some ten years earlier! Next on the list was the Scottish Championship and this year the drivers had agreed that qualifiers only would be allowed to race. Eck Cunningham (Leven) and Irvine shared the front row Irvine making the better of the starts to lead. However he was to be caught by Grief then McLaughlin and ended up finishing third. However as last year the first two drivers were excluded for weight problems thus handing the win to Irvine.

At the penultimate meeting of the year James Letford won the white/ yellow challenge series final and then the following week it was Superbowl weekend. Again there was a good turn out of drivers who were chasing World Ranking points led by World Champion Parker but the new leaked out that Davies would be retiring at the end of the year. The heats were dominated by the home drivers with last years winner, McLaughlin winning heat one, Stuart Shevill Jnr heat two and then Graham making it a clean sweep!

McLaughlin and Davies shared the front row of the grid with McLaughlin going straight into the lead. However Davies was a man on a mission and after catching and passing McLaughlin went into the lead. Davies did lose the lead to Grief but fought back but had to survive a last bend lunge from Grief before lifting the Superbowl trophy.
On Sunday the action continued where it had left off the previous evening.Barry Glen (Dundee) successfully defended the Champion of Champions race and then it looked as if he was on his way to retain the Gordon Barclay Memorial trophy only to be caught by Grief and David Hughes (Aberdeen) on the last lap. With the leading cars side by side, Hughes made a lunge at them from quite a way back and whilst he made contact it resulted in Glen finishing his race against the wall and Grief going through to win! What a way to bring what had been a good season of saloon car racing to a close! Roll on 2018!

Nest season Holly Glen (Inchture) is changing from the formula IIs to the saloons whilst Jason Secker (Denny) is changing from the 1300saloons to the 2 Litre Nationals. There are also a few others who have intimated that they are bringing out 2 Litre saloons but we will have to wait to see!

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