Whistlin' Jack Smith >> 2016 >> Controversial
The Spedeweekend in 2016 will be remembered as the one with crazy rain, the one where races came down to the wire or by judging by some of the bickering itíll be remembered as the controversial one.
Just remembering classic moments of Spedeweekends that have passed thereís the one where Christie had a dance or 1300 Stock Cars couldnít stop rolling over, every fan will have a different spin on a events and their memories, for me it was the controversy that surrounded the main Hot Rod races of the weekend this year. Instead of a race report Iíve plumped for a 5 star guide to the controversy involved with the big races of the weekend.
Stock Rods - European Championship: Battle for the lead effected by back-markers
Unusually the heat winners werenít starting at the front for the final Paul Hunter started 6th and John Smith 11th. Pole man was Ronnie McMillan who pulled clear at the start, then Siobhan Martin got some clear air and started reeling him in. She did latch onto his rear bumper with a handful of laps and instantly moved to the outside line, but some bizarre reason the backmarking Jonathan Lattka decided he would try to unlap himself and got in-between the pair for the final lap showdown.
Classic Hot Rods Ė National Championship: Unnecessary barging and damage
In the heats the drivers first over the line were docked places giving the wins to Brett Sneddon and David Owen. The final was a lot worse with cars clashing in forceful manoeuvres that saw half the field retired and a lot of work left to repair them.
Clive Richardson took the National title, whilst second over the line Andy Steward was docked.
2L Hot Rods Ė World Championship: An ambitious move to take the lead causes a mechanical failure close to the finish
The opening race of the day and the mayhem began towards the end of this race when Paul Wright ploughed into the back-marking Ian Riordan as he tried to make an impossible gap to take the lead off Shane Murray. With Riordan across the track the pack crashed into him. The next heat was also messy and several cars ended up damaged against the fence.
The World was an exciting race, though the line taken by leader Joel Richardson was questionable as he didnít give Paul Wright any space when he was on his outside, this tactic I believe was his downfall, when challenged later by Wayne Woolsey he left the door half-open for someone to get inside. That person was Paul Wright, but the half chance meant he had to clamber over the kerb to get the advantage. This did give him the lead but ultimately damaged his car and a few laps he grounded to halt in a shower of sparks with about a mile to run of the race. Dan Smith had followed him through the gap and took the World title. If Wright hadnít retired, Iím not sure the stewards would have given him that place and the controversy levels would have risen another level.
National Hot Rods Ė World Championship: An attempt at taking the lead causes the front two to tangle
This race saw a carbon copy of the crash from the 2006 World Final where Boardley and Steward crashed, that time Steward tried to defend his lead (on the inner line) by running out wide. This year Shane Murphy had waited patiently behind Adam Maxwell and moved inside when traffic presented an opportunity, Murphy must had thought he was clear of Maxwell as they headed down the back straight and drifting out wide that flicked him head first into the wall and into retirement.
The NHRPA done well to clarify the result quickly and Adam wasnít penalised for his involvement, however for Boardley back in 2006 there was a few mutterings that he shouldnít have won that race and he needed the next year to clear his name. For the majority of the fans it seemed that the right decision was made, but if an Englishman had gone out in the fashion Murphy did I would have expected a different attitude from the crowd.
The Wildcard race on the night before as usual was scrappy and the same type of incident occurred this time with Martin Heath and Lee Pepper, both went out from this crash leaving Adam Heatrick to win the race but he wasnít eligible to take the consolation place in the World Final. David York ended up with that place, although the black cross for barging Ivan Grayson wide to take second on the road never ended up being a penalty in the result.
Lightning Rods Ė World Championship: The leader with one lap goes out after tangling with a back-marker
Thereís nothing unusual about the English and Irish coming to blows in this race, yes it is non-contact but somehow that gets forgotten about. The turning into another driver on a straight (as mentioned in National Hot Rods) happened very quickly. Poleman Lee Skoyles went into the wall just past the pit gate that is about 20 yards after the start line. He was out there and then.
Ben Furness led the restart but lost his lead when impeded by the back-marking Winston Weir, Furness lost a lot of ground here and went back to 7th place but to me it didnít seem that he did it on purpose and was off line when Furness came up behind him. Read into that what you want, but the fact is an Englishman lost the lead because of a back-marking Irish driver and before the end the roles were reversed.
The lead was taken over by Richard Stewart who seemed set to take the title only to find Jason Gibbs in front of him in the last 3 laps, Gibbs though had another three cars directly in front of him. With the finish flag looming Stewart seemed reluctant to make an outside pass. There was a tap to the back of Gibbs that unsettled him and suddenly placemen Gary Beggs and Jordan Murray were closing in quickly. As the final lap began Stewart dived inside Gibbs only for the pair to lock together and slide out to the fence, which handed the title on a plate to Beggs.
You couldnít fault Beggs for his part in the race but for Stewart ending up in the wall is a bad place to be, had he spun out and been stranded with a lap or two left there is a real chance the Malcolm Girling rule would have been applied which would have given him the World title, alas that never happened. As expected there was a few unhappy Irish supporters as they believe the English drivers are always pulling stunts like this to impede their drivers, I can remember blatant pushing from back-markers but I donít see that nations come into this, more of a grudge between particular drivers. Yes this is wrong and not in the spirit of a hot rod class, yet it is the controversy that keeps people talking and unexpected nature of this finish will make it one to remember for many years.
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