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PEMBREY RACE REPORT - Back to front Johnston tops Sports Specials

Mon 17 Jun 2013

The vagaries of the British weather, combined with the quirks of the fixture list, meant competitors in the Sports Specials Championship had to wait until mid-June for their third round at Pembrey.

Rob Johnston picked up where he had left off at Brands Hatch at the end of April with two more outright victories to add to the one overall and two class triumphs he had recorded in Kent.

The second came despite starting from the pit lane. “That wasn’t part of the plan,” he admitted. The car refused to fire up when the drivers were called to the assembly area, and he made it into the pit lane in the nick of time. In treacherous wet conditions, he never doubted that he would be able to climb through the field and win. “I come from a short oval background so those conditions were no problem,” he explained.

Johnston lapped more than two seconds faster than anyone else in his Cyana MX500R, and took the lead from Clive Hudson (Eclipse) on lap eight. Another driver to star was Patrick Mortell in his MR2-based Rogue Xenon, the car that is less powerful than most on the grid coming into its own in the rain. He finished third.

Johnston had won Saturday’s race in more conventional fashion, with Hudson dropping out of contention with mechanical issues. Paul Boyd (Eclipse) and Stewart Fenton (Tiger) completed the podium.

In AB Performance RGB, Alastair Boulton finally took his first outright race victory after more than a decade of trying. The privateer Spire entrant did so in the second race of the weekend, despite making an unpromising start and dropping to fourth. But leader Matt Higginson had a ten-second jump start penalty, while John Cutmore lost time with an off. When red flags flew (Tony Gaunt’s Wolfe was stranded), Higginson was only seven seconds clear, so Boulton took the win.

A day earlier, Higginson had benefited from a stoppage brought about by Nick Donaldson’s collision with the pit wall. Smoke emitting from his Spire made it doubtful he would have made it to the end, having just taken the lead from teammate Cutmore amid traffic. Paul Rickers and Austen Greenway shared the front-engined class spoils.

Peter Chattin took his historic 750 Formula HSC to two more victories in 750 Trophy, despite dropping a cylinder in Sunday’s contest. Danny Ruta briefly took the lead of the opening race but outbraked himself at Hatchets and dropped to fourth, leaving first time racer Barry Pike, in the ex-Pete Birch JGS, to take second position. In the rain on Sunday, Trefor Slatter starred as he charged up to third in his Centaur.

Billy Albone made the best start to the first Premier Choice Group 750 Formula race, but Dave Hodkin took the lead at Dibeni on lap three. After some feisty side-by-side racing, Hodkin went straight on at Dibeni to decide the contest in favour of Albone. Hodkin eased to a clear win in race two, but Albone was later excluded from both races following a post-race incident.

Paul Smith was once again the man to beat in the Tillotson Formula Vee Championship. After missing the two rounds at Snetterton, the Grays man bounced back with his third and fourth victories of the year in his AHS Dominator. Martin Farmer might have provided him with some opposition on Saturday, but a bad start dropped him almost to the back of the top ten. The GAC driver climbed back to second, however, taking the place from Ben Anderson with three laps to go.

Anderson made a poor start on Sunday – too many revs on a wet track – and dropped back to sixth. In his haste to get back on the pace he ran wide at Woodlands, spinning back onto the track and making glancing contact with Paul Taylor. With damage to a tyre and a tweaked driveshaft, his race was over, leaving Smith to beat Farmer by 15s.

Martyn Fowdrey (XR2) was a delighted winner of the first Demon Tweeks/Yokohama Classic Stock Hatch race, with victory set up by a brilliant move around the outside of Lee Scott at Dibeni on the first lap to get into the lead. Scott returned to winning ways on Sunday, with Martin Cayzer and Paul Thorpe completing an all-XR2i podium.

Shayne Deegan took a 2-1 lead over brother Lee in terms of Demon Tweeks/Yokohama Stock Hatch victories in the first race, moving into the lead by passing both his sibling and Nathan Saunders into Hatchets. Championship leader Tom Bell struck another crucial blow with victory on Sunday, with just six races now remaining this season. The win came despite an off at Brooklands, although the pursuing Jake Farndon lost more time during the excursion than the leader.

Three Demon Tweeks/Yokohama Locost races were required to accommodate all of the entries. Alastair Garratt slugged it out with Lee Bankhurst before emerging to take victory in the first race, the only dry one of the three. Danny Andrew and Sam Bradley pulled out a margin of more than half-a-minute over the field in race two, with the former making a decisive move at Hatchets on lap ten. Bradley made amends in the final encounter by turning a four second deficit to Bankhurst into a six second victory.

Matt Palmer dominated the Millers Oils Toyota MR2 rounds, despite taking a cautious start in the unfamiliar wet conditions in race one. Jim Davies was a double runner-up, while Luke Austin got a podium in race two after spinning in race one while challenging early leader Davies.

Rob Horsfield (MR2) won the Cartek Roadsports race.

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