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UK OPEN UNLIMITED BANGER CHAMPIONSHIP
RINGWOOD - SATURDAY 27 NOVEMBER 2004

Report and pictures by Mark Baulch

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UNLIMITED BANGERS SOUTHERN OPEN
RINGWOOD - SATURDAY 27 NOVEMBER 2004

Report and pictures by Mark Baulch

We had an absolutely fantastic night at Ringwood Raceway on Saturday 27 November, as some of the best Banger drivers around came to contest the 2004 UK Open Unlimited Banger Championship.

In fact, well over 100 drivers made the pits look set to burst at the seams. The first job of the evening was to decide the Best Dressed Banger. 13 of the best came on to the infield for the crowd to decide their favourite by means of the old “cheerometer” It was clear from the start that they had all decided upon their favourite, with the biggest cheers leaving a straight competition between the 24-year old Ford of Michael Pidgeley 177 and the nicely painted “Japanese Car” of Mark Mitchell 4 (Mr. Happy). I thought that 177 may win it just because it was such an old an unusual car, but the crowd seemed to like the cut out Mr. Man on top of the number 4 car and he just clinched the 50 prize.

Then it was on to the serious stuff of racing. 27 cars lined up for the first group, with only 5 of them able to qualify in each heat. This evening opener went fairly quietly, as Lee May 500 led for a while, before being displaced by Shane Davies 158. There was only ever going to be one winner out of the 26 cars in group 2, as Brett Ellacott 162, three-time winner of this event, made sure of his place in the Final by leading from flag to flag. The third group was the smallest but the liveliest, as 25 cars battled it out. Mike Hilton 155 looked like a winner for quite a while, but David Wilde 44 was having none of it, watching carefully and closely behind him. Then, as they approached a car stranded in the middle of bend 1, Mike Hilton 155 decided to go wide and David Wilde 44 needed no further invitation to take the lead and go on to the win by moving to the inside line. Group 4 consisted of 26 cars but was equally sensible, as Lee Treasurer 282 led the Fireworks winner, Steve Bailey 190, home to safe qualification.

Results – Heat 1

Group 1        158, 500, 349, 114, 315, 74, 408, 1
Group 2        162, 42, 262, 245, 151, 66, 936, 83
Group 3        44, 155, 364, 172, 239, 465, 18, 205
Group 4        282, 190, 53, 326, 97, 73, 889, 311

As the four groups combined into two, the stage was set for things to hot up! 31 drivers took their places for the first of the second heats, but this was to be a short-lived race as Mark Dawson 64 took a huge hit on lap 3 and proceedings had to be stopped for him to be checked over. We had already lost 10 cars by this stage and the metal bending continued once the green flag flew again. Simon Wilkins 778 looked like he had the race all sewn up until, suddenly, his car began to slow as it rounded bend 1 for the last time. It appeared that his car had overheated and it ground to a halt on the back straight, handing the win to Jamie Wyatt 199 on the very last lap after a rotten evening up until that point for the Posh Wash gang. 29 cars appeared for the other heat 2 and it looked like things may ground to a halt fairly swiftly as a big logjam formed on the pit bend. But several drivers managed to pile in with enough force to clear the wrecked cars, briefly! Danny Smithson 311 was the first of these and wisely avoided piling back into the melee on his return visit. By backing away and awaiting the reds, he successfully clinched the victory.

Results – Heat 2

Groups 1&2    199, 338, 1, 157, 446, 408, 288, 4
Groups 3&4    311, 355, 205, 614, 24, 120, 514, 18

With 30 cars having qualified at this point and countless having been loaded up ready for scrapping, this left us 20 drivers in the Last Chance race. Always one of the hardest of the evening, this was no exception, with some heavy action all around the circuit. We all held our breaths as the recuperated Simon Wilkins 778 took the lead once again. But this time he made no mistakes and his car did not let him down again, a triumphant win being his just desserts after trying so hard for so long!

Results

Last Chance    778, 517, 47, 399, 733, 66, 136, 48

This gave us 35 qualifiers for the Final, plus the three drivers that had automatic entry into this race after the Qualifying Rounds during the course of the year. However, luck was not on their side when the grid positions were drawn out of the hat. Stuart Dunn 231 found himself 36th on the grid, with Mike Kilford 202 and John Swanborough 523 fairing little better in the 20s! Mike Kilford 202 was to have the shortest and unluckiest race of the three though, as he was terminally punted into the Armco on bend 1, almost as the green flag fell! Pole position belonged to Jason Ayles 315, with Scott Weldon 517 alongside him. The 1997 Champion, Gary Jackson 97, headed the second row and was joined by Jason Cuddihy 24. Tom Terry 151 started in fifth, with Simon Wilkins 778 very happy to be in sixth, after so nearly failing to be in the race at all! The fourth row belonged to Simon Byrne 172 and earlier heat winner Jamie Wyatt 199. That left top tip Brett Ellacott 162 and Phillip Cullen 399 to make up the top 10. Jason Ayles 315 was to keep them all waiting and guessing, as he crawled around the track, bunching up most of the field behind him, although a curiously large gap appeared about halfway down, where it appeared that a couple of drivers may have thoughts of building up significant speed before piling in! Finally, the green flag was waved as Jason Ayles 315 let rip into bend 3. A great final ensued, with some fantastic displays of speed and determination, as well as outright destruction! In fact, only 9 cars finished the race! Simon Wilkins 778 just missed out on a podium position, as he finished fourth behind Kenny Watling 42. With the exception of sixth-placed driver Martin Lake 114, all of the top eight had finished first or second in an earlier race, which probably just demonstrates how good their cars were on the night, as well as a certain level of skill in the driver! Danny Smithson 311 was the runner-up after his earlier heat success, but the new 2004 UK Open Unlimited Banger Champion was set to be a new name on this particular roll of honour. David Wilde 44 stormed to victory, despatching quite a few unwary back markers as he went on to glory!

Results

Final        44, 311, 42, 778, 190, 114, 155, 158, 205

23 cars returned to the track for the Demolition Derby, but, unfortunately, this had to be abandoned as one driver became trapped in his car on the infield side of bend 3.

This may bring the season to a close, but we return on Sunday 26 December, so you do not need to stay in front of the television for the whole of the festive weekend! The 1300 Stock Cars and Junior Rookies will be in attendance, together with Superstox and the Ringwood Rookies for some great Boxing Day fun.

We are also here on New Years Day. A dose of Ford Rods, Special Rods, Hot Rods and Rookies Over 1800cc should soon cure that hangover! Both meetings start at 2.00pm, with gates open at midday. See you then!



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