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A Class Act

09.10.14 2378 (640x419) A brilliant performance from Jabez Smith wins him the title.

With Bryan Neale and Jabez Smith separated by seven points going into the final round, this could have been a thrilling battle. If you were expecting a close head-to-head then you’d have been left wanting, because Smith dominated the event and ultimately took a third straight title by a clear margin.
It was a masterful display from the champion, who took a maximum score from the event. Neale started with a second place and then fell progressively further down the order to finish in ninth, and indeed was lucky to hang on to second in the championship after Matt Manning’s excellent performance here.
Paul Darlington was on great form as usual and matched Smith’s unbeaten run in the heats, but a final victory remains long overdue as he could only manage a seventh in the end.  However, his tally was sufficient to move him sixth to fourth in the points.
By the first turn, Smith already had clear air between himself and his rivals. Manning emerged from the chasing group and settled into second, though the close attention of Paul Watson behind meant he had to defend the position instead of chasing the leader, and Smith’s lead grew steadily as the race progressed. Watson was unable to unseat Manning however, and a solid run in qualifying together with points for second place secured third place in the standings, just three points behind Neale.
Just outside of the top three was James Meakin, who fought with Colin Chilvers in the closing stages but was able to hang on to the position. Chilvers had got caught up with Darlington twice on the first lap which dropped him to the tail end momentarily, but he fought back past tail enders Steve Graham and Brian Wright, then demoted Darlington in lap three. Had the race been a little longer, Chilvers may have been able to promote himself to fourth as he was already close enough to challenge his clubmate, but the chequer denied him his chance.
It was good to see Wright back in the BAS, and he held sixth place ahead of Darlington in the end, with fellow returnee Graham at the tail end for the duration after getting squeezed out into the first corner.

The ladies final was red flagged initially when Holly Downing clashed wheels with Tina Grasby and sat stationary in the middle of the first corner.
Sarah Bateman had been the leader in the first run, but when it was restarted the Stroud driver was beaten in a drag race to the first corner by Sarah Farrar.
Bateman got the car too sideways into turn one which slowed her momentum and allowed Farrar a little breathing space. Then, at the start of the third lap Bateman caught up to the back of the leader again but had to back off to avoid hitting Farrar’s rear, half spun the car once more and dropped away again, undoing her hard work.
Danielle Phillips was a little way back in third and had to brake sharply to avoid hitting Bateman as she slowed, but both she and Bateman quickly straightened up and continued. The Welsh lady stole second at mid-distance as Bateman went too wide, and then from then on the positions remained unchanged. Phillips applied increasing pressure to Farrar as the raced neared its end, but Farrar defended superbly and held on to take her first BAS victory. Phillips had been in with a very slim chance at the title prior to the event, but by the final Bateman had secured it, adding this to her 2012 victory.
Behind third placed Bateman was Grasby, who stayed fairly close the rear of the third placed machine for the first half of the race, then dropped back a little towards the end; the position safe from Michaela Meakin and Kim Green who were a fair distance behind in the subsequent positions.

Main: It was a masterful display by Smith throughout the event, and he thoroughly deserves his hattrick. Above: Farrar took her first ever BAS win, as Bateman secured the title with third (photos: Dan Moffatt).