Start as you mean to go on

11.05.15 153 (640x380) Sam Gould get an almost perfect start to his title defense.

At last year’s Stroud event Andrew Empson was arguably the star, and was denied the overall victories after a crash in the final. He was the only one to take a trio of heat wins this time which made him one of the favourites again, but a spin in the first corner put an early end his chance.
Sam Gould was only ten points adrift of ‘Rubens’ after qualifying and took control of the race immediately into the first turn. Andy Pipe was his first pursuer and as Gould went into the pits bend for the first time he ran a little wide, giving the yellow Nova a clear gap up the inside.
It looked for a moment as though Pipe had claimed the position, but Gould was back ahead by the end of the start straight, and then in the next turn Pipe went wide which let Aaron Mackenzie through into second.
The place swapping behind Gould allowed him a fraction more breathing space, but Mackenzie did eventually break away from Pipe and the chasing pack which allowed him a clear shot at the leader. When the Spalding driver is on form he is among the top of the class, and his drive was clearly a determined one, never really allowing Gould the chance to pull away in his race to the flag
The reigning champion consistently favoured a wider line with his rival staying a little tighter, which meant on a couple of occasions it appeared Mackenzie had been handed a slim chance at the lead. However, the combination of both car and driver - the WL Racefab machine’s sublime handling and Gould’s incredible ability, as underlined in class eight too - meant that it was a seemingly easy win in the end, even if Mackenzie wasn’t too far adrift.
As Pipe dropped away from Mackenzie a few laps in, he was forced to drive a defensive race to hold fourth placed Bob Matthews behind, and he succeeded, taking the position by a small margin from his league mate, with fellow clubman Steve Goodwin in fifth. Dave George and Phil Holloway occupied the subsequent positions, with Goodwin having gotten past George in the early stages. Empson circulated at the tail end, too far adrift to catch up, and at least until the next time remains on the list of drivers overdue some final success.

With last year’s champion Becky Shaw now in class eight there will therefore be a new champion this year, and Trish Simmonds-Grant begun the reclamation of the title with a maximum score.
In the final it was a commanding drive from the 2013 champion, with Donna Brown using all manner of lines behind in second, but she was neither close enough to challenge for the lead, nor under enough pressure from third placed Joanne Rowlands to necessitate a defensive drive.
Rowlands too was safe in third, with Lianne Teather in fourth; behind them there was a brief two-way battle for the last two places between Gemma Fullard and Catherine Beynon which was resolved in the former’s favour. 
Sally Corbett continues to acquaint herself with the smart new John Wright-built Starlet and was the last finisher in each of the heats, but then a non-starter in the final.

Main: Gould was on typically unbeatable form in the final. Above: Simmonds-Grant took a fairly easy win in the final too, which meant a maximum score from the weekend.