The way to open

15.05.15 1234 (640x296) An exciting first lap opens the first final of the event, and the season.

That the class one final started at a few minutes past two underlined the timeliness of the event, and was a race which contained the kind of close action that typified both the heats and what was to come in the rest of the meeting.
Reigning champion Tom Roberts wasn’t a qualifier, surprisingly, after he followed an initial victory with a black flag in heat two and a sixth on Sunday, which left him down in 30th place. Also, Jonny Milner was sadly an absentee too, which left Ash Robinson as the only one of last year’s title contenders in the final.
Robinson was second qualifier behind the unbeaten duo of Darren Thomas and Danny Hobson, and was in the middle of the pack as they all circulated together on the first lap. Hobson’s inside grid worked well for him as he led through the first turn with Thomas and Robinson on his tail, but Thomas was perfectly placed to draw alongside Hobson up the finish straight and they went side-by-side into the pits bend. However, when Thomas got the car a little sideways on the entry, the rear three-quarter was nudged by Robinson whose momentum half spun the Welshman, but Thomas’s swift reactions ensured he quickly rejoined the pack, albeit in sixth place.
Behind this little moment for the leaders there was a simultaneous, identical incident as Steve Edwards was tagged by Ian Ullathorne which put the former to the back of the pack. Then, as the pack went up the start straight for the second time, Arron Sharp – who’d been well placed in the first lap – was forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision with Conner Griffiths, which sent the North Wales driver out towards the barrier and subsequently to the rear of the field in eighth, a position from which he couldn’t recover.
Thomas’s incident meant that Hobson was able to take the lead back again and he held the lead for a lap, but as he came to the end of the third lap there was increasing pressure from Griffiths. The national champion held a wide line and then executed a perfect manoeuvre to steal the lead up Hobson’s inside through the pits bend. Griffiths then extended his lead gradually to take the victory with Hobson under pressure from Robinson in the end, though the Spalding driver ran out of laps to pass the erstwhile leader.
Daniel Lodge kept out of all the first lap action to run third ahead of Robinson initially, though with some hard work over a couple of laps the latter would get the position back by the end.
Behind, Thomas and Ullathorne were nose-to-tail, separated by inches at times with Edwards equidistant in seventh, but the trio crossed the line with the order unchanged. Sharp was only a couple of car lengths adrift by the last lap and could have promoted himself had the race been a little longer, but took the points for eighth.

Amy Carter contributed another trio of heat wins to the score sheet of Team Hobson/Carter, and was the only lady to go to the final unbeaten.
Carter then took the lead in the final until the end of the first lap when a wide line gave Katie Wilson the perfect chance at the lead. Once ahead, Wilson controlled the race and defended the position to the chequer from Carter, for whom a second place in the final equalled an overall class lead thanks to her faultless run in qualifying.
Ashlea Cowperthwaite went from a midfield position up to third by the closing stages after a battle with Missy Moseley. Emma Robinson had run with Cowperthwaite at the start but dropped down the order behind Moseley and was the recipient of a black flag for an incident similar to that in the men’s final. Robinson tagged Moseley and spun her out on the last lap, which left the latter at the tail end, but the race result was declared based on the penultimate lap with Moseley reinstated to fourth.
Fiona Thomas narrowly avoided Robinson’s car as she swerved round Moseley and took fifth place ahead of Kirsty Empson, who had a good first BAS after a year’s absence. Empson’s cousin Hayley, the winner of the final round last season, was also a qualifier but pulled off in the opening stages with damage to her Mini.

Main: Griffiths fought his way through a complicated opening lap to win from Hobson. Above: It was more straightforward for Wilson, who won from qualifying star Carter.