Coleraine driver Del McLaughlin took the biggest win of his racing career at Aghadowey Oval last Friday night.
McLaughlin was celebrating after landing the Thunder Rods Irish Championship.
With a huge crowd on hand for the annual end of season Gala Night, Dungannon’s Derek Martin was the other big winner of the McCurdy Fuels and Wilson McCurdy Haulage sponsored event as he took victory in the latest round of the National Hot Rods World Series, with Shane McMillan (Stock Rods) and Ian Bolton (Reliant Robins) the other feature race winners. The bad weather didn’t detract from a great evening’s racing, with the fans also treated to a huge fireworks display.
Points scored throughout the season paired Brian McMullan and Del McLaughlin on the front row of a packed grid for the Thunder Rods Irish Championship. McMullan set the early pace, but quickly McLaughlin found a way under him to open up a gap out front.
The Coleraine driver really was on top form, and coped admirably with the heavy back marking traffic.
Even the rain starting to fall mid race couldn’t deter him, and he raced home to the double chequered flags and the biggest prize of them all in the formula, the Irish Championship trophy.
McMullan was a creditable second; with Norman Purdy awarded third after Adam White was docked for contact during the race.
Ben McKee took a flag to flag win in the opening heat of the National Hot Rods PC Paints & Components World Series NI Round 7, holding off the advances of Gary Woolsey and Derek Martin at the flag in their only dry race of the evening.
The rain had well and truly arrived for heat two, which saw Thomas Dilly holding off all comers for much of the distance.
Woolsey tried and failed to make it past the determined Portadown man, but with just one lap to go European Champion Adam Hylands arrived on the scene and swooped right around the outside to land an incredible win. Dilly and Woolsey rounded out the places.
Woolsey and Martin shared the front row for the final, and after Woolsey showed first it was Martin who settled into the premier spot on a sodden track.
Hylands then moved through to second, but just as it looked like he was about to mount a challenge for the lead a broken exhaust saw him receive a technical disqualification in accordance with the rules.
Following a caution period to remove Adam from the circuit, Martin rounded out the final laps with ease to take the final win that he has been threatening to pull off for a few weeks now.
Woolsey and Stewart Doak inherited second and third after Mark Heatrick were docked two places for jumping the restart.
The season long DMC Race Promotions point’s championship was wrapped up by Adam Maxwell, who received four new tyres courtesy of sponsors Cirrus Plastics.
The usual ‘Mr Starter’ at Aghadowey, Jay Jay McConaghie, swapped his flags for his helmet to take victory in the opening Robins race over David Kernohan and John Stewart.
The second heat was absolutely sensational, with Ian Bolton coming back from an early rollover to land an unexpected victory which went down very well on the terraces. McConaghie and Stewart this time filled the places.
With a blanket covering the top three in the points going into the last race of the season, it was a winner takes all shootout which fell the way of Bolton after he landed another emphatic win in the McCurdy Fuels Super cup Final. McConaghie and Kernohan chased him home in second and third.
An impressive late season field of seventeen Stock Rods included a debut for 2014 Thunder Rods Irish Champion Robert McIlroy. Local driver Willie Taggart took the win in the opener over Irish Champion Jonny Cardwell in his Corsa C.
The rain had arrived for heat two, and it was another local, Thomas Morrison, who led the field to the flag for the win, with former World Champion Chris Gordon in second and Taggart third.
Novice Jonny Downs led the early laps of the final before losing out to Gordon, but he in turn was unable to hold off a fast charging Shane McMillan.
Despite his brother Derek and Victor McAfee closing in nearing the end, teenage hotshot Shane held on for a well deserved win.
The next meeting at Aghadowey Oval is on Boxing Day (2pm start) when the main events will be a Caravan Destruction Derby and the Reliant Robins Irish Championship, as well as racing from the Stock Rods, 2.0 Hot Rods, Thunder Rods and Junior Productions.