Irish Open ….Purdie retains title Report by Steve Linfield

The Irish Open Championship came to the Tullyroan Oval on what was one of the biggest weekends of the season in Northern Ireland, with the Classic Hot Rods joining the bill alongside the Superstox World Championship and National Hot Rod British Championship. The 17 car entry did fall a few short of what had been hoped for, but never the less a decent field and was a cosmopolitan entry with plenty of visiting interest. A good job too, really, as 976 Clive Richardson was the only driver from NI present with the rest of the entry seeing three from the Republic of Ireland, seven from England and six from Scotland.
The drawn grid and reverse heats determined how the feature race would line up on what was a dry late afternoon and evening. The meeting got off to a bad start though, as on only the second lap of heat one 175 Andy O’Donnell went hurtling into the turn three wall, ending his weekend of racing there and then. 871 Graeme Callendar was the leader at the time and continued to do so at the resumption under pressure from 555 Gavin Taber who moved ahead. He continued to hold sway for the remainder of the race, albeit under great pressure from behind, notably 19 Anthony Morgan and 72 Gary Goodswen. The second heat saw 976 Clive Richardson convert his pole position into a comfortable win, whilst the fast Tullyroan Oval did take its toll on a few, with notably 45 Craig Boyd suffering an engine blow, the oil slick of which left the track slippery in the last quarter of the race.
The points from the heats put 555 Taber on pole position with 976 Richardson alongside and 17 Kenny Purdie and 210 Hughie Weaver alongside and then 236 Ryan Polley and 72 Goodswen on row three. 13 cars started the race. It was a race that only went to the first corner before there was trouble. The front row men got together, tangled up and spun and then the second row did the same with one pair spinning to the inside and the other to the outside and then almost crashing (into the back of Taber) in sympathy 99 Liam Bushe went in too. All of this mess meant a very early yellow flag with Goodswen having taken the opportunity to lead. He opened out a gap at the re-start, but the man of the march was without doubt Purdie and he first hunted down and passed Polley for second and the did what didn’t look possible even at the halfway stage and he chased down Goodswen in an inspired drive. When he caught the 72 car he went round the outside, finding grip where many others didn’t seem able and went on to be comfortably clear at the chequered flag, for what was without doubt an emotional win for him. Goodswen had to be content with second and almost unnoticed there was just as good a battle for third with Scots 26 John Campbell and 162 Keith Chesher battling it out with 26 just getting there ahead whilst the rest of the finishers were 12 Trevor Harris, 116 Gavin Taber and 756 Marc Spence.


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