Thrills and spills in the Hills!

 

The high-speed banked 1/4-mile Hednesford Hills Raceway played host to round 1 of the SITR Midlands 400 (One Stop Site Services European Championship Rd. 3). Sixteen drivers made the trip to the picturesque surroundings of Cannock Chase. All of the top 3 drivers in the One Stop Site Services European Championship were present, of which Adam Slater (#24, Lincolnshire Corvette) was the only one to have not yet raced a MASCAR at this track. Dave Watkiss (#04), Ryan Allgood (#38), Dom Tranquille (#53, SRD International) and Richard Newbury (#89) made their competitive debuts for the 2019 season while Adrian Birks and Kevin Gabriel were out in the #80 and #21 hire cars. Although there were forecasts of rain on race day, drivers were met with a warm but overcast day that lasted the duration of the day, but a dusty and greasy track surface added another level of difficulty in finding a fast setup.

Chris Harwood (#46, RWUD Racing) started heat 1 from the pole next to Paul Hinckley (#99, Rookies R Us). Ryan Allgood (#38) started at the back of the grid for a late arrival to the holding area. The drop of the first green flag of the day was a clean one even as drivers jostled for position on cold tyres. The tricky conditions caught out Hinckley as he slid to the in-field coming off turn 2. Big moves came from row 4 as Mark Carnwell (#65, SRD International) and Adam Slater were already up to 2nd and 3rd respectively by the end of the first lap. The #65 and #24 got past Harwood and started to gap the field. Meanwhile, further back in the pack Allgood and Steve Stanford (#22, SAS Who Dares Wins) were making good progress from their respective row 5 and 6 starts, eventually getting past the #46 as well. MASCAR rookie Adam Slater put in a fantastic effort against the very experienced Carnwell to claim his first MASCAR victory in heat 1. The #65 continued his strong form to take 2nd and the #38 of Allgood finished his first race of the year in 3rd.

Hinckley made a much tidier start from the pole in Heat 2, starting alongside James Waterfield (#56, RWUD Racing). The #99 lead the way from the green flag. Again, as in heat 1, Carnwell made a big move from row 3 on lap 1. He went 3-wide with the #99 and Michael Spicer (#17, SAS Who Dares Wins) on the back straight through to start finish line where he finally claimed the lead from the #17. Spicer did not give up without a fight. The pair continued side-by-side down to turn 3 on lap 2 but Spicer carried a bit too much speed a washed both himself and the #65 up the track in turn 4, opening the door for Allgood in his #38 to dip his nose to the inside and again make it a 3-wide battle for the lead going into lap 3. The #17 again refused to yield but pushed up the track in turn 2, seemingly struggling with a very tight setup, losing 3 places as the #38, #65 and #24 got past. Allgood dropped the hammer and opened an unattainable lead. Meanwhile, Carnwell in his #65 could not fend off Slater (#24, Lincolnshire Corvette) who cruised to 2nd. Carnwell rounded off the rostrum in 3rd.

Conditions continued to heat up as the sun tried again to peak out from the clouds as the grid headed down to the holding area for the final. Paul Hinckley had the pole alongside James Waterfield in the #56. Waterfield made a great start from the outside lane to take the lead of the final race of the day. It was not such a clear run behind the #56 as the field jostled for position coming out of turn 2. Starting from row 3, Allgood (#38) and Carnwell (#65, SRD International) tried to lose as little time as possible to get to the front but got stacked up behind row 2 starters Tranquille (#53, SRD International) and Spicer (#17, SAS Who Dares Wins) as the field went through turn 2. Allgood and Carnwell threaded the needle and took the #99 of Hinckley and the #17 4-wide on the back straight. Hinckley slammed the door shut on the #65, paving the way for Allgood to move to 2nd and into a bit of clear air to chase down the leading #56 of Waterfield. Carnwell wasn’t going to let Allgood get away; the #65 again went 3-wide with the #99 and #17 in turn 3. Waterfield led from Allgood and Carnwell as the field crossed the strip at the end of the first lap. Despite Waterfield putting in an impressive pace for his first meeting at Hednesford to lead his first laps in MASCAR, it was no match for the #38 and #65 who came charging past on lap 2. Further back, Adam Slater (#24, Lincolnshire Corvette) and Steve Stanford (#22, SAS Who Dares Wins) were making their way through the field after starting towards the back. The #22 got past the #24 to take 3rd. Meanwhile, there was very little to separate the leading #38 and #65 (0.018s separated their fastest laps) but it was Allgood who would win the first round of the 2019 SITR Midlands 400 Championship ahead of Carnwell.

Following a strong run of form and consistency, Rookie Adam Slater (#24, Lincolnshire Corvette) moves to the top of One Stop Site Services MASCAR European Championship, just 13 points ahead of Mark Carnwell (#65, SRD International). Steve Stanford (#22, SAS Who Dares Wins) drops to 3rd following a difficult meeting at Hednesford. Following his victory, Ryan Allgood (#38) leads the way in the SITR Midlands 400. Adam Slater finishes the meeting 2nd, 12 points behind Allgood, and Carnwell sits in 3rd, only 14 points behind the leader. Meanwhile in the DW Commercial Services Teams Championship, SAS Who Dares Wins (#17/#22) continue to lead the way ahead of Lincolnshire Corvette (#24/#25) and RWUD Racing (#46/#56).

It was a hard-fought meeting with action and drama all throughout the field. MASCAR returns on the 23rd June at Buxton Raceway for Round 2 of the SITR Midlands 400 Championship!

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