On a sweltering night at Arlington Raceway, the heat was certainly on the leading pair at the top of the South Coast Hydraulics league.
Going into the evening Rob Haines and Darren Terry were the two drivers in form, but both left the meeting ruing their luck as other drivers grasped the opportunity to win points to climb the table.
Another packed grid of 40 cars started the night, but by the end very few of the experienced stars were happy with their evening. A dreadful start in the first race saw current track champion Haines taken out by a complete novice.
Jeff Paddock, a pub landlord, was celebrating his birthday with a race around the oval, courtesy of Steve Anscombe at Cecil’s Rent a Rookie. Haines’ mishap allowed Terry to take a solid third place, with fellow ‘Dreamer’, Mark Pope coming home in fourth.
The big local winner was Rob Barnes from the ‘Seasiders’ team, who finished second. Things got worse for the current joint league leaders in the second race.
Haines still had some mechanical problems after being hit in the opening race, and decided to return to the pit for some more running repairs.
Terry meanwhile was royally thumped into the safety barrier on the pit bend, which led to a five car pile-up and Terry’s retirement.
In an attempt to avoid the carnage, poor Gary Pope from Hailsham, found himself rolled upside down and on his roof like a turtle.
In the interests of safety the race was stopped, allowing Gary to get out of his car to a huge cheer from the crowd.
The decimated field re-started for in effect a five lap dash to the line, and this saw Barnes come second again, and Mark Pope finish third.
There were more surprises in the final. Having come out on to the race track, Terry echoed Haines’ earlier problems and failed to start the race.
This allowed Barnes to cap off a great evening for himself with the win. Haines was able to salvage a little pride from the night taking third, whilst Mark Pope took fourth with another solid performance.
Much to his delight, Hook was placed fifth. After four rounds, Barnes and Pope have now leap-frogged Haines and Terry in the table.
Elsewhere, the V8 English Championship was dominated by visiting drivers. Adam Wake from Eastbourne, who was making his debut, put in a marvellous display to win the White Grade title.
This Wednesday (31st) sees the Banger World Series rolls into town. First race is 7.30pm.
Pictured: Hailsham’s Gary Pope walks away unscathed from his accident. Image courtesy of RacePixels.co.uk