When 1 July arrived it still felt as though the season had hardly started, but already the SEGTO Championship had arrived at its fifth round out of six, with only the August final at Arena Essex to go.


Already out of the way were the two rounds at Angmering, where numbers were significantly improved over last year, although not nearly as many as could have been accommodated at the Sussex track’s exclusive “SEGTO Sunday” dates. The first of the Arena Essex rounds was another early season fixture where the main problem was sorting out results from the chaotic format that saw some of the SEGTO classes sharing the track with the Rolling Thunder Show’s own races. The strength of the championship, though, has to be judged by the turnouts at Tongham, SEGTO’s only surviving dirt track which has to be regarded at the home of SEGTO these days. 73 cars raced at the June round and this time 79, plus 9 in the non-soring Novice Junior class - plus a dozen Nudge & Spin Bangers to make exactly 100 cars in the pits to brave the heatwave conditions.


With the track in tip top condition this year, dust was obviously going to be the main issue, but Barney Hayhoe and his watering team struck just the right balance. After promising that every race, except the Juniors, would be treated to fresh water in the first heats, it didn’t quite require that to keep the dust under control without ever being too wet. The only complaints we heard were that, when the track inevitably rubbered up for the finals, it proved even slicker than usual, but that only helped to ensure a varied list of winners!


PRODUCTION A brought out twelve cars, and here there was just one winner over the three races, with Bob Salter’s 106 holding off James Simmons’ Micra in both heats, with close battling in the pack holding the top points scorers back slightly. Bob Salter came through from his midfield starting position to take the lead within a lap in the final, and stayed there with his closest challenger being Laura Trinidade, who brought her Micra home ahead of James Simmons. Brad Wells headed the fourth place battle from Adrian Treagus and Alan Goddard’s AX, with Keith Simmons’ Micra and the AXs of Tara Dibnah and Victoria Backhouse (who had a promising first outing) completing the finishers. Mark Osborne’s Nova had problems in all three races, while Josh Simmons and Thomas Sanders didn’t start the final.


PRODUCTION B had a six car field with five of them very evenly matched, although Simon Pilsworth’s new Micra was a little off the pace. Rob Salter won the first round in his 106, but the second heat and final both went to former SAA driver Noel Breakspear’s smart Nova, with the Micras of Jason Cornell and Leonard Black sandwiching Rob Salter in their battle for second.  Barney Hayhoe’s Nova lost touch slightly after a puncture. Conspicuous by its absence was Stuart Orford’s Starlet, up for sale as Stuart looks for a new challenge!


The 1450 HOT RODS had a strong ten car turnout, just missing Mick Browne among the championship contenders. Nathan Loader’s AX scored runaway wins in the two heats, but found this put him at the back for the final, where the top three SEGTO scorers always start. Ben Blyth’s Micra then led all the way, with chaos behind as Ben Stockley’s second placed Micra slowed exiting the last corner and found Gary Thomson’s Peugeot 205 embedded in its back end as Josie Johnsey, having her first outing on dirt, nipped through to claim second from Jason Woodgate’s NASA-style Mini-Peugeot, Barney Hayhoe’s other Nova and Jason Johnsey’s Nova. Nathan Loader and Pete Welcome both had problems, Nathan limping home while Pete’s 106 retired, and Mark Jones’ Pickup retired in the second heat after getting up to second.


Only five SUPER SALOONS appeared, the class having suffered because it’s virtually impossible to find a car that will be a contender on both surfaces. Chris Carter had the best solution; heading the points after his performances in his Outlaw Hot Rod SLK, he switched his NASA Class 7 car (the troublesome Chevy-powered Suzuki SC100) to SEGTO duty for the day, and it worked far better than he led us to expect. After a spectacular win in the first heat, Chris was just pipped to the line in the second by Michael Brooke’s FWD Peugeot. On the slick track for the final the FWD cars couldn’t be caught and Paul Lording’s Corsa came home ahead of Michael Brooke. Chris Carter was virtually heading out into the woods in search of some grip, and his last lap pass on Laurence Connors’ Growler 205 almost ended in disaster, but both survived with Laurence heading Chris and Dave Bullen’s Starlet.


Six SPECIALS turned out and provided lively racing with David Simmons’ Class 9 DRD grabbing the first heat win on the last lap from Shaun Page’s Kawasaki and David Baigent’s Vauxhall. David Baigent held on in front in the second heat, crossing the line three abreast with David Simmons and Shaun Page before they all tangled.  The final saw a shake up as David Simmons and Shaun Page tangled and David Baigent had a rear wheel land well into the woods, so Ashley Lock came through from fourth to first, winning from Shaun Page, Ryan Stafford and David Baigent, with Mick Baigent having engine problems before the final.


The SEGTO JUNIORS had a fifteen car grid with the only championship contender missing being Alfie Alderton, who’d been out at Arena the night before. Will Watson, whose immaculate K10 Micra had been wrecked in a roll at the last meeting, was only racing thanks to the generosity of Peter Tilley, who donated his Prod A Nova for the day, making two Novas up against thirteen Micras. Oliver Adamson led the first heat all the way, holding off Kodi Page and Thomas Connors after Bailey Turner’s good run in second ended with a blowout. Oliver again led the second heat until Kodi Page got past starting the last lap; Oliver then ended up facing the wrong way as the rest of the pack swarmed round him. Kodi just held on to win from Charlie Titcombe and Angmering based Laiton Disdle. The final was stopped and everyone was sent to the infield to wait for some water to be put down. When they lined up again, Bailey Turner then led most of the way, but in the closing stages Charlie Titcombe took over to win from Lewis White, Bailey Turner, Thomas Connors, Laiton Disdle, Will Watson, Riley Diaper, James Holmes, Harry Ovens, Kodi Page and Oliver Adamson. Laura Connors brought up the rear in her Nova after Alfie Bullimore and Ben Sanders retired, while Jack Saunders didn’t start.


A good indicator of the Tongham club’s health is that they’d already had thirteen drivers score in the NOVICE JUNIOR class, with eight of them turning out this time, plus one Angmering visitor. Ryan Adamson set the pace in all three races with his Micra, but after he’d been caught the matching Micras of Michael and Stanley Watson took a win each. In the final, though, it was Kaitlyn Williams’ AX that got away to take the win, with Michael Watson second from Ryan Adamson, Stanley Watson, Riley Rogers’ Mini, Charlie Freeland’s 205, Lexie Silk’s Micra, Poppy Carter’s 205 and Cherie Wells’ Nova.


The day’s biggest grid was in the THUNDER RODS, a very varied mixture of nineteen cars, with nine RWDs and ten FWDs. Alex Smith, in a mid-engined Toyota MR2, was a clear winner in both heats while the action behind him included SEGTO points leader Jamie Sayers’ MG getting planted in the armco, Bradley Ormston’s Ford Cougar parking on top of the infield armco and one BMW rejoining the race to look for a head-on retaliation on the Fiesta that earlier spun him out! Angmering boss Jim Hazelgrove had a better grid position for the final and pulled away to win from Stephen King (BMW), Rob Jones (Clio Turbo) and Alex Smith. Barry Maynard (Focus) took fifth from Dave Chandler (MR2), John Burt (MR2), Sean Woodward (Civic), Richard Ormston (Fiesta) and Simon Stroud (BMW). Jamie Sayers, Shane King (BMW), Louis Elden (Fiesta) and George Richards (Focus) retired while non starters in the final were Leonard Bowen (BMW), Danny Chappell (MG), Bradley Ormston, Joe Dale (Lexus) and Shaun Maynard (BMW).


Finally, the Angmering-based MICRA STOX have been included in this year’s championship and Tongham are now adopting this as a club class, although it remains to be seen whether it will attract newcomers to the club or draw drivers away from other classes. With the class still split between two alternative versions of the regulations, six out of a possible ten cars turned out. Familiar SEGTO names Ian Withers and Graham Goddard won the heats before Chris Tullett, virtually unbeatable at Angmering, took the final from Graham Goddard, Richard Mackley and Craig Cobb. Ian Withers went out with a puncture after testing the armco and Tongham’s first recruit to the class, Zak Gorrie, also retired.


The BANGERS were treated to four races, with the full dozen cars turning out in the first three, but only four cars for the last race, followed by a DD.  There was also time for a five car Open race in which Jason Cornell’s Micra won from Barney Hayhoe, Leonard Black and the Thunder Rods of Jamie Sayers and Simon Stroud.