Monday 27 May, Arlington
Southern Championship

Marc de Land retained the Southern Championship on his 'home' circuit on Bank Holiday Monday. Heat wins went to Mark Hodges. A good turn out of cars but Keith Minshall did not get to race because of an oil leak and sadly we were missing Clifford Bunn due to illness.

This years Southern Championship was contested at Arlington Raceway (Eastbourne).This is the GP Midgets first visit to the track in over 22 years. The atmosphere was electric and we felt very welcome the spectators stood shoulder to shoulder filling the stands.For a lot of them this was the first time they had seen a GPM and they drew a lot of attention on track and in the pits. Marc Deland is the current Southern Champion as he won it late last year at Arena Essex so he will be trying his hardest to maintain it now he's at his home track.

Heat 1 Jack hodges leads the way as the only white grader followed by the only yellow grader of Tony Smith. Andrew Bilby gets the jump on Neil from the blues with both Mark's closely behind.Tom Keep has a flying start gaining 3-4 car lengths by the exit of turn 4. Darren Clark is next up followed by Dollin And Bonser who have a slight coming together on the sandy inside line but both drivers remain in the race. Gordon Daniel and Jonathan Pooley are the remainders of the pack. Lap 2 Tom keep takes 6th from Deland as Jonathan clears the back of the pack to some clean air.By lap 4 Jack hodges maintains a 1/4 lap lead as Bilby pressurises Tony and takes up 2nd on the home straight.lap 5 and Dollin makes the pass on Deland with Jonathan catching the pair. Tom powers past Neil with Darren in tow but Neil manages to close the door before Darren gets by.Jonathan makes the pass on Deland while further back,Bonser is trying to find a way past Gordon while holding off Daniel.Lap 8 and Jack still holds a good lead with Bilby and Hodge Senior closing in fast.Tony is 4th with Tom in 5th making good progress through the field.While Darren is held up by Neil Dollin drives around the outside as there wheels clash and and makes the pass stick. On lap 10 Jacks lead is under pressure as Bilby and father Mark are fighting for 1st place and the following lap Jack drops to third spot as Bilby takes the lead with Mark in 2nd. with 3 to go Mark is almost pushing Bilby around turns 1 and 2 as Tom Keep dives down the inside of Jack to take up 3rd. The following lap Mark catapults around the outside of Bilby and makes it stick as he takes up 1st. 2 to go and Tom is on a mission to pass Bilby as he leaves it to the final lap to take second spot by half a cars length from Bilby in third with a well deserved win for Mark Hodges,with an also impressive drive from his son Jack hodges in 4th and Tony holding on to 5th. Dollin,Jonathan and Darren Clark finish the top 8 with Daniel 9th and Neil,Deland,Gordon and Bonser having their own race at the back of the field.

Heat 1 - 1st 5 Mark Hodges, 2nd 46 Tom Keep, 3rd 16 Andrew Bilby, 4th 17 Jack Hodges, 5th 37 Tony Smith, 6th 44 Dave Dollin, 7th 31 Jonathan Pooley, 8th 83 Darren Clark, 9th 32 Daniel Pooley, 10th 77 Neil Clarke

Heat 2 Steve Young manages to start this race after drive shaft problems in practice but has to pull on to the infield on the first lap with further problems. As before Jack leads the way with Tony Smith in 2nd. Neil gets a better start from the front of the blues followed by Deland with Bilby and Mark Hodges having to avoid Steve Young before he managed to get to the infield. Tom Keep has another flying start leading the reds. On lap 3 Mark and Bilby and pressuring Deland as Tom keep has already caught up the blue graders. The following lap Mark passes Deland as Tom goes around the outside of Bilby on turn 3. Lap 7 Darren Clark goes a little wide on turn 2 causing him to slide on the sandy outside line allowing Dollin to make a pass on the inside but Darren recovers in time to hold off Bonser and Daniel. Half way stage Jack still has a good lead from Tony with Mark in 3rd, Tom taking up 4th spot from Neil, Deland in 6th with a chain of cars up to 13th close behind. Jacks great drive comes to an end as his wheel passes him exiting turn 4 causing a red flag and a restart this forces Jack to retire for the rest of the meeting. Tony Smith leads the restart followed by Hodges and Keep. On turn 1 Hodges attacks early to pass Tony on the outside to take the lead with Deland diving down the inside of Neil to take up 4th Bilby also finds his way past Neil. Lap 9 Dollin takes the inside line of Neil with Bonser trying to pass Darren as they are side by side but Bonser gets boxed in by Neil. Going down the back straight Tom Keep seems to have a problem and goes wide to allow the field through and retires to the infield. By lap 10 Mark is out in front with The lead growing over Tony. Deland, Bilby, Dollin and Clark are all fighting closely for 3rd spot as Bonser and Jonathan pass Neil on the back straight. On lap 13 Jonathan goes down the inside of Bonser as he out braked himself causing him to go wide spinning the wheels on the sand drifting into the wall damaging the right hand suspension but manages to pull to the infield safely. With 2 to go Dollin moves to the outside line on the home straight to make a pass on Bilby and exiting turn 2 manages to lose the back end spinning him in to the side of Bilbys car causing Andrew to hit the armco head on. With only 1 lap to go and the seriousness of the accident the officials decided to end the race 1 lap previous. Although it was fair to say Mark Hodges was well onto his second win on the day either way. Andrew was a little shook up from the accident but glad to say he was able to walk ok albeit a little banged and bruised.

Heat 2 - 1st 5 Mark Hodges, 2nd 37 Tony Smith, 3rd 15 Marc de Land, 4th 16 Andrew Bilby, 5th 44 Dave Dollin, 6th 83 Darren Clark, 7th 33 Gordon Pooley, 8th 32 Daniel Pooley, 9th 77 Neil Clarke, NOF.

Before the final began we lost Bonser as a result of his earlier accident, Jonathan with fuelling problems. Tom Keep managed to sort his problems for the final. 9 cars managed to make it out for the final unfortunately early retirements of Mark Hodges with a broken wishbone and Gordon Pooley with a damaged driveshaft meant that there were only 7 cars ready to race. Tony Smith lead the way from the yellow grade with only Deland and Neil the 2 blue graders. As before Tom Keep gets a better start over Darren. By lap 3 Dan is all over the back of Dollins car trying to find a way past. Throughout the next few laps no positions changed place as Neil bunches up the red graders holding them off allowing Deland to make progress on Tony. By lap 6 Marc is all over the back of Tony looking to take first place to retain the Southern Championship. On the back straight Deland takes his opportunity to pass Tony on the outside and exiting turn 4 takes the lead. Meanwhile Darren Clark retires to the infield. The next lap Dollin takes Neil on the outside on turn 1 and on the exit of turn 2 clips Neil's front wheel as he cuts back in allowing Daniel to pass Neil as he regains control. For the next few laps Daniel is eager to stay on the back of Dollin occasionally losing ground when the back end breaks free but maintains the pressure on Dollin. Tom Keep is trying to find a way past Neil but Neil guards the inside line well. With 5 to go Dollin makes a move on Tony taking him up to 2nd place but he still hasn't shook of Daniel who is looking quick managing to also pass Tony for 3rd. Lap 13 and Delands lead starts to shorten as Dollin and Daniel move in closer but Daniel tries to hard on turn 2 and loses 2-3 car lengths while drifting.Tom keep finally finds away past Neil to take 5th. On the Final lap Dollin and Daniel had closed in on Deland but he managed to keep his lead as he punched the air passing the chequered flag to celebrate his retaining of the Southern Championship at his home track where his late father has raced in the past. Daniel can also be happy with not only a third in the final but the fastest lap of the day, which is now the current track record for Grand Prix Midgets. Results

Southern Championship - 1st 15 Marc De-Land, 2nd 44 Dave Dollin, 3rd 32 Daniel Pooley, 4th 37 Tony Smith, 5th 46 Tom Keep, 6th 77 Neil Clarke, NOF