Keith Martin lifts Richard Turtle Memorial Trophy at Ballymena Raceway

Keith Martin won the Richard Turtle Memorial Cup
Keith Martin won the Richard Turtle Memorial Cup

Newly crowned National Hot Rod World Champion Adam Maxwell received a warm welcome from the local race fans when the Crumlin-based racer made his first appearance with the gold roof at Ballymena Raceway on Friday evening.

Prior to racing Maxwell paraded his World Championship trophy and received a memento from Raceway promoter Aubrey Arbuthnot in recognition of his success.

When the track action got under way Maxwell almost recorded a fairytale win in his first race as World Champion, but had to settle for second place behind eventual winner Simon Kennedy in the opening heat race.

The National Hot Rod racers were competing in the first qualifying round of their 2017 World Qualifying Series, which carries sponsorship from Hankook Peformance Tyres for the new campaign.

The 2005 World Champion Keith Martin took the honours in heat two which earned the Dungannon driver pole position for the final.

Martin never put a wheel out of place in the feature race to record a flag to flag win in his Vauxhall Tigra and collected the Richard Turtle Memorial Trophy.

It was a very fitting win too, as Martin had raced regularly with Richard in the National Hot Rod class during the late eighties and early nineties.

Derek Martin followed his uncle across the finish line, but received a two place penalty from the steward for an incident on the very last lap which promoted Adam Hylands into second place with Shane Murray in third.

Race of the night was provided by the Stock Rod class, which contested their Irish Masters event.

A four-strong entry from Scotland, which included World Champion Michael Bethune and British Champion Jim Pitcaithly, travelled over for the event. Pitcaithly eased ahead just two laps from home to snatch victory at the end of a pulsating race.

McKinstry claimed the runner-up spot and Ryan Murphy secured one of his best championship results to date in third.