Chris Haird won the 2018/19 English points title after finishing second in the Final at Aldershot Raceway on Sunday to season-long rival Rob McDonald.
McDonald got off to a terrific start from second place and got around the outside of Haird coming out of turn two before pulling out a few car lengths lead.
As the leading pair reached the back markers, Haird closed the gap and began to apply pressure without managing to find a way past the Scotsman, who did a good job at making his Tigra increasingly wide as the race progressed.
McDonald took the chequered flag, holding off Haird which should give him a lot of confidence heading into the 2019 World Final.
174 Jason Kew completed the podium in third in a rather lonely race for the European champion.
Chris Crane was another who defended very well in the closing stages to come home fourth with 524 Perry Cooke close behind in fifth.
After 152 Shaun Taylor hit engine problems which prevented him from racing, along with 118 Lewis Shelley who was plagued with mechanical gremlins in practice, leaving Cooke with a clear route into the top-17 and qualifying for the World Final. A terrific achievement for a young man in his first full National Hot Rod campaign.
After a problematic year, Taylor said: “After working hard Friday night getting the engine back in the car, when firing it up we still had problems with it meaning we couldn’t race.
“Having missed four meetings through engine problems means for the first time since starting in the National Hot Rods, we won’t be on the World Final grid. To say I’m gutted is an understatement, I’ll even admit to shedding a little tear.
“I want to say a huge thank you to the team; Jay, ‘Budgie’, Paul, Carrie, Mum, Max and Charlie, and to all my sponsors. I’m sorry you guys won’t get the World Final experience.”
Aaron Dew rounded off an impressive World Qualifying campaign with a sixth place in the final with Colin Smith seventh, Ivan Grayson eighth, Paul Gomm ninth and Mark Shelper rounding out the top-10.
The meeting also saw the return of Scott Bourne who has been racing in the UK Pick Up Truck series where he was crowned champion in 2017 and 2018.
Unfortunately, Bourne was another driver who had a few mechanical issues throughout the day but did show signs of good speed when the car was working well. Hopefully we can see him out at the Thunder 500 in two weeks time and Spedeweekend after that.
National Hot Rod veteran Dick Hillard won both the heats despite finishing second in both of them after Lee Carlin was disqualified for a technical infringement and Grayson was docked two places in heat two.
By Jordan Hollands