Ashley Garrod took victory in the 2019 ORCi PRI National Banger World Final on Sunday as the Championship made its eagerly anticipated debut at the Mendips Raceway.
Speaking afterwards, Garrod admitted it was ‘very special moment’ as he claimed his first World title after 14 years of trying.
“To be honest, I still can’t believe it. It’s something that I’ve always wanted – to be a World Champion, and I think it was getting to a stage where it was like, ‘Will it ever be?’. I’ve only been trying for 14 years,” chuckled Garrod.
“It was a very special moment for me.”
The win seems even more impressive with it being Garrod’s first ever meeting at the Mendips Raceway.
“If anyone ever asked me if I’d ever win the PRI World Final, I’d say ‘Not a chance,’ mainly because I’m a shale driver, tarmac’s just too fast for me,” laughed Garrod. “But I really enjoyed it and I’d like to thank all the staff at Mendips on how welcome they made me feel – the presentation was epic, it’s a great little track.”
As with every other National Banger World Final, it wasn’t easy for the eventual winner with Garrod having to contend with a track blockage and cars on opposite trying to take him out.
From fourth on the grid, the Trackstar driver managed to fight his way up to second place behind early race leader Brad Deeprose. Garrod eventually nudged Deeprose out wide to take the race lead on lap three before the race was halted a couple of laps later because of a wheel on the track.
The restart saw the Gladiators cause carnage on turn four with a big track blockage. It was Steve Bailey who cleared the wreckage first with Garrod still caught up in the mayhem.
After managing to find his way through the carnage a couple of times, Bailey was eventually stopped in his tracks by Gladiator Simon Smith, gifting the lead back to Garrod.
However, it was soon Garrod’s turn to get caught up again which then saw Smith take up the running. Garrod eventually caught up with him however and overtook him to regain the race lead.
Realising this, Smith turned it around again and delivered a head on to Garrod with them being the only two cars left running.
Smith went for a big hit on Garrod but the Trackstar driver managed to keep his car going. Smith’s car was completely destroyed leaving Garrod to complete the last few laps all by himself and take the double chequered flag.
Speaking about such a destructive race, Garrod commented: “I pulled number four out the hat, so I was a bit nervous with it being my first time at the track. I got the hang of it quite quick and I was gone but then the red flags came out and it was restarted.
“I see ‘Pikey’ (Steve Bailey) behind me, so I knew he was going to take some beating. But then the carnage started, and it suited me better. I just had to use my head and pick the hits and gaps without wrecking my own car. Luck was on my side for once,” grinned Garrod.
Garrod admitted that he knew Gladiator driver Smith was coming for him in the closing stages of the World Final, but that wouldn’t phase him.
“When I see him on opposite I knew he was coming for me so I squared him up, but I’ve had it plenty of times when I’ve been leading the World Final at Kings Lynn and people have been trying to stop me, so I thought, ‘Here we go again!’
“We had a few head on’s, but his car was definitely the stronger of the two, so it was a case of trying to play a few games and out-smart him. I made out I was going for the head on with him and turned out of it last minute. He caught his wheel on my passenger side ripping his steering arm off.”
Aside from Sunday’s triumph, it’s been a relatively quiet season so far for the new World Champion but he’s still happy with how it’s gone.
The Kings Lynn based driver currently sits 23rd in the 1500cc National Banger points and ninth in the 2LTR National Banger World Qualifying points chart.
“To be honest, I’ve had the quietest season I’ve had for years,” admitted Garrod. “I normally do between 30 to 40 meetings a year, but I’ve only done about 15 so far this year, but I think I’m still doing alright in the points with the meetings I’ve done.
“I’ll probably do the Dover Masters Championship next, but I’m not going to do many more this year, as I’m going to do a lot more travelling next year in the Mondeos because they’re my favourite.”
There’s always a big team of helper’s behind any National Banger driver’s career as well, whom without them, we probably wouldn’t see half the driver’s on track.
“I’d like to thank my Dad, without him half of what I do wouldn’t be possible,” said Garrod. “My partner for putting up with all the racing and anyone that’s helped me over the years to get me to where I am today.”
I’d like to thank Ashley Garrod for his time and want to wish him the very best of luck as he carries the prestigious gold roof for the next year.
By Jordan Hollands.