The time has finally arrived for the drivers of the V8 Hotstox to contend their biggest race of the year, the 2022 World Final! Once again, the competition this season has been fierce and the reality is that any driver on the grid could claim the ultimate prize and the gold roof.
Major titles so far this year have gone to Stephen Young (#176) who claimed the first ever Scottish championship, Steve Thompson (#1) who retained his British championship and Kev Stuchbury (#131) who won the European championship for the 5th time in his career. These drivers will certainly be striving to add the World Title to their collection of achievements in the 2022 season.
Steve Thompson (#1) is the current World Champion and will have no plans to remove the gold paint from his car. Steve’s pace over recent seasons has undoubtedly improved but his readiness to use the front bumper has been most eye catching. More and more frequently, Steve is showing his aggression and is fully prepared to send his competitors into the barrier. Steve survived a breath taking last bend attempt from Jon Brown (#288) in the 2021 World Final at Odsal and will be a favourite to repeat his victory this year.
There is only one other driver on this year’s grid who has held the World Title before. Kev Stuchbury (#131) was the World Champion in 2007, 2008, 2014 and 2015. Kev has announced that this will be his last World Final and his last year in the formula. He will be giving absolutely everything to take the World Championship and retire at the top of the formula.
The first weekend of July was the last time that the Hotstox were at the Buxton oval. Final wins over the weekend went to the two men who occupy the front row of the 2022 World Final grid, Stuchbury (#131) and Thompson (#1). Camey Dorrell (#262) and Thomas Brighton (#329) also picked up victories during the two meetings. In contrast, finalists such as Jon Brown (#288) and Guy Jolly (#222) are yet to race at Buxton this year and this could put them on the back foot in the World Final race.
The Hotstox World Champions roll of honour features some of the biggest names that the ovals in the UK have ever seen. Former champions include Andy Smith, Ray Witts, Mick Rodgers, Stu Smith Jnr, Chris Bracher and many more of the greats of stock car racing. Will we see a new name added in 2022? Will the current champion Steve Thompson be able to retain? Anything can happen in Hotstox racing, here are the contenders for the 2022 MJS recovery World Championship:
Luke Smith (#507) has had a challenging 2022 season, he’ll be hoping to avoid any incidents and finish the big race. Jamie Huckfield (#420) will be pleased to be on the grid and will look to take advantage of starting near the back by avoiding any early race chaos. Martyn Box (#102) is a driver who has unsuccessfully tried to retire from stock car racing! He has managed to qualify from just a few outings this season. Declan Gwin (#522) will no doubt enjoy the experience of being in the World Final and will be hoping for a good finish.
Danielle Parker (#112) enjoys racing on tarmac and the white grader had a successful weekend at Buxton in July. Lee Allen (#577) is in his first season of racing as a novice and will be proud to have made the grid. Thomas Brighton (#329) has made a sensational start to his Hotstox career and could surprise a few people in the World Final, he recently won the “1 car, 2 surfaces” title. Nick Jagger (#333) is a veteran stock car racer and will be looking to get stuck in to this race. He’ll be hoping to avoid tangling up with his daughter Amy (#525).
Rob Scriven (#117) is another experienced stock car racer, he’ll be hoping to make steady progress through the pack. Matthew Young (#376) is the brother of Scottish champion Stephen (#176). Matthew hasn’t raced much this season with his focus being on his newly born daughter, he’ll enjoy being in the World Final race. Andy Maynard (#15) is a hardened stock car veteran, he will be hoping to cause an upset in this race and will almost certainly be using the front bumper throughout the race. James Billows (#402) is always in the thick of the action and is something of a master of the rollover. Watch James closely in this race, he’ll be sure to entertain!
Richard Smith (#344) has been enjoying a good season in 2022. He could well finish high up in the World Final race. Craig Kellet (#438) will be pleased to be starting on the inside of the grid, he has good pace and could be challenging for a good position in this race. Hannah Andrew (#350) lines up next to her brother Tommy. She will have no issue in using her bumper whenever needed in this race. Tommy Andrew (#453) has taken the chequered flag on tarmac this year and will be looking to gain the family bragging rights.
Dan Poole (#296) has good pace on tarmac and will be hoping for a strong top ten finish. Amy Jagger (#525) spent the first part of the 2022 season as a red grader, she’ll be looking for more success in the World Final race and could well finish near the front. Rudi Coleano (#77) is very much a shale specialist. It will be interesting to see how he adapts his driving style. He enjoyed a superb start to his 2022 season. Marcus Brooks (#365) starts on the inside of the grid and if there is a pile up near the front early on he could well be in a high position as the race develops.
Jay Kellet (#439) will fancy his chances of a podium finish from his starting position. He could cause a few surprises in this race. Bryan Andrew (#355) is the most experienced driver on the grid. He has plenty of big race experience and will hope for a good finish in this year’s World Final.
Gilen Bullock (#10) has been quick throughout the 2022 season. He came close to being crowned the European champion on the shale of Northampton earlier this year. He will be hoping for plenty of carnage in front of him in the opening laps so that he can move forward. The outside isn’t often the preferred starting place in a race such as a World Final but if Gilen can get through the first few laps and stick to the racing line, he has the pace to be contending for the World Championship. Gilen: “I’m happy to have qualified this far up after having a rough start to the year. I’m hoping for a good clean race and to try to make my way as far forward as possible.”
Guy Jolly (#222) is an experienced Hotstox racer who has taken victories on both shale and tarmac this year. While shale is his preferred racing surface, his tarmac form this season has arguably been his best ever. Guy has the pace to be at the front of the pack during the race, however speed alone is unlikely to be enough to win the world title. The question is, will Jolly be prepared to use the front bumper hard enough when the time comes? Guy: “I haven’t really raced with a focus on the World Final this year but I’m actually not in a bad position and my tarmac form is as good as it’s ever been.”
Craig Smith (#187) is a driver to keep an eye on in any Hotstox race. It is almost a guarantee that Craig’s front bumper will never look the same at the end of a meeting as it did at the beginning. He has no fear in making contact with his competitors, even if they are part of the MJS racing team that Craig races with. If there is an opportunity to win the World Final, Craig will be certain to take it. It seems likely that Craig will either finish near the front of the race, or not at all… Craig: “I feel sorry for the drivers on the rows in front of me!”.
Matt Barnard (#69) has taken a more relaxed approach to his racing this year. Despite this, he has shown on several occasions that he has the pace to compete with the superstars at the front of the pack. Matt knows how to win and starting on the inside of row 5 could be a good position to be in should there be a big shunt on the first bend of the World Final race. If he can get to the front of the race, he could well be in a good position to win. Matt: “I’m excited for this one. The car was on rails last time out at Great Yarmouth, so we're feeling confident ahead of the big race.”
Camey Dorrell (#262) is one of the fastest drivers on tarmac. She always shows good pace around Buxton and is a regular race winner on this surface. Camey is one of four lady drivers on the grid and has plenty of oval experience, including racing in the non contact Grand Prix Midgets formula in the past. Camey will be pleased to be starting so close to the front of the grid, however being on the outside could pose a challenge. Camey will need to make it through the opening laps and find the racing line. If she can do this, there is every possibility that she could be the first woman to win a BriSCA Stock Car World Championship.
Craig Thompson (#490) has recently achieved superstar status and has picked up plenty of victories on tarmac this season including a dominant display at a recent mid-week Skegness meeting. Craig is the brother of current World Champion Steve and also has experience of racing in other oval formulas. Craig is very familiar with the Buxton oval and this could give him an upper hand in the World Final race. He is well positioned on the inside of row four to give a big push going in to the first bend. If there is a pile up early on, it could well be Craig who causes it and he’ll be hoping to sneak up the inside of the carnage. Craig: “Hold tight!”.
Jon Brown (#288) is undoubtedly one of the best drivers in the Hotstox formula however is having a difficult season and has recently lost his superstar status. He was a favourite to win the British Championship earlier this year at Bradford after finishing second in all of the qualifying heats however a mistimed attempt to take the lead of the British Final cost him dearly. At the European Championship in July he again looked set to claim a major title but the car lost pace in the late stages of the race allowing Kev Stuchbury (#131) to take the win. Could Jon finally take a major title in the World Final? His commitment to win the gold was evident in the 2021 World Final as he made an epic last bend attempt to take out Steve Thompson (#1). Jon is one to watch in the big race. Jon: “I’m not too disappointed with the starting position given the year we've had, I’ve not been round Buxton yet this year so I’m going to be learning as we go!”
Stephen Young (#176) has had his best ever year of stock car racing. He has achieved superstar status for the first time and at Cowdenbeath claimed the first ever V8 Hotstox Scottish Championship. Stephen starts on row 2 for the first time in his racing career and has a very serious chance of taking the World Championship. As well as his improved pace this year, Stephen’s general race craft has developed considerably. He will know how to negotiate back markers should he get to the front of the pack and will use the front bumper whenever necessary during the race. Stephen: “Starting on row 2 is the highest I have qualified for a world final so I am really looking forward to it, I think we'll just take it lap by lap.”
Steve Thompson (#1) is the current world champion and retained his British Championship earlier in 2022. He has been having a superb season and will be the favourite for many to retain his World Title also. However, starting on the outside of row 1 with rival Jon Brown (#288) behind him could become a challenge in the early stages of the race. Steve will need to avoid the fence going into turn 1 and try to make his way to the front as early as possible. His pace this season has been impressive and this may encourage some of his rivals to try to take him out of the race in the early stages. If Steve can get to the front of the pack he may not be caught, with a huge grid of cars it’s likely he will be faced with the challenge of moving back markers at some point during the race also. Steve will know that he has a good chance of winning the World Title, his competitors will know this also and will be looking to gain an advantage over the #1 whenever, or however possible.
Kev Stuchbury (#131) is the current National Points and European champion and once again finds himself in pole position for a World Final. Kev has won this race four times previously and is one of the most decorated drivers in the history of the V8 Hotstox. Kev has announced that 2022 will be his final year of racing and he will be looking to end his career at the top. Opinions will be divided on whether pole position is the very best place to start the race or not, Stuchbury however will know how important a good start is. He must avoid any first bend collisions and look to establish a gap ahead of the other drivers as soon as possible. Stuchbury knows how to win the big races, he’ll be hoping to do it one final time. Kev: “Hopefully we can survive the first corner and see what happens. I haven’t finished many world finals so I’m hoping to get a top 3 finish.”
Row 3 of the grid will be occupied by overseas drivers and this always adds an element of the unknown to the race. History has shown us that guest drivers to the formula could end up as cannon fodder or serious competitors for the grand prize.
A grid of well over 30 V8 Hotstox will be an impressive site indeed around the Buxton oval and it is almost certain that many of those starting will not finish. There are several experienced and capable drivers starting further down the grid who will consider themselves to have nothing to lose in this race and will be looking to put the bumper in early on. The V8 Hotstox remain one of the most entertaining and competitive formulas on the ovals and the MJS Recovery 2022 V8 Hotstox World Final is all set to be a superb event. Be sure to give the drivers a cheer and a wave during their Grand Parade.
May the best man or woman win!
Written by Pete Savage
Images by James Bowles