BriSCA F1 2013 World Championship Final – Race Report

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Tom Harris won the 2013 World Championship with a commanding performance at King’s Lynn on Saturday 21st September. In the weeks leading up to the event, it has appeared to be a wide open race, with no one driver looking to have an edge. However, on the night Tom Harris was a class apart from the opposition. Harris took the lead on the third lap and simply drove away from the rest of the field, finishing the race the length of the straight ahead of runner-up Craig Finnikin.

The overseas drivers were gridded according to time trials held in the afternoon, and the fastest man was American Josh Pelkey (USA12). Driving the fairly new FWJ built car that has seen service with Nigel Whalley and Dylan Williams-Maynard, Pelkey’s vast experience in the US Sprint Car scene perhaps gave him the edge when it came to quick laps. Joining him on the outside of row 3 was Dutchman Koen Maris (H61) in his Ryan Harrison built car.

Starter Jason Garner, and Jessica Megan with the World Championship trophy

Starter Jason Garner, and Jessica Megan with the World Championship trophy.

With the driver introductions out of the way, some rolling laps to the accompaniment of Fanfare For The Comman Man and Eye Of The Tiger, and the obligatory fireworks, the familiar tones of Rinky Dink emanated from the PA system and the 2013 World Final was on.

After a slow rolling lap, they rounded three and Ryan Harrison was already making his intentions clear by creeping ahead of fellow front row starter Lee Fairhurst, who accelerated a little to keep level with Harrison. Possibly clever tactics from Harrison, or maybe just luck, but as Fairhurst came back down to rolling lap speed the green dropped and appeared to catch Fairhurst unawares.

Chaos when the green dropped.

Chaos when the green dropped.

Harrison was the first away and was a length or two ahead of Lee Fairhurst as he passed the starter. It wasn’t such a clean start for the cars behind, as Josh Pelkey clambered over the inside front wheel of Mick Sworder and they came to a stop against the home straight fence, only yards past the start line. Lee Robinson was also caught up, and the 107 car retired to the infield.

Into turn one, and Koen Maris landed a big hit on the back bumper of Paul Hines (259), and down the back straight for the first time Tom Harris (84) went past Fairhurst. But the defending champion wasn’t having this; the bumper went in hard and the 84 car bounced off the plating around turn four.

After losing a lot of time at the start, Lee Fairhurst catches Rob Speak.

After losing a lot of time at the start, Lee Fairhurst catches Rob Speak.

Fairhurst was slightly out of shape from the hit and as Harris got back onto the racing line at the start of the home straight, the two cars collided and the number 1 machine spun into the fence and rolled backwards down the straight.

Harris held it together but he was now directly in the sights of Hines, who didn’t hesitate in thumping the 84 car wide. Harris brushed the Armco and kept the power on, emerging from the turn still in front of Hines.

A lap later and Hines went for it again, and this time he made it count, the 259 car moving up into second place. It looked as though Harris was lining up a retaliatory hit as they approached turn three, but the waved yellows were now out for attention to the stricken Pelkey and Sworder cars.

A problem for Dan Johnson in the early stages.

A problem for Dan Johnson in the early stages.

In fact, it has to be assumed that Hines passed Harris under the yellows, as when they were lined up for the restart, race order was 197, from 84, 259, 55, H61, 212, 94, 2, 515, 4, 1, 318, H228, H26, H35, and H34. Parked on the infield were H148, NS15, USA12, 150, and 107.

When the green dropped for the restart, Harrison and Harris pulled a length clear of Hines, and with the all silver 84 car no doubt looking very big in the 197 rearview mirror, Harrison took a fast and wide line into turn three. Harris went in tighter, and had the inside line around the bend. But either Harrison had the momentum, or Harris just thought the better of going past, but it was still car 197 leading as they came out of turn four.

After his earlier mishap, Fairhurst had rejoined well down the order, and came under attack from Rob Speak, who bumpered the number 1 car wide. Fairhurst then stalked Speak for a lap before planting the 318 car firmly into Dan Johnson (4). Johnson was then delivered a stiff shot from Jan van der Iest (H26), after which the 4 car retired from the race.

Tom Harris takes the lead.

Tom Harris takes the lead.

Up front, Harris now felt that the moment was right and leaned on Harrison into turn one. Both went wide towards the plate, and with just a handful of laps completed, Tom Harris took up a lead that he would not relinquish.

The next turn saw Harrison lunge at Harris to no avail, and that was the closest that anybody got to the 84 car for the rest of the race. That said, Chris Clare (394) very nearly inadvertently took Harris out when he span infront of him in turn 4, but some quick avoiding action saw the 84 car unscathed.

Hines had been running third up to this point, but Craig Finnikin (55), and then Koen Maris (H61) pushed past the 259 car, after which Hines dropped back before coming to a stop against the turn four fence.

With the race now just over quarter distance, Harris was established in the lead with a comfortable gap ahead of Harrison, with Finnikin a similar distance in arrears in third.

It wasn’t quite plain sailing for Harris though, as he was now in amongst backmarkers. The first of these to be an issue was Micky Randell, who was circulating with almost the same pace as Harris himself, and Harris seemed quite content to just follow the 172 car around for a lap or two before attempting to pass; Randell being sent to the turn one fence.

Row 2 as the green flag dropped.

Row 2 as the green flag dropped.

Hines was about fifth or sixth at this point, but Frankie Wainman’s charge up the field included shoving a few cars into Hines, which cost Paul a few places, and left him in the sights of Speak, who thumped the 259 car into the fence in turn one. Hines bounced off the plate but the car appeared to lack pace down the back straight, and Jan Roelof Wijbinga (H228) landed a big hit. Hines was shunted into Danny Wainman (212) and went wide, clipping the parked Chris Clare machine on his way to the fence, while Wijbinga piled straight into the 394 car.

As the race approached half-distance, Maris was still leading the overseas challenge and was in the top six, but as soon as John Dowson (94) edged past the H61 car, Fairhurst weighed in to put both cars wide.

Speak then hit Dowson into a spin, directly in the path of the race leader. Lightning quick reactions and expert car control were needed to avoid a collision with the 94 car.

It took Ryan Harrison several attempts to pass Mal Brown.

It took Ryan Harrison several attempts to pass Mal Brown.

The union flag was shown, and second placed Harrison was now behind backmarker Mal Brown (34). On every bend for quite a few laps, the Harrison bumper made contact with the 34 car, and each time Brown doggedly held his ground

Harris had another scare when he came to pass Louw Wobbes. It was just a gentle tap entering the turn, but the H22 car span , forcing Harris to weave around, and then dodge Wijbinga, who had also spun further around the turn.

The H228 car appeared to be on fire, but this was either unnoticed by the officials, or not deemed to be enough of a problem to warrant waved yellows.

With Harris now having a decent lead and a clear track in front of him, the main interest of the race switched to second place, where Finnikin had closed up to Harrison.

John Dowson had an eventful World Final debut, and finished tenth.

John Dowson had an eventful World Final debut, and finished tenth.

Finnikin found a way past but Harrison immediately retook the lead, and Finnikin waited a few more laps before striking again. This time Harrison was bumpered wide around turn three,

Randell’s race came to an end in a cloud of steam, after a massive shot from Brown put the 172 car firmly into the turn one fence.

As the 5-lap board was shown, Harris was way out in front, with Finnikin, Harrison (197), backmarkers Brown and Dowson, Wainman (515) and Harrison (2) next in line.

Tom Harris with the biggest prize in F1 Stock Car racing.

Tom presented with the trophy by Jayne Fazackerley and Jaimee-Lee Davidson.

Apart from the Dutch trio of Johan Catsburg (H99), Maris, and Wobbes having a pile-up in turn one, the remaining laps passed with out incident or change to the top five, and Tom Harris took the chequered and his first World title.

Further down the order, Speak withheld a last bend challenge from Danny Wainman, and the H228 car was still on fire, but all eyes were on Tom Harris, who had already started the first of several celebratory donuts around the track.

Result:
1st Tom Harris
2nd Craig Finnikin
3rd Ryan Harrison
4th Frankie Wainman
5th Paul Harrison
6th Lee Fairhurst
7th Rob Speak
8th Danny Wainman
9th Will Yarrow
10th John Dowson

The defending champion takes his place on the grid.

The defending champion takes his place on the grid.

Josh Pelkey and Mick Sworder came to grief just after the start line.

Josh Pelkey and Mick Sworder came to grief just after the start line.

Row 11 on the rolling lap.

The rolling lap as row 11 passes in front of the grandstand.

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Tom celebrates

Tom celebrates

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The new World Champion celebrates.

The new World Champion celebrates.

Photos: Colin Casserley
Words: Carl Hesketh

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