Belle Vue, 13th October 2013 – meeting report

Top three in the main event. Mick Sworder, Dan Johnson, Craig Finnikin, with some of the meeting sponsors.

Top three in the main event. Mick Sworder, Dan Johnson, Craig Finnikin, with some of the meeting sponsors.

Eleven out of the twelve Shootout drivers made their way to Belle Vue for the sixth round of the silver roof competition. Paul Harrison was unfortunately unable to attend, following an injury at Skegness the previous evening.

Richard Bryan (238) led the field round to the green flag for Heat 1 but had a fairly uncontrolled start. Due to the wet track conditions, all of the superstars went wide before even crossing the start-finish line. They all managed to recover but lost some valuable time on the lower-graded drivers.

It wasn’t long before Lee Fairhurst (217) and Dan Johnson (4) went for a spin on the wet shale. Mick Sworder (150), not to be outdone, spun around on Turn 2 of the following lap, collecting Ryan Harrison (197).

When the pair had recovered, Harrison roared down the back straight in an attempt to catch up with Sworder. The 150 machine was hit hard and pinned against the fence by Lee Smith (10).

Harrison’s race continued to be dramatic and he was soon spinning again, this time being collected by Johnson as he tried to make his way back to the racing line. Within the chaos, Mark Poole (276) had taken up the lead.

Tom Harris (#1) was put into the fence alongside Sworder just before half distance. The newly-crowned World Champion then retired to the infield.

Ryan Harrison was still on the charge, trying to recover from being a lap down. After a big hit on the second place car, Harrison set his sights on the leader. 197 hit Poole as he was going into Turn 3 and the latter flew over another car. 276 recovered and retained the lead. Despite another dicey moment involving Tim Warwick (307), Mark Poole took the victory.

As Poole crossed the finish line, 197 launched Geoff Nicholls (215) into the pit bend fence, causing him to roll over but the ‘beard to be feared’ was unfazed, remaining in his upturned car until it was righted. Unfortunately, 276 was removed from the results for failing to report to scrutineering quickly enough and the race win was awarded to Mark Gilbank (21).

Geoff Nickolls attempt at clearing the fence was ultimately a failure.

Geoff Nickolls attempt at clearing the fence was ultimately a failure.

17 drivers, including one Dutch frequent flyer (never mind air miles, how about ferry miles?), made their way onto the Belle Vue shale for Heat 2. There was a dramatic start to the race as John Lund (53)’s throttle jammed, causing him to hit the fence at full speed. The 8–time world champion spent the heat stuck in the exact place Sworder had been in the previous one. Damage to the green machine relegated King John to the role of spectator for the rest of the meeting.

Eliot Smith (293) took the lead and Frankie Wainman Junior (515) got the best start out of the Shootout drivers. Daniel Van Spijker (H231) spun into Turn 3 and was collected by Dylan Williams-Maynard (51) and Danny Wainman (212). Both of the Brits were able to recover, speeding across the infield to rejoin the action.

As Matt Newson (16) spun around on the pit bend, 515 pulled off with engine problems. A couple of laps later, the leader appeared to be experiencing problems of his own. He pulled off the racing line and surrendered the lead to Dave Willis (337).

Willis wasted no time, planting big hits on Steve Whittle (183) and Steve Anderson (120) on the back straight. 337 maintained control of the race until the chequered flag.

The white tops line up, with Consolation winner 238 Richard Bryan on pole.

The white tops line up, with Consolation winner 238 Richard Bryan on pole.

Richard Bryan immediately took and maintained the lead in the consolation, despite the bumper coming in from 293. Sworder made quicker progress through the field than Harris.

Poole, desperate to make up for his earlier exclusion from the results, was already up to second by the time the yellow flags were waved. This caution was for Tim Warwick, who was stranded on the back straight.

276 tangled with the third place car of Smith (293) on the restart, slowing the rest of the field. 150 and #1 had a minor coming together just before half distance and it wasn’t long before the World Champion pulled off onto the infield.

150 put the bumper in on 51, and a spin from Ben Hurdman (207) out of second place, allowed Sworder to move into third. Tony Smith (91) and 293 tangled on the back straight on the last lap, just as Richard Bryan came round to take the black and white in a well-deserved flag to flag victory.

Former V8 star Eliot Smith taking the Mat Newson car for a short flight around the pit turn.

Former V8 star Eliot Smith taking the Mat Newson car for a short flight around the pit turn.

As the darkness set in, the cars made their way to the track for the Ron Deane Memorial Grand Final. Consolation winner and lone white top, Richard Bryan, led the field around for the start. Craig Finnikin (55) looked like he was in trouble but he was soon back on the pace.

Josh Smith (191) ended up in the fence on Turn 4, just as Robert Broome (41) found himself in a similar position in Turn 1. A big hit left Billy Johnson (169) stranded in the back straight fence and brought out the caution.

Dan Johnson was the biggest mover on the restart, and while 55 and 197 battled for fourth, 4 took the lead.
With 5 laps to go, 238 was forced wide in an attempt to avoid the inevitable big hit from Ryan Harrison.
The battle raged on in the closing laps. 55 caught 150 and expertly passed him to take second. Finnikin’s triumph didn’t last long and, thanks to a troublesome backmarker, Sworder was able to swoop back into second.

Meanwhile, Paul Hines (259) caught up to Ryan Harrison, tapping him aside. 197 lost further places after slowing on the home straight just before the chequered flag. Dan Johnson claimed the victory.

Travelling Dutchman Daniel van Spijker trailered two cars across the English channel to race the Skegness / Belle Vue weekend. Maximum respect to him for all his efforts - although Ricky Wilson might not agree!

Travelling Dutchman Daniel van Spijker trailered two cars across the English channel to race the Skegness / Belle Vue weekend. Maximum respect to him for all his efforts – although Ricky Wilson might not agree!

The Grand National started with chaos as the yellow tops tangled into the first turn. This resulted in a very early caution for stranded Richard Wilson (502), Daniel Van Spijker and Billy Johnson.
238 led them round for the restart but Mark Gilbank (21) and 197 were on a charge. 55 spun just as a bump from James Bailey (135) knocked 238 out of the lead.

At half way, 197 was leading, with Gilbank hot on his tail. As the race drew to a close, 276 and 337 were battling hard for third. They collided, allowing 95 and 150 past. 197 won, extending his lead in the Shoot Out Series, while Dan Johnson’s seventh place made him the nights top points scorer.

Words: Rhosanna Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley

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