Belle Vue, 17th April 2017 – Meeting Report and Photos

Just 23 F1s for this Easter Monday offering at the Kirky Lane raceway so four straight races was the format, with 22 of them gridding for Heat One. An early pit bend tangle involving Bonner, Hurdman, Griffin, Riley and Frankie JJ left newcomer Chris Alderson (380) in the lead from James Morris (463) and Karl Roberts (313) but Stuart Smith Junior (390), already fourth, looked favourite to win this one. Cars came and went as Smith picked off those ahead of him in pursuit of new leader Morris, closing as the 463 car drifted wide on turns three and four. A last bend effort by Smith saw both cars cross the line inches apart, with Morris getting the verdict. Craig Finnikin (55) made third with FWJ fourth ahead of Roberts and Newson.

Stuart Smith narrowly missed out on the win in Heat 1.

Bill Fenwick (57) joined the line-up for Heat Two but Bonner and Chris Smith (342) were no-shows so 21 took the green flag and any hopes of a repeat win by Morris were dashed early on. The slippery track caught out several top men over the early laps but not Stuart Smith who took the lead before the half-way mark and romped away for the win with Gibson (249) second and Willis (337) third. FWJ and Finnikin overcame previous set-backs to take fourth and fifth with Danny Wainman (212) in sixth spot.

Bill Fenwick (57) on track in Heat 2.

Nineteen cars gridded for the Final, reduced to 18 when pre-race favourite Smith was tractored back to the pits with a broken half-shaft, then 17 as Jack France (216) retired on the roller. The well-watered track claimed Roberts who went for an early spin, Tom Harris spun FWJ down the back straight before going himself on the next bend then a caution for leader Alderson, who contrived with 57 and 342 to test the home straight fence gave Danny W and Newson a chance to recover from their tangle.

After a slight delay for fence repairs, Richard Bryan (238) led the 15 car restart but second-placed Finnikin wasted no time in hitting the front while FWJ hit more trouble and raced to the back of the grid! Newson moved up the order, taking second off Riley as the 422 pilot took the long way around the spun 166 machine on turn four but he was still a long way behind “The Stealth”. As the track dried, the gold-topped number 1 car finally made forward progress, recovering for third at the flag ahead of Riley, Bryan, Danny W, Willis and a returning France. Only eight cars went the distance.

Both of the Wainman brothers made it to the end of the Final despite problems early on.

Just 12 cars for the Grand National and once again the well-watered (note I said well-watered, not over-watered) track claimed some early victims. Newson spun on lap one, delaying FWJ while cars 313, 216 and 276 all found the fence. A brief caution saw Fenwick leading from Alderson at the restart but the 57 car went wide, giving the super-smart 380 car a short spell at the front before the repaired 390 car took over. FWJ spun himself going for third but all eyes were on Finnikin, gaining ground on Smith as the latter was slowed by Alderson.

At the half-way, Smith had moved clear again but made a mistake, allowing Finnikin to close right up and apply the bumper. Finnikin now lead while Newson took second and FWJ found a parked car to drive into. Smith nerfed Newson wide to retake second then hit trouble, as did Wainman but Finnikin had the race sewn up, taking Final and GN and double points to boot. Only eight of the twelve finished.

Finnikin takes the win in the Grand National from the lap handicap

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley 


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