Belle Vue, 28th August 2017 – Meeting Report and Photos

Shootout round number two and it was off to Belle Vue for an afternoon’s shale shifting on the loose stuff. After round one at Birmingham the tables had been well and truly turned, with Ryan Harrison going from bottom to leading, with Stuart Smith now in second slot, whilst Dan Johnson had slipped to last spot just below Craig Finnikin (both absent from the Birmingham meeting due to family commitments).

A very healthy 38 cars turned out on a very warm day with the now standard whites and yellows race starting the afternoon and the format then being, two heats, consolation, final and all-comers GN.

Nigel Harrhy never made the grid, the car smoking and coming to a halt, the car being tractor-ed off leaving sixteen cars to contest the race. The track had been well-watered and was slippery, with Jack France (216) being the early leader. Eliot Smith and Richard Bryan hooked up on turn 3 and then the France car pulled up behind them, letting Aaron Cozens through for the lead. Aaron was making a welcome return to the sport in a nicely refreshed car after blowing an engine last year.

Meanwhile, another returning driver, Nigel Whalley (198) had hit second spot and was going well. Nigel, a Cheshire dairy farmer, had done very little to the car. The car is the ex-Phil Smith 109 car with a big old 510 big block up front which is getting on for heritage class, the car having new shockers fitted and little else due to Nigel’s busy work commitments.

Cozens was going well and looked uncatchable but with three to go pulled up with a blown clutch leaving the fruity sounding 198 car to come home for the win, the cars old skool rasp being down to a big hole that had developed on one of the downpipes!!

Result: 198 263 380 215 364 483 502 268 93 127.

Aaron Cozens led  the Whites & Yellows race until the last lap

Heat one proper and seventeen cars with the bottom six shootout drivers in the mix. On the first lap, Craig Finnikin span on the main straight, kicking up dust but soon getting going, whilst Austin Moore (127) and Sam Makin (93) visited the turn two fence.

Richard Wilson (502) was up front from Whalley in second, John Dowson third and Dan Johnson fourth. Nigel Whalley hit the front whilst Dan Johnson had got up the inside of Dowson, Whalley kept the lead until halfway when the rapid orange car of Johnson got past for the lead, which he kept and extended to the flag.

Result: 4 198 94 217 55 259 45 555 348 215 34 502.

Dan Johnson takes the victory in Heat 1

Heat two and eighteen cars with the top 6 shootout drivers taking part. Ryan Harrison was clearly up for this race, firing Mat Newson, Danny Wainman and Nigel Green into the first corner fence, all three managing to get going whilst Ryan departed next lap to the centre with a locked up osf wheel.

Sam Jacklin (137) collided with the pit gate fence coming out of turn 2 and was left sideways, bringing out the yellows, recovery tractor and the fence crew to put the fence straight.

Jack France led off the restart from Eliot Smith second, Frankie Wainman already up to fourth spot. Further back Stuart Smith fired the Nigel Green car wide on turns 1/2 and it was not long before the Wainman wedge had hit the front spot from France and Stuart Smith in third spot, further back the Nigel Green car looking to be very wayward in its handling.
Wayne Marshall (483) span and remained at the middle of turns 1/2 and to give credit to Wayne gave the thumbs up signal to the marshals even after being clobbered three times by other cars before the end of the race which was won by Frankie Wainman from Stuart Smith and Matt Newson.

Result: 1(515) 390 16 212 216 462 364 238 268 169 249 NOF

FWJ took a comfortable win in Heat 2

Thirteen non-qualifiers made it out for the consolation with Eliot Smith soon hitting the front from Mark Poole in second. Nigel Green was soon up to second but not for long, Joff Gibson forcing the Green car wide on turns 3/4 for second spot. Smith had a healthy lead at this point but was delayed on turns 3/4 by James Morris and Richard Wilson hooking each other up letting Gibson through for the lead spot which he held and extended to the flag from Green second and Ryan Harrison third.

Result: 249 445 197 34 276 422 293 93 NOF

The final gridded up a total of 26 cars, Mal Brown and Luke Davidson not making it out. At the drop of the flag Dan Johnson was soon away as lead shootout driver closely followed by Craig Finnikin. Up front Nigel Whalley was the lead car from Jack France and Richard Bryan. Down the back straight Sam Makin (93) had a baptism of fire; spinning, collecting the back straight fence big time but spinning out into traffic, being collected by Geoff Nickolls and Robert Plant down the back straight leading to the yellows being thrown and some lengthy fence repairs to the back straight fence.

To be fair to Sam Makin he seemed fairly unfazed by the action on the back straight, the 93 pilot tried to re-grid but was sent to the centre for being the cause of the stoppage.

At the restart it was Whalley, from France, Bryan, Joff Gibson, John Dowson and Johnson. Frankie Wainman span on turns 3/4 letting Stuart Smith through while Dowson, Lee Fairhurst and Finnikin were having an exchange of bumper paint.

Ryan Harrison’s luck ran out being sent fencewards and collecting the stranded Mark Poole car. Up front Gibson and Johnson had got past Whalley for the lead with Johnson managing to get clear of the attentions of Joff’s front bumper for the lead. Finnikin’s luck ran out with the OSF bumper bent back and catching the tyre. The Stuart Smith car in dry and dusty conditions was on a charge, getting past Joff Gibson and in pursuit of the lead car of Dan Johnson.

Johnson was now struggling to get the car to turn in; having set the car up for the early part of the race. The Smith car was totally the opposite, with the back end out in every corner and with two laps to go squeezed past the 4 car for the lead. Johnson settled, quite sensibly, for points and second spot rather than ‘glory or bust’ for the lead.

Result: 390 4 249 217 1(515) 445 212 259 555 293 169 238.

The icing on the cake after an eventful weekend for Stuart Smith Junior

The all comers Grand National saw twenty one cars come out, including 313 Karl Roberts for the first time. The 313 car had been having issues in the pits and the team managed to get it fit for the national. Out of the shooters, Ryan Harrison had loaded up for the day, having an opposite day of luck and points compared to the previous round at Birmingham.

On the parade lap, Luke Davidson pulled off to the centre green while Stuart Smith, on the lap handicap, bunched up the grid. Early leader was 293 Eliot Smith from France and almost in a repeat of the day’s proceedings, Gibson, Dowson, Johnson and Finnikin.

Dowson retired soon to the centre green but it looked like Karl Roberts should have stopped at home – being fired hard into the turns 1/2 fence by 390 Smith. It appeared that the rear wheels were spinning as the 313 car went in, suggesting a stuck throttle. Yellows out and again fence repairs were needed from the now exhausted fence repair crew.

At the restart, Johnson led off from Gibson and Finnikin and made no mistake this time getting a good start at the drop of the flag and holding on to the lead to the flag. Stuart Smith finished seventh and with a flat tyre at the end of the race.

Result: 4 55 1(515) 249 217 445 390 555 212 16 169 45.

It’s now a three week wait until the next shootout round at King’s Lynn and with Stuart now with a healthy 25 point lead at the front from Frankie Wainman second and Nigel Green third. I suspect many of the Shooters will be hoping for the 390 car and driver’s luck to desert him at the next Shootout meeting at Lynn on the 23rd of September.

Words: Andy Armer
Photos: Colin Casserley

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