Belle Vue, 29th May 2017 – Meeting Report and Photos

It was off to Belle Vue on May 29th for the Bank Holiday meeting, with 32 cars turning up, many with the front bumpers painted pink in memory of the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing the week before. The Final, also being in memory of the same, saw the drivers racing for the ‘Spirit of Manchester’ trophy.

An additional race was put on before the 2 heat, consolation, final and GN format; this being a race for the whites and yellows only. A regular format at the King’s Lynn track, the Whites & Yellows race is a good attraction for the lower graders allowing them to race without the blues/reds and superstars soon engulfing them. Whether this becomes a regular feature at the Vue is yet to be seen, but watch this space!

It proved to be a flag to flag victory for popular racer 415 Russell Cooper, who nearly had the same race in the bag at Lynn on Saturday until coming a cropper with two laps to go. It nearly happened again with the Cooper car being delayed on turn 3 by three white tops, letting 293 Eliot Smith get ominously close but Cooper just raced away. Elliot then hooked up with Nigel Harrhy (45) on the main straight, allowing the 415 pilot to finish with a good lead from Smith and Harrhy second and third respectively, after recovering.

Result – 415  293  45  225  276  183  342  216  268  363.

Whites and Yellows winner, Russell Cooper

Heat one proper featured 17 cars, early spinner Eliot Smith was kindly dragged down the back straight backwards by 225 Marc Clayton, both managing to free themselves before the yellows were waved for the stranded 238 car of Richard Bryan, who was left sideways on the entry to turn 3.

At the restart it was that man Cooper at the front from 216 Jack France and 463 James Morris.  Early on, 55 Craig Finnikin took himself into the turn two fence but soon got going. Then the yellows came out again for France, who had attached himself to the turn 4 fence and also Danny Wainman, who had decided to dislodge a marker tyre and kindly take it to another part of the track attached to his bonnet…unfortunately the tyre could not be removed with Danny having to retire.

Cooper led the restart again with Morris behind. Finnikin soon charged up the inside of Frankie Wainman (515/#1) and 422 Ben Riley and was soon in third, whilst up front Morris had got past Cooper for the lead. Further back, Riley forced Wainman wide on turns 1/2 , Frankie then returning the compliment on the next bend but using 34 Mal Brown as the cue ball onto Riley’s back bumper. Up front, Finnikin was now in second spot but could not close on James Morris who came home first.

Result – 463  55  415  515  422  34  152  196  169  363  225  57.

Adding an extra tyre didn’t help Danny Wainman in Heat 1

Heat two was up next including Lee Fairhurst who had debuted his re-furbished shale car at Lynn on the Saturday but had only managed one heat. The car was smoking due to an oil leak, which led to the team working on the car Sunday to get it ready.

Early leader was 364 Robert Plant but was soon overtaken by Nigel Harrhy for the lead. Mat Newson was the lead star grader who was in fourth. Luck was not on Nigel’s side and the OSR tyre gave way leading to retirement and at halfway, Newson was in the lead form Tom Harris and Stuart Smith in third. Smith managed to get up the inside of Harris on the turn 1/2  bends, nerfing the Harris car to make sure and set off in pursuit of Newson car up front. Smith was gaining on the Norfolk driver but the laps ran out with Mat coming home for the win.

Result – 16  390  84  217  364  249  313  555  380  166  276  183.

Another great start for Nigel Harrhy, who was later let down by tyre problems

The consolation had a line-up of thirteen cars on a watered track which meant the early stages were slippery. After an early yellow flag, Danny Wainman – who had only just managed to get out for the race after repairs in the pits (those dumper truck tyres are mighty heavy things!) – soon hit the front; holding the lead to the flag from Bobby Griffin in second and Billy Johnson in third.

Result – 212  166  169  225  268  380  238  nof.

Consolation winner, Danny Wainman

It was final time next but, prior to the race, a very fitting tribute was paid  to the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena bombing by the Startrax promotions team with a release of 22 doves, a minute’s silence and then the playing of ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay.

The track had been watered prior to the final and after a pile up on turns 1/2 by the blue graders many of the reds/superstars got held up getting through the track blockage but Fairhurst had got through easily so was well up front by this stage with what appeared to be Mat Newson but this was confusing as Mat had spun so was in fact a lap down at this stage. Fairhurst soon hit the front for the lead with James Morris (the early leader) now in second spot, a lap down Newson in the mix and, to add confusion further, a lap down Billy Johnson up there as well!

Further back Craig Finnikin, Tom Harris and Stuart Smith were having a very entertaining battle of wits and bumpers. Harris managed to fire the Finnikin car wide on turns 3/4  with the 55 car getting going again, with the 390 car ominously behind, Stuart saw and seized his chance firing Finnikin into the Harris car on the entry to turn 3, Harris ending up in the fence, Finnikin keeping going.

Unfortunately for Stuart he then slowed and pulled up the diff having given way leaving Finnikin to come in second place and James Morris in third.

Result: 217  55  463  1(515)  212  34  16  422  84  169  364  555.

Final top 3: 1st Lee Fairhurst; 2nd Craig Finnikin; 3rd James Morris

Last up was the Grand National with 25 cars left and willing to race (the 390 team did their best but could not repair the diff in time).

The yellows were soon out for 57 William Fenwick and 380 Chris Alderson stationary on track and at the restart Marc Clayton 225 was the lead car from Russell Cooper and Nigel Harrhy.  Mat Newson was already up to 6th spot. Further back Tom Harris and Craig Finnikin were starting off as they had left things in the final, exchanging bumpers and places on each corner. The slippery outside line was catching many out and again the yellows were out for five cars stranded on turns 1/2. After some fence repairs to an upturned and poorly fence post, it was back racing. Marc Clayton up front with Newson in second, confusingly though Mat being declared a lap down from race control, 152 Neil Scothern in second with Harris and Finnikin behind.

It wasn’t long before Harris hit the front with Finnikin behind (or so we thought, Newson actually was still ahead and leading but supposedly a lap down). Finnikin’s chances went when he T-boned the 34 Mal Brown car on turns 3/4, losing places.

Eventually the flag came down to what many thought was a Harris victory but was soon confirmed when Mat took the chequered flag on the parade lap in the 16 (or is it 326) motor!

Result – 16  84  1(515)  217  555  212  55  422  249  169  463  45.

Caution flags were called for for 57 in the Grand National

Words: Andy Armer
Photos: Colin Casserley

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