Belle Vue – April 13th 2009 Meeting Report

James Neachell (322) heat and final winner

James Neachell (322) heat and final winner

The traditional bumper crowd packed out the terraces at Belle Vue for the Easter Monday session, and they were treated to a Heat and Final double by James Neachell. A couple of the early races were lacklustre by Manchester standards, due to the track being overwatered, but the Final and GN were typically fast and frantic Belle Vue races.

Mike Heywood (424) was the first away in the 17 car opening heat, with Andy Smith (391) retiring to the infield as soon as the green dropped. The track had been heavily watered, which meant a slippery racing surface and a lot of early race spins. Heywood exited the lead when Graham Wagstaff (330) and James Clement (158) tangled and span out on turn 3. Heywood was perhaps a little over cautious in negotiating the chicane, which was all the invitation that Mark Clayton (225) needed to pile Heywood and Neil Shenton (35) into the fence. This left James Neachell (322) in the lead, with Frankie Wainman (515) passing Dan Johnson (4) for second place a couple of laps later. The second half of the race passed without incident, with Neachell taking a comfortable win.

The second heat saw 20 cars line up, including Andy Smith, despite him having already been in the first heat. However, controversy was averted when the 391 car failed to start, and was pushed to the infield. Most of the yellow tops tripped over each other when the race started, which saw Dave Russo (49) getting shoved onto the turn three fence by Ricky Wilson (502) and Rob Bradsell (265), before the 49 car rejoined down the order and got hooked up with Danny Wainman (212). Russo then charged up the field, and even shoving Stu Smith (390) wide. Smith then got a big shot from Mark Gilbank (21), which cannoned the 390 car into Rob Bradsell (265), who clattered the fence.

Steve Malkin (308) led for about half a dozen laps before Mark Tittcomb (398) took over. Tittcomb lasted only a few laps before the lap-down Smith (390) fired Tony Smith (91) into the 398 car, which left John Lund (53) leading, with Russo second and Gilbank third. With a few laps to run, Gilbank sent Russo into the turn one fence to take second place. Russo restarted, but with the engine misfiring he pulled over the the outside as he got to turn three, but that didn’t stop Smith (390) launching the 49 car into the fence. Lund took the win, while Richard Broome (41) went hit the pit gate fence hard as the chequered fell.

The track was heavily watered for the Consolation, meaning a slippery surface and the 16 starters reduced to about ten after just a hanfdul of laps. Clement led for about 4 laps before Danny Wainman (212) took over for a solitary lap, with Smith (391) then leading to the flag for an easy win.

The Final fielded 26 cars, with Smith (391) diving up the inside of the red tops on the first bend. It didn’t quite pay off, as the 391 car tangled with Wainman (212) and the pair slewed across the track with Wainman coming to a dead stop against a fence post. Bradsell was throwing the bumper in again in this one; Mike Kingston (188) and Joe Booth (446) enjoyed an early visit to the fence, while Andy Ford (13) and Ricky Wilson (502) took each other into the turn four fence. The yellows came out to remove the 212 car, and race order now read Clement leading, from Heywood, Garry Townsend (223), Richard Bryan (238), Neil Shenton (35), and eventual winner Neachell (322) already up to sixth place.

Clement embarked on a slow and measured rolling lap, and held his pace even with Heywood banging on his back bumper. The almost painfully slow rolling lap meant the rest of the field bunched up behind him, giving him a clearer track in front of him, something normally only done by experienced top-flight drivers. On the green, Wainman (515) was all over the Smith (390) back bumper, and after a couple of hits Wainman was through, with Smith having no answer.

Neachell took the lead from Clement after only half a dozen laps, and Clement then went in hard on the 322 car, but succeeded only in going wide himself, and letting Shenton through to take second. Further back, Smith (390), Smith (391), and Johnson (4) were racing around bumper to bumper, before the 390 car bumpered Johnson wide, the latter then smacking Smith (391) out of the way. As the race reached the halfway point, Neachell was clear leader, from Shenton, Gilbank, and then Wainman. Wainman slowly reeled in Gilbank, then edged past Shenton just as the lap boards came out. A lap later, and Smith (391) seemed to find a little bit extra and caught and passed Gilbank for fourth place. Smith (390) looked to have Wainman in his sights, and took second place with a perfectly timed hit on the last bend.

The GN gridded 25 cars, with Clement, Shenton, and Steve Hattersley (69) all taking turns at the front before Shenton and Hattersley tangled and crashed out, leaving Clement in front. Wainman (515) looked to be in no mood for messing around, as he barged past Smith (391) and Lund, who then got hooked up and both went into the fence backwards. Wainman nudged Clement wide to take the lead just prior to the halfway, with Booth crashing out of a lower place and into a back straight fence post.

Smith (390) was now up to second place, but didn’t look like he could match the pace of Wainman. But Wainman lost time when he clipped the spinning Jacklin car in turn one, which let Smith close up. Wainman promptly pulled a couple of lengths clear, but was then baulked by the out of shape James Morris (463), which briefly put Smith right on the 515 back bumper before Wainman pulled away a little. Johnson tangled with Clement coming out of turn two, which saw Johnson hit the fence and Clement crash into the parked 446 car. Johnson unfortunately reversed out across the path of Wainman on the last lap, and although it didn’t appear to slow him down much, he seemed to take an unusual line into the last bend. Smith wasn’t fazed and dived in the inside of the rear of the 515 car, and with just the slightest suggestion of a right turn Wainman was spun around, leaving Smith to take the win.


Full Race Results | Video: Grand National

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