Early leader in the first heat was Neil Holcroft (496) in his ultra-smart brand new car, but the quickest in the early stages was new red top Neil Shenton (35), who made rapid progress before exiting in a pile up. The first caution period came after an out of control Garry Fox (48) crashed into the parked Josh Smith (191) car, which was in the fence after a heavy coming together with Martin Southwell (277).
Holcroft held on for a couple of laps after the restart, before Geoff Nickolls (215) and Craig Finnikin (55) bundled the 496 car aside. Finnikin immediately put the bumper in on Nickolls, who held on, but an even bigger hit gave Finnikin the lead position and ultimately victory.
Novice driver Gary Ford (138) lined up on pole for the second heat, although during his novice driver’s five lap test at the start of the meeting, it was clear that he had prior racing experience. A bit too much right foot when the green dropped saw the 138 car drift across the track and into the wires, with a load of other cars also finding the fence, leaving Lee Smith (76) to lead for a couple of laps. Joe Booth (446) hit the front after just a few laps, with Frankie Wainman (515) not far behind. But Booth was flying, and Wainman soon had Finnikin knocking on his back bumper. Finnikin nudged Wainman wide at the halfway, with the 515 car now smoking quite badly and not sounding particularly healthy.
Wainman was back out for the third heat having made some adjustments to the carb, with the engine sounding sweet and not smoking at all. The race had a lively start, with cars going in all directions. Gary Ford led a few laps before Ian Higgins (29) went ahead, but it took Wainman just a handful of laps to pass the whole field, going on to win by some margin. Captain Chaos went on to finish sixth, his best result since his return to the tracks.
The form guide seemed to suggest Booth, Finnikin, or Wainman for the final, but Wainman’s chances were greatly reduced when he got caught in a pile up on the first turn. No sooner had that one cleared than Matt Newson (16) stalled on the kerb on turn 2 and half the field piled into either the fence or the stricken 16 car. This blocked the track completely and brought out the waved yellows.
The restart had Ford, Holcroft, and Booth heading the line-up, and Booth made a rapid start when the green dropped and went straight past Holcroft down the home straight, and was halfway past Ford when the 138 and 446 cars went for the same piece of track and locked together, coming to a stop in the fence. This left Finnikin ahead, but there were more yellow flags after a couple of laps, this time when Danny Wainman (212) launched Smith (76) into John Lund (53). The 76 car hit the fence square on and stopped dead, snapping a fence post, while Lund went in backwards.
This time, race order on the restart was Finnikin, from Holcroft, Wainman (212), Nickolls, and Wainman (515). Holcroft was sent wide by the 212 car, and Dan Johnson (4) eased past both the Wainmans to take second place.
Just before the lap boards came out the track started to get dusty, and with not much shale left there wasn’t much grip. Wainman (515) closed up to Johnson, and after spending a few laps carefully considering his options, gently nudged the 4 car off line to take second with two to run. But Wainman was unable to pull clear, and Johnson retook the place on the last lap.
Meanwhile, after his visit to the fence earlier, Lund had made his way back up the field and caught up to Danny Wainman on the last lap. With a move reminiscent of 25 years ago, Lund reached out on the last bend and put the 212 car very firmly in the wires.
Adam Slater (214) passed Smith (76) and Ford for the lead in the early laps of the GN, while Booth was again on the pace and was soon shoving Ford wide for second. After a bout of waved yellows for a marker tyre on the racing line, Slater made a great start and seemed to catch Booth napping. Ford span out, and rejoined not far in front of Slater, who dived for the inside as they approached turn three. Possibly the 214 car had brake failure, as it went sideways into the wires, gifting the lead to Booth.
The later stages of the race were marred by being very dusty, but Booth went on to take his second win of the day, after Johnson tried a massive last bend lunge and missed.