Belle Vue – March 25th 2012 Meeting Report

The 2012 Season started on a hot and sunny afternoon at Belle Vue, and it was newcomer Rob Tunnah (505) who took the main event with a career-first Final win. Twenty seven F1 stock cars arrived, including a good number of refurbished and repainted ones, plus a brand new one from Dave Riley (422). Add in a selection of Heritage cars, including the absolutely stunning replica Doug Cronshaw “Potent Mix” car, and there was plenty to see before racing got underway.

the Doug Cronshaw 396 machine. Photo Matthew Aspin

The meeting also heralded the return of Ian Higgins, a.k.a. Captain Chaos, with an ex-Tony Smith car now resplendent in his own distinctive livery. Just to make sure he got noticed, Ian was also dressed in fluorescent yellow overalls and a bright red cape.

Ian Higgins 29 ex-Tony Smith car in the pits. Photo Matthew Aspin

Ian Higgins 29 on track. Photo Carl Hesketh

Ian Higgins 29 and Daniel Wainman 212. Photo Dave Bastock

Also in the pits was novice driver Dan Laughlin (420), making his second ever appearance in an F1. Dan suffered a broken collar bone and coccyx plus numerous other injuries at his debut at Birmingham last October, so every credit to him for coming back for another go.

Heat One was just a few laps old when most of the white tops set about each other and the back straight fence, bringing out the first waved yellows of the season. A composed drive by Mike Heywood (424) saw him lead for most of the race, but a very rapid Frankie Wainman Junior (515) caught and passed the 424 car as the lap boards came out.

Frankie Wainman jnr 515 gets weighed. Photo Matthew Aspin

Heywood made an early exit from Heat 2, along with a host of others caught out by the freshly watered track. With dead cars around the track and in the fence, the waved yellows were shown although it wasn’t clear why. When the green dropped, Rob Tunnah made a tremendous start and opened up a bit of a lead.

Wainman again moved rapidly up the order, with only Luke Dennis (192) offering any kind of resistance. By the halfway, Wainman was second and closing in on Tunnah, but before he could strike, the 505 car ran wide and lost time. Wainman took another win, with the silver roofed car of Craig Finnikin finishing second.

Four wide. Photo Carl Hesketh

A lot of pushing and shoving at the start of the final saw Wainman sideways across the track in the pit turn, while Tunnah raced away into an early lead. A couple of laps later, Tunnah almost spun himself out, but managed to get across the infield to rejoin the race while still leading, although he now had Mike Kingston (488) and Dave Russo (49) right behind him.

Rob Tunnah 505. Photo Dave Bastock

Dave Russo 49. Photo Carl Hesketh

Tunnah was left out in front when these two both retired, but Ed Neachell (321) was now getting close, with Finnikin and the quickly recovered Wainman not far behind. Wainman’s chances disappeared when Dan Johnson (4) spun him out. Finnikin went past Neachell, and as the laps ticked by, the 55 car was getting closer and closer to the flying white top. Another lap and it would have been a different story, but Tunnah took the flag less than a car length ahead of Finnikin.

Craig Finnikin 55 had to settle for second in the Final. Photo Carl Hesketh

Rob Tunnah 505 on the scales. Photo Matthew Aspin

Rob Tunnah 505 collects his first Final win trophy. Photo Dave Bastock

The GN was run for the Stu Smith Trophy and was started from a closed grid. The front runners of Luke Dennis, Dave Russo, and Mark Poole (276) were all bundled straight into the fence on the first bend, with Neil Shenton emerging from the melee in the lead. But the 35 car was in the fence a few laps later, leaving Neachell in front.

Wainman and Finnikin were almost at the front when they tangled with each other and dropped back, and got into a three way battle with Johnson. Finnikin struck first, putting Johnson hard into Wainman.

Dave Atkinson 334 in the wires. Photo Carl Hesketh

Perhaps in his haste to keep out of Wainman’s reach, Johnson planted Dave Atkinson (334) hard into the turn one wires, but it was to no avail. With what was possibly a text-book example of how to use the bumper, Wainman executed a perfectly timed, perfectly weighted hit that put the 4 and 55 cars into the fence, where they remained for the rest of the race. Meanwhile, Neachell had a relatively trouble free run to the chequered flag and the Stu Smith trophy.

Dan Johnson 4 and Craig Finnikin 55 find the fence courtesy of Frankie Wainman jnr 515. Photo Carl Hesketh

Winner Ed Neachell 321 on the scales. Photo Matthew Aspin

Ed Neachell 321 collects his trophy. Photo Dave Bastock

Carl Hesketh

Ben Hurdman 207. Photo Carl Hesketh

Neil Shenton 35. Photo Carl Hesketh

Dave Riley 422. Photo Carl Hesketh

Colin Patten 132. Photo Carl Hesketh

Craig Finnikin 55. Photo Carl Hesketh

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