Belle Vue – October 11th British Drivers Championship Meeting Report

The Sunday for the British Drivers Championship at Belle Vue was a clear and crisp day. Fifty one cars made the journey which meant there would be eight heats leading up to the Final; the British Drivers Championship. Only fifty raced as Rudi Coleano (177) did not take part in the meeting proper but appeared to have taken his car so sister Heidi could race in the Ladies Race at the end of the night.

Heat 1

Heat one saw seventeen cars take to the track, including four of the drivers contesting the silver roof of the National Series; Mark Gilbank (21), Lee Robinson (107), Paul Harrison (2) and Dan Johnson (4). White grader Tim Warwick (307) took the early lead before pulling onto the infield and then re-joining. The lead was picked up by ex-f2 racer Garry Fox (480), but red top Murray Harrison had been making his way through the field with determined purpose. Dave Willis (337) had a tussle with Rob Cowley (73) on one and two only for Willis to be then sent through the wires on turn three. Garry Fox (480) clipped the stranded Willis who was broadside but Liam Brown (90) then went hard into Willis causing the yellows to be shown.
The restart order at this point was 97 – 498 – 249 – 307 – 2 – 4. At the restart Lee Robinson was on Mark Gilbank’s back bumper and re-attacked the following lap. Joff Gibson (249) muscled his way to second place while Paul Harrison moved into third with Murray Harrison smoothly extending his lead out front by the half way point. Dan Johnson (4) was gaining on Paul Harrison while further down, Lee Robinson made it past Mark Gilbank.

Photo courtesy of Colin Casserley.

Photo courtesy of Colin Casserley.

Paul Harrison, Dan Johnson and Joff Gibson were scuffling in a pack, with Harrison nicking second place from Gibson. Gibson, fighting back, sent Harrison into the fence on turn four where he stayed. Johnson bumpered Gibson to get past, then had the favour returned as Gibson sent Johnson into the side of Paul Harrison on turn four causing waved yellows as the fence needed repair. Murray Harrison’s (97) lead been curtailed once again but, at the restart had lap down Neil Scothern (152) between him and second place Lee Robinson (107). Murray Harrison (97) took off while Mark Gilbank past Joff Gibson for third.
Result 97 -107 – 21 – 249 – 4 – 212 – 498 – 158 – 152 – 307

Heat 2

Heat two followed with eighteen cars; including the debuting Scott Chambers (457) who started at the rear. Neil Brigg (87) was making a return trackside, in the hired Michael Storry car. On pole was John Frost (351) in Steve Jacklin’s car and he took the early lead. Of the three shootout drivers at the rear; Andy Smith (1), Stu Smith (390) and Tom Harris (84), Stu went straight into and got past his brother and Harris. Upfront, Mike Heywood (424) spun on turn four while Richard Bryan (238) and John Frost ended in the turn two fence as Ricky Wilson (502) picked up the lead. Stu Smith (390) was making his way through the field with purpose and was soon behind Mal Brown (34) who was in third place. Stu Smith passed Brown and made his way forward while Tom Harris stuck the bumper into Brown, but momentarily slowed himself allowing Andy Smith (1) to slide through.

Photo courtesy of Colin Casserley

Photo courtesy of Colin Casserley

At the halfway point, Neil Brigg (87) bumpered Robert Broome (41) and as they fought to get round the track, Ike Parkinson (254) was sent onto the turn four infield. Stu Smith, after quickly taking second from Joe Booth (446), closed the gap on leader Wilson and relegated Wilson to second place with Andy Smith and Tom Harris just behind. Joe Booth went into Mike Heywood allowing Mal Brown to get past but Booth reclaimed the place as the laps ran down.
Result 390 – 502 – 1 – 84 – 446 – 34 – 462 – 55 – 197 – 41
Photo courtesy of Colin Casserley

Photo courtesy of Colin Casserley

Heat 3

Heat three saw another eighteen cars take to the field with six whites, including Steve Boyd (369) in the Shenton car. Three shootout drivers were out, including the newly repaired car of Paul Hines (259) which had suffered rollcage damage at last weekend’s Coventry meeting. Graham Wagstaff (330) was on pole, with Rob Whitaker (142) alongside and it was Wagstaff who took the lead as the green flag dropped. Frankie Wainman (515) passed Hines and Lee Robinson (107) on the first bend,  and before a lap was complete had passed Chris Brocksopp (338). Neil Shenton (35) got sideways on turns one and two as the following pack went straight in. As they sorted themselves out, Rob Whitaker on going down the backstraight went a little too wide; a wheel got caught in the fence and he violently spun 180 degrees as Wainman clattered into him. Waved yellows, restart order 330 – 158 – 13 – 398 – 276 – 53 – 249 – 10 7 – 515. The fence was repaired and Whitaker’s ripped off wheel was returned to him. At the restart, Lee Robinson and Joff Gibson passed John Lund only for Lund to then pass Gibson. Andy Ford (13), who had been closing in on leader Wagstaff, easily took the lead with Mark Poole (276) moving into second. Mark Poole fired into Ford on turn one but Ford rode the hit and kept the lead, powering out of turn two but Mark Poole kept up his assault, taking the lead.
Slightly further back, Frankie Wainman took third from Wagstaff, followed by Robinson sticking Wagstaff into the turn four fence. Upfront, Poole had to contend with the lap down Neil Shenton (35) which allowed the following Frankie Wainman to close the gap. Further back, Joff Gibson again past John Lund while Frankie Wainman took the lead and powered away while Paul Hines (259) muscled past Lee Robinson (107). Andy Ford (13) and Joff Gibson (249) were tussling on the last lap on turns one and two and went fence bound on turn three. Coming out, Gibson then drove Ford into the fence of turn four and with the other cars passing by, Gibson reversed down the homestraight and over the finishing line.
Result 515 -276 – 259 – 107 – 463 – 91 – 249 – 13 – 35 – 338

Heat 4

Heat four saw the least number of cars so far, with fourteen taking to the track. Four of these were the shootout drivers of Mark Gilbank, Paul Harrison, Dan Johnson and Stu Smith. The three white tops led them away with Tim Warwick in front. Murray Harrison was the first red to show, while Dan Johnson got ahead of the rest of the superstars. The blues were all bunched up and Dave Willis (337) was the first to break loose from the melee. Spencer Taylor (498) picked up the lead for awhile and Stu Smith was soon on Dave Willis with Stu moving quickly past him. Dan Johnson and Rob Cowley got hooked up on turn two, going up the backstraight and into three. Ahead, Stu Smith was reeling in leader Taylor and took the lead at the halfway point. Dave Willis and Mal Brown (34) were having a good tussle for a few laps before Brown fell back and Willis raced off. At this point, John Frost (351) was going wide; went wide round turns one and two and too wide up the backstraight where he clipped the fence and was sent skywards, rolling over, coming to rest back on his wheels. At the same time in turn four, a stranded Paul Harrison (2) had his nose pointing at the infield and decided to roll, painfully slowly to the infield as cars went left and right to avoid him. Restart order being 390 – 97 – 446 – 21 – 498 – 337 – 212 – 34 – 307 – 238 – 4.
At the start Stu Smith was off, as Mark Gilbank passed Joe Booth. Spencer Taylor also passed Booth and Dave Willis got himself between Taylor and Booth. Daniel Wainman (212) was now up on Willis and nerfed him while Dan Johnson ended up T- boning Spencer Taylor on turn two. Daniel Wainman and Dave Willis then got tangled together on the homestraight, with Wainman going onto the infield but facing the right way and continuing while Willis was not so fortunate.
Result 390 – 97 – 21 – 446 – 34 – 212 – 498 – 307 – 4 – 238

Photo courtesy of Colin Casserley

Photo courtesy of Colin Casserley

Heat 5

Heat five saw Dave Waterhouse (101) come onto track for the first time and go on pole. Scott Chambers again started at the rear of the field with Tom Harris (84), Andy Smith (1) and Frankie Wainman (515) just in front of him. Tom Harris was the first shootout driver away, while Mike Heywood (424) took the lead. Ricky Wilson (502) spun on turn two as Neil Brigg (87) and Craig Finnikin (55) got hooked up on turn three. Andy Smith was on the rear of Wainman and passed smoothly after using the bumper. Mark Poole (276) then took up the running after Mike Heywood (424) and Tony Smith (91) got hooked up and Graham Wagstaff (330) pulled off. As the laps rolled down, Mark Poole was being held up by Brigg allowing Tom Harris (84) to move ever closer. Tom Harris gave Poole a big hit on turn one allowing both himself and the following Andy Smith to get past. Tom Harris, in hitting Poole had slowed himself which allowed the swift machinery of Smith to take the lead. Meanwhile Ryan Harrison (197) and Ike Parkinson (254) became entangled up on turn four.
Result 1 – 84 – 515 – 276 – 463 – 214 – 55 – 41 – 502 – 91

Heat 6

Heat six saw seventeen cars line up, but only sixteen race as Mike Williamson (111) pulled onto the infield before the cars started rolling. James Clement (158) led them off, while behind Andy Ford (13) was the first yellow grader. Paul Hines (259) was the first shootout driver to break clear but ran into trouble when he tangled with Joff Gibson (249) which allowed Lee Robinson (107) through. Andy Ford (13) caught up with Clement and took the lead. Fellow yellow graders Neil Shenton (35) and Garry Fox (480) hooked up momentarily on turns three and four while towards the back Paul Harrison who had so far not finished in his last two heats was fighting his way to the front. Lee Robinson was behind, with Dan Johnson following closely. Joff Gibson found himself coming to rest by the pitgate on turn one. At the halfway point, Paul Harrison, meaning business, bumpered Neil Shenton out of the way and then slid past James Clement with five laps to go.
Spencer Taylor (498) was weaving from side to side as he went up the backstraight and round three but not impeed anybody elses progress. Daniel Wainman (212) spun Lee Robinson (107) as Dan Johnson moved into third on the last lap. Paul Harrison closed up on Andy Ford and there was a drag race to the line but Ford just managed to hold on by a bumper’s width.
Result 13 – 2 – 4 -212 – 53 – 35 – 259 – 73 – 338 – 107

Heat 7

Sixteen cars took to the track for heat seven, the penultimate heat of the meeting. Mike Williamson (111) led them away with Ricky Wilson (502) pulling off before the start. Murray Harrison (97) was the sole red with three superstar shootout contestants behind him; Mark Gilbank (21), Tom Harris (84) and Stu Smith (390) who had won both of his previous heats. Richard Bryan (238) saw himself in the turn one fence very early on while Scott Davids (462) was the first blue to break away. The shootout drivers were all bunched up together and on exiting turn two, Mark Gilbank rode up the back of Tom Harris. Adam Slater (214) bypassed Mike Heywood (424) to initially take the lead with Dave Willis (337) closing in and passing Slater to take up the running himself. Stu Smith muscled his way forward, past Adam Slater and began closing down Willis. Upfront, Dave Willis dealt smartly with backmarker John Frost (351) but Stu Smith was getting ever nearer and swiftly took the lead, relegating Willis to second place. Behind them, Murray Harrison was third and Tom Harris fourth. Harris hit Harrison in an attempt to take third but Harrison held him off. Mark Gilbank was soon on top of both of them, passing both Harris and Harrison to move into third place himself. Murray Harrison was then forced to retire, pulling onto the infield.
Result 390 – 337 – 21 – 84 – 34 – 335 – 214 – 446 – 238 nof

Heat 8

The last heat before the British saw twenty cars making their final attempt to gain points and potentially move up the British Championship grid. Ricky Wilson (502) led the field away while of the three shootout drivers, Andy Smith (1) was the first to break and get ahead of Frankie Wainman (515) and Paul Hines (259). Andy Ford (13) spun out while Hayley Parkinson (54) pulled off momentarily. Frankie Wainman caught up with Andy Smith and the two were neck and neck down the homestraight with Smith eventually pulling clear. Neil Brigg (87) pulled off while the infront Ricky Wilson was spun out by Tony Smith (91). At the halfway point, yellow flags were waved as a wheel from Graham Wagstaff’s (330) car had come off and was bouncing round turn four and down the homestraight, while Paul Hines (259) pulled off. Frankie Wainman had fallen back to third but was making up ground passing second place Robert Broome (41) but Andy Smith had moved swiftly thorough the field and had a clear lead.
Result 1 – 515 – 41 – 53 – 502 – 276 – 35 – 197 – 55 – 54

Ailsa Haigh

For British Drivers Championship see separate Race Report.

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