Birmingham, 11th August 2018 – Meeting Report and Photos

The rain began five minutes before start-time and continued throughout the meeting, to a greater or lesser degree and effectively sabotaged another Incarace big event. F1, F2 and Classic Hot Rods were on the bill but most people were there for the second F1 World Championship Semi-Final to see which of the 24 starters would progress to the big one in September.

After a parade lap featuring just Frankie Wainman Junior (515) it was clear that the weather had prompted some last minute tyre changes back in the pits and the start was delayed. Eventually the other 23 competitors joined FWJ on track and the grid was formed on the infield, but then more delay followed as the front runners were also allowed to switch rubber.

Four non-starters (Davidson, Shevill Jnr, Morris and Johnson) were replaced by Webster (48), Elwell (501), Makim (93) and Whittle (183) at the back of the grid to give us a full quota of cars. Twenty-four started and twenty-four finished which is some kind of record and shows what an, let’s be kind, “uneventful” event it was!

FWJ led into turn one only to be tapped wide by Lee Fairhurst (217) who cleared off into the distance. Unusually Team Wainman must have made the wrong tyre choice as Frankie began to lose more places, second to Dan Johnson (4) within a few laps and third to defending champion Nigel Green (445) at the half-way stage. Chris Cowley (37) and Ben Hurdman (207) sharpened up their front bumpers and made steady progress, Cowley easing past Wainman as the lap boards appeared while Hurdman settled in behind the 515 machine for a fine sixth place.

Seventh man home was Paul Hines (259) in the Harrison Racing loaner (the ex-Dave Allen (499) car) with John Dowson Junior (94) making it through into eighth at the wheel of a Hunter (220) machine after some tense moments in the pits beforehand. Ninth place went to Tristan Jackson (101) after a steady drive at a track he invariably shines at, putting him through to his first World Final while last qualifier was Neil Scriven (11) who also seems to excel on Incarace tarmac. Just missing out was rain man Ben Riley (422) on his first appearance trackside (not counting an F2 thrash at Blauwhuis in April) this year. Ben was quick but lost too much time in a tangle with Brad Harrison (25) who followed the 422 car home in twelfth.

Result: 217 4 445 37 515 207 259 94 101 11

Fairhurst claims the victory in the second semi-final

The traditional coin toss to see who would start on pole at Skegness went the way of Stuart Smith Junior.

Twenty-one for heat two (no Jake Harrhy (345) unfortunately – Jake pranged it in pre-meeting practice) which saw a comfortable win for John Fortune (164), looking very much at home on the wet, greasy track. Star man Ashley England (346) got up to second place by the flag, driving a wider line than most only to find himself docked two places for jumping a restart elevating Micky Randell (172) to runner up spot and Finn Sargent (526) a very creditable third.

The caution and subsequent restart was caused by Matt Rogers (213) ripping a front wheel off his superbly presented car. I must give a mention here to Chris Brown (30) who acquitted himself very well in a Newson hire car in only his second meeting.

Heat 2 winner John Fortune

Just 18 out of a potential 25 runners for the consolation and a flag to flag victory for Joe Nickolls (242) who never put a wheel wrong throughout the race, even though second-placed man Riley closed near the end. The vocal support for Joe from his supporters near me on the home straight over the last few laps was more than enough to see him home in first place!

A flag to flag victory for Joe Nickolls in the Consolation

Thirty cars for the final and still the rain persisted. John Fortune looked a good bet for the win once he had overhauled Nickolls but Paul Harrison (2) had his wet-track head on and was untouchable after hitting the front. Another largely uneventful race with Fortune hanging on to second at the flag with Johnson third. A good fifth place for Nickolls behind Brad Harrison (25) garnered a few more points for the Melton Mowbray youngster with Hurdman in sixth ahead of Newson, Wainman and Wainman (212).

Paul Harrison takes the meeting final

Seventeen ventured out for the grand national and the rain, having done its best to ruin the meeting, finally stopped. If FWJ had found the form (and tyres) he showed in this race earlier the semi-final result might have been a whole lot different.  He streaked through the field from the back, walloping the first four cars wide in turn one after just five laps to take the lead just as the caution flags flew for England, stranded on the same bend after a hefty hit. I heard the clang but didn’t see who dealt the blow. The restart saw the 515 car pull out a half lap lead over second-placed Newson with Danny in third spot. Newson gained ground on the final lap as Frankie decided to do a bit of showboating (well it was still wet), sliding the car around the bends in impressive style to end the meeting on a high note.

Before his victory lap Frankie went on the ‘mic to apologize to the fans for certain drivers not making an effort during the meeting. No names mentioned but he clearly felt strongly enough about it to say that “it just isn’t good enough, the fans deserve better and something needs to be done”, or words to that effect. It is unusual for one of the sport’s “elder” statesmen to make such comments but those of us who stayed until the bitter end appreciated the gesture.

If Frankie was referring to drivers loading up after the semi, this is a problem that F2 fans have had to endure for a while. Let’s hope this doesn’t spread to World Finals as well.

FWJ (515) takes the last win of the night

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley

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