Birmingham – August 12th 2006 Semi-Final

Two reserves were brought onto the grid for the second of the World Championship Semi-Finals. Roger Mitchell took the place of Simon Carr, whose car wouldn’t run, and Kev Smith, who replaced Rob Cowley, who was having gearbox problems. In what was probably his last ever race meeting before he emigrates to New Zealand, the biggest cheer of the night came when Kev rolled out of the pits onto the track. However, the Cowley team managed to get the car sorted before the race began, leaving Smith to park on the infield.

Andy Smith raced off into an immediate lead when the green dropped, while behind him the bumpers went in , with Stu Smith being bundled aside and Ivan Pritchard going skywards off the rumble strips. At the end of the first lap, Andy Smith was few car lengths clear of Paul Harrison, followed in close contention by Paul Hines, Will Yarrow, and Stu Smith. Dave Hopkins and Ray Witts tangled on turn three. Lenny Smith and Timmy Aldridge got caught up on turn one on the second lap, and Derek Fairhurst crashed into them. Matt Newson appeared to be having problems as he coasted down the home straight, but then got back up to race speed as the leader went past him.

Yarrow moved into second, while Hines dropped down the order after bouncing off the pit gate after a bit hit from Stu Smith. Neil Scothern then hit the stricken 257 car, and the yellows came out to remove Aldridge from the track. As they slowed, the order read 391, 16 (backmarker), 22, 390, 2, 97, 84, 259.Scothern and Cowley both went past Fairhurst on the waved yellows, and when the race resumed Yarrow wasted no time in getting past Newson. Paul Harrison then punted the 16 car wide, A lap or two later,and Stu Smith was on Yarrow’s back bumper. Smith attacked, but Yarrow held on. This had allowed Paul Harrison to close, and coming off turn two the 2 and 390 cars were side by side, Harrrison had the inside, and moved past Smith as they went into turn three.

Harrison then went in hard on Yarrow, but again Yarrow wasn’t for moving. Murray Harrison then arrived on the scene to give Stu Smith a massive hit. Andy Smith was now clear at the front, while another big hit from Harrison (97) sent the 390 car wide and Murray went past. Making a lot of progress after his early visit to the fence was Paul Hines, and when Smith (390) repaid Harrison (97) and put them both wide, Hines went through on the inside.

At the halfway, Andy Smith was about a quarter of a lap clear of Yarrow, who was now under pressure from Paul Harrison. The number 2 front bumper went in hard three times on successive bends before Harrison got past. Further back, Tom Harris felt that he’d had enough of Carl Pickering’s attention, and launched the 141 car straight into the fence. Hines then put both Harrison (2) and Yarrow wide with one big hit. As the five lap board came out, Harrison then hit Hines and Yarrow wide and passed both, but on the next lap Yarrow smacked Harrison out towards the fence, and both Yarrow and Hines went past Harrison. Backmarker Newson then found himself in the middle of all this, although Harrison swiftly planted the 16 car into the turn three fence out of the way.

Harrison (2) then found himself behind Harrison (97), and the bumper went in. Murray was sent wide, and Paul went past. But not for long, as on the next bend Murray repaid the compliment with interest, which saw the number 2 car glancing off the armco. There then followed a few laps with big hits and place changes on every bend, before Stu Smith then went in hard, shifting both Harrison (2) and Harrison (97), which dropped both of them down the order a few places. At the flag, it was Andy Smith’s by some margin, followed by Yarrow, Hines, both offering superb performances, and Harris, who had managed to stay out of most of the drama. Despite some brilliant performances from Stu Smith, Murray Harrison, and Paul Harrison, they finished, fifth, seventh, and ninth respectively.

An excellent race, and quite probably one of the best semi finals ever staged.

John Lund, winner of the first semi, wasn’t present, but had sent son Sam to represent him in the coin toss for pole position in the World Final. Andy won the toss, and quite unsurprisingly chose the inside grid.

Result:

1st 391 Andy Smith

2nd 22 Will Yarrow

3rd 259 Paul Hines

4th 84 Tom Harris

5th 390 Stu Smith

6th 152 Neil Scothern

7th 97 Murray Harrison

8th 141 Carl Pickering

9th 2 Paul Harrison

10th 180 Ray Witts

C Hesketh

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