Birmingham – July 28th 2012 Semi-Final Report

The second of the 2012 World Championship Semi-Finals was staged at Birmingham on Saturday 28th July, with Mick Sworder claiming the win and with it a front row start in the World Final at Skegness.

Four drivers had officially withdrawn from the race, these being: Andy Smith (391), who has retired; Dave Russo (49), who has not raced since being injured at King’s Lynn in May and is currently contemplating retirement; Murray Harrison (97), who could not obtain a competitive tarmac car; and Les Spencer (98), reason unknown.

Four reserve drivers were accordingly brought into the rear of the grid, these being Dave Willis (337), Craig Utley (484), Dave Plumbley (393), and Mike Kingston (488).

Guest of honour was Willie Harrison, 1982 World Champion. After presenting the competitors with their awards, Willie uttered the immortal words “Gentlemen, start your engines” and the semi-final was underway.

The Semi-Final gets underway. Photo Colin Casserley

At the drop of the green it was Tom Harris that surged into the lead, with Ryan Harrison (197) over the kerb into the first turn. Mick Sworder (150) didn’t waste much time and took Harris wide in the next bend, which let Lee Fairhurst (217) and Matt Newson (16) through.

Sworder was past Newson for second within a lap, while Harris found himself shunted down the order when Danny Wainman (212), Ryan Harrison (197), and Scott Davids (462) barged ahead.

Tom Harris 84 finds himself shunted down the order. Photo Colin Casserley

From the near the back of the grid Rob Speak (318) made a predictably enthusiastic start, and shovelled a few cars out of his way in the early laps and was into the top ten before the halfway.

Newson exited third place going backwards into the turn three fence, courtesy of a hit from Wainman (212).

Fairhurst had now opened up a decent lead, but appeared slightly out of shape and snaked down the back straight before slowing to position himself for the bend. Sworder didn’t need any more invitation than that, and reached out and punted the 217 car wide, forcing Fairhurst to take the long way around the spun Neil Shenton (35) car. This also let Harris through for second place.

The waved yellows were out due to a wheel and other debris from the 16 car, which had crashed out on turn two. Race order on the restart read Sworder, from Harris, Fairhurst, Wainman, backmarker Neil Scriven (11), Harrison, backmarker Chris Clare (394), and Speak.

Rob Speak 318 in action. Photo Colin Casserley

Almost as soon as the race resumed, Wainman bumpered Fairhurst wide to take third place, and within a lap the 217 car had slowed, before coming to a stop. It transpired that the hit from Wainman had rattled the fuel tap and turned the fuel off.

Fairhurst’s departure meant the order now read Sworder, Harris, Wainman, Harrison, Speak, and Gilbank, and this did not change over the remaining half a dozen or so laps.

As the lap boards came out, Craig Utley (484) passed Scott Davids (462) for seventh place.

Davids came in for a last bend attack from Chris Cowley (37), with Cowley himself also on the receiving end of a decent hit from John Lund (53). However, Cowley was in fact a lap down, so Davids held onto his eighth place and Lund ninth, with Derek Fairhurst (218) taking tenth.

Mick Sworder took the flag and with it a place on the front row of the World Final grid, alongside Frankie Wainman. The traditional toss of the coin was won by Frankie (via mobile phone, as he was at a Ministox meeting on the Isle of Man), and unsurprisingly he chose pole.

Winner of the second Semi Final Mick Sworder 150 celebrates. Photo Colin Casserley

Carl Hesketh

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