Coventry, 3rd May 2014 – meeting report and photo gallery

The first Saturday of the month soon came back round meaning a trip to the Coventry Stadium. A packed pits full of 55 F1’s, good track prep coupled with good weather suggested the big crowd would once again witness some great racing.

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The top three in one of the closest finals for years. (SB)

Heat 1 saw novice driver Richard Walker (170) making his debut starting at the back and Craig Finnikin (55) debuted a smart brand new car. Paul Redfern (252) starting pole position of the 18 car grid, first casualty was William Hunter (220) getting it wrong coming out of turn 2 and half spinning to the infield. Graham Wagstaff (330) and Mark Harrhy (44) race came to an abrupt end as the pair collided and came to rest in the turn 3 fence. The watered track catching a few out in the opening laps, Jason Eaton (448) and Aaron Couzens (76) both going for a spin. Finnikin then lunged at the side of Mark Poole (276) into turn 1, whilst Dan Johnson (4) had caught an early break and was the leading red. Frankie Wainman JNR (515) was close behind.

Finnkin was quickly making his way up through the field and bundled into the back of Paul Poulter (174) in turn 3 before doing the same to Geoff Nickolls (215) in turn 1. At the halfway stage Johnson was the leader ahead of Wainman and James Neachell (322) in third place. Finnikin lunged at Neachell to snatch third, just as plumes of smoke started appearing out the rear of the 55 machine. The waved yellows were brought out for Redfurn when he was stuck facing the wrong way in the backstraight. Johnson, Wainman and Finnikin were your top three at the drop of the green and Wainman was quickly on the attack lunging at Johnson. Finnikin made his attack with two to go and thundered Wainman into the back of Johnson, Wainman catching Johnson wrong and 515 half spun, helped round by Finnikin, both drivers ending up together in the turn 1 fence. Johnson raced off for the win allowing Will Yarrow (22) into second and Michael Scriven (12) into third.
Result: 4 22 12 174 215 276 169 267 515 76

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Heat 1 winner, Dan Johnson (SB)

Heat 2 and another 18 cars emerged including Robert-Jan Schuter (H404) and novice PJ Lemons (444). Steve Malkin (208) took up the lead at the green flag; Rob Speak (318) made his way through the field rapidly and was first red grader after a couple of laps. Tom Harris (1) bundled Mark Gilbank (21) wide in turn 1, before the compliment was repaid by Gilbank in turn 3. The waved yellows were called for Colin Nairn (280) after he was disposed of into the turn 1 fencing. Steve Harrison (118) led the pack off at the green, with Steve Malkin (208) in second and Ian Noden (306) placed in third. Colin Goodswen (372) missed the start in fourth and momentarily held up the rest of the grid.

Gilbank quickly attacked and snookered Ed Neachell (321) into Mick Sworder (150) into the first turn. Mark Woodhull (335) got in on the action and he also attacked Sworder into the third turn. GIlbank got it in wrong in the turn and the 21 machine went into a half spin. Neachell was fighting for every place and struck the World Champion Tom Harris (1) when he came through. Speak took the lead just before the halfway stage moving under the Harrison machine. Lemons was in trouble in turn 3 and was left broadside across the track necessitating the waved yellows. On the restart Speak led them off with Harrison second and Noden in third. At the lap boards; Harris and Sworder were making progress through the grid and were into the top three; as Woodhull bumpered Noden aside to take sixth. As the last few laps ticked up the top three remained unchanged and Speak took the chequered with a 5 or 6 car length lead over Harris in second. Hard fighting white grader Harrison came home a great fifth place. Just 10 cars going the distance.
Result: 318 1 150 21 118 335 306 11 45 H404

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Dutch visitor Robert-Jan Schuter.

The third and final heat saw 19 cars arrive; Peter Hobbs (108) taking up pole position, Martin Spiers (451) though quickly got the jump and led them into the first turn. A lap later Michael Oliver (357) got it wrong in the homestraight and slide sideways down into turn 1, the chasing pack just narrowly missing the ailing white grader, only Ricki Finney (435) catching him on the nose whilst John Lund (53) bumpered Paul Hines (259) in turn 1 shortly before turn 1 resembled a car park when a host of whites and yellows all slipped up around the turn; Hobbs, Spiers, Ben Hurdman (207) and Steve Whittle (183) all drivers that were caught out. Finney took up the lead in the melee with Mal Brown (34) in hot pursuit. Paul Harrison (2) made use of Jim Potter (146) by launching him into Lund. A lap later Harrison half spun in turn 1 and was helped round by Potter. Dave Willis (337) was in the thick of the action as he potted Hines into Josh Smith (191); Hines returning the favour in the next bend. Spiers was in bother again when he collected the turn 1 armco; just before Mat Newson (16) bumpered Brown aside to take the lead; demoting the 34 car into second. As the laps wound down and the lap boards came out backmarkers hampered the progress of Brown allowing Hines to catch up, Hines making the most of the opportunity forced the 34 machine wide dropping him to third. Newson taking a clear win ahead of Hines.
Result: 16 259 34 53 212 463 337 2 435 105

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Mat Newson closing in on Mal Brown.

21 cars ventured back from the pits for the Consolation race; Michael Oliver (357) taking up pole position and the early lead; first casualties were Peter Hobbs (108) and Richard Regan (428) as the pair formed a pile up in turn 1. The pair were quickly joined by Ben Hurdman (207) and Graham Wagstaff (330) forming a difficult to navigate chicane. Oliver had kept the lead for a handful of laps before Steve Malkin (208) arrived and attacked the back of the 357 car; the waved yellows were called for Hobbs, allowing 357 to keep the lead for a while longer; at the resumption of the race third place James Neachell (322) bundled the two white graders into the turn and took the lead. Lone superstar Craig Finnikin (55) was closing in on the leaders with every turn of the wheel.

Malkin was again in trouble when he, Tim Farrell (467) and William Hunter (220) all collided in turn 3. Finnikin’s progress was momentarily halted when Craig Aston (440) spun in front of him; the slowed Finnikin dropped to third when Ed Neachell (321) got by into second. Another collection of whites and yellows formed a car park in turn 1, creating an obstacle course for the remaining drivers. The 322 machine held a significant lead over his brother in second place; in the closing laps the car park in turn 1 provided the last significant moment of the race when Finnikin planted Neachell (321) in turn 1, the back end catching the parked Hunter machine, causing enough damage to 321 to retire from the race and bumping Finnikin into second position. James Neachell took the win over Finnikin in a distant second; Josh Smith (191) turning in a good drive to take third.
Result: 322 55 191338 467 428 330 207 91 NoF

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Ed Neachell exits the Consolation.

All 36 qualifiers made the grid for the Final; Aaron Couzens (76) sitting in pole position; the rush into the first few laps caught a few blues out when Billy Johnson (169) collected the turn 1 marker tyre; causing a pile up to ensue with Chris Brocksopp (338), Mark Poole (276), James Neachell (322); these were then joined by a handful of chasing reds. Ricki Finney (435) was the early race leader whilst chaos followed behind.

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Carnage at the start of the final. (SB)

Dave Willis (337) caught the back end of Mick Sworder (150) sending him into a spin; just before Frankie Wainman (515) bundled Dan Johnson (4) and Paul Hines into turn 1, just catching the stricken Sworder car. John Lund (53) and Wainman momentarily hooked up in the commotion. A waved yellow period was called for with Finney the leader ahead of Richard Regan (428) and Tim Farrell (467). On the restart Ian Noden (306) and Paul Poulter (174) took themselves hard out in to the turn 1 fence, they were then quickly joined by Couzens. Johnson took no chances with Mal Brown (34) and Brown was sent out wide in to turn 1. Willis was again dishing the hits out and he lunged hard at the Lund machine, sending Lund into a spin; Geoff Nickolls (215), Josh Smith (191) and Sworder also joined the melee.

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Paul Poulter on the turn one fence.

Noden got squeezed out in the home straight when they came out turn 4 a couple of cars wide. Noden catching the fence, riding up and rolling over; the waved yellows were thrown and the race came to a stop. Finney still holding a lead, with Mark Woodhull (335) in second and Wainman in third; but at the drop of the green Finney pulled to the middle allowing Woodhull to take charge, this was short lived as Wainman instantly made an attack.

At the halfway stage Wainman and Tom Harris (1) were locked in a battle which held most of the stadiums attention; exchanging bumpers and flat out racing.; this though held up the two superstars and allowed Brown in the 34 car to catch up. Entering turn 3 Harris sent Wainman out wide enough to allow Brown to sneak up the inside; Wainman lunged back at Brown and moved back up into second place. Craig Finnikin (55), Johnson and Will Yarrow (22) formed a train and also bundled in the back of Brown in turn 1.

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Ian Noden getting pushed to the outside. (SB)

Finnikin struck Yarrow again the next bend to take fourth; shortly before Johnson also was offered the same treatment and Finnikin went third. The demoted Brown fought back and he planted Danny Wainman (212) wide. In the last lap the top three were together with Wainman and Harris side by side in the back straight; Harris was on the brakes letting Wainman in front whilst Finnikin dived at Wainman, Wainman out in the rough outside of turn 3 and Finnikin trying to regain momentum was all Harris needed and the World Champion snuck underneath the other two and took the lead to the chequered; the top three crossing the line together.
Result: 1 55 515 22 4 34 212 169 463 45

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Tom on Frankie’s back bumper. (SB)

The Grand National saw 34 cars return for the last race of the night. Tom Harris (1) taking the obligatory lap handicap ahead of Ben Hurdman (207) who started pole. Ricki Finney (435) and Graham Wagstaff (330) were the early spinners just as the blue grade train entered the turn and Chris Brockspop (338) caught a marker tyre, an early yellow flag period was called for 330 on the racing line. Hurdman was the one to lead them off at the restart, Martin Spiers (451) in second and Mark Harrhy (44) in third. At the drop of the green Mal Brown (34) was quick to bumper Chris Bonner (105) over; just as Mick Sworder (150) did the same to Mat Newson (16) and Rob Speak (318). Speak returned the favour to Newson in turn 1, Speak getting it half sideways was took round all the way by Sworder.

A lap later Sworder was using the front end again, this time moving Frankie Wainman (515) over. Further back Craig Finnikin (55) bumpered into Mark Gilbank (21) in turn 1; Gilbank would loose another place a lap later when he was nudged wide by Paul Hines (259). Hurdman and Aaron Couzens (76) collided in turn 1 and collected the armco together. PJ Lemmons (444) and Harrhy were then stuck across the track which prompted another yellow flag period. 34 your leader followed by Newson and Sworder. At the drop of the green, Brown was quickly demoted down the order as the star drivers came by; not giving up without a fight Brown launched Wainman into turn 1.

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Paul Hines placed fourth in the Grand National.

Hines was on the scene and he too made use of the front bumper putting Wainman into Finnikin. John Lund (53) was making up for lost time and punting Gilbank aside; just as Sworder moved Newson over to take the lead. With just a few more laps left another yellow flag was called for, bunching the field up. 150, 16 and 34 your top three; Hines soon moved Brown wide; just as Speak and Wainman were locked in battle. A lap later Hines was delayed by Finnikin coming through, which meant Brown had a chance to retaliate; Hines rode the hit well to keep ahead of Brown. Into the last lap Speak and Wainman were still squabbling and into the last bend Wainman was just ahead but neither probably anticipated a last bend lunge from Lund who had quietly been catching them. Lund got through to take sixth. Sworder taking an emphatic win and Harris taking 9th after a steady driver from the handicap.
Result: 150 16 55 259 34 53 515 318 1 21

Words: Keith Organ
Photos: Steve Botham, Colin Casserley

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Colin in action! (SB)

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