Coventry, 3rd October 2015 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

Lee Fairhurst maintained his lead in the 2015 Shoot Out series but some consistent scoring by World Champion and current keeper of the silver roof, Rob Speak saw him move into second place, just 22 points adrift. In contrast, the likes of Frankie Wainman Junior, Dan Johnson and Craig Finnikin all had a night to forget when they could have expected so much more from the meeting.

Twenty of the fifty-six cars present gridded for Heat One on a rather dull track, several of the track lights being out of commission. The early leader was Russell Cooper (415) while Tom Harris (84) spun on turn four. A caution for the 307 car and an errant tyre on the pit bend allowed Paul Hines (259) to take the lead, but his progress was halted with two to run by another caution, this time to remove the France (216) car from the pit bend.

Harris, lying second, had a window of opportunity with a clear view of the 259 back bumper but at the green Hines put an air-space between himself and the 84 car to take a popular victory. Run out of double-glazing references now so on to…

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The first win of the night went to Paul Hines.

Heat Two, with eighteen starters, including Shoot Out contenders Smith, Wainman and Wainman (Van sales, stock car building and repairs their speciality!). Thomas Stevenson (75) hit the front for a few laps, then hit the fence, handing the lead to Karl Hawkins (175) who led until five to go when the 390 car took over, with 515 trailing him by a few car lengths at the flag.

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Early leaders in Heat 2 – Thomas Stevenson (75) and Karl Hawkins (175)

Heat Three provided another popular winner (especially at the end of the back straight) in the shape of Josh Smith (191), after Martin Spiers (451) had set the pace early on. PJ Lemons (444) felt the force of the 207 front bumper as Ben Hurdman forged his way to the front, while Speak (318) hooked up with Morris (463) on the back straight, losing valuable ground on points leader Fairhurst. Smith passed Spiers for the lead, who promptly clobbered the pit bend fence putting Hurdman into second with Fairhurst third at the flag.

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Heat 3 winner, Josh Smith.

Danny Wainman (212) was the sole Shoot Out representative in the twenty-three car Consolation, which was stopped early on to remove a car from the racing line. Smith (40) and Aston (440) disputed the lead until another Smith (91) made a left turn onto the infield and messed up their game plan, putting Lemons in the hot seat from a recovered 40 with Poole (276) in third.

Wainman was making hard work of it (or maybe just biding his time) but had moved into second, a long way behind 444, when the caution flags flew again for a stationary car (Peter Allin (331)) on the back straight. Wainman took the lead with a few to go when racing resumed and then another yellow flagfest caused by  second and third place men, 444 and 105, crashing out on the pit bend brought another pause before the remaining two laps were run and Danny finally saw the chequered flag. Jack France (216) was an excellent second from Woodhull, who resisted a late challenge from Cowley (37) with Stevenson (75) finishing a very creditable fifth after an eventful race.

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Danny Wainman (212) taking the Consolation lead away from PJ Lemons (444).

The thirty-three car Final was cautioned within a couple of laps as Cooper (415) was stranded mid-track at the end of the home straight. Quite how the jigsaw-patterned car got there remains a puzzle (actually he tangled with 75) and it was Stevenson who led the restart. Harris (84) was going like a stabbed rat from the outset but got a big hit from Gilbank (21) allowing both Smith (390) and Finnikin (55) to join in, but the Leek man ran into and over the stationary car of Nigel Harrhy (45) on the city bend, ripping off the 45 car’s wing and forcing the yellow flags once again.

Concern for Nige was dispelled when he eventually walked to the infield care centre, waving to the crowd. Scriven (11) led a nice, steady rolling lap but once the green flag dropped, Speak, Smith, Newson, Wainman and Harris set about each other with a vengeance. FWJ tangled with Harrison (2) but rejoined some way back and Hurdman was now in the picture, running second behind Davids (462) after long-time leader Scriven spun.

Hurdman shifted the 462 car, 390 attacked 318 and Bobby Griffin (166) had moved into second place. Cowley (37) took 462 out when the caution flags flew yet again, this time for Billy Johnson (169), stuck on his favoured pit bend. Hurdman had lost his big lead and he had Shoot Out drivers queuing up behind him and Cowley.

As the dust rose and the sparks flew Cowley took the lead with Smith now second ahead of the indomitable Hurdman, the 207 car driver giving as good as he got as he battled the superstars, until on the last bend Harris launched a massive, foot to the floor attack on him and anyone else in the way to move up the places but had to settle for fourth behind an elated Cowley, a subdued Smith and a satisfied Speak.

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Final winner: Chris Cowley

Twenty-six for the Grand National with all of the Shoot Out boys and an undeterred Hurdman back for more of the same. Harris tried to dump Smith on the first corner as Speak got a flyer until the inevitable caution, this time for Bonner (105). Spiers led until Hurdman took over, with Speak quickly into second, then first but 207 was having none of it, fighting back up the inside of the 318 car on the home straight but missing his target (the 318 back bumper) on the next bend, letting Gilbank into second spot. Smith took Harris for third and Hurdman repaid the 84 car on the last bend, just failing to pip Harris on the line.

When the dust had settled, Fairhurst was still the series leader on 189 points, but Speak was now second on 167. With the next four rounds all being tarmac tracks Fairhurst must be in with a good chance of extending his lead even further, but then, this is stock car racing – anything can happen.

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New World Champion, Rob Speak (318), fighting for another race win on the Brandon shale

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley and Steve Botham

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