The big day had finally arrived – the Power Maxed F1 World Championship – and with it, a record breaking number of competitors from New Zealand, the Netherlands and the UK. Of course not all of the 144 (yes, 144) cars were destined for the feature race, but two of the 28 starters in the first race on the extensive programme, the Consolation Semi-Final, would qualify on the back row.
The last of those twenty-eight to appear on track and the one to generate the biggest cheer from the thousands of fans was, need I say, John Lund (53). Sadly, John failed to finish, the race being won by Michael Scriven (12) from Ryan Harrison (197) after leader Paul Hines (259) fell victim to the track, backmarkers and an engine not running on song.
With the track drying, speeds were up for Heat Two and, with only the top five qualifying for the meeting final, competition was fierce. Mark Poole (276) was showing well but a caution for Tim Warwick (307), stuck on the backstretch slowed things down. Poole led the restart from Mark Woudenberg (H84) and Gert-Jan Klok (H152) but with a couple of laps to run Klok passed the 276 car for victory. Netherlands 1, Rest of the World 0!
An amazing thirty-one for Heat Three with rain falling again. Joey Slooff (H100) led with Ricky Wilson (502) second. A caution for Austin Moore (127) settled things down and Wilson as the laps wound down but Slooff had other ideas. Into the last bend the plucky white top took a long-range dive at Wilson, connected perfectly and powered away for the win. Netherlands 2, Rest of the World 0.
Heat Four saw a flag to flag victory for Mark Sargent (326), despite separate cautions for Dave Hayward (506), Klaas-Jan Modder (H9), Gert Baard (H211) and Pete Allin (331), who rolled onto the centre after tangling with Arjan Ligthart (H112). The Allin car is the same Newson hire car that USA driver Eric Pollard tried to clear the safety fence with at the last Coventry World Final in 2014. Peter Langeveld (H155) finished second from Pete Hobbs (108).
Thirty-six for Consolation 1 led away by Veltkamp and Frost (351) with Darren Clark (83) in close company, indeed it was Clark near the front at the halfway stage when the yellows came out but the restart saw Karl Hawkins (175) at the head of the pack. Cars came and cars went but Hawkins kept just far enough away from second-placed Gilbank (21) to take the win with Clark a good third.
Next came the Power Maxed World Final (see separate report), following which we went into the thirty-six car Consolation 2 with overseas cars outnumbering the home drivers. Rain began to fall again on the well-watered track and the pit bend became littered with cars as the Dutch drivers in particular got stuck in to each other. More cars joined and left the pit bend car park in another confusing race but Ed Neachell (321) was judged to be leading, which he continued to do to the flag with Nigel Harrhy (45) a splendid second from Murray Jones (196). Peter Bengston (NZ58) finally got some reward for his perseverance with a fourth spot ahead of Finnikin and Wobbes (H22).
Consolation 3 was car short by comparison, just 22 in fact, many of them WF retirees. A caution for a car stuck on the pit bend saw Stuart Smith (390) out of luck and out of the race. Chris Worrall (263) in another of the Newson-stox led the restart, Adkins spun before the green and John Brown (134) took over at the front. Chris Cowley (37) hit anything and everything but another caution for stranded cars saw Dan Johnson (4) now in front from Harris (84) and Newson (16). Newson took second but was “swordered” by Harris with two to run – neither was going to catch Johnson though.
Three white-tops led away the Harry Smith Memorial Trophy final; Sarge, Slooff and Clark and they started lap two three-wide but a caution stopped the action prematurely. Sarge led from Slooff but the young Netherlander found the fence as Sargent extended his lead. Gilbank was very quickly up to second with Paul Harrison third and Mick Sworder fourth. Sarge was delayed by a spinning H228 and Gilbank closed on the white top, with 150 now third. Sworder gave Sarge a bit of breathing space by walloping Gilbank aside and by half way the East Coast Legend was still top dog. Another caution, for Greidanus (H29) in the back straight fence, sealed Sarge’s fate as Sworder hit the front with around six to run. Harrison was too far back to land any sort of blow and had to settle for second with Gilbank third.
Car numbers were still excellent as thirty-one gridded for Grand National 1, the Ben Turner Memorial race, cautioned very early on as Mark Woodhull (335) got turned about face on the back stretch and had his rear bumper ripped off. Jan Kuin (H699) and Ant Lee (339) disputed the lead but Richard Bryan (238) was flying, taking the lead away from new leader Frost as the boards came out and holding on for the win. Lee recorded his best finish with a second with Mal Brown third. Dutch cars filled the next eight places.
Grand National 2, the eleventh and final race on the programme, was led by Slooff until he smacked the turn three fence. Cars spun with abandon and Poole appeared to be leading from Rogers and Yarrow but not long after halfway Nige was turned around at the end of the back straight and hit hard by Limmen (H25) and Talsma (H64), ripping bits of important metalwork off the 45 car, while Danny Wainman (212) went for a wild ride over the marker tyres before being hit by Talsma. The restart saw Poole still ahead but a misjudged side-swipe from Yarrow saw them both in the fence and Harris to the fore. Speak and Newson traded paint, the (spoiler alert) newly-deposed champ eventually making it to second with Fairhurst third. Bert de Vries (H20) recorded his best result of the weekend with a sixth place.
Coventry Stadium staff are to be congratulated on presenting a World Final meeting to be remembered. Some things could not be helped (the weather), some maybe could (the lack of audible tannoy, the queues and the car park exit) but, at the end of the day (A. Smith), to be fair (M. Newson), the racing – and that’s what really matters – was SUPERB! (F Wainman Jnr).
Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley, Ant Jenkins and Steve Botham