Coventry, 4th June 2016 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

We already knew that Ian Noden would be a non-starter following his smoky exit at the Coventry Motofest earlier, but another fifteen no-shows out of the 71 cars booked brought the total down to a rather disappointing 55. One extra in the shape of Jon Horne (19) took us up to 56 on the night, but what a night it turned out to be!

To make up the numbers, white tops were allowed to race in two of the three heats. C-graders Bamford (43) and Eaton (448) led away the 22 car Heat One with newcomer Chris Smith (342) starting at the rear of the grid. Bamford led the early laps amongst much spinning on the well-watered track until he too spun, before the yellow flags flew for a marker tyre on the City bend.

Eaton led the restart but stuttered as the green flag flew and was swamped by the pack. Wainman (212) moved through the field to fourth by halfway and planted a big one on Hawkins (175), which worked against him but gave Hawkins the incentive he needed to shift leader Woodhull (335) with four to run and take the win. Meanwhile, Johnson (4) introduced Booth (446) to the home straight fence – stay with us for part two later in the meeting. A tangle on the back straight on the last lap involving several cars saw Bryan (238) receive a hard hit but both driver and car were back out for the Consolation.

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Karl Hawkins (175) making his move on Woodhull (335) for the lead in Heat 1

Nineteen for Heat Two, led by Dennis (192) as Speak spun on the pit bend and Sworder clambered over the front of the Malkin (208) car on the infield, almost rolling over. The wet track again caught many drivers out but not Wainman (515) who was already up to second spot when a caution was called for Finnikin (55) who had stopped at the end of the back straight.

Another dismal night for Smith (390) who pulled onto the infield during the caution period. Wainman passed leader Dennis on the pit bend with a gentle nudge at the restart and drove away for the win from Brown (34) and Speak (318) while a race-long dispute between Boyer (28) and Smith (293) was resolved when they tangled with each other and piled into the home straight fence.

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Smith (293) and Boyer (28) battling in Heat 2

The decision to use white-tops twice was proved correct – without the five C-graders in Heat Three, all of whom had raced in the previous heats, we would have been left with a fifteen-car field, not what we expect at Coventry. As it was, twenty cars took the green flag but Fairhurst’s race was short-lived, pulling onto the infield within a couple of laps. A caution was called for to remove the Nicholls (215) car, stranded on the second turn armco and it was Eaton who led the restart, keeping clear of trouble until he spun.

Another caution, this time for Wainman (555) and Smidt Junior (H148) who had a coming together on the pit bend, saw the field brought to a halt, with Newson (16) at the front. Smidt rejoined the restart as Harrison (2) tried to close the gap on the 16 car when caution number three occurred, this one for Bamford. With five to go, Newson took off as the cars entered turn three – even the starter threw his hands in the air in disbelief, but the Norwich man got away with it, taking the win from Harrison and Hines (259).

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Red tops early on in Heat 3

Nigel Harrhy (45) should have won the twenty-one car consolation, hitting the front very early and pulling out a good lead despite the attentions of Bryan (238) but his hesitation in passing back-markers allowed Dutchman Smidt Junior to close right up and nudge him wide with three to run. Nige hung on for second, congratulated Smidt on the start line and then cheekily climbed the podium to the cheers of the grandstand patrons before joining the winner on the lap of honour. It was good to see Nige back with a smile on his face after his recent trials and tribulations.

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Dutch visitor Sjeng Smidt Junior taking the win in the Consolation

A full 36 car field for the Final led off by Dennis and Eaton and a big shove into the City bend saw H148, 53, 318, 259 and 169 all involved while a tangle on the back straight delayed 207, 244 and 338. An early caution for Hines stuck on turn four saw Dennis lead a very steady rolling lap but within a lap or two Woodhull was propelled into the third bend fence by Green (445), snapping a post then being clobbered by Harrhy, while on the pit bend a six car train comprising of 463, 318, 2, 217, 445 and 446 saw Morris (463) forced into, through and very nearly over the pit bend fence before crashing back onto the track on his side. I remember James rolling right over the fence in his F2 some years ago at Coventry, landing on the dog track, but this latest chapter in the “Morris Compendium of Spectacular Crashes” could have been serious for those on both sides of the fence. Thankfully, no-one was injured.

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James Morris attacks the pit bend fence with a little help from his friends

Severe fence damage took some time to repair before Yarrow (22) led the next restart. Booth (446) landed big hits on anyone and everyone while Sworder (150) went into the pit bend fence very hard, possibly off the Fairhurst front bumper, bringing out the yellows again. Sworder joined the restart with Speak now in the lead from Yarrow and Wainman (515). FWJ grabbed second as Yarrow struggled before part two of the 446/4 saga took place, Booth giving Johnson a severe fencing on the pit bend. More broken posts and damaged armco to repair before the next green flag.

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Dan Johnson – what goes around, comes around

Wainman attacked Speak on the first turn but went wide, letting Finnikin and Booth by as Speak stayed ahead, before being forced wide next time around by a train of cars. That man Booth went underneath the lot to take the lead on turn two but on turn three Speak went for 446, 515 went for 318 and 2 went for 515 – the result was a spectacular double rollover involving Speak and Booth, with Wainman driving away with a second, gold aerofoil on his bonnet and Harrison knocking Booth back onto his wheels. Speaky played to the crowd, carrying his crumpled wing off the track and throwing it on to the centre, before the final restart, with just 9 cars left running, led by FWJ. On a dry slick track, Harrison dogged Wainman until two to go, then nudged him wide on the pit bend to take the lead and the flag, the damaged 515 car unable to get back on terms with the Rotherham man. What an incredible race!

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Final Top 3: Paul Harrison, Frankie Wainman Junior and Will Hunter

It was after 11pm by the time the Grand National gridded so no tannoy to tell us who was where, but I had Ant Lee (339) as the early leader before Spiers (451) took over, the Evesham man keeping clear of the pack, with Wainman (515) capping a good night by taking second off Yarrow with one lap to go.

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley

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