Coventry, 5th June 2015 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

The first Friday in June saw the only Friday night shale meeting for UK-based F1 stock cars this year. Following a very warm day, as the racing began, the temperature dropped and the dust started flying.

Heat 1 was led away by Steve Smith (40) and Chris Farnell (32). The 18 car field included two Dutchmen; Peter van der Lest (H226) and Sjaak Kentie (H179). The green flag dropped and the leading white tops were still neck and neck around turns 1 and 2. On the next bend, Farnell inched ahead of Smith, with Billy-Tom O’Connor (316) falling into third.

While the Dutchmen were struggling to get going on the Coventry shale, Harris (84) and Wainman (212) were making good progress, already up amongst the blue tops. Billy-Tom O’Connor made a move around the outside of Farnell to take the top spot and, suffering gremlins, the former leader pulled up against the pit gate. Back at the front, 316 was leading from Ben Hurdman (207) and Martin Spiers (451). Spiers was being challenged by PJ Lemons (444) when the caution was brought out for the stranded Farnell car.

Martin Spiers pulled off prior to the restart, promoting the 444 car to third. O’Connor led them away and maintained the lead going into the bends. Meanwhile, 259 and 212 nipped up the inside of Aaron Cozens (76) for seventh and eighth places.

Hurdman had reached the front, but in all the excitement, the top two drifted wide into the bend, causing 316 to lose second. The bumper came in on 444 from 316 to retake the position, knocking 444 down to fourth behind 11. Disaster struck for the 316 driver; while trying to take out Ben Hurdman, Billy-Tom spun himself around in turn 2, moving 11 to second and 444 to third.

All the commotion allowed Paul Hines to catch the top runners and nip up the inside of PJ Lemons around Coventry bend and into third. The lap boards came out and Hurdman held on to take the victory.

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Billy-Tom O’Connor (316) and PJ Lemons (444) battling in Heat 1.

21 cars gridded for Heat 2, which was led away by John Brown (134) and Neil Clark (311). John Brown took the immediate lead, ahead of 311 and Jason Eaton (448). Problems for 311 and 448 meant it wasn’t long before Steve Malkin (308) moved into second and Eliot Smith (293) into third.

Dan Johnson made rapid progress, reaching fifth spot within a few laps. Back at the front, Malkin caught and passed Brown for the lead, and Smith moved through into second. By half distance, Johnson was challenging for the top spots and, as the lap boards came out, he was out front. He held the lead until the chequered flag dropped, crossing the line ahead of Will Hunter (220) and Paul Harrison.

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Dan Johnson (4) and Will Hunter (220) finished first and second in Heat 2.

Graham Wagstaff (330) led away the cars for Heat 3, which included 217, 55, 515 and 318. It wasn’t long before the spinning started, with Daniel van Spijker (231) on the pits bend.

Wagstaff retired from the race, handing the lead to Geoff Nickolls (215). Further back, Craig Finnikin (55) was leading the superstar charge, ahead of Wainman (515) and the newly crowned British Champ, Lee Fairhurst (217). 515 came together with the H195 car; the pair becoming stuck on the pits bend.

John Dowson (94) was making quick progress, reaching third just as Nigel Green challenged for the lead. Green reached the top and Dowson moved into second with 4 laps to go. Green crossed the line first but was later disqualified for failing to take the car to post-race scrutineering.

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Nigel Green lost the win in Heat 3.

The Consolation was led away by a wingless #40 and Mark Adkins (24), with Smith taking up the top spot. Problems arose for 311, who became caught on the front of the 24 car. Karl Hawkins (175) moved into second place, but he was a long way back from the 40 machine. The caution came out for Mark Poole (276), who was stuck backwards on the home straight just before the entry into turn 1.

Smith was away and gone again at the restart, but the chasing 175 car was able to catch up in the corners. Hawkins made his move on Smith to take the lead, just as 45 and 515 came together in the pits bend. It was a lead that he maintained for the second half of the race, crossing the line ahead of Craig Finnikin and Nigel Green.

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It was Karl Hawkins (175) that dominated during the Consolation.

29 cars made their way onto the track for the meeting Final, which started with problems for some drivers. Mat Newson (16) came together with Finnikin at the start and Will Hunter (220) had problems getting up to speed.

308 and 134 battled for the lead, ahead of Eliot Smith, Karl Hawkins and Geoff Nickolls. The two white tops collided around the pits bend allowing Eliot Smith to inherit the lead, but he had Karl Hawkins on his back bumper.

Further back, Rob Speak was the highest of the superstars and Heat 2 winner Dan Johnson the highest red top. Karl Hawkins caught and passed Smith for the top spot, Eliot moving down to second ahead of Nickolls. Mark Sargent and one of the Zwerver cars went round in turn 2, bringing out the yellows.

Hawkins was away at the restart but second-placed Smith was soon under pressure from Dan Johnson. Another caution was called for; this time for Harrison and Harris, who tangled on the entrance to the home straight.

Hawkins survived another restart but it was only a matter of time before Johnson hit the front. Once he was there, there was no stopping him. Despite crossing the line second, Karl Hawkins was docked four places for jumping both restarts, promoting Dowson to second and Speak to third.

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The lower-graded drivers had been going well all night, but in the Final, they were no match for Johnson.

As the lone white grader, Mark Adkins took the early lead in the 38 car Grand National. The World Champion got a little air, almost climbing over the fence on the start-finish line. Dust was flying but the shape of Dowson’s aerofoil suggested he might have been involved in the incident. H226 found his way into the fence on turn 3, bringing out the yellows.

Adkins was still in the lead at the restart, with Riley in second and Bryan in third. By half distance, Riley was down to third, defending from Neachell. By the time the lap boards came out, Neachell had reached the top and remained in control for the rest of the race.

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After some good results in the earlier races, H226 ended up in the fence and brought out the caution in the National.

Words: Rhosanna Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley

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