Coventry, 6th August 2016 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

Seventy cars in the pits for the last Brandon bash before the World Final, including some surprise and welcome visitors. From the Netherlands we had Jelle Bijlsma (H388), Martin Bijlsma (H422), Sierd de Vries H54) and Cor Meijer (H69), from Northern Ireland Gary Grattan (917) and from the past, Peter Falding (33) and Rob Tunnah (505).

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Gary Grattan (917) tries his luck on the Coventry shale

Twenty-three lined up for Heat One, the Thora Whistler Memorial race, won at a canter by John Dowson Junior (94) but the main interest was an almost race long battle between Mick Sworder (150) and Frankie Wainman Junior (515) which got the crowd in good voice. FWJ eventually claimed third spot behind Karl Hawkins (175) but not before Sworder tried an (unsuccessful) last bender on the British Champion.

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Sworder and Wainman battle for position in Heat 1

Heat Two raised another twenty-three cars with Jelle Bijlsma throwing the smart H388 machine around in fine style. Mark Sargent (326) led the white top charge, pulling out a healthy lead as first Paul Harrison (2), then Stuart Smith (390) came through from the back of the pack. Rob Tunnah’s race was short-lived (check out the rear suspension on the 505 car if you get the chance) but Sarge went all the way to the flag, with Joff Gibson (249) second from Smith and de Vries.

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H388 gets to grip with the track, while 326 made his way to the front of the grid in Heat 2

Just twenty-two for Heat Three, on a well-watered track and another white top victory. This time it was Rugby driver Luke Dennis (192) who led from green to chequered flag in confident style. Lee Fairhurst (217) tested the strength of his front bumper on any car ahead of him and quickly moved into third but as the track dried, Rob Speak (318) made better progress, taking second as the 217 car drifted wide while Mat Newson (16) went for a big one on the last corner, shifting both Hines (259) and Brown (34) for sixth place. Dennis won, from Speak but Fairhurst was docked for use of the infield, giving third to Pete Hobbs (108).

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A third place finish for Peter Hobbs in Heat 3

A big field of cars for the Consolation race, yellow-flagged after just a couple of laps when the pit bend became a car park. Seven cars retired to the infield from the original 35 starters and Chris Worrall (263) in a Newson hire-car set a commendably steady rolling lap before spinning on turn one after taking the green flag. Another caution followed, this one for novice Andrew Olerenshaw (273) who had clobbered the pit bend fence hard with John Wright (348).

More cars joined the centre parking lot (maybe Mr. Heaver should start charging) before Smith (40), Bijlsma (H388) and Griffin (166) led the restart. Bijlsma spun Smith for the lead then went wide, handing front spot to Griffin but he was overhauled by Riley (422) with two to run. Grattan took an excellent sixth place, qualifying for the final despite an enforced last lap excursion.

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Chris Worrall (263) goes for a spin in the consolation

With over half the field red-topped, it was C-graded Sarge who made most of the early running in the 35-car Final, shadowed by Dennis. Smith and Sworder made great inroads but a caution for Murray Jones (196) slowed things down. Finnikin and Harrison (2) made a high-speed pass through on the centre before re-joining the fun but the dust was starting to rise and would only get worse, to the extent that following the race was nigh on impossible.

Smith got the better of Sworder, moving into third behind the two flying white-tops. Big hits from Fairhurst (on either 244 or 249, 249 seems more likely) and Wainman (515) went largely unseen due to the conditions, while Sworder somehow went nose-first into the City bend fence. Another caution saw Sargent again heading the field, this time with SSJ on his back bumper. Smith took the lead on the pit bend and pulled away for the win with Speak and FWJ, after appearing to be nowhere early on, taking second and third. Full credit to Dennis who clung on to fifth place behind Newson.

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Stuart Smith Junior roars to victory in the final

Frankie was apparently fired up and in no mood to take prisoners in the 37-car Grand National, a race which saw Daniel van Spijker (231) make his first appearance of the evening and big names like Harrison and Sworder locked out. A caution for Thomas Stephenson (75) who rolled on lap five for the benefit of the grandstand patrons brought the race to a halt. Thomas was thankfully unhurt and the restart saw Mark Gilbank (21) annex the lead until three to run when Wainman, using the old bumper followed by a side-swipe manoeuvre, took over for the win with Gilbank second, Johnson third, Speak fourth and Smith fifth from the lap handicap.

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Thomas Stephenson’s rollover in the Grand National

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley and Steve Botham

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