Coventry, September 7th 2013 Meeting Report

After a quiet few months, Mick Sworder bounced back to top form with a stunning drive to win the final. (CC).

After a quiet few months, Mick Sworder bounced back to top form with a stunning drive to win the final. (CC).

Coventry Stadium saw the second round of the National Series shootout take place on September 7th in an action packed meeting which saw a real turn-around in the NS points standings.

Pre–race pit wanderings saw the welcome return to the sport of 337 Dave Willis in the newly prepared 2007 build car. First seeing action in the 2008 Gala meeting at Birmingham, the car saw several meetings until unfortunately the engine gave way in a big way after which Dave reverted to the Big Block shale car with success on the loose until having a short sabbatical from the sport. Always an entertainer Dave is now back to the sport in the ‘cold storage’ tar car which saw some success in the evenings meetings.

Dave Willis won first time out on shale in his re-worked little-raced tarmac special, but fell foul of the scrutineer. (CC)

Dave Willis won first time out on shale in his re-worked little-raced tarmac special, but fell foul of the scrutineer. (CC)

Rob Speak was also out in a rare appearance on the loose stuff in the 318 tar car, presumably to gain a few setup tweaks for the all important King’s Lynn World Final on September 21st. In the team Wainman camp 515 Frankie Wainman was present but not racing due to his lay off from a heavy shunt at Skegness the previous week, the old 446 Joe Booth car used by Frankie in the Belle Vue meeting being used by NZ282 Phil Ogle on the night. All the remaining eleven NS shootout drivers were in attendance for the meeting.

New Zealand World Final entrant Phil Ogle NZ282. (SB)

New Zealand World Final entrant Phil Ogle NZ282. (SB)

Coventry on the night had reverted to the traditional 3 heat and consolation format (see separate story) so heat one was a normal race as against the usual Whites/Yellows format. The initial start was yellow flagged as 41 Robert Broome had stalled and set off to a slow start with the pack being re-gridded for a full re-start. Most eyes were probably on the cars of 197 Ryan Harrison and 84 Tom Harris in the initial laps but 84 soon retired to the centre and 197 also doing the same with a flat offside front tyre. The eventual winner was 12 Micheal Scriven, 2 Paul Harrison had been looking good in third place before gaining a puncture with a couple of laps to go and on the last lap being spun by 351 John Frost avoiding the front bumper of John Lund.

Result – 12 330 22 53 351 306 435 2 252 44 207

Chris Farnell is starting to show promise. (CC)

Chris Farnell is starting to show promise. (CC)

Heat 2 saw 307 Tim Warwick take an early lead until the yellow flags appeared on lap 5 with 32 Chris Farnell being left on the racing line. On the re-start it was 307 from 462 Scott Davids from 276, 290, 21, 4 and 259. Warwick made an impressive start with 462 gaining, meanwhile further back 21 Gilbank, 4 Johnson and 259 Hines were exchanging bumper with a very quick Mick Sworder making rapid progress. 462 Davids overhauled Warwick only for Warwick to send the Davids car fencewards. Up front the lead was now taken by 21 Gilbank with 4 Johnson trailing for about 5 laps, Gilbank eventually slowing for a backmarker with two laps to go, Johnson the taking the lead to the flag.

Result – 4 21 150 276 335 118 NZ282 290 215 307.

New Zealander Phil Ogle took a seventh place in the loaned Booth/FWJ car. (CC)

New Zealander Phil Ogle took a seventh place in the loaned Booth/FWJ car. (CC)

Heat 3 saw the yellow flag out on lap 3 for the 45 car of Nigel Harrhy which had been spun on the main straight in a 3 car tangle and been unable to re-start. The re-start had 183 Steve Whittle from 463 James Morris and 337 Dave Willis. Morris then gained the lead and looked to have victory in sight but 55 Craig Finnikin had been moving through the field and in a last bend lunge from a long way back tangled with Morris allowing Willis through for the win, with Morris second, 11 Neil Scriven third and Finnikin recovering for 4th place. Unfortunately the 337 car was removed from the results for failing scrutineering, and the win being given to James Morris

Result – 463 11 55 1 51 321 318 212 183 169.

Heat 2 winner Dan Johnson battles with Craig Finnikin. (CC)

Heat 2 winner Dan Johnson battles with Craig Finnikin. (CC)

The consolation brought a healthy grid of cars of late at Coventry with the star men of 84, 197 and 16 Matt Newson yet to qualify. Two other star graders 191 Josh Smith and 259 Paul Hines came out for the race but retired to the infield before the race started. The race proved action packed with the yellows out on lap 2 with 7 cars stranded on both turns and the yellows out again with 2 laps to go for a spectacular roll over on the back straight by 448 Jason Eaton. Jason got out unharmed but the car aerofoil did less well. At the re-start it was 84 Harris from 197 Harrison with 462 Scott Davids and 94 John Dowson in 3rd and 4th. At the re-start to the finish the crowd anticipated big push from Ryan failed to materialise, Ryan perhaps settling for a place in the final rather than a DNF in the consolation.

Resut – 84 197 462 94 16 238 208 76 45

Final time. (SB)

Final time. (SB)

The final brought out a very healthy grid but minus 462 Scott Davids, 463 James Morris, 207 Ben Hurdman and 118 Steve Harrison. As had been the case with the rest of the night the action proved fast and hectic. The yellows were brought out by lap 7 for NZ282 stranded on the inside of turn 3, the race order then being 290 Lee Warner from a very quick Mick Sworder with 55 Craig Finnikin 3rd. Lap 10 saw the yellows out again for 290 Warner and 238 Richard Bryan stranded on the turn 2 race line. At this point the the grid line up looked tantalising with Sworder leading from Finnikin, 197 Harrison, 321 Ed Neachel, 1 Fairhurst, 4 Johnson and 212 Danny Wainman. Mark Gilbank was a lap down and put between the 150 Sworder and Finnikin cars but moved over onto the centre at the re-start. The much anticipated grandstand finish failed to happen for the crowd with the very fast Sworder driving away for the win by a distance from the usual shale pace car of Finnikin. 84 Harris and 16 Newson failed to finish.

Result – 150 55 4 1 2 197 212 321 94 11 12 306.

Front shocker damage for Ben Hurdman. (CC)

Front shocker damage for Ben Hurdman. (CC)

The Grand National had Sworder taking the compulsory lap handicap and the yellows were out on lap 3 for stranded cars, 84 Harris continuing with bad luck and out with a flat. The yellows came out again on lap 11 for another stranded car the race order at this time being Finnikin from 4 Johnson, 197 Harrison, 2 Harrison and 16 Newson, Mick Sworder being in 8th from the handicap. Before the re-start and to a certain amount of crowd noise and commotion the Ryan Harrison car was black flagged to the centre green due to an un-safe rear bumper. At the re-start Finnikin held onto his lead to the finish from 4 Dan Johnson but the Sworder car was flying and ended up in third place after a fairly forceful drive, or at least it was in the eyes of Paul Harrison, who was dispatched fencewards into the pit bend fence care of the 150 bumper with two to go.

Result – 55 4 150 16 51 1 212 335 94 107 11 306.

Mick Sworder and Craig Finnikin. (SB)

Mick Sworder and Craig Finnikin. (SB)

A fantastic night of racing all round with a very dominant drive from the 150 car of Mick Sworder – the National Series points table being turned on its head, Sworder doubling his points over night and now leading and 55 Craig Finnikin doubling his points also and moving from 10th spot to 4th spot.

Words: Andy Armer
Photos: Steve Botham (SB), Colin Casserley (CC)

Craig Finnikin took the flag in the GN, with Mick Sworder coming home third from the lap handicap. (CC)

Craig Finnikin took the flag in the GN, with Mick Sworder coming home third from the lap handicap. (CC)

Scott Davids, Mark Poole and Lee Warner. (SB)

Scott Davids, Mark Poole and Lee Warner. (SB)

Final winner Mick Sworder. (SB)

Final winner Mick Sworder. (SB)

Dave Willis and Nigel Harrhy. (SB)

Dave Willis and Nigel Harrhy. (SB)

Ed Neachell and Daniel Wainman. (SB)

Ed Neachell and Daniel Wainman. (SB)

Mick Sworder and Billy Johnson. (SB)

Mick Sworder and Billy Johnson. (SB)

Heat 1 winner Michael Scriven chased by John Lund. (CC)

Heat 1 winner Michael Scriven chased by John Lund. (CC)

Newcomer Steve Whittle continues to improve. (CC)

Newcomer Steve Whittle continues to improve. (CC)

the Top three on the podium. (SB)

The Top three in the Final. (SB)

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