King’s Lynn, 24th March 2018 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

Formula One returned to Saddlebow Road in the company of F2 and F2 Heritage and what a cracker of a meeting it turned out to be with all three formulae putting on enough fast, close racing and last bend deciders to send the crowd home happy if a little damp and dirty but hey – what are Saturday nights for?

Race one was the Teng Tools 2017 Whites and Yellows Series Final with seventeen cars on track. Geoff Nickolls (215) gave the others a head start by spinning before the flag as Chris Farnell (32) took the initiative, leading for many laps until a caution halted his progress. At the restart Sierd de Vries (54) backed it into the pit wall, collecting Goodswen (372) and Farnell almost lost it on the third bend with just over five to run but was knocked back on line by the following cars, only to run wide on the next bend. James Morris (463) took command, half spun and was pushed straight by Paul Hopkins (278) as Farnell tried to squeeze up the inside coming off turn four. Morris spun again, as did 32, leaving Hopkins out in front. Second placed Nickolls closed rapidly as the leader was baulked by Warwick (307) but Hopkins held on for a fine win in tricky conditions from 215 and 32.

Sierd de Vries (54)

Twenty-one for Heat One proper and some super new or refurbed cars on display. A second outing for Willem Zwerver (H295) in a car that certainly stands out from the herd, but it was Rich Howarth (495) who opened up a useful lead. John Thompson (312) spun as Howarth increased his lead to nearly half a lap chased by Ricky Wilson (502) and Chris Cowley (37). Kelvin Hassell (13), not at home yet on the loose stuff, went a-wandering, returning to the track in front of leader Howarth, allowing Cowley to close.

Cowley applied the bumper and Howarth fought back only to spin, collecting Hassell, Hawkins (175) and Wilson. Howarth rejoined, spun again and was clobbered hard by Thompson on turn three as he tried to escape to the infield. It was a hard hit and a caution was called for to extricate the 495 pilot. The restart saw 37 lead the remaining laps as Paul Hines (259) took second off Nickolls on the last bend, with Frankie JJ a good fourth.

Rich Howarth (495) was the early leader in Heat 1

Twenty-three for Heat Two, including Stuart Smith Junior (390), on a one thousand pound bonus if he could make it three King’s Lynn finals in a row. Smith wasted no time in forcing his way into the top places within a few laps, chased by FWJ (515). Farnell led from Bill Fenwick (57) with Frankie struggling for grip – not so Smith who moved into second behind new leader Sarge (326).

Sargent was delayed by a back-marker, FWJ had a go at Smith, getting by for the lead as Sarge slipped up, only to be baulked by Sam Makim (93) and fall prey to the 326 front bumper on turn three leaving Smith to pick up the pieces. Sarge crossed the line in second with Wainman third.

FWJ had to settle for third in Heat 2.

Farnell looked to be on course for victory in the consolation, maintaining a useful lead over second-placed John Dowson Junior (94) until he lost it on the pit bend with just a lap or two to go, then spun again in the same place a lap later. Dowson won from Woodhull (335) and Dennis (192).

A big pit-bend pile-up in the opening laps of the final allowed the star men through from the back of the pack with Smith in particular scything his way through the field until he side-stepped onto the infield going down the home straight. A deft tap from FWJ and the 390 front bumper met the pit bend plating. As he tried to back out of trouble Billy Johnson (169) was potted into him, damaging the rear end on what until then was the fastest car on the track. An almost audible sigh of relief came from the commentary box as the £1000 bonus stayed safe. A caution allowed us to see who was leading – Sarge, from Dowson and it was these two, along with Junior Wainman who made this one to remember. FWJ was way back, Dowson biding his time in second until Sargent was baulked by Brad Harrison (25).

Sarge led past the halfway stage until Dowson tapped him wide on turn three and began to pull away. Undeterred Sarge turned up the wick on the 326 car, edging closer and closer to Dowson and audaciously tapping the 94 car wide with two to run. Dowson edged ahead down the back straight, Sarge tried again, this time harder and took the lead with one to run. Into the pit bend for the last time it was Sargent, from Dowson, from Wainman, all in a line.

FWJ made his move, with hindsight maybe half a lap too early. He went from third to first with Dowson now second and Sarge third but there was still one bend to go. Wainman looked to be clear but Dowsy squared off the corner, kept the power down and just caught the 515 rear end, taking them both out and leaving Mark Sargent to record his first ever F1 final win. Dan Johnson (4) took second with Danny Wainman (212) third. FWJ scraped home in tenth while Dowson remained stuck on the moral high ground on turn four. He could have settled for second but like any true stock car driver that is not in his nature.

Final top 3: Mark Sargent, Dan Johnson and Danny Wainman

Twenty-eight on track for the Grand National, commendable given the conditions and Dowson and Wainman were both on it from the start. FWJ’s luck ran out early in the shape of a flat outside rear but Dowson pressed on, taking the win by a clear margin from Smith and Johnson.

Some excellent performances from lower grade drivers all evening with maybe the conditions being a bit of a leveller. The Saddlebow Road shale was pristine, dare I say a (w)hole lot better than Belle Vue seems to have been for the opener. The new rules for rear tyres seemed to add some spice to the F2 racing too. Maybe I should write a piece about it – I could call it “Interview with the Vantyre”?

John Dowson taking his second win of the night.

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin  Casserley

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