King’s Lynn, 24th May 2014 – meeting report and photo gallery

Heat 1 was a whites and yellows only affair; 14 cars taking up the challenge. Novice drivers Karl Roberts (313) and Jake Hall (511) were in good company, with Elliott Smith (293) taking an Ex-Yarrow car through its paces.

Ben Hurdman (207) started on pole; but he was quickly demoted when PJ Lemons (444) burst to the front. This was short lived as, exiting the first turn, Lemons, Hurdman and Aaron Couzens (76) all were sent into a spin, allowing Smith (293) to take up the front running.

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PJ Lemons in his re-worked ex-John Cayzer car.

Steve Whittle (183) was next in trouble when he was taken round into a spin by Graeme Robson (267) in Turn 1. Colin Eardley (58) also had a coming together in Turn 3 when he was taken out to the fence by Paul Poulter (174). The early leaders were close together on track; Smith in first, Tony Smith (91) in second followed by Geoff Nicholls (215).

Nicholls lunged at the back of Smith (91) sending him into the 293 machine. Will Hunter (220) tried to attack the back of 215, but he also spun in Turn 1. Couzens, despite his earlier skirmish, was back in the running and was up to fourth; not too far behind.

The lap boards came out just as Nicholls was trying to displace Smith (293). Nicholls made several attempts before making a mistake into Turn 3, allowing Smith (91) to sneak up the inside. Couzens got a good drive off the turn and chased down Smith. At the last lap, Couzens had forced his way into the lead to round off a great opening race.

Result: 76, 267, 215, 293, 91, 280, 511, 183, 220, 444.

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Aaron Couzens (76), in his ex-Steve Cayzer car, took a fine win in the Whites and Yellows.

Heat 2 was greeted by the arrival of rain, but it saw the higher graders join the grid; including the debut of the impressive and immaculate new cars from 97 and 197. Ben Hurdman took pole position and the subsequent lead at the drop of the green.

Murray Harrison (97) keen to test his new machinery caught a marker tyre whilst trying to move Dave Willis (337) over into the first turn; Mark Woodhull was caught out by the stray tyre and spun around in Turn 1. The waved yellows were called for Colin Nairn (280) who was stranded in the Turn 1 armco. Josh Smith (191) and Ian Noden (306) were also caught up together in Turn 3, clattering around the plating.

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Murray Harrison debuting his brand new car.

New driver Karl Roberts (313) led the pack off for the restart. A train of red cars sent Aaron Couzens (76) wide into Turn 1, just as Ed Neachell (321) took the lead. The wet track caught a number of cars out – including Will Yarrow (22), Ryan Harrison (197) and Danny Wainman (212) – and a pile-up started to form on the outside of the turn.

Frankie Wainman Junior (515) had quietly worked his way up into fourth; just as Billy Johnson (169) took out the Mat Newson (16) machine; leaving the pair stranded in the middle of Turn 1 and collected by Willis. FWJ claimed second place and was challenging Neachell for the lead.
Neachell managed to hold off the charging superstar for a handful of laps. Eventually FWJ gained the lead position, but this was short lived. The back of the 515 car clipped the tangled Graeme Robson (267) and Roberts’ cars, who were then in turn joined by Paul Poulter (174), allowing Neachell to reclaim the lead position.

A caution period was then called for. On the restart, Neachell slowed dramatically allowing a squabbling 515 and Mick Sworder (150) to take over the running; Sworder muscling his way to the front. Neachell found himself collecting the Turn 1 armco. Dan Johnson (4) was making up ground, moving Will Yarrow (22) wide to take third but Tom Harris (1) wasn’t far behind.

A couple of laps later, Harris was niggling at the back of Johnson, who eventually moved aside. Sworder pulled away from second place Wainman. Wainman though, was coming under increasing pressure from Harris with no space for error. At the chequered flag Sworder took the win, with Wainman holding on to second and Harris in third.

Result: 150, 515, 1, 4, 16, 191, 335, 337, 55, 338.

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Mat Newson had a more successful Heat 2 than Yarrow.

Heat 3 saw 22 cars form the grid, including late arrival Stuart Smith Jnr (390) in his brand new car. PJ Lemons (444) was straight in to the lead from his pole position start. Smith, further down the field, lunged at Will Yarrow (22) into Turn 1 in the early stages. Into Turn 3, Newson struck Sworder, just as Steve Whittle (183) tried an attack on Dan Johnson. Johnson had no chance of a breather as Newson also struck him into Turn 1. Stuart Smith and Josh Smith (191) were two abreast on the home straight into Turn 1. With SSJ stuck on the outside, he caught the wet, loose shale and drifted out towards the fence; collecting the plating exiting Turn 2.

On the home straight, Craig Finnikin (55) had found himself facing the wrong way on the racing line; he was then collected by the hard-charging Frankie Wainman Junior, who had been left with nowhere to go whilst racing with Tom Harris. The waved yellows were called for.

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The new Craig Finnikin shale car – the tall and short of it.

The restart saw Geoff Nicholls (215) lead them off ahead of Smith (191) and Johnson in third. At the green flag, Smith held up the Johnson machine, allowing the charging pack to swamp the #4. A train of red graders entered Turn 3 together with Newson, SSJ, Johnson and Harris all close for company. Smith and Harris were then better acquainted as Sworder sent SSJ into Harris causing the pair to tangle in mid turn 3.

Nicholls was still holding on to the lead from Johnson and Newson. Nicholls eventually succumbed to the chasing star graders just before the ‘5 laps to go’ signal. The laps wound down and Newson reeled in the leader Johnson; Newson leaving his attack to the last corner. Back markers would play their part as Johnson collected Whittle. The pair tangled allowing Newson to floor it around the outside. Johnson, still tangled with Whittle, clawed his way over the line for second, just pipping Sworder.

Result: 16, 4, 150, 335, 215, 338, 337, 212, 91, 1.

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Stuart Smith Junior returning to the King’s Lynn shale with his New Zealand style car.

The Feature Final saw 24 cars return; new driver Karl Roberts (313) taking pole position. The whites were causing problems for themselves with Ben Hurdman (207), Elliott Smith (293) and Karl Roberts (313) colliding, just as Mat Newson (16) and Mark Woodhull (335) collected the Turn 1 fence.

A lap later, Roberts was in trouble again, tangling with Geoff Nicholls (215); while your early race leader was PJ Lemons (444). Steve Whittle (183) half spun in Turn 1 and was then helped round by Chris Brocksopp (338). More lower graders were in trouble as Josh Smith (191), Paul Poulter (174) and Graeme Robson (267) ended up in a heap on the infield.

Frankie Wainman Junior slowed dramatically with an outside rear puncture. Mick Sworder made a move to pass Dan Johnson in Turn 1; just as Brocksopp spun World Champ Tom Harris. Johnson, unphased by the first lunge from Sworder, came under fire from 150 again a few laps later.
Back at the front, Tony Smith (91) was having a good run, but the chasing pack was soon catching and Smith found himself under pressure. Johnson worked his way past Smith to take the lead, but Sworder saw the opportunity to strike again. Sworder, catching the hit wrong, spun on the entrance to Turn 3 and was then collected by Will Yarrow (22).

Now, Johnson led, from Smith, who held second, and Craig Finnikin (55), but Finnikin quickly found a way around Smith and set off after Johnson. The back markers hampering Johnson’s progress allowed Finnikin to close with each lap. At 5 to go; Hurdman and Smith (293) were again in bother as the pair tangled in Turn 3. A spinning Karl Roberts (313) momentarily slowed Johnson and allowed Finnikin to catch Johnson’s back bumper at the last lap. Finnikin struck Johnson, but the hit had little effect. Johnson took the win ahead of Finnikin in second and a good drive from Brocksopp to come home third.

Result: 4, 55, 338, 212, 1, 22, 215, 16, 496, 169.

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Final Top 3: Johnson, Finnikin and Brocksopp.

The Grand National attracted 23 cars back from the pits, with Johnson taking the obligatory lap handicap ahead of Elliott Smith on pole. Smith’s turn at the lead was short-lived with a spin at the first corner, allowing a big pile-up to ensue, catching out most of the field and prompting the yellow flags.

Ben Hurdman led them off for the restart, in front of Paul Poulter and Karl Roberts. Geoff Nicholls wasted no time with a lunge on the back of Roberts on the restart as Tony Smith (91) did the same to Whittle. Tom Harris then snookered Mat Newson into Will Yarrow in an effort to move up the order. Stuart Smith Junior showed he was on a mission, nudging Smith (91) over in turn 3, shortly before punting Nicholls into Poulter. Hurdman still held the lead over Smith (390) who was now in second, with Harris third.

Hurdman then made a mistake allowing Smith to take over the front running at halfway. Harris made a lunge on Hurdman into Turn 1, taking both cars out to the plating. Yellow flags were called for Hurdman who had another trip into the fence.

At the restart, there were just a handful of laps left for Smith, Sworder and Newson. At the drop of the green, Smith pulled a slight lead on Sworder, but entering the last lap Smith misjudged the corner and found himself brushing the Turn 1 plating.

Sworder snuck underneath and, in a desperate scramble, Smith followed him down the back straight, waiting for his chance. The 150 machine drifted out wide and rode the wall around the whole of Turns 3 and 4; Smith could do nothing and had to settle for second, with Sworder taking the win in the most unconventional fashion.

Result :150, 390, 16, 515, 306, 212, 215, 335, 220, 169.

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Sworder celebrating his unconventional Grand National victory.

Words: Keith Organ

Photos: Colin Casserley

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