King’s Lynn, 29th April 2017 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

Forty five cars turned out on the 29th April at what is now regarded as the premier shale venue for the F1s after the closure of Coventry.

Out of that attendance, 23 whites and yellows gridded up for the Whites and Yellows first heat of the night including the 18 car of Richie Ahern Junior, son of the late Richie Ahern who raced between 1979 and 1981. The race was soon stopped under yellows for the stranded 372 car of Colin Goodswen on turn 2, who was facing the wrong way.

At the restart (a slippery one after a lap of the bowser), it was 348 John Wright leading off the pack. John held the lead and extended it to the chequered from 415 Russell Cooper second and 308 Steve Malkin Jnr in third. An impressive win for John, who is doing well on the loose stuff after a successful meeting the week before at Sheffield.

Result: 348  415  308  463  45  280  192  73  278  403  32  364

John Wright takes the first win of the evening

Heat 1 proper gridded a similar number – 22 cars, including Mat Newson in the 326 motor of Mark Sargent (currently on sabbatical with an arm injury), which Mat maintains for Mark; the ‘pink un’ being left to one side for the moment.

Jack France (216) was an early spinner but got going whilst at the other end of the track 443 Wayne Marshall (in a Newson hire car) and 280 Colin Nairn hooked up together, whilst 268 Richard Woods was up front.

Further back, Newson pushed Danny Wainman (212) in behind the Bradley Harrison (25) car on turn 3, with Danny getting going again. At just past halfway stage, Newson had hit the front. Regular Dutch racer H295 Willem Zwerver made an acquaintance with the fence backwards, courtesy of Paul Hines and, with 4 to go, it was Newson from Danny Wainman. Newson held onto the lead to the chequered flag.

As is the norm with Facebook and the internet, various speculations and rumours  had been made that Mat had bought the car from Mark Sargent. Mat put things right on the microphone saying the car is just on loan till his own car is built. Mind you, with the way the car has been going in Mat’s hands recently, it may be worth an offer to Sarge… you never know!

Result:  16  212  2  259  175  337  415  555  169  192  307.

Newson (16) forces Wainman out wide and takes the win in Heat 2.

Keeping with the norm, 23 cars lined up for Heat 2, including the 390 car, which has been the car to beat on shale this year. Early on, 462 Scott Davids span on the main straight with 183 Steve Whittle, which looked like a certain yellow flag stoppage but both got going quickly. Geoff Nicholls (215) and 244 Mick Rogers hooked up on turn 3, with the 73 car of Rob Cowley soon joining them, leading to the yellows for the stranded cars.

The restart was behind the water bowser, with John Wright leading off the pack, under very slippery conditions, with the cars running a very wide line and the 55 car of Finnikin doing the wall of death routine on the exit of turns ¾; clattering the fence with the 390 car of Smith on his tail.  Wright had slipped back and it was now Ben Hurdman (207) from Smith and Finnikin third. Smith side-swiped the Hurdman car aside on the next bend, Ben coming undone down the straight in the chasing pack of reds and being fired skywards by a marker at the end of the back straight.

Smith then drifted wide on the next bend letting the car of Finnikin through but on the next bend the same happened and the places were exchanged, with Frankie Wainman behind who then span the 55 car down the back straight with Finnikin getting going. Smith held onto the lead to the finish with the Waiman car gaining and Dan Johnson finishing third.

Stuart then, following in his late father’s footsteps, livened things up on the microphone, with a few choice words on the watering policy and Lynn – it appears that the 390 driver is not, shall we say, a great fan of the water bowser watering mid-race, judging by his comments. Though to be fair, having to change brake set-up mid-race with a plate fence to contend with must be a challenge.

Result:  390  1(515)  4  445  463  55  21  462  348 32  183.

Finnikin clattering the wall 

Next race up was the Consolation but prior to that, track owner Buster Chapman gave us his reasoning on the microphone for the watering policy at Lynn which, with some of the criticism that it comes in for on various social media pages, I will paraphrase as best I can Buster’s comments.

“The F1’s make a lot of dust at the track, the track is always in a  good condition and the crowds are also good and we do not want the council on our backs. The track is kept moist as best we can and we do not flood it. We do need to keep our neighbours happy.”

Whilst the track has a grass field to one side and very little housing nearby, it is on a busy and thriving industrial estate with a truck sales depot next door and also a car hire firm, not to mention vehicles etc. parked in compounds. It is very tricky for the drivers to re-set up the brake bias after running dry to wet conditions so quickly, but it is also important to keep neighbours happy and prevent council intervention. So dust control has to be considered, particularly with the current uncertain situation with shale tracks after the Coventry closure.

Anyway, back to the Consolation, with a line-up 20 cars hoping to qualify for the final. Early on, a heap of cars piled into the turn 1/2  fence, all managing to get going again. The early leader was 308 Steve Malkin Jnr from Ben Hurdman. The 207 car fired the Malkin car wide for the lead but Malkin not deterred did the same on the next bend. Hurdman made sure of the job on the next bend before the yellows were out for the stranded 307 Tim Warwick car on turns 3/4. On the restart, Hurdman held onto the lead to the flag taking some very wide lines on the bends from 249 Joff Gibson and 335 Mark Woodhull in third.

Result: 207 249 335 73 278 372 364 H295 166 183.

Ben Hurdman took a solid victory in the consolation

The final saw a 29-car line up and was a race to remember with some huge hits going on between the top graders. Early on, Joff Gibson and Mark Woodhull hooked up on turns 3/4  resulting in a huge tangle of cars trying to get down the back straight, the Frankie Wainman car having nowhere to go except the turn 3 marker tyre, leading to the tyre on the middle of turn 3 and the yellows out, the Wainman car retiring to the infield with a flat inside rear tyre.

Chris Farnell (32) had been the early leader and maintained it at the restart, with Stuart Smith and Paul Harrison charging through the field. Further back, Dan Johnson was on a mission; exchanging blows with 445 Nigel Green, while the Finnikin car clobbered the Newson car aside. Mat repaid the favour on the next bend, spinning the 55 motor. Meanwhile, Rob Cowley had come to standstill on the turn 1 fence and this brought out the yellows.

Following the water bowser it was still Farnell in the lead from Russell Cooper, Dave Willis, Paul Harrison and Stuart Smith. Stuart took an early gamble, firing 337 Willis and Russell Cooper wide on turn 2 but then hooked up with both and was taken to the infield, losing valuable time and places. Mark Gilbank, who had started further back, took some wide lines in the slippery conditions and soon hit the front, helped somewhat by the star grade drivers behind exchanging hits galore between themselves. Nigel Green, Dan Johnson and Mat Newson were in a battle galore exchanging bumper hits on each corner, these drivers being delayed while entertaining the fans, letting Danny Wainman catch up and, earlier spinner Craig Finnikin (who was flying) appear from nowhere to join in the melee.

Mat Newson and Nigel Green both having to retire to the infield before the finish after the exchanges it left Mark Gilbank with a very healthy lead to the flag being unchallenged from Danny Wainman in second and Dan Johnson in third after an epic battle for the last few laps with Craig Finnikin who came home fourth.

A very good final win for the Rotherham driver in a car that is getting on for heritage class in its age, whilst the drivers behind had one of the best battles seen for a long time to entertain the fans.

Result: 21 212 4 55 259 390 2 555 207 337 169 175.

Final top 3: 1st Mark Gilbank, 2nd Danny Wainman, 3rd Dan Johnson

The Grand National was perhaps a little less action packed than the rest of the night, being run without stoppages. With the track soon drying and dusting up, the Stuart Smith car showed again its blistering pace on shale this year, hitting the front on lap 5 for the victory from Craig Finnikin second and Nigel Green in third, Mark Gilbank coming home ninth from the lap handicap.

Result:  390  55  445  16  337  1(515)  212  2  21  175  166  308.

Gilbank finished in the places, even from the lap handicap

Words: Andy Armer
Photos: Colin Casserley

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