Kings Lynn – October 29th 2011 Meeting Report

The penultimate round of the Hemt National series shootout saw the Brisca F1 circus camped at the Norfolk Arena. As usual the added attractions of Halloween parade and Reliant Robins drew a huge local crowd. However for F1 fans tonight was all about the shootout. Four drivers remained in contention with third placed Tom Harris on 254 pts and fourth placed Craig Finnikin on 245 pts both well aware that big scores were required to close the gap to 515 Frankie Wainman who led the points chase on 283pts.

An immaculate track surface welcomed 15 cars on track for the customary white and yellow grade race, however it became apparent that on this occasion a crafty promoter had decided this race would also be classed as heat one of a two thirds format thus ensuring that all the shootout drivers appeared together in heats two and three.

Mike Williamson 111 and Mark Whitaker 167 come to grief in Heat 1. Photo Colin Casserley

Banger driver 167 Mark Whittaker made his debut in this race in a Team Newson hire car and also saw a rare outing for 381 Paul Montague using the 91 car of Tony Smith. A clean start saw a fast trio of whites led by 235 John Weldon with 267 Graeme Robson and local favorite 415 Russell Cooper and these 3 needed to focus on quick laps as yellows 441 John Lawn and Geoff Nickolls 215 broke from the pack and set off in hot pursuit. Cooper forced his way from third to first only to spin out handing the lead back to Weldon, this lead was however short lived as the 441 car was upon Weldon just before halfway and made decisive contact on turn 2 taking the lead and having a comfortable run to the flag. Nickolls forced his way into second leaving 235 to battle for third with Robson 267 and 111 Michael Williamson. Robson got the better of Weldon while 111 spun on turn 3 and had to settle for fifth.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver John Lawn 441 bypasses Luke Dennis 192. Photo Colin Casserley

The call for heat two ushered 21 starters on track. As the rolling lap commenced all eyes were on the shootout runners at the back of the grid. The unlucky Joe Booth 446 pulled off on the rolling lap leaving 20 cars most of whom were far too impatient to get underway and the starter was left with no choice but to maintain a yellow flag and reform the grid for a second attempt. John Lawn and Geoff Nickolls soon made their way to the front while at the back shootout runners 2 Paul Harrison and Mat Newson lost time when they tangled. Shootout points leader 515 Wainman jnr fared little better spending time in the company of 97 Murray Harrison which cost both drivers the chance of a points finish.

Craig Finnikin 55 heads the Shootout drivers. Photo Colin Casserley

Up front Mark Woodhull 335 was closing in on Nickolls and managed to grab second but the laps ran out before he could make a sustained attack on the 441 car which grabbed its second trophy of the night. With Wainman struggling to come home in the points after his delay with 97 the other shootout contenders had a chance to close the points gap and 55, 84 and 4 Dan Johnson spent most of the race in close company. Johnson departed around halfway with a flat outside front tyre, 55 led 84 for the remaining laps with 84 too busy fending of attacks from 2 Paul Harrison to make any impression on Finnikin who grabbed fourth place.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver John Lawn 441 bypasses Geoff Nickolls 215 on his way to the win. Photo Colin Casserley

Heat three featured 21. A much cleaner start was led by 496 Neil Holcroft with 192 Luke Dennis and 415 Cooper in close formation. 321 Ed Neachell broke away from the blues and began chasing down the leaders. 16 Newson and 84 Harris were the first to show amongst the shootout hopefuls while 197 Ryan Harrison lost time getting acquainted with the turn three fence and 4, 55 and 2 had their own private skirmish. By halfway 321 had caught the leading white tops and both 192 and 496 departed on turn 2 leaving 321 clear of Cooper 415. 84 Harris took second from Cooper but came under pressure from Wainman 515.

As the track dried 515 gathered more pace passing Harris with ease. Second seemed the best Wainman could hope for but as the lap boards came out the 321 car was shown the red cross as the car had developed a leak which had potential to be a safety issue. 84 Hitman Harris was well aware that the gap in shootout points required more than following home the 515 car for third and attacked on the last lap with a big lunge inside 515 on turn 3 but failed to reverse the places. Despite several wavings of the red cross the 321 car continued to the end but was excluded from the result handing the victory to 515. A disappointed Neachell visited race control to plead his case but the protest did nothing to change the result.

BriSCA F1 stock car blue grades Ed Neachell 321 and Josh Smith 191. Photo Colin Casserley

25 cars for the big points meeting final. 496 Holcroft led the early laps with 515 Wainman first to show at the back with Johnson 4 stalking. The race was brought under caution on lap 5 to remove the car of H195 Harmen Zwerver who was in a vulnerable position on the home straight.

Dutch F1 stock car driver Harmen Zwerver H195 and Scott Davids 462. Photo Colin Casserley

As the cars lined up for the restart the 84 car of Hitman Harris received some remedial attention to a damaged back bumper with Paul Harrison 2 hitting the 84 car in the rear. Not surprisingly the steward deemed this to be outside assistance and the 84 car was excluded and sent to the infield where the body language of the driver did nothing to hide his disappointment with the decision which had in all probability ended his chances of a Silver roof.

The race restarted and Dan Johnson showed Harris how to deal with your rivals landing a substantial hit on Wainman 515 in turn 3 which saw both cars run well wide with Wainman hitting the armco which caused damage to rear axle and left the nerf rail rubbing on the outside rear tyre. Wainman did manage to hold the place but as the cars came under a second caution period for attention to the 111 car it was clear that the 515 car was going to struggle to make it to the chequered flag.

BriSCA F1 stock car lower grader Graeme Robson 267 in action. Photo Colin Casserley

The restart had 267 Graeme Robson leading and a rapid 97 Murray Harrison in third using his undergraded blue start spot to good affect. Highest placed shootout challenger was 55 Finnikin in eighth. 97 took the lead from Robson as 55 attacked 16 Newson and charged on in hot pursuit of 97, leaving 16 to battle with Johnson and 2 Paul Harrison.

BriSCA F1 stock car Shootout competitors Frankie Wainman jnr 515 and Paul Harrison 2. Photo Colin Casserley

Wainman 515 retired after hitting the turn two fence while 16 lost out spinning in turn two which left Johnson free to chase down 335 and 215 who were holding station in third and fourth. Finnikin made short work of catching and passing 97 before the lap boards came out and survived one attack from Murray before pulling away to take the flag and big points. Johnson made his way past the 97 car with 5 laps to go taking second place as reward for his early aggression.

13 made it on track for the Grand National including 515 after an all hands on deck rapid repair session in the pits. 55 took the handicap and with only 12 others on track looked to be in with a good chance of a substantial double points haul. 192 Luke Dennis led them away as Harris tried the “Johnson method” applying a big hit to the 515 car which had Wainman revisiting the turn 3 plating but resilience is instinctive in all Wainman drivers and the 515 car survived the attack, only to tangle with Harris on the next lap with both losing time and any chance of victory. Up front 335 Mark Woodhull had managed to annex the lead but was being hassled by 462 Scott Davids, 335 and 462 did briefly swap places before Mat Newson charged passed both of them and took the lead which he retained to the flag. However the drama was not over as the lap boards came out Wainman had shaken off the attentions of 84 and had his radar firmly locked on Johnson who was in a comfortable fourth. The next few laps were vintage Wainman with every lap right on the limit. Last lap last bend and the 515 car made contact taking Johnson wide and forcing him into a half spin, which allowed 515 into fourth and cost Johnson two further places as Josh Smith 191 and Harris 84 sneaked through.

BriSCA F1 stock car Shootout competitors Tom Harris 84 and Craig Finnikin 55 . Photo Colin Casserley

The Grand National result provided some consolation to Wainman whose lead in the shootout points had been cut to just three. Of the four in contention prior to the meeting no doubt the big winners were Johnson and most notably Finnikin who had moved from being rank outsider to just eight points off the lead and well in with a shout of top honours at the Belle Vue final round where double points will be on offer at a track where he usually excels. Remaining challenger Hitman Harris would be left to reflect on an evening which did not go to plan, and can only hope that with the Belle Vue event being held on a Sunday that divine intervention may provide the miracle results he now requires.

Damian Noblett

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