Northampton, 14th June 2015 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

45 cars descended on Northampton for the penultimate World Championship Qualifying Round, Sunday 14th June, most of the teams making most of the tarmac weekend, stopping over from Ipswich the night before.

Heat 1 took to the track with 22 cars; lone white grader Chad Evans (392) led them off. The opening bends saw the Superstars battle each other; bumpering each other wide for supremacy. Lee Fairhurst (217) made the early break along with Paul Hines (259); Hines, feeling the front bumper of Fairhurst, was sent wide. Mark Gray (224) was the first casualty with a half spin in turn 1; just as Tom Harris (84) was trained in to the turn 1 plating, courtesy of a Star grade push. Into turn 3 Harris lined up the back of the train and duly sent them to the fencing. Mick Sworder (150) and Frankie Wainman Junior (515) catching the worst of it; Wainman ending on top of Sworder hooked on the top of the plating.

The yellow flags were called for to untangle the pair; followed by a delay to repair the fencing with a snapped post and wires. Evans led off the restart; Dave Allen (499) in second and Jordan Falding (36) in third. Fairhurst quickly got the better of Mickey Randell (172) on the restart, whilst Paul Ford (388) moved by Falding in turn 1. Falding was then passenger of a train sent hurtling into the third bend, with Paul Carter (300) on the back of Chris Cowley (37) and Colin Goodswen (372). The Falding machine destroyed the fencing much in the way Wainman had earlier in the race, prompting the yellow flags. Allen was now the leader and headed the field on the restart Ford in second and Evans third.

Luke Davidson (464) shunted Harris wide whilst Evans collected the fence in turn 1; Harris then exchanged paint with Randell; getting the advantage into turn 3, but Randell returned the compliment the following bend. Randell and Davidson then hooked up and were out of contention with a handful of laps to go. Into the last bend, Fairhurst had worked his way close enough to Ford to strike; connecting, followed by a drag race to the line. Allen almost lost out with a puncture; but held on for third to round off a great race, which took an hour to complete after the various delays; the action setting the tone for what would follow later.

Result: 388 217 499 84 172 37 464 259 41

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Heat 1 winner, Paul Ford

Heat 2 was a much quieter affair; 22 cars gridded again, with local driver Peter Hobbs (108) lining up in pole position. Mat Newson (16) made aggressive progress in the early stages; forcefully moving Dan Johnson (4) and then the same treatment was offered to Paul Harrison (2) into turn 1. Danny Wainman (212) connected with Craig Finnikin’s (55) back bumper in to turn 3; the halfway stage soon signalled.

Joff Gibson (249) the leader ahead of Hobbs in second and Ed Neachell (321) in third. Rob Speak (318) retired a little while after with a flat outside rear tyre. The lap numbers dwindled and Neachell picked off the leaders one by one before assuming the number 1 spot; it was then plain sailing to the flag.

Result: 321 249 16 220 4 2 390 108 55 212

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Pole sitter Peter Hobbs (108) held on for a top ten finish in Heat 2.

The Consolation race fielded 22 cars, Chad Evans (392) took the lead from his pole position start. Sean Willis (287) got caught up with Steve Whittle (183); Roger Bromiley (14) was also in trouble with a spin in turn 1. Frankie Wainman (515) slowed in the early stages of the race before retiring. Shaun Webster (48) lunged an attack on Rob Cowley (73) into turn 3. Jack Aldridge (421) soon joined the battle, bumpering Webster wide.

Halfway was signalled to Evans who held a good-sized lead of Carl Pickering (141) in second. The second half of the race ticked by, with Mick Sworder (150) getting by Pickering; who was demoted further by Daniel van Spijker (231) in the closing stages. With 2 to go, long time race leader Evans suffered a puncture taking him out of the running, gifting the win to Sworder and promoted van Spijker to second place, Rob Speak (318) having a quiet race finishing third.

Result: 150 231 318 174 141 421 512 202 48 183

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White top Chad Evans going well in the Consolation.

The Feature Final was contested with 29 cars. Novice grader Henry Hunter (202) started at the back after qualifying via the consolation; Peter Hobbs (108) taking up pole position. Will Hunter (220) was the first casualty with a spin to the middle. Chris Cowley (37) was also a spinner courtesy of Michael Steward (512). A red grade train battled for supremacy in the opening bends, exchanging bumpers. Carl Pickering (141) was the next to spin, getting taken out in turn 3.

Lee Fairhurst (217) snookered Paul Ford (388) into Paul Harrison (2); catching Dan Johnson (4) in the process in turn 3. Further back, Tom Harris (84) and Mick Sworder (150) got reacquainted after their early race skirmish, just as Mat Newson (16) spun around. Steve Whittle (183) and Paul Hines (259) then collided in the home straight. The lap boards were soon out for leader Ed Neachell (321), Hobbs holding on to second and Fairhurst making rapid progress up to third. Hobbs was soon overhauled by Fairhurst; eyes firmly set on Neachell. It wasn’t long before the 217 machine shunted Neachell wide to take the lead and hold on for the win.

Stuart Smith (390) closed down Harris in the final laps putting a last bend shunt on the back of 84 to take fifth; Harrison also attempted the same on Sworder to no avail after a drag race to the line. Fairhurst, following on from his British Championship win a few weeks earlier, took the checkered flag, followed by Neachell and Ford in third.

Result: 217 321 388 108 390 84 499 318 48 150

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2015 British Champion Lee Fairhurst was victorious in the meeting final.

The Grand National attracted 32 cars. Before the race got going, controversially, Stuart Smith (390), Luke Davidson (464) and Rob Speak (318) were all asked to leave the track as the track limit was exceeded. A topic hotly debated followed on Stoxnet. Back to the race and Lee Fairhurst (217) took the lap handicap, with Chad Evans (392) lined up on pole behind. The first bend saw carnage ensue with cars sent in every direction. Everyone was ok and the race continued. Steve Whittle (183) was next in bother, with a tangle with Nigel Harrhy (45) in turn 1. Mick Sworder (150) then snookered Paul Harrison (2) into Danny Wainman (212). Tom Harris (84) was next to join the battle and swapped places with Wainman (212).

Sworder hooked up with Michael Steward (512) and Will Hunter (220) in turn 1 just before the halfway stage. Wainman launched Harris in to the turn 3 fencing; seemingly retribution for the incident a month previous. A few laps ticked by and Harris was back behind Wainman. Entering turn one, the expected retaliation came in a big way, sending both drivers in the turn 1 plating independently. Wainman, limping out of the first turn, was then turned sideways as Harris exited the corner. The race leader, seemingly gone unnoticed, was Henry Hunter (202) who, in his second meeting, held a big advantage over second place Peter Hobbs (108).

Mat Newson (16) made his way by Hobbs as the lap boards counted down, and the final change saw Frankie Wainman (515) make his way by Paul Ford (388) in the last bend, the move demoting Ford two places. Henry Hunter (202) picked up his maiden victory ahead of Newson in second and Hobbs in third. Final winner Fairhurst picked up an excellent tenth place from the lap handicap, to round off another high impact, action-packed Northampton session.

Result: 202 16 108 515 321 388 2 55 48 217

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Henry Hunter secured his first win in the Grand National.

Words: Keith Organ
Photos: Colin Casserley and Steve Botham

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