Northampton, 16th July 2016 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

The current differences between the UK and Mainland tarmac cars had a profound effect on this year’s European Championship weekend. With just Daniel van Spijker (231) and Christian Weyenberg (H380) (using his shale car) over from Holland, the lack of Dutch cars, drivers and fans took away most, if not all of the atmosphere normally associated with this highlight of the Incarace calendar.

Heat 1 doubled up as the annual Trust Fund race, gridding 18 reds and 2 blues. Michael Scriven (12) and Ed Neachell (321) were on the front of the closed order grid and Frankie Wainman Junior (515) brought up the rear. As the green flag dropped, Scriven went into the lead, from 321. Paul Ford (388) applied the bumper and took up the front running on the back straight. Todd Jones (186) moved Neachell aside for second, with Mick Sworder (150) in third, then second while Mat Newson (16) retired with a puncture.

Rob Speak (318) spun and was collected by Dan Johnson (4). Back at the front, 388 was pulling away from 150. Wainman (515) was up to fifth before half distance, leaving 464 and 217 to battle for sixth spot. Sworder tried to close the gap on Ford but everyone seemed to be driving within themselves, saving tyres and not burning rubber. Wainman applied the bumper to Paul Hines (259) on the third and fourth bend to take fourth, with 5 to run but, barring a disaster, no one was going to catch Ford and he became the first driver to retain the Trust Fund trophy.

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Paul Ford becomes the first driver to retain the Trust Fund trophy

Twenty-four cars for Heat Two including Weyenberg, Tony Smith, Neil Smith and Dean Mason (358), making his F1 debut. The Lancaster Bomber has distant “previous” in F2s and Legends and his experience behind the wheel was soon evident. Mark Gray (224) in the ex-Harris machine was on pole and took a flag to flag victory ahead of Shaun Webster (48) and Joff Gibson (249).

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A welcome return to the ovals for Dean Mason, the Lancaster Bomber

Just fifteen for the Consolation, with Rob Speak and Mat Newson at the back of the grid. Richard Davis went into the lead at the drop of the green, while Russell Cooper dropped to the back. Bobby Griffin moved into second. Hobbs (108) went in with a big hit on the leaders and they all went out, the order now 36, 19 and 555. Frankie JJ closed on Falding, applying the gentlest of touches to the back of the 36 car to take the lead and hold it to the flag for his first red top win despite having Speak and Newson breathing down his neck.

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Little Ted and a win from red

The Final, for the Allan Barker Memorial Trophy, fielded 34 cars, led away by Gray and Allen (301). Both white tops were swamped by the yellows before the green flag in a frankly shambolic start, putting paid to Gray’s hopes of a heat and final double and it was Craig Utley (46) who hit the front ahead of Webster. An early caution to remove the 337 car from turn four saw the field bunch up but Utley again held point at the restart, the distinctive dayglow green car going the best I have seen it, but another caution, this time for Sworder and Gray who had hooked up on the home straight, saw his lead wiped out.

Wainman (515) was already up to third by the stoppage and wasted no time getting to the front at the restart, taking the lead at the halfway stage. Webster and Utley tangled shortly after, handing second spot to Will Hunter (220). Attention focused on the battle for the lower places between 4 and 464 and 318, 16 and 445 but the British Champion was several car lengths clear at the flag, recording his second Northampton final win on the trot. Frankie JJ recorded a good ninth place after resolving an issue with Sworder on the last corner!

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Saturday’s top 3, with trophies presented by a young Dutch visitor

Thirty-two for the Grand National saw Gray record his second win of the afternoon in a high speed race, the white top keeping pace with FWJ taking the lap handicap. Ed Neachell (321) finished second ahead of Webster with Sworder fourth.

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No first lap problems for Gray in the Grand National

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley

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