Northampton 19th July – meeting report and photo gallery

Heat 1 saw only the blues, reds and superstars take to the track for the ‘Trust Fund Race’. Dave Willis (337) claimed the early lead. It wasn’t long before the action truly started, with several cars, including Nigel Harrhy (45), Dan Johnson (4) and Paul Harrison (2), piling into the wall between Turns 1 and 2. Robert Broome (41) had taken the second position, ahead of John Dowson (94) and Mick Sworder (150), as the caution flags were waved for British Champion, Paul Harrison, who was still stuck against the wall.

Willis led them away for the restart and Sworder wasted no time in passing the 94 car. Lee Fairhurst (217) was also able to sneak up the inside of Dowson, leaving the County Durham driver under pressure from Danny Wainman (212). The 150 machine was still on a charge, firing Broome out wide for second place. Next time around, Tom Harris (1) punted the 515 car of Frankie Wainman Junior into Broome, who was facing the wrong way in the wall on Turn 4. Wainman was unable to recover, and another hard hit from Harris put Josh Smith’s (191) car into Wainman with such force he ended up climbing on top of the stationary 515 car, bringing out the red flags.

Dave Willis once again led the field around for the restart, with Sworder in second and Fairhurst third. The 150 machine proved faster in the bends, and it wasn’t long before Sworder caught and passed the 337 car. Fairhurst was quick to follow, claiming second spot just as Mat Newson retired from the race.

Fairhurst tapped Sworder aside to take lead but this was short lived. Sworder claimed the lead once again, just as Speak fired Mickey Randell (172) into the wall to take fourth place. As the lap boards came out, the top three appeared to be pulling away from the rest of the pack. Harris had now climbed into fourth, but Speak wasn’t going to give up the position without a fight. As Sworder took the flag, Ryan Harrison was spun on the start straight, with Paul Hines stuck behind him.

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It was Mick Sworder (150) who claimed the victory in the Trust Fund race.

Gerrit Zwerver (H19) and Paul Redfern (252) led the lower-graded cars around for the start of Heat 2. Michael Steward (512) flew past Redfern to take second spot but the man who started alongside him, Steve Anderson (120), didn’t get off to a good start, dropping towards the back of the field. It wasn’t long before Steward challenged Zwerver for the lead, just as Ian Noden (306) got into trouble. H19 tried to retake lead but couldn’t quite catch the 512 machine. The yellow flags were brought out to rescue Noden.

Steward once again took the lead at the restart. Shaun Blakemore (221) tried to make a move on H19 for second but ended up losing out to Joep Hendriks (H365). Hendriks’ luck didn’t last long either, and he ended up in the wall on Turn 3.

At half distance, the 512 car was already catching the shale specialists at the back of the field. Zwerver was also negotiating lap traffic, clipping the front of Anderson’s car as he tried to pass. With 5 to go, it was still Steward who was in control of the race, passing the slower car of Tony Smith (91) with ease. H19 once again came under pressure from Blakemore and was unable to close on 512. As the laps wound down, 221 took up second, but he was caught out in a last lap incident and handed the second spot to Rob Cowley (73).

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Heat 2 winner Michael Steward (512)

Just 16 cars lined up for the Consolation, including 515, 4, 197 and 259. 252 and 120 led them away, with Redfern taking the initial lead. Alex Wass (283) quickly took second from Anderson but Joe Booth (446) and Paul Hines (259) were already catching the leaders.

The 252 car looked to be experiencing problems and was forced to pull out of the race, allowing 283 to inherit the lead, with Hines now second. Lower down the field, Ed Neachell (321) and Steve Anderson tangled, as Paul Hines took the lead away from Wass. Luke Davidson (464) took full advantage of Hines’ move, squeezing through into second.

Davidson stayed right on Hines’ bumper and 283 lost another place to Newson, soon coming under fire from 4 and 197. The 464 car went up the inside of 259, and 16 followed. As the lap boards came out, Ryan Harrison (197) took up third but no one could catch 464.

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FWJ racing without his wing during the Consolation, after damage in Heat 1.

A sudden rain shower just before the Final made several drivers return to the pits to change tyres. 512 went straight into the lead ahead of H19 and Consolation winner Davidson pulled off on the first lap. Dave Willis slid sideways and was clipped by Scott Davids (462) and Chris Cowley (37). 221 and Sean Willis (287) got stuck in the wall, bringing out the waved yellows.

Steward led them away for the restart, from Dutchmen Daniel van Spijker (H231) and Gerrit Zwerver. H231 immediately put the bumper in for the lead and Danny Wainman passed several cars to take third. Tom Harris was quickly up to fifth, putting the bumper in on the fourth place blue top for position. Paul Poulter and Carl Pickering ended up in the wall on Turn 4 just as Wainman was passed by Harris. The World Champion then set his sights on 512.

Harris passed early leader Steward and roared off after H231, fighting the lap traffic. Van Spijker seemed to revel in the greasy conditions, passing back-marking red tops with ease until, in the final laps, Harris went up the inside of the Flying Dutchman to take the victory and the Allan Barker trophy.

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Final top 3: Tom Harris, Daniel van Spijker and Michael Steward

Harris took up his place at the front of the field for the Grand National. Once again, it was Michael Steward who took the early lead, while Nigel Harrhy ended up in the wall on Turns 3 and 4. Pickering was out in front of the yellows in third place, trying to catch the leading white graders. It didn’t take long for Harris to catch up with the pack. Rob Cowley had problems, hitting the wall on the entrance to the start straight and safely making it to the middle. 94 and 462 hit the wall on the back straight near pit gate, bringing out the yellow flags.

At the restart, H231 passed H19 to take second but misjudged the move, going wide and allowing Griffin, Neachell and Wainman up the inside. Steward was still clinging on to the lead as the red flags were waved for the World Champion, Tom Harris, who had been launched into the fence and rolled over on the track shop bend.

Once Harris’ car had been cleared from the track and the driver had made his way up to the commentary box, the race was underway again. The leaders at the restart were 512, 321 and 318. Mat Newson wasted no time, flying past Rob Speak to take third, just as Neachell took up the place at the front of the field. Newson also slid past Steward, challenging the 321 car for the top spot.

Michael Steward continued to lose places, this time to 318, 515 and 212. The 16 car moved through, into the lead, but his time at the front was short-lived. 318 into the lead as 212 claimed third and then second. It was Rob Speak who took the Grand National victory, and with it the Richard Ahern trophy. Dan Johnson was removed from the results due to deliberate fencing of Tom Harris.

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ROLLED GOLD – this sort of thing really shouldn’t happen to a world champion.

Words: Rhosanna Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley

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