Northampton 20th July – meeting report and photo gallery

The sun was shining for the second day at Northampton and a large crowd gathered, eager to see who would be victorious in the European Championship and become the tenth champion to wear the red and yellow chequered roof.

Gerrit Zwerver (H19) and Michael Steward (512) led the field around for the start of the European Championship race and as the green flag flew, Mick Sworder (150), Dan Johnson (4) and Paul Hines (259) immediately went flying into the fence. Steward took the early lead, while Zwerver spun and became stuck sideways on Turn 4. Scott Davids (462) and Ed Neachell (321) were early casualties, while problems for Daniel van Spijker (H231) left him riding around the wall.

Further down the field, Tom Harris (1) was caught in a battle with Lee Fairhurst (217) and Rob Speak (318). Farihurst came out on top but Harris wasn’t going to let him get away. The 217 car ended up in the wall on Turn 2 a couple of laps later, courtesy of the Gold Top. Back at the front, Shaun Blakemore (221) had gone around the outside of Steward to claim the lead, leaving 512 to battle with 446. Booth put the bumper in on Turn 1, pushing 512 wide and taking second. 515 and 212 make it around 512 and 446, as Dan Johnson pulled onto the middle.

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Michael Steward (512) and Shaun Blakemore (221) were both early leaders in the European Championship race.

At half distance, Blakemore was still holding onto the top spot, ahead of 515 and 212. As the race progressed, the top three broke away from the rest of the pack, leaving Harris, Booth and Speak to battle amongst themselves. Following a brilliant effort in the first half of the championship race, early leader 512 retired to the infield.

Blakemore caught up with the back of the field, allowing 515 a chance to catch up to the leader. The bumper came in from Wainman (515), firing 221 into the track shop bend wall and also allowing the other Wainman brother up the inside and into second. Blakemore recovered to third as the lap boards came out. Newson fired Harris into the Pit Bend wall and the Gold Top again finished on his roof – same bend, different day and a similar result – another aerofoil ruined and the #1 car severely damaged.

The Championship race was red-flagged to remove the broken Harris machine and a nerve-wracking delay followed as repairs were made to the safety fence. Just 17 cars made the single file restart, led away by Junior Wainman, with brother Danny close behind. The 212 car edged in front as 172 and 220 charged the fence but Danny drifted wide coming off the pit bend and 515 was back in the lead, keeping enough space between himself and the orange 212 machine to claim his third European Championship title. Rob Speak was controversially disqualified from third place for jumping the restart, leaving Mat Newson to claim the last podium step. FWJ may not have been favourite to take the title, but he did everything right on the day to become a convincing and popular winner.

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Frankie Wainman Junior taking his 3rd European Championship title, from Danny Wainman and Mat Newson.

Heat 1 got off to a messy start, with the yellows getting up to speed before the white graders. H19 hit the wall hard and came to a stop on the start straight while Paul Redfern (252) took the early lead. He was soon passed by Antony Davis (327), before the caution flags were waved to allow the tractors to clear Zwerver.

Redfern chose to start at the back for the restart, meaning the pack was led away by Davis, from Tim Farrell (467) and Joe Booth. As the green flag waved, Michael Scriven (12) went up the inside of all top three cars, with John Dowson (94) close behind.

Dan Johnson made a move on the 94 car to take third, while Ryan Harrison (197) gained places further down. Johnson passed Booth for second, leaving the 446 car to deal with Flying Ryan. Early leader, Paul Redfern, retired to the infield.  Scriven was still in control of the race. Although Johnson appeared to be closing in the corners, the 4 would soon be under pressure from 197.

Harrison had a look up the inside, just snatching the place, as Craig Finnikin (55) moved into fourth. Dan Johnson tried to come back but couldn’t catch the 197. Neither could catch the 12 car, and Michael Scriven took the win.

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446, 467 and 94 battling for position in Heat 1.

Heat 2 did not hold as much promise for Danny Wainman, as the younger Silsden driver was forced to pull off prior to the start. As the only white top on the grid, it was Michael Steward who took the lead at the drop of the green, with Bobby Griffin in second.  It wasn’t long before the yellow flags were called for, as Alex Wass’ car had lost its bonnet on the start straight.

283 retired to the infield before the restart, moving Holcroft into third behind 512 and 166. Sworder had a flat inside tyre but was determined to keep going.  512 and 166 got away, leaving a bigger gap back to Holcroft. Further down, 515 was pushed wide by 318, while 16 went up the inside of both of them to take the place.

Paul Poulter (174) was now on the bumper of the 496 car, pushing him wide and taking third. Sworder, still running with a flat, was the next to challenge Holcroft, as Wainman (515) pulled out of the race.  Griffin slid wide, allowing 174 and then 150 up the inside.  On the last lap, 16 slipped up the inside of Sworder for third, but no one could catch the 512 car – another win for Steward.

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Paul Poulter was running well in Heat 2, eventually taking 4th.

The Consolation was led away by lone white grader Gerrit Zwerver. Rob Cowley (73) was the biggest mover early on, taking third and second in quick succession before battling for the lead. Behind the leaders, 217 tried to make a move on Mike Kingston Junior (488) but Danny Wainman was able to sneak through up the inside of both.

It wasn’t long before Wainman (212) had claimed third from H19 and then passed Davis for second. As the lap boards came out, 212 took the lead from the 73 car, leaving Cowley to deal with a charging Lee Fairhurst. 515 moved into fourth but it was Wainman the Younger who took the flag with Cowley second – just – from Fairhurst.

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Both of the Wainman brothers lined up for the Consolation, but it was Danny (212) who took the win.

The sun was still shining as the cars took to the track for the Internations Cup Final, racing for the Bev Greenhalf Memorial Trophy. Once again it was 512 and H19 who led the cars away but it was Zwerver who took the early lead, surviving a tap from 512.

Mickey Randell and Will Hunter (220) hit the wall and 512 was still trying to get past the flying Dutchman, as H231 moved into third behind him. Hunter managed to nurse his car to the infield but Randell remained stuck in the wall on Turn 4.

Meanwhile, Steward had taken up the place at the front of the field, with van Spijker in second and Zwerver falling to third. Finnikin punted Paul Harrison into Frankie Wainman Junior, but ended up spinning the 212 car instead, which eventually brought out the yellow flags.

FWJ pulled off with a flat tyre while Danny Wainman attempted to straighten his back bumper on the wall. Steward and the two Dutchmen lined up first for the restart, with Lee Fairhurst already well placed as the highest red top.

Griffin immediately passed H19 for third and Farrell ended up in the wall on Turn 4, just as the race reached half distance. The 217 machine had climbed to fourth. Finnikin, once again, put the bumper in on a pack of cars, sending John Dowson spinning into the wall.

The laps were winding down but the action was far from over. Ryan Harrison flew over Paul Harrison’s back outside tyre while coming down the back straight, crashed into the fence head on and ended up on his side in Turn 3, bringing out the red flags and making it the third time a current champion had rolled over during the weekend.

At the restart, Fairhurst wasted no time, putting the bumper in on H231 for second and heading straight for the leader. Meanwhile, Rob Speak made a similar move to take fourth. As the lap boards came out, 512 was still hanging on to the lead but it wasn’t long before the bumper came in from Fairhurst on Turn 1, forcing Steward out wide.  On the final lap, Speak fired the 512 car out so wide that Newson , van Spijker and Hines were also able to make the pass on the former leader. Speak had left it too late to catch 217 and it was Lee Fairhurst who won the Bev Greenhalf Memorial Trophy.

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Lee Fairhurst took the victory in the Final, ahead of Speak and Finnikin.

Lee Fairhust took the lap handicap for the Grand National and 512 took the lead ahead of 166 and 73. Griffin appeared to be gaining on Steward, forcing him wide to take the lead. Steward tried to re-pass the 166 car but lost out to Cowley, clipping the front of the 73 car.

The Wainmans were up to fifth and sixth places, FWJ bumpering Danny wide to gain a spot, then taking fourth as Booth went wide.  With 3 to go, 515 passed Steward for third, who then lost out to 212 and 16 but Griffin had the race in the bag – no show boating this time – to record his first F1 win in his new Daz Kitson-built car.

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F2 regular Bobby Griffin won the Grand National – his first F1 victory.

Words: Rhosanna Jenkins

Photos: Colin Casserley

 

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