Northampton, 29th August 2015 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

The first Shootout round of 2015 assumed a two-thirds format. Only 11 Shootout drivers in the pits, as Tom Harris (84) was trying his luck in the ‘Sprint Car Smackdown’ at Kokomo Speedway, Indiana.

Heat 1 was led by Richard Davies (325) and Adam Bamford (143), and included 8 Shootout drivers. Bamford led into the first bend but was soon passed by fellow white-top George Elwell (501). Craig Finnikin (55) was the first of the Shootout drivers to find themselves in the wall, courtesy of Rob Speak (318).

Back at the front, Elwell still led, from Rob Cowley (73) and Daniel van Spijker (231). Micky Randell (172) drifted sideways in turn 3 and was collected by Dan Johnson (4). At the other end of the track, Colin Goodswen (372) was forced round by Speak, and collected by Steve Whittle (183) and Frankie Wainman Junior (515).

Cowley had caught up with Elwell, forcing him wide in the second turn. 73 hit the front as 515 battled to get back on the lead lap. Rob Speak was the highest of the superstars, but ahead of him Paul Ford (388) and Nigel Green (445) were flying.

Just after half distance, Green made his way up the inside of Cowley to take the top spot. The 73 car held on to second for another lap before surrendering the position to Ford. Green held the lead for the remaining laps, with Ford finishing second ahead of Speak.

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Micky Randell blocking Johnson’s progress in Heat 1.

Twenty-three cars for Heat 2, including New Zealander Bryce Steiner (NZ118), in the FWJ-built ‘Red Bull’ car. Murray Jones (196) was away and gone at the drop of the green, while Luke Davidson (464) led the Shootout charge.

Ford was soon up in the top positions and, further down, Fairhurst was also going well. Not much changed at the front during the second half of the race and Jones took the win, ahead of 24 and 388.

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New Zealander Bryce Steiner getting in some practice in the UK before the big weekend.

Elwell led away Heat 3, with Adkins and Jones falling into second and third respectively. Problems for Steiner as he was nudged round by the front bumper of the 150 car and ended up facing the wrong way in turn 4. Stuart Smith Junior got the best start out of the Shootout contenders, while Newson spun and was collected by Mick Sworder in turn 2.

Murray Jones took up the running, with van Spijker in second. The 390 car was already up to fourth, with Wainman Junior the second highest superstar in seventh. Randell sent Neachell wide in turns 3 and 4, moving Wainman up another place.

Smith gradually reeled in the leaders and took up the front spot just as the 3-lap board came out. Jones and van Spijker held on to take top three finishes, with Wainman fourth.

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Shootout Round 1 proved a ‘baptism of fire’ for NZ118

Around 30 cars for the Final, led away by Adkins and Jones, with the 24 car inching ahead on lap 1. The highest Shootout hopefuls in the early stages were Wainman (515) and Smith. Johnson used his bumper to push Wainman past Smith, only to get punted into the turn 3 wall by British Champion, Lee Fairhurst.

The caution was called for Mat Newson, who had spun off the front bumper of Sworder, and become stuck on turn 2. Murray Jones was at the front on the restart, while Adkins retired from the race. Ford was soon up to second, ahead of Elwell, with Green and Fairhurst chasing. Former F2 star Green was up to third by half distance.

Further back, Smith put the bumper in on Finnikin, who flew headfirst into the turn 3 wall, straight across the front of Sworder, who was lucky not to be caught up. The World Champ bounced off the wall and carried on for another lap, before pulling off as the lap boards came out.

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Stuart Smith Junior putting the bumper in on the current World Champ.

Ford scraped the home straight wall during his bid to take the top spot, making it past Jones on the exit of turn 2. His lead was short-lived, as Green roared past, with 3 to run.
Green and Ford traded positions for another lap before Lee Fairhurst went up the inside of both of them. Another lead change, as Green forced 217 and 388 wide. Murray Jones followed suit, retaking second, dropping Fairhurst to fourth.

The bumper came in on the top three from Lee Fairhurst as they entered the last bend, pushing them all wide. 196 caught the bumper of 445, sending him for a spin. The ‘King of Northampton’, Lee Fairhurst, swept through to take the victory, with FWJ sneaking through for second and Ford recovering to third.

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After an amazing last lap, Fairhurst came through to take victory, ahead of Wainman and Ford.

The last race of the night saw Paul Ford finally take the chequered flag he’d been chasing all night. Mat Newson was missing from the grid. Elwell hit the front again in the initial laps, with Cowley in second and Ford soon up to third. Mark Gray (224) was an early spinner.

A good scrap further down the field between Wainman, Sworder and Johnson was brought to a hault when Green hit the wall hard after catching the back of Danny Wainman’s car, bringing out the yellows.
Ford took up the running at the restart, while 148 came to a stop on the third bend. Elwell came under pressure from Stuart Smith Junior. The 515 car muscled its way into fourth, leaving Neachell to defend from the other Wainman brother.

Ford held off the Shootout drivers to take the win, crossing the line ahead of 390 and 515, with Lee Fairhurst finishing 8th from the lap handicap.

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After being on the pace all night, Ford’s GN win was very well deserved.

Words: Rhosanna Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley and Steve Botham

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