Northampton – April 13th 2013 Meeting Report

The newly named Pr1mo Energy International Raceway opened its doors to commence the 58th season of big league BriSCA F1 stock car action held at the popular Midlands venue on a chilly evening that was also affected by April showers.

Peter Hobbs. Photo Colin Casserley

Peter Hobbs. Photo Colin Casserley

Pre meeting, many drivers were taking advantage of practice to ascertain the correct set up regarding tyre choice as the rain fell incessantly. One new driver in the pits, 108 Peter Hobbs, making his F1 debut in a car with Harrison Supplies connections – and also featuring extensive sponsorship from Pr1mo Energy Drinks, was to have a very successful opening drive after making the switch from BriSCA F2 stock cars. Also in attendance making their first appearances in F1 at Brafield were former grasstrackers Phil Cooper 154 and Karl Mosley 303 along with fellow C grade driver Jamie Jackson 377, son of 1980s F1 racer Warren ex 104.

Phil Cooper and Peter Hobbs. Photo Steve Botham

Phil Cooper and Peter Hobbs. Photo Steve Botham

24 cars gridded for the first heat in a persistant rain shower that was to provide testing conditions for drivers not only in terms of traction, but also visibility. Cooper 154 got the drop as the green flag flew with Mosley and Hobbs arguing over second spot before the Rushden based man held sway. Carl Pickering 141 found the conditions to his liking and came through the midfield to hit second spot before the halfway stage.

blue graders. Photo Steve Botham

blue graders. Photo Steve Botham

Further back, Mickey Randell 172 and Robert Speak 318 exchanged bumpers, as Joshua Smith 191 made significant headway from the blue grade. Chasing down Pickering and Cooper, the Leicestershire based man grabbed the lead with 4 laps to run and continued his rich vein of form after taking the feature final at Coventry the previous week. Paul Hines 259 made great progress towards the end of the race to snatch second spot, with Cooper, Hobbs and Pickering being shuffled down to 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively.

Steve Reedman. Photo Steve Botham

Steve Reedman. Photo Steve Botham

Heat two saw a 25 car field include late arrivals 361 Steve Reedman and 462 Scott Davids. Proceedings were quickly halted with a red flag after the 318 car of Robert Speak became stranded against the fence on the far side. On the complete restart, it was Cooper and Hobbs again setting the pace from the front, before a hard charging Pickering moved through to take up the running on lap 4. As seen in the first race, Smith 191 was rapidly chasing down the lead men from his A grade start, but simply ran out of laps to make an impression on the 141 car, with Pickering taking a relatively straight-forward race win from Smith, Hobbs and Cooper.

Rob Speak and Mark Allen. Photo Steve Botham

Rob Speak and Mark Allen. Photo Steve Botham

Speak 318 had another exchange of bumpers with Randell 172 during this race, but ended the race stuck on the outside of turn one after clipping the fence along the home straight. It was enough to put the former World Champion out of the rest of the meeting unfortunately.

Carl Pickering. Photo Colin Casserley

Carl Pickering. Photo Colin Casserley

The meeting final was the race of the night. The 22 car field setting an absolutely blistering pace on the drying tarmac surface. This time Hobbs got the better of his fellow white graders and the Pr1mo sponsored car, with the companies hierarchy over from Italy watching its every move, flew into an early lead as the pack roared in pursuit. From the rear of the grid, 150 Mick Sworder, who had endured a fairly quiet evening up until now, was on a charge and placed in the top three before half distance.

Paul Hines and Mat Newson. Photo Colin Casserley

Paul Hines and Mat Newson. Photo Colin Casserley

Fellow star men Hines 259 and Junior Wanman 515 were finding the conditions much more to their liking and began to move towards the front of the field as the Union flag was displayed. A battle royal was about to commence as the big names got to race leader Hobbs, who was in no mood to yield his position. Bumpers went in, Hobbs quickly found himself relegated to third as Sworder and Hines began their own private tussle for the lead.

Paul Hines tailed by Frankie Wainman Jnr. Photo Steve Botham

Paul Hines tailed by Frankie Wainman Jnr. Photo Steve Botham

Wainman quickly joined in the battle and waded in with the bumper. Something had to give. Wainman got into the lead, and was then fired into the wall, Hines was also shown the plate by the 150 car. As all this was unfolding, Ed Neachell 321 happened on the scene and bundled both Wainman and Hines aside to take up the running as the lap boards came out – this was after Sworder had been unceremoniously spun towards the infield by a pumped up Paul Hines.

Mick Sworder and Paul Hines. Photo Colin Casserley

Mick Sworder and Paul Hines. Photo Colin Casserley

Neachell held on in the chaos to take a famous victory from Wainman and Hines, both of whom will have felt they had done enough to warrant victory, no doubt consoled by the parts they both played in a fantastic stock car race.

Final winner Ed Neachell. Photo Colin Casserley

Final winner Ed Neachell. Photo Colin Casserley

The final race of the night, the traditional Grand National Championship qualifier enticed another 22 cars and saw Carl Pickering 141 take his second race win of the night. Final Winner Ed Neachell 321 accepting the challenge of the lap handicap, wasn’t able to place in the top ten for double points however. Paul Harrison 2 enjoyed his best result of the meeting by coming home in second spot from Phil Cooper who had a very impressive first outing at Northampton, Ryan Harrison, and Peter Hobbs who also impressed immensely throughout the night. One driver who will remember this race is Andrew Pettit 458 in the Mat Newson 16 hire car performed a full 360 degree spin after being clobbered by Sworder into turn three, but impressively managed to keep the car facing the right way and running to the chequered flag.

So the first of three Midlands tarmac meetings completed, the action moves to Birmingham Wheels and Hednesford Hills Raceway next weekend.

Andre Zang

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