Northampton – April 16th 2011 Meeting Report

The future F1 WF venue for 2011 drew a plethora of cars to the third tarmac meeting of the season. Daniel Howell (317) was out in one of the popular Mat Newson (16) hire cars and there was an ontrack return for veteran singing Cornishman Mike James (417) and also another opportunity to cast an eye over Craig Finnikin’s (55) impressive feat of engineering. Shale specialist Geoff Nickolls (215) took a turn on the hard stuff in possible preparation for the world final weekend and after some hectic racing in a fast and furious final, Mat Newson stormed to the victory.

Young guns Tom Harris 84 and Dan Johnson 4 provided some great entertainment. Photo Colin Casserley

Garry Townsend (223) led the field away for the first heat while newcomer Daniel Howell (317) started at the rear and sensibly kept out of the way, and more importantly out of trouble. Craig Utley (484) waded into his fellow yellow graders with his bumper but it was not long after that he tangled with a sideways Dave Plumbley (393) and went a lap down. Dave Riley (422) inherited the lead with current European Champion Luke Davidson (464) making quick progress, following the swift Mat Newson through the field. Paul Hines came to an unfortunate end on the backstraight, tangling hard with Mike Kingston jnr (488) wrecking his wheel rim and nerf and dumping oil on track from a shattered back axle.

Damage for Paul Hines 259. Photo Colin Casserley

Tom Harris (84), Dan Johnson (4) and Paul Harrison (2) tustled for position with Harrison initially coming out on top while up the other end, lap down Utley put in a big hit to send Townsend armco bound with Townsend scuttling round the fence but getting straight back into the race. Upfront Ian Venables (60) was on a surge in search of valuable points to earn himself a red roof but had the quick blue grader James Neachell on his tail, with James going on to take the victory hotly persued by Newson.

James Neachell 322 alongside Dave Riley 422. Photo Colin Casserley

Dave Riley (422) led the second heat away before swapping places with Garry Townsend, while towards the rear ex-European Champion Lee Fairhurst (217) was taking an ultra smooth line round the Brafield bowl while others struggled for purchase. Mike James’ return did not get off to the greatest start, with him spinning to the infield from the backstraight in a big cloud of tyre smoke. Mick Sworder (150) who saw some success at Northampton in his f2, soon introduced his presence with a hefty punt sending several cars towards the armco. Ex-V8 driver Mark Allen (161) connected hard with the fence at the front of the group which included Ivan Pritchard (434) with the yellows being shown for Gareth Wildman (429) who was also involved in the melee.

Ivan Pritchard 434 alongside Mark Allen 161, Ryan Harrison 197 and Gareth Wildman 429. Photo Colin Casserley

Townsend led them away again with Iain Holden (85) hot on his heels while Frankie Wainman jnr (515) showed a welcome return to form, using his bumper to good effect to work his way through the field. Holden had closed down Townsend but Townsend was not in the mood to rollover (yet!) and fought Holden tooth and nail for the lead with the two of them racing round the bends side by side, Townsend putting up a sterling performance. They both came jostling neck and neck out of the last bend with Townsend scaping up the homestraight armco to take the well deserved victory.

Iain Holden 85 and Garry Townsend 223 race for the line. Photo Colin Casserley

The consolation was next up on the agenda with Nigel Harrhy (45) initially taking the lead until fellow newcomer Paul Carter (300) sliced past and set about creating a nice lead. Yellow grader Rob Cowley (73) cut passed Dylan Williams Maynard (51) and Dave Plumbley (393) with Plumbley firing Williams Maynard back into Cowley but the wily veteran held them both off. Ryan Harrison (197) and Chris Cowley (37) had an entertaining tustle for a fair few laps until Chris successfully broke away. Second placed Rob Cowley (73) took up the running at the front but soon had his hands full with Ivan Pritchard (434) who was soon to open a big can of whup ass in the final. As the laps rolled down, Pritchard continued reeling in Rob and purposefully moved him aside with a few laps to go before going on to take the victory. As the consolation drew to a close Paul Hines’ blue bus drew out of the carpark on his way home to mend his stricken F1 machine in time for the following day’s WCQR at Buxton.

A return trackside for Mike James 417. Photo Colin Casserley

The final saw a full field of cars take to the track with Paul Carter leading them away with a heady with success Garry Townsend, giving him a quick lick to capture the lead for himself. Dave Riley (422) was sent into a spin by Ed Neachell (321) as brother James forcefully waded into the Yellow graders. Further back all Hell broke loose amongst the red grades who immediately set about fighting for position. After a bit of jostling, Ivan Pritchard thumped Mickey Randell (172) into Mick Sworder (150) with fellow former f2 driver Mike James (417) bearing some of the brunt as Sworder brushed up against the fence, appeared to cut out and coasted down the backstraight to turn three where he remained until the yellows were shown for a stranded Danny Wainman (212).

Ian Venables (60) led them off while towards the rear a real battle royal was taking place with Frankie Wainman jnr (515), Paul Harrison (2) and the young guard of Tom Harris (84) and Dan Johnson (4) vigorously striving to take the superior track position. Tom Harris pulled ahead and was not letting Craig Utley (484) slow his pace, diving over the inside kerb to deliver an unsuccessful slap before renewing his efforts down the other end to shift Utley off line. However, the hold up had allowed FWJ back within striking distance of Tom’s rear bumper. It was now Garry Townsend’s turn to assault Utley and he waded in making Utley half spin, coming out of turn two sideways. Townsend kept his foot in and the power firmly on, riding up over the bonnet of the 484 machine and flopping to the floor upside down with the yellow flags being shown straight away.

An upside down Garry Townsend 223. Photo Colin Casserley

At the restart, the frantic pace continued under the full moon with FWJ bumpering James Neachell and Tom Harris getting straight back in on the action and lamping Wainman jnr. Harrison, Harris, Johnson and Wainman jnr renewed their frenetic fight amongst themselves until Wainman and Johnson got hooked up down the homestraight and the vital seconds it took to free themselves cost them dearly as Harris and Harrison gratefully broke away. Mat Newson (16) had long since bypassed Venables to take the lead with Venables being relegated further down the pecking order by the quickest man of the race, Ivan Pritchard. Newson smoked his tyres in celebration as he took the chequered flag victory.

Final winner Mat Newson 16 passing Ian Venables 60. Photo Colin Casserley

After the frantic pace of the final came the last race of the night, the Grand National. Mat Newson took up his position at the front of the lower graders but suffered a flat tyre and was forced to retire before the end of the race, missing out on his valuable five points for finishing. Ex-outlaw f2 driver Paul Carter led them away with a palatable air of tension being present around the venue as to whether the race would continue where the last left off. The field were jostling amongst themselves when Ivan Pritchard putting in a monster hit on James Neachell sending him out into Mick Sworder who in turn then clattered the unfortunate Mickey Randell (172) who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and suffered the most damage of the incident, neccessitating the yellow flags and a two tractor tow off to the infield.

Mickey Randell's 172 damaged machine. Photo Colin Casserley

Paul Carter retook the green, followed closely by Craig Utley and Gareth Wildman who set about each other allowing the red graders to move ever closer. As the laps rolled down, a fast paced Tom Harris took over the lead but Paul Carter in his debut year held on to take second place ahead of Frankie Wainman jnr.

All in all, an intensely action packed meeting at the 2011 F1 stockcar World final venue, building up the anticipation for next month’s WCQR Northampton meeting.

Ailsa Haigh

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