Northampton – August 13th 2011 Meeting Report

Northampton’s World Final warm up could easily be described as ‘The Story of The Blues’ to pinch race commentator Dave Goddard’s phrase, to sum up the nights proceedings, with A grade drivers taking wins in the feature final and GN event – but not just any A grade drivers, it was Team Cowley who carried off the spoils of victory, Chris (37) winning a frantic final and then father Rob (73) taking the last race of the night.

BriSCA F1 stock cars 'The Story of the Blues' . Photo Colin Casserley

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Tom Harris 84 sends sparks flying in practice. Photo Colin Casserley

26 BriSCA F1 stock cars were in the pits ready to do battle including Roger Green (168) making his race debut in the Murray Harrison (97) tar car – Roger covering his exploits for an edition of EVO magazine which should make for interesting reading. Also in the white grade were 1300 stockcar driver Terry Pearce (234) driving the Carl Pickering (141) machine and local driver Martyn Bamford (43) making his first appearance of the season. Other notable appearances being made by Ricky Wilson (502) in a rare outing on tar and an even rarer outing at Northampton and Craig Finnikin (55) who was out again in the new for 2011 tarmac tilter.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Ricky Wilson 502. Photo Colin Casserley

Occasional BriSCA F1 stock car driver Terry Pearce 234. Photo Colin Casserley

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Craig Finnkin 55 back in his tilter car. Photo Colin Casserley

Bamford (43) was the only non starter for the first heat – so 25 went flying out of the traps with Pearce (234) and Rob Tunnah (505) on the front with the 234 car surging into an early lead at the drop of the flag, before Nigel Harrhy (45) went through into lap two. Tunnah was helped into the fence on turn 3 by Chris Cowley (37) before being clobbered by Wilson (502). Dylan Williams-Maynard (51), Chris Cooke (460) and Will Yarrow (22) all hooked up and clobbered the fence on the exit to turn four which resulted in a stoppage to remove the stricken cars from the racing line. Harrhy leading the restart from Pearce and Mark Allen (161) with Cowley (73) and Mick Sworder (150) well advanced. At half distance Harrhy was looking strong with Pearce and Allen trailing in his wake – European champion Sworder in no mood to hang around and made his move into the top three places as the laps ticked down.

BriSCA F1 star graders had a good battle. Photo Colin Casserley

A good battle developed between Dan Johnson (4), Tom Harris (84), Andrew Smith (1) and Craig Finnikin (55) down the order as Sworder moved up to second spot and challenged Harrhy for the lead successfully with two laps remaining, whilst Green (168) had a look at the fence on turn one and repeated the same maneuver a lap later.

BriSCA F1 European Champion Mick Sworder 150 overtakes Nigel Harrhy 45. Photo Colin Casserley

Sworder took the flag and the lap of honour from a delighted Harrhy in second spot and Johnson in third – but Sworder failed his post race obligations regarding the weigh in so was stripped of the win and removed from the results meaning a maiden race win going to popular white grade driver Nigel Harrhy in the 45 car.

BriSCA F1 heat winner Mick Sworder 150 smokes them but is soon stripped of the win. Photo Colin Casserley

21 cars for heat two with race one winner Harrhy (45) on pole looking to to have a taste for victory again and it was he who took an immediate lead as the race got under way from Allen, Pearce and Cooke. Tunnah (505) was guided into the fence on turn two by Rob Cowley (73) and both cars hooked up and became stranded against the fence on the back straight bringing out a caution to clear the track. The order on resumption was 45-161-234-37 with Johnson (4) the first star man to show. Mark Allen (161) soon relieved Harrhy of top spot, with Pearce (234) also following him through for second place. Another bout of yellows were needed soon after as Williams-Maynard (51) connected heavily with the fence on turns one and two and required assistance. Dylan doing well to remove the car to the safety of the infield before he could be collected by the racing pack, the race being brought under caution as the Stockport based former ministox racer was in need of assistance such was the heavy impact. Allen led away the restart from Cowley (37) and Johnson (4) as Harris (84) and Sworder (150) eagerly swapped bumperwork bend after bend.

BriSCA F1s Mick Sworder 150 and Tom Harris 84 swapped bumperwork. Photo Colin Casserley

Johnson was up into second as the lap boards came into view and snatched the lead before the third stoppage of an action packed race came after Green (168) had been T-Boned by Colin Nairn (280) on the far side.

BriSCA F1 stockcar driver Colin Nairn 280 t-bones Roger Green 168. Photo Colin Casserley

The restart over the remaining 3 laps saw Johnson get away as Cowley got into Allen on turn three which let the 84 car pass both of them – Cowley having another go at Allen on turn three a lap later, this time successfully. Smith also passed Cowley in the melee, but the 37 machine smacked the World Champion wide on the final bend to reclaim third place in a frantic finish.

The Grand Final gridded 21 cars and saw Martyn Bamford (43) make his first appearance of the night taking his place on the front of the grid with Terry Pearce (234) and it was the 234 car who lead the field away as Nairn (280) and Craig Utley (484) went fencewards on turn two and Finnikin (55) spun Harris (84) on the same turn.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Tom Harris 84 turned round by Craig Finnikin 55. Photo Colin Casserley

Will Yarrow (22) made a strong start from blue grade and soon was leading the pack from Chris Cowley (37), but this lead was shortlived as Cowley attacked the 22 machine on turn one to lead before half distance, with fellow blues Micky Randell (172) and Utley (484) also in the top four. Further back, Smith (1) got stuck into Sworder (150) as Yarrow spun Bamford away to the infield from the home straight.

BriSCA F1 stock car drivers Andy Smith 1 and Mick Sworder 150 battle it out. Photo Colin Casserley

BriSCA F1 stock car drivers Andy Smith 1 and Mick Sworder 150 battle it out. Photo Colin Casserley

The World Champion and European Champion were engaging in an enthralling battle down the order as Cowley stretched his advantage over Yarrow to almost the length of a straight. Smith got free of Sworder who was now embroiled in a battle with Matt Newson (16), Johnson (4) and Harris (84) – bumpers being liberally handed out by everyone on every bend. Smith had caught Randell and Utley and gave them some bumper to try and work his way through.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Mickey Randell 172 on the receiving end from Andy Smith 1. Photo Colin Casserley

Cowley taking a commanding win from Yarrow and Utley who survived the attentions of Andy Smith to place third – Smith having to be content with fourth. A big shunt on the final bend saw Newson, Sworder and Johnson all connect with each other and the fence – with the #4 machine getting airbourne and looking for a moment as though it was going over. This heavy contact was all for 8th place in a cracking end to a cracking race.

The Grand National Championship qualifier saw 17 cars fit for battle – a high attrition rate reducing car numbers such was the fierce style of racing on show. Final winner Cowley (37) taking the handicap so it was Pearce and Cooke who led them away before they both tangled and hit the back straight fence resulting in the 234 car becoming stranded so the yellows were called for whilst the obstruction was cleared. Cooke headed the restart before a fast moving Yarrow went sailing by to take up the running closely pursued by Utley and Cowley (73).

BriSCA F1 stock car drivers Will Yarrow 22 and Craig Utley 484. Photo Colin Casserley

Rob was looking hungry for the win after seeing son Chris take the final and moved through into the lead and ultimately pulled clear of the chasing pack. Finnikin (55) got into a good battle with Chris Cowley (37) down the order with bumpers wading in on each and every bend between the two of them – young Master Cowley prevailing taking 8th spot and also double points and prize money, Finnikin having to be content with 9th place. Cowley Senior went on to record a fine race win – Yarrow and Smith following him over the line for the podium places.

BriSCA F1 Grand National winner Rob Cowley 73 in action. Photo Colin Casserley

Next meeting at NIR is the big one, the 2011 BriSCA F1 World Championship Final and all eyes will be sharply focussed on just who can step up and take the title and the Gold Roof.

Andre Zang

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