Northampton European Championship – July 17th 2011 Meeting Report

Championship Day of the annual European weekend at Northampton International Raceway dawned with mixed weather on Sunday July 17th, an excellent field of F1s in attendance although a few were out of the weekend with damage sustained in the qualifiers on Saturday.

One man who had suffered problems the previous night was 84 Tom Harris whose Saturday meeting had lasted just a few laps, but he and his crew worked overtime to replace his engine and the pre-meeting favourite undertook a few testing laps prior to start time.

the BriSCA F1 stock car European Championship grid. Photo Tonny Wissing

After the F2 and Rebels title races had been held on a damp but drying track, the rain started to return as the European Championship grid was forming. Lone Belgian entry B347 Patrick Kessels shared the front row of the grid with H36 Paul Hermkens, the grid in graded order but with no gaps between the colours. With the shower worsening briefly the 32-car grid was unleashed with Kessels heading off into the lead with 217 Lee Fairhurst landing the first hit on defending champion 464 Luke Davidson. 321 Ed Neachell rode over 37 Chris Cowley with the slow-starting Hermkens also caught up along with Fairhurst for the first stoppage.

BriSCA F1 stock car European Championship chaos. Photo Tonny Wissing

Hermkens rejoined for the restart but was fired in by 515 Junior Wainman who also battled early on with 1 Andrew Smith as H007 Dave Schaap clipped the wall and retired. Harris’s luckless weekend continued as he rode up the home straight plating and crashed into the turn one wall with broken steering leading to the second yellow flag. Kessels was still leading the pack but 150 Mick Sworder was up to second and on the restart it didn’t take long for the former F2 star to dive down the inside of the Belgian and take the lead. 390 Stuart Smith was the next big gun to drop out before the race’s third yellow flag was shown for 197 Ryan Harrison who was in the wall on turn two.

Up front it was still Sworder from the impressive Kessels with 2 Paul Harrison looking their most potent challenger as he moved into third before taking Kessels with two laps to go, but Sworder could not be caught and became only the second driver to win European titles in both F1 and F2 after Rob Speak. Sworder cut loose in celebration with a full lap of the raceway on opposite lock before diverting to the centre for a flurry of donuts and climbing onto his aerofoil to salute his fans.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Mick Sworder 150 smokes his tyres. Photo Tonny Wissing

Harrison crossed the line second and Kessels a popular and surprise third, but sadly both their cars failed post race checks which promoted lead Dutchman H148 Danny Smidt to second and 22 Will Yarrow into third. Many congratulations to Mick Sworder on his first F1 title – surely the first of many for this talented and entertaining driver.

BriSCA European Champion Mick Sworder 150. Photo Tonny Wissing

BriSCA European Champion Mick Sworder 150 with Danny Smidt H148 and Will Yarrow 22. Photo Tonny Wissing

The rest of the programme saw a full meeting for the Internations Cup, heat one seeing 28 cars on track including Sworder who was already sporting the red and yellow chequers after a swift swap of aerofoils with Davidson. 195 Dean Whitwell bumpered 246 Ian Brickley aside to lead the way as Saturday final winner 462 Scott Davids crashed out, Whitwell going on for his second win of the weekend and his fourth of the year at NIR with Sworder taking 51 Dylan Williams-Maynard late on for second, the highlight further back being a last bend sort-out between Brickley, 55 Craig Finnikin and H217 Ron Kroonder for fifth.

22 cars for heat two with 460 Chris Cooke leading the early going as 11 Neil Scriven tangled with 372 Colin Goodswen whose rough weekend was not getting much better. Fairhurst was showing his liking for the NIR track with some rapid progress through the field and he went from third to first in one move past 45 Nigel Harrhy and Cooke, going on to take the win with Junior Wainman and Ryan Harrison taking 191 Josh Smith late on for second and third.

BriSCA World Champion Andy Smith 1 on track at Northampton. Photo Tonny Wissing

41 Robert Broome spun 258 Rob Harrad for the lead in the 27-car Consolation before 484 Craig Utley hooked up with Goodswen and the race was halted to untangle them, Harrad spinning and taking a head-on from H365 Joep Hendriks as the yellows came out. 73 Rob Cowley took up the running on the restart as the fast-moving Stuart Smith dropped out with a puncture, but the man on the move was the repaired Harris and he took Cowley with four laps to go before the yellows flew again for the stranded Kessels. A one-lap restart saw Harris hang on for the win to reward his team’s continual hard work throughout the weekend with Cowley and H247 Gary Castell next.

31 cars for the Internations Cup Final which began with the crash of the weekend. Whitwell locked wheels with 300 Paul Carter down the back straight launching the former at full speed towards the infield, the 195 cars smashing into the marker tyres and into a full rollover sending the marshals scattering and bringing out the yellows. Whitwell was fortunately OK and the race resumed with Rob Cowley up front as Harris sent an off-form 4 Dan Johnson into the home straight wall, before Sworder slammed Williams-Maynard aside and then took Cowley for the lead. 16 Matt Newson took a barrage of hits from Kroonder, Davidson and Danny Wainman in a good midfield scrap as Sworder went on to complete a dominant double with Fairhurst and Finnikin his placemen.

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Dean Whitwell 195 gets up close and personal with the banking. Photo Tonny Wissing

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Dean Whitwell 195 takes to the air. Photo Tonny Wissing

BriSCA F1 stock car driver Dean Whitwell 195 comes back down to earth. Photo Tonny Wissing

The F1 programme closed with a 30-car GN which was stopped early when 126 Neil Turner tangled with Kroonder on the opening lap. 233 Lee Pearce passed Harrhy to lead the restart and the former 1300 Stock Car man built a good lead before another stoppage after Sworder ended his good run in a crash with Davidson, the two cars which had earlier swapped aerofoils coming to rest at the pit gate. On the restart Finnikin fired 141 Carl Pickering into the back of Pearce and went through to take the win, Junior Wainman taking second and Johnson passing Williams-Maynard late on for third.

BriSCA F1 stockcar driver Neil Turner 126 spins out. Photo Tonny Wissing

BriSCA F1 stockcar driver Neil Turner 126 gets up close and personal with Ron Kroonder H217. Photo Tonny Wissing

Dave Goddard

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