Northampton – May 16th 2009 Meeting Report

Steve Hopkins (347) and Dave Hopkins (447). Photo courtesy of Paul Tully.

Steve Hopkins (347) and Dave Hopkins (447). Photo courtesy of Paul Tully.

A dry evening at Brafield for World Qualifying Round No. 8; racing a two thirds format.


Twenty-four cars came out for heat 1. A false start saw the cars re-gridded and Chris Stafford (157) took the early lead; while on the second lap Stuart Smith (390) launched an attack on the back bumper of Frankie Wainman Jnr (515) going into turn one, sending FWJ off to the Armco. Nick Read (209) took the lead from Stafford while FWJ and Andy Smith (391) had a coming together going down the back straight, with FWJ going up over the rear of Smith with FWJ car landing heavily on the rear axle. Andy Townsend (223) moved into second place while Lee Robinson (107) was the first of the red grades to get in the top ten. As the race approached the half way point Lee Fairhurst (217) took second place from Townsend and Robinson had moved into fifth place. Behind them, Tom Harris (84), SSJ, Mark Gilbank (21) and Andy Smith were all jostling for position engaging in three abreast racing. With four laps to go Fairhurst took the lead; Read attempted to retake it going into Turn two but Fairhurst held the inside line. Robinson was moving forward with purpose as the laps counted down and had got himself into a position to challenge for the lead, launching a last bend attack on the Fairhurst car but not quite getting the contact he wanted and coming home in second place.
Result 217 – 107 – 209 – 223 – 347 – 321 – 391 – 390 – 21 – 84.


Twenty-one cars gridded for Heat 2. In the opening lap Rob Cowley (73) put a huge hit onto the back bumper of Mike Kingston (188) firing him into the Armco of turn one. The Kingston car rattled around the Armco before coming to a stop on the back straight. Chris Cowley (37) then clipped the back bumper of the stationary Kingston car, half spun himself, clipping the pit gate. After the yellows the restart order was 217, 60, 447, 311, 195, 8, 464, 73, 257, 172.
The race restarted; Mick Harris (8) moved Dean Whitwell (195) going into turn two for fifth place and Mat Newson (16) moved Timmy Aldridge (257) for sixth place. Lee Fairhurst (217) was steady away up front and as half way approached he lapped Lee Davidson (494). Ian Venables (60) was chasing in second place, losing vital seconds behind Davidson. Fairhurst used this to pull a quarter of lap lead. Newson was working his way though the top five, moving David Squire (311) who in turn had a pop back at Newson, but could not retake his lost place. With four laps to go Ivan Pritchard (434) oversteered coming out of two, spinning onto the infield. In the closing laps Harris tried to take sixth place from Micky Randall (172) but was unable to move Randall.
Result 217 – 60 – 447 – 16 – 311 – 172 – 8 – 21 – 73 – 390.


Twenty-five cars made the grid for Heat 3. As the green dropped, Garry Townsend (223) gave it a little too much loud pedal coming out of four and in a cloud of tyre smoke spun onto the infield. Chris Stafford (157) had the early lead but in turn two Nick Read (209) passed him to take the lead. Stafford then launched a huge attack onto the Read car going into three, firing him into the Armco, with both cars sustaining damage and retiring from race. Les Spencer (98) was also forced to retired following a hook up with Murray Harrison (97) on the back straight. Re-Start order was 347, 60, 447, 311, 141, 464, 8. On the restart Mick Harris (8) had a problem sending him hard into the Armco down the home straight in a shower of sparks. Mat Newson (16) moved Tom Harris (84), Andy Smith began to make inroads, overtaking Paul Hines (259) cleanly down the home straight. Chris Cowley (37) then launched a huge attack on Tony Smith (91) going into turn one at high speed. The Cowley car began to T-Bone the Smith car before riding up over the bonnet. Both cars came to an eventual stop at the Armco between one and two with fire leaping from the damaged engine of the Smith car. After the required yellows, re-start order was 347, 60, 311, 447, 141, 464, 73, 107, 55, 16, 84, 391.
As the green brought the cars up to racing speed Rob Cowley (73) and Lee Robinson (107) hooked up along the home straight, with both cars skidding onto the infield. Dan Johnson (4) and Tom Harris (84) were locked in battle, Frankie Wainman Jnr (515) used the battling pair to his advantage giving the slightest of touches to the back bumper of Harris going into turn two; resulting in Harris and Johnson becoming T-Boned. With four laps to go Steve Hopkins (347) was still leading with his brother Dave Hopkins (447) taking second place from Ian Venables (60); Dave lined up Steve for a last bend attack but got it horribly wrong and ended up going from second to tenth.
Result 347 – 60 – 311 – 141 – 391 – 16 – 55 – 515 – 464 – 447.


As the twilight gave way to darkness Twenty-three cars had survived for the Final. On the opening lap Ian Venables (60) fired Dean Whitwell (195) hard into the Armco going into turn one required yellows. On the re-start Ivan Prichard (434) was the first of the red grades to begin making his way forward. Tom Harris (84) and Mat Newson (16) were battling hard, neither one wanting to be behind the other. Gary Townsend (223) was in second place to the leading Lee Fairhurst (213). David Squire (311) was attempting to take second place with Ed Neachell (321) lurking just behind. Meanwhile Andy Smith (391), Frankie Wainman Jnr (515), Tom Harris (84) and Stuart Smith (390) were all locked in battle; exchanging hits, swapping places and attempting three abreast racing. As the half way point was reached, Fairhurst was leading by a good quarter of a lap from second place Ed Neachell (321) and Ivan Pritchard (434)was attacking Squire for third place. Andy Smith (391) had gotten clear of his battle though the early stages and was moving into the top five whilst Fairhurst started to negotiate his way though the back markers. Smith moved into second place, only to have Luke Davidson (464), Craig Finnikin (55) and Lee Davidson (494) between himself and the leader. Fairhurst extended his lead to half a lap on Smith and unchallenged took the chequered.
Result 217 – 391 – 321 – 16 – 434 – 311 – 515 – 390 – 60 – 172.


Under a floodlit track eighteen cars appeared for the last race of evening . On the opening lap Ed Neachell (321) attacked and moved Carl Pickering (141) going into turn one. Four cars became hooked up on turn three; Davidson, Timmy Aldridge (257), David Squire (311) and Craig Finnikin (55). The remainder of the cars picked up speed as the race continued. Andy Smith (391) and Frankie Wainman Jnr (515) were once again swapping bumper hits and places in a race to get to the front. Going from side-by-side racing to attack each other at each turn. With the reduced car numbers on track the speeds were immense and looked fantastic under the lights. Lee Fairhurst again was way out in front, driving a smooth and controlled race. As half way was reached the racing order was 217, 321, 391, 515, 16. Going into the latter stages of the race FWJ got ahead of Neachell and Andy Smith to take second place. Stuart Smith (390) seemed to appear from nowhere to take fourth spot behind brother Andy in third. With the amount of bumper action from the reds against each other in the early stages of the race Fairhurst was again able to open up a half lap lead out in front.
Result 217 – 515 – 391 – 390 – 172 – 141 – 12 – 4 – 464 – 494.


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