A cool evening saw thirty five cars travel to Northampton in search of World Championship Qualifying points. The BSCDA were present in full force with the technical committee doing the rounds, as well as the new BSCDA tyre stamp team frenziedly stamping tyres like there was no tomorrow.
Mat Newson 16 had his familiar flotilla of hire cars, with Darren Jones 471 in the old Colin Goodswen 372 car, 452 Adrian Hutton, and Dan Laughlin 420 in the ex Dick Gladden 445 machine. Unusually, there was no F1 stock cars present for Murray 97 or Ryan Harrison 197 despite the vital points on offer, but the Harrison’s had their hands full, not only selling tyres but helping Paul Carter 300 and Mark Peters 231. Mark Peters, making a return from his sabbatical in a smart looking car, the basis of which is the ex Chris Lloyd 284 car that was last seen in the hands of Mick Harris 8.
Heat one showed a promising start to the evening with the star graders being too eager to get away not once, but twice. Newcomer James Waters 67 led the field away but soon succumbed to pressure dropping down the order, letting Mike Kingston jnr 488 pick up the running. Mark Peters return to the fray did not get off to the best of starts as he span to the infield in a cloud of smoke. Tom Harris 84 and Dan Johnson 4 renewed rivalries while Will Yarrow 22 and Luke Davidson traded places in the blue grade. Yellows came out for a sideways Nigel Harrhy 45 with leader Kingston jnr appearing to respond and slow down immediately and go down the order as other drivers appeared not to be as prompt to respond.
Will Yarrow led the field away but had his opponents in hot pursuit with Scott Davids 462 having a good run and pressuring Yarrow for the lead with the two exchanging places until Davids sent Yarrow out to meet the fence. Stu Smith jnr 390 and Frankie Wainman jnr 515 were fighting for track position with the two coming together coming out of turn four with Frankie flying into the air and Stu spinning to the infield in a plume of tyre smoke.
Wainman jnr nursed his wounded car up the homestraight, hugging the fence coming to rest in turn two. Scott Davids did not hold onto his lead for long as Dan Johnson was bearing down on him at speed, taking charge before going onto take the flag. Stu eventually got himself going and gesticulated to show his displeasure to Frankie in the fence before pulling alongside to remonstrate as the cars filed off track.
Heat two followed with Chris Cooke 460 controlling the lead for the opening laps before Dean Whitwell 195 charged by in the ex-Luke Davidson machine after the yellow graders had sorted themselves out into some semblance of order. Steve Reedman 361 had a ‘welcome to the star grade’ hit courtesy of Mick Sworder 150 while Darren Jones took in a spin on the trackshop turn.
Dan Johnson 4 had flown up the field and was steadily reeling in Whitwell while Sworder and Daniel Wainman 212 jostled for position just behind. Johnson loomed large banishing Whitwell into second extending his lead out ahead in the last laps. Wainman got the advantage in his tustle, with Sworder scuttling sideways down the backstraight for the last time before charging over the kerb in a last bend attack which the younger Wainman was capable of avoiding, holding onto his place.
Heat three came hot on the heels of the second with James Waters 67 taking command for a number of laps before Mark Peters consigned him into the runner up spot with Peters gliding out ahead looking well at home. The superstars shuffled positions amongst themselves as they tore up the field with blue grader Neil Scriven 11 getting in on the act and throwing himself in the fray. Mark Peters went onto take the victory, being well clear of the father and son Cowley placemen. Post race scrutineering meant that Peters race win was removed, gifting the win to UK Open Champion Rob Cowley.
The final saw just under thirty cars take to the track with a jumble of star men seeing Ed Neachell 321, Colin Goodswen 372 and Josh Smith 191 take the majority of the impact while Mike Kingston jnr 488 took charge out front. Mick Sworder, Frankie Wainman jnr and Tom Harris swapped hits and places while Lee Fairhurst 217 dogged Stu Smith jnr’s every moved. Up front Mickey Randall 172 slid smoothly into the lead as Stu Smith jnr and Frankie Wainman jnr tustled for position allowing Lee Fairhurst to glide by.
The yellows came out not long after for Smith jnr who had got a bit out of shape down the backstraight and launched himself over the inside kerb, spinning to a stop into turn three. Randall’s lead had evaporated an it looked unlikely that the blue grader would be capable of holding off the likes of Dan Johnson and Chris Cowley 37 but at the green, Randall charged off as fast as he could. Johnson and Cowley allowed Randall to extend a lead by scrapping amongst themselves for position with Lee Fairhurst also getting in on the act with the fight coming down to the last bend with Cowley, Johson and Fairhurst tearing out on turn four enmasse, tangling heavily and clattering over the line together.
The last race of the night, the Grand National saw a slight delay to wait for Mickey Randall who was in the queue to be weighed. Randall kept it steady and out of trouble, eventually finishing just outside the top ten. At the off Mick Sworder again let Steve Reedman know he was playing with the big boys by punting him away hard with Reedman clattering the fence on turn two while Harrhy found himself clattering the fence on turn three, drawing the yellow flags. James Waters led the field away from Mark Peters but it did not take Neil Scriven 11 to commandeer the lead for himself, as he had been mixing it all night long it looked like he would get some just reward until Stu Smith jnr got in on the act, chasing down the blue grader and spinning Scriven out of contention on the very last bend to claim the flag for himself.