Northampton – September 20th 2009 World Masters Meeting Report

The traditional second half of the World Final weekend drew around 55 cars to a hot and sunny Northampton International Raceway for the 2009 World Masters, including around 20 Dutch competitors with several field racers trying tarmac, and Australian AUS15 Brett Tobin in the Liam Brown car.

Photo Colin Casserley.

Photo Colin Casserley.

Heat 1

Following a lap of honour for 391 Andrew Smith, who retained his World title at King’s Lynn the night before, 26 cars assembled for the first heat. After a false start it was 494 Lee Davidson who led them away as 16 John van t’Veer was first to hit the plating, while British champion 390 Stuart Smith was an early casualty with a puncture. Battling yellow tops 141 Carl Pickering and 195 Dean Whitwell began to challenge Davidson before the race was halted after 467 Tim Farrell became stranded against the back straight fence. Davidson judged the restart well to pull away while Whitwell was out of luck as he spun on the Horton turn allowing 197 Ryan Harrison and Harris to close in, before a fracas on turn two saw H399 Jessy de Bruyn left facing the traffic and a further caution ensued. On the restart Harris wasted little time getting past Harrison for third before bumpering his way past Pickering, and as the leaders dodged the spun 80 Lyndon Burnley, Harris went through in the closing stages to head home Davidson for the win, with 515 Junior Wainman taking Pickering on the last lap for third.

Result: 84-494-515-141-37-197-322-H22-152-AUS15.

Heat 2

A similar number lined up for heat two which began with 393 Dave Plumbley going straight on into the wall as the pushing pack entered turn one. 460 Chris Cooke led the early laps before H007 Dave Schaap collided with the spun 218 Derek Fairhurst for a stoppage. On the restart 347 Steve Hopkins quickly took up the lead and pulled ahead to win by the length of a straight on a track he always enjoys. 4 Dan Johnson made up for a disappointing night at King’s Lynn with second place ahead of 212 Danny Wainman, while Andrew Smith – in the shale car he took to the gold the night before – and the rapid 55 Craig Finnikin both fell victim to punctures.

Result: 347-4-212-321-16-460-259-464-H393-59.

Photo Colin Casserley.

Photo Colin Casserley.

Consolation

Similar numbers once again emerged for the consolation, with H36 Paul Hermkens the first to find the fence this time. Schaap and Farrell were keen to make up for their earlier disappointments and were soon dishing out plenty of bumperwork with Burnley falling foul of both but managing to keep going. Up front 209 Nick Read was leading the way with 327 Antony Davis and 21 Mark Gilbank closing him down until the latter pulled off. Schaap was clearly the fastest man out there and soon took the lead from Read chased by Davies, the Dutch tarmac star going on for a popular win ahead to a big roar from the large number of travelling Dutch supporters. Finnikin made a successful last bend lunge on Davis for second, while star of King’s Lynn 337 Dave Willis pulled off late on in a cloud of smoke.

Result: H007-55-327-218-H247-390-462-209-467-60.

World Masters

The 31-car World Masters Final was led off by Davidson but after just one lap the yellows were out after H393 Gert Elzinga went in hard at turn three and was collected by 259 Paul Hines. Both were OK and the restart saw Harrison get away well to chase Davidson for the lead, but the yellows were soon flying again after 462 Scott Davids had tangled with Read, and a delay ensued when a driver required treatment on the centre. Fortunately there were no serious injuries and the race resumed with Harris getting away superbly to chase down 37 Chris Cowley for third place as the front two of Davidson and Harrison pulled away. Pickering was displaying his usual style and had a go at the 84 car but took one himself from Finnikin who was in a real determined mood. Up front Harrison took Davidson for the lead as Harris and Gilbank swarmed all over Cowley for third, but just as this trio caught Davidson the yellows flew once more after 73 Rob Cowley visited the fence courtesy of Stuart Smith. The next restart proved to be the last, and with Harris now on Harrison’s tail it wasn’t long before the former lunged at the 197 car on turn four and moved ahead down the home straight. Harrison was now smoking slightly and Gilbank moved through to second with two to run, but Finnikin was still driving as hard as he could and lunged through on the final turn for a fine second place after an excellent Stockcar drive. The glory, however, was for Tom Harris, and his jubilation was clear as he powerslid across the line and celebrated with donuts. The result was a welcome change of fortune for the young star, who commented in a post-race interview with Bev Greenhalf that he has “suffered seven weeks of bad luck, so today is a nice change!” A first major title for Tom, and if he continues to improve his driving it certainly won’t be the last.

Result: 84-55-21-197-4-37-515-390-212-321.

Tom Harris winner of the Masters. Photo Colin Casserley.

Tom Harris winner of the Masters. Photo Colin Casserley.

Grand National

The temperature was still high as another 26-car grid lined up for the Grand National with Harris taking the handicap. 16 Matt Newson ended a luckless day with a first lap retirement as Davidson once again led off, while de Bruyn T-boned the spun Pickering. Harrison took up the running with an inside move at turn three as H832 Robert-Jan Schutter was next to find the plating before the day’s only rollover occurred at turn three. Plumbley and Burnley locked wheels heading down the back straight and with both drivers refusing to yield they slid straight on into the fence, Burnley riding up the plating and over onto his roof for a stoppage. The white grader exited OK despite his roof fin being crushed and Harrison got the restart exactly right and set about building an advantage. 322 James Neachell was showing his liking for NIR as he battled past Davidson for second with Danny Wainman chasing until his brother took over in third. Neachell tried to close in but Harrison stayed a couple of car lengths clear for a measured victory, celebrating with a flurry of donuts.

Result: 197-322-515-212-84-H007-464-H399-37-494.

A brilliant day all round, with plenty of lively action from all three formulas present and a worthy World Master in Tom Harris. It was certainly a day for the younger stars of the sport, with 84 Tom Harris taking a heat and Final double en route to the title.

Dave Goddard

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