Sheffield, 10th November 2013 – meeting report

A superb day for Danny Wainman.

A superb day for Danny Wainman.

The final round of the National Points Shoot Out saw Ryan Harrison take the title, while Danny Wainman gave a career best performance on shale to take a Heat and Final double.

The first to come to grief in the opener were Lee Smith and Nigel Harrhy, who came to a stop in turn one, and were then collected in turn by Mike Andrew, Ryan Harrison, and Tom Harris; the latter rejoined just before early leader Rich Bryan clattered the stranded 197 car.

Craig Haworth caught the back straight fence and span into the path of Josh Smith, with Lee Fairhurst one of the few to escape the general melee and emerge in the lead.

But it wasn’t plain sailing, as before the lap boards, Fairhurst tangled with backmarker Smith (191) and lost time, with Paul Harrison easing past and going on to take the win. Despite the car steaming for most of the race, Harris managed to finish third, with only five cars of the 16 starters managing to go the whole distance.

Nigel Harrhy gets his new motor dirty.

Nigel Harrhy gets his new motor dirty.

The second heat featured the top two in the Shoot Out points tables, Ryan Harrison and Dan Johnson, and they tripped over each other almost as soon as the green dropped, with Harrison getting hooked up on Johson’s inside rear corner. They separated, only for Harrison to put himself into the turn three fence unaided.

Newcomer this season James Bailey (135) led early on, but the sight of the rapidly closing Dave Willis in his mirror forced a mistake, and Willis took over. The equally rapid Chris Clare wasn’t far behind, but the 394 car came to a stop in the legendary fence.

Shoot Out trio Johnson, Fairhurst, and Hines all managed to spin each other out on the home straight, with the 217 car impacting the fence backwards, and the 4 machine retiring shortly afterwards with unusual noise from the engine.

After his early drama, Bailey had been putting some good laps in, until he ran out of room coming off turn four and ran into the back of the parked Mal Brown car at full chat. The infield marshall were quick to check on the driver, but Brown was typically unfazed.

As the lap boards came out, Willis was a few lengths ahead of John Lund, who had Danny Wainman for company. After a rapid start, the 337 car appeared to lose a little pace in the closing stages, and with a handful of laps to run, Lund nudged Willis wide into the rough shale.

Lund and Wainman were bumper to bumper into the last bend; the veteran coolly held the young pretender at bay and took one of the most popular wins of the season, judging by the reaction from the terraces.

Dave Willis came close to a heat win, but suffered mechanical issues in the later races.

Dave Willis came close to a heat win, but suffered mechanical issues in the later races.

The third of the heats was without Shoot Out contenders Josh Smith and Frankie Wainman Jnr, who had engine and diff problems respectively. Rich Bryan led for a few laps before a coming together with Lee Smith (10), with Willis leading momentarily before Will Yarrow (22) took up the running.

Johnson lost time when he hit a loose marker tyre, with Harrison (2) being punted wide by Harris and into the same marker tyre. Mike Andrew (50) then collected a different marker tyre and ended up perched on top of it, but not before race leader Yarrow had clattered the spinning 50 car and spun out.

Waved yellows to retrieve the Andrew car, with Willis leading them away for the restart. Wainman (212) soon bumpered his way past, but the man in the biggest rush was Tom Harris, in pursuit of all-important Shoot Out points. The number 1 car was soon up to third, but Willis doesn’t move over for anybody and held the World Champion at bay for a couple of laps.

Harris did work his way past with four to run, and they were three abreast out of the turn, with the unfortunate Willis forced onto the loose shale at the outside and dropping back.

Wainman took the win, with Paul Hines grabbing fifth place on the last last after dumping Rob Mitchell into the wires.

After all the points had been added up, Ryan Harrison’s lead at the top had been reduced to 14 points, so it was up to Tom Harris to score more than Ryan in the remaining two races to remain in contention.

The atmosphere was tense as the race started, with a sense of anticipation prevalent on the terrace. However, whatever strategy Harris had adopted, it came to nothing as the number 1 expired after a couple of laps, and did not race again.

Lee Fairhurst kept out of trouble all day and finished third in the Shoot Out.

Lee Fairhurst kept out of trouble all day and finished third in the Shoot Out.

With Harris out of the equation, it was still theoretically possible for either Dan Johnson or Lee Fairhurst to take the silver, but this would require some big scores combined with poor scores from Harrison.

It was the mean green 238 machine of Rich Bryan leading the early laps. Willis did in fact bumper Bryan wide, only for the 337 car to then pull off. Danny Wainman was soon through the field to second, with Johnson not far behind, and the ever-improving Rob Mitchell fourth.

Wainman hit the front when the Bryan car ground to a halt with mechanical problems just before the halfway, and from that point on the 212 car looked every inch the winner.

Harrison clearly didn’t favour any tactics along the lines of playing it safe and taking it steady, as he weighed in with the bumper on third placed Fairhurst. The British Champion held his ground, with Harrison (197) then coming under attack from Harrison (2).

Any chance Johnson might have had of making a late challenge on Wainman evaporated when he was blocked by out-of-shape backmarker Nige Harrhy, who was still coming to terms with his new car.

Craig Finnikin, who had had a quiet meeting by his standards, was in the lower places and potentially in a position to improve his position in the Shoot Out, but the gremlins that had plagued the 55 car before the meeting made a reappearance, and the infield parking lot gained another customer.

Rob Mitchell takes a trip through the wires.

Rob Mitchell takes a trip through the wires.

The chequered flag fell on Danny Wainman, with Dan Johnson runner up, and Lee Fairhurst third, with each netting decent points hauls. However, Shoot Out leader Harrison was fourth, meaning that once again the Shoot Out would go down to the very last race of the series.

The points differences now meant that any points at all for Harrison would be enough to win him the title. However, should Harrison fail to score, and Johnson were to win the race, then the title was Johnson’s. Not only that, but a zero for Harrison and a race win for Fairhurst would result in a tie.

It was a similar scenario to the 2012 Finale, when Tom Harris took the title after 16 of the most careful laps ever seen around Belle Vue, and it was widely expected that Harrison would take a similar no-risk, no-drama approach.

The race was just a couple of laps old when, perhaps to everyone’s surprise, maybe even Johnson’s, Harrison shunted the 4 car into the turn one fence, and ended up in the wires behind him.

Johnson rejoined the race unscathed, while after several seconds delay, Harrison restarted his car and continued. It quickly became apparent that all was not well with the 197 car when he struggled to make it around turn three, at which point a flat outside front tyre was visible.

Harrison carried on regardless, until Johnson came up to lap him. Johnson came off the kerb on turn four and looked to shove Harrison out of the way, but in a bizarre twist of fate, the number 4 front bumper snagged the 197 rear bumper and both cars slewed onto the infield. Johnson gave it full throttle, only to push his car up onto Harrison’s nerf rail, and with neither wanting to back off, both of them held the power on and span around and around on the infield until they simultaneously admitted defeat.

This is how the top two ended the Shoot Out - stuck together on the infield.

This is how the top two ended the Shoot Out – stuck together on the infield.

With those two out of the running, it was now up to Fairhurst, and by the halfway the 217 car was fifth. Bryan was leading, from Mal Brown and Dylan Williams-Maynard, and Paul Harrison, and Fairhurst had to pass all of them to force a tie-break for the Shoot Out.

Brown took the lead when Bryan ran wide and dropped down the order, and with three to go, it was 34, 51, 2, and 217 that were bumper to bumper.

Fairhurst nudged Williams-Maynard wide for third place, but it wasn’t enough, as the chequered fell on Mal Brown, and Lee Fairhurst’s third place was only good enough to give him the runner-up spot in the National Points Shoot Out.

Due to a bit of bad timing, Brown’s lap of honour went almost unnoticed, as all attention was on the presentations on the start line. Firstly, Ryan Harrison was crowned National Points Champion, and then Danny Wainman was presented with the substantial trophy for winning the season long Grand National Championship.

Will Yarrow after a somewhat fortuitous win in the Dash For The Cash race.

Will Yarrow after a somewhat fortuitous win in the Dash For The Cash race.

The penultimate race was a Dash For The Cash, open only to drivers who weren’t in the Shoot Out, with the prize money being collected and donated by fans.

Just 9 were still ready, willing, and able, to take part, with Tony Smith and Dave Willis bundled into the fence on the first bend.

What followed was an absolutely brilliant drive by Rich Bryan. The white top led almost all the race, and when Williams-Maynard went past, the 51 car was unceremoniously dumped into the wires. After showing potential all meeting, the 238 car flew around the tricky Sheffield track with a level of pace and composure not previously seen in the young man from Clitheroe.

Will Yarrow made it up to second, but by then Bryan’s lead was about the length of the straight and he had a clear track in front of him.

But stock car racing is a fickle mistress, and with half a lap to run the 238 car broke a half-shaft and slowed right down, giving the win – and the cash – to Yarrow.

The last event was another Dash For The Cash, this one only for the drivers in the Shoot Out. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but only three cars came out for it and it was something of a non-event; Paul Harrison taking the spoils.

Photos: Colin Casserley
Words: Carl Hesketh


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