Sheffield – 20th Oct 2008 Report

Sheffield Final top 3

Sheffield Final top 3

About 35 cars arrived made the trip to Sheffield on a cold Monday night, where Jonathon Gibson took full advantage of his yellow grading to race off with a Consolation win before taking a career first Final victory.

The first heat saw the much improved Richard Bryan (238) leading them off, while Ray Scriven (117), making a rare appearance, lost it and was hit side-on by Ricky Wilson (502) on the home straight. Dave Willis (337) was the first of the blue tops to show, and he wasted no time in launching Robert Broome (41) towards the turn three fence. Broome almost held it, but clipped a fence post exiting turn four, where he was hit by Nigel Whalley (198). The 198 car bounced off and performed a mid-air spin, during which it was hit by the passing Danny Wainman (212) and suffered some roll cage damage. Geoff Nickolls (215), who had been racing at Emmen in Holland over the weekend, bounced off the turn one fence and into the traffic, with the yellows then coming out. Race order now read Bryan leading, from Steve Hattersley, Willis, Murray Harrison (97), Mark Gilbank (21), and Frankie Wainman (515). Hattersley span out, before Willis and Harrison (97) went past Bryan. Harrison then took the lead from Willis, who was then deposed from second by Mat Newson (16), who was flying, and nudged the 337 car out into the loose shale. Just before the halfway, Wainman (515), along with brother Danny (212), barged their way past Willis. Wainman (515) then laid into Newson’s back bumper for three laps before getting past, while Gilbank was struggling to find a way past Willis. Not reknowned as being easy to pass at the best of times, Willis was now feeling particularly stubborn and repeatedly resisted Gilbank’s challenges for about half a dozen laps before Gilbank did manage to find a way through. Into the last lap, and Wainman was right up with race leader Harrison. Harrison was ready for a last bend challenge, and threw the 97 car broadside around the last turn. Down the back straight, Willis now had Chris Brocksopp (338) on his back bumper, with Michael Scriven (12) taking the outside line down the straight, before turning in before the bends and putting the bumper going into the turn. But Willis wasn’t budging, and Scriven lost out to Nickolls on the last bend.

The second heat lasted just two laps before the waved yellows came out, when leader Graham Wagstaff (330), and second placed Colin Patten (292), both went heavily into the turn one fence in separate incidents. The 292 car bounced off the fence and was collected by half the field, causing a big pile up. A few were sidelined for the restart, with Jonathon Gibson (249) now leading from Andy Powell (493), Neil Shenton (35), Lenny Smith (185), Mal Brown (34), and then Peter Falding (33). Brown sat behind Smith for a couple of laps, and then in a proper old-school stock car fashion, launched the 185 car straight into the turn one fence. After a quick start, Powell started to drop back, before Gibson, who had a big lead, retired to the infield with a flat outside rear tyre. This left Shenton leading, with Falding second. Falding stalked the 35 car for three laps before Shenton ran wide and Falding was through, going on to take the win on what will probably be his last ever race meeting at the Sheffield track.

Such had been the destruction in the heats, there were just nine of the eligible cars still raceworthy for the Consolation, which for no apparent reason was started single file. Steve Hattersley (69) led them away, while Gibson made another flying start. Gibson gave Bryan a big hit to take second place, with Bryan displaying some good car control to power the 238 car sideways around the turn and keep it out of the fence. Gibson then set his sights on Hattersley, and although he wasn’t quite close enough to challenge, he went for it anyway and missed. A lap later, Gibson had another go, and this time it connected. Both cars went wide, with Gibson taking the lead. Hattersley then came under pressure from Paul Hines (259), and the 69 car understeered into the pit turn and got it out of shape, leaving Hines no choice but to bumper him out of the way. Hattersley went over the infield and span across the track, where he was collected by Scott Davids (462). Davids still managed to finish fourth, as by now there were only six cars still running.

The track was quite dusty for the Final, which began with Falding in a decisive mood, firing Harrison (97) into Brown, who went into the fence. Harrison then got it a bit sideways down the back straight and tangled with Nickolls. Both slewed onto the infield before coming back onto the track in turn three, where they were collected by Falding and Lund, the latter performing a mid-air pirouette. Bryan led for a couple of laps before Gibson went past, with Ray Scriven (117), driving the car usually raced by son Michael, was now second, with Willis passing Neil Scriven for third. As the race reached halfway, Gibson was about half the length of the straight ahead of Scriven (117), who in turn was a similar distance in front of Willis, who then had about six lengths between the 337 car and the chasing pack of Mat Newson (16), Wainman (515), and Gilbank. Scriven’s race came to an abrupt end when he collected the out of shape Bryan motor, which was sideways across the track on the home straight. With Scriven gone, Gibson was left with an unassailable lead, and he went on to take the chequered and a career first Final victory. But the main interest was the battle for second place, where Newson and Wainman had now caught Willis. Newson edged up the inside of the 337 car, but Willis blocked, and a lap later Newson ran wide which let Wainman and Gilbank through. Willis then came up to backmarker Brown, and with Wainman getting ever closer, Willis gave the 34 car a tap which sent it wide and then back onto the racing line, baulking Wainman and giving Willis some breathing space.

The GN fielded 19 cars, with Gibson declining the lap handicap and starting at the back of the yellows. It didn’t take him long to scythe through the pack and into second place behind flying white top Hattersley. But Gibson just couldn’t wait to take the lead, and made a wildly optomistic lunge at Hattersley from some way back, and bounced off the 69 car’s back bumper and into the turn three fence. He reversed out and rejoined the race behind Hattersley, albeit a lap down. Wainman, Newson, and Harrison (2) made steady progress, and at the halfway they were behind leader Hattersley, who was flying around the track with levels of pace and confidence not previously evident in the 69 pilot. Wainman made a challenge and fired backmarker Gibson into Hattersley, which put the 69 car wide. Wainman then shadowed Gibson for a couple of laps, as it became apparent to those on the terraces that Wainman thought that Gibson was leading. With Wainman sat firmly on Gibson’s back bumper, these two slowly pulled away from the pack, with Wainman squeezing his way past after a couple of laps. Even so, the two were absolutely matched as far as pace went, and Gibson stayed within a length of the 515 car all the way to the chequered. In his short F1 career to date, Gibson has demonstrated himself to be more than capable of dishing the bumper out, and had he not been a lap down, there is no doubt that Wainman would have been on the receiving end at some point.

Quite probably the best Sheffield meeting for some time.

Ht1: 97,515,16,212,21,337,338,215,12,117
Ht2: 33,2,55,53,34,35,493,91,136,11
Cons: 249,259,502,462,41,238
Final: 249,337,515,21,16,2,34,11,212,259
GN: 515,2,16,259,55,53,12,69,11,338

Carl Hesketh. (originally published on Carl’s Hard-And-Fast website)

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