Round 6 of the Shootout and it was back on the shale at the fast and unforgiving Owlerton Stadium in Sheffield on the 9th of October. The leader going into this round was Nigel Green (445) from Rob Speak (318), Frankie Wainman Junior (1) and Paul Harrison (2) but as is the case with the early (and sometimes later!) rounds, things were still close.
Heat 1 had 18 cars, including the lower half of the Shootout drivers. The early leader was 511 Jake Hall whilst Tom Boyer (28) and Neil Scothern (152) took each other to the centre green but got going. At lap 4 it was Hall from Dave Willis (337), 348 John Wright, Mal Brown (34) and Paul Hines (259). Hines managed to gain a couple of places but then tangled with Willis on turns 1/2 , both managing to get going again.
At halfway, it was still Hall with a healthy lead from Wright, Mal Brown and then Danny Wainman, Mick Sworder and Tom Harris. With 2 to go, Danny fired the Mal Brown car aside letting himself and Sworder through for 2nd and 3rd, John Wright having retired. It was, however, the 511 white top car of Jake Hall that led flag to flag in an impressive drive in a ‘few owners from new’ ex-John Lund car, that is probably twenty years old and seen plenty of action – and hopefully we will see plenty more.
Results: 511 212 150 34 84 217 220 231 25 53 259 134 – first 8 to final.
Heat 2 had the top shooters line up in a 19 car heat. An early spinner was 293 Eliot Smith, whilst up front it was 76 Aaron Cozens from 415 Russell Cooper. Further back, Rob Speak (318) and Frankie Wainman (1) were exchanging bumper paintwork for 3 or 4 laps and 21 Mark Gilbank and 4 Dan Johnson hooked up on turn 2 but both got going again. John Frost (351) went into the turn 3 fence hard bringing out the yellows (and the tractor team for some fence repairs to turn 3).
At the restart it was Cozens from Cooper with Joff Gibson third. Russell Cooper was fired into the pit gate fence where he remained and, with 5 to go, Gibson and Paul Harrison got past Cozens as he drifted wide. With three to go, the yellows were out again as Cozens had drifted out wide on the back straight; the unforgiving Sheffield fence dragging him in, resulting in the 76 car doing an impressive roll over.
The restart with 2 to go was led by Gibson from Paul Harrison, Mat Newson, Frankie Wainman and Speak. Speak fired Wainman wide on turn 3 whilst Harrison and Newson got past Gibson for the lead. On the last bend the Wainman car had a lunge at the Speak car, pushing him aside with Dan Johnson following him through. Speak and Johnson had a drag race to the line with Speak just coming off better.
Results: 2 16 249 1(515) 318 4 422 445 21 335 37 313 – top 8 to final.
The consolation gridded a depleted grid of 11 cars and, as the engines fired, a slight dash of rain added to the already watered track, leading to a slippy start. John Wright spun at turn 1 but got going at the back and at halfway it was 134 John Brown leading from Mark Gilbank, Paul Hines, John Lund and Dave Willis. The 335 car of Mark Poole pulled up on the main straight exit.
Gilbank soon got past John Brown and with 4 to go it was Gilbank from Hines, John Brown and Chris Cowley. On the last lap 293 Eliot Smith and 337 Dave Willis had a coming together, which continued after the flag had dropped as both decided to have some ‘afters’ down the back straight to keep the crowds entertained.
Results: 21 259 134 37 53 555 28 238 348 293 – all ten to final.
The final had seen the water cart out to dampen the track but a touch of rain at the start led to a wet and greasy start to the race. Ben Riley (422) hit the back straight fence hard but managed to get going while Mick Sworder was fired into the turn 1 fence hard by a collection (train of cars) where he remained. To a mix of cheers and boos Frankie Wainman was spun on the back straight courtesy of Rob Speak. Frankie managed to get going but at the back of the pack. Jake Hall clobbered the turn 1/2 fence hard; spinning and ending up facing traffic where he was left for 2 or 3 laps till Mark Gilbank collected him leading to the yellows being brought out.
At the restart it was 348 John Wright from Riley, Tom Boyer, Chris Cowley and Joff Gibson. Early on Wright and Riley hooked up on turns 3/4 with 28 Tom Boyer (the 422 Riley car on top of the 348 motor) and coming to a stand still on the inside of turn 4. The cars were soon collected by Mark Gilbank whilst everyone else struggled by. 220 Will Hunter collided with the outer fence post on the exit of turn 4 – Will seems to like this area of the track having hit almost the same place earlier in the year. There was no choice but to bring out the yellows while the cars were removed and the fence post repaired.
At this restart it was Dan Johnson who led them away from Chris Cowley, Paul Hines and Danny Wainman, with Shootout leader Nigel Green in 5th. Frankie Wainman had made up good ground and was in front of Rob Speak at the restart but Speak was nibbling at the back bumper of the wedge for a lap or two but came unstuck when Paul Harrison, in a perfect move, span the Speak car coming out of turn 2, with Speak re-joining at the back. With damage, Speak soon retired to the infield but not content with hitting one of the Wainman cars decided to clobber one of Frank Senior’s tractors (although that was probably due to the axle and brake damage on the car rather than intent).
With 2 to go, the Dan Johnson car had a very healthy lead up front from Danny Wainman with Frankie and Paul Harrison having a good tussle behind. Paul had a go on the last bend but the Frankie Wainman car held out to the flag.
Results: 4 212 445 217 515 2 37 259 34 231 555 249
The Grand National gridded 19 cars and, again, it was raining slightly to make the track greasy at the start. Early leaders were 293 Eliot Smith from 238 Richard Bryan and this was to remain the same to the flag with a very well controlled drive from these two. Further back, Frankie Wainman and 150 Mick Sworder were having a good battle, with Sworder getting past the Wainman car to come home third.
Results: 293 238 150 1(515) 249 318 348 2 445 212 4 217.
The Shootout positions remained the same after the meeting; the main beneficiary being Dan Johnson, who had clawed back the gap to the leaders with a healthy points haul.
Words: Andy Armer
Photos: Colin Casserley