Sheffield – May 2nd 2011 Meeting Report

With Easter coming just a week before May Day this year, Startrax decided against two Bank Holiday Mondays at Belle Vue in consecutive weeks, and instead moved to the much-underused Sheffield venue for their May Day fixture. Top man on the day was Andy Smith, who gave a commanding drive to take the final. The track crew was kept busy all day as more than a few F1 cars took on the notorious fence, and for once it appeared that the fence lost. Despite some very heavy impacts, car damage appeared minimal, with the fence itself taking the brunt of the damage.

The first heat had a lively start, with the second half of the field bunching up and entering the third turn three or four abreast, resulting in a massive fence impact for Mal Brown (34) that bent a fence post
through 45 degrees. Brown reversed back and forward a few times, but with the front wheel trapped behind the wires, he was going nowhere, until the pack rounded the track and did almost the same thing again; this time Tony Smith (91) was the one with nowhere to go, and crashed into the 34 car, and freed it in the process, and to a big cheer from the turn four crowd, the seemingly undamaged 34 car then rejoined the race.

BriSCA F1 Stockcars Mal Brown 34 and Craig Finnikin 55. Photo Colin Casserley

Mike Williamson (111) had led early on, but he had to give way to the very rapid Richard Bryan (238). Richard Regan (428) then put himself into the fence on turn three, and was clipped by Scott Davids (462), driving his refurbished tarmac car, before Nigel Harrhy (45) piled in too.

F1 Stock cars Richard Regan 428 and Richard Bryan 238 tangle. Photo Colin Casserley

BriSCA F1 stock cars in heat one led by Richard Bryan (238). Photo Colin Casserley

The fence was now in a sorry state, and the yellows came out toreplace a post and re-tension the wires. Bryan led them away on the restart, but Will Yarrow (22) and Craig Finnikin (55) were quickly up the order to the front. Not far behind, Tom Harris (84) and Stu Smith (390) were bumper to bumper, but they came unstuck when they tried to muscle past the 238 car. Bryan was having none of it, the net result being all three spinning onto the infield.

F1 Stock cars Tom Harris 84, Stu Smith jnr 390 and Richard Bryan 238 come to grief. Photo Colin Casserley

In the closing stages, Finnikin eased past Yarrow for the lead, and with two laps to run, Finnikin found himself behind backmarker Harrhy. With the 22 car right behind him, Finnikin was in no mood for messing about, and put the 45 car straight into the fence.

BriSCA F1 White top Nigel Harrhy (45). Photo Carl Hesketh

Heat Two was a quieter affair, with lone white top Harrhy leading lone yellow top Neil Shenton (35). Frankie Wainman (515) sat on Dan Johnson (4)’s back bumper for a few laps, until the right opportunity arose in the shape of Josh Smith (191); Wainman shoving the number 4 car hard into Smith, leaving Johnson no chance to reply. Joe Booth (446) made rapid progress towards the front, and was soon up with leader Harrhy, who was having his best run to date. Just a slight nudge from Booth put the 45 car off the racing line. It looked like Harrhy tried a safer outside line out of Booth’s way, but, as he soon discovered, at Sheffield you’re either on the inside or you’re in the fence, and the 45 car ended its race embedded in the wires.

The F1 stock car Wainman brothers, Danny (212) and Frankie (515) at Sheffield. Photo Colin Casserley

As the lap boards came out, Booth was clear at the front, and Mark Gilbank (21) took second spot from Yarrow with three laps to go. One other change came on the last bend, when Shenton took 9th place with a big hit on Ivan Pritchard (434).

Heat Three started with Smith (191) and Gilbank helping each other to spin onto the infield, with Bryan also getting it out of shape and being spun by Brown before being collected by the pack. Andy Smith (1) gave brother Stu (390) a firm smack, and when that didn’t shift him, Andy gave him an even bigger one, and got past. Stu replied with a hit bigger than Andy’s two put together, slamming the number 1 car very hard into the turn three fence, before crashing into it himself.

BriSCA F1 stock cars Neil Shenton (35) and Nigel Harrhy (45) disappear into a cloud of dust. Photo Colin Casserley

The BriSCA F1 stock car of Neil Shenton (35) atop Nigel Harrhy (45). Photo Colin Casserley

Meanwhile, Shenton had a coming together with Harrhy and Garry Fox (48), leaving the 35 car sat on top of the Harrhy machine. This brought out the waved yellows, with the undamaged Smith (1) car rejoining at the back, and Smith (390) retiring to the infield with a bent nerf rail and a shredded outside rear tyre. Williamson had been leading since the off, and it wasn’t long before Finnikin was up with the leader. Finnikin applied pressure to the 111 back bumper entering turn three, and Williamson superbly held his line as Finnikin drifted wide and clattered the fence. This let Newson through for second place, and a lap later he put Williamson wide to take the lead.

BriSCA F1 stock car Matt Newson (16). Photo Carl Hesketh

As the lap boards came out, Wainman (515) moved into second place, and slowly but surely reeled in Newson. It was the last lap when Wainman was in striking distance, and with a textbook example of how to use the bumper, Wainman landed a perfectly timed and perfectly weighted hit. Newson had no chance, and the 16 car bounced off the fence as Wainman, with no perceptible loss of momentum, drove past to take the win.

The Final started with a bang, with Finnikin somehow getting half spun when the green dropped, and pushed sideways down the home straight. Trying to avoid him, Smith (390) and Pritchard gave the starter a scare when they hit the fence; Pritchard bending a fence post almost into the starter’s rostrum. Waved yellows and a short delay while the fence was fixed, before Williamson led them away for the restart. Shenton and Yarrow were flying, until they tangled and took each other out.

The dust settles on a stranded Ivan Pritchard (434). Photo Carl Hesketh

Smith (1) looked to be in a determined mood, and threw the car sideways into turn three, hitting Wainman (515) wide with the nerf rail. At the front, Williamson was a man in total control, offering a superb performance that suggested that he won’t be a white top for much longer. By the halfway, Finnikin was starting to close up the flying 111 car, but whether or not he could catch him became academic when Williamson went to pass the all-action Nigel Harrhy and both cars went for the same piece of track coming off turn four. Williamson’s front bumper went over Harrhy’s front wheel, and in an instant the 111 car was upside down.

The upside down BriSCA F1 stock car of Mike Williamson 111. Photo Colin Casserley

The upside down F1 stock car of Mike Williamson 111. Photo Carl Hesketh

Finnikin thus inherited the lead, but the waved yellows closed the grid up, and he now had Harris and Smith (1) for company. Wainman (515) was quickly past Gilbank when the race resumed, with Smith bumpering Harris wide to take second. Harris came back at Smith but he couldn’t make it count and Smith pulled clear. With five laps remaining, the track was bone dry and slick, with grip at a premium.

Smith appeared to have mastered driving the tricky surface better than the others, and attacked Finnikin as soon as he was close enough. Finnikin was knocked wide entering turn three, with Smith then driving straight at the 55 nerf rail, forcing Finnikin to come off the power. Smith was then through for the win, his 101st Final.

BriSCA F1 stock car Sheffield Final winner Andy Smith 1. Photo Colin Casserley

There were not many lower grade drivers left mobile for the GN, leaving Shenton to lead with Yarrow in second. Brown again attacked Bryan, this time the 238 car bounced off the turn two fence. Brown was then on the receiving end of a big hit from Booth, who was then hit hard by Finnikin. After struggling in the final, Smith (390) looked to have made the necessary adjustments to the car, and made a lot of progress in the early stages and was up to third place by the halfway.

As the union flag was shown, it was still Shenton and Yarrow bumper to bumper at the front, with Smith some distance in arrears. Smith made some gradual inroads, but for lap after lap Yarrow stalked Shenton without making a challenge.

With four laps remaining, Yarrow felt the time was right, and as Shenton approached turn one, Yarrow reached out and planted the him straight into the wires. The 35 car bounced off a fence post and span across the track. Smith was now not far behind, and on the final lap Yarrow found backmarker Bryan in front of him. Smith might have been expected to try to launch Yarrow into Bryan, but perhaps wisely he sat his ground and finished as runner up.

BriSCA F1 stock car Sheffield Grand National winner Will Yarrow 22. Photo Colin Casserley

Carl Hesketh

 

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