Sheffield – 2013 BriSCA F1 World Championship Semi-Final: Race Report

The top three on the podium - runner up Paul Hines, winner Ryan Harrison, and third place Mick Sworder.

The top three on the podium – runner up Paul Hines, winner Ryan Harrison, and third place Mick Sworder.

Ryan Harrison won the first of the World Championship Semi-Finals, which was staged at Sheffield on Sunday 28th July.

With half the track flooded from overnight torrential rain, it was a monumental effort from the promotion, and in particular, Frankie Wainman Senior, to get the track somewhere near raceworthy. After an opening F1 heat and a race each for the support formula, the Owlerton track was in pretty good condition, although the outside still looked slippery.

Pole sitter Paul Harrison (2) was the first past the start line when the green dropped, with row 2 starter Mat Newson right behind him, and Frankie Wainman Jnr (515) slotting in behind the 16 car. The widely-expected big push came from behind as they entered the first turn, with Harrison (2) the first to come off the racing line. Newson was also pushed wide, and Wainman briefly led them around the turn, albeit on the slower outside edge of the track.

The rolling lap. Paul Harrison's lead lasted only the length of the home straight.

The first bend. Pole sitter Paul Harrison’s lead lasted only the length of the home straight.

From the third row of the grid, Ryan Harrison (197) emerged from the first bend in the lead, surpassing even Kev Smith’s feat at the notorious 1991 Skegness Semi-Final. Behind him were Mick Sworder and Paul Hines, with Wainman now fourth.

Daz Kitson (532) became the first casualty when he collected the turn three fence in a big way, and was then clattered by Craig Finnikin (55). The blockage caught the chasing pack unawares, with Paul Ford (388), Josh Smith (191), Matt Newson (16), and Billy Johnson (169) getting caught up. The leader picked his way through but Sworder was out of sorts and the 150 went nose first into the wires.

Action in the early laps. Only Mal Brown survived to the end.

Action in the early laps. Only Mal Brown survived to the end.

Waved yellows to clear the track saw race order on the restart reading 197, with backmarker Geoff Nickolls (215) next in line, then Hines, Wainman, and Ed Neachell (321). Wainman didn’t last long, the 515 car spinning unaided into the turn three fence. Up front, Hines put the bumper in on Harrison, to no avail, other than a massive roar from the home straight crowd. Hines had another couple of taps at the 197 bumper before Harrison began to edge away.

Wainman and Sworder had both recovered from their earlier mishaps, Sworder bumpered Wainman wide before Wainman repaid.

This was the closest that Paul Hines got to taking the lead.

This was the closest that Paul Hines got to taking the lead.

The turn three fence took another battering when Colin Goodswen (372) tangled with Neachell and Carl Pickering (141) and all three went in hard, with the 372 car taking the brunt of the impact. This snapped the track rod, but with not many cars still mobile Goodswen fancied his chances and despite only having steering on one of his front wheels, he pressed on regardless.

Meanwhile, after his earlier skirmish, Sworder was still on the move up the order, bumpering Mal Brown wide.

As the halfway flag was shown, it was still Harrison a couple of lengths ahead of Hines, who was now clear. Harrison had a scare when the slow and erratically moving Goodswen wandered across the path of Harrison as he charged down the home straight. Harrison was hard on the brakes, coming almost to a dead stop, and Hines rapidly closed the gap.

For a split second the massed terraces held their breath in anticipation of Hines dumping both into the wires…. but it seemed that Paul Hines was the coolest person in the stadium and had already realised that such a big impact would be a very high risk strategy, and eased off.

Carl Swift takes a trip through the wires.

Carl Swift takes a trip through the wires.

With Goodswen shunted to one side, Harrison was back up to race speed but with Hines hot on his tail. Another spin into the fence for Wainman might have caused Harrison a hairy moment; Wainman immediately had it in reverse and backed out into the path of the 197 car, resulting in a minor collision but not enough to make a difference.

A second caution was called after a train of cars consisting of semi-final debutante Carl Swift (245), Chris Cowley, and Carl Pickering, came to a dead stop in the wires; the 245 car being some considerable way through the fence.

The restart saw Wainman half spin and get clattered on the nerf by Sworder, before another spin to the turn three fence, whereupon the 515 car was hit by Goodswen, who was valiantly carrying on despite clearly struggling to control the car. Goodswen managed another lap or two before failing to negotiate turn three and smacking a fence post, finally ending his race.

Ryan Harrison on his way to a first ever World Semi-Final victory.

Ryan Harrison on his way to a first ever World Semi-Final victory.

With the last lap board out, the 197 car appeared to be emitting smoke and mis-firing, but he wasn’t going to stop now. Ryan Harrison took the flag and with it a front row start in September’s World Final, with Paul Hines second.

After the race, Paul Hines commented “Maybe I should have had a bigger go for the win half way through the race. But I honestly thought I’d be closer to have a go at the end”.

When asked about the challenge from Paul, Ryan remarked “Had it been someone else behind me, I’d have ended up hanging off a fence post, but Paul raced me fair and I’ll remember that”.

The second semi-final is at Buxton on Sunday 11th August, and the World Championship Final is at King’s Lynn on Satuday 21st September.

Photos: Colin Casserley
Words: Carl Hesketh

Jacklyn Ellis and Rebekah Montague walk the trophy around the track.

Jacklyn Ellis and Rebekah Montague walk the trophy around the track.

Mal Brown under attack from Chris Cowley.

Mal Brown under attack from Chris Cowley.

The calm before the storm.

The calm before the storm.

John Dowson and Paul Harrison finished 6th and 5th respectively.

John Dowson and Paul Harrison finished 6th and 5th respectively.

Finnikin leads Wainman down the back straight.

Finnikin leads Wainman down the back straight.

Ryan heads the line up on the restart.

Ryan heads the line up on the restart.

Daz Kitson inspects the damage.

Daz Kitson inspects the damage.

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