Skegness, 29th July 2017 – Meeting Report and Photo Gallery

All roads led east for the first of this year’s World Championship semi-finals, held at Skegness Stadium on a cloudy but warm evening. Rain was forecast but thankfully stayed away until half-way through the meeting when it arrived in bucket-loads!

A whopping thirty cars for Heat One, stopped almost as soon as it had started when Jacklyn Ellis (219) threw a rear wheel at the fence. A complete restart saw Austin Moore (127) on pole, but he was pushed off to the centre, leaving Karl Whiteman (303) and Sam Render (385) to take the green flag.

A few laps in, Render lost it going down the home straight and finished up sideways across the track, not a good place to be, so a caution was called (eventually) to move the stranded 385 to safety. Todd Jones (186) was already in front at the stoppage and surged away at the restart to win comfortably from Frankie Wainman Junior (1) and Dan Johnson (4), with George Elwell (501) an excellent fourth ahead of Hooper (545) and Harris (84).

Jacklyn Ellis lost her wheel going into turn one, resulting in a complete restart in Heat 1

Heat two doubled as the feature race of the night and the semi gridded as per programme with the exception of Paul Carter (300) who came in as reserve for non-starter John Wright (348). A properly ordered rolling lap saw Nigel Green (445) take the initiative, leading into turn one with Stuart Smith (390) tucked in behind.

New boy (!) Rob Speak (318) launched an attack from row four, skittling cars into the bend but losing time and places himself as the order down the back straight was 445, 390, 16, 197, 217, 318 and everybody else. Sarge (326) ground to a halt as bumpers clashed further down the grid but up front Green maintained a useful lead over Smith while Newson lost out to both Harrison (197) and Fairhurst (217).

Rob Speak in the Semi-Final parade lap

The leader was now coming up behind back-markers and how he dealt with these could spell success or disaster for Green. Carter was the first to feel the 445 front bumper, unceremoniously dumped into the parked Brad Harrison (25) car on turn two, leaving the 2/25 team with much repair work to do. Next lap, same bend and Green has Steve Webster (401) ahead of him. Instead of a clean push and pass Nigel found the 401 car sideways across his bows and Smith almost reluctantly took the lead to many cheers from the crowd.

Green trailed the 390 car for a couple of laps before nudging him wide on the pit bend to regain the top spot with Smith close behind, pushing the 445 car around but not appearing to want to pass, allowing 197 and 217 to close up. With one to go, Smith looked set for a last bender on Green but settled for second ahead of 197, 217 and Mr Promoter Speak. Congratulations to Frankie Wainman Junior Jnr (555) for coming home tenth to qualify for the World Final after a typically workman-like drive from the youngster.

New European Champ Nigel Green takes the top spot in Semi-Final #1

The consolation saw a flag to flag victory for F2 driver Craig Tomblin (299) in his first meeting, driving a Newson hire car, with Danny Wainman (212) eventually getting up to second place by the end but just not close enough to challenge.

The Consolation saw a flag-to-flag by former BriSCA F2 driver Craig Tomblin

The promised rain fell with a vengeance from around 9pm onwards, just in time to ruin the final. Dean Whitwell (195) led, FWJ spun and the race was cautioned for a car stopped on the home straight. The restart saw Aaron Leach (70) take over the lead briefly with Todd Jones, seemingly at home in the conditions, soon up to second.

Another caution for a tangle on the pit bend saw Jones hit the front as Leach slid wide, but a spin by Ben Riley (422) on turn four trapped Elwell and triggered a multi-car shemozzle on the back straight involving 1, 4, 259, 390 and 501, allowing a fast-moving Tom Harris to make inroads into Jones’ lead as the yellow flags flew for a caution. Green had made great progress from the back but Jones took off at the restart to pull out a good lead with Hunter (220) second. Harris, fastest man on the track, reeled Jones in as the Farnborough man hit traffic, punting the 186 car wide on the pit bend with three to go to take the flag from Jones and Green.

Tom Harris held off the competition to take the flag in the final

Stuart Smith showed a remarkable turn of speed in the very wet Grand National, up to sixth spot within a couple of laps as Wainman (1) and Harrison (2) fell over each other on the back straight. Another caution saw Smith in front shortly after the restart with Green up to second at the flag ahead of final winner Harris.

Not a bad session but the rain saw many spectators leaving well before the end. Perhaps the Micro F2 races could have been run pre-meeting – with F2s on the bill as well it was around 11pm when the last chequered flag finally fell. That may be fine for a speed-weekend but a tad late for a solus meeting when fans and drivers have long wet journeys ahead of them. Just my opinion, of course.

Stuart Smith Junior took a comfortable win in the Grand National

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley

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