Skegness – May 12th 2013 Meeting Report

2013 UK Open Champion Chris Cowley

2013 UK Open Champion Chris Cowley

With just 34 cars surviving Saturday’s races the promotion took the wise decision to run a traditional two thirds format, giving each driver two heat races to score enough points to gain a prime starting spot in the big money UK Open Championship Final, once again sponsored by those stalwarts of the Skegness promotional team, the Kaleta family.

22 cars emerged for Heat One and were greeted by bright sunshine and a bracing wind. Perhaps the early start time had given drivers little time to get the adrenaline flowing as a quiet race ensued with lots of fast laps but little contact. Main beneficiary of this lack of action was Murray Harrison 97 who had borrowed his son Ryan’s tarmac special and continued his excellent form from Saturday taking a comfortable win. Murray was followed home by Chris Cowley 37, son of 2012 UK Open champion Rob. The big names at the back struggled to make any impression on the leaders with Tom Harris 84 a distant third and crowd pleaser Mick Sworder 150 retiring on the last lap with loss of engine power.

Shaun Blakemore feels the weight of Paul Hines' front bumper.

Shaun Blakemore feels the weight of Paul Hines’ front bumper.

23 ventured out for heat two including Mark Allen 161. Allen was starting from an advantageous yellow grade and with his Tom Harris Motorsport tarmac special being well suited to the Skegness oval it was no great surprise when he took victory. 161 spent the first five laps chasing 377 Jamie Jackson who produced some remarkably quick and controlled laps considering his lack of racing experience. 377 held onto second place until the five laps to go board was shown. He was then passed by a fast moving trio of veteran Mike James 417, Murray Harrison and world champion 1 Lee Fairhurst. While Allen 161 took an easy victory the fans were finally treated to some meaningful contact when Fairhurst punted the 97 car wide on the last bend to annex second place.

Mat Newson's tribute to 141 Paul Corker, who sadly passed away on May 5th.

Mat Newson’s tribute to 141 Paul Corker, who sadly passed away on May 5th.

Heat three went all a bit UK Gold with Allen 161 and Jackson 377 producing a repeat of heat two although on this occasion it took 161 just five laps to pass 377 and cruise onwards to victory. Fortunately for fans of real stock car racing the rest of the drivers had woken up sufficiently to indulge in some hitting with 212 Danny Wainman getting hammered by Rob Speak 318. Robert then went looking for others to play with and found 515 Frankie Wainman, Paul Hines 259 and Ed banger Neachell 321 all in the mood for contact and an entertaining few laps were only brought to an end when yellow flags were required to remove debris from the track. Allen 161 easily pulled away at the restart leaving second placed 417 Mike James to battle with Dan Johnson 4. James put up stiff resistance but got little reward for his efforts as he was passed by 515 FWJ and Chris Cowley. Wainman managed to slip past Johnson with two laps to go. Cowley got close enough to Johnson to launch a last bend attack but the 4 car held on for third.

The defending champion comes under attack from Micky Randell

The defending champion comes under attack from Micky Randell

Micky Randell going up...

Micky Randell going up…

The promotions decision to have a quick turnaround of races proved to be a wise choice as clouds gathered as 29 cars lined up for the UK Open championship final. 377 Jamie Jackson took the lead with Allen 161 in tow but the race was soon brought to a halt with yellow flags required to remove the 73 car of defending champion Rob Cowley which was stuck in the fence on turn 2. The restart soon put paid to Mickey Randell’s chances with a visit to the turn 4 armco. Elsewhere the big guns began to liven up with Sworder, Fairhurst and Speak 318 exchanging some substantial hits. Speak spent time visiting the fence on turn two while more aggression from Sworder left Fairhurst out of the race and stranded on the exit of turn four.

306 Ian Noden's tyre smoke

306 Ian Noden’s tyre smoke

As the race reached halfway 161 led from 377 with 97 Harrison and 37 Cowley hunting down the leaders. The pace slowed a little as light drizzle began to fall and with five to go, 37 and 97 had closed the gap on the 161 car. Last lap, last bend, and Cowley attacked 161 with a well timed lunge which sent Allen wide and a lap down 462 Scott Davids into the turn four fence. As Cowley took the flag more drama ensued on turn four with backmarker Dan Johnson planting the 150 car firmly into the turn four fence, Johnson had earlier been squeezed into the stationary Lee Fairhurst by 150 and had taken exception to this ill mannered driving style.

Thus the trophy stayed very much in the family with father Rob one of the first to congratulate a jubilant Chris on the centre green. Harrison 97 came second completing an excellent weekend in his son’s car while 16 Mat mad dog Newson avoided all the aggressive action at the back to be first superstar home in third.

Geert-Jan Keijzer under pressure from Dan Johnson

Geert-Jan Keijzer under pressure from Dan Johnson

A Grand National Championship heat closed proceedings and with the track now considerably wetter just 15 starters completed a much slower race. 377 Jackson led for two laps before retiring which left 361 Steve Reedman in the lead but he was swallowed up by Sworder 150 before halfway. 150 looked all set for a trophy but 84 hitman Harris seemed to have more pace than most on the wet track and with five to was in second and rapidly closing on Sworder. On the last lap 150 slowed down the back straight seemingly inviting the hitman to engage and sure enough a slap from Harris reversed the places.

While Harris and Sworder engaged in a little bit of seaside dodgems on turn two after the chequered flag the crowd headed for the exits with some already contemplating a return in July for what is often the best all contact weekender of the season.

Words: Damian Noblett
Photos: Colin Casserley

The top three in the UK Open - Mat Newson (3rd), Chris Cowley (1st), and Murray Harrison (2nd).

The top three in the UK Open – Mat Newson (3rd), Chris Cowley (1st), and Murray Harrison (2nd).

Two seventh place finishes for Joep Hendriks - seen here with  Dave Plumbley

Two seventh place finishes for Joep Hendriks – seen here with Dave Plumbley

Geert-Jan Keijzer was one of several visitors from The Netherlands.

Geert-Jan Keijzer was one of several visitors from The Netherlands.

The brand new Tom Harris built car of 422 Dave Riley.

The brand new Tom Harris built car of 422 Dave Riley.

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