The Uk open championship took place at a sunny Skegness Stadium and a quality field featured the best of Brisca and a select band of top tar stars from the Netherlands.
Fans gathered in the pits prior to racing and many hovered like Vultures round the wounded carcass of the badly damaged 55 car of Craig Finnikin. Considering the level of damage nobody would have been surprised to have seen the 55 team sit out Sundays racing however the Finnikins were clearly not prepared to lie down and were busy repairing the borrowed 422 car of David Riley in order to keep the 2011 shootout winner on track.
Each driver was allocated two out of four heats with the top 24 points scorers qualifying for the final, a further 8 places on the back of the grid were also available via a last chance qualifier.
22 cars for heat one including H77 Wesley Schaap who had stolen Ron Kroonders car for the day, and produced some excellent results on his track debut. 103 Richard Masterson had no other C graders to trouble him and used his pole position to build a good lead. Back in the pack 84 Tom Harris was being aggressive to anyone who got in his way. H399 Jessy de Bruin was a little more selective giving 515 Frankie Wainman Jnr as much grief as possible. The race settled down into something of a high speed procession and just before halfway 103 had to surrender his lead due to a flat tyre. H77 inherited the lead and looked set for a debut win until the final lap when a fast moving Chris Cowley 37 reeled him in and applied sufficient contact to introduce Schapp to the turn four armco and snatch the win.
19 for heat two led off by Shaun Willis 287. Willis soon gave way to H365 Joop Hendriks and 73 Rob Cowley. However neither of them had sufficient pace to deal with a revitalized Luke Davidson 464 who put his poor early season form to one side and took the lead and cruised home to take the win. Just for once 390 Stuart Smith Jnr focused on points rather than contact showing lots of pace to come home second. Fellow member of the heavy hitters club Mick Sworder 150 stuck with plan ‘A’ giving out plenty of hits with world champion Paul Harrison getting more than his fair share of attention. Sworder lost touch before the end of the race and was replaced by Dan Johnson 4 who attacked the Harrison car on the last lap but did not quite manage to reverse the places.
Both 84 and 55 had strapped new Goodyear tyres on for heat three as points were vital to secure a front of grade start in the Championship final. No white tops in this event thus H77 had a clear run from the B grade and led up to lap 7 when the rapid Cecil Sayers built 464 car of Luke Davidson muscled his way past. All look set for a repeat victory for 464 until Dan Johnson found some extra pace and reeled in the 464 car. Johnson took the lead with two to go. Last lap and the crowd urged 464 to throw some metal at Johnson and turn 3 saw a huge lunge from Davidson but the contact was not enough. Paul Harrison attempted a similar move on 16 Matt Newson but also failed to reverse the places.
23 machines for heat four. Masterson 103 led the first half of the race while 150, 515 and 390 provided the entertainment swapping hits and places. 217 Lee Fairhurst made a break from the rest of the stars and set off to hunt down second placed Rob Cowley and the 103 car. Cowley had enough pace to catch and pass the 103 car with five to go. Cowley proceeded to take flag and trophy remaining well clear of 217 who took second from 103 on the last lap.
Fourteen unfortunate souls braved the last chance qualifier for a place on the back of the final grid. Misfortune continued for 300 Paul Carter and 361 Steve Reedman who tangled on lap one charging the turn four fence and this brought out yellow flags. 285 Willis led the restart and retained the lead for 3 laps when 46 Marcel Jansen and 321 Ed Neachell went by. Neachell took just one more lap to overcome Jansen who lost a further place to Micheal Scriven on lap 7. At halfway 321 led the 12 car with Danny Wainman 212 and H399 Jessy De Bruin arguing over third place.
Not long after halfway 191 Josh Smith, Willis 285 and F2 star Daz Kitson destroyed their chances with a tangle in turn two. Meanwhile De Bruin found an extra gear and forced his way from fourth to first with some aggressive driving. The 399 car took the lead from Neachell with two laps to go leaving the 321 car to fend off an aggressive move from Scriven on the final bend. Despite his best efforts to entertain the crowd Scriven failed to remove the 321 car and a half spin saw him lose a further place to Wainman 212.
172 Mickey Randell and 321 Neachell were non starters for the final so 30 cars took the flag. In truth up to this point the racing had been relatively quiet when compared to Saturday’s action, although the crowd remained hopeful that the big grid would reproduce something closer to the white hot action seen the previous evening.
The flag dropped on a pole sitting 103 car but on this occasion Masterson managed just three leading laps before giving way to 73 Rob Cowley. Back in the pack action things seemed much more like Saturday night as hits went in on every bend. Sworder 150 landed a memorable hit on 515 Frankie Waiman jnr while 84 Harris and 217 Fairhurst blew their trophy chances when their aggression led to a tangle on the back straight.
Up front Rob Cowley was showing lots of pace keeping himself a safe distance from H77 Wesley Schapp but his lead evaporated when yellow flags were required to remove the H399 car from the middle of the home straight. Cowley led the restart from H77,103 and a rapid 464 car. As the green flag came down Cowley surged away in a most determined manner. 464 passed 103 and disposed of H77 with a chunky hit on turn two. One would have expected 464 to chase down and pass 73 but it just wasn’t that easy as Cowley was right on the limit and a complication arrived on the 464 rear bumper in the shape of Bad boy Smith 390. To his credit 464 did enough to keep out of range of 390 but as the last lap board was shown he was still several car lengths short of Cowley. As they went into turn 3 for the last time the 464 car did prepare himself to make an all or nothing charge at Cowley but the gap was too much and a jubilant Cowley crossed the line to take his first major title in over 30 years of competition.
After a substantial soaking in champagne courtesy of second placed Davidson and third man 390, Cowley took his Kaleta family sponsored trophy on a lap of honour to universal applause from a crowd who clearly enjoyed the enthusiasm Rob brings to his racing.
The journey home brought news on the radio of other winners in that other Premier league taking their first major victory after 44 years of waiting. While Rob Cowley may not have had to wait quite as long as Manchester City and may not have enjoyed the same level of financial reward no doubt the victory felt just as sweet.