Skegness Semi Final – meeting report and photo gallery

A World Championship semi final can, on occasions, provide high drama and high octane action, although more often than not, the potential prize of World Final qualification encourages a ‘safety first’, cautious approach from many drivers and thus rather processional racing. Skegness managed to provide both with a race of two halves; starting in a most aggressive and frantic manner, then becoming something of a high speed procession after the half-way flag was shown.

James Morris (463) had decided not to take up his place on the rear of the grid so first reserve Mickey Randell (172) joined 23 others on a dry track, with current World Champion, Tom Harris, in pole position. Most fans expected the Harris car to sail off into the distance and, sure enough, as the green flag came down the cars exited turn 4 and Harris then entered turn 1 well clear of the pack.

On most occasions this would have been sufficient for Harris to make it round the bend unscathed but when the pack leader is the legendary Rob Speak (318) anything is possible and, sure enough, Speak accelerated hard into turn 1 and smacked Harris wide enough for the World Champion to connect with the turn two fence.

Speak was delayed a little while eliminating Harris, allowing Paul Harrison and Paul Hines through. Harris exited turn 2 still in fourth place but hostilities were suspended as yellow flags came out to rescue Josh Smith (191), who was stopped on the entrance to turn 3 after tangling with Stuart Smith Jnr (390).

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Josh Smith’s car brought out the first caution of the Semi Final.

Harrison led the restart with some fans hoping Harris would be able to show Speak what a real fencing felt like, but the #1 car was soon going backwards and then retired to the infield. Harrison set about building a lead while Speak began attacking Hines, although not with quite the same vigour as when disposing of Harris.

Action and contact occurred on every bend; Mark Gilbank (21) took a swipe at the 390 car in turn 2 and then dived at Micky Randell in turn 3. This would have been all fine and dandy but 390 went for the 21 car and thus Randell ended up getting a double portion of contact and crunched the fence in turn 4.

Will Yarrow (22) gave Ricky Wilson (502) a hefty shove which deposited him in the back of Randell and yellow flags came out to rescue both cars. Gilbank also failed to make the restart having suffered a puncture.

It was 2 from 259, 318 and Craig Finnikin (55) on the restart. Harrison rebuilt his lead while Speak attacked Hines and took second place. Hines seemed to take a while to recover from the Speak aggression and slid down the order with 55,434 and a rejuvenated Mick Sworder (150) all going past. The 150 car had been messing around in the pack for the first 10 laps but was now on a charge and swept past Ivan Pritchard (434) and the 55 car to secure third place.

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After a poor start, Mick Sworder fought his way back to 3rd position.

At the halfway stage, Harrison had a comfy lead from 318, 150, 434 and 55. The race settled down now, with the first three well spaced out. The only further action was seeing Hines gather himself together, pass the 55 car and then execute a perfect last bend hit on the 434 car, which secured fourth for Hines without destroying the Pritchard car.

The first three took the applause and sprayed Champagne. In post race interviews they all seemed happy with their result, with Paul Harrison reminding everyone that victory at a previous Skegness Semi Final had been followed by a World Final win at Northampton. Sworder was, as usual, not short of bravado, telling the crowd that all of his opponents would be cut down to size at Coventry in September.

The lap of honour gave the crowd a chance to cheer the top three, but many saved their biggest cheer for the results, when it was confirmed that veteran John Lund (53) had defied all the odds using skill and experience built up over a magical 38 years of racing to secure tenth place in a car which has until now be struggling to stay on the lead lap. As both the driver and Brisca F1 are sixty years old this year it was a perfect result.

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Fans were delighted to see John Lund make it onto the World Final grid.

 Words: Damian Noblett

Photos: Colin Casserley

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