Stoke, September 28th 2013 – meeting report

The biggest round of applause of the night, and quite possibly the entire season, for Tim Warwick’s win in the Consolation.

The biggest round of applause of the night, and quite possibly the entire season, for Tim Warwick’s win in the Consolation.

With the possibility of the September 28th meeting at Stoke being the last for some time it again brought a very healthy crowd and grid of cars to the potteries.

In the pits the 84 shale car was sporting a newly painted plain gold wing with Tom taking the number 1 for the next year whilst Lee Fairhurst was back to number 217 with the chequered Britsh Champ roof colours. Also good to see was Rob Mitchell 95 returning at Blue grade in the ex Rob Braithwaite car. 94 John Dowson was in the ex 446 Booth car which since its ownership transfer has seen a fair turnover of drivers in the seat.

Heat 1 saw a good grid of cars with 448 Jason Eaton leading off the grid. By the end of the first lap 307 Warwick had taken the lead from 306 Ian Noden, meanwhile the Stoke track was already catching out the regulars with 463 James Morris and 16 Matt Newson spinning on turns 3/4 and the yellow flag being shown on lap 2 for 306 Ian Noden being stationary and pointing the wrong way on the main straight. On the re-start it was Warwick from 11 Neil Scriven, 238 Richard Bryan and 215 Geoff Nicholls, Frankie Wainman already in 6th spot.

The Newson car had retired to the centre green along with a for the night in general a luckless 150 Mick Sworder. At the green flag 191 Josh Smith retired with a flat tyre and by lap 6 the 515 car was closing on Warwick, Wainman pushing Warwick aside on turns 3/4 at the halfway stage with the Fairhurst behind followed by Harris. Wainman then took up a healthy lead to the end with Harris overhauling Fairhust for second spot after a tussle down the back straight.

Great to see Dave Willis back after missing the start of the season recovering from a knee operation.

Great to see Dave Willis back after missing the start of the season recovering from a knee operation.

The second heat started with a red flag almost immediately with Daniel van Spijker H231 stalling on the back straight, 34 Mal Brown taking evasive action to the centre green and as soon as the cars slowed H231 got going gain but a full re-grid was done as by this point cars were all over the place. On the re-strat H231 retired to the centre grid and by the end of lap one, 44 Mark Harrhy was leading the pack but at the back the shootout drivers were exchanging bumpers with 21 Mark Gilbank and John Lund still ahead of the shootout drivers.

By lap six 55 Craig Finnikin was the leading shootout driver but was soon pushed aside by Ryan Harrison on turn 3, meanwhile Gilbank had broken free with 4 Dan Johnson in pursuit. By half way Mark Harrhy was still leading from 51 Dylan Williams Maynard but with four laps to go Harrhy lost ground letting Maynard through with Harrhy then retiring. On the last lap Maynard was still leading while Johnson tried a last bender on Gillbank for second spot, Gillbank hanging on and holding second spot to the line from Johnson followed by Ryan Harrioson, paul Harrison and Finnikin. Not a bad result for Maynard and an excellent Birthday treat to boot.

The Consolation saw a grid of 23 cars including the yet to qualify shootout drivers of Mick sworder, Josh Smith, Danny Wainman and Matt Newson and was a race that showed the Stoke track at its best. On the green flag Tim Warwick took an early lead amongst another 14 white and yellow drivers, an early pile up on lap two on turn 3 saw Sworder, Smith and John Lund retiring to the centre while Warwick kept up his early lead.

Further action took place on the turns 1/2 bend with 207 Ben Hurdman left facing front bumper pointing skywards on one of the marker tyres. Racing continued until lap 7 when the yellows were brought out for the stranded Hurdman car. Racing then continued when Hurdman had left the car, the staff leaving the 207 car where it was, rather unfortunate for Hurdman as 3 laps later another car caught the rear of the upended car leading to some roll cage damage to be repaired at a later date by the 207 team.

Not exactly an ideal parking spot for Ben Hurdman.

Not exactly an ideal parking spot for Ben Hurdman.

At the re-start it was still Warwick who had the lead, the two Harrhy brother meanwhile hooking up and taking each other out with 448 Jason Eaton and 95 Rob Mitchell suffering a similar fate on the main straight the racing continuing around these two cars. At halfway it was still Warwick leading with a good lead from 135 James Bailey and Newson in third.

With five laps to go Newson was now second with Wainman third and the Warwick car still held onto a very healthy lead. With one lap to go Warwick was held up and Newson gained the advantage. On the last bend a pile up of lower graders occurred and Newson went for the Warwick car, with seemingly nowhere to go for Warwick and all looking lost the 307 car went for a gap that was not there and to the delight of the crowd appeared the other side and onwards to the chequred flag. The final result was Warwick from Wainamn, 394 Chris Clare and Newson, docked 2 places to 4th for jumping the re-start, Newson then being re-instated to 2nd place later after a stewards enquiry!

On perhaps one of the slowest parade laps ever Warwick took rapturous applause from the crowd along the lines of a World Championship parade lap, proving Stoke to be a real leveller of a track – Peter York summing it up on the post race interview to Tim:- “How did you get through on the last lap?”, Tim replying “I closed my eyes and just kept going”.

Dylan Williams-Maynard followed up a Heat win with this stunt in the Final.

Dylan Williams-Maynard followed up a Heat win with this stunt in the Final.

The Final had a grid of 22 cars and saw some hard and fast racing from the shootout drivers which in the early part of the race was difficult to follow. Bumpers were going in hard and fast from the shootout drivers with 4 Johnson putting in a big hit on 515 on turns 1/2 and by lap 7 the yellows were out after 55 Finnikin putting in a big hit on turn 3 resulting in the 462 Scott Davids car needing to be tractored off and the Harris car retiring to the infield.

On the re-start it was 4 Johnson from a lap down Gilbank, 55 Finnikin, 212 Wainman, 335 Mark Woodhull, 94 John Dowson and 197 Ryan Harrison. Finnikin soon took second place behind Johnson and it looked as if this may remain the same to the end but as the track dried the 55 car just seems to get quicker and with 4 laps to go Finnikin pushed the Johnson car aside and with the pace of the 55 car Johson never got near enough to challenge again with Ryan Harrison coming into the final podium spot.

Craig Finnikin has a look up the inside of Dan Johnson on his way to victory in the Final.

Craig Finnikin has a look up the inside of Dan Johnson on his way to victory in the Final.

The Grand National had a grid of 25 cars and the action continued with chaos early on with the Scott Davids going in very hard into the pit gate fence, the 335 Mark Woodhall car on the opposite side of Davids car on the infield stranded on a marker tyre this bringing out the yellows. On the re-start it was 11 Neil Scriven leading from 34 Mal Brown, Gilbank, John Lund and Ryan Harrison. By halfway Gilbank had taken the lead from Ryan Harrison, Scriven and Lund with the cars of Sworder and Finnikin further back on a charge.

Unfortunately the luckless Sworder car with 5 to go hooked up with 55 Finnikin car and both ended up stranded on the infield and with 2 laps to go the Gilbank car had a healthy lead over Harrison which he held onto on by now a very dry track to the finish, the 515 car of Frankie Wainman having a fantastic finish in third place after looking almost out of earlier after a trip to the fence.

Another great nights racing and entertainment at the Potteries venue and fortunately after some uncertainties over its future for F1 fixtures now has a date next year for 19th April 2014.

Photos: Andrew Gaskell, Colin Casserley
Words: Andy Armer

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