Venray 2013 World Cup Weekend Meeting Report

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This year’s staging of the World cup at Raceway Venray celebrated 35 years of competition between the best of BriSCA and the mainlands top tar stars. The quality of the driver entry did its best to match up to the quality of the venue with only those fans old enough to have witnessed racing at the old Wembley stadium able to claim they had seen racing at a superior venue.

Day 1 – Saturday

Saturday morning started out somewhat damp and overcast but as noon approached the sun chased the clouds out of town leaving a dry circuit of similar size to Ipswich but with longer straights and slightly tighter bends.

Prior to racing cars were subject to noise tests which some including the defending champion struggled to pass. Then practice ensued for all formulae before a six race F1 programme. There were two brand new cars amongst the British contingent with the drivers supreme leader Neil Scothern 152 debuting the second car to emerge from the Ian Gardiner Motorsport workshops, while Ivan Pritchard 434 also chose this meeting to shakedown a brand new car. Cars from the Pritchard stable are usually of a high standard of engineering and finish and this car was no exception, and by Sunday was showing pace to match its looks.

The brand new Ian Gardiner / Mark Thornton car of Neil Scothern.

The brand new Ian Gardiner / Mark Thornton car of Neil Scothern.

First serious business on Saturday was time trials for the top six Brits in the UK points to decide their starting positions for Sunday’s big race. Frankie Wainman jnr 515 edged out current world champion Lee Fairhurst by just 5 hundredths of a second to grab an inside row 3 starting spot. 84 Harris and Sworder 150 took row six with Danny Wainman 212 and Josh Smith 191 on row 9. Two further spots on the World cup grid were available to the remaining British drivers but these places would be given to those who scored most points in Saturdays races.

First race on track was for B and C grade drivers and had 16 starters. This was probably the tamest race of the whole weekend with minimal aggressive contact quite possibly due some oil on track from the 665 car of Johan Schouten. Not surprisingly former star grader Steve Reedman 361 was the top performing Brit crossing the line second behind local white top Jack Coenen in the 9 car. Coenen took his lap of honour but was subsequently removed from the result for a technical infringement handing the win to Reedman.

Jack Coenen was denied victory after post-race scrutineering.

Jack Coenen was denied victory after post-race scrutineering.

The first of four heats for all grades featured 22 starters and set the pattern for the rest of the weekend with lots of hard fast aggressive racing with most of the intentional contact instigated by the British contingent. Ronald van den Hadelkamp in the 13 car led from the start but soon had to give way to 195 Harmen Zwerver. Luke Davidson 464 showed lots of pace leaving his fellow stars behind but even he was soon swallowed up by Frankie Wainman jnr who proved his time trial win was no fluke blasting past the 464 car.

Up front 57 Theo Van Lier had taken the lead from the 195 car. Wainman also made his way passed the 195 car, but his chance of victory was snatched away when the 555 car of Alco Kappe joined up with 380 Chris Weyenberg to attack the back straight fence, and with these two cars in a vulnerable position the race was red flagged handing the trophy and glory to Theo Van Lier.

24 for heat two including 318 Rob Speak who went straight into attack mode with the 217 car of veteran Ron Kroonder being the main victim, chaos ensued with cars scattering in all directions and a halt was called and full graded restart. This interruption in proceedings did little to curb Speaks enthusiasm and as the green came down Loew Wobbes 22 received some aggressive treatment. Up front 7 Ronald Raaphorst battled for the lead with the 9 car. Contact continued all down the grid as Harris 84 put 77 Wesley Schapp into the turn two plating and 318 spun local favourite 148 Danny Schmidt.

Rob Speak's bumperwork was described as "enthusiastic" on his visit to Venray.

Rob Speak’s bumperwork was described as “enthusiastic” on his visit to Venray.

When racing features lots of contact its not unusual to find the 150 car of Mick Sworder in the midst of it however on this occasion 150 had avoided all the aggro and seemed well placed for a win having made it into fifth place and just four local lower graders between him and the trophy. No such luck for 150 as he tangled with the 9 car and headed for the fence. This left 318 and 84 chasing down the locals, a task made easier when yellows flags were required for the stranded 150 car. On the restart 318 passed 365 Joep Hendriks and held on for the last two laps with a rapid 84 car coming through for second.

Heat three continued in the same vein as the previous race with the Team Davidson cars of Luke 464 and Speak 318 charging from the red grade. While the 464 car used speed and precision to weave a path through the lower grades the 318 continued hitting anything within range. Speak took the lead around halfway while Luke 464 came under pressure from a fast moving Wainman 515. Five to go and 515 passed 464 but was too far back to challenge Speak.

Regular UK visitor Joep Hendriks getting a wheel in the air.

Regular UK visitor Joep Hendriks getting a wheel in the air.

23 on track for heat four and finally some serious resistance from the mainland in the shape of 399 Jessy de Bruyn who battled in the early laps with 434 Pritchard and 152 Scothern. 399 smacked 152 hard on turn 3 and cleared off in pursuit of the leaders, with little resistance from the lower grades De Bruyn was soon in the lead and took the chequered flag. Elsewhere Danny Wainman 212 did his best to remind the locals who was in charge putting a brutal hit in on 6 Geert Jan Keijzer on the final bend to snatch 8th place.

31 cars for the evenings final and more hectic action with Sworder 150 putting Lee Fairhurst and the 57 car into the turn four plating while 399 De Bruyn got out of shape and went hard into the fence on turn 2 all in the first two laps. The race was then red flagged to rescue the 57 and 380 cars from turn 4 and a full graded restart was called for. After a shambolic restart Joep Hendriks 365 made his way into the lead. Hendriks tried to build a lead but was being chased by 107 Lee Robinson who had a rapid Rob Speak 318 on his tail.

A sensible approach at this stage of the race would have been to sit behind 107 and chase down 365 but of course Speak could not wait and the bumper went in with a perfect hit from Speak taking him passed 107 and into second place. 107 responded with contact on 318 and as they both passed 365 it now became a battle for the lead.

The first three over the line in the Saturday night final.

The first three over the line in the Saturday night final.

It looked like these two drivers would fight it out for the trophy but neither had bargained with a majestic performance from Tom Harris 84, as the race progressed passed halfway Harris just got quicker and quicker and was soon all over Robinson and then with two to go passed Speak to take the lead. Robinson found some consolation on the last lap when he managed to get close enough to 318 to punch 318 wide on turn 3 and take second place.
Thus Saturdays racing came to a close but it was not the end of the drama as the 84 car was removed from the result for having insufficient ground clearance.

Day 2 – Sunday

Sunday started in a similar vein to Saturday being dull and overcast with persistent drizzle and as the morning progressed the drizzle became heavy rain. In the pits one could be forgiven for thinking that Bernie Ecclestone had taken control of proceedings as there was some debate as to the likelihood of the World Cup being declared a “wet” race which would allow drivers to cut some additional tread on their tyres. Fortunately the sun made an appearance before start time and a huge crowd basked in the sunshine as the cars emerged on track for the big race.

Frankie Wainman and Lee Fairhurst line up for the World Cup in front of the packed Venray grandstand.

Frankie Wainman and Lee Fairhurst line up for the World Cup in front of the packed Venray grandstand.

Eight British drivers made it onto the World cup grid with 464 and 318 on row 12 joining the 6 from the time trials. 107 Lee Robinson use his pole start to good effect taking an early lead. Behind 107 cars fought and bashed and crashed in all directions. Early casualties were 217 Ron Kroonder in the fence on turn 2 while Lee Fairhurst was attacked by 77 Wesley Schapp . 107 lead from 99 Johan Catsberg but the race had to be red flagged on lap two as Louw Wobbes punted 212 Danny Wainman wide on turn two and 212 managed to ride the plating and then rollover.

A full restart commenced without Wainman 212, Kroonder 217 and several other local drivers. As the cars rolled 399 struggled to get his car moving and the start was aborted, the cars went round again but now minus 515 Wainman jnr who retired to the infield. 107 lead on the restart while 99 tried to resist the aggressive intentions of Lee Fairhurst. In fact 99 lifted the spirits of the local fans with aggressive hits on 1 and 84 Harris but it all got too much for him and he retired following contact with the turn 2 plating. Harris now set about closing down on the leading 107 car.

Ron Kroonder and Danny Wainman clatter the fence.

Ron Kroonder and Danny Wainman clatter the fence.

Hopes of an epic battle for the lead evaporated as the 107 car was not handling quite right while 84 was totally on it and shot passed and soon lead by half a straight. It seemed like nothing could stop Harris retaining the title and a yellow caution flag closed up the field but he just drove away from them at a speed none could match. 107 was comfortable in second while behind him 150,464 and 318 scrapped for third. Speak got the better of Luke and Mick 150 did make a big lunge at Robinson on the very last bend but was to far back to make contact. All cars sailed through post race scrutineering, thus completing a best ever World cup result for the British contingent.

Two more heats and a final were programmed and with all available cars in the heats packed grids produced masses of action. 37 on track for heat one with 212 now back out on track using a wing from the Louw Wobbes car. 515 Wainman continued to suffer bad luck getting in a tangle with 99 and 107 and retiring to the infield. Lone Scottish representative Paul Ford 388 did his best to keep things interesting dishing out hits to lots of cars. Yellow flags then came out for debris on track.

Surely the furthest travelled? Paul Ford went all the way from St Boswells in Scotland to race at Venray. That's about 650 miles each way!

Surely the furthest travelled? Paul Ford went all the way from St Boswells in Scotland to race at Venray. That’s about 650 miles each way!

On the restart the lead car was 361 Steve Reedman but he soon had to give way to teammate Ivan Pritchard. The 434 car built a healthy lead but as the laps ticked down it was that man again Rob Speak 318 doing the hunting, Robert did get close enough for a half hearted attack on the last bend but it was not enough to reverse the places.

Heat two and a 33 car field produced more chaotic action. Wainman 515 finally got his car to perform for a full race distance and battled with Rob Speak and Ivan Pritchard for several laps. Further back 107,77,339 and 217 battled away with 77 sending 399 to the fence. Shapp 77 then brought the race to a halt losing his stub axle and halfshaft on the back straight which was then vaulted by Ivan 434. With only a couple of laps to go a result was declared with Speak taking a lap of honour, the enthusiastic response on his lap of honour from the packed crowd leaving no doubt that the Speak style of racing is what keeps spectators coming back for more.

Ivan Pritchard gets his new car airborne driving over the loose halfshaft of the Wesley Schaap car.

Ivan Pritchard gets his new car airborne driving over the loose halfshaft of the Wesley Schaap car.

Last F1 race of a long weekend was the meeting final with 27 cars on the grid. 555 held the early lead while 399 Jessy de Bruyn hit the fence in turn 2, while 318,99 and an aggressive 107 Lee Robinson did likewise in turn 3. 318 recovered and began a scrap with Wainman 515. Harmen Zwerver 195 took up the lead but he soon had to give way to Pritchard 434. The 434 car showed lots of pace but was still being closed down by 464 and third placed Hitman Harris. 464 and then 84 overhauled Pritchard as the laps ticked down with 464 using every bit of power available to keep a safe distance from the 84 bumper and take the win completing an excellent set of results for Team Davidson.

While the leaders reeled of the last few laps 150 and 318 kept the crowd entertained with a tussle over fourth place, several sturdy hits were exchanged and on the last lap as they entered the home straight 150 tipped the 318 car into a spin. Speak has legendary car control but still left many in the grandstand gasping as he took the car through a full 360 degree spin hammered the throttle and blasted over the line. A fitting end to a top drawer weekend of racing.

If this report seems overly focused on the British contingent then one has to say that’s because in truth the BriSCA drivers were almost most totally dominant for the whole weekend with way too much speed, aggression and experience for the mainland drivers. The future at Raceway Venray now seems to be more secure with plans for a larger number of events in 2014. One can only hope that young guns like De Bruyn 399 and Schapp 77 can use the experience gained this year and the extra meetings planned next year to add to their raw talent, thus hopefully providing a sterner challenge to the visitors when they return next August.

Words – Damian Noblett
Photos – Colin Casserley

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Johan Catsburg fronts the line up for the World Cup.

Johan Catsburg fronts the line up for the World Cup.

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