World Final 2018, Skegness, 15th September 2018 – Race Report

Stuart Smith raced to an untroubled second world title at Skegness on Saturday night, dispelling any fears that his tarmac form and car were not up to the job. In a dominant display the Rochdale man simply drove away from the field from lap two to regain the gold roof he last wore in 2007.

The 2018 World Final grid

The single rolling lap caught out many a spectator as the cars roared into turn one, Lee Fairhurst (217) pushed Smith (390) wide letting Tom Harris (84) through to head the cars down the back straight for the first time. The eagerly anticipated first bend pile-up just didn’t happen and all cars successfully negotiated the seaside turn. Fairhurst struck again on turn three, possibly with a bit of help from Dan Johnson (4), sending Harris into the turn four armco but losing out to the orange number 4 car who led over the line for lap one.

A tap on Johnson’s rear bumper entering turn one for the second time saw Smith edge ahead of number 4, with Roy Maessen (H400), fastest of the overseas drivers and one of only two to record a sub 14 second lap in the time trials, in third and  clearly on the pace. Three cars tangled on the third bend, another two further on as Smith led from Johnson, Maessen and defending champion Nigel Green (445) while a Harris attempt to bulldoze those ahead only worked against him, letting Fairhurst into fifth. Johnson was baulked by an out of shape Ricky Wilson (502) on the back straight, losing touch with Smith while Fairhurst bumpered Green wide for fourth.

Maessen’s mightily impressive run in third came to an end as he bit the back straight fence, eventually retiring from the race after dropping back while Smith carved his way through the back-markers unhindered. Johnson had nothing for him, falling back into the clutches of Green after Fairhurst pulled onto the centre. Meanwhile Frankie Wainman Junior (515) moved into fourth after a long battle with Harris but as the lap boards came out Green was the length of a straight behind Smith and unable to gain any ground on the flying 390 machine without a caution, leaving Smith to add the World crown to the British title he won so dramatically in July.

Stuart Smith Junior taking his second World Championship title

The man behind the “Orange Initiative”, Harmen Zwerver (H195) received the award for the best overseas finisher, coming home in a fine eighth place from his row nine start while CSF winner Mat Newson (16) finished one place ahead after starting way back on row fifteen.

Not a World Final race that legends are made of, unlike the last one held at Skegness in 2012 but from lap two there was only going to be one winner:

Salute Stuart Smith – 2018 World Champion

Words: Mick Jenkins
Photos: Colin Casserley

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