Andy Smith Wins 2008 World Final

2008 World Champion - Andy Smith

2008 World Champion - Andy Smith

Andy Smith is the new F1 Stock Car World Champion, after a clinical and faultless drive around the big Ipswich track. In a race almost completely devoid of incident, Smith led from green to chequered with only fellow front row starter and eventual runner-up Paul Harrison seeming able to keep up with the flying 391 car.

After three rolling laps, the start of the race was somewhat dubious, with some pushing and shoving going on and the result being the first five or six rows of the inside grid moving ahead of the outside. Maybe Paul Harrison just didn’t want to be the first one into the first bend, but as they rounded turn three on the rolling lap Andy Smith was clearly at least a car length ahead of Harrison, and the following few rows were also out of position. Maybe Harrison just didn’t want to be the first one into the first bend, but either way, Smith was in the lead before the race even started.

It could be argued that the green shouldn’t have dropped, but on the other hand Harrison should have stayed with Smith. The starter appeared to take the latter view, as despite the grid being out of formation, the green was waved and the 2008 World Final was underway. In trouble immediately were Frankie Wainman Junior (515) and Louw Wobbes (H22), as the back bumper of the H22 car got stuck on the front 515 bumper and both bounced off the home straight fence while a lot of the pack went past, and Mat Newson (16) and Kyle Fraser (NZ1) piling into them.

Up front, Smith (391) had already pulled a slight lead from Harrison (2), with defending champion Stu Smith (1) in third and Wainman (515) rejoining well down the order and on a charge, catching and passing Tom Harris (84), Dave Berresford (260), and Derek Fairhurst (218) in quick succession. New Zealander Peter Bengston (NZ58) lasted only three laps before he tangled with Mick Harris (8) and both went into the turn three fence, where Daniel Wainman (212) crashed into them.

Race order now read Andy Smith leading, from Paul Harrison, Stu Smith (1), Paul Hines (259), with Ron Kroonder (H217) rounding out the top five. Smith (1) bumpered backmarker Pablo Brandenberg (H51) wide, but cost himself some time in the process. This allowed Hines to close in and push the number 1 car wide, with Kroonder also getting past.

With not many laps gone, Smith (391) was amongst the backmarkers, with Harrison (2) about two lengths behind, and at this stage the two cars looked to be very evenly matched. Smith (1) briefly took fourth place from Kroonder but the Dutchman was quick to move back ahead.

The only real drama of the race came on about lap 12, when the engine in the 260 car let go entering turn three and dropped oil onto the track. This ended Hines’ hopes of a podium finish, as he span on the oil and lost at least a lap. John Lund (53) was also caught out, as was Murray Harrison (97).

After his initial charge, Wainman (515) didn’t appear to be making much progress and remained in the lower reaches of the top ten and unable to catch Lee Robinson.

But all eyes were at the front, where Harrison was still just a couple of lengths behind Smith, and appeared to be just waiting until he felt the moment was right to plant Smith into a backmarker, of which there were plenty. But that moment never came, and as the remaining laps ticked by, Smith gradually increased his lead to the point where Harrison couldn’t strike even if he wanted to.

The only proper stock car action of the race came on the very last bend. Robinson and Wainman were now up to 6th and 7th place, but a massive hit by Craig Finnnikin (55) put Wainman hard into Robinson, and both cars went backwards towards the fence. Some impressive car control by Robinson kept the 107 machine facing the right way, and he just beat Finnikin over the line, while Harris (84) and Hines both passed Wainman before the line.

Andy Smith took the chequered and his thid world title, with a winning margin of about four lengths. Paul Harrison, it appeared, had the pace, but not the the conviction, to be a match for Smith. In the pre-race interview, Harrison had openly stated that he thought he could win and this was his best chance. But from the moment the immortal words “Gentlemen, start your engines” were uttered, Harrison just didn’t look like a man with victory on his mind. He was hesitant at the start, reluctant to make any kind of move, and lacked the killer instinct that separates the good from the best.

1st 391 Andy Smith
2nd 2 Paul Harrison
3rd H217 Ron Kroonder
4th 1 Stu Smith
5th 21 Mark Gilbank
6th 107 Lee Robinson
7th 55 Craig Finnikin
8th 84 Tom Harris
9th 259 Paul Hines
10th 515 Frankie Wainman
11th 12 Michael Scriven
12th 53 John Lund
13th H32 Axel Nijs
14th 305 Carlos Perez
15th 507 Neil Smith

Report by Carl Hesketh

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