Preview: British Championship 2016

The gold and silver roofs are decided over season-long campaigns involving qualifying points, semi-finals and shootouts. The British Championship is different. Everything rests on one meeting. Get it wrong and you’ve lost your chance for glory. Get it right, you take the spoils.

Drivers race in a set number of heats – likely to be three out of five – with the results used to generate the championship grid. The top performers start at the front, those who only just scrape together enough points start at the back.

Since the heats are gridded in graded order, lower-grade drivers often make the most of starting further forward. Last year, yellow top Joff Gibson started the championship race in pole position, but was understandably unwilling to bumper the slow-moving pace car out of the way. That left the door open for pre-meeting favourite Lee Fairhurst to sneak through from the second row and drive away for an easy win.

Skegness has hosted the British Championship four times. The last occasion was 2010 when Paul Hines took the title. The first time was 1987, when a youthful John Lund took the chequered flag. Both of them will be hoping to win the right to race under a black-and-white checked roof in 2016!

 The Defending Champion:

Few were prepared to bet against man-in-form Lee Fairhurst before last year’s British Championship. He survived an early scare – a DNF in his first heat – to win his next two races and stroll to victory in the championship race. Lee isn’t as dominant on tarmac so far in 2016, but he should never be counted out in any race on the hard stuff. He also has fond memories of Skegness, the venue of his famous back-to-front World Final win in 2012.

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Defending champion Lee Fairhurst will be hoping to keep the chequered roof for another year

The Challengers:

Nigel Green is the breakthrough driver of 2016, reaching the heady heights of superstar grade after five race wins in April, including a heat and final at Northampton. Those wins have helped him become the third-highest scorer on tarmac so far this season. Things have gone a little quiet in May, but maybe he’s just keeping his powder dry for a crack at the British crown.

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Can Nigel Green win his first F1 championship title?

Frankie Wainman Junior has won the British Championship seven times – no driver has won it more – and he is back in fine form. Frankie’s new shale car has won him oodles of points on the loose so far this season, but he’s been flying under the radar on tarmac. He is the second-highest scorer on the hard stuff and possibly the man most drivers will consider the greatest threat.

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Frankie Wainman Junior (515) has the most British Championship wins in BriSCA F1 history

So who has scored the most tarmac points so far in 2016? Mat Newson should go to Skegness more confident than ever. He has stood on major championship podiums five times in the past two years, but never on the top step. Could this be the time he takes a title?

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Can Mat Newson (16) make it into the top step of the podium at Skegness?

The Dark Horses:

New UK Open Champion Neil Scriven won heat and the final en route to his first ever championship win at Skegness last month. He also managed to avoid being promoted to blue in the new grading period, so he’ll have the advantage of starting from yellow grade. Scriven must be one of the favourites to start the British Championship race from pole position – if he does, can he get away when the stars and superstars are breathing down his neck?

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Neil Scriven has already claimed one title at Skegness this season – can he make it two?

Could a Dutchman win the British Championship? Daniel van Spijker can race in the British as a result of being a UK-registered driver, and considering the amount of time he spends on ferries crossing the English Channel, nobody deserves a place on the grid more. Dan van has hit form in 2016, reaching red top for the first time. He’ll find it hard from the back, but would prove a popular winner.

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Will Fairhurst be passing his chequered roof to Daniel van Spijker?

The last time the title was taken by a blue top was in 1994, when Phil Smith was the victor. Is it time for another blue top winner? Last tarmac final winner Ben Riley and the recently downgraded Michael Scriven will be hoping to take advantage of their positions in front of the reds to try and earn a decent grid position.

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Ben Riley will be hoping to continue his winning form on tar

Did you know? Frankie Wainman Junior has finished in second place on two occasions when the British Championship has been raced at Skegness. Both times he was beaten by a Smith – Phil Smith in 1994 and Andy Smith in 2007. Wonder whether Stuart Smith knows that…

Words: Scott Reeves
Photos: Colin Casserley

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