Harris Secures Maiden British Title After Last Lap Drama
By BSCDA, Jun 22 2019 11:27AM
Tom Harris snatched a sought after BriSCA F1 British Championship after late drama at Hednesford Raceway. Entering the final lap in third place, Harris was on hand to profit after long-time race leader Matt Newson, and Lee Fairhurst clashed on the last bend.
With two-time former British Champion Fairhurst unwilling to settle for second place, the race reached a blistering conclusion with the 217-car launching a desperate attack on Newson’s rear bumper, as the front two entered the East-bend for the final time. The force of the 217-bumper sent both cars spinning towards the armco, allowing Harris to slip up the inside, as the momentum propelled the16-car into the about to be lapped Karl Hawkins.
As both lead cars bouncing off the armco, Harris lit up the rear wheels of the J Davidson machine, to cross the finish line and claim the title, ahead of Frankie Wainman Jnr, who also took advantage as both Newson and Fairhurst attempted to recover.
For Harris it was jubilation at landing the last of the major BriSCA F1 titles, and one which had previously evaded the former World Champion. Whereas, for Newson, it was further despair after once again coming agonisingly close to a first British title, only to see his hopes ended for a second successive year, with the finish line in sight.
Whilst everything dropped into place for Harris, it was a case of so near yet so far for Newson, and yet another hard luck story.
“I’m just gutted,” reflected a disappointed Newson.
“I lost [the race] on the last corner last year and I genuinely didn’t think that I’d ever get closer then, but today I think I got just as close again!”
“I’ve lost two British finals on the last corner, and I’ve probably led enough laps to win both.”
“I set off at the start and I wanted to get away. It was no good being in the middle of the pack, so I used up my tyres thinking it would be okay.”
Newson was quick to reflect on the move that prevented him righting the story from last year’s race, and also quick to heap praise on Fairhurst for his all-or-nothing mentality.
“Credit to Lee, you’ve got to have a go for it and I’d have been the same. You don’t want to lose a Britsh title final without having a go, so it has to happen.”
For Harris, as the new champion, unsurprisingly it was an entirely different set of emotions.
“I can’t believe it,” said a delighted Harris.
“It’s the only [title] that has eluded me. No-one in this stadium would know how desperate I was to win that race.”
Harris accepted that the win looked less likely as the laps counted down, yet summed up perfectly the unpredictable nature of BriSCA F1.
“Matt had it won, that was a third-placed finish, but that’s stock car racing!”
“Me and Lee were gaining on Matt and I thought if I could get to him sooner, I could deal with both of them.”
“With the lap-boards, I just ran out of time.”
Runner-up Wainman likewise accepted that in Fairhurst’s position, he would have tried the same.
“Lee had to go for Matt on the last bend, he just had to do it,” said the current National Points Shootout Champion.
“I just wasn’t close enough to get onto Tom at the end.”
Despite being a prominent front-runner early on and looking like Newson’s main threat, the record nine-times British Champion, soon found himself overhauled by eventual winner Harris and the fast-moving 217-car.
“I suffered with brakes fading towards the end and Lee and Tom, who were both on it, came flying past me.”
“I’ve had a good day, the car has been well on the pace all day and with second in the British Championship, I’m really pleased.”
Newson, in a repeat of last-year’s title race, seemed on course for a flag to flag victory, only to lose the title metres from the chequered flag, in a near exact repeat of the 2018 race.
The 16-car appeared to be moving closer towards the title after twice gaining the advantage from the chasing pack. After an incisive break-away at the drop of the green, Newson again took the initiative on the restart following an early caution.
As first Wainman and then Fairhurst tried in vain to reel in the 16-car, Newson this time appeared to have done enough to secure the title, before Fairhurst was finally in range to attempt deny his fellow Super Star.
The 16-car had earlier looked in imperious form after securing pole-position for the title race, following two wins in the qualifying heats. In the six heat format there were also wins for Ryan Harrison and the impressive Joe Nickolls from yellow grade. They were joined on the honours board by Danny Wainman in the dual-surface 212-car and Ashley England, who kept his cool to claim Heat Three ahead of Kelvin Hassell.
Report by Simon Hughes
Photos courtesy of Colin Casserley