POLE-SITTER GREEN REMAINS PHILOSOPHICAL WHILE WAINMAN JNR BELIEVES HE CAN DEFEND WORLD TITLE
By BSCDA, Sep 11 2017 08:17PM
With 34 cars in the line-up for the World Championship Final at Ipswich on Saturday, starting from pole position for the 25-lap race should be considered a major advantage.
On a large Tarmac oval like at Foxhall Stadium, cars with more horsepower will be expected to be in the shake-up for the title. And pole-sitter Nigel Green is sitting pretty, having won nine finals this season, five of which have been on Tarmac, including the European Championship.
However, despite being the odds-on 10-11 favourite with bookmakers Betfred, Green doesn’t expect to have an easy ride in his second World Final, particularly as in recent weeks his Tarmac form has not to been to the level he would have hoped.
“We’ve been a bit off the pace recently on Tarmac, basically since the semi-final,” admitted Green. “From then on I’ve struggled a bit really.
“So we’ve been through the car and found some issues. We had some problems with a couple of the dampers, so we have replaced those. And I had a bad vibration at Birmingham last time out and found that the clutch plates were cracked, so I was lucky to finish there, really.
“Hopefully, by rectifying those issues that will answer why we haven’t been setting the world alight over the past meeting or two on Tarmac.
“We also need to scrub some tyres in before the weekend, so hopefully we will do that on Wednesday at Northampton.”
With such a large field of cars on the track at the same time Green expects to have a busy race. “The corners are wide but the straights aren’t that wide at Ipswich,” Green said. “So it depends on how the backmarkers come into it.
“As I have said many times, it is a one-off race. You’re not going to win it without a bit of luck. We’ll see. I’ll do what I can and there are obviously plenty of drivers out there trying to stop me. Everybody wants to win it.
“In terms of threats, I’m not worried about anybody, really, It’s a one-off and anything could happen. We’re all in it to win it – let’s just hope it’s a good one.”
Reigning world champion Frankie Wainman Jnr is the most experienced driver on the grid, making his 28th World Final appearance. And while he has yet to win a final on Tarmac this season, the 45-year-old believes he still has the car to win the race.
“We’ve been working with the car quite a lot the last few meetings,” said Wainman Jnr. “The results aren’t there, but the car has felt really good.
“It was one of the quickest cars at Birmingham but I just didn’t get the luck. So we are really happy with that side of it.
“We’re doing a lot of work on it still – steelwork, wiring – and I’m hoping to have it all repainted in time for the World Final. My plan is to get the my truck done, my car done and Frankie’s car ready before the World Final – but they’re all in bits at the moment!
“So we’re happy with the mechanical side of it and I’m happy-ish with where I’m starting the race, but obviously I’d rather be on the second row inside.”
Asked if he thought Green could take a flag-to-flag victory, Wainman Jnr was adamant that would not be the case.
“I know for definite that there’s not a chance on this planet that Greeny will drive off into the sunset,” he said.
“Maybe, come to think about it, maybe I’m in a better position where I am on the grid, because it could all kick off with those three at the front straight away. And if it does kick off and I’d started on the second row, I would have been involved with them.”
One of those likely to be in the thick of the action is National Points Shootout leader Stuart Smith Jnr, who starts on the outside of the second row.
Venray World Cup winner Ryan Harrison, who lines up on the inside of row four alongside Wainman Jnr, suggested in an interview featured in a recent King’s Lynn programme that Smith Jnr should have taken Green out in the semi-final at Skegness and hence remove a major threat.
But Wainman Jnr doesn’t go along with that view. “Ryan put in his interview that he couldn’t believe Stuart didn’t bury Nigel in the semi-final,” said Wainman Jnr. “But I don’t know. If you bury somebody in a semi-final it’s a little bit personal. I think it would have been a bit below the belt.
“If it’s in the World Final then yes, definitely you would. If you are battling for the lead – it’s the World Final.
“But I watched the race and if it had been me I wouldn’t have done it either.
“At the end of the day, the fans want to see everybody in the World Final, don’t they? And the thing is, if Stuart had stuck Greeny into a parked car in the semi-final, Greeny would have dealt with Stuart for the rest of the season, I have little doubt.
“I think that would have played on Stuart’s mind a little bit. Obviously, we’re all going to Ipswich and you can sort it out there and then.
“At the end of the day if Greeny is a lot faster than Stuart and Stuart can’t get to him then that’s him just not being fastest enough.”
So Wainman Jnr goes into the 25-lap race with an open mind about his prospects and concluded by giving his order of drivers he thinks will the biggest threats.
“For me if I had to put them in order of who will be hardest to beat it would be Nigel Green, Dan Johnson, Stuart Smith Jnr and then Ryan Harrison,” Wainman Jnr said.
The World Finalists have half an hour practice between 12.30pm and 1pm, with the overseas entrants having their time trials to determine their grid positions between 3.30pm and 4pm.
The meeting starts in earnest at 5pm with the opening heat for the F1s, with the winner and runner-up qualifying for the World Final itself, lining up at the back of the grid.
The Ministox support formula then have their opening heat before the build up to the big race, which begins at 6.45pm. The race for the gold roof will be followed by two F1 Consolation events, the second heat of the Ministox and the F1 Grand Final for the Harry Smith Trophy.
After the Ministox final, the meeting ends with the F1 Grand National for the Ben Turner Memorial Trophy, in association with the ‘Calm’ Charity.