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By BSCDA, Apr 18 2017 08:23PM

Stuart Smith Jnr continued his impressive start to the 2017 season with his second heat and final double, his first on shale, at Stoke on Easter Saturday.

Having lined up at the front of the star men, Smith Jnr made short walk of the 17-car first heat. Paul Harrison, having his first outing of the season, followed before pulling off with a puncture. Dan Johnson came through to finish second in front of Craig Finnikin, with Danny Wainman fourth.

Heat two had 18 cars, but was soon down by two when the race was stopped due to a Darren Clark rollover. Clark bounced off the Armco out of turn two and into the path of Nigel Harrhy, collecting the B-grader before rolling over the top of him, causing extensive damage to both cars.

Both drivers were able to walk away from the incident, and on the restart Bob Griffin led from Mark Gilbank and was able to maintain enough of a gap to avoid a last-bend assault. Frankie Wainman Jnr, from a slow start, came through to finish third ahead of Nigel Green, who passed Tom Harris to take fourth place.

Will Hunter led the consolation in the second half of the 15-car consolation event, until going wide, which allowed Harrison through to take the victory. Mat Newson finished third, ahead of Mark Woodhall.

In the 25-car final, Smith Jnr got another quick getaway, making the early laps count – as he has done consistently in recent weeks – making short work of the star men lined up in front of him, with Gilbank chasing.

Leader Luke Dennis was soon on the receiving end of the Smith Jnr front bumper by halfway, while further back Harris and Wainman Jnr were making good progress.

“I got into the lead early on and was counting down the laps and not looking in my mirror too much,” Smith Jnr said.

The race was then stopped with three laps to go after Harrison was on the receiving end of a Gilbank attack, with Smith Jnr maintaining a healthy lead. Behind him, Harris and Wainman Jnr looked the main threat.

“When the yellows came out, I knew I had some breathing space because I had just passed some lower graders,” explained Smith Jnr. “Sometimes though, on a yellow flag, the lower graders don’t want to be sandwiched in between two Superstars and they somehow disappear into thin air!

“And that’s what happened here, and I suddenly found Tom Harris behind me. So I knew I had to pull my finger out. I set off and pushed as hard as I could.”

As the race went green once more, Wainman Jnr launched at Harris to push him wide into turn one to take second place.

Smith Jnr put in his fastest lap of the race on the last lap to maintain his lead from a closing Wainman Jnr to take his second final victory in a week. Finnikin finished third, ahead of Harris, Johnson and Danny Wainman.

“It was a brilliant feeling to win the final,” said Smith Jnr. “Especially as it wasn’t on Tarmac again, it was on shale in my other car.”

In a destructive 23-car Grand National, in which Smith Jnr took the one-lap handicap, the race was stopped after a first-bend melee involving Harris, Frankie Wainman Jnr Jnr, Michael Scriven, Finnikin and Johnson.

Mick Rogers led the restart but then yellow flags came out after Griffin and Billy Johnson tangled on the home straight.

Rogers led again at the green flag, from Gilbank, Green, Ben Riley and Wainman Jnr. Smith Jnr was already up to eighth place from the lap handicap.

Green soon took up the running, with Wainman Jnr in hot pursuit. Smith Jnr made up lumps of ground from the lap deficit to go third. There was little to choose between the top three in the closing stages but at the flag the order stayed the same, with Green taking the win, ahead of Wainman Jnr and Smith Jnr, who ended a very successful night in third place.

By BSCDA, Apr 15 2017 09:40AM

Nigel Green made it two final victories in the wet in 2017 – this time on Tarmac – as the Leicestershire Superstar ruled a rain-sodden Skegness on Good Friday.

The rains arrived as soon as the meeting began and it was Tom Harris who read the situation and adapted the quickest in the 22-car first heat. Harris surged through the field and took the lead from white-grade revelation Drew Lammas before halfway, and won as he pleased, ahead of Luke Davidson, with Green third.

The top three finished comfortably ahead of the field, all running wet tyres. Lammas held on to fourth place, ahead of Ryan Harrison and Frankie Wainman Jnr.

As it began to rain more heavily, in-form B-grader Ben Hurdman took the lead early on in the 20-car second heat, before Neil Hooper clawed back the gap to go on to victory. Hurdman consolidated second place, with Frankie Wainman Jnr Jnr a creditable third, with a battle royale developing behind the leaders, with Mick Sworder finishing fourth ahead of Ben Riley and Stuart Shevill Jnr.

Lee Fairhurst, who pulled off in heat one, cruised to victory in the 17-car consolation event ahead of Mat Newson and Steven Webster.

There were 28 cars lined up for the final, and Lammas led Jordan Falding and George Elwell prior to a stoppage involving Steven Webster and Hooper.

Another stoppage before the halfway point soon followed after the restart, with Lammas still leading from Falding. Shaun Webster was third, Elwell fourth, while Fairhurst had made up considerable ground to go fifth. Green, starting from the back of the grid was already up to seventh place and going well.

As the race went green again, Falding used the front bumper on leader Lammas to go to the front, while Fairhurst moved up to second. Green moved swiftly up to third place and then moved Fairhurst aside to go second. It wasn’t long before his was on leader Falding’s tale, pushing him wide just after the halfway point.

From that point on, Green had the race completely under control and went on to take a straightforward final victory – his second of the year and his first of 2017 on Tarmac.

Harris stormed past Fairhurst to go second, but Green was already long up the road and he had to settle for second, with Fairhurst third. Falding ended a fine race to finish in fourth place, with Harrison, Sworder, Lammas and Wainman Jnr filling out the rest of the top eight.

Green explained afterwards that his Tarmac car has developed into a wet-weather special. “Fundamentally, our car shouldn’t work in the rain,” he said. “But, for some reason, we have hit a sweet spot with the set-up and it works well. It is a lovely car to drive in the wet conditions.

“Also rain is good for car set-up because it doesn’t change throughout the night and it was fully wet in the final. I started fourth of the five Superstars but ended up last after the first corner.

“I just managed to pick my way through the field and fortunately I had enough pace to drive round everybody without ruffling too many feathers and got away.”

Having got clear of the pack Green was able to chase down second-placed Fairhurst, before making a move.

“Lee had got a break and was up the road, but fortunately I managed to reel him in,” Green said. “I gave him a couple of laps to get in front of the lower graders so we didn’t get swallowed up, then pushed him out of the way to get underneath him.

“I then caught Jordan, pushed him wide and it was basically plain sailing from then on.

“The thing that made it easier for me was that I had good pace, so as soon as I got round someone I was able to drive away from them, so it was a nice race.”

Green took the one-lap handicap in the Grand National, in which Lammas scored his third win in three meetings, having won the Grand National at Birmingham and a heat at Hednesford last weekend. Harrison closed the leader down but ran out of laps to finish second, with Hurdman third. Harris, Elwell and Fairhurst rounded out the top six. Green managed ninth from the lap handicap.

Final winner Green will be gunning for a third final victory at Stoke on Saturday, but will not be racing at Belle Vue on Easter Monday.

“We’re racing at Stoke but not racing on Monday as we are going on holiday for four days,” Green said.

“Depending on whether we get any damage at Stoke will decide if we race at Sheffield. We weren’t very happy with the performance at King’s Lynn recently, so we have a few things we’ve altered on the shale car and that’s what is pushing me on to race at Stoke.

“So we’ll see how we go there and if we struggle, then we’ll maybe not do Sheffield and try and push the new car along or maybe even run the white car. So we may have a bit of a strategy change but we’ll see how we get on.”

Photos courtesy of Colin Casserley

By BSCDA, Apr 10 2017 01:34PM

Michael Scriven, from Fairford in Gloucestershire, made a small piece of BriSCA F1 history at Hednesford Hills Raceway on Sunday afternoon by winning heat and final at the track for the third year in a row.

The BriSCA F1s only race at the Staffordshire venue on Cannock Chase once a year for a World Championship qualifying round.

And 29-year-old Scriven, who along with brother Neil, always excels at the fastest track on the BriSCA F1 calendar, took full advantage of his A-grade starting position to take the spoils.

It could have been another story, however, had star driver Stuart Smith Jnr, who won heat and final at Birmingham the previous evening, not suffered a misfire with two laps to go as he close down the leader.

With 11 drivers not taking up their booking after issues from Birmingham and Todd Jones being forced to withdraw from the meeting following an engine problem during practice, the meeting was switched to a two-thirds race format.

Scriven began the day by taking the lead in the 24-car first heat from long-time leader Drew Lammas in the closing stages to take the flag. Ryan Harrison looked the main threat until a rear tyre blew before he was able to get in a blow, while Smith Jnr finished a fast-finishing third, ahead of Mathew Armstrong, Ben Riley and Nigel Green.

Lammas led from the start of the 23-car heat two, and had the race under control in the closing stages ahead of Scriven, who got loose on the bottom bend, nearly sliding into the Armco on a couple of occasions, until the yellow came out with two laps to go. Despite the field closing up, Lammas was able to pull away from Scriven to take the flag in a two-lap shoot-out, with Mick Sworder finishing third.

Armstrong led the 22-car heat three before a flying Smith Jnr eased passed to go on to a comfortable victory, with a fast-finishing Tom Harris, who had seemingly solved a perpetual engine issue, chasing him home in second place. Ben Hurdman finished third, ahead of Neil Scriven, Harrison and Craig Finnikin.

There were 28 cars lined up for the final, and it was Hurdman who took the lead in the early stages, from Scriven, Colin Goodswin and Smith Jnr, who had made up lumps of ground to go fourth before halfway.

Scriven took the lead with four to go from Hurdman, with Smith Jnr closing fast. Scriven then had a big moment when his brakes locked up, nearly clattering the Armco and this allowed his pursuers to close the gap.

Smith Jnr shoved Hurdman wide on the top bend and looked to have Scriven in his sights with two laps to go.

However, as Smith Jnr lined up for an attack on the leader, his car then dramatically created a misfire and was unable to make up any ground. Scriven held his composure on the final lap and smoked the tyres in celebration as his crossed the line for a famous victory. Smith Jnr was forced to settle for second, with Hurdman an excellent third. Goodswin held on for fourth place, ahead of Harrison and Danny Wainman, who was the most successful Superstar during the afternoon.

Scriven expressed his delight at a hat-trick of Hednesford victories with a few donuts in front of the podium. “Yes, it is brilliant,” he said. “I’m over the moon. Three years running I have won heat and final. I really wanted that, I’ve got to admit.

“Once I took the lead I thought this will be easy now, until I nearly put myself into the Armco. I think the brake caliper must have been sticking when the brakes got too hot.

“I nearly put myself into the fence in the heat on the bottom bend and I nearly did the same thing in the final.”

Smith Jnr was frustrated with the last-gasp problem with the car. “I thought I’d got him,” he said about leader Scriven. “But then this misfire happened. Looking at the engine, as it got hot it was boiling the fuel and over-pressurising the carburetor.”

Third-placed Hurdman had plenty to celebrate with his best-ever weekend of racing with a second podium finish to add to a second place in the final at Birmingham the night before.

“When the five lap boards came out I thought I might win,” said Hurdman. “Then Michael shoved me out wide and Smithy did the same the next lap – it all happens in a split-second here. I’ve never had a podium in a final before and now I’ve had two in a row.”

In the 28-car Grand National, in which Scriven took the one-lap handicap, Smith Jnr made short work of the pack and eventually chased down long-time leader Goodswin, passing the B-grader with a last-bend attack to take the flag. Lee Fairhurst finished third, ahead of Mat Newson, Armstrong and Danny Wainman.

Although Smith Jnr appeared in complete control during the race, the misfire reappeared.

“It started again, but this time I could manage it a little bit by easing off the throttle,” he said. “We packed a load of damp cloth and rag around the outside of the fuel pipe where it runs near the engine and it subsequently cooled it down.

“It wasn’t as bad in the National but it was still there.”

On a track hard on tyres and engines, a number of other leading drivers had issues with world champion Frankie Wainman Jnr only managing a best eighth place in his heats and 12th in the final.

Former world champion Tom Harris had an even more disappointing weekend. The Harris car had been struck down with fuel issues at Birmingham the previous evening and the gremlins struck again the following afternoon.

“It keeps cutting out,” Harris said. “We’ve changed everything now. We’ve changed the battery, earths, coil, isolator switch, ignition switch, everything. We had a fuel problem last night at Birmingham, so we changed the carb, fuel pump, fuel lines. And it is still doing it.

“It was fine in the second heat, then in the final I felt something hit me in the goggles, and then I had no brakes entering the corner, as the brake disc had shattered. And then the car was going well in the National until going into the bottom corner, and nothing. It just stopped…” He eventually managed eighth place.

The Tarmac season continues at Skegness on Good Friday.

By BSCDA, Apr 8 2017 11:19PM

Stuart Smith Jnr laid down a marker for the BriSCA F1 Tarmac season with a ruthless and emphatic heat and final double at Birmingham Wheels on Saturday night.

After the meeting Smith Jnr revealed that much of the set-up in the car was improved by testing the day before at Northampton and, more surprisingly, in the Live Arena at Autosport International at the NEC in January.

“We went testing on Friday at Northampton,” said Smith Jnr. “We don’t do it that often and we should do. We learnt a lot. We changed the car and we also learnt a few things, believe it or not, at the NEC.

“When we arrived at Birmingham I knew the car would be quick, and I was starting from red as well. I should be winning from there.”

In front of a bumper crowd and a glorious spring evening, Smith Jnr took full advantage of his star grade grid position in heat one, making his presence felt with heavy bumper work to scythe his way through the pack.

After a race stoppage, the former World and National Points Shootout champion finished the 25-car race the length of the straight ahead of Jordan Falding, who was docked two places for jumping the restart. Lee Fairhurst was promoted to second, with Mat Newson third.

The 24-car second heat was won by Ryan Harrison, ahead of Neal Hooper, who was also then relegated two places for a jumped restart. Ed Neachell was handed second spot ahead of Nigel Green.

World Champion Frankie Wainman Jnr got caught out by oil dropped by the engine blowing on Richard Dickerson car into turn one and was forced to take part in the 19-car consolation.

Paul Carter was originally awarded the win however after a Stewards enquiry Aaron Leach took the victory. BriSCA F2 driver Drew Lammas was forced to pull off after halfway when his car cut out with the race seemingly at his mercy. Wainman Jnr won a drag race with Mathew Armstrong to take third place.

The 32-car final was all about Smith Jnr. An excellent start saw him move swiftly through the field and he took the lead from Ben Hurdman by lap 13. Green finished third ahead of Dan Johnson, Wainman Jnr and Todd Jones.

“I got a good couple of corners at the start,” said Smith Jnr. “I managed to get away then, but the car was really good. It was, arguably the fastest car on the night I think.

“We needed this result after a poor couple of years. I know I’m better than how I have been doing, and everyone had sort of written me off and that spurred me on.”

Lammas made amends for his consolation misfortune by winning the Grand National, ahead of Harrison, Danny Wainman and Michael Steward. Smith Jnr finished twelfth from the one-lap handicap.

Hednesford the following day requires an entirely different set-up, with cross-weight and stagger completely at odds with the Birmingham wheels venue.

“I’ve been quick at Hednesford, but never had the quickest car,” Smith Jnr explained. “I’ve got a quick car now, but between Birmingham and Hednesford, we’ve got to make some big changes.

“And whether we make the right ones remains to be seen. Hednesford is totally different. We’ll take a stab at it and hopefully hit the right note right from the word go.”