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By BSCDA, May 10 2019 08:06AM

Nigel Green warmed up for the defence of his UK Open title by sweeping to victory at Birmingham Wheels, in the last tarmac meeting before the F1’s head to Lincolnshire to contest the first championship of the 2019 season.

Green set the standard and made a strong statement in a dominant display, as the Leicestershire-based-driver raced to victory in the meeting final, before grabbing a top-ten place in the Grand National from the lap handicap.

The 445 machine sliced its way through the field and after stalking leader Finn Sargent as the lap boards counted down, Green pounced on the last lap to move into top spot. Sargent was unable to respond, with the former world champion moving the 526-car wide and then showing the superior pace of the car that took gold at the Ipswich World Final in 2017.

For consolation winner Sargent, things would get worse as despite crossing the line behind Green, the impressive blue-grader was docked two places for an infringement on the restart, following an earlier caution following an incident involving the 84-car of Tom Harris. Harris’s car was left stranded in the armco after a coming together with Dan Johnson (4) and Lee Fairhurst (217) and Sargent was adjudged to have jumped the gun as the race resumed.

With Sargent picking up a two place penalty, the beneficiaries were Chris Cowley (37) and Paul Hines (259). Both drivers capped off a promising night that brought encouraging results, with Hines in particular impressive at the wheel of the Harrison-built car. Whilst the car of Hines had to be towed off track and would not reappear for the final race of the night, the former European champion will have taken solace from the car’s pace on a night when other leading drivers struggled to make an impact.

For Harris, a frustrating night was completed with a further retirement in the Grand National. Stablemate Luke Davidson (464) enjoyed better fortunes in piloting the Team Davidson car home ahead of Tristan Jackson to take the chequered flag and bring the curtain down on the evening’s racing.

Elsewhere there were heat wins for Sam Wass (284) and Will Hunter (220). Hunter was another to profit from a rule infringement, with Shaun Webster (48) denied a race win after his car was deemed to be underweight following post-race scrutineering. Webster’s opening race victory soon turned to frustration with the blue-grade driver losing his first place and being excluded from the result.

Report by Simon Hughes

Photos by Coling Casserley

By BSCDA, May 8 2019 05:10PM

With the BriSCA F1 season now firmly in gear, next weekend sees the action return to Skegness for the first double-header of the year, and the first of the titles up for grabs.

This year marks the 30th staging of the UK Open Championship, and whilst perhaps not drawing the same attention as the World, British and European titles, it is no less important amongst the drivers.

Nigel Green will defend the title he claimed in 2018, when he capped a memorable return to the raceway with a dominant display in the UK Open finale, using the car that had been heavily adapted to sit within the limits of the updated rulebook.

The then world champion was on hand to profit as Luke Davidson failed in a last-bend attack on leader Harry Steward. As both drivers headed towards the armco, the returning Green dived up the inside to take the chequered flag to his obvious delight.

“Last year was great to win that race, because I hadn’t raced for a while,” said Green. “It was the first meeting back since having to alter the car due to the rule changes over the winter, so I really enjoyed picking up that win.”

The Leicestershire-based superstar anticipates an even more challenging race this year.

“It looks like a few people have made some progress over the winter, whilst we haven’t really made many changes - other than make the car look pretty!”

Green, as always, has his sights firmly set on victory and is firmly relishing the challenge, from whomever that might be.

“It will be an interesting race, but I’m going there to win it and I’m only really interested in winning it, so if I’m near the front I will be getting stuck in.”

Whilst Green was in attendance at the last Skegness meeting on Good Friday, he felt he didn’t quite get the best out of the car.

“[The car] didn’t quite reach its potential at the last Skegness, so I’m hoping this time we can make a few changes and find more speed.”

Confidence in the car will be high following last weekend’s commanding victory at Birmingham. The 445 machine was indeed showing the pace that makes the reigning UK Open champion a strong favourite to defend the title at Skegness.

One of the drivers out to stop Green is former champion Frankie Wainman Jnr. Wainman will be hoping to add to his impressive list of UK Open victories, which currently stands at five.

By far the most successful driver in this event, Wainman boasts the record of having won this title the most, with all of his wins taking place at the Lincolnshire venue.

For Wainman, who first took the title in 2001, this race remains significant.

“It’s a championship and it makes no difference to any of the drivers - so we all treat it the same and we all want to win!”

Speaking after the Birmingham meeting on Saturday, the National Points Shootout champion was eagerly looking forward to attempting to win the UK Open title for an unprecedented sixth time.

“The car was really good at the last Skegness and was one of the quickest. It’s been good again tonight and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I’ve won it before but obviously I’ll be trying all weekend, for the world qualifying on Saturday where I’m aiming to keep scoring points, and then the race on Sunday.

“Tonight I had a third in the heat and a third in the Grand National, so the car is quick and we are really happy with it.”

Another former UK Open champion hoping for a repeat of his winning drive in 2011 is Lee Fairhurst. Returning to a track where he also famously lifted the World Championship, the former gold roof holder will be hoping for further success at a venue that saw him storm to world final victory in 2012, when he unforgettably threaded his way through the field from the very back of the grid.

The Bolton-based former World Champion only kicked off his campaign at Birmingham on Saturday, but despite the delayed start to the season as a result of off-track commitments and getting both cars ready for the 2019 season, Fairhurst is looking ahead to the Skegness and is eager to do well.

“[Birmingham] is only the first meeting of the year, so we’re using it as a shakedown for the car. We’ve been busy with the shale car - we only got the engine back on Thursday, so we’ve had a busy time trying to sort everything out around that.

“We wanted to make sure everything was alright with the car. We changed a few little things and of course we’re trying to get a little bit quicker.

“I’m looking forward to the UK Open and having won it once I’m obviously trying to win it again.

“Any championship is a good championship to win and you’ve really got to earn them now, especially with the quality of cars all the way through from white to superstar. There’s really good machinery on track and lots of good drivers also.

“The aim is to be there or thereabouts and try to be quicker than most people.”

Fellow superstar Paul Hines will also hoping to build on his early season form. Hines placed third in the final at the opening Skegness meeting of the season and will be one to watch after making encouraging progress with the Harrison-built tarmac car.

Hines has showed glimpses of the car’s potential in the opening tarmac rounds and the 259 car scored another top-three result in Saturday’s Birmingham final, to add to its growing credentials.

“We’re getting a little more used to the car now” said Hines. “We had an engine issue last year which hampered us a little bit.

Speaking prior to another impressive outing at the Midlands-venue, Hines was delighted with the early season promise and was another driver who was looking forward to racing for a title at the UK Open

“Skegness was brilliant and we got third in the final there, so I’m hoping to build on these results.

“It’s come around quickly, the season has only just started and already we’ve got a big title to fight for. It’s not one I’ve won before, so it’s one I would really like to win.

“The UK Open is always a good weekend, Saturday night is always good racing and with it being a world qualifier there will no-doubt be 50 odd cars which around Skegness produces really exciting racing.”

Hines also alluded to the past history of the event which has seen numerous lower grade drivers taking the honours, with the UK Open race itself being run in graded order.

“Often it can be a lower graded driver that wins it, so it’s a race that is open. If you look at the previous winners you will see that it’s been won by yellows, blues or anyone really - it’s just that, anyone can win it and that is of course the beauty of F1 Stockcar racing!

Indeed the likes of Rob and Chris Cowley, Neil Scriven and Harry Steward can all testify to the unpredictable nature of one of the more unique championship races on the BriSCA calendar, with this year’s winner crowned after the main event on Sunday.

John Lund won the inaugural staging of this event in 1990, when the championship was held at Northampton. Since then there has been 20 different individual winners. Frankie Wainman Jnr has won the title a record five times, whilst Tom Harris has been on the podium a total of four times but never having been victorious.

Report by Simon Hughes

Graphics by Jack Coleman

Photos from Jordan Cooper / Paul Brown

By BSCDA, May 8 2019 03:14PM

After last month`s season opener at Kings Lynn with a bumper crowd it was again back to the, dare I say, “the New Coventry” for the last Saturday of the month meeting on the 27th April. It was hard to say on the crowd levels as the weather was slightly chillier for this one, slightly depleted on the terraces but akin to sardines in a can in the more cosy back terrace stand.

What would this month bring at the Norfolk arena…after last months mid race final driver discussion and dance off anything could be on the cards, something really out of the blue (or white) with a low grader winning the final, no come on, let`s not get daft and all giddy??

First up was the whites and yellows race with Richard Howarth 495 looking good for the win before the pack were closed up after waved yellows. Local driver Finn Sargent was in second spot at the re-start before smoking his way to the front (literally) coming home in first spot from Sam Makin and Robert Plant in third.

Before heat one proper took place the Trackstar/Norfolk arena staff held a minutes clapping in memory of Andrew Battye and also Tommy Kay who had both passed away the week before the meeting. Andrew Battye was well known in the Stock car and racing world being a member of the Johnson motorsport pit crew. Nearly every car had had their front bumpers painted orange in tribute, also carrying ribbons. The orange being obviously Dan Johnson’s team colours but also the fact Andrew also drove a bright orange Focus ST. Tommy Kay had been around the oval sport scene for decades and latterly had an engineering firm supplying race parts whilst also involved with Team Riley. Both will be sadly missed and it’s a nice gesture to have a minutes clapping rather than the normal silence – nicely done.

Heat one then and a grid of 20 cars for this one with 254 Scott Wright in one of the Newson hire cars soon hitting the front, further back Nigel Harrhy had issues with a flapping aerofoil and Bradley Harrison came to a standstill on the main straight bringing out the yellows. Wright led off but it wasn`t long before Matt Newson hit the front from Paul Hines and Frankie Wainman but not for long, the yellows were out again for Paul Hopkins going over on his roof on turn 4 with a bit of help from Phoebe Wainman and Steve Whittle.

While the Hopkins car was being righted Matthew Black decided to interview pole man Matt Newson and essentially we can sum up Matt’s feelings (and the fans) by his answer…..”Its Good to be Back”.

At the re-start Wainman soon got past Hines and with what looked like broken OSR suspension, sparks and tyre smoke Wainman was gaining on the 16 car. Newson being slowed on the back straight by early leader Wright, Wainman seizing the chance slamming the Newson car to the fence for the lead but with Newson getting back in front of Wainman, the 515 pilot then on borrowed time with the tyre letting go with one lap to run, Newson winning from Paul Hines and Wainman limping home for third spot.

Heat two and one extra car for this one with 21 cars gridding up. Liam Gilbank soon hit the lead, further back James Morris hooked up with Mark Sargent and Tom Harris span, all getting going. Dan Johnson’s inside rear tyre let rip leading to retirement, meanwhile up front John Wright had gained the lead. Over on turns 3/4 Geoff Nicholls went fencewards with Michael Scriven and Mark Woodhall squeezing the front of the Nicholls car , the Nicholls car going front end first upwards and nearly over the fence before rolling on its roof leading to the yellows.

After righting the 215 car John Wright led off from Gilbank second but at the drop of the flag Wright came out of turn 4 sideways leading to carnage behind and a huge change of places, Robert Plant coming out the lead car from Nigel Green and Tom Harris in third spot, not for long though the 445 car soon overhauling Plant to take the chequered with a healthy lead over Tom Harris and Danny Wainman in third spot.

Consolation time now and to keep everything on an even keel this one had 20 cars trying to make the final. Early charger Mick Sworder was taking some very odd and wide lines, ie Box Office flat out hitting either the plate fence, other cars or both. Whilst Dan Johnson further behind looked much more sedate and positively slow in comparison. The outcome was Dan soon got up to the back of the bumper of Sworder, slipped up the inside and then drove off into the distance for the chequered for a well deserved win, something Battye would be looking down on with no doubt a grin.

The final proved to be a race of attrition rather than anything else, the top men heading to the infield with damage rather than the usual tussles galore before a red topped or silver roofed car took the flag. Early on Mat Newson span hitting the car of Dan Johnson, Johnson heading to the centre with a flat outside rear, soon followed by Tom Harris with front suspension damage. Nigel Green span on turns 1/2 facing the wrong way but soon got going before heading to the centre.

Up front young Liam Gilbank and the not so young John Wright were at the front, both these two have been showing some great form of recent with race wins from Wright and `nearly` wins from Gilbank. Their lead at the front was soon evaporated when Billy Johnsons osf wheel got fed up with its marriage to the car and parted company in spectacular style down the back straight leading to a yellows caution.

At the re-start it was Gilbank, Wright and Colin Goodswen in third spot. Mick Sworder was delayed by Mal Brown (yes you did read that correctly, one of the rarer appearances by Mal at the Arena) letting a flying Frankie Wainman close in before another flat and Sworder retiring.

At the front however both Wright and young Gilbank were remaining unchallenged and having a great battle in front of the fans. Not bang, crash, wallop but just controlled and very neat driving. John Wright holding onto the lead but with Gibank right on his tail and attempting the inside line. It`s great to see this style of driving and at Lynn with its wide fast bends an absolute pleasure to watch. After a few laps of this Liam decided the only thing was less of the controlled driving and a good firm use of the metal thing up front, tapping Wright aside and then heading to the chequered flag for a fine `white top` win, Wright coming in second with a very proud Dad, Mark Gilbank coming in third spot – the family and team having a fair old celebration on the centre – particulary as all three cars are stored, kept and maintained in the same place.

Mark was obviously over the moon and commented at the driver interviews - “What a phenomenal drive from a young man……I might be giving him the equipment but by heck is he driving the wheels off it”

A quick chat with Liam in the pits afterwards and he summed up the race – “Yeah Brilliant night, I just got on well at the beginning , John was a bit faster than me so I just tagged on the back of him and stayed there for a bit”.

When asked on the age of the car Liam replied “Me dad built it when he was 18 and he`s now 43 so that makes it 25 years old”. Not a bad result then, Liam winning a final in a car that’s 7 years older than the pilot – oh and thanks for letting your Dad’s age out Liam, I`m sure he will be pleased.

Unfortunately for John Wright though the car failed the scales of doom after the race, the car being slightly overweight (it had suffered heavy damage at Sheffield and been re-nerfed and bumpered), John being excluded from the results, so Mark Gilbank being promoted to second from Colin Goodswen in third.

The Grand National proved to be another war of attrition and with the rain finally arriving after threatening to do so all night the track was what we may describe as challenging. I could write chapter and verse on this but to summarise after four yellow flags and various retirements, we were left at the final re-start with Frankie Wainman, Mick Sworder and Dan Johnson slugging out the last 6 laps on a very greasy track, using the bumpers, nerf rails, fence and each other to barge and bash each other around. No major hits but a fine example of controlled and fair driving with Sworder eventually barging Johnson aside on the last bend for the win – even with the rain coming down it was an absolute pleasure to watch and a great end to another nights racing at the new, err, “Coventry”.

By BSCDA, May 2 2019 03:31PM

Thomas [Tommy] Kay.

On 24 April 2019 peacefully in hospital and of Radcliffe aged 75 years. The service will be at The Parish of St Thomas, New Church St, Radcliffe M26 2UD on Friday 17th May at 3.30pm followed by interment at Openshaw Fold Farm. Family flowers only please. Donations if desired cheques only made payable to Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary may be forwarded to Silletts Funeral Service, Spring Lane, Radcliffe, M26 2TQ or via the family's memorial page at Enquiries tel 0161 723 2383.