Birmingham World Championship semi-final pole-sitter Frankie Wainman Jnr believes a top six finish will be good enough to give him a chance of winning a fourth World Championship crown.
Wainman Jnr will be racing the Derek Brown Tarmac car he has used since the Birmingham World qualifier in April, having been in another race, one against time, to try and get a brand new Tarmac special out on track before the weekend.
“Every night this week we haven’t finished till at least half two in the morning,” Wainman Jnr said. “After King’s Lynn on Saturday night we got back at 3.30am. We were back in the garage at 9.00am on Sunday morning and didn’t finish until 5.00am Monday morning. I went to bed at 5.30am and four hours later went down to Skegness to test the car.”
But while he had it ready in time to go testing at Skegness on Monday the car has still to be painted and sign-written. And now Wainman Jnr is of the view the Brown car will be good enough to get him high enough up the grid to have a fighting chance at Skegness.
“I thought about it and I think fourth or fifth on the grid at Skegness might not be a bad place to start.
“Last time I raced Derek’s car at Skegness at the Speedweekend I got it going well. I looked down the grid at Birmingham and there are three or four I shouldn’t be able to beat in Derek’s car – Lee Fairhurst, Dan Johnson, Nigel Green and Luke Davidson –but I thought actually it won’t be a bad place to be anyway.
“I had convinced myself I needed the new car for the semi-final. But I have now convinced myself I don’t need to be in the top three or four anyway because I believe Skegness could turn into a crash fest.”
Wainman Jnr also thinks world champion Nigel Green will settle for a runner-up slot rather than going for broke.
“I don’t think Greeny will want to win the race because if he did Tom will be starting behind him,” said Wainman Jnr. “And if that happens he will be in the fence on the first corner.”
If Wainman Jnr achieves his objective that will be the last time he will use the Brown car as the new Tarmac special will be unveiled at the Gold Cup at Venray.
“I’m well happy with my new car,” he said. “It’s going to be a little bit different. I will be taking it to Holland but it’s going to be a big hassle to get it ready in time. It is booked in to be painted on Monday morning and it is supposed to be sign-written on Tuesday/Wednesday and then we have to put it all back together and take it. Finger’s crossed it shouldn’t be too bad.
Wainman Jnr lines up in the inside of the front row alongside 2012 world champion Lee Fairhurst, with Paul Hines on the inside of row two with John Dowson.
Fairhurst won the World Final from the back of the grid the only time the race has been held at Skegness before in 2012, and that was from the back of the grid.
“I’m not bothered who is in front of me or behind me I want to get on that World Final grid and go out and win it again,” Fairhurst said.
Fairhurst has found good pace in the Daniel van Spijker Tarmac car, but suffered issues at Skegness last month. “We were off the pace at Skeggy,” Fairhurst admitted. “But we found what the problem was at the meeting but we couldn’t rectify it.
“It was the only bad weekend we’ve had with the car, really. We said beforehand that we would change the clutch after that weekend because it has been in the car since it was first built and Daniel said we might as well change the plates before the semi-final and the Gold Cup at Venray and sure enough at Skegness it started to slip. We didn’t have a spare with us and it eventually went completely on Sunday.”
While Wainman Jnr will be satisfied with a top six finish at Birmingham, Fairhurst has only one objective on his mind, and that is to win the semi-final.
“I have won the World Final from the back of the grid at Skegness, so this year I want to try and win the World Final from the front,” he said.
Both Hines and Dowson will be using cars loaned to them for the race. Hines blew his engine at the Ipswich World qualifier in June and will be seen out in Ryan Harrison’s current Tarmac car that Harrison won the Ipswich final in.
While Dowson, a shale specialist, is racing the Tarmac car of Will Hunter for the evening.
Dan Johnson won the Skegness final at the Speedweekend on the Saturday night and will be one of the favourites to win the semi-final from the third row, but it is the man who starts immediately behind him on the inside of row four who many think will win the race.
Reigning world champion Nigel Green has only raced seven times this season, including four meetings at Skegness, winning the UK Open in May – his first outing this season. Of all the stars and superstars who raced at those meetings it was Green who showed the blistering pace.
Everyone stood up and took notice. And Green is quietly confident he can get the job done at Birmingham and Skegness.
“Everyone else seems to be focusing more on what my car does and what I might do, but I just concentrate on my own racing and not really bothered about anyone else,” Green said. “I was pleased with the car at Skegness. And at Buxton before that I thought I would have won the final but I got a puncture.
“I will go out and do my best, like I always do, to win at Birmingham and that is it.”
His rivals are likely not to want to see that happen…
Start time on Saturday is 6pm with BriSCA F2 and Classic Hot Rods the support formulas on the night.
Photos courtesy of Colin Casserley