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By BSCDA, May 17 2019 04:37PM

The first speed weekend of the year which also contained the first championship of the year being the UK Open Championship.

Saturday, as is the case with most tarmac meetings, the afternoon was alive with the sound of the V8 engines as drivers practiced and made those vital setup changes. Around the pits and most of the activity was around Team Harrison (the Ryan and Murray kind) with Ryan revealing his latest creation (referred to as Rocket Ship III) to the public. No doubt splitting fan opinion in two, but regardless, no one can deny it's not a superbly turned out machine.

Elsewhere John Fortune debuted another Harrison chassis for his 2019 debut. Ashley England giving his ex-Wainman championship winning car a lick of the dark green paint finished with a blue chassis.

Team Davidson expanded to 3 cars for the weekend with ministox graduate Courtney Witts taking the reigns in the car raced by Tom Harris in 2018 and Luke Davidson before that. Shane Geary completed the 2019 debutants and unfortunately had engine issues curtailing the weekend.

Saturday would see round 14 of drivers chasing those world championship points to get onto one of the semi final grids. With 49 drivers in attendance a full format of 2 heats (each driver in one of the heats), consolation, grand final and grand national to round the evening off.

Heat 1 with 25 cars on the grid, Rick Lennson (H318) and Ben Riley (422) didn’t make it very far, tangling coming down the home straight for the first time, ending their race parked at turn 1. This would delay the reds and superstars behind. Sam Wass (283) was away at the front and into the lead. Joe Nickolls (242), Shane Geary (478) and Ricky Wilson (501) all found the fence into turn 1 joining Lennson and Riley. Up front and Tristan Jackson (101) went for the lead into turn 1 making it stick. On the move further back Lee Fairhurst (217), still piloting the Van Spijker, car firstly moved Mark Wareham (401) at turn 1 and then Danny Wainman (212) into turn 3 on the same lap. Wainman then spinning Wareham out of contention at turn 1. Up front and untroubled Jackson took heat 1 of the weekend. Wass coming home in 2nd.

Heat 1 - 101, 284, 48, 501, 37, 217, 25, 212, 4, 16, 555, 526

The other half of the entry for heat 2 with 24 cars gridded up. Ryan Harrison (197) not even making the start line going for a spin at turn 4. His team reporting that new car gremlins with a stuck brake pedal causing the spin. He would get going but multiple laps down. Up front and Courtney Witts (180) surged into the lead from the white grade. Tom Harris (84) pulling off on lap 1 and along with Harrison would have to try again in the consolation. Adam Bamford (43) goes for a spin courtesy of Kyle Gray (124) with Sam Jacklin (137) getting caught up in it. Yellows waved with Witts still leading. When the greens waved Frankie Wainman Jnr (515) seemed in a hurry moving 3 cars into turn 3 and fellow superstar Nigel Green (445) happy to take advantage. Green moving Karl Hawkins (175) the next lap. Wainman Jnr delayed allowed Green to get passed but Frankie wasted no time giving Green a nudge gaining a position, up front Witts stretching her advantage up to a full straight. Murray Jones (196) mixing it with Charlie Sworder (5) and Ashley England (346), Sworder finding the fence and England just about surviving. Into the closing stages and England had been caught by Wainman Jnr and Green. A small mistake was all that was required for England to drop two spots. Last bend and Green went for the dive on Wainman, Witts had long since won the race. Frankie riding the hit and outdragging Green to the line for 2nd.

Heat 2 - 180, 515, 445, 2, 196, 172, 70, 484, 175, 451, 533, 346

Consolation time with 23 cars on track. Dave Dorans (366) took up the early running. Rocket Ship III showing the most pace with Ryan Harrison (197) guiding his car through traffic until the yellows were called for. A few back markers unable to get going on the rolling lap and the race restart was abandoned. Unfortunately for Harrison he went and found himself spinning over the turn 3 curb and damaging the car and retiring for the day. The race restarted with Dorans quickly losing the lead to Kyle Gray (124) into turn 1. Luke Davidson (464) and Tom Harris (84) had begun their battle to the front while also swapping positions a few times over the following laps. Yellows called for again for Joe Nickolls (242) who found the turn 1 wall (all ok). Hard luck story for Dorans who on the restart wouldn't get away unable to select 2nd gear. I'm lead to believe the latest chapter in his gearbox woes since coming to F1s. After the yellows, Harris continued his march to the front taking Sam Wass (283) and John Fortune (164) who did make it hard for Harris sending him close to the fence at turn 3. Harris finally getting passed Gray up front to take his first UK tarmac win of the season.

Consolation - 84, 124, 464, 283, 5, H318, 422, 211, 278, 415, 401, 478 (10 to Final)

Grand Final time and this was a special one. In memory of Andrew Battye who sadly passed away a few weeks ago. Tommy Kay who we also sadly lost in the same week had been remembered in the previous race, the F2 Grand Final. The Skegness presentational team doing a great job lead by Richard Kaleta, orange flags flying above the back straight grand stand. After some very moving words from Richard, the command "Drivers start your engines" and 34 cars roared into life in memory of Battye. Bradford Music (Fanfare of the Common Man) playing on the rolling lap to send the cars on their way.

At the start Martin Spiers (451) finds the fence and is joined by Mat Newson (16) both retiring. Rick Lennson (H318) not for the first time found himself in tandem with another car, this time the Paul Hopkins (278) car. Further back amongst the superstars Tom Harris (84) fires a large number of cars wide including main rivals Nigel Green (445) and Frankie Wainman Jnr (515). The fast and furious final settling down with the yellows flying for Newson and Spiers in the turn 4 fence (all ok). At the restart with Courtney Witts (180) leading from Kyle Gray (124), the top 8 spots having an average age of about 18 years old the old guard would need to do something to take this final from the young guns. A few laps into the restart Harris would go for a hit on Dan Johnson (4) and spin himself out on the home straight falling a lap down with Johnson picking up damage slowing him up. 5 laps to go and Gray takes the lead, one he wouldn't relinquish, becoming the first winner of the Andrew Battye trophy, taking the £1,000 prize pot and delighting the crowd with some burnouts and donuts.

Grand Final - 124, 101, 445, 217, 180, 515, 70, 2, 283, 526, 4, 37

Final race of the night, the Grand National. Track limit reached with 36 cars on track, final winner Kyle Gray (124) taking the half lap handicap starting behind the superstars as a yellow top. Race starting with a big pile up into turn 1 with most of the yellow tops involved. Martin Spiers (451), Mark Wareham (401) and Casey Englestone (120) all not surviving and their race ending at turn 1. Frankie Wainman Jnr (515) didn't even make the start with Nigel Green (445) pushing him off and loosing a fair amount of ground with Gray just behind. Dan Johnson (4) put his final behind him and when out of traffic was rapid, his car getting super grip out of the corners and powering down the straights. Lee Fairhurst (217) never really more than 2 car lengths away from Johnson for the entire race. Yellows called for as Courtney Witts (180) ended her night stranded on turn 2. Luckily missed by everyone. Upon the resumption of the race Tristan Jackson (101) drops out of the lead with a puncture. At only half way and it was, from the back to the front for Johnson who took the lead, Fairhurst still there with Tom Harris (84) carving through the traffic getting passed Ashley England (346) and Green. Last bend and Green bumpered past Harris for 3rd with Johnson taking his first tarmac victory of 2019.

Grand National 4, 217, 445, 84, 5, 196, 346, 212, 37, 16, 25, 124

Day 2 and we were presented with a day akin to a July weekend, not May. Beautiful sunshine for the UK Open. The format decided on would be all drivers racing in 2 out of 4 heats. Top 32 point scorers through to the final, with no last chance race. 45 cars taking to the track for day 2. All change at Team Jacklin as Sam stepped aside for Mark Adkins(24) to have a go.

Heat 1 with 21 cars on track. Charlie Sworder's (5) weekend not getting much better with a trip to the fence at turn 1. Dan Johnson (4) showing the same rapid pace as the previous night. In contrast to day 1, Ryan Harrison (197) was able to finally unlock the pace in his new car and set about charging to the front, Nigel Green (445) also showing some strong pace fighting through the field. Alex Wass (283) lead the way until last nights final winner Kyle Gray (124) took the lead at half way. Further back, Harrison was leading the charge from the back with a train of cars latched on for the ride to the front including Johnson, Green and Frankie Wainman Jnr (515). 5 laps to go and the top 7 are separated by nothing. Wainman Jnr started to make his move with Johnson and Green dispatched at consecutive corners but it wasn't enough to catch Gray who took first blood on Sunday with Harrison not far behind.

Heat 1 - 124, 197, 283, 515, 445, 4, 180, 172, 464, H318, 16, 37, 526, 415, 48

24 cars gridded for heat 2. The 24 car not fairing very well as Mark Adkins spins and is collected by a number of yellow tops. The race continuing with Tom Harris (84) and Ben Riley (422) both tangling in the early running and delayed for multiple laps. Riley eventually getting going but with major damage. Up front Dave Dorans (366) had surged away from the white grade with Ashley England (346) in hot pursuit. Tristan Jackson (101) and John Fortune (164) came together and were parked on the racing line of turn 2. England takes the lead from Dorans but a small while later finds the pile up of Jackson and Fortune and is massively delayed. Up front Dorans was unable to stop Danny Wainman (212) from taking the lead and the win.

Heat 2 - 212, 366, 2, 533, 300, 196, 275, 217, 25, 43, 70, 555, 278, 501, 502

Heat 3 for 23 cars, it was the second race for everyone so all those yet to score needed to do so quickly, a message the 84 machine of Tom Harris didn't get. With zero points on the board he would take Dan Johnson (4) into the turn 1 fence on the first lap. I doubt you'll need me to explain any further as the video has been shared far and wide when the various internet forums exploded post incident. To summarise, Green Flag, Crash, Dance Battle, DNF for both, Johnson just qualified and both back to the pits to go fix. Upon the restart John Fortune (164) took the lead from Courtney Witts (180) just past half way and took his shiny new car to it's first win.

Heat 3 - 164, 180, 445, 37, 2, 484, H318, 48, 300, 283, 196, 346, 526, 120, 211

Last qualifying heat for 22 cars. Terry Hawkins (275) slow away from the start looking to be having issues. Frankie Wainman Jnr (515) on the move using the bumper moving brother Danny (212) and Lee Fairhurst (217) out of the way. George Elwell (501) goes around at turn 1 as Kyle Gray (124) bumpers Charlie Sworder (5) wide for position. Up front Sam Wass (284) leads with Ryan Harrison (197) and Wainman Jnr showing impressive pace with Wainman Jnr able to bumper Harrison out the way in the latter stages. A last bend hit not quite enough for Harrison to get 2nd back. Wass would win on the road, but unfortunately for Team Wass the car would fail on inside weight on the scales and Sam wouldn't qualify for the UK Open, very hard luck for one of the sports underdog teams.

Heat 4 - 515, 197, 124, 217, 101, 464, 212, 533, 16, 555, 25, 172, 242, 401, 502

UK Open time. 32 drivers qualified with Aaron Leech (70) unable to make the grid. All drivers taking part in the usual grand parade to applause from the crowd. Maybe the biggest applause to the last car out. After rebuilding the front of the orange machine of Dan Johnson (4), he made it out for the championship race. Mechanics and drivers from all manor of different teams all chipping in help or parts to get Dan back in the race and he made it just in time. Just before the pit gate was closed Ashley England (346) would also non-start heading back to the pits with problems.

The race itself was a classic Skegness fast and furious race. Courtney Witts (180) lead from the start, fellow white graded Dave Dorans (366) found the fence at turn 4. Trips to the fence for Micky Randell (172) and Shaun Webster (48). Up front and Witts now under pressure from Kyle Gray (124), when in traffic Gray pounced taking the lead, one he wouldn't loose on his way to his first championship at only 17 years old. Ryan Harrison (197) settled for his favourite finishing position getting 2nd for the third time and first red top home. John Fortune (164) also finishing off his new car debut with a 3rd place.

After post race checks were completed it was confirmed:

Kyle Gray - 2019 UK Open Champion.

UK Open Final - 124, 197, 164, 101, 217, 515, 196, 445, 300, 464, 180, 4

32 cars making the Grand National and the final racing action of the weekend. Gray taking his spot at the back of the field for the 2nd day in a row. In the early running Lee Fairhurst (217) and Paul Harrison (2) tangled together delaying both. George Elwell (501) with a trip to the fence with Casey Englestone (120) involved. Up front Courtney Witts (180) was long gone and took the final race of the weekend. Over the finish line further back Charlier Sworder (5) got out of shape and hit the infield tyres dislodging the grass and soil behind making a bit of a mess. With a bit of tongue in cheek Rob Speak giving him a brush to tidy up.

Grand National - 180, 164, 464, 84, 101, 445, 515, 346, 242, 4, 5, 37

Words by Daniel Smith

Pictures Colin Casserley

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”.