Kings Lynn - Saturday 9th September 2017

The biggest date of the year for the BriSCA F2 Stock Cars came to the Adrian Flux Arena at King’s Lynn – the 2017 World Championship, and probably the most adventurous ‘away date’ for Autospeed since the staging of the event at the original Wembley Stadium 43 years previous.  The Saloon Stock Cars played a highly significant supporting role, as they raced for their 2017 ORCi Championship.  Weather always plays a part in a race meeting, naturally, but even more so when it is staged on a shale track.  Yes, it could have been worse but the unsettled nature of what was served up by nature in Norfolk on Saturday afternoon had a knock-on effect on the entire evening’s racing in every way.

BriSCA F2 Stock Cars

The overseas ‘hot laps’ for the BriSCA F2 Stock Cars were due to take place at 3.00pm but a heavy and prolonged shower at 1.30pm made the freshly prepared track, which had been prepped for the evening as much as the afternoon session, very slick.  All eyes were on various weather forecasts, phone apps and general local knowledge as to whether the weather would play foul again and the decision to ascertain the track’s use for these was largely out of Autospeed’s hands, but down to the track curator’s.  As it was, the large rainstorm that may have hit Stadium moved just to the south and the trails took place, with regret but unavoidably far later than had been planned.  There were two five-minute sessions for the drivers who all circulated together, to make it fair for all.  The first of these was on a very damp track whilst for the second, sunshine had returned and it made a significant difference to the track and the associated lap times.  Despite spending most of the second session spun and trapped against a marker tyre, it was 2005 World Champion H24 Willie Peeters who set the overall fastest time of 19.256 with defending title holder H124 Wim Peeters alongside with a time of 19.484 which made the third row of the World Final a unique father and son combination.

With the overseas positions set, the next task was to decide the last six qualifiers from the UK mainland in the Consolation Semi Final and this produced a grid of 33 cars lined up in points order from the World Championship qualifying series.  Pole position starter 488 Liam Bentham converted that into the initial lead, until 560 Luke Wrench moved up on his inside and then 995 Michael Lund and 905 Rob Mitchell, who had started on the outside of the front row followed with 225 Tony Blackburn.  For Bentham, his great World Series was not to lead to a World Final position as a coming together with several backmarkers on the home straight left him in a dazed condition and there was a need to bring the race under caution to check on his wellbeing.  Wrench had looked comfortable in the lead before the yellow flag but soon after the restart, he was spun by Blackburn who moved into the lead and went on to win with the remaining places being taken up by Lund, Mitchell, 377 Daz Shaw, 871 Mark Simpson and 298 Jake Walker.

Therefore the scene was set for the 2017 World Championship.  Thankfully the weather had cleared and with time for work to be carried out on the track it was in superb condition for the race.  The drivers’ parade and grid introductions built up the atmosphere before they moved off on the customary two rolling laps.  It was a perfectly paced rolling lap from pole sitter 7 Gordon Moodie with 16 Craig Wallace to his outside.  However, 854 Robbie Dawson on the inside of the second row appeared to break out of line, just at the point that Moodie would be about to go and pull half alongside Moodie, in obvious gamesmanship and it was at this point that the green flag was dropped to start the race.  With Moodie momentarily held up it allowed Wallace a free reign into the first corner to lead whilst outside second row starter 38 Dave Polley stuck to the outside of Moodie going into turn one.  This saw both go wide, for Polley simply too wide and into what remained of the ‘deep’ shale and allowed Wim Peeters to go through on the inside.  Peeters appeared to find so much grip that this move also took him up the side of Wallace, which was just enough to tag him as he did so; the 16 car hit the wall and spun in front of the oncoming pack.  Whilst some did miss the stranded Wallace, plenty didn’t and it triggered a large and probably somewhat stereotypical first lap crash which accounted for several including Polley and other potential favourites H47 Patrick Tersteeg and 606 Andrew Palmer.  The Steward decreed that the race had an acceptable order to be continued under yellow, despite so little of the race being run.  There is nothing within the 2017 ORCi rules that BriSCA F2 adhere to that suggests that a race has to be red flagged and completely re-run within a certain time frame.  The order for the re-start was H124 Peeters, 7 Moodie, 700 Adam Rubery and 226 Billy Webster, H154 Kay Lenssen and H129 Michael Schutter.  With the pack in single file the race quickly settled down with Peeters leading and pulling away from Moodie in second place.  It quickly becoming apparent that the Scot had little to offer the Dutch leader whilst Webster moved into third and he quickly looked comfortable there, but had no answer to for the two ahead of him.  There was a chance for all when there was a yellow flag after a coming together with H129 Schutter and Blackburn which resulted into a hefty trip into the plating for the latter and he required assistance from his car.  There were two back makers between Peeters and Moodie at the re-start.  However, Peeters went too soon at the re-start and the green flag was not shown.  Had the start gone and another time he could have faced a penalty.  But, they were all brought back and at the next attempt Peeters was impeccable and the race resumed in the same pattern with Moodie unable to catch Peeters and Webster unable to catch Moodie.  However, there was a very late scare for Peeters on the last lap when he came to lap 318 Leyton O’Reilly.  He did this, but whether by accident or design O’Reilly did appear to lunge at the H124 car on the very last corner, but Peeters saw this off and took the chequered flag.  To add to the mystery Peeters then did crash with O’Reilly on the run-down lap.  Moodie simply had to make do with second having given it everything and survived anything his rivals – enemies even – had attempted to throw at him whilst Webster was very happy with third having raced the race in pain with a broken thumb sustained whilst racing at Belle Vue 12 days earlier.  There were jubilant scenes from the Peeters’ and many Dutch supporters, as one would expect and from Moodie there were more than a few words for the aforementioned.  The remainder of the top ten were 298 Jake Walker and 101 Kelvyn Marshall who had a tight battle for fourth, 905 Mitchell, 886 Chris Bradbury, 700 Rubery, H154 Lenssen and 301 Charlie Whitfield.  However, just as with the Saloon Stock Car World Championship at Cowdenbeath three weeks earlier, there were issues at post race scrutineering for which technical enquires were needed to be sought.  Despite inaccuracies and outright hearsay being banded around on social media and forums regarding the outcome of the result, it was suspended at midday on Sunday, announced as pending on the BriSCA F2 website on Monday 11 September, and then confirmed on Wednesday 13 September.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing when it comes to the number of cars in the two consolation races, and we as Autospeed will hold our hands up that the split of cars (46 in the first and 14 in the second) was of course, wrong and highly imbalanced.  There could and should have been more cars available, yet there was little evidence to the pit staff that such a huge number of drivers had withdrawn from racing for the evening.  But, it was what it was, and the larger of the two was something of a throwback race and after a yellow flag it did settle down.  977 Dave Massey was first across the line, but completed the race with a broken rear wheel guard and unfortunately that contravenes the rules and he had to be disqualified which promoted 464 Matt Linfield to the victory.  Suffice to say the smaller of the two was more straight forward and 441 Micky Branston was the winner.  There were several non-starters for the meeting Final too, which was for the annual Alan Benson Trophy but still yielded a field of 33 cars.  After an early yellow flag it was H103 Chris van der Elst who was the leader until passed by Branston.  A further yellow flag after a crash between 823 Sam Wagner and 59 Lee Dimmick again brought the pack together and when Branston retired at the re-start, Moodie moved ahead of van de Elst and went on to win ahead of 298 Walker and 38 Polley.  With regret, the meeting was running a long way behind schedule and the Grand National had to be cancelled and the O’er The Border Trophy postponed to the next day.

Saloon Stock Cars

There was an excellent and very cosmopolitan entry in the Saloon Stock Cars with four drivers from Scotland, three from Northern Ireland and two drivers from the Netherlands joining in the fray.  The format was the usual three from five heats and the points scored determining the grid line up for the 30th running of ORCi Championship.  Somewhat appropriately the winner of the first heat was the winner of the title in 1985, 304 Martyn Parker who just held off a fast finishing World Champion 306 Daniel Parker.  Heat two saw a win for 399 Cole Atkins; the third heat went to 161 Billy Smith; the fourth was a flag to flag win for 682 Paul Sparrow; before the fifth heat went to 349 Michael Allard.  The points all added up saw 158 Shane Davies on the front row with gold top Daniel Parker alongside and 499 David Aldous on the second row with Allard alongside on the 36-car grid.  Aldous managed to shift the front row starters aside to lead on the opening lap but Davies came back at him and had Allard on the outside whilst behind there was absolutely loads going on and with cars in various forms of disarray there was an early yellow flag.  It was Allard who headed off the re-start from Davies, Aldous and Smith.  Allard pulled out a gap at the front and was very soon picking his way through back marking traffic and Aldous was spun from second and 641 Willie Skoyles Jnr moved into third behind Smith.  As Allard appeared to be maintaining the gap in the lead, but forever in backmarkers the battle for second remained throughout and came down to the very last corner.  As Allard took the victory (and finally a major title in Saloon Stock Cars having come so close numerous times before) Smith went in with a huge lunge on Skoyles that saw both run wide and Davies duly made second and 220 Casey Engelstone third.

BriSCA F2 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th
Cons. Semi 225 995 905 377 871 298 55 560 219 59 first 6 to world
Heat 1 788 H186 26 662 H103 599 136 H29 132 H126
World Final H124 7 226 298 101 905 886 700 H154 301
Consolation 1 464 823 H129 995 335 59 111 578 560 H305
Consolation 2 441 38 377 581 219 599 121 318 NI747 854
Final 7 298 38 905 995 H129 219 700 560 318
Grade Awards W n/a Y 464 B 219
Saloon Stock Cars 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th
Heat 1 ABC 304 306 386 161 158 800 641 157 24 349 428 610
Heat 2 DEA 399 538 428 158 171 570 499 641 38 448 350 811
Heat 3 BCD 161 26 499 349 420 128 306 131 148 171 733 304
Heat 4 EAB 682 158 24 306 157 428 399 525 671 220 641 777
Heat 5 CDE 349 220 171 499 182 811 57 570 26 190 161 711
ORC 349 158 220 730 641 428 161 171 26 304
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  • H124 World Champion 2017

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