It was a ‘Mr Box Office’ double bill on March 25 as former BriSCA F1 European Champion Mick Sworder completed a consolation-and-final double at King’s Lynn.
The King’s Lynn event was Sworder’s first outing this season, apart from an eventful non-points meeting at Wimbledon at the beginning of the month, having missed the opening meeting at Belle Vue, Manchester the previous weekend.
Sworder began the night initially failing to qualify for the final in his heat. “We had trouble in the heat,” said Sworder. “I heard a bit of a noise so I slowed down and didn’t qualify.
“Andrew Smith, my team and one or two other lads all just mucked in. It still wasn’t right in the consolation event, but we cured the problem we had in the heat and it was a lot better.”
On a perfect evening for racing on shale, with clear skies as the sun set over the Fens, the night began with a White and Yellow Grade Final, in which Mark Sargent won comfortably from Nigel Harrhy and Luke Dennis.
History repeated itself in the next heat with Wainman Jnr scoring the victory, as he did 12 months ago, taking the lead with three laps to go from Bobby Griffin. A fast-finishing Dan Johnson came through to finish second ahead of Mark Woodhull, Griffin, Tom Harris, in the revamped Jamie Davidson shale car, and Nigel Green.
Mat Newson was next, racing the much-discussed Billy Tom O’Connell shale car for the first time. The car proved to be competitive all night, with a top-five finish on the cards in the final prior to a mid-race tangle that resulted in a flat tyre.
After Sworder had little trouble winning the consolation ahead of Finnikin and Paul Hines, further adjustments were made to the Molesworth-based driver’s shale car prior to the 32-car final.
Starting at the back of the star-graders, Sworder powered through the field and was already up to fifth place when the yellow flags came out for a race stoppage on lap six.
On the first lap of the restart, Sworder was quickly into his stride and took the lead out of turn four.
From then on the 40-year-old never looked back and won by more than half a lap from BriSCA F1 world champion Frankie Wainman Jnr, with former world champion Craig Finnikin in third. Hines made up ground from a slow start to finish fourth, with white-grader Chris Farnell an excellent fifth ahead of Woodhull.
“The car was absolutely flying,” said Sworder. “Frankie (Wainman Jnr) made me laugh after the race. He said, “I don’t mind coming second when I can see first place. But when I can’t see the winner it’s pretty embarrassing for a world champion!”
“I said sorry mate. He had no idea who was winning. Frank said “the starter kept signalling me I was second but I couldn’t see who was winning. It wasn’t until the last lap that I looked across and saw you and thought he can’t be still winning can he?”
Woodhull ended a successful night with a win in the Grand National, although only after leader Wainman Jnr slowed to a halt on the last lap with a broken differential with the race at his mercy. Johnson was second, with the improving Harris third.