Stuart Smith Jnr laid down a marker for the BriSCA F1 Tarmac season with a ruthless and emphatic heat and final double at Birmingham Wheels on April 8.
After the meeting Smith Jnr revealed that much of the set-up in the car was improved by testing the day before at Northampton and, more surprisingly, in the Live Arena at Autosport International at the NEC in January.
“We went testing on Friday at Northampton,” said Smith Jnr. “We don’t do it that often and we should do. We learnt a lot.
“We changed the car and we also learnt a few things, believe it or not, at the NEC.
“When we arrived at Birmingham I knew the car would be quick, and I was starting from red as well. I should be winning from there.”
In front of a bumper crowd and a glorious spring evening, Smith Jnr took full advantage of his star grade grid position in heat one, making his presence felt with heavy bumper work to scythe his way through the pack.
When we arrived at Birmingham I knew the car would be quick, and I was starting from red as well. I should be winning from there
After a race stoppage, the former World and National Points Shootout champion finished the 25-car race the length of the straight ahead of Jordan Falding, who was docked two places for jumping the restart. Lee Fairhurst was promoted to second, with Mat Newson third.
The 24-car second heat was won by Ryan Harrison, ahead of Neal Hooper, who was also then relegated two places for a jumped restart. Ed Neachall was handed second spot ahead of Nigel Green.
World Champion Frankie Wainman Jnr got caught out by oil dropped by the engine blowing on Richard Dickerson car into turn one and was forced to take part in the 19-car consolation.
Paul Carter won that race, after BriSCA F2 driver Drew Lammas was forced to pull off after halfway when his car cut out with the race seemingly at his mercy. Carter, however, was then docked a place after a steward’s enquiry, giving the victory to Aaron Leach. Wainman Jnr won a drag race with Mathew Armstrong to take third place.
The 32-car final was all about Smith Jnr. An excellent start saw him move swiftly through the field and he took the lead from Ben Hurdman by lap 13. Green finished third ahead of Dan Johnson, Wainman Jnr and Todd Jones.
“I got a good couple of corners at the start,” said Smith Jnr. “I managed to get away then, but the car was really good. It was, arguably, the fastest car on the night I think.
“We needed this result after a poor couple of years. I know I’m better than how I have been doing, and everyone had sort of written me off and that spurred me on.”
Lammas made amends for his consolation misfortune by winning the Grand National, ahead of Harrison, Danny Wainman and Michael Steward. Smith Jnr finished twelfth from the one-lap handicap.
Hednesford the following day requires an entirely different set-up, with cross-weight and stagger completely at odds with the Birmingham wheels venue.
“I’ve been quick at Hednesford, but never had the quickest car,” Smith Jnr explained. “I’ve got a quick car now, but between Birmingham and Hednesford, we’ve got to make some big changes.
“And whether we make the right ones remains to be seen. Hednesford is totally different. We’ll take a stab at it and hopefully hit the right note right from the word go.”
Photos courtesy of Colin Casserley