Nigel Green made it two final victories in the wet in 2017 – this time on Tarmac – as the Cambridgeshire Superstar ruled a rain-sodden Skegness on Good Friday.
The rains arrived as soon as the meeting began and it was Tom Harris who read the situation and adapted the quickest in the 22-car first heat. Harris surged through the field and took the lead from white-grade revelation Drew Lammas before halfway, and won as he pleased, ahead of Luke Davidson, with Green third. The top three finished comfortably ahead of the field, all running wet tyres. Lammas held on to fourth place, ahead of Ryan Harrison and Frankie Wainman Jnr.
It then began to rain more heavily, and continued that way for the rest of the meeting.
In-form B-grader Ben Hurdman took the lead early on in the 20-car second heat, before Neil Hooper clawed back the gap to go on to victory. Hurdman consolidated second place, with Frankie Wainman Jnr Jnr a creditable third, with a battle royale developing behind the leaders, with Mick Sworder finishing fourth ahead of Ben Riley and Stuart Shevill Jnr.
Lee Fairhurst, who pulled off in heat one, cruised to victory in the 17-car consolation event ahead of Mat Newson and Steven Webster.
There were 28 cars lined up for the final, and Lammas led Jordan Falding and George Elwell prior to a stoppage involving Steven Webster and Hooper.
Another stoppage before the halfway point soon followed after the restart, with Lammas still leading from Falding. Shaun Webster was third, Elwell fourth, while Fairhurst had made up considerable ground to go fifth. Green, starting from the back of the grid was already up to seventh place and going well.
As the race went green again, Falding used the front bumper on leader Lammas to go to the front, while Fairhurst moved up to second. Green moved swiftly up to third place and then moved Fairhurst aside to go second. It wasn’t long before his was on leader Falding’s tale, pushing him wide just after the halfway point.
From that point on, Green had the race completely under control and went on to take a straightforward final victory – his second of the year and his first of 2017 on Tarmac.
Harris stormed past Fairhurst to go second, but Green was already long up the road and he had to settle for second, with Fairhurst third. Falding ended a fine race to finish in fourth place, with Harrison, Sworder, Lammas and Wainman Jnr filling out the rest of the top eight.
Green explained afterwards that his Tarmac car has developed into a wet-weather special.
“Fundamentally, our car shouldn’t work in the rain,” he said. “But, for some reason, we have hit a sweet spot with the set-up and it works well. It is a lovely car to drive in the wet conditions.
“Also rain is good for car set-up because it doesn’t change throughout the night and it was fully wet in the final. I started fourth of the five Superstars but ended up last after the first corner.
“I just managed to pick my way through the field and fortunately I had enough pace to drive round everybody without ruffling too many feathers and got away.”
Having got clear of the pack Green was able to chase down second-placed Fairhurst, before making a move.
“Lee had got a break and was up the road, but fortunately I managed to reel him in,” Green said. “I gave him a couple of laps to get in front of the lower graders so we didn’t get swallowed up, then pushed him out of the way to get underneath him.
“I then caught Jordan, pushed him wide and it was basically plain sailing from then on.
“The thing that made it easier for me was that I had good pace, so as soon as I got round someone I was able to drive away from them, so it was a nice race.”
Green took the one-lap handicap in the Grand National, in which Lammas scored his third win in two meetings, having won a heat and the Grand National at Hednesford last Sunday. Harrison closed the leader down but ran out of laps to finish second, with Hurdman third. Harris, Elwell and Fairhurst rounded out the top six. Green managed ninth from the lap handicap.
Final winner Green will be gunning for a third final victory at Stoke on Saturday, but will not be racing at Belle Vue on Easter Monday.
“We’re racing at Stoke but not racing on Monday as we are going on holiday for four days,” Green said.
“Depending on whether we get any damage at Stoke will decide if we race at Sheffield. We weren’t very happy with the performance at King’s Lynn recently, so we have a few things we’ve altered on the shale car and that’s what is pushing me on to race at Stoke.
“So we’ll see how we go there and if we struggle, then we’ll maybe not do Sheffield and try and push the new car along or maybe even run the white car. So we may have a bit of a strategy change but we’ll see how we get on.”
Photos courtesy of Colin Casserley