Michael Scriven, from Fairford in Gloucestershire, made a small piece of BriSCA F1 history at Hednesford on Sunday afternoon by winning heat and final at the track for the third year in a row.
The Brisca F1s only race at the Staffordshire venue on Cannock Chase once a year for a World Championship qualifying round.
And 29-year-old Scriven, who along with brother Neil, always excels at the fastest track on the BriSCA F1 calendar, took full advantage of his A-grade starting position to take the spoils.
It all could have been another story, however, had star driver Stuart Smith Jnr, who won heat and final at Birmingham the previous evening, not suffered a misfire with two laps to go as he close down the leader.
With 11 drivers not taking up their booking and Todd Jones being forced to withdraw from the meeting following an engine problem during practice, the meeting was switched to a two-thirds race format, with drivers going out twice in three heats prior to the final.
Scriven began the day by taking the lead in the 24-car first heat from long-time leader Drew Lammas in the closing stages to take the flag. Ryan Harrison looked the main threat until a rear tyre blew before he was able to get in a blow, while Smith Jnr finished a fast-finishing third, ahead of Mathew Armstrong, Ben Riley and Nigel Green.
Lammas led from the start of the 23-car heat two, and had the race under control in the closing stages ahead of Scriven, who got loose on the bottom bend, nearly sliding into the Armco on a couple of occasions, until the yellow came out with two laps to go. Despite the field closing up, Lammas was able to pull away from Scriven to take the flag in a two-lap shoot-out, with Mick Sworder finishing third.
Armstrong led the 22-car heat three before a flying Smith Jnr eased passed to go on to a comfortable victory, with a fast-finishing Tom Harris, who had seemingly solved a perpetual engine issue, chasing him home in second place. Ben Hurdman finished third, ahead of Neil Scriven, Harrison and Craig Finnikin.
There were 28 cars lined up for the final, and it was Hurdman who took the lead in the early stages, from Scriven, Colin Goodswin and Smith Jnr, who had made up lumps of ground to go fourth before halfway.
Scriven took the lead with four to go from Hurdman, with Smith Jnr closing fast. Scriven then had a big moment when his brakes locked up, nearly clattering the Armco and this allowed his pursuers to close the gap.
Smith Jnr shoved Hurdman wide on the top bend and looked to have Scriven in his sights with two laps to go.
However, as Smith Jnr lined up for an attack on the leader, his car then dramatically created a misfire and was unable to make up any ground. Scriven held his composure on the final lap and smoked the tyres in celebration as his crossed the line for a famous victory. Smith Jnr was forced to settle for second, with Hurdman an excellent third. Goodswin held on for fourth place, ahead of Harrison and Danny Wainman, who was the most successful Superstar during the afternoon.
Scriven expressed his delight at a hat-trick of Hednesford victories with a few donuts in front of the podium. “Yes, it is brilliant,” he said. “I’m over the moon. Three years running I have won heat and final. I really wanted that, I’ve got to admit.
“Once I took the lead I thought this will be easy now, until I nearly put myself into the Armco. I think the brake calliper must have been sticking when the brakes got too hot.
“I nearly put myself into the fence in the heat on the bottom bend and I nearly did the same thing in the final.”
I’m over the moon. Three years running I have won heat and final. I really wanted that, I’ve got to admit
Smith Jnr was frustrated with the last-gasp problem with the car. “I thought I’d got him,” he said about leader Scriven. “But then this misfire happened. Looking at the engine, as it got hot it was boiling the fuel and over pressurising the carburetor.”
Third-placed Hurdman had plenty to celebrate with his best-ever weekend of racing with his podium finish to add to a second place in the final at Birmingham the night before.
“When the five lap boards came out I thought I might win,” said Hurdman. “Then Michael shoved me out wide and Smithy did the same the next lap – it all happens in a split-second here.
“I’ve never had a podium in a final before and now I’ve had two in a row.”
In the 28-car Grand National, in which Scriven took the one-lap handicap, Smith Jnr made short work of the pack and eventually chased down long-time leader Goodswin, passing the B-grader with a last-bend attack to take the flag. Lee Fairhurst finished third, ahead of Mat Newson, Armstrong and Danny Wainman.
Although Smith Jnr appeared in complete control during the race, the misfire reappeared during the race.
“It started again, but this time I could manage it a little bit by easing off the throttle,” he said. “We packed a load of damp cloth and rag around the outside of the fuel pipe where it runs near the engine and it subsequently cooled it down.
“It wasn’t as bad in the National but it was still there.”
On a track hard on tyres and engines, a number of other leading drivers had issues with world champion Frankie Wainman Jnr only managing a best eighth place in his heats and 12th in the final.
Former world champion Harris had an even more disappointing weekend.
The Harris car had been struck down with fuel issues at Birmingham the previous evening and the gremlins struck again the following afternoon.
“It keeps cutting out,” Harris said. “We’ve changed everything now. We’ve changed the battery, earths, coil, isolator switch, ignition switch, everything.
“We had a fuel problem last night at Birmingham, so we changed the carb, fuel pump, fuel lines. And it is still doing it.
“It was fine in the second heat, then in the final I felt something hit me in the goggles, and then I had no brakes entering the corner, as the brake disc had shattered.
“And then the car was going well in the National until going into the bottom corner, and nothing. It just stopped…” He eventually managed eighth place.
Photos: Neil Randon and Colin Casserley