Steve Webster continued the family tradition by winning his first F1 stock car final at Ipswich on Saturday, in his second full season in the sport.
Webster’s brother Shaun, who has moved up to star grade, won his first final a month earlier at Northampton.
On a warm summer evening, former Saloon Stock Car World and National champion Webster, from Sheffield, took full advantage of his B-grade starting position on the fast Tarmac at Foxhall Stadium to take the victory.
The meeting was billed as the Thunder 500, with National Hot Rods and National Ministox also on the bill.
And being one of the last World Championship qualifiers and an opportunity to gain valuable set-up information prior to the World Final meeting at the track in September, 50 cars arrived in the pits.
The race format was two heats, consolation, final and Grand National, with 24 cars lining up for heat one, including Mick Sworder. ‘Mr Box Office’ was making his first outing on track since the Hednesford qualifier in early April.
It wasn’t long before Sworder was making full use of the front bumper before retiring, while at the head of affairs it was Stuart Shevill Jnr, winner of heat and final at the same meeting 12 months earlier, who romped away with the victory. Roger Bromley was second, with World Champion Frankie Wainman Jnr a fine third from the back of the grid. Steve Whittle was fourth, ahead of Ryan Harrison and Mat Newson, who passed Luke Davidson for position with a last-bend move.
Heat two featured 26 cars with Dan Johnson catching Karl Hawkins with two laps to go to take the flag, with Murray Jones third, ahead of Superstar Dutchman Ron Kroonder in fourth. Craig Finnikin finished fifth, with Tom Harris immediately on the pace in the new Davidson Tarmac car in sixth.
There were 24 cars lined up for the consolation event and it was Neil Scriven who went on to win, ahead of Sworder, Danny Colliver, Paul Hines, Frankie Wainman Jnr Jr and Drew Lammas. Webster finished second, but was excluded from the results, having already qualified with a 12th-place finish from heat one.
The final lined up with 33 cars on the grid, dominated by cars with red roofs, with 13 Star grade drivers, plus 10 Superstars at the back of the grid.
The yellows came out after three laps, with Shevill Jnr retiring, and it was lone A-grader Chris Cooke who led the restart from Webster and Hawkins. Webster then took the lead and totally dominated the remainder of the race. Further back Johnson was making inroads on second-placed Hawkins, with Nigel Green close behind. Stuart Smith Jnr was chasing, but then retired with a rear puncture.
While Webster kept his pace, in the closing stages oil was dumped on the track in turns three and four, which caught out a number of drivers, in particular Hawkins and Johnson, who was helped on his way by Green into the fence. Green took the runner-up spot having started from the back row of the grid. Harrison slipped through for third place, with Newson fourth ahead of Wainman Jnr and Sworder.
The 33-car Grand National ran over the curfew cut off time at 10.15pm, but having been started it was red flagged under caution before the decision was made to continue the race. However, only a handful of cars were aware the race was back on, one of those being Scriven, who went on to win his second race of the night, repeating his Grand National victory of a year ago. Newson finished second but was docked two places for jumping the restart, promoting Murray Jones to the spot, with Sworder third. Behind Newson in fourth, Whittle finished fifth with Smith Jnr sixth.
I went into the final thinking if I could get away and drive properly, I would settle down and that’s what I did. I took the lead and tried to be consistent for every lap
“The car wasn’t quick in the heat, so we made a few tweaks,” said Webster. Having finished 12th in the heat, the 39-year-old was then mistakenly told to line up for the consolation.
“What we did to the car for the consolation made it better,” Webster explained, having inadvertently had extra track time. “So we decided to do a bit more to it. I went into the final thinking if I could get away and drive properly, I would settle down and that’s what I did. I took the lead and tried to be consistent for every lap.
I drove past everyone with no banger racing. But to try and catch a yellow top who is good round there is very difficult
“As I was coming down to the last corner, I was looking and I saw a few cars spin out so I backed off. I could see black on the track and so I just kept it tight and then Frankie Wainman Jnr Jr just spun in front of me and was going backwards and so I tried to keep it as tight as possible and I just sneaked through. I then out came out of the corner and the chequered flag came out.”
Green moved to the top of the World qualifying points table, helped by his second-place finish in the Ipswich final.
“The car was really good in the final,” said Green. “I drove past everyone with no banger racing. But to try and catch a yellow top who is good round there is very difficult.
“When the oil came down I was running third behind Dan Johnson. I went in to give him a push but, as we both went to brake we both hit the oil. He took a bit of speed out of my car, so unfortunately he took the brunt of that, but that’s how it goes.”
Photos courtesy of Colin Casserley