Ryan “The Boss” Harrison dominated the Venray World Cup in the Netherlands on Sunday, with an emphatic victory over European Champion Nigel Green, and in doing so confirmed his position as a leading contender for the World Final at Ipswich next month.
Harrison and his team had a highly successful weekend, with Roger Bromiley, driving a Harrison car, taking a heat and his first-ever final victory on Sunday.
It was also a dominant weekend for British drivers as a whole, with four wins out of six races on Saturday, followed by four out of four on Sunday.
Stuart Shevill Jnr opening the Brits account tip-toeing to victory in the 24-car first heat on a wet track on Saturday afternoon, with Harrison finishing second. Belgium driver Jordy Lemmens finished third ahead of Luke Davidson, Ben Riley and Frankie Wainman Jnr.
Heat two, with 24 cars on track, was stopped after a couple of laps, with Andre Nat spinning out of turn four on a greasy surface. Ivan Renneburg led the restart, but got spun out of turn two, collecting Mark Sargent. Shaun Webster soon took up the running from Davidson, who took the lead two laps later and cruised to an easy win. Reigning World Cup champion Roy Maessen shoved Green wide on the last bend to take second place, with Green third, ahead of Bromiley, Geert Jan Keijzer and Johan Catsburg.
Dutch driver Ivan Renneberg took his first ever win in heat three on a dry track, with a flag-to-flag victory with Sargent chasing him home in second. Dan Johnson and Harrison fought over third place, with Johnson just coming out on top. Maessen and Green finished a close up fifth and sixth.
Heat four again featured 24 cars, with Willem Zwerver leading from Webster until halfway before Harrison grabbed second place out of turn two, and then the lead from Zwerver into turn three. Johnson followed suit a lap later to go second.
Harrison looked assured of victory as the lap boards came out but a front offside puncture handed the win to Johnson. Webster took second place, ahead of Davidson, Wainman Jnr, Hans Baegen and Lee Fairhurst, in the new Daniel Van Spijker Tarmac car.
Heat five, with 24 cars, was led by Renneburg for the first five laps with a sizeable lead over Sargent, but the race was stopped after Maessen climbed over the front end of Frank Wouters’ car down the home straight and the pair hit the inside retaining wall entering turn three, collecting Geert Jan Keijzer along the way.
Sargent led the restart from Lemmens, before the Belgian took the lead out of turn four. Frankie Wainman Jnr Jr gave chase in third when Evert van de Berg whacked the wall coming out of turn four, bringing out the yellow flags once more.
On the restart Lemmens took the lead, with Wainman Jnr Jr going past Sargent down the back straight to go second. Danny Wainman was fourth, ahead of Green, who took that position away from Wainman out of turn two a lap later.
With five laps to go the yellows were out again, this time as Renneburg spun in turn four. Lemmens still led from Wainman Jnr Jr, with Sargent third, Green fourth and Wainman fifth.
After the restart, and with three laps to go Lemmens drifted wide out of turn two while under pressure from Wainman Jnr Jr, who took the lead. Green moved into second on the next bend, and tried to close the gap, but Wainman Jnr Jr kept his composure to take a fine victory. Lemmens held on to third place, ahead of Wainman, Riley and Ron Kroonder.
The feature race of Saturday evening was the Long Track Memorial final, and fielded 30 cars. Renneburg led the early laps with Bromiley moving into second place, ahead of Lemmens and Sargent.
Lemmens took over the lead before halfway, and it was Harrison who gave chase in the closing stages but was never close enough to get in a blow on the leader. Green came though to finish third, ahead of Shevill Jnr, Webster and Bromiley.
Sunday’s racing consisted of the World Cup itself, followed by two heats and the Bev Greenhalf Memorial final. The one notable absentee from the previous day was former World Cup winner Johnson, who loaded up due to engine problems.
The 30-lap race featured 36 cars, with reigning champion Maessen on pole, with Wouters alongside. Van de Berg and Peter Falding were next, followed by Green and Harrison on row three. Jan Keijzer and Kroonder lined up on row four, with Davidson and Jordan Falding on row five. Wainman and Wainman Jnr were on row six.
The race had to be completely restarted after a couple of laps, with Maessen leading from van de Berg. Harrison moved up into third place on lap two, ahead of Jan Keijzer, Kroonder and Davidson. Further back Wainman climbed over the front end of Wainman Jnr’s car to end his race.
The leader’s race was hindered on lap six by Neil Scothern spinning out of turn four, which also helped Harrison close the gap on van de Berg. Kroonder was now fourth, ahead of Green and Davidson.
Out of turn two on the next lap, Harrison had moved up to second and then into turn three on lap nine the Rothwell driver took the lead. Maessen was immediately hit from behind and spun out of contention. With the Scothern car still on the racing line in turn four, the yellows came out.
Harrison continued to lead from the green flag, with van de Berg next. Kroonder fended off Green for a couple of laps, with Davidson and Catsburg close up.
As the top two pulled away, behind Green and Kroonder a battle was developing between Davidson, Catsburg, Wainman Jnr Jr and Wainman Jnr. Catsburg and Wainman Jnr Jr got pushed aside into turn three, and then Wainman Jr shoved Davidson wide into turn one. Davidson returned the compliment into the next bend but only succeeded in taking both cars to the fence.
Up front Harrison was controlling affairs, while Green had closed up on van de Berg. Kroonder was next, followed by Wainman Jnr Jr, on his own in fifth place, Falding and Fairhurst.
To me now, I’ve got nothing to lose. Winning at Venray was the highlight of the season for me, so it doesn’t matter what happens for the rest of the year
Green soon passed van de Berg to go second, as the Dutchman began to drop back, but try as he might the European champion was unable to close the gap on Harrison who cruised to an impressive victory, winning comfortably ahead of Green, with Kroonder third.
Frankie Wainman Jnr Jr came home an excellent fourth from the 12th row of the grid, with Van de Berg and Fairhurst rounding out the top six.
“To me now, I’ve got nothing to lose,” said Harrison. “Winning at Venray was the highlight of the season for me, so it doesn’t matter what happens for the rest of the year.
“It was pretty easy, to be fair. Once I got to the front and the yellows came out, I pretty much thought to myself I had got it in the bag if I could do a good restart. I’m usually very good at restarts and I can always make sure I’ve got breathing space going in to the first corner.
“And that was it. I looked in my mirror after the first corner, I could see I was pulling away a little bit, and I thought to myself “I’ve got this”. From there on in I wasn’t even pushing that hard.”
The only issue Harrison had was when Scothern spun exiting turn four and he was forced to dive down the inside and over the inside kerb. “I was a bit cautious doing it because it’s a big kerb’” he said. “I took loads of it so the car bounced off the bottom of the sump guard, so I knew it wasn’t going to throw me airborne.”
The remainder of the meeting was dominated by British drivers. UK Open champion Harry Steward won heat one, ahead of Davidson and Falding, with Wouters fourth, ahead of Kroonder and Green.
Heat two was won by Roger Bromiley, who took the lead from Steward with five laps to go. Webster finished third, with Renneburg, Kroonder and Harrison rounding out the top six.
In the Bev Greenhalf Memorial final, Shevill Jnr took the lead, pursued by Bromiley, while further back Harrison scorched through the field. Bromiley took the lead with three laps to go and had enough of a gap to survive a last-bend attempt by car owner Harrison, who just failed to connect. As Harrison drifted wide, Shevill Jnr moved back up to second place. Kroonder finished fourth, ahead of Green and Lemmens.
The result could have been a lot different if Harrison had hit his target. “They made me start last in the final and with one more corner I would have won it,” said Harrison. “I went for a massive last-bender and just missed Roger by inches.
“I’d got second in the bag, and I thought “if I go for it I’m going to lose it and come third”, but I have the attitude of win or bust, so I went for it.
“If it had been someone else I would have left it on a bit more, but if I’d connected I would have spun him and would have probably done myself as well. At least I would have tried, but I’ve got to be a little bit sensible!”
The truth is this ain’t rocket science. I was just pressing the gas too hard. It was that simple, and was letting my head get away from me. It then came right, and that’s the important thing
Bromiley, meanwhile, kept his composure in the car he has hired from Harrison all season, and held on to take the flag and a memorable first final victory. Later, he readily admitted that he owed some of the win to Harrison for the ‘pep’ talk he was given the night before.
“Ryan had every right to give me the third degree on Saturday night,” admitted Bromiley. “I was poor and it wasn’t good enough. I should’ve have known better. Sometimes I get a bit giddy and on Saturday I was poor. I got some good results but I under-performed.
“The truth is this ain’t rocket science. I was just pressing the gas too hard. It was that simple, and was letting my head get away from me. It then came right, and that’s the important thing.”
Harrison explained what the problem was. “He was over-driving the car,” he said. “He was driving at 500mph out of the corners rather than at 50mph, and the car can’t take it.
“I gave him a very hard time. I was a bit harsh really, but I say it exactly as it is. I told him that if he drove like that on Sunday he might as well leave the car in the truck. We didn’t change anything in his car during the weekend – we were both set up the same.
“I told him the car would work if he started driving it properly.”
And Bromiley did exactly that – and the car worked.
“Ultimately, Stuart (Shevill) had a great pace early on and he cleared the cars in front and by halfway it was just the two of us and off we went,” recalled Bromiley. “It was epic. I felt they were going to have to go some behind to catch us.
“I knew I had the pace on Stuart, so he was going to have to go in at some point. With three to go I shoved him wide and went through. There was a lot of dust and crap off the racing line, so I knew he didn’t have to go very wide for me to be able to pull away. After that it was done and dusted.
“I’ve been flying a millions miles above the ground ever since!”