Nigel Green certainly wasn’t suffering from a hangover at Northampton for the World Masters after his consummate victory in the World Final the night before at Ipswich.
Green scored a rare World Final/World Masters double to take his tenth final win of the season.
Green paraded the World Championship trophy around the track prior to the opening heat for a lap of honour on his car with his aerofoil painted in gold.
The 22-car field and was led from the start by Steve Malkin Jnr, who was chased by brothers Neil and Michael Scriven before Neil Scriven took over at the front when Malkin stopped against the turn four fence.
Scriven looked to be continuing where he left off the night before, having scored two victories at Ipswich, but slowing for oil on the track he was collected by his brother, the pair hooking up momentarily before separating on the infield, which allowed Lee Fairhurst through to take the win.
Neil Scriven recovered to finish second, ahead of Frankie Wainman Jnr, Paul Harrison, Chris Fort and Danny Wainman.
The heavens opened in between heats, but while the fence was being repaired the track dried. The 24-car car heat two was led by Shane Geary until the yellows came out after Jan Kuin tangled with Paul Carter, who speared into the fence. Luke Davidson pulled off after the aerofoil on his Tom Harris-loaned car came loose.
Michael Steward barged through to lead early on after the restart, before Drew Lammas shoved him wide to take the lead. Lammas proceeded to go on to take a comfortable win ahead of Mat Newson, Steward and and a seemingly lack-lustre Green. Dean Whitwell finished fifth ahead of Frankie Wainman Jnr Jr.
“We were at Northampton on Wednesday,” said Green. “So we had an eye for what set-up we needed to be fast, but just before the heat there was a big downpour which we didn’t bank on.
“So I put some wet tyres on but they had to repair the fence and that took about 15 minutes, so while that was going on the sun came out and the track dried up, so that left me with the wrong tyres on the car.
“So my pace in the heat wasn’t as good as it could have been. And I didn’t have the run of it either, as I had a couple of lower graders get out of shape in front of me and put me on the infield, which lost me a lot of time.”
The 25-car consolation was led by Aaron Leach, before the yellows came out after Kelvin Hassell whacked the fence in turn three, and Richard Davies, Geary and Tristan Jackson tangled along the home straight.
Leach led the restart from Richard Howarth, George Elwell and Harry Steward, but it was Davidson who surged his way to the front, taking the lead on the final lap from Leach to take the victory. Harry Steward finished third, ahead of Michael Scriven, Elwell and New Zealander Simon Joblin, who came home an excellent sixth.
The World Masters final fielded 30 cars with Leach taking the lead from Whitwell. Wainman Jnr got enmeshed with Rob Cowley and clashed the turn one fence, with Ben Riley joining in, clattering into the side of the Wainman Jnr car.
The race was yellow-flagged, much to the dismay of Leach and Whitwell, who saw their sizeable lead reduced back down to the width of a bumper, with Green the man immediately behind them.
“I followed Frankie round for three or four laps because he started in front of me and he was moving the traffic,” explained Green. “So I let him do a bit of graft for me really!
I think without a yellow they would have taken a bit of catching, as they were a couple of fast guys and I think they would have probably been up the road
“Then he pushed a few in front of him to make a gap, but didn’t make the corner himself which enabled me to get underneath him. From then on I drove underneath those in front of me and was working my way to the front.
“I had got past all the star graders, and then the yellow flags came out, which bunched the field up and fortunately put the yellow tops back in range.
“I think without a yellow they would have taken a bit of catching, as they were a couple of fast guys and I think they would have probably been up the road.”
After the restart Green manoeuvred passed the two leaders and pulled a bit of a gap ahead of Fairhurst, with Riley up to third.
The race was then yellow flagged once more after Elwell and Michael Steward had a coming together, and again bunched up the field. It then brought Fairhurst in range of Green for the restart.
Fairhurst got a good start and applied the bumper to Green into turn one, but the new world champion rode the hit well and maintained his lead, extending the gap with every lap to take the chequered flag. Fairhurst finished second, ahead of Riley, Danny Wainman and Harrison. Joblin had another fine drive to finish ninth.
“The car was going so well and I had done all the hard work early on,” said Green. “But then there was another yellow flag, which put Lee Fairhurst right on my back bumper.
“And he judged the restart very well and was in range of me at the first corner. I got some unwanted attention from him there, which I can’t fault him for. I just managed to get a better exit from the corner than him and get away and manage the gap.
Obviously winning with the gold roof is a great start. In the past people have struggled or had a curse with this gold roof, so to break the back of that first time out is good!
“What I liked about it was that I overtook Lee about five laps earlier in the race and we were in about sixth or seventh place and he wasn’t interested in running into me, which is good, because it is a waste of time hitting each other when we’re back there. But he obviously knows when we do get to the front it’s gloves off.
“Obviously winning with the gold roof is a great start. In the past people have struggled or had a curse with this gold roof, so to break the back of that first time out is good!”
A 33-car field for the Grand National was lead from start to finish by Leach, who won from Neil Scriven, Elwell, Davidson, Harrison and Riley.
Green started from the one-lap handicap but struggled with a flat tyre, but not before giving Kuin a ride around the fence as payback for the hit he gave Green when being lapped during the World Final.
“We weren’t 100 per cent happy with the balance of the car in the final,” explained Green. “So we changed the stagger on the back, but as soon as the flagged was dropped for the start of the race, my front left tyre went flat.
“So I did the whole race with a puncture. Remarkably, my lap times weren’t too bad either.”
With little chance of a decent finish, Green still had one motivating factor to keep going. Dutchman Kuin had entertained the crowd in his bright pink F1 shale stock car at Ipswich the evening before with his no-holds-barred, hit-anything-within-bumper-range attitude to racing. However, his move on Green after being lapped in the World Final was not appreciated by the new world champion.
He actually came up to me before the meeting and introduced himself. He said “Congratulations on winning the World Final. I drive the pink car.”
“The only box left to tick from the weekend was to put that Pink Panther in the fence!” Green explained.
“He was hitting everything in sight, which I haven’t got a problem with, but when you’re lapping somebody and you are leading the biggest race of the year, to try and take them out is a bit below the belt.
“He actually came up to me before the meeting and introduced himself. He said “Congratulations on winning the World Final. I drive the pink car.”
“I said “oh, OK, thank you very much.”
“And then he says. “I suppose you ask why I run into you?”
“And I said “No, I don’t. I’m not asking – because you just came up to me!”
“And he says, “Well, if you do ask, my answer is – I don’t know why…!”
“So I said OK, fair enough!” And I left it at that.
“Then in the first heat, he moved out of my way, the final he didn’t qualify for, so my last opportunity was the National. And again I got behind him and he tried to move out of my way again.
“So I thought, I’ve got a puncture, I’ve not going to be moving forward so let’s give him a run around the fence. So, I did!”