Lee Fairhurst leapt up the Mintex National Points Shootout rankings after romping away with the Belle Vue meeting final – round five of the series.
The meeting began with a Whites and Yellows race, in which Sam Jacklin led until after halfway, when Karl Roberts took over to go on to take the chequered flag. Jacklin finished second ahead of Chris Brocksopp.
Heat two featured 23 cars and the yellow flags were soon out after Scott Davids car was sat in a vulnerable position. Jacklin led the restart from, Nigel Harrhy and John Dowson, but by halfway Frankie Wainman Jnr had swept through to take the lead, ahead of Fairhurst and James Morris.
The yellows came out again shortly after when Jacklin struck the fence in turn two. Wainman Jnr led the restart, from Fairhurst, Mat Newson and Stuart Smith Jnr, with Wainman Jnr taking the chequered ahead of Fairhurst by the length of the straight.
Smith Jnr moved up to third, ahead of Newson, who withstood a last-bend hit from Nigel Green – who had earlier visited the fence – in fourth. Craig Finnikin, who had an early pirouette, finished sixth.
Heat three featured 22 cars, and after an early yellow flag when Austin Moore visited the fence along the back straight, it was John Dowson who dominated the race to take a straightforward victory ahead of Smith Jnr, Finnikin and Morris. Green finished fifth, ahead of Fairhurst, who was struggling with no power steering.
In a race against time to compete in for the final after unravelling and remounting the power steering belt, Fairhurst got a great start and was lying in third place in the final when the race had to be restarted before the halfway point.
I just dinked Nigel into Jack and went up inside them. I was half expecting Stuart [Smith Jnr] to be breathing down my neck, but when I looked in my mirrors there was no-one there
The turn one fence had to be repaired after heat one winner John Dowson had planted Joe Booth into Ben Riley, who went sideways into the fence and snapped a fence post.
At this stage it was Jack France who led, from world champion Nigel Green, Fairhurst and Shootout points leader Stuart Smith Jnr. Two laps after the restart Fairhurst made his move and shoved Green on to France – who both tangled out of contention – to take the lead.
“I got a good start,” said Fairhurst. “I just dinked Nigel into Jack and went up inside them. I was half expecting Stuart [Smith Jnr] to be breathing down my neck, but when I looked in my mirrors there was no-one there. He must have had some sort of problem, so that was a bonus.”
From that point on Fairhurst stretched his lead and took the flag for his second Belle Vue final victory of the season. Mat Newson finished second ahead of Paul Hines. Smith Jnr limped home a lap down in tenth place with a broken half shaft.
France made amends to take a flag-to-flag victory in the Grand National, winning from Green and Craig Finnikin.
Fairhurst now lies in second place in the Shootout after five rounds, 47 points behind leader Smith Jnr, in the race for the silver roof that concludes at Belle Vue on November 12.
Series leader Smith Jnr’s main rival Frankie Wainman Jnr had a night to forget, only scoring 14 points after an evening beset with mechanical issues after his opening heat victory.
Photos courtesy of Dave Bastock
Neil Randon 2017