World champion Nigel Green romped away with a heat and final double at the Mintex National Points Championship Shootout round nine, sponsored by Teng Tools at Northampton.
It was Green’s 11th final win of the season, his fourth at what has turned out to be a happy hunting ground at Northampton. The Leicestershire superstar is now the only rival who can mathematically depose Stuart Smith Jnr from the top of the Shootout points standings going into the double points finale at Belle Vue on November 12.
But while Green dominated the Northampton Tarmac, the main talking point of the meeting was an on-track feud between Ben Riley and Ryan Harrison.
Having been on the receiving end of the Harrison front bumper in the Grand National at Birmingham the previous evening, on lap two of heat two Riley fired Harrison heavily into the turn three fence. Both cars clattered the sheet metal plating at a rate of knots, with the Harrison car climbing the fence and on to its roof. Neither was seen out for the rest of the meeting.
The meeting began with a 19-car heat one in which Neil Hooper led the second half of the race from Shaun Webster. Green picked off Webster with five laps to go before chasing down Hooper to force the leader wide into turn three on the penultimate lap.
Smith Jnr got by Hooper on the last lap into turn one to chase Green home to finish second. Hooper held on for third ahead of Webster, Frankie Wainman Jnr and Bradley Harrison.
Heat two featured 21 cars, and after Ryan Harrison and Riley were towed off the track after their fencing incident, Mark Adkins led the restart ahead of Richard Davies and Aaron Leach, who soon took the lead.
Further back Todd Jones was storming through the pack and chased down Leach in the closing stages to take the victory. Colin Goodswen finished third, ahead of Danny Wainman, Michael Scriven and Tristen Jackson.
The consolation fielded 14 cars and was won by Karl Hawkins ahead of Michael Steward and Paul Hines. Chris Fort took fourth spot ahead of Neil Scriven and Drew Lammas.
With the clocks going back an hour the final was run under the floodlights with 28 cars taking the grid. Both Danny Wainman and Webster pulled off on the rolling lap as the race went green.
The race soon went red, however, when Hawkins rolled in turn four after tangling with Ant Whorton-Eales. Wainman Jnr was close behind and was unable to avoid the stricken Hawkins car and as a result the British champion dislodged his aerofoil and did not take part in the restart.
The race was yellow flagged on lap three after Lammas and Steward tangled out of turn two, with Adkins leading the restart ahead of Jackson, Shane Geary, Phoebe Wainman, Hooper, George Elwell and Jones.
Adkins and Jackson shot off into the lead, with Jones soon ahead of the pack led by Elwell and Hooper, who were quickly swallowed up by Fort, Green and Smith Jnr.
Jackson took over the lead from Adkins, who was being caught by Jones, with Green and Smith Jnr now up to fourth and fifth ahead of Fort – Smith Jnr tracking Green’s every move.
Into the second half of the race Jones was now second and caught and past Jackson to take the lead. Green now had a head of steam and had drawn away from Smith Jnr and caught Jackson to go second. As the lapboards came out Green was on Jones’ back bumper and quickly in front.
Green took the flag for a comfortable victory ahead of Jones, with Smith Jnr in third place. Luke Davidson took fourth ahead of Jackson, with Mat Newson rounding out the top six.
“The outside rear tyre I used on the car is an old one out of Frankie Wainman Jnr’s transporter,” said Green. “I was asking everyone for a tyre and he said he’d got one so I put it on my rim and won heat and final with it!”
In the 23-car Grand National Michael Scriven chased down long-time leader Paul Carter to take the lead with three laps to go and the win. Jackson finished third, with Davidson, Smith Jnr and Neil Scriven completing the top six. Wainman Jnr came home in eighth place despite racing minus his aerofoil, with Green 11th from the one-lap handicap.
With just one round to go in the Mintex National Points Championship Shootout, Smith Jnr now has 417 points, extending his lead to 119 points, with Green now second and the only Shootout competitor who can theoretically challenge Smith Jnr for the silver roof.
“Stuart has done a great job,” said Green. “He’s had no bad rounds and when he has won a final he has backed it up with a good result in the National – one, by having pace and being good; and two, by having a bit of good fortune with yellow flags.
“Credit to him. He’s good for the sport and for him to have the silver roof I think will be good.
“I’ve not had a great run but if I finish second I will be pleased with that.”
Photos courtesy of Dave Bastock and Neil Randon
Neil Randon 2017