World Championship 2007

Back to back Boardley

July 7/8 2007, Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich. World Championship 2007:

Graham Brown reports:  The National Hot Rod season reached its traditional zenith with the World Final at Ipswich, the annual 75-lapper giving Carl Boardley the victory he was looking for to purge the bad taste of last years tainted win. There was no such controversy this time, as Carl overcame early race reversals to eventually pass long time leader John Christie.

Entry & Qualifying

No doubt the biggest surprise when it came to the entry, was that Andy Steward cancelled himself sometime on Friday. His call to Deane Wood cited pressure of work as the reason. As he was seen at the track both days, this excuse really doesn’t appear to hold a lot of water. But after spending most of a year qualifying for the event, just like everyone else, his non-attendance was puzzling to say the least. Rumours were running rife that he’d been asked to pay a ‘good behaviour bond’ before being allowed in the race, but beyond stating that I know for sure that this is untrue, anything else I said here would be pure speculation. I might have gone and sought Andy out and asked him if I’d had time, but frankly, I didn’t. Once we knew the score, things like making sure the reserve knew he’d be in the race, and then arranging another reserve, were simply added to the list of million-and-one other things to do, and that was that.

Speaking of which….all of the above meant that Richard Spavins would therefore be making his world final debut, and created just a chance that Colin White (the new reserve and equipped with the newer of James Jamieson’s Tigras) would once again appear on a world grid. 

Everyone else was in their expected cars (Matt Simpson having finally plumped for the Tigra over the Corrado), including Russ Wilcox, who’d beautifully re-prepared his Fiesta as a Peugeot 206, which looked very good in it’s met. blue colour scheme.

Mick Reece and Mick Bensley headed up the eagle-eyed team of scrutineers and found all sorts to keep the teams busy with on Saturday morning. The most entertaining of these items was the fact that several Peugeot 206cc’s were missing the little canards they are supposed to have on their boot lids. By chance, somebody (Volker Timm’s mechanic?) had a quantity of aluminium sheet and tools for working it, with them. He became quite a busy man….

Slightly more significantly, James Jamieson’s car fell foul of the scrutineering team shortly before the timed laps were due to begin, when there arose a query over the amount of protrusion on his front spoiler/air dam/splitter. He was made to cut back the length of it by a couple of centimetres. Unsettling perhaps, but significant? Read on.

The timed laps produced the usual crop of woes and the occasional surprise. In the surprise department without doubt, was David Brooks, although perhaps it shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise. Some unofficial timing (all there was available) had him as one of the quickest cars at press day, after all. It’s probably fair to say nobody – perhaps with the exception of Dave himself – was expecting the kind of pace he produced when it mattered. In terms of overall times, only Boardley, Jamieson and Malcolm Blackman managed to outrun the Brooks Tigra, and ultimately, only Boardley and Blackman. Impressive, even if it did only get # 67 to the front of group three.   

Once the non-English group got on track, Christie very soon proved to be the fastest of them again – although interestingly, his time didn’t beat that of Brooks. And this year, Christie “only” managed inside second row as opposed to outside front row last time, but nevertheless still raised eyebrows with his elderly Fiesta.

If Brooks was a bit of a surprise, there was certainly no shock about the speed shown by Phil Spinks, who annexed his now traditional position at the head of his group, even if it was four this time instead of three.

But in the end, it was to be an all-English front row this year. Blackman headed the times for quite a while, then it was briefly Jamieson, before Boardley snatched the pole by around five hundredths of a second from Blackman.

Jamieson’s best time separated Boardley and Blackman, but of course, James was only vying for the front of group two. Vying that was, until his car failed the post lap time weight check. And then failed another, carried out with a different set of scales. There was no doubt the car was under, anywhere between half a kilo and three kilos depending on who you asked. Of course, the argument (well one of them) was; it wouldn’t have been light if they hadn’t been forced to cut a lump off it. But in all truth, it didn’t look like the pathetic little pile of bits of plastic cut from the front of the Tigra, added up to more than a few ounces in any case.

In the end, and after a drivers meeting, the “mustn’t weigh less than 700Kg at any time” rule was adhered to, basically on the grounds that anybody who ran a car that close to the bone to start with, was taking a big risk. This reversal saw JJ relegated to the rear of his group, putting the Scot back from inside row four, to outside row six. Frankly, as sorry as one had to feel for James, he was probably lucky there are no rules (yet!) governing what will happen to a car found light under these circumstances, only precedent. At a world series round, Jamieson would have found himself loaded up, and with a two meeting ban to boot.

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The Race – 75 Laps

It looked as though the weather forecaster’s predictions for the weekend were going to hold good. ‘Mainly warm and sunny with occasional showers’, had meant just that on the Saturday, and luckily, there had just been the one occasional. Sunday looked like providing more of the same, but a very long, black almost sausage-shaped cloud spent the entire world final race straddling the stadium, which was worrying.

Nevertheless, warm and sunny it was going to be. Just for fun, no less than three RACEceivers packed in terminally amongst a grid of only 32 cars – good average eh? 

Some last minute work on Matt Simpson’s carbs (he’d been searching a problematic misfire all weekend) and they were off on their pace laps, reserves Colin White and Tony Goodsir departing to the infield once it was realised they wouldn’t be needed.

There was no doubt that the opening lap was always going to be fiercely contested by the two men on the front row, never mind anyone else. Blackman stole a small march coming up to the green, but Boardley had evened things up after they clashed in turn one. Half a lap later they were rubbing again, both cars sliding wide in a clinch that let the eager Simpson through with Christie glued to his bumper.

Des Cooney had already spun out during the frantic early seconds of the race, as Steve Thompson was the next to exchange paint with Boardley. This saw the defending champ slide back to fourth, going on fifth with Blackman still right in there too. But when Tom Casey and Simon Bentley came together on the pit bend and got collected by Neville Stanley, the yellows came out with three laps gone.

This caution period was to have consequences for Blackman, whose car was spotted with flames licking underneath it. A dose of extinguisher got it out, but also got him disqualified for receiving outside assistance – a sad end to his race, and a pretty early bath for the second year running for the 2004 champ.

Stanley’s car had destroyed its radiator in the shunt, so a quick clean-up of the water and any anti-freeze he’d left behind was necessary.

When the race resumed, Simpson still led briefly, but his motor was definitely sounding fluffy as the rest streamed through, with Christie at the front. He now led a tight knit group comprising Thompson, Boardley, Stewart Doak, Chris Haird and the ailing Simpson. Andy Holtby took a spin at about this point, rounding the pit bend, Barry English doing likewise shortly afterwards. 

With the leaders now in traffic, Christie gained a little breathing space as Boardley, Doak and Haird ambushed Thompson in among the back markers, Steve losing out badly in the skirmish. But another yellow was coming when Brooks and Winnie Holtmanns crashed on the back straight, a fair proportion of the crowd going wild as Boardley came through with the lead. He’d passed Christie just as the yellows came out though, and the steward ordered the line up put back to Christie, Boardley, Haird and Doak for the restart. This time, it was the Northern Irish who cheered!

And Christie clearly meant to get some space between him and the driver he rightly perceived as his biggest danger, John getting his head down and really going for it when the green came back out. It was working too, as the black Fiesta gained a big gap on the others inside just a lap.

Approaching the 50-laps to go point though, and Boardley was calmly reeling the leader in again, with Haird not too far back either. After Chris, there was a gap back to the Doak versus Thompson dice, with Simpson running just behind them. Matt was just hanging on though, probably hoping his sick sounding car might recover. It didn’t. Another lap and the 303 Tigra was parked with what eventually turned out to be a flat battery, a sad reminder that even brand new batteries sometimes come with a duff cell. Matt followed another high profile retirement onto the grass, as Wayne Woolsey had pulled up just a few seconds earlier.

Simpson’s departure probably gave Thompson the impetus to really try for a pass on Doak, Stewart spinning into retirement after the pair clashed down the back stretch. The incident slowed Thompson for just a few seconds, but this meant that the first three were now left clear, with Boardley really closing in on Christie as they neared a clump of back markers. It still didn’t really look like this was going to be the place where the race was won or lost – but it was.

The two about-to-be-lapped cars that were really going to matter were Mike Thurley and Richard Spavins – and they were clearly engrossed in their own private places fight. John Christie said later, “I thought about going outside, but then thought I might get stuck out there, and decided I’d better stay in tight. But that little hesitation meant I didn’t really do either one and made a half-hearted attempt at the corner instead”.

It was of course, exactly that kind of hesitation Boardley had been waiting for. By the time they were into the turn four exit, the yellow Tigra’s nose was under the Fiesta and there was no way back for Christie, as Haird powered through in Boardley’s wake. Thurley still seemed determined to race the leaders and especially Christie, despite an uncharacteristically sharp rebuke from steward Paul Gerrard via R/C, but eventually the leaders broke back onto clear road for a while.

It wasn’t the end of lapped traffic by any means, even if it was beginning to thin out a lot now as they approached 25-laps to go. And the next back marker coming up for the leader, was Ken Marriott. There must have been a touch of déjà vu for Boardley as he came up on the #2 car, just as they entered turns one and two – but this time, the pass was executed without incident.

The first three (Boardley, Haird and Christie) settled down with roughly equal gaps between them for many laps after that. Thompson was another short way behind, now being challenged by Jamieson, the Scot going better and better as the race wore on. He’d already dispensed with Neil Stimson and Gary Woolsey as his most recent victims, and clearly hadn’t given up hopes of getting further up the order just yet.

Those hopes were finally dashed when he came across Klaus Kilianski, who was in the process of pulling off just as JJ came along. They touched, and then James too was on the infield, a buckled rim and flat tyre ending his run.

Haird continued to stay within striking distance of Boardley, but now oil was appearing on the track as the final ten laps neared. Christie’s car liked the slippery surface even less than the pair ahead of him and he fell back a bit. There was also a smell of gear oil in the air. Whether it was from Stu Carter’s car, and he finally broke a wheel bearing and crashed when the wheel came off, or the oil was someone else’s and Stuart was simply caught out by it and hit the barriers, wasn’t clear. What was, was that Stu was firmly in the back straight wall and one of his wheels was bounding along the track.

Just what a long time race leader doesn’t want to see at this stage – a late race yellow. And the cars had to sit for a while too, giving the race a bit of a twist in it’s tail – a five lap dash, a sprint finish in fact, on cooling tyres and overheating engines. In other words, an anything can happen situation.

But this final restart saw Boardley immediately stamp his authority on the race, quickly pulling all the gap he needed on Haird to make certain of the win.

Chris Haird and Christie deservedly joined him on the podium, with Chris probably rueing a qualifying series that hadn’t left him in group one, and Christie definitely regretting his loss of the lead in that way. But with Thompson home fourth and apparently showing no ill effects from his recent brush with meningitis, the podium certainly had a very young look to it – second thru fourth all have time very much on their side.

Fifth was our old friend Phil Spinks after his traditional late race charge. He’d been picking ‘em off like a good ‘un throughout the race actually, and though I’m sure you’re all bored with me saying this now, if he ever took in every qualifying round…..well, you know the rest!

Sixth fell to Gary Woolsey, who’s Tigra had seemed to stagnate as the laps wound down, but still no bad result for a virtually new car. Four-finals-in-a-row man Neil Stimson was next over the line, again not a bad outcome at all from his starting slot, it’s just the starting slot that needs to improve for next time. Shane Murphy rounded out the top eight, the last car on the lead lap, and once again pointing up the fact that he is definitely an Irishman who always looks pretty much at home round Ipswich.

There has already been some discussion about the places beyond 10th and the NHRPA will be looking at video evidence this week to try to determine, with certainty, the exact order of the remaining six cars still running at the finish. Graham Brown

:  2007 World Champion:  41  Carl Boardley
2nd: 115  Chris Haird; 3rd: 962  John Christie; 4th: 170  Steve Thompson; 5th:  14  Phil Spinks; 6th: 940, 7th: 271, 8th: 970, 9th: 31, 10th: 291, 11th: 219, 12th: 3, 13th: 2, 14th: 734, 15th: 277, 16th: 467.

Spedweekend Support Racing:
H1:  718 57 55 639  950 75 491  369 95 77 74 6  151 286  141 467  777 946  10
H2:  491 151  95  639 77 946  777 75 718  950 6  427 369  141 55 467  985 10
H3:  491 77 639  718 95 151  777 75 74 985  55  427 369  141 946  38  10
Allcomers:  777 14 291  271 911  74  278 3  95  967 141  984 985  75  369 10 93