World Championship 2010

The 2010 NHRPA National Hot Rod Championship of the World
New World order
Ipswich, Saturday 3rd/Sunday 4th July 2010

World Final Support RacesGraham Brown reports: Although the support car entry never approached the numbers some had hoped for, there was still a healthy enough number of cars on hand, ready and willing for their Best in Britain qualifying. This year they were to get two heats and a final, with the numbers of qualifiers split proportionally between support cars and world finalists, the theory being that 20 world cars would meet 12 support cars in a 32 car grid for the ‘Best’. The world finalists would have a reversed grid ‘revenge’ race, so that would be their ‘second heat’, with the best 20 aggregate scorers (on a Longhurst system) joining the first 12 finishers in the support car final. Complicated, but as fair as anyone could make it.

There was a non-starter before the first heat even commenced, with Terry Maxwell having discovered that his engine was muddling up where the water and oil should be.

20 cars it was then, that set off for the first encounter, including a new paint job for Danny Brosnan and Corrie Beggs making his first NHR outing away from NI. Mark Fuller took the early lead, but his Merc still seemed as loose as ever, and he was soon forced to turn over the front spot to Tony Moss. As Fuller clobbered the wall exiting turn four, Tommy Maxwell took over second with Fuller still third and Mark Willis fourth, while Brosnan and Steve Burrows disputed fifth until Burrows clouted the wall along the back straight, putting him out of it, although he did rejoin later.

Maxwell got up to dice with Moss for the lead shortly before Chris Harvey and Terry Hunn spun at the pit bend, bringing out the yellows. The reason for the spins turned out to be Scott Bourne laying oil, so with him removed they set off again. Willis quickly passed Fuller and looked to be on his way to the win for a while, before he was slowed by brake woes, plumes of smoke rising every so often from a locking right front.

The leaders weren’t in any danger of being caught after that, Moss continuing to lead Maxwell all the way to the flag.

Ray Harris headed the second heat away in the Audi, hard pressed almost from the off by Chris Harvey. Beggs lost third to Carl Waller-Barrett not long after the start, Corrie spinning out a few laps later. Meanwhile, Tim Moody had an ‘off’ and Graeme Callender retired, as did Willis with a flat in the left rear after something of an altercation with Gavin Murray.

Waller-Barrett caught up to the lead pair and Murray was hurrying to join them as well just as the yellows came out. This was after Bourne had a huge moment on the pit bend and flew over the kerbs before collecting Hunn.

Harvey went speeding past Harris when the green came back out. Although Ray came back at him hard in the closing stages without managing to get past, Chris was adjudged to have jumped the restart and copped a two place penalty, handing the win back to Harris.

Moss stepped off the line first in the support final, chased by Waller-Barrett, Andy Lane and Harris. Obviously, it was imperative to do well in this if you wanted to be in the Best in Britain, but it didn’t look as though a place in the top 12 was going to either Willis or Murray, who got involved between turns three and four, with Willis half spinning and the pair ending up in the wall. Murray got going again but he’d lost a lot of ground.

There was some place swapping going on at the front, where Luke Armiger had got in on the act too, as he managed to get past Harris and Waller-Barrett, who dropped back to fifth before losing out to Burrows as well. Burrows had just made it by Waller-Barrett when Armiger, Harris and Burrows all got together at turns 3-4, with Harris spinning, although we got away without a caution.

All of that left Moss leading Lane by a fair old gap, with Andy over a quarter of a lap up on the dice for third, which now featured Waller-Barrett, Maxwell, Brosnan and Burrows.

With the five lap board out, Lane was at last beginning to close down Moss and caught him virtually as they took the last lap board. It had been a big effort by Lane but Moss was still just ahead at the line, the pair finishing half a lap up on Maxwell who got past Waller-Barrett on the last lap. Murray, incidentally, recovered pretty well from his earlier problems and got home ninth.

So, that was the support qualifiers sorted.

That left the world finalists to have their ‘Revenge’ race, with the grid simply the reverse of the world. It was a very battered looking Les Compelli who led them away for this, with John Holtby swiftly relegating John vd Bosch to go second. 

Jason Kew, Neil Stimson and Keith Martin all took spins at the pit bend, with Stimson retiring soon afterwards along with Malcolm Blackman. Glenn Bell also went spinning after an incident was to get Colin Gomm disqualified.

While all that was going on, it was quickly becoming clear that Chris Haird was truly on a mission, and looked very much like he’d set himself the target of winning his first race as world champ, even if it was off the back of the grid! He was already through to twelfth with only a handful of laps done.

Up at the front, Holtby was now attacking Compelli’s lead with gusto. John was trying it on down the outside repeatedly although, at one point, this only looked highly likely to let the eager looking vd Bosch through again, as he was still very much in touch – as indeed was Laurens vd Velde.

Haird was still on the march, passing Mark Heatrick and then Matt Simpson to move up to ninth, with the leaders now in sight. Cars were still falling by the wayside too, as Simpson went out soon after this, as did Stu Carter, but the fight for the lead was undiminished.

Still Compelli was managing to hang on out front with Holtby all over him once more as vd Bosch got passed by Willie Hardie, vd Velde and David O’Regan in one bend and suddenly, Haird was in amongst this lot too! The 115 car sliced past the two Netherlands men to grab fifth with the five lap board being waved. A lap later and Haird had O’Regan. He was alongside Hardie with three to go but struggling now to get it done on the wide outside. Holtby was still trying to get by Compelli as they entered the last lap with Haird hauling himself past Hardie but too late to do anything about the front two.

However, Compelli got docked a couple of places for contact during that lead dice, giving the win to Holtby with Haird therefore officially placed second in his first race as champ. 

That left just the Best In Britain – the race we never got last year – to round proceedings off. 29 cars were still fit or eligible by that stage, the draw placing Gomm on pole with Irishmen Des Cooney alongside, and Shane Murphy and James O’Shea sharing row two. Haird was stuck with row seven for this, but on his showing in the previous race, maybe that wasn’t going to matter too much…

Gomm took up his expected lead at the off but Cooney went well wide at the far bend before slowing into retirement. That allowed Murphy to immediately jump on Gomm, but before they really had a chance to square up to one another, the yellows were flying for an incident on the exit of turn two, where Hardie had spun and got hit by Beggs and Lane.

It was Gomm versus Murphy and O’Shea at the restart, with O’Shea somehow managing to catch Murphy napping to get by down the inside. Shane soon re-paid the compliment, but it cost him some time doing it. Luckily for him, Gomm hadn’t got all that far away by then and the two were soon at it again for the lead.

This turned into a really tough race, with Murphy completely alongside for three quarters of lap before falling back briefly and then doing it again the following lap. It was all hard but fair though, with Colin giving Shane all the room he needed to try for the pass. Even when Colin’s Merc got a bit loose exiting the bends, he still snapped it back down to the kerb as soon as he could.

They still nearly came to grief though, when Compelli went spinning on the pit bend exit, forcing Gomm wide momentarily. Fortunately, Murphy was able to get off the throttle a bit sharpish until they’d cleared the obstacle, whereupon it was game on again.

Murphy had now given up the ‘dropping back inside for a rest’ tactic and just stayed outside permanently. This was because he was running out of laps. The five lap board brought a big effort, Shane diving into the far turn as hard as could be which did get him ahead – for about a second! He slid wide on the exit putting Colin back in front. Murphy hadn’t given up, not a bit of it, and they were side by side again at the three lap board, again at the two lap mark and most of the way through the final tour as well. Gomm still had his nose just in front at the flag after a terrific scrap, one of those races where it was a pity either man had to lose.

O’Shea won the places battle to claim third fending off a combined assault from Murray, Holtby and Haird till the end. GB
Support Cars Heat One: 
192,369,65,130,33,68,519,162,17,871,27,116,3 9,147,160,224.
Support Cars Heat Two: 224,162,503(-2),95,130,99,192,116,369(-2),51 9,33,27,68,199,17,160.
503 dropped two places for jumping a restart. 369 dropped two places for contact.
Support Cars Final: 192,130,369,162,116,33,503,27,95,199,147,39, 99,17,68,160,224.
519 disqualified for contact with 224.
World Final “Revenge” 6,115,777(-2),72,208,78,66,305,100,74,921,96 0,(278),970,31,155,61,174,9,467.
777 dropped two places for contact. 278 disqualified for contact with 9.
Best in Britain Final: 278,970,74,95,6,115,31,61,78,192,155,369,66, 27,208,39,116,33,77
960 disqualified for contact with 130.

Graham Brown reports: Chris Haird finally achieved every hot rod driver’s dream by lifting the world championship trophy for the first time after coming out on top of a race-long duel with Ireland’s Shane Murphy. Completing the story of an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman, James Jamieson got home in third. Defending champion Carl Boardley was eliminated after a twentieth lap brush with a spun car, putting an end to his bid to win five titles in a row.

Entry & Qualifying
No big surprises about the entry either in terms of who was there or what they were driving, although it was the first public chance to see Colin Gomm’s new-to-him ex-Hardie SLK. Now, you might think that’s a lot of car to paint in Colin’s traditional purple but, in fact, the colour scheme really suited the Merc and the car looked seriously good with its fluorescent green lettering laid over the rear quarters too.

The draw for the order of running in the hot laps put rookie Dickie Burtenshaw in the unenviable position of having to go first and, somewhat unusually, his quickest lap was his first. The next four cars all ran fastest on their third laps, which is a bit more normal, while the next four all went fastest on their second laps. Then they got scattered about a bit until nearing the end of the session, when no less than eight drivers in a row went quickest on their final lap.

There was a bit of a scare for Murphy just before hot laps commenced, the team having found a leaf floating about in the petrol tank that they couldn’t extract. Fortunately, it never found the fuel outlet and the young Irishman used a late draw to advantage, putting in a 14.50 to claim the outside of the front row.

He wasn’t the only one to get a scare either, as Boardley suffered a leaking axle seal that oiled his left rear tyre, causing him to clip the wall and abort his third lap as he coasted over the line.

“I knew the lap was gone, so I just backed off”, Carl stated later.

He hadn’t done any damage to the car, he’d still gone fast enough to get pole, and this little incident had happened on the Saturday of speed weekend rather than the Sunday, but it did just bring about a slight feeling that maybe the 41 car wasn’t quite as invulnerable as it usually is. Or maybe that’s just what the rest were telling themselves

As I say, it had been business as usual prior to all that in any case, the four time winner having grabbed the pole with his second lap best of 14.47.

The problems for both teams paled into insignificance compared to John Christie however, the Thunder 500 winner having set a less than spectacular time anyway (14.77) before failing the weight check that immediately follows the timed laps. A 2 Kg discrepancy was all it took to put one of the favourites out of the meeting on the spot.

There seemed to be considerable confusion about how exactly this situation arose. Let’s face it, they’d worked all year to qualify for the race and hauled all the way from Ireland to win the T-500 warm up. Then they’d re-prepared the car before hauling all the way back again to try for the big one as well. They’d also arrived at the track as one of the hot favourites, so to get disqualified for a technical irregularity before they even started, has to be considered a genuine class one 24 carat solid gold balls up.

Even now, I haven’t got to the bottom of it. Understandably, John appeared a trifle embarrassed when talking about it, although he seemed to think that adding the amount of petrol they had would have taken the car back over 700Kgs. Obviously, it didn’t. Or maybe, he was thinking about the amount it would have in it for the World, and forgot that it might only be carrying a gallon or so for hot laps? I’ve heard that the car was underweight when it was first presented at the T-500 too which, if true, should surely have suggested to them that their own scales read heavy, or at least, heavier than the official ones. John was certainly late arriving at the track Saturday morning (like father, etc) and I’ve also heard that the car was taken to the original (i.e. no penalty if it failed) Saturday weigh-in in the pits by his crew. It was found to be light then too, apparently, except no-one remembered to tell John!

How much of this is truth and how much fantasy, I still don’t know. What I do know is that it was a bit of a sickener, not just for John, obviously, but for all those (me included) who were looking forward to seeing him carrying the fight to Boardley, Haird and co. There is no way in the world that John would be trying to cheat, so I reckon what we are talking about here is a good old fashioned communications breakdown of some sort.

John actually took the disqualification with a good grace, pointed out that if 14.77 was the best he could do then getting loaded up wasn’t that much of an issue, and stayed around to collect his winnings for topping the points in Northern Ireland. He also swapped team shirts with Chris Haird (Chris was still wearing his when he won the race) and did a lap of honour with one of his crew carrying a bag of sugar to signify the amount of extra weight they’d needed, although it was a standard size bag of 2 lbs, or in fact, just one kilo, give or take. It would have needed to be the larger size bag to make up 2 Kgs. Ah, wait a minute…so they think, an object that only weighs 1 Kg actually weighs 2 Kg. That explains a lot… (Sorry lads, only joking!)

41 115 155 305 9 61 734 467 278 303 996 72 208* 6 961 777 (*Did not start)
970 940 911 921 31 85 174 960 271 491 994 100 74 78 66 261

The Race – 75 Laps
Nothing but blindingly hot weather during Saturday’s hot laps led straight into another blisteringly hot sunny day for the race itself. The cars were all on the grid well before the start, but thankfully not as long before as last year, so there wasn’t quite so much time for cars or drivers to endure the sweltering heat before the off.

David O’Regan had already suffered a problem when his car refused to start when the command was given to start engines. Although that was quickly overcome, the warm up laps revealed something much more problematic. It turned out to be a broken driveshaft and, although some time would have been allowed to fix it, it was clearly never going to be enough and the young Irishman sadly drove slowly back to the pit lane to become a non-starter.

The first attempt to get the race underway was a typically chaotic world final opening, with a number of cars at or near the rear of the field colliding on the back straight, hurling wreckage in all directions. Matt Simpson lost his bonnet during the fracas, while Les Compelli lost his bonnet (which got smashed to smithereens) as well as quite a bit of other body damage. James O’Shea was also out, as was David Casey and Ralph Sanders, an ignominious ending for Ralph’s race after his prospects had been looking so bright following the last qualifier. He’d lost out to Stu Carter in the hot lap showdown to sort their group two tie, and now this.

The bonnet from Casey’s car was pressed into service – along with a large quantity of race tape – to get Compelli’s battered machine back in the hunt. The bonnets were off Des Cooney’s and Gomm’s cars as well (I think Des may have had a misfire), while Glenn Bell was another having some frantic last minute repairs or adjustments made.

Boardley had been leading initially but had just lost the lead before the race was stopped for a complete restart. It was something of a get-out-of-jail-free card for the pole sitter, his crew making some what looked like fairly critical adjustments to the rear suspension during the 10 minute repair period allowed.

“Carl looked like he was struggling with a bit of a push coming out of the corners”, Haird explained later, “I got under him then and he still had the push when he turned into the next one, and I got past”

In fact, Murphy had made it by too, but it all counted for nothing now as they tore away for the second attempt.

This time the front row men were rubbing even as they took the green flag, with Murphy making a determined effort to get ahead down the outside. Unfortunately, this only allowed Haird to dive under and into second, a move which ultimately turned out to be the race winner.

At this stage of the game though, it was still Boardley leading with Haird, Murphy and Gary Woolsey in close attendance and these four already beginning to draw clear of the rest. Lee Pepper had got forced backwards a long way as he got hung out to dry on the outside and any sort of fairytale result for him was now looking unlikely.

A stuck throttle on Colin Smith’s Z4 saw him cannon into Compelli, propelling both men hard into the wall. The shunt made a big mess of the BMW, with the incident seeming likely to make this race Smiffy’s swansong in the formula.

As the race settled down, Boardley started to stretch his legs a bit in an effort to break his pursuit. It’s a tactic that usually works, but this time Haird always seemed able to peg back any little advantage the leader opened up. Both he and Murphy were still just about in touch (despite Carl having just set the fastest lap of the race) but not right under Boardley’s spoiler, which turned out to be a crucial few yards of daylight when several cars got into bother at the exit from turn two. It’s not an uncommon situation in major hot rod races where something unfolds ahead of the leader. If that leader is right on top of it, he only has split seconds to decide what to do; the placemen have that tiny bit more warning and can often turn it to advantage.

Although Stewart Doak was also involved in this coming together, Boardley’s nemesis turned out to be Neil Stimson. As Stimson tried to get back in the hunt, Boardley appeared on the scene and was faced with the choice of going wide – and maybe gifting the lead to Haird – or staying tight but going much closer to Stimson. Carl chose to go inside, clipped Stimson’s car and it was game over, as Boardley slowed into retirement with deranged steering. The Drive for Five was at an end.

“There were a load of cars that had gone everywhere and I saw it when I came into the corner”, Carl explained later.

“By the time I got to mid-corner I’d eased off and decided that I was going inside. There was a gap there but by the time I got to the gap it had closed, we made contact and that ruined the left front corner”

It might have been game over for Boardley, but it was definitely ‘game on’ now for Haird and Murphy.

With the erstwhile leader out of it, understandably, Haird and Murphy now both saw their chance to snatch a maiden win. As third man Gary Woolsey got briefly delayed by a couple of backmarkers he found he couldn’t lap as easily as the lead pair had, he fell back into the clutches of Jamieson, and the two at the front were left free to get down to some serious racing, cutting though the copious quantities of traffic in no-nonsense fashion.

In fact, every passing bunch of back markers gave Haird a scant few more yards on Murphy. Shane seemed always able to make the ground back up when they returned to open road but as the laps dwindled away, it was beginning to look as though Haird had it won.

With around 25 laps to go, Jamieson finally overhauled Woolsey, and Haird still seemed to be getting more out of the traffic situations than Murphy. By now, they’d also lapped everybody up to seventh. Then Malcolm Blackman stepped aside to let them though, and they’d lapped everybody up to sixth. Then Matt Simpson signalled out the window that they should go by down the inside, and they did.

With everybody up to fifth now a lap down, Murphy might just have been wishing that they wouldn’t all be quiteso polite, as a few moments baulking by an unwary backmarker was really what he needed. Chris of course, did not. And he was working on his lead advantage again too, opening out maybe three car lengths as they came to take the five lap board.

Nevertheless, four laps from home, Murphy was charging once more, and came right back up on Haird’s rear bumper – and there were more backmarkers looming up ahead. It was going to be pressure all the way to the flag, but Haird kept matters totally under control and it didn’t really look like Murphy had anything much for him at the end.

That turned out to be the case, with Shane only fractions of a second behind at flag fall, but behind, he still was. Jamieson was a quarter of a lap back in a lonely but satisfying third spot while Woolsey got home fourth but collected a penalty for an incident during his dice with Andy Holtby that dropped him to sixth. That left Matt Simpson fifth, his valiant fight through from the tenth row one of the features of the race for anybody who’d been able to tear their eyes away from the lead battle. Graham Brown

World Final Result:
 115,970,305,61,303,940(-2),911,174,921,72,278,31,961,85,100,78,960,66,155. NOF.
940 dropped two places for baulking/contact with 61.