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The first World Final away from its traditional Wimbledon home attracted an excellent entry of around 150 cars, with strong representation from Stinkbridge, Posh Wash and the Blue Crew along with a host of other top line drivers. Car paintwork and prep was top notch on many of the motors, and there was a large number of Mk1 Grannies - smart saloons for TSB's 450 Glyn Platts and 455 Rick Finney and Posh Wash's 199 Bona and 133 Werzal, the latter's being a rare 2 door model. There were immaculate examples from 330 Old Roy for the Blue Crew and World Finalists 331 Boxer and 439 Danny Sutton and lastly 782 Gladis. Coupes came from 451 Willy Blackwell, 298 Showman and 341 Jonesey. 804 Ben Small and 248 Daisy had Mk2 Limos with 106 Gungebucket at the wheel of a Mk2 Hearse. Further hearses came from 409 Carlos Pears and 111 Daft Daz with well presented DS420s, and there was a trio of XJ Coupes from 306 Turkish, 173 Steve Reynolds and a gorgeous one from 564 Coatie. 209 Animal had the lone XJS, Ringwood's 515 Willie Irvine brought an Austin 3 Litre and 377 Hammer had a smart Caddy Limo. Generally the Granada was the favoured tool with a few Jags and Volvos and a couple of Omegas to complete the line up.
Heat one saw more than 40 motors on track, 341 Jonesey walling 248 Daisy's Limo before 595 Drew Tarn rolled to bring a stoppage - he was all OK and we resumed with 514 Marty Eighteen leading the field away, and the battle for second between 194 Cecil, 149 Billy King and 470 Steve Nelson helped him to pull clear, 47 Andy Davies removing 470 but it was Eighteen and Cecil who took the spots on the back of the World Final grid, 67 Sparky and King just missing out, the rest of the places filled by 47 Davies, 460 Lewis Barber, 148 Shorty, 146 Wiggy, 262 Buster and 46 Maverick
A bigger field of around 50 for the second last chance race with 90 Bartz taking advantage of a front row position to lead away in his typically immaculate and very quick Jag. Double champ 617 Jack Overy saw his chances vanish as he was taken out by 160 Windsor and given a rough ride by the traffic, while the Runners/Blue Crew war continued as 208 Jimmy Randall put his smart XJ to good use by walling 593 Tommy Harrell. 589 Simon Smith looked to liven things up by turning round to collect 45 Lips head on before the waved yellows appeared, although it didn't stop 271 Deano spinning Randall. We got racing again and 294 Lee Hughes led Bartz and 537 Bruno away until the latter was put away by 61 Flash, while Smith attacked 552 Blacknuts before T-boning 269 Popeye and finishing off with a shot on 209 Animal's XJS. 99 Ritchie Ahern shoved Hughes wide with a lap to go and went on to win with the Condom holding on for second to join Ahern on the big grid while Randall saw the race out by walling 270 Roots. 245 France and Bartz just missed a place in the World in third and fourth, followed by 670 Tricky, 298 Showman, 269 Popeye, 208 Randall, 270 Roots and 2 Bricknell.
A huge grid of well over 50 cars for the World Championship race, the smart car awards (a thankless task to pick from so many) going to 190 Pikey, 292 Keith Saunders, 331 Boxer, 379 The Worm, 433 Ben Smith and 516 Gouldy, 741 Luke Parfitt and 49 Finbarr drew the front row with 27 Dale Hughes and 202 Kilf behind them, it was the Damage Inc man who made the early running while 528 Jethro put 311 Gary Lown away and 377 Hammer used his big Caddy to do likewise to 564 Coatie. Parfitt went out, handing the lead to 27 Dale Hughes and with brother 294 Lee riding shotgun much of the time he was looking good, although his cause was helped when the closing 331 Boxer was spun out by 218 Rob Speak. 730 Deano was also going well and looked to be gaining on Hughes before 294 shoved him wide on the scoreboard bend and so 27 Dale Hughes took the flag after a faultless drive, 730 Mayesie proving he can drive RWD too in case anyone doubted it by bringing his Mk2 home in second from grid 37 and 158 Shane Davies also driving a blinder to finish third from grid 52. 206 Kingy was a popular fourth, 439 Danny Sutton continued his successful year with fifth in the gorgeous Mk1, 331 Boxer recovered for a decent sixth and who knows what might have been without Speak's intervention, 188 Victor an excellent seventh as just reward for a lot of hard work to qualify from RDC's hard fought points chart, then 437 Chris Bailey, 125 Hitler and 516 Gouldy rounding off the places.
Just one Allcomers was programmed and it duly attracted almost 80 cars, so don't be surprised if I missed much of the action! 549 Phil Smith attacked 451 Blackwell on oppo before 747 Danny Filmer rolled onto the shale and 528 Jethro walled 340 Colin Jones, then 10 Paul Whiteman gave 60 Steve Laybourne a decent shot and 331 Boxer took a roof bender from persons unseen. The ever lively 537 Bruno buried 111 Daft Daz's DS Hearse a treat with 545 Huffy and 706 Danny Lucas then combining to thunder the second pink DS of 409 Carlos into his team mate. After a period of waved yellows, 67 Sparky led 158 Shane and 61 Flash away, as 730 Deano took out 460 Lewis Barber which led to further hits on the shale, while 549 Smith continued to wreck as he took out Flash on oppo with a hit over the axle and 552 Blacknuts ran 2 Jon Bricknell round the wall. Sparky took the flag from Shane and 22 Vincent.
Just under 20 for the demo including 46 Maverick in an unmarked XJ, 270 Roots spinning 10 Whiteman (who had worked hard to repair), allowing 592 Mark Marchant to pile head on into Whiteman, the Blue Crew man bailed out only for 190 Pikey to waste his empty motor with 360 Jack Reynolds delivering a fine shot to the 190 car. Blacknuts also hit Whiteman with 208 Randall immediately doing the Bad Co XJ before taking one in turn from 271 Deano, the pair trading blows before a big hit from 46 Maverick's Jag finished the Runner, 96 Tank appearing from nowhere to hit the long dead 208 car before Maverick and 44 Pikey Mikey traded several blows with the 46 XJ proving the stronger as it survived the last solid head on to win.
A decent enough night overall, certainly at least on a par with any of the Wimbledon Worlds of recent years, and well done to 27 Dale Hughes on his title win which is well deserved, all the placemen can be proud of their efforts too as the result contains some of the sport's most dedicated names.