Court, Chainbridge Road
Blaydon, Newcastle upon Tyne
England NE21 5ST
17th & 18th July 1999
|The Ď99 UK Nationals saw a change of venue from Silverstone to Riverside Raceway and to ensure a neutral track for all racers the direction of the track was changed on the afternoon of open practice. This direction change proved interesting and as a result the Miami Black will stay like this until further notice. The rostrum positions on the track have also now been changed, with lane 1 at the top of the straight and lane 8 2/3rds down the straight.
Open practice started at 5pm on Friday with early arrivals from all over the country keen to learn what to all intents and purposes was a brand new track.
For the purposes of this meeting and bearing in mind the distance many of the racers had to travel, the timetable was organised to run both G12 classes on the Saturday and Eurosport on itís own on Sunday, the theory being that an early finish on Sunday would make traveling a little more palatable for the southern drivers. Each class had itís own practice period prior to qualifying and racing. This was the first meeting where the B.S.C.R.A. conduct rules were followed and conduct with the exception of a number of registered infringements was excellent.
It has to be said that the writer finds it hard to understand how the standard of marshalling at at nationals event is sometimes actually worse than that of a regular club night, I guess this may be attributed in some way to stress and brain fade especially as some of the more major incidents were on corners covered by experienced racers!
Saturday started with G12 Saloon open practice, this proved to be somewhat of a lottery in terms of places as the majority of drivers at a nationals event seem unable to organise themselves enough to practice and provide marshalling cover, however, by the time racing started, everyone seemed to be more or less dialed into the track. Race format was random 8 x 2 minute heats with the top 8 going to a 100 lap final. The heats progressed with the hot shots rising to the top despite the random heat structure, Brian Saunders leading on 166.66, followed by Paul Harwood on 164.30 and Charlie Gooding on 164.28 - how close can get! Other finalists included Dave Mayo and Graham Woodward with notable finals places for local racer Kevin Thornton in his first ever nationals final and Stuart Wyatt, making his first appearance in a Natís final for some years. Come the final Brian pulled into a 1/4 lap lead from Charlie and Paul, breaking clear form the rest of the pack then a major incident saw Brian drop back. Charlie finding the lead followed by Paul and then Paul passing Charlie. Shortly after this another major incident saw Paul riding on Charlies lane and hitting the wall very hard which was when Steve Kearey saw his opportunity to sneak into second. The final sprint to the line saw Charlie on 100 followed by Steve on 97.32, Brian on 96.75 and Paul on 96.62 - more close racing!
After the comparative chaos of G12 practice, Open G12 Sports practice was conducted utilising the G12 saloon heat sheet rotation, this seemed to bring some logic to the proceedings and all drivers got their 8 x 3 minute practice runs. Qualifying saw very good runs from Charlie (TQ on 4.23), a delighted Ben Tapp on 4.43, Brian Saunders on 4.39 followed by Graham, George, Steve, Riverside club driver Les Bailey and Steve Sweetman making the top 8. Throughout the heats a number of drivers improved and some had monumental disasters resulting in Les Bailey only making 3 runs and various others hitting the bricks. Noticeable drives from Paul Harwood and Dave Mayo enabled them to make their way into the final from heat 2. The final saw a big accident for Harwood in the first lap, with Brian heading hard for a No. 1 finish and sure enough thatís just what happened. Yet another very close finish, this time for 1st and second with Brian on 100 laps and George Kimber just 27 feet away on 99.73, Charlie coming home 3rd on 97.81.
Sunday morning saw the dawn of Eurosport practice, this time utilising the OG12 heat sheets for practice rotation. Practice proved to be quite relaxed as plenty of time was available due to Eurosport being the only class of the day. Qualifying saw Charlie Gooding once more to the fore on 3.72 followed by Brain on 3.75 and Chris Aston from Birmingham with 3.94, the only 3 to go sub 4. A good few of the hot shots were lacking a little pace in qualifying but made it up in the heats, with Paul Harwood, George Kimber and Steve Kearey coming through to join the final. The Eurosport final dawned on time for a change! Brian stormed into the lead followed by Paul and Charlie with Steve Sweetman in close attendance. Meanwhile at 2/3rds distance Paul clipped Chris in the esses resulting in a visit to the floor and bumping him down to 4th, George and Steve Kearey both retired with fading motors resulting in a second win for Brian followed by Charlie, Steve Sweetman, very much on the case, Paul and very credible drives from the Birmingham bombers, Graham Woodward and Chris Aston.
Overall, a great weekendís racing with some nice surprises, seeing different faces in some finals positions. Prize giving followed after the Eurosport final with prizes for the Production Saloon Class and the 3 concours awards from Riverside, Open G12 from B.S.P. and Eurosport from S.C.D. Many thanks also go to Alpha for various spot awards.
I would like to thank all who entered for their support of the event and see you back at Silverstone next year!
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