Sunday 26th May 1996, Peterborough, World Championship
Scheepens Cheerful

The 20th running of the Grand Prix Midgets World Championship proved to be dominated by the 1600cc powered Europeans who took first, second and third in a gruelling race at Peterborough.

The qualifying times set in the morning showed some surprises with Janssen quickest in his 1600cc Ford powered Fireball posting a time of 17.57 seconds with Dick Loseby the fastest 1300cc runner second fastest overall, just a shade behind on 17.59. Gordon Pooley's 1300cc Dastle was third with 17.72 and Neil Clarke fourth in his Ray fourth on 18.87. Harry Sayell and Junior Haynes both had light rain blighting their runs and they wound up 7th and 11th fastest respectively, Reigning champion Klaus Kilianski, was technically a non-qualifier as he had only competed in one meeting since winning the title in Belgium last year and he therefore was faced with defending his title from the back of the grid.

The Grid:

14 Rudi Janssen
38 Dick Loseby
33 Gordon Pooley
77 Neil Clarke
11 Steve Piggins
100 Toni Scheepens
1 Harry Sayell
25 Gary Granger
2 Andy Collins
16 Andrew Bilby
19 Stuart Haynes
12 Barry Phillips
52 Martin Devonshire
55 John Weston
41 John Salter
7 Scott Roth
71 Steve O'Dell
26 Clinton Dorrell
93 Klaus Kilianski

Conditions were neither wet nor dry as the field assembled for the big race and there was some serious head scratching which resulted in all but a few of the runners opting for slicks. The field was deprived of two fancied runners when previous domestic round winner Andy Collins suffered an electrical failure and Junior Haynes had the pit gate shut on him following a late decision to change rubber.

The race suffered a false start as John Salter's Starcraft expired and ignited on the start line fuelling rumours that he'd decided to start his barbie a bit earlier than anticipated. The stoppage presented the opportunity for Haynes and Collins to re-join the race, but they were not allowed to do so under Peterborough rules.

Loseby out-dragged Janssen into turn one at the re-start with Neil Clarke and Toni Scheepens falling in behind. Loseby held on gamely at the front for five laps when Janssen nipped through into the lead. The Englishman then had Scheepens to contend with, the Dutchman also sailing past to set off in pursuit of Janssen. Third place then developed into a battle between Loseby, defending champion Klaus Kilianski (right from the back in just a few laps), Clarke and Harry Sayell. The German soon made it into third but his wet tyres were clearly going off and he failed to make any further progress on the leading pair. Scheepens had now passed Janssen and was building a healthy lead leaving the main interest focused on a four car scrap behind Sayell for fifth - Loseby was still heading Clarke but now also had the two Dastles of Pooley and Granger to contend with whilst Clinton Dorrell was also fighting hard to join them in the Westfield despite the handicap of treaded tyres. Unsurprisingly it all ended in tears as the Dastles tangled with Granger getting airborne and banging into the armco and Pooley also pulling off as a result.

The places settled over the last ten laps although Sayell was still trying and spun on oil at turn four relegating him from fourth to sixth whilst Dorrell's engine overheated forcing him to retire. Scheepens therefore took the flag and his first World Title, the diminutive Dutchman certainly was happy with his win if the manner in which he punched the air as he crossed the line was anything to go by. Janssen took second and Kilianski, who had produced the most entertaining drive of the race, third to complete a Continental rout. Clarke was delighted with fourth and to be the top 1300ce car home - the Ray now finding some reliability to match its speed. Loseby took a steady fifth with Sayell sixth. We got our own back on the visitors though on Sunday night by ensuring their barbecue burgers were made of prime British beef.

1996 World Championship: 1st Toni Scheepens, 2nd Rudi Janssen, 3rd Klaus Kilianski, 4th Neil Clarke, 5th Dick Loseby, 6th Harry Sayell, 7th Scott Roth, 8th John Weston, 9th Steve O'Dell, 10th Barry Phillips, 11th Andrew Bilby.

 

Rudi Janssen on pole


Battle for the lead


Toni Scheepens - 1996 World Champion