30th August, Swaffham, World Championhship

Andy Collins completed his collection of major Grand Prix Midget Championships by taking the world title at the Swaffham Speed Weekend on 30th August 2003. Having already won the European and British Championships in 2002, world domination seemed the obvious next step, and it was taken by a considerable margin from Peter Bourn in 2nd, and Alan Buckland in 3rd.

Fifteen cars turned out for the world final, with most people praying for the rain showers to stay away. The race looked anyone's with strong drivers scattered all over the grid. Alan Buckland has been quick all year and started on the front row, giving him a very good chance in his first season of midgets. However, current points leader Neil Clarke, and 2003 European Champion Daz Rycroft had not had so much luck with the grid draw, both having to start from the back of the qualifiers grid. A field of midgets packed nose to tail for the world final made for an interesting race and an even more interesting first corner!!

As the Midgets lined up on the track, just seconds from the green flag, the heavens opened and the black clouds above unleashed everything they had. What had been a dry track was reduced to a river in minutes! Not exactly the best conditions for super-light race cars running on slicks! However the decision was made for the race to go ahead with everyone on slicks. This left the race wide open to anyone, anything could happen… As the green flag fell there was a charge of Midgets, all heading for the racing line into the first corner. Alan Buckland came out on top, after a spin from pole-sitter Peter Bourn. He was closely followed by Andy Collins and Steve Terry. Harold Lowe also spun on the first corner after a collision with Daz Rycroft. Neil Clarke was also making his way through the field. However the race had to be stopped when Daz Rycroft's car hit the wall out of the first turn and was left stranded in the middle of the track. As less then 5 laps had been completed a full restart was ordered, giving those who had spun a second chance, and frustrating the fast starting Ez Walker who was up to 6th despite starting at the rear of the non-qualifiers!

The restart saw Alan Buckland take the lead once again, followed by Peter Bourn and Andy Collins. There were also spins from Steve Terry, Neil Clarke and Gordon Pooley. But it was Peter Bourn who made the first big move, overtaking Alan Buckland for the lead. He was craftily followed through by Andy Collins and the pair started to move away from the rest of the pack, who were gradually catching Alan Buckland. Gary Boner was also looking quick, and was able to catch and take 3rd place from Buckland, until a spin took him out of contention! It was the battle for the lead between Peter Bourn and Andy Collins that most people were interested, with Collins desperately trying to find a way past Bourn. It eventually took a brave dive round the outside for Collins to take the lead, a position he never looked back on, pulling out a big gap by the end of the race. Peter Bourn looked set to take 2nd, however there were 6 drivers battling for 3rd place, with Harold Lowe doing everything to get past Alan Buckland, and Mark Hodges, Andrew Bilby, Gary Granger, and Ez Walker waiting to pick up the pieces! It was Andy Collins that took the all-important chequered flag, to take a dramatic and emotional World Championship win, taking the victory by the length of a straight! Peter Bourn took a well-deserved 2nd position, with Alan Buckland holding on for 3rd. They were followed over the line by Harold Lowe, Mark Hodges, Andrew Bilby, Gary Granger, and Ez Walker, who rounded of the point's finishers.

Although the weather conditions could have been a little better and enabled a bit more overtaking, there was still some good and close racing.

Support Races

Andrew Bilby won the 'Final Charge' at the Swaffham speed weekend on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st August, to take his first final win of the season. The 'Final Charge' was the reverse grid of the World Championship race that had taken place the previous day and it was also the final of the support races.

The first support race was won by Gary Bonner after a very close, race long battle with World Champion Andy Collins, and John Salter. Gordon Pooley and Harold Lowe also made quick starts. However it was Gary Bonner, Andy Collins, and John Salter who were making their way through the field, eventually swallowing up Gordon Pooley and taking the lead. Alan Buckland and Harold Lowe were also having a good battle, with Harold just able to keep Alan at bay and hang on to 4th position. Gary Bonner was just able to hold on and take the win, from Andy Collins, and John Salter, in what was the closest 1,2,3 of the season so far! Harold Lowe, Alan Buckland, Gordon Pooley, Gary Granger, and Ez Walker rounded off the top eight.

The second support race (last Midget race of Saturday) was once again taken by a quick Gary Bonner. Brian Gough had had the initial lead from the white grade, before being caught by a quick-starting Dave Smith, who was in turn overtaken by an even quicker Gordon Pooley. Barry Goldsby had been up there, until contact caused a drive shaft joint to break, ending his weekend. Andy Collins was making his way through the field with Gary Bonner right behind him. Gary eventually made it past Andy to take the lead, however it was red grader Alan Buckland who appeared to be fastest man on the track, closing in on this front pair. Gary Bonner took his second win of the day, with Alan Buckland managing to take 2nd in the final few laps from Andy Collins in 3rd. Peter Bourn took 4th, Mark Hodges 5th, Daz Rycroft 6th, Harold Lowe 7th, and Gary Granger 8th.

Andy Collins returned on the Sunday showing similar form to the Saturday, which had won him the World crown. He was able to take the race win by a considerable margin from Gary Granger in 2nd, and Gordon Pooley in 3rd. Alan Buckland had again looked quick, however a spin in the early stages of the race ruined his hopes of taking the win (although he did recover to 7th!). Andy Collins took the victory, from Gary Granger, Gordon Pooley, Peter Bourn, Ez Walker, John Salter, Alan Buckland, and Harold Lowe who round of the point's finishers.

The 'Final Charge' was the last race of the Swaffham Speed Weekend for the midgets, and with a reverse grid of the Worlds clear favourites were points leader Neil Clarke, and European Champion Daz Rycroft, both of whom would now start from near the front. It was Andrew Bilby who got the quick start and the lead from second on the grid. From here he never looked back leading for the duration of the race and taking the win by a comfortable margin. Harold Lowe had also made a quick start overtaking Daz early on. Alan Buckland had looked to be going well having started from near the back of the grid, however contact between Alan and Mark Hodges (who was catapulted over the front end of Alan's Stealth) put Mark out of the race and left Alan a lap down. Andrew Bilby was able to take an easy victory, winning the 'Final Charge' from Neil Clarke, Ez Walker, Harold Lowe, Gary Granger, John Salter, Andy Collins and Dave Smith.

 


World Championship presentations


World Champ - Andy Collins