CF MEE Haulage World Championship: Preview

The big one is almost upon us; as the song goes: ‘It’s the Final Countdown’.

32 competitors are set to do battle over 25 laps to be crowned the CF Mee Haulage LTD. V8 Hotstox 2015 World Champion. In recent years, when we have struggled for cars, the formula has gone OTT on World Qualifying rounds in an effort to tempt cars to the tracks; some cases a track had 3 or 4 WQ rounds – Something i absolutely hated + put a lot more pressure on teams to have to compete at a lot more meetings. This year i wanted to return to a much more traditional one round at each track series and i like to think it has paid dividends. Car numbers didn’t suffer at the ‘domestic’ meetings and with the minimal rounds + lack of semi-finals; the grid is a little topsy turvy in places – a sprinkling of lower graders towards the front and then two big names towards the back.

Many have praised the V8 Hotstox in 2015 for the competitiveness and outright entertainment. The racing has been first class; I think we are set for an absolute belter- fingers crossed! It is hoped that the meeting will be the biggest and best in the history of the formula. The WF race itself is hoped to be staged separate; then head into a full race programme; a big thank you to CF Mee Haulage for their WF Sponsorship and to Luxury Loos + Peak Remedial for their sponsorship in the rest of the meeting.

Who’s race is it to win? It could be anyone’s. I wouldn’t/ couldn’t predict:

 

Kevin Stuchbury (1), Chackmore, Bucks – Inside Row 1

Pole Sitter Stuchbury, what’s to say about the defending World Champion, he’s the man to beat in the formula, but on shale this year his form isn’t where he would want it to be; only the third highest scorer on shale. He will be fighting for this one, having won the world three times and the only winner of the big race on the grid, Stuchbury will know what he has to do.

Best Stoke 2015 result: Final 1st.

WF appearances: 14, best finish: 1st. – 2007, 2008, 2014

 

Darren Cottrill (575), Hallow, Worcester – Outside Row 1

Cottrill has been a stalwart of the formula for as long as I can remember, but the Gold roof has eluded him. It would mean a lot to a lot of people if he was to win and it’s possibly his best chance. Cottrill’s fire has been re-ignited this year and he has firmly re-established himself as the top driver on shale after a slump in 2014. Top points scorer on shale and joint leading race winner on the loose; the opening Stoke final went the way of Cottrill; very, very nearly won the second meeting too only for the outside rear to let go. In WF’s Cottrill has been 3rd three times and 2nd twice. Definitely a favourite for the race and one to watch!

Best Stoke 2015 result: Final 1st

WF appearances: 15, best finish: 2nd. – 2013 (Coventry)

 

Jon Brown (288), Hinckley, Leics – Inside Row 2

Brown has had a phenomenal mid-season which catapulted him up the grid and along with Cottrill is joint leading race winner on the loose. Brown is in only his third season of racing V8’s and is maturing into one of the top drivers; if he survives the opening laps, he could pose a threat towards the end. Brown’s second WF race so might struggle – his first appearance he started towards the back of the grid.

Best Stoke 2015 result: Heat 1st

WF appearances: 1, best finish: DnF

 

Bryan Andrew (355) – Glossop, Derbyshire – Outside Row 2

Joining Brown on row 2 is another V8 Hotstox stalwart; having been around the sport for over 25 years, Andrew has come close twice to winning the big one, traditionally a tarmac racer; but Andrew this season has held his own on the loose to prove he is just as a formidable shale racer, taking him to Superstar for the first time in a number of years to boot. Andrew will give it a go and as he wing sports: ‘Never too old to go for gold!’

Best Stoke 2015 result: Heat 1st

WF appearances: 15, best finish: 2nd – 2012 (Birmingham)

 

Row three will feature the foreign entrants; at the time of writing, Sierd de Vries (H54) and hopefully a New Zealand competitor. Vries; an established Dutch F1 driver, already has raced a V8 at the September Coventry collecting an excellent second place for his efforts. Listen to the announcements on social media for when the second foreign entrant can be confirmed.

 

Michael Boswell (328) – Shipston-on-Stour, Warwicks – Inside Row 4

Boswell is the current European Champion, can he add the World to that? He is quick enough on shale, aggressive and experienced to be able to lift the gold. His best starting position, probably ever and will make the most of it. His Stoke form lets him down, but keep an eye on the first corner! Very capable of a podium finish if everything ‘clicks’ on the night.

Best Stoke 2015 result: Final 8th

WF appearances: 8, best finish: 5th. – 2010 (Buxton)

 

James Cobley (309) – Hucknall, Notts – Outside Row 4

The opening paragraph might explain Cobleys start position – not to detract anything from him, much like Jon Brown, Cobley has had a tremendous mid-season, the generally tarmac only racer; has picked up a handful of wins and a bag full of points to get to outside row 4. This may be a baptism of fire for the white grader, but a tremendous achievement none the less for the ex-F2 racer in his World Final debut and Cobley I’m sure will just be elated to be so high up and take the race as it comes; particularly after a horrendous season last year, blighted by nothing but engine woes. Just the one venture onto the loose in 2015, which didn’t prove fruitful.

Best Stoke 2015 result: N/A

WF appearances: Debut, best finish: N/A

 

Sam Mee (450) – Coalville, Leics – Inside Row 5

Mee is one of the top drivers on shale; quick and aggressive he will likely feature well in the big race. CF Mee Haulage are sponsoring the main race, so Sam will be keen to win back some of the prize fund. Riding a wave of confidence off the back of a final win at the last Coventry, Mee if he’s near the front will be tough to beat, a dark horse for the win and very capable of a podium.

Best Stoke 2015 result: Heat 3rd

WF appearances: 4, best finish: 4th – 2013 (Coventry)

 

Simon Sykes (64) – Stalybridge, Cheshire – Outside Row 5

Sykes is one of the top drivers on tarmac, but he can hold his own on shale too. Sykes suffered a big engine blowout mid-season which held back his shale form, but much like Mee alongside, he is quick and aggressive enough to make the most of his start position. Former European Champion Sykes is very capable but has not had any luck in his World Final appearances, a DnF on both occasions, he will be out to make up for previous outings.

Best Stoke 2015 result: Heat 5th

WF appearances: 2, best finish: DnF

 

Phoebe Wainman (211) – Silsden, W. Yorks – Inside Row 6

Row 6 is an all-female lock out. Wainman would perhaps have had hoped for a better start, but again a luckless Wainman has been fighting for good positions only to be took out or have mechanical issues – having to use her tarmac machine for much of the Summer on both surfaces, Wainman should have been a lot further up the order. She should be back in her trusty shale steed ‘Keef’; Shale is her favourite and I’m sure will feature well in the big race. The talent is there to be near the top; it’s whether luck is on her side.

Best Stoke 2015 result: Heat 3rd

WF appearances: 3, best finish: 4th – 2014 (Skegness)

 

Hayley Williams (26) – Long Eaton, Notts – Outside Row 6

Ms Williams helps to lock out the all-female row 6, preferring the tarmac surface but is no slouch on Shale either. Holding red grade all year since being upgraded in Sept 14; she is one of the top drivers in the formula, making history as the first female final winner in 2014. Can she add the World Final to that record? If Williams survives the opening laps in her first shale World Final, she will feature well and has proven; not afraid to use the front bumper when needed.

Best Stoke 2015 result: Grand National 7th

WF appearances: 1, best finish: 9th – 2014 (Skegness)

 

Gary Jackson (423) – Chester, Cheshire – Inside Row 7

Jackson makes his best start in a World Final for his second attempt, starting Row 10 last year, Jackson continues to impress on the shale scene with two final wins on the loose so far this year. A nil score at each of the two Stoke meetings this year, Jackson is very capable of a good finish should luck fall his way.

Best Stoke 2015 result: N/A

WF appearances: 1, best finish: 14th – 2014 (Skegness)

 

Lee Summers (281) – Hitchin, Hertfordshire – Outside Row 7

Summers has had a quiet few years recently; only properly returning for this season. Summers is another top driver on shale on his day. Historically, usually picks up a win or two on the loose. Expect Summers to be there or thereabouts at the end, top ten is within his grasp if he survives the opening laps; with a wealth of experience behind him being part of the formula for over 15 years. Summers didn’t make it to the two Stoke meetings, so his form around the Chesterton shale is unknown.

Best Stoke 2015 result: N/A

WF appearances: 8, best finish: 15th – 2013 (Coventry)

 

Carl Critchlow (373) – Leek, Staffs – Inside Row 8

Critchlow lines up on Row 8, making his big race debut. A background in Motocross seemingly served Critchlow well, with a steady season at blue for his first year. Critchlow will be savouring the occasion and any result will be a bonus. A heat win on tarmac for his efforts and a 3rd his best on shale at the last Coventry so far this year.

Best Stoke 2015 result: Final 6th

WF appearances: Debut, best finish: N/A

 

Olly Spencer (498) – Atherstone, Warkwicks – Outside Row 8

Completing row 8 is another WF debutant, Spencer has had a tremendous season – successfully reached red grade and achieved a mid-grid start for this race. Multiple winner on tarmac, has yet to try his hand on shale, tonight maybe a baptism of fire, but with his ministox experience and father Les (F1 98) behind him, should see him through ok – providing he survives the opening laps.

Best Stoke 2015 result: N/A

WF appearances: Debut, best finish: N/A

 

Sam Wainwright (227) – Congleton, Cheshire – Inside Row 9

Wainwright makes his best start on the WF grid in 2015; Wainwright improves each year on shale and tarmac; racing to his first win at Coventry on European Championship day. Wainwright could do well and has a habit of keeping his head low and sneaking through to a good result; the last Birmingham, picked his way through the leading 6 way fight to pick up a third. A handy performer on shale and could avoid the carnage to a top 10.

Best Stoke 2015 result: Heat 7th

WF appearances: 3, Best finish: 17th – 2012 (Birmingham)

 

Guy Jolly (222) – Huntingdon, Cambs – Outside Row 9

Despite being a lot further back than he had hoped, Jolly will actually be really happy with starting this far forward. It was set to be his best ever year – a new tarmac car and upgrades to both engines. In reality; it’s been his worst for some time. You have to go back to April where Jolly last had a good meeting, his season blighted with engine rebuild after engine rebuild. Jolly will be happy just finishing; however Stoke is one of his best tracks and as we all know anything can happen in Stock Cars.

Best Stoke 2015 result: Final 2nd

WF appearances: 6, best finish; 9th – 2012 (Birmingham)

 

Sam Jacklin (137) – Denton, Manchester – Inside Row 10

Jacklin has had an up and down season – matching his backstraight performance at the last Coventry; whilst leading the final decided a wall of death routine would’ve been better. Jacklin is ever improving and will be one of the top drivers I predict. Making his World Final debut on tarmac last year and getting top ten, he will be hoping to improve on shale where he seems to have more success. One to watch and very stubborn to win places off!

Best Stoke 2015 result: Heat 9th

WF appearances: 1, best finish: 10th – 2014 (Skegness)

 

Rob Scriven (117) – Lechlade, Gloucs.- Outside Row 10

Another stalwart of the Stock Car World; an active racer on the F1 scene since 1978 and more recently the V8 scene, Scriven needs no introduction. He might be the only Grandad on the grid, but Scriven won’t show it, as quick as ever and more than happy to get stuck in when required. Scriven will use all his experience to carve his way through the field and is easily capable to achieve a top ten result.

Best Stoke 2015 result: N/A

WF appearances: 7, best finish: 5th – 2012 (Birmingham)

 

Adam Joyce (157) – Burton-on-Trent, Staffs – Inside Row 11

Joyce definitely should be higher up the grid, but the way Joyce’s luck has gone this year in the qualifying rounds means he’s down the order. The debut of a new car took a while to get it set up, but it now seems to be there and Joyce will be one to watch from this grid start. Quick and very aggressive; he will be hoping to capitalize if there’s troubles up front, although, Joyce hasn’t raced at Stoke in over a year; which may hold him back.

Best Stoke 2015 result: N/A

WF appearances: 1, best result: 6th – 2014 (Skegness)

 

George Shone (414) – Tarporley, Cheshire – Outside Row 11

Shone makes his World Final debut in his debut season; Shone seems to have took to the racing like a natural; although hasn’t raced so much on shale which could be his downfall. Shone earlier this year learnt to fly a V8 at Stoke getting some good air time in a homestraight melee. Shone will be giving his best, but his lack of track time on shale may hold him back.

Best Stoke 2015 result: Final 5th

WF appearances: Debut, best result: N/A

 

Tom Spencer (298) – Atherstone, Warwicks – Inside Row 12

Much like Joyce in front of him, Spencer should be a lot further forward, but disastrous luck gets an unfortunate back of the pack start; Spencer will be another to watch as he scythes his way through the grid. He will be hoping to turn his season around as he also defends the Bob Radforth Memorial Trophy later in the programme.

Best Stoke 2015 result: Heat 6th

WF appearances: 2, best finish; 5th – 2014 (Skegness)

 

Mark Hobbins (266) – Cheltenham, Gloucs – Outside Row 12

Another big race debutant; Hobbins impressed everyone greatly in his first meeting; battling with Cottrill for the win. Since his upgrade to yellow; he’s perhaps struggled, but like so many others will be giving it his best in search of a good result, aiming for similar fortune of his first race.

Best Stoke 2015 result: Final 4th

WF appearances: Debut, best finish: N/A

 

Nick Blach (160) – Hucknall, Notts – Inside Row 13

A traditional tarmac racer; ventured on to the loose at the last Coventry in search of track time for the big race, with little reward. Blach is a regular race winner on tarmac, picking up two victories at the last Birmingham. As he tweeted; lucky row 13, but just pleased to be in it!

Best Stoke 2015 result: N/A

WF appearances: 4, best finish: 14th – 2013 (Coventry)

 

Stuart Ridley (139) – Dunstable, Beds – Outside Row 13

Ridley is having one of his best seasons for a while after sporadic appearances in the last few years; Ridley’s raced to regular top ten finishes this season; although without any recent shale appearances – none this season – he may struggle to feature.

Best Stoke 2015 result: N/A

WF appearances: Debut; best finish: N/A

 

Steve Jacklin (138) – Denton, Manchester – Inside Row 14

A former F1 racer, Jacklin was a welcome addition into the V8’s this season, it didn’t take long for him to settle in and was soon a race winner on shale; always a smile on his face. Jacklin making his V8 Hotstox World Final debut will just enjoy the race and hopefully come out with a decent finish also.

Best Stoke 2015 result: N/A

WF appearances: Debut, best finish: N/A

 

Shane Geary (478) – Corby, Northants – Outside Row 14

Geary is another who has had the misfortunes of engine woes this season. Winning his first shale race in July in a great race with Terry Hawkins (275), Geary will be aiming for the same and to have a good race, his starting position may hold him back, but he will be all or nothing!

Best Stoke 2015 result: Final 6th

WF appearances: 2, best finish: 22nd – 2014 (Skegness)

 

Sam Roper (333) – Thurgoland, Sheffield – Inside Row 15

Roper has had a steady start to V8’s in his debut season and incredibly has raced at every meeting so far this season, a great achievement. Roper has come close to lifting the chequered flag this season, but given more time to gain experience he will be another top contender. For this race, much like so many he will just be savouring the occasion and take everything in his stride.

Best Stoke 2015 result: N/A

WF appearances: Debut, best finish: N/A

 

Steve Bowman (314) – Linden Village, Bucks – Outside Row 15

Bowman has now done his fair share of World Final races and is a strong performer on the shale; winning races on the loose this season. Bowman is also a massive character on and off track; he’s won the ‘Entertainer of the year’ award a number of times. Bowman will just be out to have fun – how it should be. Don’t be surprised when you don’t see him move over for the top drivers – a stubborn one to pass!

Best Stoke 2015 result: Heat 1st

WF appearances: 9, best finish: 5th – 2009 (Coventry)

 

Rory Foster (352) – Leek, Staffs – Inside Row 16

Foster borrowed the Bracher World winning machine for a number of outings and just sneeks on to the back row. Foster’s not raced shale in a V8 for a couple of years but was a handy performer when racing full time. Another quick, aggressive driver who has also been on the podium of the Gold roof race, another one to watch.

Best Stoke 2015 result: N/A

WF appearances: 1, best finish: 3rd – 2012 (Birmingham)

 

Luke Maw (409) – Sheffield, S. Yorks. – Outside Row 16

Maw completes the grid and another debutant for the line up. Maw comes from a line of racers; a family which helped launch the V8 Hotstox in to it’s hey day with Father Rob and late Uncle Jon. Maw another suffering mechanical gremlins all year, just sneeks on the grid and given his form at the last Coventry will not just be making the numbers up now.

Best Stoke 2015 result: Heat 6th

WF appearances: Debut, best finish: N/A

It’s set to be a fantastic race; may the best driver win.

Good luck to them all, have a good, safe race.

CF MEE Haulage

 

With thanks to the following WF meeting partners:

LuxuryLoos ParkRemedial