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Wayne joins the greats with superb show; STOCK CARS.

Byline: By DAVE ROBOTTOM

THE Lancashire town of Rochdale has long been associated with top F.1 Stock Car drivers - former World Champions Doug Cronshaw, the legendary Stuart Smith (Senior) and his sons Andrew and Stuart Junior.

Now, another name may well be added to Rochdale's Roll of Honour following a remarkable performance from F.1 newcomer Wayne Helliwell. The former F.2 driver, who appeared in Coventry's F.2 meetings last year used his experience to win the first Grand Final of the Coventry season, leading got most of the race in spite of a race suspension after heat 12 which allowed the rest of the field to close-up.

The challenges of Mick Harris, John Lund and Mark Gilbank were thwarted by some nifty front bumper work by Rotherham's Paul Harrison who ultimately finished in 7th place.

But there was more success to some for Helliwell, a "C" Grade (White Roof) driver. 68 cars arrived to race but Alan England suffered clutch problems and did not race and a further four drivers were banned from competing as their cars failed Technical Scutiny.

As a bonus for the crowd, Stadium owner Avtar Sandhu sponsored an extra race, a pounds 600 "Dash for Cash" with pounds 300 paid to the winner. Once again it was Helliwell who jumped into an early lead and although he appeared to be losing power at one stage he recovered to hold of second-placed Lee Robinson and the rapidly closing John Lund.

Andrew Smith opened the season with a heat 1 victory, but failed to finish in the Final, suffering mechanical problems. Dave Johnson won heat 2 and Nick Smith heat 3.

John Lund, ninth in his heat, spun on the first turn in the Consolation race but recovered to finish 4th with the chequered flag going to Lenny Smith with Helliwell just qualifying for the Final by finishing in eighth place.

"C" Grade drivers Garry Townsend and Tom Harris dominated the opening laps of the Grand National before being overtaken by "B" Grade Stuart Heppenstall. But with just three laps remaining Heppenstall went out and Super Star Mark Gilbank passed Harris, who ultimately finished a creditable third.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Apr 4, 2005
Words:362
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