Gilbank goes into the F1 record books
Organiser: Coventry Racing Club Ltd When: April 2 Where: Coventry Stadium, Lincolnshire Starters: 67.
Mark Gilbank is something of a Coventry track specialist: last Saturday he chalked up his ninth final win at the Midland circuit. It moves him in to eighth place in the all-time winners list at the track that has hosted 498 meetings since its first event back in 1954.
Gilbank is tied on nine wins with fellow Rotherham drivers Willie Harrison and Peter Falding. The legendary Stuart Smith Sr tops the list with 40 wins.
Thomas Stephenson battled with Dutchman Arjan Ligthart before Geoff Nickolls barged his way into the lead. Further back, Gilbank had broken free from the pack and hunted down Nickolls, taking the lead just after the halfway point.
Gilbank extended his lead to almost half a lap before a yellow flag bunched the pack up. With Mat Newson, Dan Johnson and Frankie Wainman Jr on his tail, Gilbank was able to pull away from his pursuers as they battled with each other.
After exchanging places seemingly on each bend, Johnson was able to snatch second with in-form man Wainman Jr rounding out the podium places.
“It feels good to win at Coventry,” said Gilbank. “I made the right tyre choice for the final. My car was terrible in my heat race and I just couldn’t get any forward bite.
“I went and bought a new tyre for the final and it worked. I had a great start and things went my way a bit. Some gaps opened up and I was able to get a half-lap in front. I backed off a bit, trying to keep it safe. I didn’t need that yellow flag towards the end of the race. I looked in my mirror and saw who was behind me and knew I needed a good restart, which I got.”
Wainman said: “I thought it was going to rain harder and made the wrong tyre choice. As the track dried I just didn’t have the grip. On the restart Newson, Johnson and myself were slowed down a bit as we battled with each other but I didn’t want to hit the other two hard as it could have taken us all out.”
Wainman maintains his lead in the standings by almost 100 marks over Johnson going into the next meeting at Sheffield on Sunday.