12th & 13th September 1981, Recklinghausen, World Championship
Report from Club Newsletter

"Organised" by the German Midget Club the weekend started with qualifying practice on Saturday to determine grid positions for the Championships - fastest drivers to start at the front.

This was an interesting exercise - all cars did 16 - 18 laps to warm up the tyres collectively and then parked on the centre green. They were then called out individually to do three laps - the fastest to count. Surprise! The English contingent were called out last - after the tyres had cooled off!

Home driver Willi Thissen starting first grabbed pole position, former World Champion Jan van Rengs took 3rd spot, basil Craske the current World Champion took 4th position, Gary Pollard 5th, Mick Bonner (running so rich that he looked like a factory chimney) 6th, Hank Hansen, the eventual winner was 8th on the grid, Geoff Hughes Senior 9th, Mick Clements 12th and Malcolm Goodman 13th.

Sunday dawned pleasantly enough after overnight rain reduced most of the pit area to a mud bath. General opinion after practice was that the track was slippery and a change of surface from tarmac to concrete by the top bend would present a hazard.

The meeting, scheduled to begin at 11:30am, got under way about an hour late and the World Championship was race 10. In race eight a hot rod sprayed the entire surface with oil and was eventually black flagged. Despite determined efforts with two whole bags of cement the track remained exceptionally slippery for the rest of the meeting.

A Bavarian type band in full costume heralded the arrival of the Midgets onto the track (the mace bearer looked suspiciously like Basil Craske - had a similar hat too)

After the usual presentations of commemorative plaques the race lined up. Some British drivers felt that the full 10 miles distance of the Championship would leave them short of fuel and both Gary and Basil were carrying reserve tanks... Some sceptics were predicting that the "fastest at the front" would result in problems. They were proved right.

The consensus of opinion among the spectators, was that the race would be contested between Willi Thissen the Local hero, Jan van Rengs the very popular Dutchman and reigning European Champion, and Basil Craske our reigning "Weld Meister"

A rolling start, after one warm up lap saw all hell let loose among the front runners and on the second bend, van Rengs, coming out under full power, spun. Basil Craske immediately behind him was fenced in a big way and two of the favourites were out.

Willi Thissen grabbed the lead in the second lap, closely followed by Gary Pollard with Hank Hanssen, Malcolm Goodman and Mick Bonner following on. On lap 14 Gary took Thissen, and held the lead for three laps until his oil filter gasket blew spraying his rear tyre with oil and he was later forced to retire, cruel luck when he was driving so well,

Malcolm moved into the lead as Gary became more unstable, with Henk.Hanssen 3rd and Mick Bonner 4th, Willi Thissen 5th and Geoff Hughes Sr coming into 6th place Mike Clements 7th.

On lap 25, (half distance) the extra power of Hanssen's car proved itself on the straight and he squeezed past Malcolm into the lead. Gary Pollard still struggling with his oil on the tyres moved back into 2nd place. Mick Bonner passed Malcolm to take 3rd place with Malcolm Goodman 4th, Willi Thissen 5th and Geoff Hughes and Mike Clements lapping consistently in 6th and 8th places.

Lap 34 saw Gary Pollard's handling problem get to-much and to the disappointment of the English contingent he pulled off. Mick Bonner moved into 2nd place with Malcolm 3rd, Thissen 4th, Hughes 5th and Clements. 7th. So it remained until lap 42 .When Malcolm passed Mick for the second place. On lap 49 Mick retook the second-place with Malcolm 3rd and then a tail ender spun-in front of Mick Bonner and knocked over a pile of loose tyres beside the track - they rolled in all directions. Henk Hanssen just managed to miss them but with only the last bend to go and not more that 10 yards behind Hanssen, a tyre went under the front of Mick's car breaking his front offside suspension. The front lifted like Concorde taking off, went up the steep banking at the side of the track, turned completely over and came to rest on the rollcage in a shower of sparks. Miraculously Mick was only slightly hurt.

Malcolm meanwhile did a "dodgem" act to cross the line behind Henk Hanssen (where he had been for the whole race) only to be declared 4th by the organisers who claimed that he had lost a lap early on. No 83 was accredited 2nd and 77 Norbert Fleuren 3rd. Geoff Hughes Senior 7th and Mike Clements 8th did a good job of keeping their heads down and lapping consistently despite the oil and quite unconcerned with the bigger engined continental cars.

It was a disappointing finish to an exciting race where all the British drivers did such a good job, that Malcolm should be deprived of what appeared to be his right, and Mick Bonner - himself a world Champion in 1977 should suffer such an unfortunate accident approaching the last bend.

In fairness to Henk Hanssen - there was never any dispute about his driving or his placing. He was runner up to Basil Craske at Brafield last year, he always drives well, I have never heard him complain (except that the last World Championship was too short) He is a popular driver and deserves this result.

To our flying three, Gary, Mick, and Malcolm we give our heartiest congratulations - you did us proud.

In the second race, Norbet Fleuren, a top grade driver from the German Club, was given half a lap start on the rest of the field as he hasn't driven much this season and is therefore graded Yellow. There were no white grade drivers at this meeting, as might be expected with this start he held the lead for the full 20 laps to the near hysterical support of the German Contingent. The British drivers, despite their 1300, engines were put well to the back of the grid. Willi Thissen was second the new Dutch World Champion 3rd and Basil Craske whose car had been completely rebuilt, steering and three corners, by mechanics Cliff and Don, never gave up working his way through to fourth place just ahead of Gary Pollard 5th, Geoff Hughes 7th and Mick Clements 9th.

The final race of the day was a fiasco. After a tremendous pile up on the second bend, only six cars lined up for the restart. Norbert Flavron got his half lap start, and the only Englishmen, Geoff Hughes was towards the back of the reds. On lap 6 Jan van Rengs hit oil and powered flat out into the fence of the bottom bend. Geoff Hughes full of determination, attempted quite properly to take two cars or the outside on the straight. He got passed the first, and as he was level with the second when the driver pulled or drifted out and chopped off Geoff's nearside front and back.

Nothing else is worth reporting except Fleuren won, and one other car was pushed across the line to get 2nd place, everything else was broken.

To the English mechanics who worked so hard to June Cochrane, Audrey Fretten and all the other supporters who went out to support and encourage our drivers - THANKS.

Report from Motoring News By John Hyam

A FLYING rear wheel from a damaged car may have cost England's Mick Bonner the World Midget Car Championship at Recklinghausen, West Germany, in what was the last meeting to be staged at the track. But midget car racing went out on a spectacular note at the West German circuit, with 1978 Champion Henk Hanssen of Holland becoming the first driver to twice hold the championship.

In their 1300cc cars, the English drivers performed creditably against the top Continentals, who were in 1600 midget cars. On the grid, defending champion Basil Craske was fourth, Gary Pollard fifth, 1977 world champion Mick Bonner sixth, Geoff Hughes senior ninth, Mick Clements (in for British champion Geoff Hughes junior) 12th, and National champion Malcolm Goodman, 13th, in an 18 car field. Craske's hopes of retaining the title vanished on the fifth lap, when he spun out of contention with five times European champion Jan van Rengs (Holland), who had started favourite for the title. With Craske out of the field, it was left to Bonner and Goodman to make most challenge for England in the gruelling 50-lap race. Midway through, Hanssen battled to the front with Pollard close behind, but the English driver crashed in a very fast heat. With 200 yards to the finish. Hanssen held a narrow lead from Bonner and Goodman. Suddenly, a backmarker lost two wheels which spun into the air. Somehow, Hanssen weaved past to go for the flag, and Bonner taking a chance for the leadership tried to follow the Dutchman through. But one of the flying wheels cannoned into him and the English driver lost control and was overtuned, being trapped in his car. This left Goodman to take over Bonner's place. Although Hanssen was given the victory, for reasons still obsure and not explained by the race stewards, Goodman was relegated to fourth place. This left two West Germans. Willi Thissen and Norbert Fleuren to gain the rostrum places with champion Hanssen. England's other finishers were Hughes seventh and Clements immediately behind him.

In support races, Fleuren was winner of both events. He took the first from Gunter Bakkas, Thissen, Hanssen, Craske, Pollard, Jan Schraats, Hughes, Karl Kilianski and Clements. His second success was one of the most controversial and dramatic seen on a European midget car track. On the third lap, Thissen hit the safety fence, and was followed in by Pollard, Craske and Clements. Then Hughes and new world title holder Hanssen collided and went out of the race, and more cars were to crash. At the finish, Fleuren and Schraats were the only cars to the check flag, but Schraets was then black-flagged leaving Fleuren the lone winner. Commented midget car organiser June Cochrane, "this was more like a destruction derby than a midget car race - but it certainly provided thrills and was a good advert for midget car racing."