Chaos at Foxhall Stadium as winner of Unlimited National Banger World Championship stripped of title
- Credit: Picture: Stephen Waller
The world banger car champion crowned at Foxhall Stadium at the weekend has been sensationally stripped of his title after an investigation found the runner-up actually won.
A race investigation was launched after Ricki Finney was originally crowned as the world champion at the adrenaline-fuelled Unlimited National Banger World Championship near Ipswich on Saturday night.
More than 200 racers from across the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe took part in the event, now in its 45th year, which was dogged by technical problems.
The electronic lap scoring failed due to technical issues. Manual lap scoring and stadium camera footage were used instead to determine the final positions.
The winner in grand final was the first driver to complete 20 laps. Finney crossed the line first and lifted the trophy on the podium in front of hundreds of spectators.
Runner-up Steve Bolton later watched the race on YouTube and saw Finney was involved in a crash on the first corner of the first lap. Bolton and another driver effectively lapped Finney without it being spotted.
Yesterday, three days later, Bolton was officially declared as the 2017 world champion. Finney was demoted to third position. The additional footage showing the crash was not available to race stewards on the night.
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Bolton, 26, from Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, said: “I started off in front and he was at the back. He got taken out and joined me behind me (after Bolton had completed the first lap). With three laps to go, he got past me, and they thought he had won.
“It’s a dream come true, but I didn’t get my moment of glory. But I don’t blame them. There was so much mud and cars.
“I’m racing in Scotland this weekend and they might give me the trophy then, hopefully.”
Organisers Spedeworth / Incarace said in a statement: “Spedeworth / Incarace would like to announce the final verdict with regards to the result of the Unlimited National Banger World Championship which took place at Foxhall Heath Stadium, Ipswich on Saturday 7th October 2017.
“The final confirmed result allows us to now congratulate #59 Steve Bolton as the 2017 Unlimited National Banger World Champion.
“It has been no secret that there has been controversy over the result of Saturday night’s World Championship race and despite our previous announcement that #455 Ricki Finney won the race, further evidence has been able to be examined.
“The decision to announce the result that was declared on the night was taken based on the manual lap scoring and the stadium camera footage showing #455 crossing the line ahead of #59 however, what became evident following the additional footage was that #455 was involved in an incident which finished with #455 on the shale which is not visible on the stadium cameras and the manual lap scorers were also unaware of this incident therefore lap scored #455 within his declared position on the night.
“Spedeworth / Incarace have spoken to Ricki Finney and would like to thank him for his attitude throughout this investigation and Ricki’s respectful return of the World Championship title which is to be awarded to Steve Bolton.
“We have also kept Betfred aware of this investigation throughout and following the outcome Betfred have agreed to honour the bets which have been placed on #59 Steve Bolton.
“Spedeworth / Incarace would also like to thank Steve Bolton for his patience over the last few days and like Ricki Finney, Steve’s attitude has been superb in awaiting the final result decision.
“The Unlimited National Banger World Championship is always an exciting affair which can end in controversy as has been the case in 2017. A result needed to be declared on the evening but the event Stewards along with a protest from Steve Bolton which, Steve is entitled to do, launched this investigation as despite many people’s opinions, we as the promotion also want to achieve the correct result in the interests of the integrity of our sport.”
The statement added: “As the promotion we obviously monitor social media and we have been made aware of certain comments that have been made towards Ricki Finney. To be clear, Spedeworth / Incarace motorsports made the decision to award Ricki Finney with the World Championship on the night of the event. The decision was not influenced by Ricki Finney or any other driver.”
A Betfred spokesman said: “We work closely with the promoters and appreciate that mistakes can, on occasion, be made.
“However it is unprecedented at this level of sport for the winner to be declared when in fact he hadn’t completed the correct number of laps.
“We do have a superb relationship with Spedeworth that has been in existence for five years without any problems at all.
“However, our responsibility is with Betfred customers who took a great interest in this world championship race.
“We did in fact pay out to 80 people who we, and they, thought had won the race. We have now decided to also pay out to a further 60 race fans who backed the ‘real winner’. This mix-up has cost Betfred more than £10,000.”