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Thursday 9th October 2014

Craig Finnikin crowned world champion - 24 years after his dad

SPEED demon Craig Finnikin has been crowned stock car world champion – 24 years after his dad, Bert, held the crown.

Bert Finnikin, who won the BriSCA Formula One World Championship title in 1990, was on hand to see 33-year-old son Craig claim the trophy in dramatic fashion at Coventry.

Finnikin jnr, from Bradnop, near Leek, started the final back in 16th on the grid, but hit the front with just four of the 25 laps remaining.

"There was a lot of overtaking to do so and I had to take my chances as they came," said the racer, who works with his dad at Finn Tec Commercials.

"There wasn't any time to hesitate, to be honest.

"We knew it would be slick in the second half of the race so that's what we had planned for, and the decision paid off.

"Dad was delighted when I came in first, and I think he was a bit shocked, too, because it's such an unpredictable sport. He just told me, 'Well done'.

"It was straight back to work, but now we've got two world champions in the garage, which can't be bad."

Finnikin's afternoon was almost over as soon as it began when there was a major pile-up heading into the first corner.

He explained: "There were a load of cars caught up in the mess, but luckily I managed to get out of the way and we used the 10 minutes clean up wisely.

"We had a quick change of brake pads, because it's hard to say what you'll need until you've actually been around on the day. It worked out well for us."

The Finnikin dynasty stretches back to grandad Charlie, who clocked up more than 460 podium finishes in a 17-year career from 1956, but never managed better than bronze in a world final.

Bert Finnikin enjoyed more than 100 wins in F1 before switching to the two litre engines of Formula Two (F2), where he took second place in the World of Shale contest in 2008.

Craig Finnikin started competing in F1 Stock Cars in 2000 and had finished third and second in the World final over the past couple of years.

He was national champion in 2011 and British champion in 2012, and he is now bidding to win the National Points Shoot-out. He is currently 22 points behind leader Frankie Wainman with six meetings remaining.

"There are loads of points still to play for so there is plenty of time to get to the top," he said.

There will be no let up as Finnikin is flying to New Zealand in the New Year to fight for the honours in the World 240s Championships.

It will hopefully be third time lucky in Auckland ... having crashed out before the first corner on the first lap of his first visit, and finishing in the top 20 last time.

"They don't seem to like Brits winning, so team up to give you a hard time," he laughed.

"It's a great standard and the best of three races over there, rather than all or nothing on one, which we have here. It should be good fun."

Bert, now 58, said he was a proud man to see Craig equal his achievement, but says his son has the potential to go on and be even better.

"It brought back real memories for me from 1990, watching him win it," Bert said.

"When I won it I started six rows back, but Craig started eight rows back, so it's a better achievement than mine.

"He's always had an interest in stock car racing. He did the minis first, then moved on to the Formula Twos and now to the Formula Ones.

"There has been (a bit of rivalry). I was always winding him up before saying that he was behind me, but it's up to him now to go and win it again to beat my record altogether."

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