COWDENBEATH Racewall fans may not remember events of 17 years ago, no matter how great a Saloon World Final it was, but David Aldous will never forget it.

That day in 2003 the Scottish drivers saw their hopes disappear in one exciting pit bend manoeuvre, fond memories for the Norfolk speedster.

Aldous, from Diss, became the Saloon world champion in one of the best finals seen at the Racewall, with fans at fever pitch as 31 drivers fought it out for the right to race with the gold roof.

Harry Burgoyne had come out of retirement and ended up in third place in the last chance consolation and then astounded the fans by actually getting through into the lead.

However his return didn’t have a fairy tale ending and he had to retire. On the other hand Aldous started from pole but at one time must have thought his dream was over when he was sent spinning.

It was certainly a hard race with only seven drivers making it to the finish line.

“When we arrived at the track it was buzzing. Most of the drivers had arrived early and there were plenty of spectators in the ground. The pits were busy,” he remembered.

“I wasn’t over confident but I had been up the previous two meetings and was pleased with the car’s performance. There was plenty of entertainment in the afternoon but as the time came for the parade lap the nerves were beginning to jangle a bit as we went on to the track.

“The atmosphere was something else. It was quite a show; it always is at the Racewall. I was to start from pole position and I knew that I could race with those around me even though they wanted to win as badly as I did. I was really nervous on the warm up lap but knew what I had to do when the green flag dropped.”

Aldous kept the field tight on a slow warm up but he made a good start. However the race was stopped when Keith McCammon hit a marker tyre and collected Ada Haddon with those behind piling in.

“We relined up again and I thought they wouldn’t allow me to make as good a start again. I kept the warm up as slow as I could and got away but it only lasted a lap before there was another stoppage after Winston Weir’s car was left stranded against the pit bend wall.

“At that time the wall was unforgiving and if you were sent into it you usually didn’t go much further. I saw that Phil Morgan had pulled out which was one less contender to worry about.”

Aldous got them away again with Danny Hunt now in second but already Kenny Purdie was making inroads and to roars from the fans moved into third, only for the yellows to come out again after a three car pileup on the pit bend.

“It was turning out to be a typical Racewall championship with the drivers trying to improve their positions but quite a few of them coming to grief.”

This time Aldous was shunted wide by Hunt who took the lead with Purdie following through into second and began to put him under pressure.

Within a lap Purdie was ahead with Paul Soper now second from Stuart Shevill and Pete Simpson whilst the other Scottish drivers were beginning to make inroads through the field.

With the home fans very vocal Purdie led from Shevill, who had spun Soper, and soon the Scottish drivers were filling the top spots.

A few laps later Aldous was sent spinning on the back straight. He was able to restart but was now down in15th and seemingly out of contention. The home drivers began to swap places with Burgoyne now in fifth after having started from the back of the field.

Purdie fell back to third and it was beginning to look as if it was going to be a white wash with the Scots filling the top seven places.

The race changed dramatically on lap 19 when Chris Murfin-Crowden crashed into the wall on the main straight and stopped, bringing out the yellow flags.

“I had moved up into the top 10 when the race was suspended and as I lined up and looked ahead of me I was thinking that things could kick off.

“I still felt that my car was quick and that I still had a chance to move up the order.”

The field lined up behind Shevill and the restart proved to be incident packed with Simpson sending Shevill wide as he moved into the lead but James Strath slowed whilst Stevie Honeyman bounced off the wall, burst a tyre and retired.

Lap 21 was explosive with the Scots running nose to tail with Simpson under real pressure.

The top four cars headed into the pit bend all intent of coming out in the lead.

Simpson was sent crashing into the pit bend wall and rolled causing Purdie to spin. Burgoyne also bounced off the wall with Dougie Wilson pushing as the drivers tried to sort themselves out. The yellows were back out for the upturned car of Simpson but the new leader Burgoyne was being pushed around, trying to restart his car.

“I was now in third but Burgoyne was pushed off, his rotor arm had broken, which meant I was now second. Shane Brown was the leader but he hadn’t long started in the saloons so I kept close for the restart trying to keep him under pressure but I had Purdie behind me.”

Brown led the pack but with two to run Aldous forced him wide as he fought his way back into the lead.

Purdie dropped out of contention as his car began to run out of fuel. Aldous kept things tight as he reeled off the laps to become the new champion but Purdie’s brave attempt to finish in third came to nothing when he was spun out on the last bend and with no fuel was unable to restart.

“I felt really good when I got back into the lead, the car was still going well and now I was sure that it was going to be my race.

“I drove it to the finish line and when the chequer appeared my fist was out of the window to celebrate.

“It was a tremendous feeling when I did cross the line. The race hadn’t panned out as I had planned but I had got there in the end.

“When I stopped I clambered onto my roof to celebrate and then was mobbed.

“The trophy presentation was something else and then my victory lap on the pace car was amazing. You can’t beat the atmosphere at the Racewall!”

What had looked to be a joy night for the home fans disappeared in one fell swoop but after all it was a World Championship.