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Thrilling soap box derby cancelled amid coronavirus pandemic

PUBLISHED: 14:45 30 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:36 30 July 2020

A scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. The 2020 derby has been cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Chris Bishop

A scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. The 2020 derby has been cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Chris Bishop

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A madcap extravaganza of thrills and spills has been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYA scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Searles Soap Box Derby, an annual fixture in Hunstanton which attracts thousands of spectators to the Norfolk coast, has been called off in a bid to limit the spread of the virus.

Last year’s event saw 44 teams tasked with negotiating a new course, with kart’s setting off from Greevegate and racing down a longer, steeper hill towards the seafront.

A scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYA scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But a record 50 competitors will not get their usual adrenaline fix this year, as the government shows little sign of relaxing its current guidelines on mass gatherings.

The 2020 edition of the competition had been due to take place on September 20.

A scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYA scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Paul Searle from Searles Leisure Resorts, the derby’s main sponsor since it returned in 2017, said: “I am very disappointed that this year’s event has been cancelled.

“It has proved a great success, and given a lot of joy to the soap box racers and spectators who enjoy the friendly competition.

A scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYA scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“The soap box has also given both the competitors and local fundraisers an opportunity to raise money for local good causes as the spectators are always generous in their support of our town.

“When it returns in 2021 we hope to see an even bigger event, building on the successes of the last few years.”

A scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYA scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Teams travelled from all over the country to take part in the 2019 derby, including from Newark, Wellingborough and Milton Keynes.

For the first time there was a speed trap on the course, which recorded some karts travelling at more than 30mph.

A scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYA scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The fastest vehicle on the day was driven by Ed Napolitano in the Hunstanton District Round Table kart, who completed the course in 31 seconds on his first run and 28 seconds on the second.

Amid obvious disappointment, Elizabeth Nockolds, deputy leader of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, added: “It’s hugely disappointing to be cancelling the soap box derby this year, but the health and safety of the public is our priority.

A scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYA scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“It takes the teams many months to design and build their karts, and some may have already started to work on their vehicles. I look forward to seeing their creations next year when it’s safe.”

A scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYA scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYA scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYA scene from the 2019 edition of the Searles Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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