By Russ Gardner
A sun kissed Oulton Park is always a nice place to be, but it is a circuit that demands that you on your best form to get results. You need a good grid position, and for your mind to be focused to come out on top at the demanding Cheshire circuit. So when your day starts off with your machine catching fire, you do not expect to end the day with your maiden win, and the performance of the day award. That though is exactly what happened to the team Ballard Racing BIS crew of Paul Corfield and Ritchie Bleackley.
The morning practice session saw the crew hosing down the 1000cc Suzuki powered Sidecar outfit after the wiring loom caught fire, that also caused problems with the front brake. The team that has been dogged with all sorts of mechanical problems this year has already suffered six engine failures this season so more hard work to get the outfit back on track was nothing new. After missing the qualifying race due to work still needing to be done things were not looking good, as the machine, now all back together was wheeled out (untested !) to the grid for the final of the CSC Racing Open Sidecar final. A back row start, some10 rows back had the pair craning their necks just to see the starting lights.
They were not alone on the rack rows though as two other championships challenging crews had also suffered problems. Phil Larder/Ken Edwards had spun out whilst leading the qualifier, and Rupert Archer/Jason Grimes had engine problems. Archer/Grimes carved their way through belying their novice jacketed status and headed the class as Corfield/Bleackley seemed to make much harder work of things on the far from perfectly set up K4 GSXR Suzuki Outfit. By mid race distance Corfield starred up up the pace and fight his was through the 25 strong sidecar grid, and going into the last lap he was right behind Archer on the Hannafin Suzuki. Not only did Corfield manage to get through on the last lap he pulled out over 1.7 second over their rivals to take their maiden victory, and as they crossed the line it was more a case of relief, rather than celebration.
It was felt that thier efforts more that warrented the performance of the meeting award which is a 25 litre can of Carless Fuels Racing fuel Coutesy of Vital Equipment, and they gratefully accepted the prize from Alistair Roberts, with stunned looks on their faces. Rupert Archer and Jason Grimes despite coming home in second place were more than happy with the 20 points for runner up spot though as the impressive newcomers now head the CSC Open Sidecar championship.
Miles Bennett and Shellie Smithies got back to winning ways in the CSC Racing F2 Sidecar class with victory by over 10 seconds from Rob Handcock and Basil Bevan. Bennett on the distinctive Mad Cow Maisey Shellbourne Honda is now well on target to lift the F2 class championships for a third time in three years.
This meeting also had rounds of the FSRA 350 and Post Classic Sidecars series, and the 350 Winners were Gordon and Julie Jones, whilst Pat Gallagher and Sean Rooney took the Post Classics with the 1085 Derbyshire outfit. With just two more rounds to go both pairings extend their lead in the respective classes.
Pete Jennings the former British works backed Kawasaki and current crew chief to Swan Honda?s Stuart Easton had a weekend off?. so he wheeled out the Chris Barton CBR 600. He keeps his hand in on two wheels quite regularly with outings in the Hottrax endurance series. Pete on his 600 gave NG Open Champ a real run for his money in the Phoenix Open setting pole in timed qualifying heading Bevan by 0.32 seconds and Angelo Derosa by 0.71 despite giving away a fair chunk of horsepower to Bevan?s R1 and Derosa?s GSXR1000. As any NG regular will know Bevan is never too concerned about qualifying ??.. as long as I?m somewhere on the front rows? and gets down to the racing in the final. Bevan led from the lights and built up a couple of seconds over Jennings and Derosa. The three of them pulling clear of Greg Lewis, Roo Cotton, Craig Beggs and Tommy Mountain.
By half race though Jennings had settled into his race pace and caught Bevan, leaving Derosa with a lonely ride for third. Pete and Phil put on a cracking couple of laps and despite the CBR rider setting the fastest lap of the weekend at 1:42.5 Bevan headed Jennings over the line after the 7 lapper. So Phil added more points to his season tally and keep him on target to take the Phoenix Open for the third year in a row. Phil also took the win in the STP Motorsport Powerbike on his Phil Bevan Track Days R1 from the fast starting Roo Cotton. Cotton held his pace and second spot from local man Greg Lewis. Cotton is now in a strong position in the championship after a great weekend on his DTR R1.
Meanwhile Jenning?s was waiting for the Air Racing 600 Open final to show what he could do, he won the qualifier with relative ease after starting on the 4th row. But it was pole for the final after setting the best time. However as the lights changed, Jenning?s was already on the move and the Clerk of the Course slapped a 10 second jump-start penalty on him. Despite lapping a full second quicker than anyone else the final was not quite long enough for his to claw back the time penalty and had to settle for third behind local man and former British championship runner Craig Beggs on his GSXR 600 and Tommy Mountain on his R6. Sam Middlemas returned after his Pembrey injury and grabbed healthy points with 4th place to take some away from current championship leader Jason Oakes who struggled to a 7th place with an evil handling R6. He discovered that his steering damper bolt was loose whilst sat in the holding area and had no time to sort it before being called to the line.
Ryan Saxelby, decided to get a bit of testing in on the RS125 that he owns and prepares for Kyle Ryde ahead of the upcoming Oulton BSB round. He took a convincing win over Elliot Lodge, and early race leader Gavin Perkins. 14 year old Jamie Ashby on the Ducati Coventry RS125 continued his learning year on the GP bike and grabbed the points he needed to see him top the season long 125cc GP championship table.
Max Symonds racked up his sixth win from the last six rounds in the Steve Lynham F125 series on his Symonds Builders Aprilia. He had some early race attention from Aaron Coupland but eventually stretched out a 9-second win.
As expected on one of his favourite circuits Phil Hacker took the win in the MPH Bikes Pre Injection on his very rapid 1984 spec FJ1100 Yamaha. Some 17 plus seconds behind Hacker was the squabbling pair of Adam Jeffery and Nick Colley. Jeffery knew that if Hacker won he had to be second because they are equal on points, but as Hacker disappeared off in front, there was contact between Colley and Jeffery as Jeffery?s AFB R1 was shunted from behind, forcing him onto the grass at the end of lap one. With a bent silencer and a smashed up seat Jeffery was lucky to stay on. Jeffery, the defending Pre Injection champ was determined that the long drive from North Devon would not be in vain and as the red mist came down he set about catching Colley and his R6, a feat he did as he crossed the line just two bike lengths ahead.
Daniel Jackson was back to winning form on his Team Sigie TZ250 Yamaha in the gofasterbits.co.uk 450 open after taking a tumble in the 250 GP ACU National race earlier on in the day. He bounced back with no ill effects to beat Elliot Lodge and Sian Brooks by an impressive 23 seconds. Sticking with 250cc riders but this time the Two-stroke GP Classic, and we saw another win in that series for Rich Grinling on his TZ250 A ahead of Mark Ording. Talking of big winning margins, the biggest of the day was by Ben Marsden in the UK Bike Track days 400 streetstock, where he lapped everyone of his rivals on his GF Racing CBR 400 Honda. Marsden is also in prime championship spot in the Euro Auctions Mini Twins too but for the 4th meeting in a row he was out raced and out paced by the Royal Navy backed Matt Page. Page is ruing the crash he had at Cadwell Park that sees him mathematically o the championship back foot, and is waiting for Marsden to make a mistake?. Which would be very ?un Marsden like?.
Lee Reveley may have grabbed the win in the Performance Red Sound of Thunder on his Eze Racing 1098 Ducati but all eyes were on Duncan Gibson who chased and closed right in on Reveley setting a new class lap record in the process on his JHP AFB 1098 Ducati. He just ran out of laps to challenge for the victory. Early race leader Paul Willis faded after half race distance as his KTM RC8 went a little sick, he eventually came in 5th, loosing valuable points to Sam Middlemas who grabbed third. Being passed by Ricky Elder in the final stages compounded defending champion Willis?s problems.
Shannon Hale put a below par Mallory Park meeting behind her by getting back to winning ways in the A and R Racing Formula 400 category. She took her third win in the class this year on her Black Lion ZXR 400 to head home her nearest rival Max Alexandre. Andy Whitehead was looking odds on to close down Shannon after a steady couple of laps on his ZXR and once in his stride was lapping quicker than his class rivals. Just as he got her in his sights his ZXR failed and retired at the pit lane on lap 4.
Gary Moran took his first win of the year in the Single Cylinder Pirelli UK GP45?s on his Machine Tool Sales.co.uk RMZ Suzuki. After qualifying though it looked like guest rider Ian Gardner would be the man to beat he was lapping 5 seconds a lap quicker than anyone else in the class on the NG Road Racing owned 450 Kawasaki. After doing the sighting lap though Gardner pulled the little GP45 into pit lane with a mystery fault. Chris Harrison was once more well clear in the GP45 Twins to extend his series lead on his very rapid motobits SXV Aprilia.
As we went to press there was still some doubt over the results of the Metzeler DTR Streetstock classes as the scrutineers are awaiting some clarification on the control tyre rules. As it stands at the moment Phil Evans took the flag first in the 1300cc class from Simon O?Donnell, with Evans still using the borrowed CBR 1000 after his own GSXR is still giving him problems after his big Pembrey test day crash. Tom Louth was up for the win after qualifying on pole but crashed out on lap 5?.. it could be the championship defining moment. In the 700cc class Matthew Billington, now back to full fitness after laser treatment for his dislocated shoulder AC joint took the win on his My Gosh Photography 675 Triumph??. I suggest to check out the My Gosh videos on You Tube, very slick, very arty, and set to some cracking music. Current series leader Darrel Jones came home second just one second adrift to keep him in the season long championship-driving-seat. As I said though these results are still to be finalised??we?ll keep you posted.
Anyway next stop Anglesey in North Wales?.Hope to see you there.