Noble and Davies nail it at Landrake…
James Noble and Jim Davies came away victorious from round four of the Fuchs Silkolene British 2 Stroke Championships, but it wasn’t plain sailing even for the overall winners. The weather had been kind during the lead-up to the event and the bowsers were watering the track as of Saturday evening, but a heavy squall bought torrential rain and gales to the Cornish race track at about half three on Sunday morning, the horrendous conditions sticking about throughout the morning before the sun managed to break through and turned the track from barely ride able into almost perfect.
Lloyd Morgan was the fastest man out of the gate in the first 125 A moto, although Luke Dean briefly poked a front wheel ahead of the Welshman through turn one. Tim Heasman paddled his way into second as Jim Davies overcame a rubbish start to end the first lap in an astonishing third after dodging a massive pile-up after the lengthy first turn that saw the fast-starting Mark Bland and his TM buried beneath an avalanche of bikes and riders.
This early on, the track was still fairly hard-packed with a layer of slippery brown greasy water over it, which meant that conditions were both treacherous and blinding – with a decent start Morgan was straight past Dean into the lead and immediately had a massive advantage as everyone behind instantly got filled in. Jake Page had Dave Willet for company as they battled for fourth place on the opening lap, but the sloppy condition rendered everyone else more or less unrecognizable further back – by lap two, Morgan was a mile down the road ahead of Davies and Willet as the pack spread out, conditions so bad that there were fallers everywhere and every lap was just a series of mistakes and incidents strung together.
But although Morgan was able to extend his gap, so that he entered the final lap with an advantage of around twenty seconds, Willet had been relentlessly sneaking up on Davies, crossing the line maybe two seconds in arrears. As the pair hit back markers, it seemed like Davies had enough in hand to take second, but Willet summoned up something special to make an impossible pass somewhere in the final yards before the finish for second place.
Race two was all set for more of the same, with Morgan leading from Ash Harland, Darren Redman, Tim Heasman, Dan Arnold and Davies, but Morgan would early on drop the KTM in a nasty-looking spill after a high-speed downhill drop-off – straight up and back into the fray in seventh, the Welshman seemed a tad dazed and was unable to regain his former speed.
Harland took over the lead but within a handful of laps he was heading backwards with a blown shock as Arnold went into battle with Redman and Davies, the three of them trailing Heasman. As the trio eased up on the leader, Heasman was aware of what was to come – charging downhill towards a hairpin, Heasman knew he had Arnold trailing him to the outside and delayed his entry as much as he could to prevent Arnold from cutting back beneath him, but the wily LPE Kawasaki rider just waited until Heasman was committed before changing his line to challenge for the lead. Their shenanigans allowed Davies to join the fun and he was soon into second but Arnold was in fine form, edging away for the win.
Race three was epic – Sean Stevens led from Morgan, Redman, Davies and Heasman with Arnold down in seventh, but former schoolboy ace Stevens had the closing pack right on his tail with Morgan all over him. Davies made his way through the pack, taking the lead on lap five as he passed Stevens behind the start line, but Arnold was starting to move further back, up to fourth by this point before Stevens and Morgan dropped down the field, leaving Davies and Arnold to battle for the win. Arnold slowly snuck up before making a move on the inside of the corner before the whoops, sneaking out a win with barely a lap and a half left but it was Davies who took the overall victory.
The Open A class was a two horse race all day long – right from the start of race one, Luke Hill took holeshots for fun on the mighty Service Honda CR500 but Scott Elderfield and James Noble were always right there and were the class of the field on pure pace. Mark Eastwood was neck and neck with Hill into the first turn for race one, but the reigning champion got pushed wide within a couple of corners, allowing Elderfield and Matthew White through.
Dave Willet was sixth behind Noble away from the start but a small off on lap one cost him a few places – another crash a handful of laps later left the Yamaha rider on the sidelines in some discomfort and he was to play no further part in the day’s proceedings, making the day sadly remarkable because the Ironman normally plays a major part in every A race.
Noble was quickly into third as Elderfield began to mount a serious challenge for the lead, the British championship front runners moving into the first two places with Hill dropping down into a comfortable third – Noble had the edge on pace though, driving past Elderfield into a lead he held to the flag ahead of Elderfield, Hill, White and Eastwood.
Hill holeshot race two as well but Elderfield and Noble were through into first and second before the end of the lap, Tony Cuddy and White holding fourth and fifth. The leaders were nose and tail for maybe half the race before Noble managed to find a way through, and they pulled a sizable gap over third, with Hill succumbing to a charge by Lewis Rose, and Noble managed to eke out a small gap over Elderfield by the close, with Rose leading Hill, Eastwood, White and the rest of the pack home a long way down the road behind the front pair.
Hill took his third holeshot of the day in race three but Elderfield was again right there and straight into the lead, trying to escape from Noble – Eastwood this time was mired in the pack but a collision halfway round lap one left him on the floor amid a sprinkling of broken Suzuki plastics with the front pipe of his Honda badly crushed and torn. Undeterred, he set off once more from almost dead last, the holed pipe announcing his presence before he came into view, and managed to recover to an excellent 12th place, his rather vocal bike just sneaking in under the sound limit at the close.
Up front, Noble took a handful of laps to get into third ahead of Hill and by then Elderfield had a useful lead, but Noble just spat on his hands and went to work whittling down the gap, pulling away from the third placed Hill – as the clock ticked down, Noble caught the youngster and immediately made a move for the lead as they entered the whoop section side by side, but a bobble as they left the whoops allowed Elderfield to get the drive and squirt his Honda back into the lead. The pair were wheel to wheel with Elderfield just refusing to be beaten but as they climbed the start straight for the final time, Noble put in an outside move that put him alongside for the last couple of corners – there was a clash and it looked as thought Noble had made it through but on the brink of defeat Elderfield somehow returned the compliment and barged his way back into the lead for the win, the pair of them again a mile in front of Rose, Hill and Cuddy. It was a truly scintillating battle.
Dean Tucker made the early running in the first combined 125/Open B group as the riders struggled to get round in the atrocious conditions, with Tom Preston and Mark McDonnell in close attendance. The three engaged in an epic battle for the lead as Nick Banks closed in, but mistakes were rife on the slippery surface, Preston staying upright as the others fell around him. Ben Brewer made a charge that saw him through into the lead, Preston staying on for second ahead of Billy Parry and Warren Clifton.
Brewer led them away in race two as well, ahead of Dean Tucker, the flying Banks and Steve Harris, before Harris suffered a hit that knocked him ten places down the field. Banks was soon into second and closing the leader down, charging through for the win as Kit Delaney moved past Preston into a distant third, the front two a mile down the road.
Preston made an awesome start to lead race three ahead of Delaney, but Banks was again the class of the field, charging through to take a second win ahead of Delaney as Preston just managed to hold off Harris on the line, the NTG Yamaha rider coming from well outside the top ten to challenge for the final podium spot.
The series takes a five week break now before heading north to Whitby – for fans of pre-mix there’ll be no better place to be than the Yorkshire track on the 21st of June, just inland from the North Sea.