It’s been a fascinating journey watching the 2 stroke fight back – in the UK at least, the vanguard was led by Chris Barker and the brilliant DEP British 2 Stroke Championships. Chris built a fantastic series out of nothing, but when the MCF took it on and built it up, by taking it to a higher, more professional level, there was arguably an impact on the club racer who wanted a simple day’s racing – there’s no doubt that MCF, by running it alongside the Red Bull Pro Nationals and the Elite Youth Cup, have raised the profile of the 2 Stroke British Championships, but it meant that a lot of the riders who made up the five full gates at the start of 2008 missed out on a spot in 2009 and more so for 2010.
For 2010 the limit was set at one 125 gate and one Open gate. Also, rightly or wrongly, for some riders it felt like the series had shifted away from a hard-core 2 stroke championship to just being a sideline support series to a mainly four stroke championship – it’s still the most prestigious 2 stroke title in the UK, but the focus has maybe shifted from where it was back when Chris kicked the whole thing off.
But for the clubman rider who wants his no-frills pre-mix fix, another series pulled up to the gate for ‘10 – Darren Hudson decided to use the Cumbria Twin Shock series as a platform on which to build a new 2 stroke championship aimed at the same rider who grew so disillusioned with the relentless 4 stroke onslaught in the first half of the decade.
As a fan of 2 stroke racing, I managed to get along to the second round of the series at the sublime Hawkstone Park, and I had what ranks amongst one of the most enjoyable weekend’s racing I think I’ve ever been to – it’s hard to pinpoint what made it so good. The weather was great, which helps, and the racing was brilliant, but it was the atmosphere that made it special, even with a lack of spectators – it was almost like everyone was there with the sole purpose of having a good time, and the racing was almost incidental.
That’s not to say that that it wasn’t taken seriously – it was, there were some seriously quick riders and everyone was on full loud all the way through the field. But you could wander through the paddock and chat to anyone, and when the racing finished for the day on Saturday, everyone was tipping back a few, whether around a barbeque in the pits or dancing to the rock band in the beer tent. Not to put the rose tinted spectacles on or anything, but it was just like the good old days…
There was plenty of racing to watch at round two of the MD Racing/UFO Vets and 2 Stroke Championship. In the 125 class, 2009 Fucsh Silkolene 125 Junior champion Matthew Thomas was on blistering form, unbeaten over five motos on the weekend with a field that included (on Saturday, at least) former AMCA Superclass champion Charlie Hollis.
Hollis took a brace of seconds in the opening two motos but went missing in action on Sunday, Matthew Wild taking advantage to take second overall ahead of Alex Finnegan, Josh Quinlan and Ash Crossley.
The 250s saw Alex Rach win in imperious form, Richard Chin heading a frantic battle for second ahead of Lewis Farrow, Kevin Green and Craig Marsden, whilst 500 victory went to Justin Penty, ahead of Steve Ward and Sean Hodgson. The 500 class was grouped together with the Twin Shock class, which was won by Rach, this time on an air-cooled Maico of circa 1981 vintage, which made for a fascinating matchup – Penty on his aluminium-framed CR500 was plenty quick but he was outrun by Rach on what was clearly a very well sorted Maico. Who says you need all the latest kit…?
Kerry Wilson won the Ladies in front of Stacey Fisher and Louise Williams, whilst Gary Jones emerged triumphant in the Vets class ahead of Colin Thomas and Peter Taylor and the MX1 podium saw Steve Wade, Alex Cox and Tom Crittenden whilst the MX2 pode was Jake Millward, Tim James and Luke Newman.. But whilst the on-track action was of the typically frenetic two-stroke type (even the four stroke races were good, though it pains my heart to admit it), the atmosphere off track was a revelation – relaxed and happy, it was all about turning up and just racing a great track. No frills, no special effects, just good solid racing – I’ll leave the final word to the Facebook summation of Dan Grove, who was one of a vast number of happy racers I spoke to. “Blinger of a weekend on the scrammy!” he says – couldn’t have put it better myself…