by JohnNicholas on 05/04/2010
Whilst a family bereavement has caused its fair share of emotional turmoil for Vincent Page and Lesley White over the last week their hard-core Dunlop Maxima rider Neil Berry brought smiles to their faces over the bank holiday weekend taking a very credible 4th place overall in the O.R.P.A. two day British Championship.
The annual two day event takes which place at the Horsham circuit on the Sunday moving to Northchapel for the second days racing on the Monday provided a contrasting mix in terms of weather conditions this year with rider’s capabilities being seriously challenged on Sunday with pounding rain and heavy mud. Twenty miles down the road twenty four hours later and the Northchapel paddock awoke to sunshine and superb racing which eventually started throwing up dust. (Typical British weather)
Having hit the score sheet with a 5th place in the open class last year at the 2 day event the dedicated Berry opted for the highly competitive 250 two stroke class this year in a bid to showcase the potential of the quarter litre Maico in the most popular two stroke class. Turning down the offer of a tuned powerhouse he opted for a completely standard motor determined to prove the potential of an “out of the crate” bike running against what he knew would be some very well prepared machinery.
As racing got underway at Horsham, his biggest competitor was the weather, but the baby M.M.X. fired out of the gate to hit the first bend in 7th and wasting no-time he dived round the outside of one and then the inside of two to secure 4th place which he held until the end of the moto.
By the second outing the track was sorting the men from the boys and again Berry launched out of the gate and rode with his head (not his ego) moving up into third by time the chequered flag was shown.
As the gate dropped for the third and final time on Sunday he headed for the holeshot but got pushed wide with the pursuing field charging relentlessly through the mud behind him. As the anger at his predicament started to set in, so the throttle opened, and the Maicos amazing cornering ability saw the young protagonist storm past three riders on one bend before turning hard and heading off after the leading trio. Calculating his best opportunities for overtaking on the next few laps Berry moved into second place as the last lap board was shown and despite closing down the leader had to settle for second a lap later.
Rolling into the early mourning sky, the big orange thing we commonly refer to as the sun decided to show itself on Monday producing ideal conditions and as racing got underway it was more of the same but minus the rain.
Keeping the score sheet real in the first two moto’s with a 5th and a 4th Berry knew a top five place beckoned and found himself 4th after the first lap of the last race. Not happy, he worked the Maico harder claiming the third spot before storming into second a lap later. With two laps left frustration set in as the pre-season injury started to show itself leaving him unable to hold on to second spot and the early race hard work slowly drifted by as he was pushed back to fourth by time the race drew to a close.
Speaking afterwards Neil said. “Having spent the last year racing a 320 I am really enjoying the new 250 and its been a fantastic, if wet weekend. I am a little annoyed that I couldn’t hold onto second spot in the last race but I feel it was great to show a standard bike and get this sort of result against what is inevitably some well tuned equipment. A big thanks to Dunlop whose rubber helped me get as much grip as was physically possible and to all our other sponsors who have shown their continued support this year”.
Big thanks to Caroline Horan who struggled with her camera all weekend against appalling weather and light levels.