by Paul Harris on 06/25/2009
The Fuchs Silkolene British 2 Stroke Championship went up north for round five of the world’s leading two-stroke only series – as always, preparation of the jumpy Yorkshire circuit was perfect, and an overcast morning burning off into a glorious sunny afternoon was just the icing on the cake.
In contrast, on the evidence of the result sheets, the one thing that didn’t go perfectly was practice and qualifying for Matt Coles – the Honda mounted Expert missed the 125 A group by less than half a second, consigning himself to an afternoon in the B group. Once racing got underway, however, Coles showed he had pace in hand to lap some five seconds under what he managed in qualifying and, as a consequence, just ran away with all three 125 B motos – Mark Bland fired out of the gate to holeshot moto one ahead of Ben Clark and Adrian Jessop with Coles some distance back, but it was just a handful of laps before Coles was through, efficiently picking his way through the pack. By the time he got there, Clark had a slight gap over Mark Mcdonnell, Tom Preston and Aiden Wharton – Clark was heroic in his efforts to get through the rhythm section, but he just kept coming up short and the silky Coles just gobbled up his lead and ran off into the distance, with Clark ultimately collecting Preston in the midst of the same section, knocking them both out of an increasingly energetic battle for second.
Macdonnell and Wharton went at it for the remainder of their race, with Mac crossing the line to take second behind Coles and ahead of Wharton. Coles made no mistake in race two, leading from the start with Mike Dowson, Anthony Thomson, Wharton and Craig Polden rounding out the top five – Polden went all out early doors and charged through to second, leaving Dowson to fend off the advances of a fast-moving Alex Finnegan. Just as the fight for second warmed up, so battle commenced over fourth place, with Mcdonnell, Tom Lightbrown, Wharton and Steve Whapshott all engaging in a traditionally feisty 125-flavoured battle, with Polden running out a strong second ahead of Finnegan, and the melee behind finishing Lightbrown, Macdonnell, Wharton and Whapshott.
For moto three, Mark Bland again got a killer start, heading the pack as they cleared the Red Bull leap for the first time but Coles wasted no time gliding his way through from sixth to pass Bland for the lead through the rhythm section on lap one. Polden was up into third and looking menacing as the leaders edged a slight gap over Dowson and Lightbrown – Polden managed to find his way into second and set off after Coles, as Dowson fought his way up to and past Bland for third, but Warren Clifton was showing signs of intent further down the field, battling his way into third but by the time he got there, the leading duo were away down the road.
James Dunn was the big news in the 125 A class – the fourteen year old was simply sensational on his 125 debut, stepping up from an 85 and making it all look easy. Dunn led right from the start of moto one with championship leader Jim Davies second, but Davies, in considerable pain after a hefty off at the British Championships a week ago, had Lloyd Morgan right with him from the start. Charging through the rhythm section, Welshman Morgan managed a heroic leap through into second place and immediately set off after Dunn as Davies put up a stern defence against Darren Redman and Jack Plowman – up front Dunn had been edging away but Morgan began to close the slender gap, taking a run out of the rhythm section and attempting to double two of the step-ups on the back straight to jump into the lead. Right alongside leader Dunn, Morgan was absolutely full bore and gave it everything but the gamble failed to pay off – Morgan impacted heavily on the face of the following jump, sadly suffering injuries that would put him out for the rest of the day. With Morgan out, Redman took up the chase, edging his way through after the lower whoop section, but some last lap retaliation by Dunn was enough to secure victory. Jack Plowman took an excellent third ahead of Davies, Danny Tollet, Charles Statt (who came from a long way down the field) and Jamie Smith, mounted on a pristine 1989 KX125.
Dunn holeshot race two ahead of Highway Oliver, Davies, Stephens and Redman – Stephens wasted no time in taking second place, but Redman was carrying even more pace and was rapidly into second. Jamie Smith, now on more contemporary machinery, battled his way into second – a rather optimistic pass attempt into the hairpin left them both on the floor, however. Whilst Redman circulated slowly into retirement, Smith would remount to attempt a serious challenge on Davies, making a far more civilized pass in the same place before setting off after the leader as Davies worked at staying out of the hands of Plowman. Smith would close in on Dunn, but an incident somewhere on the circuit caused him to drop back.
Highway Oliver led them away form the start of moto three but Stevens jumped his way straight through into the lead, Smith following him into second within half a lap. Oliver then headed a freight train of Matthew Thomas, Jake Page, Dunn, Plowman, Lee Holland, Redman, Davies, Tollett and Luke Dean – as the pack squabbled over the final step on podium, Smith closed down Stevens and calmly made his way through before the halfway mark and gradually eked out a gap. The battle behind the lead pair raged but one by one the contenders dropped out until just Dunn, Redman and Davies were left to slug it out – Redman actually made it through into third but Dunn battled back to retake the spot before both Redman and Davies finally made it through into third and fourth, crossing the line barely a second apart. For the valiant Davies, a day that threatened to be a rearguard action in defence of his series lead turned into an unexpected bonanza as he extended the gap at the head of the field.
The Open B class kicked off with Lance Harland leading Danny Page, Tom Holland and Sean Doyle as the pack snaked through and over Whitby’s curves and jumps – Doyle began to pick his way towards the front, taking the lead within a couple of laps as he and Harland began to edge a slight gap over Page, Holland, Ben Anstie and Jacob Grossman. But as the race wore on, Doyle started to edge further away and Harland got sucked back into the chasing pack, even as Holland was forced to slow and Jason Kendrick came storming through to join the battle for second – Doyle would take the win ahead of Harland, Page, Kendrick and Anstie. It was Kendrick who led moto two early doors, ahead of Matthew Eccles, Page, Darryl Hall and Holland, but Doyle and Hall came screaming through to relegate Kendrick to third – Harland was lurking in the background, however, and steadily worked his way through the pack to challenge for the lead, making a pass stick on the very last lap. Mark Cardwell was holding down fourth ahead of Holland and Page, but the latter pair disappeared before the chequers flew, promoting Anstie and Kendrick to fifth and sixth. Doyle came out firing for the last race, leading Anstie, Eccles, Hall and Grossman from the off, but Anstie came charging through to lead at the end of the first lap and began to build a lead. Harland was knocking on the door of the top five and making progress as the pack first arrested Anstie’s escape, then began to eat into his lead – Doyle ultimately made a pass for the lead at the end of the back straight and Hall followed him straight through as Anstie showed signs of fading. Harland however was the man on the move, working through the pack to nab second from Hall, but Doyle was not to be denied up front, hanging on for a well deserved victory in what had been one of the most closely contested classes of the day.
There was only one man in it for the Open A class – James Noble made his debut for his new STR Honda team on an old steel-framed CR500 and just annihilated the field. Even getting stuck in the gate leaving him dead last in moto one, plus a minor mid-race tumble, couldn’t stop him from just galloping through the field to win at a canter – by lap three he was into fifth as Lewis Rose, Mark Eastwood and Open class debutante Jack Brunell tried to escape up front, but their efforts were in vain as local lad Noble was just unstoppable. Reigning champion Eastwood took second whilst Brunell survived a brief off for third ahead of Rose and Matt Moffatt.
Noble made no mistakes for race two, using the potent motor to fire out of the gate into a lead he wasn’t to lose, as Marc Dean, Christian Taylor and Eastwood headed the chasing pack. Within a couple of laps Eastwood was through into second but he had company in the form of Brunell, until the youngster slid off over the tunnel jump. He was quickly back up and running but had dropped back into the mass brawl over third – Brunell, now racing mostly in Germany, made short work of getting through the pack and was back into third within a lap, Rose leading Moffatt over the line for fourth and fifth after Taylor crashed heavily out of the race.
For the final moto of the day Noble was again quickest out of the gate, ahead of Alistair Clarke, an unusually subdued Luke Hill, Adam Reynolds and Zac Blackwell – as Noble ran off and hid from the rest of the pack, Hill made his way swiftly into second, with Reynolds following him through and a Mark Eastwood on the fight back from a comparatively average start. Easto was second by the end of the first lap, but Noble was long gone by then – Rocket Reynolds made his way past Hill and showed signs of going after Eastwood as Rose started to push Hill with Lewis Tombs in close attendance. Rose would drop back after an incident with five minutes left, however, leaving Tombs to take the fight to Hill – the U Tag Yamaha rider would make it past Hill’s Service Honda CR500 as Rose recovered to lead Blackwell and Clark over the line.
Four weeks from now the series reconvenes at the excellent Canada Heights for an intense double header weekend of motocross – two strokes and women’s championship on Saturday, and the Red Bull Pro Nationals on Sunday. If you’re a fan of the sport, there’ll be no finer place to be…
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