Big time battles at Frittenden! Battle of Britain Grasstrack – Race Report & Results
A tough day’s racing at Frittenden Raceway in Kent produced some fantastic racing across all classes on Sunday as riders battled through stifling heat and demanding circuit conditions. The circuit, voted the country’s best in 2017, looked in tip top condition once again. But heavy storms overnight left the well-prepared venue soft and spongy, meaning racers would need to be fit and determined if they wanted to take the glory in one of the country’s oldest events.
Report and Result Images courtesy of Gareth Bemister – Action images courtesy of Sandy Bemister
The day ended in tragedy in the 1000cc Lefthand sidecar class. Going into the winner-take-all six lap final, former British Champions Will Penfold and Ricky Pay had won all of their heats in dominant style. They were being closely followed by Martin Cuff and Colin Clark, who had taken two heat wins of their own. The first attempt at running the final saw the meeting ending for two outfits. Tony Penfold/Carl Bell launched skyward as the tapes went up, throwing Bell from the outfit. The two were not able to go in the re-run and reserves Chris Berwick and Kayleigh Booth took their place. In the re-run, Penfold and Pay once again took the lead and looked to have things under control, but on Lap 5, Cuff and Clark began to make serious in-roads towards them, cutting their lead down dramatically. As they entered the 6th lap, the leader’s machine flipped and cartwheeled spectacularly, throwing both driver and passenger mercilessly at the floor. A long delay ensued, as Ricky Pay’s badly broken arm was attended to by paramedics. The accident curtailed any more action on the day and all remaining classes results were declared over heats.
Before the incident which ended the day, two very good six lap finals were enjoyed by the sizeable crowd. The Upright Solo final produced a fantastic chase-down situation, as former European finalist Bob Dolman led early on. Throughout the race, Stephen Green gained ground on Dolman, until a mistake was made exiting the last bend on lap 5 and Green was able to capitalise. From here, he pulled away and won an excellent race.
The other final which did take place also produced a nail-biting climax to the racing. Reigning British Champions Josh Goodwin/Liam Brown had gone through their heats unbeaten and looked like they would be the ones to catch. As the tapes went up, however, it was in-form duo Simon Beard and Ant Goodwin who shot into an early lead. Try as they might, Goodwin/Brown couldn’t get within striking distance of the leaders and had to settle for second. Beard and Goodwin are in tremendous form at the moment, this being their 3rd weekend in a row with a win. They could be hitting form at a perfect time for the British Championships in 3 weeks time.
The 250cc Solos were due to have a final, but instead the decision was taken to run 4 point-scoring legs, with the highest point scorer being declared winner. There was no doubting the winner on the day, as Tim Greig took his immensely quick Husqvarna to four convincing wins. Ben Ilsley had nothing to answer with, riding comfortably in second. Whilst the front two led away, the pursuing pack battled fiercely as several racers chopped places. Eventual 3rd place rider, Lee Charles had to fight for every result throughout, as John Hollingsbee-Pert put immense pressure on the Cornishman. Even the final places of the class were being scrapped over.
In the 350cc Solo class, the result was eventually declared over fastest lap times. Experienced Kent riders Mark Giles and Dave Mears continued duelling, as they have all season. Giles won the first and last heats, whilst Mears won the 2nd and 3rd. But it was Mears who posted the fastest race time, so this time he gets the nod for the win. These two will no doubt continue to battle each other throughout the rest of the season.
Dave Mears was also in good form in the 500cc solo class, winning all three heats. The only rider to match that feat was Australian sensation Alex Davies. The final was due to be run after the Lefthand Sidecars accident, therefore positions were declared after the heats. This time, the timekeeper went against Mears and Davies’ blisteringly quick fastest times were enough to confirm the win for the 2017 National Gradings List winner. Stuart Mears (Dave’s son) continues to put in impressive performances in his return to regular racing. He took two wins of his own and always looked good throughout the day. And another returning rider looking good was James Theobald. He had several solid rides to claim a top 6 spot. Eastern Centre racer Richard Reed was the only other heat winner besides Mears Snr and Jnr and Alex Davies.
The 1000cc Sidecars once again produced some excellent racing, but only three crews managed to win a heat. Mark Cossar/Carl Blyth looked their usual super-fast selves. They won all three of their races convincingly. Younger brother Tom, and his passenger Wayne Rickards didn’t have things quite so straightforwardly. They had to battle and chase hard to catch and pass Paul Whitelam/Alan Elliott in their second ride to complete three heat wins. Whitelam, who clearly wasn’t happy with the performance of his machine throughout the day, succumbed to the hard charging Cossar on the final lap of an excellent race. The other winning crew was Colin Blackbourn/Carl Pugh. They have been looking in fine form this season and took three convincing wins. The final was to take place after the declaration of the meeting, therefore it was down to the timekeeper once again to split the three maximum-scoring crews. Unsurprisingly, Cossar/Blyth had set a blistering race time which was almost 3 seconds faster than his brother’s- enough to be declared winners.
It was a shame to end a good day in such a way, but, of course, all thoughts are now with the injured riders, as well as hopes for full and speedy recoveries. As well as the accident with Penfold/Pay, earlier in the day James Hogg and Scott Goodwin had taken a nasty spill in an incident, leaving Goodwin with a badly broken nose. Lefthand riders Tommy Tom Penfold/Will Naden crashed heavily too in a heat, exiting the pit bend. Driver Tom has suffered multiple injuries, including a broken collarbone. A tough day’s racing all round, but yet another spectacular, well-run Grasstrack event held by the Frittenden club…roll on the Summer Pairs meeting!