Bringing it home! Greenfield Dirt Track Team Report – Flat Track Nationals Round 4
Round four of the Indian Motorcycle Flat Track Nationals, presented by the Dirt Track Riders Association, took place at Team Greenfield’s home track, the UK’s first ever purpose-built Dirt Track racing facility commonly known as, Greenfield Dirt Track. The July meeting at Greenfield was also the only TT race of the year, with the riders taking to the newly extended TT track.
Report by Leah Tokelove – Images courtesy of Braking Point Images, Tim Holderness and William Hales
Like the meeting prior to Round Four the Pro’s and Intermediates took to the track for timed qualifying Saturday afternoon, with racing beginning at 6:30pm. After two timed qualifying sessions both of Team Greenfield’s Pro riders looked very comfortable on their bikes, with Pickering qualifying third fastest and Bailo qualifying fifth. Local rider Toby Hales qualified fastest followed by Gary Birtwistle and Richard Mason qualifying fourth, just in front of Bailo.
As the evening’s racing got underway the Team Greenfield riders dominated their heat races, with both riders winning their respective heats, allowing them to automatically transfer to the semi-final. The home crowd were in absolute awe as Team Greenfield owner, rider and Greenfield track builder, Pickering steamed over the line. The semi-final saw the Team Greenfield riders line up alongside one and other. From the green light Gerard Bailo gave a master class in TT riding, with his teammate George Pickering following him across the line in second place. It was a 1, 2 for Team Greenfield in the semi-final, the perfect outcome. The semi-final success earned both riders a front row start for the final, with Gerard taking first pick and George picking third.
The fifteen-lap final of the Pro/Intermediate class was set to be the spectacle of the day, with two intermediate riders making the final, the TT certainly mixed the results up. Team Greenfield’s chief mechanic, Steve Nichols, looked confident with both riders going into this final event. As the green light signalled Gary Birtwistle made an unbelievable start to lead Gerard Bailo coming out of turn one. Bailo relentlessly pursued Birtwistle, doing everything he could to put the pressure on the first lap leader. Bailo increased the pressure and forced his way up the inside of Birtwistle, on the right hander before the jump, creating space we didn’t even know was there. As Bailo zoomed past Birtwistle he began to pull away, he looked to be the outright favourite to win this race. But Bailo pushed himself too hard once past Birtwistle, he tried to create a gap immediately between him and the rest of the field, this resulted in him losing it and coming down in the first section of the TT. As the rest of the field went past Bailo, Pickering moved into second position as he rode defensively to hold off Championship leader Toby Hales and Richard Mason in the early stages of the race. Bailo was able to keep his bike running and re-join the pack, by jumping straight back on. While Bailo battled his way through the ranks, picking rider after rider off, showing immense capabilities, grit and determination, Pickering was able to pull a gap on Mason and Hales who were in their own battle for third place. Once he stopped riding defensively Pickering focused on tracking Birtwistle down, who had pulled a significant lead on the rest of the field. Meanwhile, Bailo did the near impossible and made his way up to fifth position, where he had his sights set on Richard Mason. With only a lap to go Pickering was set for second place, with no immediate pressure he crossed the line behind race winner Gary Birtwistle. Gerard however crashed again, this time on the left-handed turn after the jump, but he had pulled away from sixth position that much he was able to quickly get back on the bike and not lose his place he had fought so well for. Crossing the line in fifth position Gerard Bailo had everyone stunned.
The Youth Senior Class supported the Pro and Intermediate racing on the Saturday evening. Team Greenfield’s Youth Senior Max Inman took to the track to race his first ever TT on his 250. Max was so impressive Saturday night, after relatively little bike time he looked so confident on his 250 and took in his stride all that the TT track through at him. Race after race he looked so much stronger and more competitive, really taking on board all that was said to him. Max again showed that he was a quick learner and was really able to hang on to the pack to bring home third overall and securing his spot on the podium.
Fergus Bluff the Team’s Youth Intermediate rider and other local lad was unfortunately absent from Round Four, due to other commitments. It was a great shame as he has shown so much confidence on the track and would have proved difficult to beat. We look forward to seeing Fergus back for Amman Valley.
The Team’s youngest rider Toby Johnson was back out on track. Toby did a great job racing the TT. It was clear that his winter riding at the nearby Motocross tracks had benefited him for elements of the TT and it was great to see his clutch control massively improving. We look forward to seeing Toby continue to make improvements.
The weekend was massively successful for all elements of Team Greenfield. To produce such a quality National meeting and to prep the track to perfection, the fantastic Team results were just the icing on the cake and it is fair to say that nothing could of gone any better. The true spirt of Greenfield really glistened over the meeting and none of it would have been possible without the countless hours put in by the whole team at Greenfield.
Racing will return to Greenfield Dirt Track in September, for the final race meeting of the year on our oval Dirt Track.