Hot diggity dog. GTSA SOUTH EASTERN CENTRE Grasstrack CHAMPIONSHIPS – Race Report and Results
The circuit at Dig Dog Lane was in excellent condition for Sunday’s South Eastern Centre Championships event, and the riders made good use of the well-prepared racing surface, serving up some highly entertaining action on the track all day long. Despite the sunny weather, dust was kept to a minimum throughout the day, only really rearing its ugly head in the final races of the day.
Report and Result Images by Gareth Bemister – Images courtesy of Darren Nokes
The hugely entertaining, traditional Unlimited race saw two 350cc riders chase off like a pair of scalded cats, fighting with each other for the historic, coveted South Eastern Unlimited title. Dave Mears and Mark Giles aboard their 350cc machines were given a headstart and try as Charlie Saunders did, he did not have enough laps to get on terms with the 350 riders. It was Dave Mears who emerged on top in front of Mark Giles in yet another exciting Unlimited race.
15-year-old Charlie Brooks returned to dominant form, winning all four heats in the quarter-litre class, with Tim Greig making the trip down south another fruitful one, clocking up another podium position. Banter admin Russell Little recovered from almost dropping his machine in an early heat to pick up 3rd in front of returnee Chris Still…great to see Chris back for another ride.
In the 350cc class, Dave Mears, fresh from a strong showing at last week’s British Clubman’s Championships, put in four dominating rides. Mark Giles never really had an answer for him. Max Pankhurst, who’d suffered horrific injuries at this very venue two seasons ago, put in some good rides all day long, but was beaten into 3rd by Barry Coates after dropping a heat.
Australian Alex Davies managed to reverse the results of last week’s racing at GW Racing, this time getting the better of Harland Cook in all four heats in convincing fashion. The Aussie was announced last week as a wildcard for the British Masters and in this form, he could be a force to be reckoned with.
British Champ Bob Dolman looked set to take the Upright class final after former champ Stephen Green made a mess of the start. But after fighting his way past the pack, he chased down and passed Dolman heading into the final lap. A highly entertaining Upright final with some of the best Upright riders in the country. Dave Mears completed an exhausting day by finishing 3rd in the race, having held off Green for lap.
The sidecar classes presented riders with a little bit of extra incentive to add to the South Eastern Centre title. The 1000cc Righthand sidecar class carried with it the Mick Steer memorial trophy. Mick, who had strong links to the GTSA club having been a long time member, virtually revolutionised the sport when he started churning out sidecar outfits in the late nineties.
How fitting it was then, when Colin Blackbourn and Carl Pugh took the chequered flag in a star-studded sidecar final aboard…a Steer frame.
The sentimentality didn’t end there, with Mick’s Grandson Bradley Steer passengering Myles Simmons home to second in the final, and Rob Wilson, who had such a close working relationship to Steer and Steer Frames during the hay-day of the manufacturer, finishing third, passengered by Terry Saunters.
The Lefthand sidecar class were racing for the Ernie Penfold trophy. Ernie, a legend of the lefthand sport, won the South Eastern Centre title many times and was the very first Lefthand sidecar champion.
Having spent much of the last two weeks working at the venue, it was another fitting victor in the class, as Will Penfold, passengered by new father Ricky Pay stormed to a perfect win…three heat wins and a final. Martin Cuff and Colin Clarke tried hard to make up ground on the leaders after a poor start and looked very quick in the closing stages of the race. They managed to catch up and pass the impressive Joe Butcher and Michael Chittenden before an error on the final bend allowed Butcher/Chittenden to pounce and pick up a deserved 2nd. Excellent racing in the Lefthand class, who are warming up nicely for their British title in a few weeks at Ledbury.
So there we have it, a great day’s racing on a superb circuit. Well done to all of the 2017 South Eastern Centre Champions and well done to all at GTSA for putting on such a slickly run meeting.