Shanes beast of the East! Eastern Centre Grasstrack Championships – Race Report & Results
Pouring rain on the eve of Eastern Centre Championships meeting on Sunday was not enough to dampen the spirits of the 500cc Sidecar Association as they hosted an excellent club meeting in preparation for their British Championships event next month. The racing surface, although inevitably being affected by the rain the day before, still held up well and produced fantastic racing across many classes, as racers entered in their droves.
Report and Result Images by Gareth Bemister – Action & Podium images courtesy of Martin Isley
Perhaps the strongest lineup of the day was seen in the 500cc Solos class. Edward Kennett, having been resting since damaging his knee at Swingfield last month, looked in tremendous form, winning his first two rides. But the injured knee began to flare, and Kennett was forced to throw in the towel after just two rides. European champ James Shanes won the other heat of the big solos, before crashing in his second ride. Australian Alex Davies took two wins, after placing second in his first ride. Shanes duly won the final heat. The points scored in the heats would be added to points scored in the final to decide overall winners. James Shanes, after his accident earlier in the day, won the final with a fantastic ride, leading home Alex Davies, with last week’s winner Charley Powell finishing 3rd. But because of that fall, Shanes finished 5th overall on points, and Davies had done enough to win overall. Experienced Kent racer Martyn Sturgeon had put in several consistent rides to finish 3rd overall.
The 250cc Solos were dominated by Charlie Brooks, whilst Mark Giles and Dave Mears once again tussled over the 350cc event…Giles once again came out on top. This rivalry is sure to rage throughout the year.
The 500cc sidecars boasted a good lineup, but it looked like British champs Josh Goodwin and Liam Brown would have the edge. They won all of their heats and led the final, but mechanical problems would stop them. Simon Beard/Ant Goodwin were able to capitalise. Beard/Goodwin, having never finished lower than second (including a heat win of their own), took the meeting win outright by winning the final. Aaron Vale and Stephen Vale, fresh from a great ride in Ludinghausen midweek, rode solidly to finish 2nd overall, and 2nd in the final. Goodwin/Brown’s 3 heat wins were enough to secure 3rd.
Liam Brown teamed up with Colin Blackbourn as, once again, he performed double duties. His luck, however, was much more in his favour in the ‘big chair’ class. Blackbourn/Brown won all of their heats. Blackbourn has looked in good form this season. Some great battles raged behind them, with Tom Cossar/Wayne Rickards taking their new cross-plane set up to 2nd place, beating Rob Wilson/Bradley Steer in two out of the four races. Clint Blondel and Kev Bennett made the journey from the Channel Islands and put in some good rides, narrowly missing out on 3rd place via countback.
Eastern Centre racer Stephen Green won the Upright class convincingly, with Midland Centre racer Tim Curnock being forced to follow him home in all four heats.
Once again, the Eastern Centre led the way with Youth Grasstrack racing, having excellent lineups in all four classes. The Auto Cadets (the youngest of the children racing) looks very competitive this season. Last week’s winner at Ledbury, Harry Cutler, could only manage 6th this week as the other children got to grips with their machinery. Ollie Binns looked very impressive, winning his second meeting of the season.
Another Channel Islander, Guernsey’s Thomas Vining won the cadet class as he continues to make waves in the sport. He beat British Champion Cooper Rushen, who is looking quicker and quicker since stepping up classes.
Cameron Taylor returned to winning ways, beating all of his adversaries in every heat. He led Norwich New Stars regular Kenzie Cossey convincingly, with Vinny Smith, Zak Batey and Ashton Vale all scrapping over 3rd.
Finally, the older boys in the Intermediate class put on a good show. But, once again, nobody could match Jake Mulford. His closest rival, Sam Norris rode well to beat Aidan Arthur, who is still getting to grips with the bigger class.
Finally, the GT140 class saw a former British Champion dominate the event. Adam Shipp used to compete in the old ‘moped speedway’ events in the Eastern Centre, which this new GT140 class has evolved from. He returned to his roots to win the event, leading home Chris Mackett, who was the only other rider to win a race in the round robin event. This class seems to be growing weekly, with this meeting attracting 14 racers, including plenty of names from the past!
So now thoughts for the 500cc Sidecar Association turn to their hosting of the British Championships, being held on Sunday 17th June at the same venue at Writtle, near Chelmsford. The country’s very best 250cc and 350cc solos, 500cc and 1000cc Lefthand sidecars will do battle to determine who is Britain’s Number 1 for 2018.