Worth the wait! FROXFIELD FLYER Grasstrack – Race Report and Results
Patient spectators waited a long time in the sun at Waterlooville club’s first Grassstrack for over a decade after an awful looking accident in Race 5 caused a long delay, a visit from the air ambulance, and a departure of the event’s paramedic. Thoughts as always with the injured riders, whom unfortunately came from the same racing team and family. Best get well wishes to Barrie Bennett and his passenger Eifion Hughes and their sons Shaun Hughes and Louis Bennett. James Hogg and Cameron Godden were also tangled up in the incident that stopped the meeting before it really got a chance to get going. A long wait ensued, and some riders and spectators departed, but those who stayed were treated to some top-notch racing on a circuit which divided opinion.
Race Report and Result Images courtesy of Gareth Bemister – Images courtesy of Tracey Bree of Methanol Moments Photography
The Lefthand Sidecar class featured an unusual lineup. Former 3x British championship passenger Richard Webb, who has now turned to driving his own outfit with passenger Jake Pope, clashed with another name known for his passenger exploits. Welshman Alex Balman, usually found passengering his father Eirwyn, took to the bars for the first time, passengered by experienced crewman Mark Hopkins. Rob Heath, fresh from his win on his quad at Bridgwater two weeks ago paired with Kyle Fish joined the lineup along with returning rider Stephen Saunders and Donna Fish, who were plagued with problems with their machine.
The remaining three crews put on an absolute barnstormer, with all three swapping the lead in every heat. Balman/Hopkins were quick away from the start in every heat, but were hunted down by Webb/Pope, using an exciting, flat out style and Heath/FIsh, who were more calculated in their attack. Balman took the first heat by a narrow margin, but the more experienced Heath showed his class by edging out his competition in the second. In the final heat, the three crews again clashed in spectacular style. After a three and a half lap melee, it was again Heath/Fish who nosed in front and looked to have the race and meeting won. But as they headed into the final corner, a puncture put a stop to their progress, and Balman/Hopkins passed the stricken outfit, winning their first meeting. A great display by all three outfits.
The 250cc solo class was also entertaining, with three distinctively different styles coming together to provide entertainment. Meeting secretary Ben Ilsley made several excellent starts but was hunted down by the super-quick style of Nick Irwin. In the second heat, Russell Little, who’d failed to score in his opening ride, who dived underneath the duelling riders to take the heat win. In the final heat, Nick Irwin proved too quick for the Grasstrack Banter boys to catch, winning comfortably from Ilsley, with Little in 3rd having hit a box full of neutrals during the race and losing ground. Highly entertaining racing.
The 500cc class was also worth waiting for. Southern centre rider Lee Madgewick was in good form, leading two heats before being caught by Cornishman Bob Charles, who looked very impressive. On the tricky circuit, Jason Newitt put his experience to good use by picking up the pieces when others made mistakes. His calculated rides earned him a thoroughly deserved 2nd place. It’s been reported before, but there is a group of club level 500cc solo riders at present who are putting on some fantastic racing week-in, week-out.
The 350cc class and Pre 75 class were quite depleted after the long delay. Tom Davis looked excellent in all three heats, but Patrick Crook made huge improvements throughout the day and gave Davis a real challenge in their final ride.
Dave Hammond, doubling up in the Pre 75 and Upright class, took the Pre 75 class quite comfortably. The former Paris-Dakar endurance rider has certainly experienced worse conditions that a few bumps and looked a class act. His Upright win was not so straightforward as he was able to capitalise on the misfortune of another.
Mike Dowling looked like a comfortable winner in the Uprights, but his hopes would be dashed by a puncture in his final ride. This allowed Hammond to win the class, taking the double.
The 500cc sidecar class was obviously severely depleted after the Race 5 incident. Aaron Vale/Stephen Vale won comfortably. Chris Neame/Josh Russell stopped on the start line in their final ride, leaving the Vales as the only finishers in a 500cc competition to forget.
Other sidecar events included the 1000cc Righthand sidecars, which Neal Owen and Jason Farwell won convincingly. Interestingly, this was Owen/Farwell’s 4th meeting win of the season, making them the second winningest crew so far this season behind Cossar/Blyth.
The Old/New Sidecars were a welcome addition to the southern centre, and were won comfortably by Mark Courtney/Leon Torres, who have also been in excellent form throughout 2017.
The youth riders waited patiently throughout the day for their racing and therefore were keen to race when their time came. The Auto Cadet class had attracted arguably three of the best riders the country has to offer at this age bracket. Ashton Vale was in stunning form, making electric starts and never looking like being beaten, with Cooper Rushen showing good speed in 2nd. Current Gradings List number 1 George Colvin was making some fast starts, but being swallowed up by the two more experienced boys, both aboard grasstrack machines compared to Colvin’s motocross machine. It’s an exciting time in the youngest class at the moment with some fast looking children clashing every week.
Kiya Sales was the lone Cadet and takes a Cadet class win, whilst the Junior class boasted a healthy entry. It was Aiden Arthur who would emerge from the class as the victor, though he didn’t have it all his own way. Having won the opening two rides, Arthur looked to do the same in the 3rd. but Kenzie Cossey, who had improved greatly throughout the afternoon, put a stop to Arthur’s dominance, winning the final heat. Some good racing from the Juniors.
Jake Mulford was a cut above the others in the Inters class, but Sam Norris, Chris Mackie and Danny Curl all battled relentlessly behind him for second.
An unusual day’s racing at Waterlooville, but perseverance was the key to a successful outcome. Well done to all the competitors for putting on some great racing, and of course to the crowd for sticking with it. Although the initially large crowd had somewhat reduced in size by the time racing re-commenced, Waterlooville had proven that they were able to gather a good crowd and a good entry.