Top Dog Hurry! The Dig Dog Dash Grasstrack – Race Report and Results
A good sized crowd, fair weather and a circuit which some suggested was the ‘best this season’ combined to provide an all-round excellent day’s racing for GTSA’s Dig Dog Dash 2 on Sunday- the second time this event had been run (the first in 2015). Named after the lane which the venue is situated, the Dig Dog Dash once again saw the track in supreme condition, with dust kept to a minimum. The resulting racing was fantastic in all classes.
Race Report and Result images by Gareth Bemister
Perhaps the classes carrying the most important titles on the day were the two sidecar classes. The Lefthand Sidecars gave the opportunity to win two trophies in two separate finals. Both finals delivered similar results in similarly breath-taking races.
The first of the finals was qualified for in the opening qualifying heats, by way of finishing in the top three. The John and Bob Penfold Trophy would be awarded to the winner. The lead changed hands several times in a fantastic race. Early leaders Alex Balman/Mark Hopkins made one small error and saw their lead turn into a fourth place as three fast racers dived up the inside of them. But one crew shone above the others- Tom Penfold Jnr (son of Tony Penfold), parterned by Joe Boarer (another famous surname to those familiar with the Lefthand class) looked to be gathering momentum as the day progressed. Initially, they looked fast but couldn’t force their way through to win a heat until the last round of races. In the final, they fought tooth and nail to get themselves to the front, disposing of Balman/Hopkins, British Champions Martin Cuff/Colin Clark (who had been forced to borrow equipment in the final as their machine was plagued with issues throughout the day), and returning driver John Morris and passenger Dan Woodbridge. In the final lap, amongst the melee, Rob Heath and Kyle Fish burst up the inside to take second place in a nail-biter of a final.
In the second final, where the Ernie Penfold Trophy was contested, it was more of the same, with several of the crews swapping places throughout. However, Rob Heath/Kyle Fish managed to force their way to the front much earlier this time and looked to establish a lead. However, Penfold/Boarer, no doubt buoyed by their previous win, hunted down Heath/Fish and passed them. Heath/Fish tried all that they could to keep the youngsters at bay, but they simply were too fast. An excellent win for Tom Penfold and Joe Boarer in another tremendous final.
The 1000cc Righthand sidecars were racing for the Mick Steer Memorial Trophy. Going into the final, nobody could be certain who the winners might be, with several crews winning races and looking fast. Crews had fought and tussled over the races throughout the afternoon, with plenty of overtaking manoeuvres. In the final, however, Neal Owen and Jason Farwell made a brilliant start, pulling five or six bike lengths ahead heading into turn one. This left the others to scrap amongst themselves. Matthew Fumarola/Gareth Williams, who looked to be having their best meeting of the season, turned hard exiting the opening turn and got themselves into second. All six outfits in the final raced in close quarters for four laps, but none of them could make any in-roads on the Welshman Neal Owen and his Cornish passenger Jason Farwell. A fine win, and one of their best performances as a pairing to date.
The 500cc solo class saw a dominant performance by Paul Hurry. The former European Champion won all of his heats and the final in convincing style. Andrew Whitaker, fresh from his 6th place in the British Masters, was the most likely to take the fight to Hurry, but after winning his opening ride, he had to be content with following Hurry home in his remaining races.
The 250cc class saw a battle of the Banter boys. Grasstrack Banter Admins Russell Little and Ben Ilsley squabbled over taking top honours in the class all afternoon. Little, who was making some electric starts, led every race and managed to win the opening heat and the heat before the final. Ilsley, who was much slower in the early stages of the race before gradually gathering momentum, managed to hunt down and pass Little in the second heat. Two very different styles went head-to-head in a winner-take-all final to decide who would take Banter bragging rights this week.
Again, Little made an excellent start and Ilsley quickly began to build momentum once again. Eventually, he caught and passed Little on the outside and took the honours in an interesting 250cc competition. Ian Bedingfield rode an excellent final to claim 3rd overall, battling his way through four laps of overtaking and re-overtaking with several other riders.
The other class which required a final was the Upright class. Bob Dolman had won all of the heats, only seeming to struggle in the opening race where he took two laps to pass John Yeldham and Paul Morfey in an entertaining race which also saw Nigel Coates and Robin Pilcher pushing for the top placings. After this, it was plain sailing for the former European finalist. He duly won the final in similarly convincing form.
The 350cc solos looked to be another duel between Dave Mears and Mark Giles. Sadly, the event started off with an accident when Max Pankhurst collided with another rider and fell heavily. In the re-run, Mears made a good start and led Giles to the chequered flag. The next two races, the result was reversed and Giles led Mears going into the final heat. Any hopes of a last heat clash though were dashed when Mears failed to come to the line for the last race, gifting the win to Mark Giles.
The final class to report on were the quads, who provided plenty of entertainment. Geoff Glover managed to win the opening race, beating John Elliott by defending his inside line keenly. Lady racer Vicki Strudwick was never too far from the front two. In the next three heats, all three riders fought over the lead in the race, with John Elliott always managing to get himself to the front. Glover tried hard to overcome Elliott, but in doing so threw away his second place on two occasions. Another great win for Elliott, who just seems to keep on going and going!
Plenty has already been written about this meeting on various platforms, but it really was an excellent event. The circuit was fantastic and produced some great racing. The meeting was slickly ran, with the last race finished not long after 4. GTSA can look back on two very-well organised meetings in 2018.