Wilding the warrior! British Classic Upright Grasstrack Championships – Race Report and Results
British Championship Grasstrack returned to Mid Cornwall Premier Motorcycle Club’s Roche venue last Sunday for the second time this season. This time around, it was the British Classic Upright Championships being contested, which was once again supported by some excellent youth, sidecar and quad racing. The unique, multi-cornered circuit provided some great racing throughout the sun-drenched day, culminating in yet another exciting 1000cc sidecar final.
Report and Result Images by Gareth Bemister – Action Images courtesy of Sandy Bemister
There were three British Championships being contested. The first to commence was the 250cc Upright Championships. Experienced Kent racer Chris Mackett was in sensational form. He won all of the five heats, winning the title on maximum points. Another distant traveller, Lincolnshire’s Tim Greig was hoping for redemption having missed out narrowly earlier in the season on the British Pre 75 title at the same venue. Once again however, it was a task too tall for Greig, finishing runner-up to the super impressive Mackett, who collected his 8th British Championship title, but his first in the 250cc class. Third place was clinched by veteran rider Geoff Urban, who has campaigned many classic British titles in the past. Fourth placed Luke Tuck was doubling up in the 250cc and 350cc classes and would place better in the larger class.
The 350cc class provided high drama from the second heat. Chris Malone, who was performing in all three classes on the day, was able to capitalise when first heat victor, Wayne Broadhurst, came to a stop whilst leading. Malone, who had finished second to Broadhurst in their opening ride, seized the opportunity and won the heat. From here, second places behind Broadhurst for the remaining 3 races would be enough to clinch victory. But fate was to deliver a cruel, vindictive blow. As the final race was going to plan for Malone, and Broadhurst made it to the front as he’d so expertly done all day with Malone in second, the would-be champion elect’s machine came to a heart-breaking halt. The mechanical failure left Shropshire’s Broadhurst to win the final race convincingly, winning his very first British Grasstrack title in a career that spans over thirty years. In truth, Broadhurst was the quicker rider on the day and if it hadn’t been for the break down in the second ride, he would have swept to a maximum. Luke Tuck followed up his 3rd in the 250cc class, by claiming second in the 350s. An altogether great day for Tuck, but for championship glory to be so close, Bristol’s Chris Malone was left simple crestfallen.
In the 500cc class, Worcester racer Tim Curnock had ridden strongly throughout the heats, heading into the final unbeaten. Curnock, who has been in great form all season, made no mistakes by leading every race, whilst his closest rivals all dropped points to each other. Gloucestershire brothers Neil and Mark Taylor looked fast in their opening rides, but each were suffering poor luck. Mark, the elder of the two brothers, led two of his three heats but was suffering with a leg injury and was caught before the end of the race every time- clearly suffering from the injury.
Neil Taylor also looked very quick, but it was mechanical fatigue which hampered the former British 250cc Champion. His own machine suffered terminal failure after the opening ride, leaving him first to borrow his brother’s machine, and then the spare machine of rival Mike Dowling. Dowling himself was performing consistently, getting quicker and quicker as the races progressed. But, by his own admission, he was struggling on the opening turn for each race and then was forced to work hard to make up places. He did take a fine heat win, however, reeling in the stricken Mark Taylor and passing him on the final bend.
In the winner-take-all final, however, it was another who rose to the top, but not until the very last lap of the race. Rhys Wilding, who’d travelled to the meeting all the way from Ipswich, had won two heats on his way to the final, but he had not managed to beat Tim Curnock. As the final began, it was Curnock who led and his lead looked safe for the opening two laps. But as the riders entered the end of the third lap, a few chinks in the Curnock armour began to show, and Wilding visibly narrowed the gap entering the final lap. As they approached the last corner of the race, and indeed the championship, Wilding passed Curnock and won his first ever British title. Curnock, who had been in fantastic form all day, and all season, would have to settle for second in another cruel British title blow for him.
The British Championships were supported by youth races, the youngest of which were the Auto Cadets and Cadets, who would race together. Somerset youngster Oliver Bovingdon won the Autos, but had to win the hard way in each of the five races. He was never first to the first bend, but he was so fast that he was able to round his closest rivals, and lead before the first lap was over. Another long-distance-traveller, Braintree’s Archie Rolph took second place and was locked in battle all day with the two Cadet racers; Kayden Munday and Rico Joyce. Munday looked slightly quicker than Joyce, but failed to finish one of his races, leaving Joyce, who’d also travelled from Essex, to win the class.
The Junior and Intermediate classes (racing 140cc and 250cc machines) also provided some inter-class entertainment. Junior British Champion Cameron Taylor was locked in battle with two Inters riders Jordan Derrick and Kai Ward throughout the afternoon in some excellent scraps. Taylor showed his class and experience by beating the older, larger engined riders and winning the Junior class. Zak Batey finished in second with his season-long rival Max Derrick finishing 3rd. Jordan Derrick, who is new to the sport this season, won the Inters class despite a fall in his final ride whilst chasing down Taylor. Ward, another newcomer, also provided entertainment throughout the day and was always in the mix.
The Old/New 500cc sidecar class (aimed at both older Pre 75 machines and new bikes housing cheap-to-run GS500 engines) had some fantastic races, but they certainly left the best until last. Local racers and Mid Cornwall Premier MCC members Mark Courtney/Leon Torres have been the men to beat all season in this class. However, they had only managed one win on the way to the winner-take-all final. After fearing the worst when their machine stopped in practice, Nanstallon’s Mark Seward/Patrick Keat had to be delighted with their three victories heading into the final. Bodmin’s Steve Urrell/Julie Williams were always in the thick of the action too, making it a three-way-tussle heading into the final.
As the tapes went up, it was Seward/Keat who leapt into the lead, with Urrell/Williams tucking into second and Courtney/Torres with all of the work to do. Try as they might Courtney/Torres just couldn’t get round the outside of Urrell/Williams and a four-lap struggle ensued, leaving Seward/Keat to head the pack home, taking a fine win in an excellent race-long battle. Urrell/Williams, although momentarily lost second place, were able to defend their runners-up spot and force Courtney/Torres to have to settle for third.
The four-wheel quad class was perhaps the most open of all the classes. A nasty crash in the second ride for opening race winner Paul Skelton put him out of contention as he failed to appear for the third ride. Bodmin’s Andy Hoskin was the man to catch, winning two of the three rides, only losing out narrowly to local rider Steve Udy in their third race. The winner-take-all final saw an excellent win for Hoskin, who had been in good form all day after his opening ride. Darren Williams had ridden consistently all day and fully deserved his second place.
The final class of the day was the 1000cc sidecars. Going into the winner-take-all final, two outfits had emerged as front runners; Cornish youngster Kieran Hicks and his Kent-based passenger Kieron Ivy had won two out of four heats, whilst Welshman Neal Owen and Cornish passenger Jason Farwell had won the other two heats. However, the Welshman’s V-Twin powered machine had clearly lost power in their final heat, casting great doubt over their appearance in the final.
As it transpired, the machine was fixed and ready for the final, but the Welsh/Cornish combination couldn’t get the better of 20-year-old St. Columb youngster Kieran Hicks and passenger Kieron Ivy. They fended off the hard challenge from Owen/Farwell for four fantastic laps, taking their second meeting win of the year at the Roche venue. Closest to the two front runners were Guernsey pairing Clint Blondel and Kev Bennett, though Matthew Huddy/Mark Truscott had an excellent fourth heat second place.
This was the second meeting held at this venue in 2018, and once again produced a slickly run, entertaining day of Grasstrack. The circuit improvements which took place at the beginning of the year have clearly made the track even better than it was previously, though it still remains a decent challenge to conquer for racers. Congratulations to the new British Upright Champions for 2018.