Feature Team Report. Greenfield Dirt Track become home track heroes at Flat Track National finale!
The final round of the Indian Motorcycle Flat Track Nationals presented by the DTRA was held at our home track, Greenfield Dirt Track. For the season finale we would be racing the oval, having already raced the TT track earlier in the year. Whenever Greenfield is hosting a round, George Pickering is always flat out in the run up to the event, but his hard efforts don’t ever go unnoticed, especially this time around- the track conditions were perfect and made for some of the best racing we’d seen all season. It was also great to see so many local people come out and support the event and get a real taste of what Flat Track racing is all about.
Report by Leah Tokelove – Images courtesy of Paul France
The event was spread out over the whole weekend, with the Pros/Inters, Hooligans and Youth Seniors taking to the track on Saturday. The much-preferred qualifying format kicked off around 1pm on Saturday afternoon. With the Spaniard Gerard Bailo topping qualifying with a rapid 16.264 second lap time in his second qualifier. Pickering also looked faultless riding his groove and clocked in 16.568 seconds, on the second lap of the first qualifying session- placing him fourth for the upcoming heat races. From his qualifier Gerard took the first grid pick for his heat race, leading this heat from the green light till the chequered flag and pulling six seconds on Mike Hill, who finished second to Gerard. Thanks to his fast time in qualifying Pickering also had first pick of the grid, opting for the inside of the front row. Holeshotting, Pickering showed the rest of the field the way round his track and cruised to his first win of the day.
Bailo transferred straight to the first semi-final and lined up against tough competition Toby Hales and Gary Birtwistle on the front row. After making a cracking start and firmly being part of the leading pack, much to the rider’s frustration the race was red flagged due to an accident and set for a full re-start. Again, Bailo was able to fight it out with Hales for the top spot, but on the penultimate lap the semi was red flagged due to another incident, this time round the race was too far gone for a re-start and Bailo had to settle for second to Hales. Pickering took to the track in the second semi-final, lining up alongside Maikel Dijkstra, who had been looking on pace all day. Pickering again opted for the inside line of the front row and shot off like a bullet to take the first corner, again not to be beaten he comfortably took the semi win.
Pickering’s faultless riding lead him too first pick of the grid for the final, he stuck with what had been working and went for the inside of the front row. Bailo on the other hand wasn’t so lucky with his final grid position, lining up on the middle row with the first pick. Pickering made it three out of three with another holeshot in the final, leading the pack coming out of the first corner. Meanwhile Gerard battled his way through the pack of riders, trying to get himself in on the action of the front runners. As the race progressed, Pickering looked comfortable out front but around seven laps into the fifteen-lap final Gary Birtwistle and Bailo began to catch up to his fast pace. Birtwistle boldly went around the outside of Pickering as he exited the second corner, two laps later coming into turn three Bailo made a move on Pickering, moving himself up to second and Pickering down to third. Gerard wasn’t going to settle for second though, he seemed to up the pace a level and relentlessly pursued Birtwistle, passing him hard up the inside on the twelfth lap. Then Gerard did what Gerard does best, settled into the groove and rode the remainder of the race as it was his own, crossing the line nearly a whole second ahead of Birtwistle. Pickering cruised to the finish line in a well-deserved third place, riding the rest of the race unchallenged. Gerard Bailo was the winner of the season finale, on a magnificently grooved up Greenfield Dirt Track, with his team mate George Pickering joining him on the podium in third place.
Supporting the Pro racing on Saturday afternoon were the Youth Seniors. Max Inman raced his KXF-250 for the final time this season and without a doubt brought some of his best riding to the track for the season finale. Securing two second place finishes in his first two heat races, Inman raced like a pro with impressive lap times in the low 17 seconds, which would have secured him mid-pack qualifying in the Pro/Inter class and on a 250! Max remained determined throughout the course of his first two heat races, ensuring that Bell didn’t run away with the race. It was clear though that Inman’s biggest struggle is his starts, difficulties at the start of the third heat race meant he was stuck behind the #9 of Archie May, despite being more on pace than May, Inman struggled to find the right line to make a bold pass, as the last lap flag waved him on he knew it was now or never. On the entry of the final corner Inman tried to slip up the inside of May, but May wasn’t budging, and Inman had nowhere to go and could feel the bars hitting the floor, resulting in a high side as he tried his hardest to miss May. Max walked away from the crash and the way we’re looking at it is that it’s a positive to see Inman so driven that he tries to make a bold move, this is huge progress from the start of the season, it’s great to see Max pushing himself and his abilities- it shows how badly he wants this.
The double points final saw Inman finish in third behind Bell and May, this time riding safely for the points, avoiding a DNF. Again, its clear from the lap times that Inman was well on the pace and just struggled to get past May, as he crossed the line just 0.174 seconds behind May. Some brilliant riding from Max and so much improvement as the season progressed, it was also great to see Max put up a fight in Saturday evenings minibike barn stormer, holding his own alongside some of the best riders in the UK Flat Track scene. Nice work Max.
Fergus Bluff raced his KX85 for the last time ever on Saturday in the Youth Intermediate class. Well on the pace as ever Bluff looked effortless racing at Greenfield, cruising to a second place in a very talented 85cc class. In his next two heats Bluff took the win, with a particularly impressive ride in the final heat after a poor start Fergus made his way up to the front of the pack and with a last lap around the outside manoeuvre, he passed Arran Scott to take the chequered flag, in a nail biting heat race. Unfortunately Fergus didn’t make it off the line for the double point final- his bike nipped up on the start line, we will be stripping it down this week, to see what damage has been done. Fergus will move up to the Youth Senior class next year, we look forward to seeing him out in the 250cc class.
The Youth Junior class had its biggest entry all year at Greenfield, with eleven bikes lining up on the grid, with everything from 50cc auto’s to 65’s out on track. Toby Johnson was in good spirits for this final race of the season and secured a fifth and two sixths in his heat races. Then finishing fifth in the final out of eleven riders. Some great progress from Toby, he showed a lot of confidence making passes as the race progressed.
The weekend at Greenfield was a huge success from all aspects. The Team had another cracking result and George’s track was faultless, the whole weekend ran smoothly and there was some of the best racing all season! Most importantly a lot of riders had a lot of fun and this projected onto the whole atmosphere of the weekend long event.
A special congratulation must go to Gerard Bailo, who is the runner up in the British Flat Track Championship, with George Pickering finishing in fourth. Then Max Inman for finishing third in the Youth Senior Championship. We are just waiting for confirmation of the final championship position of our other Youth riders. We would also like to say a massive congratulations to our good friend and local rider, Toby Hales, who has been helping us out a lot behind the scenes this year- on winning the 2018 British Flat Track Championship.
From all at Team Greenfield we would like to thank everyone who has sponsored, supported and contributed to the team this season. It wouldn’t be possible without any of this and really has been a team effort. We hope that we can push on again next year and achieve even more great things.
A particularly big thank you must go to;
Dirt Track Rider Association, Noyes Camp, 250London, Sideburn Magazine, DirtHub, Duck Smart, Motoshack, Alford Coal Supplies, Hanby Estates, Motul Libèrica, None Racing, Wheel House Tyres.
Steve Nichols, Adri Bailo, Toby Hales, Freddie Hales, Matthew Traves, Leah Tokelove, Paul France and the Pickering family.
Team work makes the dream work.