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Shanes makes gains at Dalton! The Barracks Bonanza Grasstrack – Race Report & Results

Shanes makes gains at Dalton! The Barracks Bonanza Grasstrack – Race Report & Results

As the name suggests, the relatively new Dalton Grasstrack Club was formed to try and resurrect the sport at the iconic Dalton Barracks, Oxfordshire. On Sunday, May 1st, that ultimate goal was achieved as the engines roared for the first time in 20 years at the good old venue, and what a glorious sight and sound it was to be! Following endless hours of hard work and preparation, the stage was set and in prime condition for the riders to go to work. Giving it their all and producing some fabulous action, the event was to culminate in some stunning final events!

Report and Images by Mike Wood

So, with a fair size crowd arriving to support the return of grasstrack racing and the annoying early morning light rain having stopped, the first heat out on track was a 500cc solo heat. Following an initial slight issue with the start gate, the Barracks Bonanza was go and this opener actually featured a rider who had competed in many of the previous North Berks MCC promotions at this venue. Paul Hurry was out in this clash and took a strong 3rd place as the dashing Chad Wirtzfeld scorched to victory, catching and passing the fast starting Andrew Appleton. In this first set of 500cc heats, James Shanes and Zach Wajtknecht also scored wins.

Chad Wirtzfeld

After their heat one battle, Appleton and Wirtzfeld were at it again in the second block of racing but this time they got a whole lot closer! Coming out of turn four on lap two, they actually made contact, thankfully both staying on-board before Chad took another win. In this block of racing, Shanes and the very impressive Jake Mulford bagged impressive victories and thus put themselves into a strong position for making the end of play final.

Jake Mulford leading a 500cc battle

Going through the card, Wirtzfeld and Shanes then finished the qualifying heats with maximum points as Mulford, Wajtknecht, Appleton, Hurry, Andrew Whittaker and Arran Butcher also made the final. With Shanes and Wirtzfeld on 36 points apiece, a coin toss which James then won was required to decide who would have first gate pick.

James Shanes the 500cc winner

Unfortunately though the eagerly awaited final battle between the fast Dorset boy’s was never to materialise as Wirtzfeld was left stranded on the start line after failing to engage a gear after putting his machine in neutral to keep the clutch cool at the start of the race. So instead it was Mulford who took the challenge to Shanes and what a tussle it was, going for the outside line and generating terrific speed, the reigning ACU 250cc Champion got ahead on a couple of occasions. But at the flag it was Shanes who claimed the David Durnham Memorial trophy as Appleton got home in 3rd from Hurry and Wajtknecht.

Paul Hurry

In the Upright Solo’s, the day certainly did not start well for one of the expected favourites Darren Phillips, crashing out on turn one of his opening ride and injuring his arm. In the racing that unfolded, Tony Atkin, another former Dalton Barracks competitor back in the North Berks era was displaying fabulous speed, cruising to maximum qualifying points.

Tony Atkin leading the Uprights finaL

In the heats there was to also be wins for Bob Dolman(2) and Cornish visitor Jason Prynne. Electing to ride the Upright class only and not compete in his programmed 500cc Solo heats, Atkin was in supreme form and then deservedly took the final win. Chasing him home, Dolman took 2nd from Prynne, Graeme Brown and Chris Mackett.

Jason Prynne

After Mark Cossar/Gareth Williams were forced to work hard and pass Peter Lloyd/Terry Madley in the opening 1000cc Sidecar heat, the scene was set for a thrilling day of fast, furious three-wheeled action. In that first block, Paul Whitelam/Richard Webb were also involved in a classic clash, taking victory after getting the better of Robbie Simmons/Bradley Atkinson whilst Matthew Fumarola/Andrew Wilson were the other heat one winners.

1000cc sidecar start action

In an equally entertaining block two, Cossar, Whitelam and Rob Bradley/Ryan Wharton took the victories but again there was plenty going on to entertain the crowd. Dale Fish/Jordan Fish pushed home to take 4th after stopping on the last turn whilst Clint Blondel/Jordan Smith had a very close tussle with the hard charging and very spectacular Cornish crew Thomas and Dillion Newton.

Paul Whitelam and Richard Webb

Unfortunately the third block of 1000cc Sidecars was to be marred by a high speed crash involving the Dalton club chairman Michael Austin and passenger Vincent Branch. With the track cutting up and excessive loose material being created and made heavier by the earlier rain, it was making high speed cornering particularly difficult. Whilst Austin and Branch were eventually able to thankfully get up and walk away from their tumble, the track then received excessive grading in an attempt to improve the surface. At this point, the Clerk of the Course decided that the third run of heats would now be completed before the meeting then went direct into the finals.

Matt Fumarola and Andrew Wilson leading Terry Saunters and Liam Brown

So it was Cossar topping the qualifying scores from Whitelam, Colin Blackbourn/Carl Pugh, Bradley, Simmons and Fumarola. What followed next was an absolute epic as Cossar and Blackbourn produced a simply stunning sidecar contest, passing and repassing in the hunt for victory. With Cossar edging ahead going into the final turn, Blackbourn went for the inside line and found the drive. In the race to the chequered flag, both crews appeared to cross the finish line together, victory and the Pete Jones Memorial trophy going to Cossar by the very narrowest of margins, simply terrific entertainment! Third place in the final belonged to Bradley with Fumarola next up.

Colin Blackbourn and Carl Pugh

Although his own racing day did not go to plan, also suffering a broken chain in heat one, Michael Austin and his team should be very proud of their immense efforts to get grasstrack racing back at the Barracks. Well done Michael and let’s hope this is the first event with many more to come!!

Mark Cossar and Gareth Williams


500cc Solo 1 James Shanes 2 Jake Mulford 3 Andrew Appleton 4 Paul Hurry 5 Zach Wajtknecht 6 Andrew Whitaker 7 Arran Butcher DNS Chad Wirtzfeld.

1000cc Sidecars 1 Mark Cossar/Gareth Williams 2 Colin Blackbourn/Carl Pugh 3 Rob Bradley/Ryan Wharton 4 Matthew Fumarola/Andi Wilson 5 Robbie Simmons/George Simmons 6 Paul Whitelam/Richard Webb.

Upright Solos 1 Tony Atkin 2 Bob Dolman 3 Jason Prynne 4 Graeme Brown 5 Chris Mackett 6 Dave Hammond 7 Nigel Coates 8 Mike Dowling.

Bob Dolman in Uprights action