TOKELOVE TAKES DTRA HOOLIGAN WIN AT ARLINGTON TO KEEP TITLE FIGHT ALIVE – Race Report and Results
Images courtesy of Steve Cain
Series leader Gary Birtwistle came within a second of confirming the successful defence of his Hooligan title, but instead dropped to a first defeat of 2019 in the finale at Dirtquake. Fighting through from third position and twice recovering the lead after Birtwistle’s determined outside overtakes, Leah Tokelove is now Birtwistle’s only adversary this season, having gained four points at Eastbourne’s Arlington Stadium.
Tokelove earned a standing ovation from the main grandstand as she completed an underdog story, ending a run of three consecutive third-place finishes and denying Gary Birtwistle an unbroken run of 2019 Grand Final wins. Following her aggressive Lap Five pass, victory crowned a busy weekend for the in-demand 21-year-old from Lincolnshire, who combined TV commentary commitments alongside veteran broadcaster Steve Parrish with podium interviews and a strong race scorecard that also included a third-Round win.
That was Birtwistle’s only defeat of the Heat stages, the back row proving too far to come for the number eleven and a last-lap tank-slapper almost costing him first seeding position for the Final. Despite staying on the bike and securing the pole, though, Birtwistle was unable to capitalise on it and it was surprise merchant Lee Kirkpatrick who took up the early running before fading and leaving the day’s two previous winners to dice for victory. Kirkpatrick secured a season’s-best third that moves him fourth in the series Standings, while some way back former British Champion Peter Boast claimed fourth on the day in a no less hard-fought but separate fight.
Birtwistle’s runner-up ranking at Dirtquake nonetheless means he has one hand on the trophy, but the pressure will now be on at Greenfield in September as he must secure ninth or better to take the 2019 title.
RD5 EASTBOURNE RESULT: 1. Leah Tokelove 2:25.912, 2. Gary Birtwistle +0.650, 3. Lee Kirkpatrick +1.995, 4. Peter Boast +4.899, 5. Vinnie Snell +6.162
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1. Gary Birtwistle 76, 2. Leah Tokelove 62, 3. Max Hunt 48, 4. Lee Kirkpatrick 40, 5. James Jordan 33